You’ve read the headlines and watched the video of Eve Black challenging authorities at a COVID-19 checkpoint. But the woman behind one of the nation’s most contentious incidents has remained relatively tight-lipped. Until now. In this revealing interview, Eve Black goes on the record about the incident, her arrest, having her past make national news and exactly where her life is heading now.
Eve Black always had big plans for 2020, but suddenly becoming one of Australia’s most controversial characters wasn’t one of them. At the beginning of the year, the self-declared free spirit, who has a thirst for adventure, had her sights firmly set on new career prospects in Melbourne.
After travelling the length and breadth of our great southern land working a range of different jobs, Black, 28, eventually found her way to settle in Victoria.
Little did she know that a global pandemic was about to throw those plans into disarray in more ways than one, and that soon the name ‘Eve Black’ would be known the world over.
“I had studied quite a few different courses, but not really put myself on any particular career path or trajectory because I hadn’t necessarily felt called to do anything,” she recounts.
“I like being busy and I like working physically. I like using my body and my mind in my work, I can’t do sitting at a desk.
“I’ve always entertained the idea that it could be really cool for me to go and get an electrical apprenticeship or even study naturopathy because I’ve always had an interest in natural health, medicine, diet and nutrition.”
Little did she know an incident at a COVID-19 checkpoint would be a major turning point in her life, thrusting her in the media spotlight, and making her the public face of a nation’s frustration, as Australia, and the rest of the planet, settled into a ‘new normal’ way of life in lockdown.
Overnight, Black’s life was turned upside down.
AT THE CROSSROADS
July 23 was a typical cold winter’s day in Victoria. Black and an acquaintance were travelling in her pride and joy, a 78 Series Toyota Landcruiser Troopcarrier.
Police stopped the pair at Bunyip, about an hour’s drive east of Melbourne, a city in complete lockdown after a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had recently introduced strict Stage 4 lockdown measures, which included a complete shutdown of all schools, daycare centres and many businesses, an 8pm to 5am curfew, group gathering bans, exercise limited to one hour per day and a 5km travel limit.
Black was prepared. She had done her research and believed that she was within her rights to continue on her journey, despite growing fears in the community of cases spreading across the state.
She had seen others online, including another local critic James Bartolo, a former soldier and competitive bodybuilder, refuse to cooperate with authorities at a checkpoint, arguing with a police officer for more than 20 minutes that the officer’s actions were indeed unlawful.
In a video uploaded to Bartolo’s Conscious Truth Network Facebook page, he asks the officer ‘What’s the crime I’ve committed? If I haven’t committed a crime, then I’m going to go.’
Visibly frustrated, the officer allowed him to proceed. Black achieved a similar end result captured on camera.
What she thought might be a much longer ordeal, as per Bartolo’s experience, was over in less than 30 seconds.
In the footage, we see a nervous Black in the driver’s seat, while the acquaintance films the episode. As she approaches the checkpoint, Black blesses herself with the Orthodox sign of the cross and asks God for the strength to carry out her plan to pass through the checkpoint without trouble.
“I’m only doing this to stand up for, not only my own rights but for the rights given to my brothers and sisters here on Earth,” she says in the clip, now seen by millions around the world.
“I was incredibly polite to the officer, but I stood my shaky ground. I was clearly quite nervous and I was reading from a sheet. I knew what I was doing in my heart, but my delivery was obviously nervous because it’s a new situation and I hadn’t ever needed to do that before,” she said.
“I knew what I was doing wasn’t wrong and I don’t believe that the pandemic is what it’s being made out to be. And I understand the frustrations of people as well, by the way, you know, people who were like ‘oh, she’s flouting the rules and this virus is dangerous’.
“If I could truly see that this virus was as dangerous (as it’s made out) then I would respect that. But it’s not and people are being lied to.
“People are out there saying ‘she wanted this, she wanted this attention’ and when I lay low people say ‘she’s a coward’ … I’m like, well, fuck, make up your mind! Which one do you want to call me?”
At the time, Black didn’t realise that uploading the video to Facebook would be a life-changing decision. It was a move that saw her video quickly spread, initially from a group of friends, to a wider group of like-minded people, and further to those angered by her perceived audacity to seemingly flout the rules and potentially risk the lives of others.
