Bike Show Girl

Bikeshow_girl_01By Rachel Wheatley

Pictures: Andy Whitehouse Photography

Rachel is a regular at bike shows as well as other exhibitions, appearing most recently at the 2008 NEC Show then on the Ducati stand at the MCN London Motorcycle Show. So I asked her what the show looks like from the other side of the camera lens...

It’s a weird and mostly wonderful world I inhabit: I earn a living simply from sitting on gleaming examples of awesome engineering, mechanical masterpieces with knockout styling and exotic names, often far beyond the means of the guys and girls – it’s mostly guys, mind – wandering around motor shows. I get paid to create maximum visual impact by smiling and looking good, and using Ducati 1198s and so on as my props. What a job!

 Bikeshow_girl_08Click on image for galleryThere is method to this madness of course. For as long as there’ve been girls and motorbikes, marketing bosses realised that the best way to a man’s heart, not to mention other bits (I mean wallets of course), was to combine the seductive beauty of the female form with the stunning craftsmanship of a motorcycle. Lucky for me they did, and I don’t just mean being paid: there is nothing quite like grasping a bike’s handlebars, caressing its tank and sliding up and down its structured torso in my skin-tight outfit and killer heels, seeing the hordes of men with their cameras gathering around. Getting it right is to master the art of taking advantage of the human male’s weakest side... and that’s not difficult. So tell me again, who’s being exploited here?

And after years of ‘performing’, I can confidently say I have the technique down to perfection – men aren’t complicated. But it helps that I do understand: a bike seems so much more alluring and interesting – and buyable – once a semi-clad female is strewn across its cold, impersonal veneer. And it works. This is still the most proven successful method of attracting male audiences worldwide to car and bike shows.

The right look and confidence is essential at a show, and it’s not something that happens overnight. You think girls can take a long time to get ready for an evening out: preparation for a show can take days, weeks, months even (seriously...), not to mention hundreds of pounds spent on all sorts of hair and beauty products. This is where the pressure really is, having constantly to look your best under lights for nine hours or more a day, maybe for one or two weeks at a time, and that can be extremely tiring. The flash photography is relentless too, with pictures being taken not just from every angle but at any given time, which adds to the pressure. Even if I’m on a tea break: men still love taking pictures of me when I’m doing ‘normal’ things. I can almost hear the lenses focusing – or is it their heartbeats fluttering? – as I squeeze out a teabag and add some milk. Standing by a bin on my mobile phone, some men find that worthy of a photo too, but then this is show territory and once you’re inside, the rules change. Where else do you see girls walking around in otherwise normal crowds in revealing Lycra outfits wearing six inch heels? So whether I’m seductively draped over a Desmosedici RR or tucking in to an overdue club sandwich, men are simply captivated. Poor souls, it’s just not fair.

I’m sometimes asked if bike shows are more daunting than the rest, and the answer is no. In fact at any of the shows I do nowadays, most men are very polite and respectful, and the motorcycle shows are no different. Some of the raunchier Max Power-type shows could get a bit difficult, but at an event like the London Motorcycle Show, the worst you’ll get is some bad-mouthed 18 year-old trying to impress his mates. He’ll normally take your photo on his mobile phone, whilst unknowingly spilling half his pint down himself in the process. You also get the so-called smart alecks, who ask you to get out of the picture, (but they do say please...), and the not-so-clever ones telling you to mind scratching the paint with those heels. ‘I wouldn’t let you go near my bike darlin’!’ ‘Well you’d never own a bike like this anyway! And even if you did, do you think I’d want to go on it with you?’ I’ve heard them all and I’ve got the answers, and as it’s all good natured it just adds to the fun. Oh but please don’t ask me to smile when I already am!

I don’t do the work because I can’t do anything else: I have a languages degree and am a professional actress, but these shows and events, they’re addictive. They’re like stepping in to giant glitter balls where day-to-day tensions are forgotten and the glitz and glamour take over. It’s so easy to get swept up in the hype and buzz of a show, to be in demand and the centre of attention. I hate walking away from it, it’s a huge anti-climax. In which case, onto the next one!

shuggiemac's picture
Joined: 23/11/2008

well there is no denying that Rachel is a bonnie girl and she would add to any bike on the aesthetic side of drawing people in. There definitely is a big difference bewteen the girls doing this job, as we discussed on this site last year. There are, without a doubt some truly frosty faced girls who do need to be asked to smile as they seem to think that just because they are pretty that is all they need to do and who definitely do give the impression that if they were chocolate they would eat themselves. On the flip side there are also some who just come accross so well and really do give you what you feel is a genuine smile, even though you really know that it isn't. There was an absolutely wonderful girl on the Polaris stand at last years EICMA who must have had the warmest presenece of any of these girls that I have seen over the years around the world and It worked as I do remember that she was on the Polaris stand and it did make me look at the Victory bikes more than perhaps I would have.
I am sure that it must also be an incredibly boring job. I work our stand at the annual motorcycle show and at times it gets wearing and I do actually have quite a bit to do, whereas the girls do not interract with the people directly other than visually.
To Rachel and her colleagues I think we all say a big thanks and to which ever girl gets the job of trying to make a Multistrada look sexy - you really had better be a stunner!

kevash's picture
Joined: 05/10/2008

Rachel is top value, very professional, funny and yeah, I suppose she looks okay too... And if she influences bike show goers it works the other way as well: she'll be taking her bike test this year and I'm hoping to follow how she gets on in the New Rider section.

Joined: 05/02/2009

I can't wait to saddle up! Looking forward to actually learning to ride now, rather than just sitting on a stationary bike for 8 hours a day at a show. Thanks to Kev for the lovely comments there and also to Shuggiemac too! It was interesting to read about your experience of girls at shows. xxx