Motorcycle madness
Brotherhood, growth, adventure found
in SoCal gay motorcycle community

The Oedipus Motorcycle Club, founded in 1958, held its run the Oedipus Grecian Games in 1988 at Camp Kessab (ironically a facility owned by a notoriously conservative Armenian community organization) in the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood.
Don’t be misled by the club’s name: yes, it connotes motherfuckers, but as soon as these butch, leather clad motorcycle queens arrived in the camp ground, out came the wigs, six-inch pumps and frilly dresses for a campy drag show staged every year in grand Hollywood style. It was called, gently, ‘genderfuck.’ Some club members were active in various segments of the movie business and were delighted to impress their buddies with directing, acting and singing skills.

This was the year I discovered and began enthusiastically participating in the Los Angles gay motorcycle community, at this time virtually exclusively male. OGG 1988 was the first ‘run’ I attended – a weekend out-of-town ride sponsored by the second oldest of the five or six active clubs.
The host club would accept donations to cover the expenses of the campsite, food, beverage (including a hosted open bar) and entertainment, and revelers would ride alone or in club goups to the site on a Friday afternoon, bringing their camping gear and other accouterments (sex toys, leather drag, dresses and pumps) with them. Most came by motorcycle, but those in cars and RVs also were welcome, and several always were at hand.
Friday night at OGG was wind-down time. The bar opened before dusk, and by dinner we were well oiled, a condition in which many spent the entire weekend. After all, there was no need to drive home; campers could stagger up the hill to a tent, but those few who overindulged just passed out in the bushes or near the camp fire, where friends found them in the morning, no worse for wear.
Saturday was usually the first round of ‘bike events’ – competitive tests of motorcycle riding skill artfully devised to be both challenging to the rider and entertaining to the audience.
One such event in which I competed had the rider insert the feathered end of a plastic, bar-game dart in his mouth, then ride up to a six-foot high wire suspended between two poles. About half a dozen water-filled balloons were hung from the wire; the rider was to pop as many as he could with the point of the dart without putting his foot on the ground or dropping the motorcycle. Obviously, the more successful the rider, the more drenched he was afterwards.
The crowd roared its approval.
I had an untended advantage in motorcycle competition, although at this point no tutelage. My relatively small 500cc Honda Shadow was easier to maneuver in a tight space than the mighty Harley Davidsons so popular – then and still – with bikers, gay or straight. Some events separated out the lightweights, but often we all competed in one class. Over the years, I won several trophies, a few of which still adorn my home.

I was a happy camper in Oedipus colors Happy camper in Oedipus colors

Saturday night at many runs the host club served a scrumptious formal dinner; there were several accomplished chefs and caterers in the group and meals were often surprisingly sophisticated, although the kitchen primitive. Entertainment that evening was usually presented by the guests, many of whom were not reticent at all, delighted to get their moment in the spotlight despite often limited skills.
Some chose simply the camaraderie of a blazing campfire, and a hosted bar.
Sunday at three-day runs was the most highly anticipated. The finals of the bike events were held, and often the afternoon was an enduro – a road ride that had been previously clocked by a host club member. The rider with the closest time and mileage was the winner; it was not a speed race.
Dressed in full regalia for the formal dinner, the program for the evening included presentation of the club colors (all clubs present were acknowledged), host club business and, finally, The Show.
Oedipus members – some of whom were Hollywood veterans – were famous for their over-the-top productions. In the 1989 show I was cast as a daisy and outfitted as a flower – with a pretty little skirt and hat formed by upstanding petals. This was my first and last time in drag in public.
Long weeks of rehearsals preceded the grand performance. Directed by Ken K., a one-time cast member of the Sonja Henie ice skating extravaganza, it was scripted and choreographed professionally, but the execution by novice, no-talent performers (some in levis and motorcycle boots) was never meant to be anything but hilarious, although Kenny would beg to differ.
In that ’89 show, one of my tasks with another club member was to carefully lower on a jury-rigged rope pulley system a rather hefty club member, Tom T., from behind a curtain in the ceiling at the rear of the stage. The concept was for the audience to perceive him as ‘flying’ in to the stage, where he was supposed to land gently on the proscenium.
But, the best laid schemes of mice and men go oft’ awry. As we began the descent, holding desperately tight onto the ropes supporting the 250-pound biker fully bedecked in elaborate drag, seven inch pumps his trademark, the rope snagged on a ceiling beam. Poor Tom was left dangling from the ceiling for perhaps 10 minutes, the audience hip to the problem, howling its approval, as the stage crew struggled frantically to untie the knot. Well, at least the audience had a good time!

OGG 1988 was the first of many gay biker runs for me, and also the beginning of my most enduring friendships. Only after joining the gay biker community did I begin to make what turned out to be long-lasting friendships.
My introduction to the community proceeded apace that summer. I attended many runs: the Warriors M/C (whose 1989 “Stalking Moon” run was held during an uncommon summer deluge, leading us to call it “Stalking Monsoon”); the LOBOCs (Long Beach and Orange County); and the PCMC (the Pacific Coast M/C or, more affectionately, ‘Pot-smokers and Cocksuckers’). But for three years, for some unknown reason, I missed the gran’ daddy of them all, the Satyrs’ Badger Flat run.
By late in the year, I had apparently carved out a biker identity for myself, enough to be invited to join the Oedipus. Membership is strictly by invitation only. One had to basically earn it by attending and participating in club events, helping with cooking and cleaning, going on day-trips, pouring at fund-raising beer busts and proving one’s worth. After club members got to know the candidate better, one of them would approach with an invitation to membership, subject to an affirmative vote by all the others. Most clubs still follow this tradition, but 25 years ago privacy was not a luxury, it was self-defense.
I gleefully joined the Oedipus in time for New Year’s Eve, and that’s how the following year, I became a flower, on stage, in a dress.

