In this episode, Ashley Ray delves into the world of rope bondage, emphasizing its connection to human psychology and vulnerability. They demystify the concept of subspace and highlight the importance of accountability within the kink community. They also discuss their upcoming project for Las Vegas Pride, using their body to promote positive messages and inclusivity during the Pride parade.


In this episode, Ashley Ray delves into the world of rope bondage, emphasizing its connection to human psychology and vulnerability. They demystify the concept of subspace and highlight the importance of accountability within the kink community. They also discuss their upcoming project for Las Vegas Pride, using their body to promote positive messages and inclusivity during the Pride parade.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Ashley Ray (she/they) is a licensed clinical professional counselor and mental health educator/speaker. As a body positive model and creator of a humanistic paradigm shift, they demonstrate the intrinsic understanding that as humans we exist upon a spectrum of being. Ashley also practices rope as an educator, performer and constant student. She believes that kink provides a direct approach for a confrontation of our humanity, sex and death, an exploration of our primal natures, along with the interplay of these concepts and the environment. Connect with Ashley on IG/FL: @Rayz_of_Ash or


Wicked Wren [00:00:14] Hello everyone, and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm Wicked Wren and today I'm speaking to Ashley. She uses she/they pronouns and you'll know her as Rayz of Ash online. She's a professional therapist, a body positive model, a writer and artist, wears many, many very cute hats. How for you?

Rayz of Ash [00:00:37] I'm amazing. Thank you. And yourself?

Wicked Wren [00:00:40] I'm doing so, so, so well. You're in Vegas right now, and I think it's like 150 degrees outside, right.

Rayz of Ash [00:00:47] At least.

Wicked Wren [00:00:48] God. You said you moved there during the pandemic time, right?

Rayz of Ash [00:00:52] Yeah. March 1st, 2020. So beautiful timing to start a new path in life, right? Right two weeks before after the shutdown. It is an interesting time to come here and experience Vegas in a very different way.

Wicked Wren [00:01:09] Yeah, I never thought about that juxtaposition because Vegas is so bustling and so crazy and then you move there and there's nothing happening at all.

Rayz of Ash [00:01:18] Yeah, There was times that you could actually just walk down the strip with nobody there, like on the street, right. Because there's no cars.

Wicked Wren [00:01:27] It's kind of wild. Isn't that nice, though? Like no cars in the street and you can actually walk around and not worry about being run over by a big car. And it's kind of nice.

Rayz of Ash [00:01:38] It is nice but, you know, that's part of what I love about Vegas is I love the energy and all the people and the diversity. And there's constantly something here.

Wicked Wren [00:01:47] Absolutely. So before you moved to Vegas, what were you up to? What was going on in life?

Rayz of Ash [00:01:54] A lot of the same things just in a very different part of the country. I've been a therapist for a really long time, and when I was in Oklahoma, where I came from between Oklahoma and Texas, those are my old stomping grounds.

Wicked Wren [00:02:08] I love it.

Rayz of Ash [00:02:12] I've worked with children and families, historically, worked at the university teaching psychology, and I also began modeling while I was there and rope. So I began everything there. Coming to Vegas was a way to move out of being a big fish in a little pond and to feel more challenged.

Wicked Wren [00:02:32] How are like the communities and the LGBT worlds in Oklahoma and Texas versus Vegas, how different is it?

Rayz of Ash [00:02:42] Puh. So this is what's very interesting. In Oklahoma or Tulsa, where I was primarily living before I came here, has three active dungeons and did at the time. And those dungeons actually work. Yeah, I see your face. So those dungeons work really well together. They support each other and I've had some of the best rope and kink education that I've had access to in those areas. Now, LGBTQ very different story, right? Like you're going to find your pockets of support of that. But there's a reason why. So the dungeons are very underground there as well, right? Whereas here you're going to see people walking in the streets in harnesses and, you know, just stop doing whatever. But there's no active dungeons.

Wicked Wren [00:03:34] Do you feel like since in somewhere like Tulsa, where you can't walk around on the street in a harness, it makes more, quote unquote, community?

Rayz of Ash [00:03:44] That's an interesting thing to think of. I think so because you feel this sense of you kind of need to band together and support each other in that way because, you know, there is that fear. I think a lot of us experience in a lot of communities when we feel like we're not part of that community in full acceptance of who we are.

Wicked Wren [00:04:06] Isn't it strange that Vegas doesn't have a lot of like fun dungeon time? Like you can just go and, like, hang out and stuff like that. I feel like everything is very monetized.

Rayz of Ash [00:04:20] It absolutely is. And that's, that is it, right? So, you know, kink doesn't really make money. It's that, it really supports your passion.

Wicked Wren [00:04:28] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:04:30] So yeah, everything in Vegas is about the hustle and you don't also don't want to compete with the big hustle right on the strip. So it is weird. There are parties here and there, but yeah, I mean, I miss the, I just said this to somebody this morning, like, I miss the play parties. I miss knowing that like the dungeon party this weekend and I'm going to go see some wild shit and participate in it as well.

Wicked Wren [00:04:56] It's so funny you said that kink doesn't make money and other things support kink. One of the, I guess, myths that I really believed in the beginning was that kink was for very poor people. It was underground, was all these kinds of things. In actuality, kink is very expensive to do, and most people do not do this for a living outside of pro sex workers, outside of pro dom/mes, etc., etc.. And obviously there are people that do rope as their primary occupations. Very, very, very small percentage of people.

Rayz of Ash [00:05:29] Yeah, and I've done it. So I used to handmake rope. So I know what that looks like to have even a product that you're selling and trying to at all places as well as teaching rope so you can, you can see in different communities how much access there is through that. And you're right, it's extremely expensive to be able to carry out, right. Just like anything that you really want to learn to a higher level. You have to invest in one way or another.

Wicked Wren [00:06:03] Even the time cost is quite high.

Rayz of Ash [00:06:06] Absolutely.

Wicked Wren [00:06:07] It's very hard to learn. You said that you're a body positive model. What does that mean to you?

