Just what Jesse James needs: More controversy.
He’s already facing allegations of infidelity and has entered treatment to save his marriage to Sandra Bullock, and now there’s a 5-year-old photo on the Internet of James in a Nazi hat, giving a salute and holding two fingers under his nose a la Adolf Hitler.
The picture had been quietly shopped around to media outlets over the last week. One source says he struck the pose during a party at his home for West Coast Choppers workers and others in 2005, before his marriage.
PHOTOS: Scandalized! Famous Other Women
While acknowledging the picture is “in poor taste,” another source – a friend – says, “The last thing Jesse is racist or anti-Semitic.” The hat came from a dear lifelong friend who’s Jewish, and James had even spent time on a kibbutz in Israel last fall learning metalworking techniques.
Even James’s detractors say he’s no bigot. “Everything he does is for shock value,” says Ron Simms, a veteran bike designer who was a former mentor to James and had a falling out with him in 2005. Simms remembers James “sticking to his guns” after photos of African-American bikers in his magazine prompted hate mail.
• Reporting by ELIZABETH LEONARD, MARY GREEN and JOHNNY DODD
PHOTOS: Sandra & Jesse: Scenes from a Marriage
Get a sneak peek of this week’s issue – Sandra Bullock’s divorce dilemma, Jolie-Pitt twin photos and more – which is on newsstands Friday
PeopleTV Archive: Jesse James Talks Chivalry