Once the video found its way to the nation’s newsrooms, the outrage quickly went airborne, transmitting on television screens, newspapers and around the world via social media.
Overnight, Eve Black was a name synonymous with the label of COVIDIOT – a name given to those not playing by the new rules of society under the threat of a global pandemic.
In 2020, ‘cancel culture’ hits quickly, and for Black, the fallout was instantly brutal.
“I deactivated my Facebook for a little bit because I was sick of the rape threats and the death threats and everything. It was just too overwhelming,” she describes.
“I just went silent and I needed to take time to recoup because my life came tumbling down like a house of cards.
“My intention for the day wasn’t to go and create a fuss. I didn’t want to create a scene. I wasn’t thinking ‘great I’m going to plaster this all over Facebook and it’s going to get picked up by the media and I’m going to get all of this attention … I’m telling you, what person in their right mind would want, what I’ve been through.
“I simply intended to share on my Facebook, tag a few people who are my friends and get awareness out there and be like, ‘there is something that we can do about it, we don’t need to listen to these bullshit restrictions. We can travel freely’.”
Black believes one of the main reasons so many saw the video as a cocky disregard for the law and flouting of the rules, was due to her laughing shortly after being waved through the checkpoint.
“It was just the natural reaction that came out of me,” she said.
“I don’t regret laughing because it was just my natural reaction at the time. It wasn’t like a ‘fuck you’. People could see I was incredibly polite to the police officer. While I refused to answer any questions, I did so respectfully.
“I think it was pretty clear in the video that the intention of the interaction with the police officer was not to antagonise him. It was just to go on my way. I even said thank you to him.
“The laughter definitely rubbed people up the wrong way, but the laughter wasn’t like a ‘fuck you’, or like, ‘haha I win’. I’m not spiteful like that. It was truly just a wave of relief coming over me.”
A ‘DRAMATIC ARREST’
Just a week after the checkpoint video was uploaded, Black would find herself reacquainted with the long arm of the law.
Her vehicle was intercepted in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Carlton at about 2pm on July 29. Media reports labelled the event as a dramatic arrest, that police were forced to smash her windscreen and that she would be charged on summons with traffic offences, failing to produce a license, failing to produce name and address and breaching the chief health officer’s directives.
However, Black revealed that the incident was overblown and claims that details about the arrest were incorrectly reported by the media.
“They say it was pretty dramatic, but it wasn’t,” she said.
“They issued me a $1,650 fine, contrary to what the press was saying that I was being released pending a summons to court and $10,000 in fines. But that’s sensationalism for you … it’s so far from the truth it’s insane.”
After being inundated with negative messages and threats, Black has remained largely silent on social media. That changed earlier this week when she took to her Instagram account to speak out about the incident in Carlton, telling her followers that she believes authorities were monitoring her.
Her latest comments sparked a fresh wave of bad press, with some labelling her speculation as a ‘bizarre rant,’ seemingly dismissing the veracity of her claims.
“They pulled me over and I strongly speculate that they were tracking me,” she said.
“They pulled me over in Carlton … Dandenong police units don’t just hang out in Carlton, especially with what’s going on now, there’s nothing happening. So what reason does Dandenong police have to be in Carlton?
“They had a vendetta, there was a target on my head, and they wanted to get me. They pulled me over and then they asked me for my details. I didn’t refuse to give (my details), but I asked further questions, which they would not answer.
“They said that I wouldn’t answer the questions. It’s not that I didn’t answer theirs, it’s just that they didn’t answer mine and they were being really pushy with it.
“Normally they have to give you their name, rank and where they work out of. And I asked for that, as it’s a criminal offence for them to not give that when it’s requested by a citizen.
“They just wouldn’t have it, so I didn’t give them my name and address so then they ended up breaking the window.
“They (media reports) made it out like it was some dramatic arrest and they dragged me out of the car. No, that’s not what happened. I unlocked the door and got out of the car. Never at one point, did I refuse to comply. I did not resist the arrest. I let them arrest me.”
Eventually, Black said she gave officers her name and address as officers searched her car for her driver’s licence.
“Then I just went on my merry way and I went back to the house,” she said.
A PAST UNCOVERED
Two days later, Black would again find her name back in the headlines. But this time it would have nothing to do with her checkpoint stunt, her Carlton arrest or anything else related to the Coronavirus pandemic.