Rayz of Ash [00:06:15] To me, that means when I model, I am just being me. I'm not altered. As for photographers, you can please like make this your, your art. I want you to do the color and editing in those ways that make sense for you and make this feel like you. But please don't change my body in a way that affects what I actually look like. And to me, that's about inspiration. Originally when I began body positive modeling, it was a journey for myself. I have always been fairly confident in who I am, and that last part of acceptance and love for my body was not there. I, most of us grew up in a very fat shaming culture and especially some of the families that I grew up in. It was very much part of that culture that your weight was tied to your worth. And I haven't always been a bigger person. I've been all over the place. So I've had different experiences of, you know, feeling and looking thin and how people responded to me then and what the comments even made about my health. And then on the other end as well, right. Being a fat person and how people make assumptions and comments about my health. It allowed me to start exploring. The appreciation for what my body is doing, is allowing me to live. Like my, my body allows me to live and to do things. And once I started being able to push through that for myself, through just baby steps of exploration, of doing the modeling and reading the body positive community, because we all need support to get anywhere. I saw how inspiring it was to others. Messages from people, all types of humans saying, you know, just seeing your photos, I can see your confidence or your body looks like mine and you look so fucking sexy like, so that makes me feel like I can be too. And that's now why I do, that's part of why I do it. I want to, I want to punch people in their gut and make them really feel and think of as they see my modeling and art. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:08:31] Was there a time where you didn't have the body positive part before model? Was there a time where you maybe were changing yourself for other people and then you decided, Fuck this, I don't want to do it or no?

Rayz of Ash [00:08:44] So I, modeling about body positivity went hand in hand for me, and that's how I started to even explore it. This was back in the days of the beginning of Instagram, and I started as Nefarious00 because, you know, I'm a therapist and I was a professor at a university and I didn't want anybody to see any of these photos. So, you know, this was my underground me. So that's how I started to look at it was through the modeling and how I was able to explore. I was also living a life where I wasn't very happy in the way that I was living, and the modeling allowed me to kind of have an excuse to go out and do new things, dress up in different ways and, you know, meet different people and have different experiences, because before that, I had really had the impression that a fat person didn't have worth. That's what I've been conditioned, right? Like, I'm fat and frumpy and I should just stay at home and wear baggy clothes and nobody has to be disgusted by me. And, you know, Oh, well, to wear like... You've seen my Instagram today. We're lucky to get clothes on me. We're lucky I'm wearing clothes right now, to be very honest with you.

Wicked Wren [00:10:03] And when did you find kink in this journey? I imagine it was modeling first and then finding kink and rope.

Rayz of Ash [00:10:11] So there were some things that I did that were kinky when I was younger and play, but they weren't anything that I realized. Like, you know, I did water sports on my prom night but didn't really, you know, like I was doing a thing for fun, you know? And then I was married for a really long time in a very sexually repressed marriage. So there wasn't any exploring. Whenever I started teaching at the university, one of my favorite classes was like psych of human sexuality and, you know, sex and death. I stare have my soapbox tissues and I can go on about that forever. But so I love exploring that topic for various reasons. But there's a lot about kink in psychic human sexuality, right? It's very interesting. And I started being more curious then and then through the modeling, kind of like I think a lot of people do, especially these days with, with Instagram and FL. I saw a picture of a rope shoot that a photographer I had worked with previously had done, and I was like, I want to do that. And they were like, Well, you need to contact the rope person and if they want to do that with you. And they did. So, yeah, so that I kind of say, I literally fell for rope one night and here we are today.

Wicked Wren [00:11:36] Now we're talking. Going back a little bit, you said your (inaudible) is sex and death. What does that mean?

Rayz of Ash [00:11:45] And that will also lead me into like my passion for teeth actually. I'm happy to link those together. It makes me very excited to do so. So for as long as I've been in the therapy world and the psychology world working to understand humans, one thing I really noticed is sex and death link us as humans, no matter what type of human you are. Sex and death are showing up in your life, throughout your whole life, and every single relationship you're going to have. And in our culture specifically, we do almost everything we can to avoid anything about those things. We don't look at it. We don't talk to each other about it. We don't understand that it's part of our health. We just don't deal with it. And so I feel very strongly that for us to really be able to be the most of ourselves that we can be, we have to be able to confront sex and death. And that leads me to my passion for kink, because I think kink and then, you know, really rope bondage, where always I'm going to go. But any type of kink offers us a platform and a forum to explore those things. A confrontation of our humanity. You know, we're pushed to the edge of facing death like things and sexy things, and then hopefully having a space of acceptance and beauty while we're doing that, while we're sitting in that suffering, which is what life is a lot of.

Wicked Wren [00:13:08]  Why is important to talk about sex and death. Why is that such a big thing?

Rayz of Ash [00:13:14] Again, because that's who we are, right. Like it is who we are, part of who we're going to be. If we're not able to talk about it, we're not able to be our most authentic nor most healthy selfs.

Wicked Wren [00:13:26] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:13:26] Right, what I find for a lot of people, for most humans that I work with or just encounter, those are the two major things that are affecting them the most, having the most difficulty. So how that acceptance and love in that way.

Wicked Wren [00:13:40] We really suffer in silence of those things. And if we would just talk about it, we can find community and then find out people are doing the same things and then, you know, find out new ways to kind of deal with stuff, I suppose.

Rayz of Ash [00:13:53] Absolutely. You know, and again, we suffer alone in those things, right. And that's where we're harmed sometimes the most. Humans are meant to be together. It's on our hard get needs and they've just passed, you know, basic food, water and shelter, safety. We are meant to feel connection and acceptance. And it's not often that we actually find that in our cultures. And that's why I, again, love to have that in kink, because if I need to drool and, you know, scrape up your face, we're going to accept each other and be really turned on and love it, hopefully as we're doing that. And, you know, I might not be able to do that or I won't be able to do that in almost any other setting in my life.

