Nola’s Stiletto-Wearing Caramel Curves Motorcycle Gang Addicted to Thrill
Photos by Akasha Rabut
Dressed in their signature pink Mohawk helmets, stilettos and fancy bikes, the Caramel Curves Motorcycle Club in New Orleans, is busy pushing the boundaries and taking over the streets. Not to mention, the ‘Super Women’ are one of the ‘most loved’ female biker clubs in the country.
Believe it or not, the all-black, female bikers are superstars in their own special way. They bring feminism and femininity to the masculine world of male-dominated motorcycle clubs. Their latest video on social media received over 15 million hits, and everywhere they go, they are celebrated. Maneuvering their powerful Suzuki 1000s and1300s, to 3-Wheelers and Power 5Bs, the women live to ride and ride to live.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s latest Motorcycle Owner Survey, women riders accounted for 14 percent of the total motorcycle riding population in the United States as of last year. MIC also reports that the total number of riders also grew and women riders in the United States went from 600,000 to 1.2 million.
What make the gang stand out from other bikers are their curves, makeup, stilettos and leaving behind a trail of Pink smoke. “We dress sexier than the other female bikers. When we come out, we come out. We look like we are going to a big party,” explains nail shop owner, Nakosha Smith, aka Coco. “We try to get out as much as we can. There’s a lot of motorcycle clubs in New Orleans.”
Like a pot of Nawlin’s Gumbo, the Caramel Curves Motorcycle Club is a mixture of women from all walks of life. They are local business owners and professionals, clocking 9-to-5 jobs. They are fortunate to have two nurses, a doctor, a dentist, a nail shop owner, embroidery and print shop owner, Fed-X delivery driver and more, ranging in age from 25 to 50-years-old. “We first started our club in 2005. It was originally six of us. Basically, it was a group of women who wanted to ride together. Actually, we are the first female motorcycle club in New Orleans,” says Dr. Shanika “Tru” Beatty, a pharmacist and business owner. Founders Tru and Coco started the club before Hurricane Katina struck New Orleans. Some of the original members relocated to Texas and never returned. They revamped the group in 2007.
Life on the road is one big adventure. From racing each other and burning rubber all over town, to leaving a trail of their signature pink smoke behind, they all agree that riding bikes give them a sense of female empowerment and sisterhood. “We love racing with each other. It’s the competiveness of the sport,” says Tru.
“The pink smoke – we think it’s cool. A lot of people get confused about it. We hear some crazy stories about where people assume the smoke comes from,” says Coco. “Dye is put inside the tire before it is made and we’re burning rubber and that’s where the pink smoke comes from. People think it’s a machine put on a bike but it’s a smoke bomb tire. The smoke bomb tire is very expensive.”
“They cost $120 per tire and I don’t burn rubber like that,” says Tru. “I just go to the store and buy four or five tires at one time. I’m addicted to burning tires. When you pull up, people expect us to do something, and I don’t want to let the people down,” says Coco. ‘Burnout’ is spinning out the rear wheel usually with the front brake locked. It can easily become a very expensive habit. Done for show, it burns a lot of rubber, and is a fast way to shorten the tire’s life.
“She needs an intervention. She’s addicted to burning tires and making smoke. It’s like real bad now. She has a problem,” says Andrea Shepherd, aka as Hoodpriss, a Registered Nurse at the local jail.
Tru chimes in and says, “She (Coco) got an extra rim to go on her bike, so she’s prepared when she blows out tires.”
Nevertheless, they take the good with the bad and have experienced it all – accidents, partying, the paparazzi, flashing lights, traveling, and the stares from everyone they zoom by in the streets. Sundays are their fun days. “The craziest thing I did was when I was being chased by a dog, I popped a wheelie (popped the clutch) and the bike went up to a 90 degree. It terrified me,” says Coco. Tru laughs and says, “Coco loves to pick up her bike.” Coco says, “I love it! I love picking my bike up.” You can hear the excitement in her voice. She really does enjoy it.
