I read a really interesting article today about black female motorcyclist Marian Peterson. Ms. Peterson, who’s now 64 years old and is more commonly known as Miss Showtime, is now the road captain of the all-male motorcycle club the Magnificent Seven. Miss Showtime is also featured in the California African American Museum’s exhibit Black Chrome, which showcases the contributions African Americans have made to motorcycle culture. This exhibit started last September 2008 and will run through April 12.
BY NADRA KAREEM
Marian Peterson has defied gender roles her whole life.
As a little girl, she had a train set that outmatched any owned by the boys she knew.
As a young woman, she was the only female to compete on her local horse racing team, the L.A. Jayhawks.
And by the time she reached her mid-20s, Peterson — more commonly known as “Miss Showtime” — was one of the few black women motorcyclists in Los Angeles.
“When I first started riding I was not on the bike set,” said Showtime, now 64. Instead, she rode motorcycles independently of a club, later becoming affiliated with male riding groups. “Some of the guys felt intimidated because I’m a woman, and by my skills riding.”
Mostly self-taught, Showtime is now the road captain of the all-male motorcycle club the Magnificent Seven, a feat indicative of how much respect she has in the riding world. Showtime is also one of the elite black motorcyclists featured in the California African AmericanMuseum’s exhibit Black Chrome, which showcases the contributions African Americans have made to motorcycle culture. The exhibit will run through April 12.
As a black woman in the motorcycle world, Showtime arguably faced twice the challenges that her male counterparts did. When Showtime won a street race against two male competitors, she had to be very humble and coy, so as not to upset them.
She told her competitors that she had no idea she was racing them. “I was just trying to keep up,” she recalls telling them.
Showtime said that she has managed to earn the respect of male motorcyclists by behaving like a lady rather than mimicking the behavior of men.
“Some women will go out and put on their gear and put on their bike, and they’re not the same lady,” Showtime said. “Guys respect ladies.”
The article also mentions the 2003 movie Biker Boyz starring Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Lisa Bonet and Orlando Jones and credits the film for giving the mainstream a peak inside black motorcyle culture.
She credits the 2003 film “Biker Boyz” for exposing black motorcycle culture to the mainstream. It’s Showtime’s belief that the media doesn’t show black motorcyclists engaging in bike runs and other activities, as it does for white motorcyclists.
According to her, many of the crew members on the “Biker Boyz” set didn’t realize that black motorcyclists even existed. And black women motorcyclists have yet to garner the attention their male peers have.
You can check out the entire article here.