Wicked Wren [00:14:35] Yeah, it doesn't really work out when you're like playing tennis. Doesn't give you the same. Trust me, I've tried.

Rayz of Ash [00:14:42] Yeah. Oh, I would love to see that, too. Gives you some winning advantage, but in your face.

Wicked Wren [00:14:49] So you're also a writer. You've written a ton of articles. They're all awesome. There's one specifically that I would like to talk about, and it is titled There Is No Rope for Fat Bottoms. And I would love for you to give us a little primer on that, the ethos of it. What is it about?

Rayz of Ash [00:15:09] Yeah. So, you know, I was inspired to write this article because, again, body positivity is where I do a lot of advocacy. And what I notice in body positivity is the attitude is always turned towards, again, fat people. But again, in working with humans, every person I encounter struggles with being in their body in one way or another. And you know, our mind and bodies are not disconnected. So the more that we can find, again, that ability to be one with ourselves in every way, the healthier and happier we usually are. So I noticed that there seemed to be a trend. And people that I think are working to be inclusive and thoughtful, however it ends up creating an exclusive segregation in a way of people who are fat. And those classes and writings toward specific harnesses and specific ways to tie bigger bodies.

Wicked Wren [00:16:20] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:16:21] Yeah. And so I just felt like that's not where the subject is best served. The subject is best served that in the end, we do rope to interact with ourselves and each other to interact. The rope is a tool. It's a medium for us to be able to have that expression and whatever that expression in interaction means. So in the end, to me, it's about just being able to tie a person. Whatever type of person that person may be and whatever it is that they're bringing to the table and you're bringing to the table. And if we approach it in the way of someone needs to have special skills or special knowledge to tie a person because of the person they are, it ends up making that person feel like it's not accessible to them and that they're not going to be able to do that. And that's part of why I do the things I like to do and put myself out there in rope. And I want people to see me and go, Holy shit, look at what she's doing. I could do that too.

Wicked Wren [00:17:23] Yeah, I was really excited to read the article because there's so much discourse around rope being for everybody, but I haven't really been able to take anything from that. It hasn't been, it's usually like what you said. It's use this one harness for this one kind of body. And that feels so, so, so bad. You started this article. I fucking loved how you did it. You essentially say that making new space for people rather than working them into the spaces that already exist is bad and the solution is not adding more rope or it's not making a brand new harness. And that's actually very, very othering any marginalized group. We do that where we want to make a brand new little subsection for this group to sit into. And I love that you started the article identifying that.

Rayz of Ash [00:18:12] Thank you for saying that. I think what I also noticed is that when you start to create this subset for people now, we have to decide if that person qualifies into that group.

Wicked Wren [00:18:21] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:18:21] So now I have to start to break down. Are you, are you fat enough to be body positive? Are you transitioned enough to be trans? Are you gay enough to be gay? Are you black enough to be black? Like –.

Wicked Wren [00:18:34] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:18:35] And we start to create these things where... It then causes us to question ourselves and each other and put ourselves into these little labels and boxes. I'm a ton of fucking things. Just as you are and each of us are, right. And to me, I want you to address all the things about me as an individual, not a checked box that you see on a page. And it does a disservice to people who aren't fat in rope too. Because what I start to notice as well is like so even though I'm fat, I'm really healthy essentially. I'm really healthy and I have a really healthy lifestyle. And I can do a lot of things with my body. Again, that's where body posivity took me to realize I can do a lot of badass things in rope that people would never expect and things that sometimes I see people half my size in stature are able to do the same things. And so that almost, again does them a disservice because now you're coming away from understanding that you need to attend to that individual and their abilities, their limits and difficulties and address that person.

Wicked Wren [00:19:52] Yeah. Yes, I think that even goes further with how we talk about bottoms. We say you're a power bottom, you're a tank, you're this. And that really takes away the ability for them to say, Hey, I have a problem because I don't want to seem like they have a problem. And I liked what you said in that article so much because you're essentially saying the conversation about rope just needs to change on a systemic level.

Rayz of Ash [00:20:16] I do. I do. The typical stereotype that you would picture of someone in rope and what you see in most of those pictures of.

Wicked Wren [00:20:22] Yeah.

Rayz of Ash [00:20:23] It takes away everybody's voice I feel like when we don't just address each other as humans and have that understanding.

Wicked Wren [00:20:30] So another thing you say in the article is you take a ton of rope classes, you're very educated in rope, but you do not tie. So I would be curious how you partake in rope education as a bottom. What does that look like?

Rayz of Ash [00:20:45] Yeah. So there's a lot there. When you say, when you said a moment ago that I want to change the rope conversation systemically. I do. On lots of different levels.

Wicked Wren [00:20:57] Okay.

Rayz of Ash [00:20:58] So I also teach rope and have been for a long time. And that's part of why I take so many classes. I had the great advantage of my very first major rope education that wasn't like, this is what we do every other week to skillshare at the local dungeon was with Kyoko, and I was able to just be so empowered immediately from the beginning. And I feel very privileged. Like I said in having that because I saw that... I'm not just here to be tied. This is up to me to have a voice, too, and to be equally invested in this thing that we're doing in rope. So I have never stopped taking classes. I'm even involved right now in the Devil Math society with my current partner jessicas_dark. I think you guys have met one of those as well. Yeah so she and I do that monthly, right? And like you were talking about that time and dedication that is required from that. I've taken every class that any top I've ever tied with has taken. And then some. I usually actually take more classes than them. I believe it's just as important for me to understand what's happening with the rope in my body as it is for them to understand what's happening. Also, how can I keep myself safe if I don't know what's supposed to be happening, right. So I use that because only until only recently has there been really bottom-focused education. When I came into rope, Fuoco was probably the only one that was even like saying anything like that and everything was top led. This is how you do this tie. So by going to those classes, I get bottom information as well. The more I can understand about the ties, often they do have bottoms who are speaking and then giving their thoughts and impressions, and I'm able to take that away. So when I teach, I tell people that I feel like I trick you. So I trick you in two ways. Coming to my rope class, the surprise is that it's taught by the bottom and my top is the model.

