It’s hard not to learn about living legend Ms. Showtime and not get a little sparkle in your eyes while you do it. Also known as Marian Peterson, she is an absolute force to be reckoned with, and has been that way her entire life. Based in Los Angeles, she’s been paving the way for women motorcyclists—many Black, plenty not—since 1971.
Like a lot of badasses of all genders, Peterson realized early on that she wanted to live life on her own terms. She told Black Girls Ride magazine that this attitude formed well before she ever got on her first bike.
“I can remember all my life, having “boy” toys, hating boring “girl” toys,” Peterson told BGR. “Betsy Wetsy was the top of the line doll in my days. You put the baby bottle full of water in Betsy’s mouth, and the water would come out her bottom. Yay! Now you can change her diaper. It didn’t impress me at all. I wanted a train set for Christmas. My mother got me the biggest train set on the block. This let me know it was alright to play with “boy” toys or have a “male” career.”
Peterson went on to do both. In the ‘60s, she had a 550 Honda and taught herself to ride. She grew up riding horses, then went on to ride the iron kind a little later, and she’s stayed on two wheels as much as possible ever since. For a living, she made her career as an aircraft mechanic. She rode with the Chosen Few MC back in the day, and said they adopted her as their “baby sister,” but wouldn’t let her join because she was female.
When the Magnificent 7 MC formed in 1961—shortly after the Chosen Few—she became the first and only female member of that all-male club. Her riding skills were admired by all, and they also made her Road Captain because of that fact. Peterson regularly outrode male bikers in the scene, doing things like lane-splitting with big baggers that lesser riders would never attempt. She’s earned so much love and respect from the riders who’ve ridden with her over the years. Peterson turned 75 in 2020, and she’s still riding strong, admired by many, and is absolutely a living legend.
Do you want to be her when you grow up? I think most of us probably do, even if we’re already technically adults.