AIDS/LifeCycle 2010: Midori
If you know one thing about author and sex educator Midori, you probably know about her passion for rope bondage. Her 2001 book The Seductive Art of Japanese Rope Bondage is one that every aspiring rope geek keeps on their bookshelf, and her weekend-long Rope Dojos routinely sell out within days every time she puts tickets on sale. Despite the fact that she regularly lectures and writes on everything from blowjobs to sexual health to the peculiarities of Japanese love hotels, for many she remains synonymous with learning new and interesting ways to tie up your beloved.
One thing you may not know about Midori unless you've been paying very close attention: every year, she drives around the Central Valley of California for ten days wearing fluffy white bunny ears. No, it's not a fetish thing. If Midori had a furry fetish, she'd probably already have written a best-selling book and taken to the road with a series of workshops about how to free your inner furvert. The ears are part of Midori's garb as a roadie on the AIDS/LifeCycle event, a 7-day bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
This is either Midori's sixth or seventh year (as she says, "it all blurs together,") working as part of the "sweep team" of 15 vans that Midori describes as the "sheep dogs" of the event. "We circle around in little leapfrogging loops, following—some say stalking—the cyclists, to make sure that they're safe, that they're obeying traffic laws, and if they need any assistance, anything [like] inflating a flat tire…. we can't repair them, but we can do minor things." The vans are there for any number of small tasks, from providing band-aids and fresh water to transporting cyclists whose bikes need serious attention to the next rest stop, where trained mechanics do the repairs.
All of this, of course, begs the important question: what's up with those damn bunny ears? "AIDS/LifeCycle," Midori says, "is kind of like Burning Man on wheels, with a cause, as organized by drag queens… with military campaign precision." In other words, there just has to be some fabulousness and absurdity attached to the whole thing, come hell or high water. "We love to have personality," she notes, "Because otherwise it'd just be 15 white vans and you wouldn't know." For Team Ursa, that manifests in the form of fluffy bunny ears.
Midori talks about the AIDS/LifeCycle with the same intense passion as when she speaks about tying chest harnesses or domination. She is almost evangelical in her devotion. (And in fact, tried to recruit me to do some roadie work toward the end of our interview—maybe next year, I had to tell her.) You would think from her exuberance that she came to it because of a personal stake in the fight against HIV/AIDS—that she started working on the sweep team because she had watched one too many people die, or because she had a loved one become HIV+.
In fact, she did it to impress a date.
The woman Midori was seeing back then was already a roadie herself, and hit her up for donations to the ride. Midori gave her 100 bucks, but then suggested that she could do even better: she put on a big party to raise funds for AIDS/LifeCycle. "And then I asked her if it would cramp her style if I also was a roadie, if I joined AIDS/LifeCycle as well…. With 3,000 people on the road, it apparently wasn't cramping her style, and she was happy to have me join."
As a ploy to impress a date, it apparently worked; the woman who got her into AIDS/LifeCycle is now Midori's wife.