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January 24, 2007

The Leather and Lace Bikers Society Ball

Scan1_0001_5 The Leather and Lace Bikers Society Ball

By Elaine Viets

That photo is me at the most exclusive society ball in St. Louis: The 15th annual Leather and Lace Bikers Society Ball.

It’s the hottest ticket in my hometown. A thousand bikers show up at the gorgeous old Casa Loma ballroom in South St. Louis. In biker circles, it doesn’t matter how important your dead relatives are, or how much money you have. This society is based on skill.

The Leather and Lace ball is exclusive. It does its best to keep out RUBs – Rich Urban Bikers, the Malcolm Forbes wannabes who buy Harleys for status and take them out three weekends a year.

In the photo, I’m with Ron and Pat Steger. They’re real bikers, who are not afraid to get a few bugs in their teeth. They’ve hardly changed since I saw them at the first biker ball fifteen years ago.

I’d covered a lot of society parties as a reporter in St. Louis, but the only one I enjoyed was the Leather and Lace Bikers Society Ball. This was definitely not the Oscar de la Renta crowd. At one of the first bikers society balls, the queen wore boots and a lace bodystocking – and that was all. She was a natural blonde. Her escort wore only a black vest, black leather chaps and a black Harley G-string. I didn’t linger on his outfit. The queen had some serious muscles.

There were plenty of less heart-stopping outfits: leather vests and panther tattoos for the men, leather miniskirts and lace blouses for the women. And enough boots to stomp half of South St. Louis.

At midnight, they ride one huge Harley around the ballroom to the official biker anthem, Steppenwolf’s "Born to Be Wild."

When everyone has imbibed sufficient courage, they also have the Leather and Lace contests. I was one of the first female judges. I judged the Best in Leather, male and female divisions, and the Best in Lace at one of the first balls. Here’s what I remember from that historic occasion:

"What are the criteria?" I’d asked Ron.

"Just pick the best," he told me.

For the Best in Leather, Women’s Division, the women lined up in front of the bandstand. One wore a lace bodystocking and leather chaps. Another woman wore the same outfit – until she dropped her chaps and wiggled her butt.

All but one of the judges approved of this move.

A woman with the cheeks cut out of her jeans also wiggled her rear, to the delight of every judge but me. Soon bottoms were wiggling like Jell-O in an earthquake.

The bottoms were a hit with the men in the crowd, but they weren’t winners. That honor went to a woman who looked like a demure leather cheerleader in a flippy white skirt and lace-trimmed leather boots.

Bikers are a fair bunch. When the Best in Leather, Men’s Division, stumbled on, a woman in the audience yelled, "Hey, we saw the women’s butts, now what about the men’s?"

Contestant Number Three obligingly unbuckled his chaps, dropped his trou and showed a really nice set of buns: fat-free and golden brown.

The other contestants stayed clothed.

"Number Three! Number Three!" screamed the biker women.

The male judges, recognizing that they were surrounded by beer-bottle-wielding women, yielded to popular demand and gave him the award.

But what really impressed me was the male judges’ behavior in the Ladies in Lace contest. There was another bottom waver, a blonde in a sheer red gown with lace panties, a woman wearing a wondrous Spandex suit cut into a spiderweb of holes, and other amazing temptation. These women were fashion-model thin.

I was really proud the way the male judges voted:

They chose a contestant who wore a bodystocking made of black Harley lace. She had the generous, womanly proportions that painters in another age loved.

I was proud to confirm their decision.

* * *

I wasn’t a judge at the 15th Bikers Society ball. I could stay only long enough to say hello to my friends. I was in town on tour, and had to leave for dinner with a bookseller.

I checked out some of the wilder costumes, plus the not-so-shocking leather vests, panther tattoos and black miniskirts.

Oh, yeah. What do I wear to biker society balls?

Leather and lace, of course: leather pants, black suede boots, dark top, lace jacket. As one biker babe told me: "You almost got it, honey, but you need to show more tit."


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What a blast. Is there a series with a biker detective? A biker's old lady detective? Odd goings on in Sturgis or at the Biker's Ball. Stop me if I sound like Jack Nicholson in Hell's Angels On Wheels, Daddy-o.