Wicked Wren [00:23:07] Love it. Tell me about that. How does that?

Rayz of Ash [00:23:10] So I'm teaching the class. I'm teaching everything that's going on because that's the other thing where you're also getting tricked. Psychology in humans and culture is my passion. And so when I'm teaching about rope, like I said, the rope is just the tool. You're actually here to interact with somebody else. So for me, the greatest gift I can teach you is what it means to interact with another person in a very vulnerable way. And then to be thoughtful and intentioned about what that looks like and then to use the rope as a tool for that. And so then the top is there to show you the technicalities of the ties that go along with that.

Wicked Wren [00:23:50] I would love to dig into this more. Could you walk me through maybe like one of the classes that you do teach and maybe one of the sequences that you go through?

Rayz of Ash [00:24:01] Absolutely. So one of my favorite classes right now is what I call Primal Rope, which, you know, I'm going to be spoiler alert. I think all kink is primal. That's the same as sex and death, right? Like, we're coming to relate to ourselves in a animalistic way. I call it Darwin Disconnect that we go through the rest of our lives with this propriety and the civility in these manners, you know, clothing and saying the right words and all of those things. You know, really, we want to fuck and fight.

Wicked Wren [00:24:30] Yeah.

Rayz of Ash [00:24:30] Right? So that's, that's what I think that, that we're getting out of rope is that ability to do those things. So primal rope. In that class, I am essentially leading you through understanding what that means and understanding the psychology of what's happening. You know, also, whenever I entered rope and people would be like talking about subspace and I'd be like, Well, what? What are you talking about? Like what subspace? And it was always just a well described as this, like, mystical thing. Like, we can't really describe it. It just happens to you. Well, no, that's not how things work. Something's going on here, right. So that really started to bleed is what inspired me to start researching, I guess, more about what's going on here and this rope thing that we're doing. What are these responses? Why do we react this way? Why do we love it, you know? And then how can we use that knowledge to enhance it? So I think the more that you know about that, like, the hotter you can make your scene.

Wicked Wren [00:25:38] Tell me of the knowledge that you learned. Give me the secrets. What did you learn about that?

Rayz of Ash [00:25:43] Well, when it comes to subspace, right. Like it's actually going to be an unfortunate, fortunate thing that what I believe is happening there is rope bondage is activating your sympathetic nervous system, right? You're what's commonly referred to as fight or flight, where we also knows rest or digest, fight or flight, freeze or fawn. And then we have those reactions and I'm going to put out there that I think there's probably a lot of different reactions that we have too that we haven't just put in little boxes. And that's what I think is happening when we have subspace. And any time that we're going into rope and so we have varied reactions and perceptions that go along with that. And if you have that understanding, you can understand what's happening and how your body's being activated. Your mind and body is being activated and then what that may present like. So that's what I found about the space, right.

Wicked Wren [00:26:35] Yeah. Fascinating.

Rayz of Ash [00:26:37] And yeah. And then the other part is we're all searching for what we truly, truly, truly want in this world, which is to be vulnerable, right. We crave to be vulnerable, really. Right? That's what we all really want, is to be able to just be our raw selves and somebody still loves and accepts us at the end of that, right? And in rope bondage, what else are you but vulnerable?

Wicked Wren [00:27:02] Absolutely. I have a question based on that. Maybe you have an answer. Maybe you don't. Maybe it's an impossible question to answer. But rope bondage does just feel the best when you are vulnerable. But being super vulnerable and being super open, it can lead to some sort of manipulation. It can lead to a lot of things. And I feel like that is very common in the rope world. And I was curious if you have any thoughts about that.

Rayz of Ash [00:27:28] I absolutely do. So thank you for asking that. I do think the difficulty that we experience in kink is the way that we look at this culture. There's a lot of ways that we want this culture to be. Like I said, it's beautiful and I'm passionate about it, and I've already explained all the reasons why for that. But it's also dangerous because the reality is, if the bell curve isn't the same as average culture, right? The people who are indifferent or altruistic are the outliers, and the average are people who want to hurt or be hurt and are not indifferent or altruistic. They desire those things right on a level that can be very dangerous. And then we have to understand that I'm walking into the lion's den.

Wicked Wren [00:28:16] Yeah.

Rayz of Ash [00:28:17] And if I don't have that knowledge, I'm more likely to be hurt. And I think we go into kink searching for something, right? We go, like I said, searching for that vulnerability, searching for that acceptance. Most people who I see in kink, I kind of say are the leftover Dungeons and Dragons nerds from high school, right. And they're coming to the play real life dungeon. And so that typically means that they, you know, unfortunately, haven't always been socially accepted.

Wicked Wren [00:28:42] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:28:42] So, again, looking for that acceptance and you find that often in kink and that search to want to be accepted so readily does allow us to not be so clear and make the safest decisions about who we're engaging with, right.

Wicked Wren [00:28:58] You wrote another article called Five Ways to Reduce Harm in Kink. Can you give me a little outline of that? You label five big things that are important. I'm sure there's a lot more than five. But you hit on five.

Rayz of Ash [00:29:14] Yeah, absolutely. So again, I feel like the more that we're able to talk about difficult things and have those conversations, the more that we can be aware of them and do something about it. And so I know that I'm able to talk a lot and I love attention. So I'm happy to be that that mouthpiece and that bastion for most communities that I roll around in.

Wicked Wren [00:29:39] Love it.

Rayz of Ash [00:29:43] So we are entering into something again, like we just talked about, where there's going to be harm and injury, right.

Wicked Wren [00:29:52] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:29:52] Like pretending that there's not, is harmful.

Wicked Wren [00:29:57] Yeah.

Rayz of Ash [00:29:57] Right and that's where I get kind of on my high horse about rope. Yeah, it looks really pretty and great but you can also end somebody's life with it. And you can harm them really fucking bad with it. Not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally. Reputationally, all kinds of ways, right. You can, you can use that tool like any tool, right?

