Pulsating Paula was the nickname of Paula Grimaldi-Reardon, an American photographer who captured the biker, tattoo, and outlaw subcultures of the 1980s and 1990s. She was known for her black-and-white film images that portrayed the raw and authentic lifestyle of her subjects. She was a self-taught photographer who used a simple setup and a pseudonym to create her iconic work. She died on December 3, 2019, at the age of 65, after a long battle with breast cancer. This article will explore the life and work of Pulsating Paula, and the impact she had on the biker community and beyond.
From Go-Go Dancer to Biker Lifestyle Magazine Contributor
Pulsating Paula was born as Paula Jeanne Frances Marie Grimaldi on October 17, 1954, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She moved to New Brunswick when she was eight years old, and later to North Brunswick, where she lived until her marriage to Jeff Miluszewski in 1973. She started taking photos when she was 13, and discovered her talent and passion for photography.
At the age of 22, she became a go-go dancer, and worked in various clubs in Middlesex County, New Jersey, for 18 years. She said that her experiences as a dancer helped inform her photography work, as she learned to interact with different kinds of people and to appreciate their individuality.
In the early 1980s, she began photographing the biker lifestyle, documenting parties, swap meets, motorcycle runs, and other events. She submitted photos from a swap meet to Biker Lifestyle magazine, using the pseudonym Pulsating Paula for the first time. The photos were accepted, and she became a frequent and popular contributor for the next two decades. She also became a contributor to some of the magazines of Paisano Publications, such as Easyriders and Tattoo.
A Unique Style and Perspective
Pulsating Paula had a unique style and perspective that set her apart from other biker photographers. She used a Canon AE1 camera, two flood lights, and a black cloth from Kmart as her studio equipment. She preferred black-and-white film over color, as she felt it captured the essence and mood of her subjects better. She also developed and printed her own photos, giving them a personal touch.
Pulsating Paula was not just a photographer, but also a friend and a fan of the biker community. She was not an outsider looking in, but an insider who was part of the scene. She knew the people she photographed by name, and treated them with respect and affection. She did not judge or exploit them, but celebrated and honored them. She said that she loved the biker lifestyle, and that she wanted to show the world the beauty and freedom of it.
Pulsating Paula’s photos were not staged or posed, but candid and spontaneous. She captured the real and raw moments of the biker subculture, such as the joy, the pain, the love, the anger, the humor, and the camaraderie. She also showcased the diversity and creativity of the biker community, such as the different types of bikes, the tattoos, the clothing, and the accessories. She said that she wanted to show the human side of the bikers, and that they were not all bad or violent, but had feelings and dreams like everyone else.
A Legacy and an Inspiration
Pulsating Paula’s work was widely published and recognized, both in the biker world and beyond. She had thousands of photos published in various magazines, websites, blogs, and other media outlets. She was also featured in a documentary film called The Lightest Woman in the World, which was released in 2019. She was invited to meet celebrities and royalty, such as Queen Elizabeth II and President Bill Clinton. She was also a fixture at the NYC International Tattoo Convention, where she photographed the tattoo artists and their clients.
Pulsating Paula’s work was not only a documentation, but also a preservation and a promotion of the biker culture and history. She was a witness and a participant of an era that was changing and fading. She said that she wanted to keep the memories alive, and that she hoped that her photos would inspire future generations of bikers and photographers.
Pulsating Paula died on December 3, 2019, at her home in North Brunswick, New Jersey, after a long battle with breast cancer. She had been diagnosed with the disease in the early 1990s, and it recurred in 2003 and 2012. She fought bravely and gracefully, and continued to work and live until the end. She was survived by her husband, her brothers, and her nieces and nephews.
Pulsating Paula’s death was mourned by many people who had seen or known her. They remembered her as a talented, kind, and generous person, who had a bright spirit and a big heart. They expressed their grief and gratitude on social media, and held vigils and memorial services in her honor. They also created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for her funeral expenses and to support her family.
Pulsating Paula was a remarkable woman who overcame many challenges and achieved fame and fortune in her life. She was a pioneer and a legend in the field of biker photography, and a friend and a supporter of the biker community. She was a go-go dancer, a photographer, and a biker. She was a wife, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. She was a star that shone brightly, but faded too soon. She was a loss that left a void, but also a legacy that will never be forgotten.