Stark Raving Madeleine
It was connected to a film project about women motorcyclists, which of course intrigued me. But on a more shallow level, I really loved this girl’s style: So elegant yet cool, so model-like, so refined, so… British.
And then, through the glory of social media, I got to know the real, slightly-insane-in-a-good-way Madeleine Domries, otherwise known as STARK RAVING MADELEINE…
… and learned she wasn’t just a motorcycle-posing-model in the film, but a true motorcyclist, and the filmmaker herself, one I had the privilege of being interviewed by. (hmmm… I look like the Mad one here! Maybe that’s why we hit if off so nicely.)
So how, you ask, did a sweet young lady like her get dubbed Stark Raving Madeleine? After pulling up for a visit with some friends in North Hollywood on a “loud, dirty, deathtrap of a bike,” she climbed off in her oh-so-elegant Madeleine way and the crowd went wild! Amidst the laughter of her pals, the name was born and of course stuck, although it’s now been “delightfully abbreviated” to Starkers. The name fits her perfectly.
“There’s something about [it] that manages to capture my (sometimes unfortunate) honesty, my ranting/raving, my prim ballerina-ish-ness, and a little bit of a punk sneer.”
Born in the U.S., raised in British Columbia, and a resident now of the U.K., she is truly a woman of the world, a quirky cross of Mary Poppins-like properness and rollicking badassery.
But… let’s forget all that for a minute and take a different turn. Instead of focusing on her passion for motorcycles, let’s explore a different side of Starkers. Yes, she’s a “super awesome” Motor Doll. (Super awesome, by the way, is her catch phrase of late. Why? Because “it annoys the British with its inherently perky American-style optimism.” Which of course, makes her do it all the more.)
That very optimism is exactly what I want to talk about. In a world plagued with negativity, she is striving in her odd, quirky, wonderful way to bring inspiration, hope and passion to the masses. Maybe it sounds Pollyanna-ish, but that’s okay with me. We need a little more happy-happy-joy-joy in this world and less focus on the negative.
When I ran across the S.R.M. project a few years ago, it excited the heck out of me. As many of you know, I work in television news, which can sometimes be a pit of negativity–Ewww. Naturally, I’m drawn to things like Starkers’ Adventure Project: One Motorcycle Riding Girl on the hunt to film other girls doing amazing things, like skateboarding, helicopter piloting, kick-ass martial arts-ing, and yes, motorcycling.
Starkers’ driving force is to showcase positive role models for girls, a message I can fully support, and is part of the goal behind MOTOR DOLLS. When people ask me to describe my novel, I say it’s not about shopping and makeup and boys. It’s about girl-power and fearlessness and trying to identify one’s passion in life, qualities that often aren’t emphasized enough. Starkers wants to change that, to show examples of just how cool being an adventurous girl can be.
“It’s lonely to want more from life but never see any examples of it, much less meet anyone else and then when I discovered that there were some amazing women out there doing all kinds of stuff… I was angry that it wasn’t being shown. We go on and on about how sexist toy stores are or how misogynistic some music videos are… we spend all this time and energy giving more attention to what’s wrong, meanwhile there are awesome women out there doing cool stuff and no one is paying any attention. I don’t need to see any more Jersey Shore… I want to see awesome stuff!”
Instead of griping about it over a cup of tea, she took action, roaming the world in search of “super awesome” girls: France, Portugal, New York, California, Canada, all over the UK, and now, she is working hard “cajoling, wheedling, bullying, begging television networks to consider sparing some airtime from the usual endless reality TV trash” to make room for the awe-inspiring profiles of people doing amazing things, both big and small, not just women, but men and children, anyone out there living a life of adventure, and she’s getting closer to that goal.
Okay. So you came here for MOTOR DOLL stuff, right? Let’s wrap this back around to MOTORCYCLES.
Starkers learned to ride in Los Angeles and still has her first bike, a KZ400 (which resides in L.A.), and has owned several other bikes, her favorite being her red Ducati 900SS. Being an enthusiast, she of course has a passion project in mind: “to bring together all us thrill seeking misfits and outcasts on one spectacular summer adventure!“
What kind of adventure, you ask? An all-girl cross-country motorcycle trip of course, one she so graciously invited me to participate in! Squeal!!! How incredibly fun would that be?? Sadly… I can’t go. Taking a summer off work isn’t an option for me. I’ll have to live vicariously through her film highlighting this “super awesome” motorcycle bonding experience.
“For girls, that feeling [of bonding] is exaggerated even more because the world still thinks it’s crazy for women to do dangerous things or dirty things or boy things… and it’s very easy for us to feel alone with this freakish desire, especially as a lot of us tend to be misfits anyway. We end up with lots of guy friends and a few women friends who look at us askance and who drift away to talk about shopping and recipes while we get excited about leathers and carburetors. So when you meet another moto-girlie, it’s like being a 12 year-old loner and then finding a new BFF at summer camp.”
My goodness. Starkers sure has a way with words, a skill she’s putting to use in her new book highlighting her many adventures, one that should be available this spring and will be launched at the Ace Cafe in London! I know I’m eager to discover more about just who she is, although it’s surely too vast to define: A writer. A filmmaker. A ballerina turned biker. A motivational speaker. An every day adventurer. And… a person who makes me smile with every interaction, whether it’s a picture of the fabulous Ren the Chiweenie…
… a witty status update…
…Or a haunting Super Mongrel portrait…
AND… get this! You can become a member of her Secret Club (or if you’re really dedicated, her Super Awesome Secret Club). But shhhh… don’t tell anyone. ‘Cause it’s a secret.
Oh, and if you happen to have a Triumph Thruxton laying around the English Countryside, I’m sure Starkers wouldn’t mind if you left if at her doorstep.
Until next time…
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