Wicked Wren [00:30:18] Yeah.

Rayz of Ash [00:30:18] The tool can be can be used to unite or to destroy.

Wicked Wren [00:30:21] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:30:23] So through my own home and evaluating my own home, especially with a very recent incident, which for me what was very different about this incident and I just actually went back in this morning and edited that because I realized that I hadn't made the point that I've been injured in rope plenty before because it's a harmful activity.

Wicked Wren [00:30:46] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:30:46] It's going to happen, right.

Wicked Wren [00:30:47] You will get hurt.

Rayz of Ash [00:30:48] Yeah, absolutely. What was different for me in the situation was the lack of care of how it was handled and me needing to evaluate you, you talked about that vulnerability, right. Whenever you were going there. And that vulnerability takes a level of trust, right. That desire to trust another, to care for you. That's what you're doing in rope. And when I let somebody put me in rope. I am not only trusting, but expecting you to care for me. Right now, I do not have the agency to do so. If you are, you want to put me in rope, right? And the way this person handled the situation, I started saying the phrase that, Yes, they took accountability, but they didn't take care. And there's a great difference in that.

Wicked Wren [00:31:36] Tell me about that. What does that mean?

Rayz of Ash [00:31:39] It means that you can say you're sorry, but if you don't do anything to really take on what that apology means for correction and to restore the person back or yourself in a situation like that's... To me, that's a reason for making amends.

Wicked Wren [00:31:58] Yes.

Rayz of Ash [00:31:58] Is to work towards the restoration. And then if I say I'm sorry, but then I don't offer any energy or accommodations towards that restoration, then that doesn't show that care.

Wicked Wren [00:32:09] That makes sense. Do you have any rope shoots or art photography stuff up and coming?

Rayz of Ash [00:32:15] Absolutely. Thank you for asking. One of my projects I'm working on right now, I am so passionate about. This has been a year in the making. So the thing that I'm looking most forward to is going to happen 10/06 during the Las Vegas Pride parade. So Pride celebrations in Vegas are in October because, you know, it's 115 degrees.

Wicked Wren [00:32:43] That makes sense.

Rayz of Ash [00:32:45] Right so last year, a photographer reached out to me and asked to do a pride shoot in front of some rainbow stairs on the strip. And I was like, sure, But, you know, I'm not the type of model to just stand there and look pretty for the sake of shooting pictures. I need this to have meaning. And I started researching myself like, What do I want to do? What I want to bring to this? So when I approached this photographer, they... About the idea, they were like, I can't do that. I'm afraid it's going to offend too many people and I don't want to touch it, but thank you. I was like, okay, well, I'm going to move on and I'm going to find somebody who wants to do this with me.

Wicked Wren [00:33:25] We got to hear the idea.

Rayz of Ash [00:33:28] And so I found a photographer and essentially through just trying to like ask to not be bothered while I'm doing this thing, they're just going down to business and saying, Hey, I'm going to be here outside of your thing. Can you just make sure people leave me alone? It got me connected to Las Vegas Pride and they have been so supportive in that to the point that they did an interview to support this. And last month, they helped highlight that for me during one of their pool parties. So what I'm going to do is, it's now come to me being on Fremont Street, which is where the parade will end. And if you've come to Vegas, Fremont is the old Vegas. And to me, it's the part of Vegas that I love as far as the entertainment goes. And that way... Because the strip is walking down the casinos, right. But Fremont is where the creatives are as far as those buskers. You're going to see all kinds of weird shit just right there on the street, whether it's an amazing soul singer to some guy sitting there asking to be kicked in the nuts, right? Like, so I'll be down there, I will have some clothing, but my body will be mostly exposed. And I'm going to have in big, bold black letters written on my body nine different words, Some of them like fat, growth, slut, queer. And I'm going to be wearing all those words with pride.

Wicked Wren [00:34:54] Yeah. I love it.

Rayz of Ash [00:34:55] Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Like I'm proud of who I am. And, you know, like words are in my opinion, words are words. And it's the intention. You can say all kinds of pretty things and mean to be hurting me, right. And so I look at the measure of intention behind things, and I want people to consider that I'm going to have a sign that says, let me wear your words with pride. And so markers for people to write on my body and whatever, whatever they feel inspired to write based on what they're seeing and feeling right then. My hope and that's anything like right, whatever. Cause Pride actually offered me a spot within the festival. But I said that I felt like I was too fat and insulated. Like I want to get the people who are not on my side and make them think and look me in my eye. Like if you want to write, you know, that I should burn in hell. Look me in the eye while you write that on my body, right. And then hopefully, maybe we can even open up a dialog. Because what I know is, once you can realize I'm a human, like you're a human, the conversation changes completely.

Wicked Wren [00:36:00] Totally.

Rayz of Ash [00:36:02] So I hope that with those black letters, it will be a bunch of colorful, beautiful, mostly positive message intertwined with it all.

Wicked Wren [00:36:08] I think it's going to be all positive messages. I couldn't imagine someone putting a bad message on there. So I have a question. Initially, you went up to businesses and said, hey, I'm going to be doing this outside. How did that conversation go? Because that's very brave.

Rayz of Ash [00:36:25] It was like that. Basically, just like....

Wicked Wren [00:36:28] And they were all cool?

Rayz of Ash [00:36:30] I'm doing this – Well, it was more like, you need to talk to this person. You need to talk to this person kind of thing, right? Because essentially the place where I ended up deciding to go was in a downtown area. And whenever I started going to the businesses, they're like, well, we're great with that, but I'm not really the person you can ask about that. Can you go ask this person? So I ended up, the timing was first Friday, which downtown area is basically an art festival for local artists. The streets are blocked off. They have booths and they open up some art galleries for you to wander through. So it ended up being that where I wanted to do this was during first Friday. And so they were like, We are going to talk to that person. And that person eventually got me connected to somebody who got me connected to Pride.

Wicked Wren [00:37:18] Gotcha. Wow. I'm very excited to see those photos. Are you going to publish them anywhere? Like a magazine or something?