On July 31, The Daily Mail, a British tabloid news outlet with an Australian footprint, outed Black’s past in the adult entertainment industry.
In an article titled ‘Unmasked and stripped bare: Coronavirus conspiracy theorist Eve Black who filmed herself driving through a police blockade is a topless waitress and raunchy stripper who attends SWINGERS parties’ the website published candid modelling photographs of Black from her time as a topless waitress and stripper.
Other publications picked up the story and Black again found her name, including the doxing of her name as, Eve Limberiou, spread across the globe. Some articles reported that Black had attended ‘swinger’s parties’ a claim which she strongly denies.
“It was an attempt to embarrass me because a lot of people see that work as something to be embarrassed about. They wanted to slut-shame me. The thing is, I’ve actually never been ashamed of my previous line of work,” she said.
“I’ve always been honest about it when people ask me. That’s the thing … They wanted to take the power out of my hands when they decided that they wanted to put it in their own, because they were like, ‘We’re going to tell everyone that she’s a stripper’.
“I never had a problem telling people what I did. I mean, it’s not the sort of thing I would have broadcasted, but they did broadcast it and it was without my consent and obviously it’s not even relevant to the situation. Me having been a stripper or a topless waitress in the past has absolutely nothing to do with it.
“And even people who don’t agree with what I did even back that up. They said ‘I think she’s a dickhead but what does this have to do with her going through a checkpoint? This is sexist, it’s in poor taste’ … even people who don’t agree with me were saying that.
“I have never been ashamed of my job and I remain with that sentiment. It made me a strong, assertive and confident woman. One who can empower herself. And as a result of that, I don’t regret having worked in that industry at all.”
The publishing of Black’s past drew the attention of many high-profile identities who condemned the exposé.
In an article published to SBS’s The Feed website, Fiona Patten, member of the Victorian Legislative Council and leader of the Reason Party stated that it ‘diluted the seriousness of Black’s offences’.
“She acted like a complete idiot but to then do this great exposé on her private life and work in the sex industry, it distracted from that and it was all about shaming her,” Patten told SBS.
“I thought we’d moved on and slut-shaming was something from the last decade. Clearly, I was wrong and we still have a long way to go.”
Jules Kim, CEO of Scarlet Alliance, the Australian union for sex workers, told The Feed the coverage was disappointing and publishing revealing images of Black breached her confidentiality and consent.
“Sex workers are not all the same. We are like every other workforce; we have diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions. It’s constantly made to feel like one person’s experience defines all of us,” Kim said.
“It’s the idea that because she’s worked as a topless waitress that therefore means she doesn’t have a right to privacy or doesn’t get to consent to what gets used.”
A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
Black finds strength in her reconnection to her faith. As a baptized Greek Orthodox church follower, she says she has found comfort and support in her religion to help guide her forward.
“And as for my view on the industry since my move away from it … I support what other people do with their lives, but I also have evolving beliefs on what’s good or not good for the soul,” she said.
“The more time goes on, the more conservative I get as I develop a relationship with God.
“I don’t regret it, but moving forward with the direction that my life is taking, the direction in which I feel God is taking my life in … Who am I to say that other people should or should not do something.
“I still found God. I was a stripper and I found God … Does that mean that’s bad? Being a stripper was part of my path that led me to find God.
“There’s nothing wrong with a person who decides that they want to do that. And they should never be shamed for doing that.”
THE RISE OF THE CONSPIRACY
You could be forgiven for thinking conspiracy theories are a relatively new phenomenon. But never before have they been so clearly viewed under the microscope of mainstream society.
The rise of social media has brought with it the power for anyone to have their voice heard, and in an era of fake news, where sources can be difficult to discern, it can be hard for consumers to be sure information is factual.
The question for many is: Who are people meant to trust during a global pandemic? The media, the government, authorities or your friends and family on social media?
Distrust of authority reached a whole new level this year. From questions over the World Health Organization’s initial handling of the Coronavirus to the scepticism of Chinese data reporting and whistleblower accounts of political manoeuvrings from inside governments – the source of truth has been a moving target.
