I have a relative whose biker name is Bad Dog. Bad Dog was the spark of inspiration for the secondary character Max Stone in Rosemary's Double Delight. When I introduced him and his lady love Tessa Malone, I hoped to write their story at some point in the future. Bad Dog suggested that I attend the Republic of Texas Biker Rally, which took place this past June. I'd never been to anything like the ROT Rally before so I had no idea what to expect. I needed to be there, in order to tell a believable story. I was in for an experience.
Any of you who have had the pleasure of living in Austin know that it's a little weird. The closer we got to the Expo Center the freakier Austin got. There was a couple in front of us on a Harley having an exceptionally good time. They had the tunes cranked up and the biker's babe was dancing on the back of her man's bike. I was impressed by her rhythm and sense of balance and evidently so were the other drivers and bikers surrounding us as people began honking, cheering and enjoying the show. She was scantily clad in a leather halter and thigh high leather platform boots. I looked at my husband, who is shocked by absolutely nothing and asked, "That top is coming off as soon as she gets in the gates, isn't it?"
I thought, 'Cool! I brought my camera! Maybe I can sneak a picture!" Oh me, of much naivete, sneaking pictures was not necessary.
Because of the heat, our plan was to arrive at dusk, since it took place on what was effectively a gigantic 128 acre asphalt parking lot at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin. Even after dark the heat was stifling. After we found parking, we began looking for Bad Dog and..."Tessa." Kids are not allowed at these events and that's for a good reason.
I happened to see an ATV drive by and standing on the back of it was a woman wearing full body paint, front and back, a pair of heels, a G-string, and that's it. I was awed by her guts. We later found her booth and it turned out that she owns an online sex toy business the likes of which I have never seen, http://tlftemptations.com/ and her partner was a body paint artist.
I thought to myself, 'This is your chance, Heather. Are you a chicken? Or are you going to go for it?' She was standing outside her booth talking to people and allowing others to take her picture. I approached and she looked at me and smiled. I introduced myself and asked if she would answer a few questions. She put someone else in charge of her booth and brought another painted friend back with her and I interviewed them both.
I asked her about her partner's work and she said, "You should see the dynamic. One woman will be brave and take of her shirt and get painted. A couple of guys will stand and watch. Another woman will come up as soon as the first is done and take off her shirt and a couple more guys will join the others. Soon, there is a whole line of women waiting to be painted. The crowd grows and the guys watch as though they're mesmerized. NOBODY makes lewd comments because most of those women have a biker waiting on them to be done. The crowd gradually dwindles and then the same thing happens again later in the night."
She told me that she thought the men acted like that because they never get to see a woman proud enough of her body (or drunk enough, I'll grant you) to take her shirt off and sit totally still for that long to be painted, who isn't doing it for money. I interviewed several women and Tricia Willis, the painted lady, allowed me to take her picture and gave me permission to post it as part of this article.
After interviewing Tricia, we walked over to the Loop. The Loop is a parade that lasts until the wee hours of the morning. I knew I might see nudity, I just didn't know how abundant and what a wide variety there would be. There were breasts bared in every shape and size, asses from tiny to downright generous, and YES, I even saw one cunt, but she was drunk and I was not impressed. Nipples were painted and decorated with jewelry and of course there were the requisite Mardi Gras beads. Bad Dog explained that once we were on the Loop I probably did not want to earn any beads. He knows my husband well. For the uninitiated, if you want beads, you've gotta show 'em your tits.
I rode on a Harley for the first time that night. By that time it was eleven and people were really starting to let their freak flags unfurl. This is where all those ATVs came in really handy, hauling around the drunk, nekkid dancing girls. A little, pixy-looking thing with long, long red hair rode a bicycle alongside us for a while in a pair of lace boy shorts and a corset. I could've kicked myself for not bringing my camera on the Loop because she was drop dead gorgeous. I think my favorite was the nekkid guy wearing a tube sock...but not on his foot. I understand he's there every year like a mascot or something.
I learned something about bikers and their subculture while at the 2011 ROT Rally. Fundamentally, they are a great group, fun to party with, and they look out for their own. You don't mess with them and they won't mess with you. Yes, there are bad apples in every gathering, no denying that fact of life but I never saw any. I felt safer at this gigantic gathering than I ever have at our own hometown county fair, probably because there were no gangs roaming the expo grounds. Not with hoards of watchful bikers around.
So that was my idea of fun research. No, I didn't show them my tits. I may still be only a biker babe wannabe, but I can guarantee you one thing. When I write Max Stone's book, if I write a scene featuring an event like the ROT Rally, my heroine is earning her some beads!
Leave a comment telling me about the craziest thing you've ever done, just for the experience, and you'll have the chance to win an e-book copy of Rosemary's Double Delight or $10 in Strandbucks if you already own RDD. I'll put everybody's name in a drawing and Friday I'll announce the winner here, in a comment and on my Facebook page, so friend request me if you haven't already!
Also check out Heather's website at www.heatherrainier.com Summer's Indiscretion, the 8th book in the Divine Creek Ranch Collection is scheduled for release on September 30th. Heather's other titles are available at Siren-Bookstrand http://www.bookstrand.com/heather-rainier
and Amazon and Barnes and Noble.