Rayz of Ash [00:37:27] Pride is definitely going to publish them. And then it'll be part of works that I do later on whenever I'm publishing things for myself.

Wicked Wren [00:37:34] That's amazing.

Rayz of Ash [00:37:36] Thanks. I'm excited.

Wicked Wren [00:37:37] Yeah, I am, too. I guess I'm wrapping this up. Is there anything else that you would like to add in here and anything else you'd like to tell us about?

Rayz of Ash [00:37:45] Yeah, that I'm available to talk for anybody. Like, if you want to have me to explain these rope things further or even explain humanity further, I love to travel, and that's what I'm going to be doing fully next year. Traveling, offering workshops, lectures and classes to help understand different ways to approach our health and our humanity.

Wicked Wren [00:38:10] I love that. And you are @rayz_of_ash on Instagram?

Rayz of Ash [00:38:14] Rayz with a Z.

Wicked Wren [00:38:15] Rayz with a Z.

Rayz of Ash [00:38:17] Yeah, unfortunately.

Wicked Wren [00:38:18] Unfortunately.

Rayz of Ash [00:38:21] Somebody took the S already.

Wicked Wren [00:38:23] You know, we're going to contact them and we'll see if you can have it. Thank you so much for being on. This is amazing. I personally learned a ton. Beautiful words. Thank you so much.

Rayz of Ash [00:38:34] Thank you. I really love the time with you. It's been great. I appreciate it.


To feed or not to feed the machine? In this captivating podcast episode, Miss Marilyn and Wicked Wren engage in a candid conversation that spans various aspects of their lives, beyond the realm of sex work and social media. As they share their experiences, listeners are treated to a glimpse of their personal journeys and evolving interests.


To feed or not to feed the machine? In this captivating podcast episode, Miss Marilyn and Wicked Wren engage in a candid conversation that spans various aspects of their lives, beyond the realm of sex work and social media. As they share their experiences, listeners are treated to a glimpse of their personal journeys and evolving interests.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Miss Marilyn is a kink veteran and beloved character amongst the UK community online. For over a decade she has worked as a Dominatrix, sessioning in various parts of the world and loving every minute of it. A champion of sex education and communication, Miss Marilyn is a passionate vegan, writer and artist (as well as a seasoned pervert). After hearing how few service providers are able to offer women a safe, positive experience within the kink community, she now only works with femme-identifying individuals. A prolific social media user, Marilyn uses her platform to share information and give advice to fellow perverts in distress!


Wicked Wren [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. Today, I have on my friend Star. You'll know as Miss Marilyn. She's an artist, a domme, and a personal muse of mine. So welcome to the podcast. First thing, I'd like to say is congratulations on the Barbie movie. I know it's probably a big deal to you.

Miss Marilyn [00:00:40] Thank you so much. And thank you for finding the time to have me. Sorry, I forgot. I'm Australian. Thank you so much for having me. I was only – obviously, we weren't really English there. I can't remember what an Australian sounds like. I was only available for a short time between the premiers and you managed to accommodate me. So thank you so much and I really hope that you enjoy the film when you see it.

Wicked Wren [00:01:09] Wow. Shockingly good to me. I mean, how many accents can you do? Can you do a lot? Do American. Do it. Do how I sound.

Miss Marilyn [00:01:19] What? This is how you sound. You kind of sound like, you're not really bothered about what people think. And like, you know, Where are you from in America?

Wicked Wren [00:01:31] I'm from New Orleans originally, but I have purposely lost the accent because I didn't want the twang. I put the G's on the ends of words instead so being like goin', fixin', you know, things like.

Miss Marilyn [00:01:45] Okay.

Wicked Wren [00:01:46] So I put the G's on the ends of my words. I kind of and also I was a big mumbler. I was a big kind of teetering off in statements person. So it was like, I'd be like, So how are you gonna (inaudible)?

Miss Marilyn [00:01:58] Yeah. That's f***** annoying.

Wicked Wren [00:01:59] It is. It is, is difficult. And it is not good for communicating. So I'll put those on there because I wanted people to think that I was –

Miss Marilyn [00:02:08] Well, I would never have been able to guess that you were from New Orleans.

Wicked Wren [00:02:12] New Orleans. Well, it's so funny because I feel like a New Orleans accent, it's kind of like you have, like, marbles in your mouth and it's just kind of like (inaudible)

Miss Marilyn [00:02:26] Okay, like (inaudible).

Wicked Wren [00:02:29] Well, it makes sense that you got accents. You probably studied it in your acting training.

Miss Marilyn [00:02:33] I did.

Wicked Wren [00:02:34] Okay, I'm gonna let this joke go now. For people who don't know, Star looks a lot like Margot Robbie, who is just in the movie. Anyway –

Miss Marilyn [00:02:46] Not so much anymore. Not so much anymore. Because she has lost loads of weight to be Barbie.

Wicked Wren [00:02:52] Mhm.

Miss Marilyn [00:02:53] So her face is kind of like – I think I don't personally see it, but I see it more before Barbie than now because I'm seeing her now and she's very, very svelte but obviously she's been Barbie and Barbie is that.

Wicked Wren [00:03:07] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:03:08] So I understand but...

Wicked Wren [00:03:11] Do you think that she would be a good domme?

Miss Marilyn [00:03:15] I think, I think she'd be good at anything that she put her hand to.

Wicked Wren [00:03:19] What a great (inaudible).

Miss Marilyn [00:03:19] We've got mutual friends. That's why I'm really hoping to meet her at some point.

Wicked Wren [00:03:24] We're going to start a petition or something like that.

Miss Marilyn [00:03:28] Absolutely. Well, the thing is, I said to our mutual friend because he said he saw the reel that I posted yesterday about the fact that I'm not Margot Robbie, but we have both shown our c*** to Leonardo DiCaprio. And he messaged me saying like, Oh, I'm going to show her this tomorrow because obviously she's in London now. And I said, Let her know that she's got first dibs for playing me when they eventual make movie about my life.

