Sunday, December 16, 2007


In total contrast to my previous post on a photo shoot, Garage magazine shot a feature spread on 'motorcycling gear through the decades', using the San Francisco Motorcycle Club as their backdrop (the SFMC is the second-oldest m/c in the US, and the oldest continuously operating). This was an expensive studio shoot, with stylists, makeup/hair artists, hired models, a photographer and assistants, lots of lights and camera eqp't, and several vintage bikes as props. It hurt to be relegated to 'prop' status, but I'm always happy to help encourage the old bike scene.

Top pic is my 1926 Norton Model 25 racer, looking spooky in the dark with some up- and back-lighting on wall of the SFMC. This was 'Jimmy's bike' - it belonged to Jimmy Shaw (a 'works' rider for Norton in the 'teens thru '30's), and was a factory race machine. It was restored about 15 years ago by Ken Blake in England, then my friend Ken Boulter purchased it to settle the unpaid restoration bill(!), and he sold it to me about 8 years ago (after much needling, I assure you). It's a bit of a bear currently, as I need to rebuild the carb and replace the magneto (very hard to start), and the soldered-up gas tank is a little leaky. Still, the bike is fast, having been timed at 94mph, and handles beautifully.

The interior of the SFMC is packed full of photos, memorabilia, and trophies on the walls, with two bikes hanging from the ceiling - an Aermacchi/Harley Davidson CR flat-tracker with a custom chrome-plated frame, and 1904 Curtis v-twin in original condition. Plus, there are pool and foosball tables, and a full bar. Pretty much ideal, really. The second photo shows one of the models (Nicole) being done up beneath the Aermacchi. Third pic shows Anoush having her hair done against the backdrop of vintage racing photos - mostly of former SFMC members through the decades.

Fourth pic shows 'Slim' Jim Hoogerhyde, SFMC member and vintage racer, who's modeling a pair of odd German goggles I found on ebay. Slim let everyone into the building and hung around all day during the shoot...which might be seen as tough duty, but there were 3 beautiful women changing clothes there all day. He doesn't look bothered at all.

Next pic shows Stephanie sitting on Stewart Ingram's little Morini racer (don't know the model, but I think it's a 175cc Settebello, with cool little Fontana brakes), amongst all the light boxes and light stands, etc. The Curtis and Aermacchi can clearly be seen hanging from the ceiling. The stylist was fussing constantly over the girls, getting hair and clothing just so, as lights were adjusted and the photographer crouched all over the place taking photos. Third pic of Stephanie shows everything in place and ready; what you can't see are all the clips and clothespins which are keeping her leathers tight against her hips, and her blouse pulled back to reveal her racy curves. 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!'

Next pic shows Anoush all dressed up in 40's hottie gear, and straddling 'Red' Fred Johansen's totally time-warp '47 Indian Chief . I ran out of memory on my camera... which I should explain was my cell phone! I didn't have my camera with me, but I did my best with no flash, courtesy of my Palm phone; I think it gives the whole series a moody look - sorry about the low-resolution.

Next pic shows the photographer, Ed Fox, setting up some of the lights to shoot John Goldman's '47 Bianchi, which is a totally original machine, except for the seat cover. Anoush sits before the bike in the finished shot, backlit against the wall of photographs. She's actually wearing a new Belstaff waxed cotton jacket, cut very Brando-style ('whaddya got?'). There was
another Belstaff in white cotton, which was very chic but looked pretty useless for a bike, as it wasn't waxed cotton or particularly waterproof.

I've owned Belstaff rain gear before - once it's been ridden in the rain for a few weeks, you don't want it anywhere near nice clothing, as it will leave dirty streaks! It also tends to collect cold water in the crotch after about an hour in a steady downpour... I have bitter memories of a ride through the Tatra mountains in Czechoslovakia, after leaving communist Poland (1987), being completely soaked through despite my waxed cotton gear... even the MZ I was riding (which breathed through its frame backbone!) was gasping for air and choking on the waves of muddy water thrown over us by trucks passing the other way. Luckily, I was young, and arrived safely in Vienna after 12 hours, whereupon I KISSED THE GROUND. No kidding. Then I had a beer at a MacDonalds (and I hate Mickey D - that's how bad the food was in the 80's Eastern Bloc). Sorry for the digression!

The last
set of photos involves Nicole (don't ask for her phone number, as I don't have it!) with my Norton. Top photo shows the setup with Nicole silhoutted against the dome light. Dan Stoner, editor of Garage, stands to the left. Second pic shows Nicole wearing a leather helmet and my Avionix goggles (contemporary, from France), and a sort of Art Deco blouse. The bottom pic shows her outfit better; jodhpurs, Deco blouse, leather helmet, tall boots - a nice look... motorcycles do look better with a beautiful woman next to them!


tgp said...

Great pics. The Curtis is a 1904, the same year the SFMC was founded.

Neil Marck said...

Paul: I was searching for a Belstaff jacket and your blog popped up in the list. I thought, "Vintagent?!?!? I know this guy." Too much.

Cool bikes. Cool chicks. Cool club. The BDF appears well-represented at the SFMC.

You ought to come riding with Bock, Eddie, Guy and me later this month. Laps around Nevada and Utah.

Neil Marck