Exclusive: What Is It Like To Party With Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman?

HONOLULU joined Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman at Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Hotel for his 61st birthday bash.
Beth and Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman at Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.
Photos: Odeelo Dayondon

On Thursday evening, tourists lounging on Waikiki Beach got a surprise when a reality television star made an unexpected appearance just a few feet away. As soon as Duane Chapman and his wife Beth Chapman walked towards the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s outdoor cocktail bar for a private birthday bash, a crowd gathered along the picket fence with their smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras to snap candid photos of the celebrities.

“If you’re in Hawaii, you’ve got to get a photo of Dog Chapman,” one man said, smartphone in hand.

Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, turned 61 this week. To celebrate, Beth invited more than 100 guests to a private party for her husband at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Four camera guys (plus two more holding boom mikes) filmed the Chapmans’ every move—exchanging hugs, taking pictures with guests, greeting fans and meeting with reporters. Guests had to sign their life away on a detailed film release.

In attendance: reporters from the Star-Advertiser, Midweek and Hawaii News Now, Honolulu City Council chairman Ernie Martin, Honolulu Ethics Commissioner Stanford Yuen, Hawaii Sen. Mike Gabbard, local comedians Da Braddahs, country music star Chris Janson along with the Chapman’s friends and family.

Outside the Monarch Room ballroom, some of Chapman’s braver guests rode on a huge, inflatable, bull-riding machine. But the real party was inside. At one point, an emcee told guests to look to the person sitting next to them and ask, “Did Dog lock you up?”

Sen. Gabbard, who met Chapman in 2004 when he was a city councilman, presented Chapman with a framed Senate resolution honoring him on his 61st birthday. “Mahalo for putting your heart and soul into your work by putting dangerous criminals off our streets, protecting our people and our nation, while spreading aloha wherever you go,” Gabbard said on stage.

Before everyone dug into the buffet, Word of Life Christian Center pastor Art Sepulveda said a few words to bless the food. “In Jesus name, amen,” Sepulveda said. They immediately blasted the hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah.  

The spread looked ono [prime ribs, kalbi, Hawaiian style chicken wings, chicken and pork fried rice, imported and domestic cheeses]. It’s apparent the Chapmans have a sweet tooth; for dessert there was cotton candy, cupcakes, chocolate fondue, gummy worms, sour worms, gummy bears, black and pink M&Ms. There was even an ice sculpture of Chapman’s badge on one of the buffet tables.

While guests waited in line for the food, one videographer told us following Chapman is a dangerous, but well-paying job. When Chapman and camera crews went bounty hunting in Puna, they wore protective Kevlar vests for fear of shotgun-armed men.

We got a chance to sit down with Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman for a quick one-on-one interview.


Happy birthday! How does it feel to be 61?
As you get older, you can say, "You are as old as you feel." So I don’t feel a difference from 35. A little harder to get up in the mornings, to get going, but as far as everything else, I’ve always kept a good diet and exercise.

What’s on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list, because I don’t plan to die. I once told a man who was dying last year, I said, “Listen.” And he was very sad that he was going to die. And I said, “Here is what you do: You put an ad in the paper and you tell everybody that you’re dying and that you’re going to take a message for them to heaven.” The guy did what I said; I just left him with a thought. He called me six months later and he said, “I’ve got over 300 messages. I’ve paid my rent with the money that I’ve got.” He goes, “I was supposed to be dead three months ago, and Dog, I forgot to die.” This is a true story. “I have all these thoughts and all these messages from all these people.” He has passed away now, but I don’t like to plan on (dying).

You were in a hit-and-run recently?
We were in Waianae and a drunk driver hit us. We were going 60 and he was going at least 100 (mph). That was spooky. Everyone luckily didn’t get hurt.

Do you have any plans?
Right now, I am still going to bounty hunt. I’ve set a record in captures for an American bounty hunter, so now I need to seal that in, even one of my kids, Leland, can’t break that record. I’m just going to keep going and going.

We interviewed you back in 2004 for a feature profile in HONOLULU Magazine; did you ever think the show would be so successful?
I never thought it would be as successful as it has been. And very proud and very blessed. Lucky is what it is, that it has gone so far. And thank God it has. In order to be successful, you have to believe in some supernatural power. In my instance, it is called God. I have always been praying on TV and talking about God all day long. I think the only person I talk to more than God is Beth. And I give him credit for things as I am doing now. I read in the Bible the other day, “If you exalt me, I’ll exalt you.” I was like, “What?!” The Bible says, “If you give me credit for loving you, I’ll love you and I’ll give you credit.” And I didn’t know that. I think that’s the reason for the success.

Speaking of Beth, what’s the secret to your marriage?
I did a personal study once and I went to everyone who had been married 50 years or longer. And I, of course, asked the husband, “What is the secret?” And they all said the same thing, “There is two words you need to learn, Dog.” And I said, “Yes?” They are, “Yes, dear.”  I have sometimes not wanted to say that, but I have managed to hold my tongue in situations, because I am married to a crazy woman. And I say, even when I don’t want to sometimes, “Yes, dear.”

And she threw you this party.
She asked me one day, “Who are some of the people who helped you through life?” And I gave her this list. She took that list, the producer told me, and sent out invitations.

Who’s here?
I have relatives. I have friends. My friend (Paul). We were 13 years old when I met him. And we were outlaws together and both of us went to prison. And he for now 30 years has run one of the largest rehabs in the country, the most successful by numbers, meaning when they graduate they don’t go back. He’s a really mean guy, but he knows how to make them stop. And it’s people like that who make me who I am. Attorneys from the Mainland. Everybody who means something to me. Gene Simmon’s wife is here. Robert Knievel, Evel Knievel’s son is here. Rev. Jesse Peterson from L.A. is here. FOX News. And others. Snoop Dogg, my brother, couldn’t come. He is in Australia.

At your home, you have a really huge gate with your face on it. Do people come by?
Beth did that. I was embarrassed. I was like, “Come on, I’m not Elvis.” So this lady wrote me a letter and sent me a picture of her and her 8-year-old son. And she was in front of the gate hugging her son. And she said, “Dog, my son passed away last month and this is the last picture we had. And he was so excited to see your gate, I’ll never forget that day.” And Beth, of course, read that letter first and handed it to me. She said, “Do you still want me to take the gate down?” We had beef with the inspectors, city of Honolulu. It was in the paper: Too tall, too large, too this or that. So I almost wanted to take it down. And after I read that letter, I said, “Fix it and leave it up.”

Do you have any favorite lunch spots?
Country Kitchen. I go everywhere. I love all the different kinds of foods in Hawaii. I go to the Mainland and I get sashimi and I know it’s not fresh. I know the difference. Sashimi is one of my favorites. I go to Tanaka of Tokyo, Ala Moana upstairs. She presented me with a pair of metal chopsticks for my birthday.

Who are you going after next? Are you trying to go after Edward Snowden?
No, that was a rumor. That’s for the feds to do. But right now, the first show is so successful. A lot of kids in their 20s want to be a bounty hunter or a bailbondsman or a Beth. And a lot of them are getting killed, because they don’t know how to do it. So someone came to me and said, “You know, you birthed this idea. They’re dying. What are you going to do?” We got a bus and started going across the country (to help). And it is amazing. We all have the same goal. It’s like brothers all over the world. And it’s fantastic.

Chapman's birthday party was filmed for his show, Dog and Beth: On the Hunt on CMT. The new episode is expected to air some time in May.

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Photos: Odeelo Dayondon