Wicked Wren [00:03:53] The star biopic, love it. How did you become a domme? Like what was that like?

Miss Marilyn [00:04:01] So everyone's heard the story, but it was actually my dad. He told me to do it.

Wicked Wren [00:04:06] What?

Miss Marilyn [00:04:07] Not in like a, not in like, sorta...

Wicked Wren [00:04:11] Weird way?

Miss Marilyn [00:04:11] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So basically, I wanted to be an actress. So after I left school, I studied acting at school, and then I went to study acting kind of full time. And after that, we've got these places over here called, like the London Dungeon and the Edinburgh Dungeon. And basically it's like a tour, but all along the tour are unique, kind of like historical figures. So I worked there for a while as a cannibal from Scottish History called... Basically it was Sawney Bean, he's a really famous Scottish cannibal legends, and I was one of those kids, as like incestuous kids, which obviously suits me.

Wicked Wren [00:04:56] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:04:57] Cos I'm so mad at i*****. But not real i*****. The rhetorical. So yeah, basically, I kind of just, I didn't really know what I was doing with myself. I had loads of interests, but they were all kind of things that were really hard to get into. And the thing is, by the time I was 18, I had loads of tattoos and I don't know if you know this, but it's really hard to get into acting if you've got tattoos because obviously you're not a blank slate.

Wicked Wren [00:05:23] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:05:23] Except for Angelina Jolie, because she's Angelina Jolie and they're happy to cover it up, but I'm nobody. So I was a bit f*****. Anyway, my dad kind of said, Have you ever thought about becoming a domme? And I was like, No. This is actually when I was 16 and I didn't, I didn't really know what a domme was apart from kind of like in my head, it was just like catwoman.

Wicked Wren [00:05:47] Yeah. Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:05:48] I mean, that's all I knew. And so I googled it, and I googled Edinburgh domme, and there was only, like, two people came up. Neither of them are really like, what I had in mind. I got in touch with them, and one of them never got back to me. One of them told me get lost, basically. But I was 16 years old and so fair enough. And then it kind of just stayed in the back of my head until one day, just by chance, a new erotic boutique was opening in town. And I went along and kind of had to off with it with the owner of the shop, and it turned out to be Mistress Inka. And she basically said, Hey, do you want to be a domme? And I was like, Yeah? And then the next thing I know, I got a text being like, Hi. Be at my flat for 12. We've got a strap-on booking. And I had nothing. Like I had no clothes, no clue. Like, I didn't even know really what strap-on was at the time. So I was like, I was 19 at this point. So I had to go into town like 2 hours before 12 to buy clothes. I thought like a domme would wear. And I took my friend Cara, and we were like, What shoes do we buy? What's my look? Like what, I hadn't even, like, had a name or anything yet. And then I literally, I went that day and I worked every day after that for like six months.

Wicked Wren [00:07:15] Holy cow. That's incredible. I have so many questions. I mean, I think my first one is that most people's relationship with their parents is not cool and they don't like that they're sex workers. It's incredible that your dad, like, encouraged you to do that.

Miss Marilyn [00:07:32] Well, here's the thing, right? My dad didn't really know what it entailed.

Wicked Wren [00:07:38] Okay. Okay.

Miss Marilyn [00:07:40] So obviously, he knew it was sex work. But throughout my journey doing sex work, he's going to hear about the stuff that I do at work. And he's like, Oh, my God. I think he very much thought it was just like spank and guys and that's it.

Wicked Wren [00:07:52] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:07:54] He actually, he told me to do it because he's a builder and he's always wanted to make sex furniture. So that's why he kind of said, Look, why don't you be a domme? And if you open a dungeon, I'll make your furniture. So that was kind of where he was coming from. Not like, Be a domme because you're really sexy. I mean maybe he thought as well, but that's not what he said.

Wicked Wren [00:08:14] Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:08:17] So yeah, that's that. That's the origin. That's just, it was, it was all down to my dad. That's how it put in my head. I think if he hadn't said it to me when I was 16, it's not something that I would ever have thought about. Because it's just not... It's... Especially back then, obviously, sex work is kind of more prevalent in society now, but back then, like 11 years ago, it was really, really underground, like there wasn't... Like although Twitter existed, there was no kind of Instagram. There's nothing like that. So I just, it's not something that I would have come across naturally at that point in my life. Unless, you know, my dad had said it. So I don't think it would have ever happened if it hadn't been for my dad saying it.

Wicked Wren [00:09:00] It's so cool. It's so humanizing, hearing him say that. Because he just said it like any other profession, like you should be a doctor. You should be a domme.

Miss Marilyn [00:09:08] Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And like, there was never... I'm so privileged in that I actually grew up really Catholic. And you said, you know, people's relationship with their parents, like their parents aren't cool with them being sex workers. And it was actually a weird conversation because we never chatted about sex in my house at all. And I remember telling my mom like, Ih, I've lost my virginity. And she, like, reacted so badly I had to pretend it was a joke. I was like, Aha, I got you. And then all of a sudden my dad was like, You should be a domme. But when he said, You should be a domme, for the next few years, I also thought it was very much just like you spank guys and that's it. I didn't know about, like animal plays, strap-on, like cross-dress, like dog. And I didn't know any of that. So I like, I didn't have a realistic idea of it at all until I actually started doing it. And I actually, there's a story. She'll probably kill me for telling you but the very first session that we had and she had water sports at the end and I had like no clue what water sports was. I was 19 years old. Obviously, I've had a lot of sex at that point but nothing like, nothing mad. So anyway, she p*** on the guy at the end in her shower tray. And I'm, I'm staring at his c****, right? And I'm staring at his c***. And then like, weirdly, like b**** starts to come out of his c***. And I'm like, Oh, my God, what is going on? What the f*** is happening? But I'm like, Try to stay cool because obviously, like, I'm at my f****** job, so I don't really say anything. And then this guy starts like panicking and like sitting in the shower tray and then Inka just like, gets off him and she says, Oh, I'm so sorry. I was so sure I put a tampon in and I was like...

