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.