AIDS/LifeCycle 2010: Fivestar
Who is Fivestar?
A wearer of many hats, Fivestar has been creating a buzz as a video artist, musician, adult movie star, and bondage rope artist in San Francisco's queer, art, and kink scenes. At San Francisco's sex-positive art gallery Femina Potens, she's a regularly-featured performer, and is especially known for her spectacular self-suspension performances at the gallery's Art of Restraint events. Influenced by local and international bondage experts such as Lew Rubens, Madame Butterfly, and Lochai, she's been building her own name through performances, video blogging on ropemaking, and teaching rope enthusiasts how to work with rope in a style that is easy-going and safety-focused.
And now she's putting some of that buzz to the pedal by joining the AIDS/LifeCycle ride for the first time.
Fivestar added “cyclist” to her extensive résumé shortly after moving to San Francisco. The city is known for its cycling culture and progressive organizations such as Food Not Bombs, which “used bicycles to do the things that I assumed could only be done by car,” she says, noting that it helped revolutionize the way she thought about transportation.
Fivestar’s love of the bicycle was fueled by many friends, including her. Her friend Jill, from Bicyclists of Color, helped encourage some of her fundamental philosophies of bike riding; it was with Jill that Fivestar realized it was possible to get to places on a bike that most people think are only accessible by car. Other support came from San Francisco's Bike Kitchen, which hosts regular “WTF” nights aimed at making cycle maintenance accessible to Women, Trans, and Femme riders. At the volunteer-run sessions, Fivestar built “Frankenbike”—her city bike—from a vintage Nishiki International she purchased at a garage sale. For training, she uses a Terry Symmetry road bike . A love that started with mechanics and short bicycle commutes later grew to long road trips and bike camping and, in less than a month, will pedal her through an international campaign to find a cure for AIDs.
The AIDS/LifeCycle ride, in its ninth year now, is an annual fundraising event that benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center which brings cyclists together for a 10-day ride from San Francisco to LA. Fivestar will be participating for the first time this year, inspired by many people in her life who have participated in AIDS/LifeCycle including Kim, a roadie coordinator for the AIDS/LifeCycle and ALC’s training rides, and Lynn, who has helped her train for the ride. Fivestar is inspired by what the foundation is able to raise ($11,000 last year for research and direct services to people with HIV/AIDS) and says she “knows the real difference that it makes. I want to do my part to make sure those services are still available.”
A $5,000 fundraising goal has spurred Fivestar to find creative outlets through her diverse passions. Her interest in bicycles and bondage led her to bring the two together in a self-filmed experimental short about self-suspension entitled Bicycle Bondage which has screened at several indie film festivals. She combined these passions in her next project, in which she collaborated with photographers, bondage models, riggers and suspension artists to produce a beautiful Bicycle Bondage wall calendar. Sales from the calendar go towards her AIDS/LifeCyle fundraising.
Another project which has played a key role in her fundraising efforts is a training sponsorship called “Twin Peaks Photos”: Fivestar dedicates an early morning ride to the top of Twin Peaks for individual sponsors who contribute $60 towards her goal. The project turns out to have helped provide motivation for Fivestar’s training as well as funds; one day she got a flat tire and would have postponed the workout if it were not for the fact that the ride that morning was sponsored by Carnal Nation’s own Editor-in-Chief, Theresa Ikard. With sponsor in mind, Fivestar was motivated to immediately fix the flat and continue as planned so that she could make it to the top to take Theresa’s snapshot.
Inspiration and motivation are vital when training for a 535-mile ride from SF to LA. Several obstacles deter riders from the goal, including lengthy sunrise trainings that drain the body and make it difficult to keep hydrated and to eat healthily. One very necessary bodily function has also proved an unforeseen challenge -- peeing! Finding a spot to piss can range from awkward, to potentially dangerous. Fortunately, Fivestar discovered the P-Style, a hard plastic urinary funnel which allows female-bodied users to urinate while standing.
Challenges don’t come without rewards. Long rides have given her time to reflect; the self-determination that comes with training and the ability to explore and discover California Bay Area regions (such as Paradise Drive in Marin, and Sawyer Camp Trail in the South Bay) have been liberating. As Fivestar says, “The feeling of arriving at your destination on your own energy is extremely empowering.”
From self-bondage and kinky performance art to cycling and philanthropy, Fivestar has tied her passions like spokes of her individualism; creativity, goals, self-reliance and joy. You can still support her effort to make her campain goal by ordering the 2010 Bicycle Bondage Wall Calendar or by making a direct donation at her AIDS/LifeCycle participants’ page.