The Boobs on Bikes paraded down Auckland’s Queen Street yesterday. Alex Casey and José Barbosa talked to crowd members to get their questions answered.
The sun was beating down as the clock struck 12 on Auckland’s Queen Street. It was too hot and I had to keep my jacket on because I had forgotten that my new top had shoulder pads in it that made me look like a quarterback. I was laughably over-thinking my appearance in the face of what was about to come careening down Queen Street.
Peering through the crowd, it was tough to detect who was in town to see Boobs on Bikes, and who was just going about their daily business. All of the Queen Street classics were out in force – tourists with selfie sticks, meandering toddlers in tutus, that excellent window washer who always wears a flame-print cowboy hat and no shirt. He wasn’t the only one going shirtless today.
The parade itself whizzed by faster than you could say “hmm, nah this is objectification.” There was a man nearby eating sushi with his hands, who barely got halfway through one piece before the lady buffet had sped past. “Those were nice,” another man whispered to his friend in front of me. Behind me, an aggrieved teen spat “you can’t even see shit from here!” He threw his Burger King cup on the ground.
Milling around in the aftermath of the Boobs on Bikes crowd, it was difficult to process what I had just seen. The women themselves looked like they were having a nice time, so why did everything still feel so sad? Myself and The Spinoff’s producer José Barbosa had a chat to both the punters and protestors, to see how other people felt post-parade and get some of our questions answered:
The Boobs on Bikes parade has been running for over ten years now, and was founded by New Zealand’s premiere (and basically only) pornography baron Steve Crow. Each year that it runs, the topless motorbike-driven cavalcade makes its way down Queen Street several days before the start of the Erotica expo. It’s certainly a more aggressive and controversial form of promotion than any other annual expo. You wouldn’t see this kind of display from the Auckland Doll and Teddy Fair.
Civil injunctions, protests and petitions from various groups have failed to stop the parade year upon year. Crow says it’s a statement about freedom of expression, the right for a woman to bare her chest in public just like a man.
I agree that this is a longstanding and very bullshit double standard that needs changing. I just wonder what he’s doing for the cause on the other 364 days of the year, not to mention that his Freedom Parade for Equality appears to largely exclude breastfeeding mothers, women who have had mastectomies, trans women and women who don’t look like pornstars. Possibly because these aren’t the women who make him the most money.
On the walk back from the parade, a bewildered delivery man bumped into me. He was so distracted by the crowds that he had lost control of his trolley. He asked me what he had just missed, and I gingerly told him.
“Oh, so nothing then.”