I began a post a day ago regarding the history of women in motorcycling, and ended it with a couple of photographs that my mother and I had found of my grandmother. She was in moto-garb and astride an old Harley Davidson. Amazed when we found these, it was a total surprise to both my mother and me. We were going through Grandma’s belongings together after she had died, not an easy job, but the discovery of this photo album was extraordinary. What stuck both of us, is that nothing had ever been mentioned about this trip, though here it was in all its glory, presented lovingly in a leather photo album complete with captions under each photo. Sadly, there was nothing noting anyone’s name, but one, Frankie, who was the other female companion/rider. I do wish there had been something to hint more at who the people were, the time of year, the route, the roads, as I had a plethora of unanswered questions!
I have to say though, that this pictures captures her impish smile and let’s me know that she was indeed content making this trip even though she never shared it. It was her secret excursion while a single lady, possibly her last vestige to her adventurous self. The picture makes me smile, you know a kind of secret knowing smile between friends. *wink wink, nudge nudge*
Continuing my study of Bikes and Babes, we’ll take a look at women motorcyclists that made history in the early years.
In 1915 Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, a mother and daughter team, rode from New York to California to attend the San Francisco World’s Fair while making themselves the first female riders to cross the United States. They rode on a three speed V-twin Harley Davidson equipped with a sidecar to accommodate Avis. It took them two months and, upon reaching San Francisco, Effie made it a point to make a splash in the Pacific Coast ocean so that she experienced the waters of both coasts, and, in a sense, live up to altering the tides of the times before making their way back to New York!
How can you beat a Norton, a Norton rider, (Eddie Tenpole former member of the Sex Pistols) a beautiful blonde, (Tamara Beckwith) and great music by Joe Strummer? All this in one 12 minute film, complete with some footage from The London Aces Cafe! This is a must see, for any aficionado of vintage motorcycles and black and white art films!
After yesterday’s post I decided to do some more research to share more information on women in historic motorcycling context, motorcycle films, motorcycle advertising and motorcycles in general. I believe I will now file them categorically so we get a better idea of who was when and where! I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than blogging on this subject. I am both amused and amazed by the plethora of information I have found. When able I will be citing the sources for you to serve you better on your own own personal quest for more detail. I am delighted to take this on, during the months I am not doing much riding due to fog and cold.
We have always said “sex sells”. Well, indeed it is still selling motorcycles as business calendars and magazine ads are filled with beautiful women draped over motorcycles. This began with the inception of motorcycling and continues as the sport has grown. The face has changed a bit as more women are becoming riders, however motorcycling is still filled with near nude women being objectified in advertising, for better or worse.
In order for advertising to be effective it must convey the intended message, giving consideration to underlying cultural codes. Here in America, an ad can mean one thing and in another country, consider China, quite something else. Semiotics, the study of signs and symbols and their meaning, offers valuable tools for analyzing advertising to uncover strengths or weaknesses of ad campaigns. Much careful consideration is placed on layout and construction of advertising by people that specialize in how the ad will be perceived both here and in other areas, as required by the purchaser of the ad. Both focus groups and semiotic analysis are used to establish the overall effectiveness of an ad. Some ads are portrayed in historic context and would now no longer be considered effective, but it can be said that historically, as now, sex sells, whether in your face or softly presented.
Now Ducati knew this ad featuring a buxom babe would definitely turn heads.