However, the Caramel Curves are more than just women on bikes doing burnouts. As a biker, they make appearances, host parties and special events, participate in parades and Second Lines. They also feed the homeless, volunteer for the local Habitat for Humanity, visit the elderly at senior citizen’s homes, and raise their families.
While riding bikes in sky-high stilettos may seem outlandish to some, the women are experienced and will not have it any other way. According to the group, their family, friends, spouses and boyfriends are concerned about their safety, and some are not pleased with them riding bikes, but they all insist that they are serious about their safety and well-being. “Safety is first. We wear protective riding gear. We wear helmets. We have two nurses with us. When someone is hurt, we all clean them up and keep riding. We all protect ourselves,” says Hoodpriss. “My mom was terrified and that’s why I got a 3-Wheeler versus two wheels.”
Tru adds, “My mom was okay with it but my dad was terrified. After they realize it’s what you want to do, they become supportive of your decision. Later, my dad said, ‘you need loud pipes.'”
Coco says, “My parents were fine with it at first. Then, I started burning rubber and she said, ‘girl you are crazy.'”
Iviera Brown, Fed-Ex driver, aka Icy Baby chimes in, “My mom said let me know when you get on the bike and when you get off.” “Tru taught me how to ride. My husband goes everywhere I go. I don’t think he trusts me on the bike. I’ve been riding about two years.”
“I had been riding in heels and a lot of men think it’s real sexy and you have a lot of people who thinks it’s not safe. I’ve been riding for 20 years, 15 of them in heels. I am more comfortable in heels than tennis shoes. Women wear tennis shoes or heels,” says Coco excitedly. “No one has broken heels. Whatever, looks good with our outfit, we wear them,” says Tru. “I see very few females riding with boots on,” says Hoodpriss. Icy Baby says, “Riding is more comfortable in flats.”
“A typical day with us is – it’s a whole lot of being late. It’s a whole lot of female empowerment. We do different things throughout the community,” says Hoodpriss. Tru adds, “When we go out to clubs and around town, it’s a lot of head turning and ooohing and awwwhing, and it’s a lot of cameras flashing.”
“First time I got on a bike, I was 16-years-old. My boyfriend told me to try it. I tried it and loved it. It was one of the most fun things I did. When I see him today, I thank him,” says Coco. Tru adds, “My dad had a bike and I always saw him riding. My dad was scared to teach me. I took a motorcycle safety class when I was 19.”
She adds, “I’m trying to get my new boyfriend on the bike. He is terrified of riding. I don’t know why. He is afraid for me. I’m still going though.”
The city’s residents support the group and a local artist painted a mural on Franklin Avenue in Nawlins’ in honor of them. “New Orleans loves us. They truly, truly love us. When they go to Second Lines, they expect us. They look for us. I think the city truly love us. When we ride in the parade, everyone loves us, the tourist, everyone love us,” explains Coco.
Tru adds, “Everyone loves us. Even white people like us. We’ve never run into anyone that didn’t like us. I’m surprised that so many people love us. When we travel out-of-town, people know us. We are known by everyone.”
“I just want people to know we put sisterhood first. It’s not easy being a group of females, but we make it work. We balance everyday life. Everybody in the club has a family and we make it work,” says Hoodpriss.
Tru adds, “Being a biker, and a mommy and a girlfriend is a full-time job. We also commuicate daily by group chat. We actually speak to each other everyday. This is how we pick out our outfits and decide where we are going.”
Each week, the ‘Super Women’ encounter a new journey. Whether it’s jumping on their bikes and traveling to a new city, enjoying an unfamiliar culture, or shopping for new stilettos, what they cherish most is riding together and their strong sisterhood…
“I must say, of everything I’ve done in my lifetime, being a female motorcycle rider is my biggest accomplishment. It’s all about being a female, having a motorbike and a vagina. You got those things, you are in,” says Coco.