Caramel Curves is the first all-female, African-American motorcycle club in New Orleans.
The club was started by — who else? — Caramel, in 2005, as the counterpart to a men’s club. The group almost went under that year, after Hurricane Katrina wracked the city. But in 2008, they registered as an official motorcycle club — independent of any men’s organization.
Photographer Akasha Rabut first met the crew three years ago, at a New Orleans Super Sunday parade.
Rabut had quit her commercial photography job and moved to New Orleans several years before. She spent her days documenting the city’s rich cultural events, like that Sunday’s parade.
Standing off to the side at the parade, Rabut ran into two sharply dressed women on motorcycles — Tru and Love.
“I took a photo of them and then I started talking to them,” Rabut told Revelist. “They were like, ‘Oh, we’re actually an official [motorcycle club]. We’re the first all-female African-American motorcycle club based out of New Orleans.’ That really peaked my interest.”
The women invited Rabut to one of their weekly meetings, hosted at a member’s nail salon.
Though Rabut says she was “terrified” of motorcycles at the time, the Caramel Curves crew made her feel right at home.
“Just in talking to them i was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to hang out with these women and find a way to do a project with them,’ she said. “They were super open to it, and so then I just started hanging out with them and photographing them.”
They even invited her to a party with the other motorcycle clubs of New Orleans.
“It was just so intimidating because it’s all motorcycle people in their motorcycle garb,” Rabut said. “...But the Caramel Curves made me feel right at home. They were just buying me drinks and introducing me to everyone, and they just made me feel like I was out with my friends. They didn’t make me feel like this dorky outsider who was trying to take their photo.”
When they’re not attending fierce biker parties and popping wheelies around the city, the Curves are supporting their local community.
At least one member is a breast cancer survivor, and — according to Fox 8 — the Curves frequently fundraise for breast cancer research. They also spend time feeding the homeless.
The crew is easily distinguishable for their signature style: high heels, jewelry, and lots of pink.
“Whenever they go out in public they all wear the exact same outfit,” Rabut said.
According to Rabut, the Curves women come from all walks of life: One is a nurse, one is a real estate mogul, and another is a stripper. But together, they are role models for the community.
“It seems like everyone wants to be a Caramel Curve now,” Rabut told Revelist. “When you see them on the street people are just so excited to see them, and I think it’s because they’re really strong women.”
Still, not everyone in New Orleans loves the Curves. Rabut said some members of all-male motorcycle clubs don’t think an all-female, African-American crew should be registered.
But Rabut said they take it all in stride.
“They do get a lot of strife from the men involved in that world, and they don’t care,” Rabut told Revelist. “They’re like, I’m going to keep riding my bike in my heels with my jewelry — and I’m gonna do wheelies.”