‘Wall of Death Princess’ defies gravity, stereotypes

Centrifugal force: Karmila and another male rider performing inside the 6m-high ‘wall of death’ at the carnival in Bogor. — AFP

KARMILA Purba revs her motorbike under the lights of a night carnival and rides up horizontally inside a wooden cylinder called Satan’s Barrel.

With a smile on her face, Purba delights onlookers as she fearlessly pings around the bowl in Bogor, West Java, spreading her arms to collect tips waved by those above.

The gravity-defying daredevil is among a handful of women that perform the stunt in Indonesia, zipping around a structure more commonly known as the “Wall of Death”.Women becoming “Wall of Death” riders is “extremely rare”, the 23-year-old said before the show.Satan’s Barrel – or “Tong Setan” – has been a main attraction at travelling funfairs in rural areas.

Purba came from humble beginnings as a street busker in Sumatra before switching jobs eight years ago for an income of around six million rupiah (RM1,800) a month.

She can also earn up to 400,000 rupiah (RM120) in tips on a good day. But at the beginning of her daredevil journey, she faced questions about her career choice.

“People were saying, ‘why do you do something like that? It’s not for females’,” she said.

Fans eventually began to praise Purba, giving her the nickname “the Princess of the Wall of Death”. — AFP

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Karmila Purba , motorbike , wooden cylinder


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