During 1989, my growing involvement in and personal growth afforded by the gay motorcycle community consumed a great deal of my time.
It began with the Coronation of Oedipus Rex LVI, Ken Lowery on Feb 4. This whole concept of the Rex was drawn entirely from Greek mythology. It was in the club tradition, an over-the-top induction of new officers for the year, and everyone dressed in their finest outfits, including club members in their formal, black uniforms with white accents – it almost made them look like waiters – and the inevitable boutonniere.
This year, as many before it but not many thereafter, it was held at Musicians Hall in Hollywood, home of the union for movie musicians. As the crowd, a couple of hundred strong, arrived in their formal uniforms, they were greeted by a reception line of outgoing club officers at the entrance to the cocktail party in the foyer.
This year I was the club member charged with organizing this part of the festivities. I’d cajoled my buddies, lovers Mark I. and Cameron C. into helping me. It was my job to acquire the libations, get them to the hall on time, set everything up and have servers at the ready. It was a hosted bar and the liquor flowed freely, lubricating the entire event. The pictures and compliments I received for the effort show a pretty good job was done by me and the crew.
After dinner, the show began with the presentation of colors. All guest motorcycle and leather/uniform/S&M clubs were invited to join a procession holding the flags – or in some cases, insignia’s attached to leather overlays – onto the stage for recognition.
Meanwhile, Oedipus members present and past assembled in the foyer and, led by the outgoing officers, followed the procession into the hall and onto the stage. In a ceremony fit for the king of legend, the new Rex was announced and the transfer began. The king-apparent knelt on a velvet cushion in front of the outgoing Rex, who then placed a larger-than-life crown (usually made out of costume jewelry and hideously overdone) on his head and pronounced him Rex. Newly anointed, he took the throne (a movie prop) and all club members knelt before him one at a time to kiss the ring. A trumpet clarion call announced to the world that a new motherfucker had taken charge.

The next major event on the community calendar was Oedipus Grecian Games ’89, “Astrological Affair,” which this time I attended in the club’s oh-so-impractical white, summer uniform. It was filthy within five minutes of putting it on.
Nevertheless, I was in charge of transportation that year, according to the program, which meant I had to drive one of the two huge trucks (the other was a refrigeration unit) containing all the club gear – most particularly a stage set and various props for the show, plus bar supplies, food, cooking utensils and other essentials.
After OGG was the Happy Hunting Run, “Song of the South,” presented by the Warriors M/C club at Camp Wasewagen, fittingly a Girl Scout campground on Big Bear mountain.
The notable aspect of the camp was that everyone had to ford two minor streams to reach it. The trick, especially for motorcycle riders, was to not be timid. To avoid getting stuck mid-stream on the first crossing, the driver had to build some momentum going into the water to make it all the way through; I saw many an uninitiated bike rider come to a standstill in the muddy bottom half way across, and, of course have to plant his leg into two feet of water or allow his bike to fall over. Some run guests who had already crossed actually sat on the bank as bikers arrived, applauding with glee whenever one fell in the river. The second crossing was much easier, on the top of a weir.

The campsite featured a club hall where all the group festivities including meals were held, and several log cabins where the less adventurous and older members of the crowd stayed in relative comfort. The first time I went, I camped in a tent that I sent in a car with friends. Later, I used a cabin, for ‘medical’ reasons.
I competed in the motorcycle events where the balloon popping, water shower one was part of the course. Picking up orange, cone shaped road pylons and putting them down in white chalk marked positions was another standard event. Also, this time, specially made triangular, conic and column-shaped papier-mâché sculptures had to be placed in a specified pattern on a six-inch wide plywood strip perched on two of the orange road pylons. I still have the pictures of me in action on the course.
Few were more surprised than I when, for the first and last time ever, I won the best of competition Sweepstakes prize – a handsome, sterling silver Oneida ice bucket presented, oh so gleefully, by my increasingly close friend, Greg Mills, president of the Warriors, a master of all bike events and

Sweepstakes trophy, at 23 years Trophy1

superb motorcycle rider who generously provided me with private tutelage before the run. I have treasured this prize for, now, 23 years, and restored recently by Jeff H. it today sits proudly in a prominent position in my living room.
Next on the agenda, this very busy summer, was the Blue Max M/C Red Baron Run ‘Buccanneers’ Bounty’ in August, followed by the Council of Southern California Motorcycle Clubs’ ‘Olympics’ in a parking lot on Lankershim Boulevard. This event was the baby of Greg Mills, and before it he gave me extensive further instruction in how to compete, at the inevitable destruction of the bike’s clutch. It usually burned out as the rider furiously gunned the motor to provide torque at slow speeds, helping keep the bike erect. It was necessary to win.
In September it was ‘Stalking Monsoon’ and New Year’s Eve on this turn of the decade was a double whammy: early party at my tiny Melbourne Avenue home with Mark, Cameron, and Peter Sorenson, then onto the Oedipus annual affair at the home of Jerry H., with all club members and special invited guests, including one Dan Brodzik who had just arrived in the community. The pictures tell the story better than words.
It was suddenly the Nineties, a new decade, an open road an many more motorcycling adventures in my future.

For images of the people and places in this story, check out the Gallery of motorcycle madness.