Just this week, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott criticised the concept of a lockdown on daily life, stating that in any pandemic under his watch, the focus would be to have people ‘stay at their posts’ and not to let the ‘cure’ be worse than the virus itself.
“Not for a moment did I ever contemplate ordering people to stay home. That would have struck me as contrary to our nature and just adding to the worries of a dire time,” he said in a recent speech published as an opinion piece by The Daily Telegraph.
“In any serious pandemic, people would naturally avoid going out unnecessarily. And where they did, it would be for some vital reason: work that couldn’t be done from home, essential supplies, and compassionate visits.
“My general view was, that avoiding as many risks as reasonably possible, people should get on with their lives even in the presence of death.”
The difficulty with modern conspiracy theories is that, while some can be easily dismissed with a quick Google, others are more complex, with layers of sub-truths that can be used to legitimise a broader pool of evidence.
For Black, there is no substitute for people in today’s age of misinformation to do their own research to be better informed about issues that affect them.
“I really encourage everyone to question things and not just be certain of anything unless you’ve experienced it for yourself,” she said.
“When I’m sitting there and overhearing something on the radio like, ‘the pandemic has killed three people yesterday, one woman in her seventies, a man in his 80s and another man in his 90s’ I’m like, ‘are you fucking kidding me? We’re shutting the state down for this?’.
“My general understanding is, what reason have the government given us to trust them in the past? And why should we trust them now?
“I’m not saying that the virus doesn’t exist, I’m definitely not saying that, but there are other reasons to believe that it’s being manipulated.
“It’s so much easier to get people to believe something that has an element of truth to it, rather than a flat out lie.
“So it’s like, there might be some truth to it, but you’re not being told the whole truth, which is what’s called grey propaganda.
“The concept of vaccines makes absolute sense to me. But I just don’t trust everything that has been put into them. I’m not going to say I am an anti-vaxxer, but I’m not pro vaccines, I am pro choice.
“I think that people should have the right to choose what they want to put in their bodies. I would certainly consider myself something of a libertarian.”
Since January 22, there have been 26,049 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Australia, with 678 deaths attributed to the virus at the time of publication, according to the health.gov.au website.
Four of those deaths were attributed to those under the age of 50, with most deaths attributed to those over 80.
A NEW BEGINNING
Black says she has never before been more optimistic and full of purpose, despite a turbulent year. She says that while the past few months have been personally difficult, the experience has been a “massive catalyst for change”.
“It happened and I can’t change that. And while it was really, really crap at the beginning … it has been the most amazing thing to happen to me,” she said.
“It’s shown me who my real friends are. It’s brought me closer to God. It’s given me the motivation to go and move back into a rural area, which makes me really, really happy.
“I’m living a simpler life. I have been connected with some really amazing, like-minded people who support me. And on top of that, I’ve actually even been offered some work within the parish of the Greek Orthodox community.
“The prospect of that has given me a whole other dimension of purpose to everything that’s happened, because if I can connect with young women of the Orthodox community, or even any community, in a way that empowers them and let’s them know that by the grace of God, they can make it through anything. Then that’s a good thing!”
“Or even if it’s got to do with body acceptance or being a confident woman, while also still being a feminine woman.”
“I want young women to know that you don’t need to act like a man and live up to this idea of a man’s world. If I can be a voice in the Orthodox community to help instil that, and the fact that it’s a beautiful thing to be a woman, and that tradition is so honourable … Then far out, I’m a very happy lady.”
“I’ve incidentally been given a larger audience to my social media; especially Instagram. I’m trying to use it as an opportunity to project my views to that audience and whoever else might like to hear it. I have much more to say about life than just how to go through checkpoints.
“So I want to reach people through all this, especially young women and other curious minds. To connect further with like-minded community members out there”.
And for the haters?
“I’m often known to say, ‘those who matter, don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter’.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The aim of this article, and indeed this website, is not to promote a particular narrative or agenda, but to platform all voices from an unbiased perspective and allow readers to come to their own conclusions based on available facts and evidence. If you would like to support us you can follow Boldly on Facebook and Twitter.
Daniel is a Melbourne-based multimedia journalist with international experience as an editor, producer, designer and artist at some of Australasia’s biggest newsrooms. A longtime commentator and reporter on internet culture, he now journals his observations on digital life and counterculture for Boldly.