That photo is classic!

What a great story - now I have to go find out whether we have a leather and lace ball here. And if not, why not?

My Godfather's sister had a full Harley escort for her wedding. Her husband is a biker and a Harley mechanic - he's like royalty. You should've seen the looks on the faces of half the guests when that procession came right into the reception hall. It was great.

We get a lot of the Malcolm Forbes wannabes up here, Elaine. There's a campground here that looks kinda questionable, but cute. When I was checking it out for my inlaws one summer, I expressed my concern to management about the many bikers on the weekend.
"Are you kidding?" he told me. "They're all lawyers and accounants and" this struck me as particularly funny "psychiatrists from Boston. Those Harleys aren't cheap!"
LOVE the outfit.

You have inspired me to produce a biker program at the library. Think of the entrance you can make on a Harley on the 6th floor!

Thanks. Another name for weekend bikers is "Cell's Angels" because they bring their cell phones.


All I can think of after seeing this photo is the classic cliche "Mrs. Peel....we're needed!"...:)

Okay, my husband rides a bike, but he's not a "biker." I was unaware of the various motorcycle subcultures until he bought his first BMW, which is considered almost the most un-Harley of all. (The most un-Harley guys are the 60-something retirees--often ex-cops--riding Honda Gold Wings with the huge saddle bags on the back, probably on their way to see the Grand Canyon or Winter Park, Florida.) Yes, Jeff carries his cell phone and wears body armor for safety purposes, not leather. The BMW guys make no effort to appear "bad ass." (Sarah, that was Jeff at the summer BMW rally in Vermont!) They emphasize safety and scenery, and they're mostly lawyers, accountants and--yeah, bankers who like the vacation aspect of long touring rides and wouldn't buy a Harley because their hearing is at stake! The Harley guys--and ladies--are serious Bikers. Depending on what particular bike they ride, of course. There are some Harleys that are solely intended for kids or retirees, some for police use. Others for Bikers.

And--I'm just saying--if I catch Jeff judging women in lace bodystockings, he's dead meat.

Really interesting, Elaine. You've been going to this thing for 15 years? What I don't get is are you . . . a biker?

Today's the day to say "I lead a boring life." *Raises hand* No comparison. None.

Seriously impressed. I wanna hang with you Elaine. Way.

Biker bash to book bash-----you look smashing.
mary alice

No, Michele, I'm not a biker, just a reporter, though I did ride with a thousand bikers on the Memorial Day weekend run from Delaware to the Vietnam Memorial in DC. I've never seen anything like it -- respectful silence from these men and women, most of whom were veterans, and from the very toughest, tears. I won't forget that for a very long time.

Funny post, Elaine. I adore your long white top. And Lori--my hand is raised. I lead a dull, dull life.

BTW, is Margie on vacation or something? Because I can't believe she hasn't commented on that last line.

Ramona, are you kidding? Margie doesn't show up before 10am. Sometimes noon. Oh, wait, I think I hear someone rummaging around in the supply closet. At least I hope that's rummaging.

Is she alone in the supply closet? Or is that a bike I see parked outside?

Elaine, words to live by: "You almost got it, honey, but you need to show more tit."

And, possible book title. A little long, but you could just drop the "VIETS" on the cover, to give more room. After this, I believe you could go by one name.

Harley, I think it's definitely a book title.
Kathy, I keep thinking about the Harley escort for the wedding. Maybe I can get Don to renew our vows . . .

You know, I make a few comments about the book tarts spicing up their (BORING) wardrobes, and I get a nasty memo in my file.

Elaine talks about some biker chick advising her about showing some more sugar, and everybody is like - 'oh, how cool is that?'.

By the way, I asked Steve, and you can't get me for sexual harassment. You guys are the bosses. So lay off, and stop knocking on the store room door when you know I'm in there handling the important files.

Hi Ramona. Thanks for thinking of me. I'm here, I'm just busy working, unlike some people I know who have pages due and are prancing around talking about biker weddings.

Margie, I always think of you. Usually rather fearfully.

Oh, man, the straight lines are killing me on this one....they're killing me.....

I agree killing me.!

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