Wicked Wren [00:11:05] Wow.

Miss Marilyn [00:11:05] I was just, I was just like, F****** h***. Like this is mad. And she asked me, she asked me to p** on him after.

Wicked Wren [00:11:13] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:11:15] He really wanted, this guy really wanted me to piss on him and I couldn't go. Like in my head it was just that like...

Wicked Wren [00:11:22] Totally.

Miss Marilyn [00:11:23] Oh, you do not, you do not like p** in public in front of like someone. Not like I wasn't, I didn't have any shame or, like, negativity about it. It was just like my body was like, No.

Wicked Wren [00:11:34] Yeah, totally. Your body just shut off.

Miss Marilyn [00:11:35] You don't p** on someone, we cannot p** right now.

Miss Marilyn [00:11:40] So did she know that you were, like, really out of your element and, like, didn't know any of the stuff? Or were you trying to hide those things from her?

Miss Marilyn [00:11:48] So weirdly enough like... She's a wee bit older than me and she had been like really kinky in our relationships and stuff. But it was funny when I first started working as a domme, we would spend like hours and hours just sitting on p*** sites like watching loads of videos of stuff that we didn't know about. And I remember like sitting next to her having a glass of wine and we were watching videos of like p****** s*******. And the first one we watched was a guy who actually split his whole c*** in half doing it. And we were like... What the f*** is this? And there was actually a guy, there was a video, do you know that like one man, one jar video?

Wicked Wren [00:12:30] Oh, yeah,.

Miss Marilyn [00:12:31] Yeah, yeah. Of course. There was also another video and it was called like kid in the sandbox. And it was just a guy like f***** his urethra with, like, the handle end of a screwdriver.

Wicked Wren [00:12:43] Really, really classic move there.

Miss Marilyn [00:12:45] Yeah. And it was like one of the first things I seen is sounding and I had no idea what sounding was. And again, like this was 11 years ago. So, like, even the Internet in general, like, although the information was there, it was like, really, boiled down.

Wicked Wren [00:13:00] Yes, totally.

Miss Marilyn [00:13:01] So like all these terms and stuff, like. Oh, it was an education.

Wicked Wren [00:13:06] How did you feel when you saw that? I mean, you saw like soundings type of stuff at first. Like what did you think?

Miss Marilyn [00:13:11] I was so shocked. I was, I was, I was so shocked.

Wicked Wren [00:13:14] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:13:14] Not disgusted or anything. I was just like, what the heck is going on? Like the handle of a screw driver. Like it wasn't a small screwdriver. It wasn't like a little travel screwdriver. It was like a proper f***** screwdriver.

Wicked Wren [00:13:28] There were no like babies for a screwdriver here. Like we're doing serious work with this.

Miss Marilyn [00:13:31] Oh, heck, yeah. I mean, like, I can just remember just sitting at the computer screen, just kind of like, Oh, my God. Oh my god, no, no. And then seeing obviously that guys split c***. Cos he got so much that he split on top of it. And then he got off on like the body modification side of it. And honestly, my mind was blown. Like the amount of stuff that I just, I kind of just immersed myself for the first two years that I was doing it. I read everything I could. I watched everything I could. And I was I just like, spent my days, like, with my mind absolutely blown. Yeah, because like, you know, at 19, you think you know everything, right? You say, you know everything about sex.

Wicked Wren [00:14:11] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:14:13] And I just had my butt handed to me. Like from day one. I was like, I know nothing about this stuff. And neither do you, Dad.

Wicked Wren [00:14:21] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:14:22] At least, I hope not. You bloody pervert.

Wicked Wren [00:14:26] Do you and you dad like joke about this now? Like, is it...?

Wicked Wren [00:14:30] Yeah, we do actually. We didn't in the first few years, I think he was like, Oh, my God, what have I done? Like my litte girl, my little girl is like, penetrating men in their butt every day. Like, what was I thinking? And now, yeah, we joke about it loads. Loads and loads.

Wicked Wren [00:14:48] All right, my other question is to go back a little bit was you said you went out and you're like, you went with your friend. You're like, What does a domme wear? I need to get something. I'm just curious what you got? Like, what was like the thing in your head where you're like, This will work.

Miss Marilyn [00:15:06] Oh, right. So basically, I don't know if you know it, but we've got this, like, really tacky, like, like franchise of sex shops over here that are called like Ann Summers.

Wicked Wren [00:15:15] Okay, I do not know.

Miss Marilyn [00:15:18] So basically, like, I don't know the American equivalent, but basically I went into Ann Summers and obviously 50 Shades of Gray was like... This was years before 50 Shades of gray. So none of these had like none of the PVC, none of the like the ties, none of the handcuffs, nothing. So there was like, I was like, Oh damn, I'm just going to need to buy something black and shiny. And I couldn't really find anything. And I ended up, I ended up finding this like black PVC minidress and they're at the like bargain bin at the back. But it was, it was like, honestly, like five sizes too big for me. So I needed to, like, wrap it around myself and then like safety-pin at the back. And I also, like, bought a pair of like really horrible black patent, like Mary Jane shoes.

Wicked Wren [00:16:06] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:16:06] And then I went to, like, this very, like, basic old woman shop. And I bought like, this, like a black velvet dress. I had no clue. I had no clue.

Wicked Wren [00:16:19] I love it. So how long did it take you to kind of find your style? Because you're like, a really funny person. Like, I like, I feel like humor probably influences a lot of your sessions and things like that.

Miss Marilyn [00:16:32] Yeah, well, it didn't, I didn't used to. I used to, I don't know if you know this, but for I think about six years, I used the fake accent for work, but like, I mean, double down. I mean everything. Like if I was at an event, if I did a podcast, if I met anyone in the industry, I did this like 24/7 accent and I did it in every session. And then all of a sudden I got asked to like, compare an event over here in Manchester and I was up, I was up on the thing being like, And next, we're going to have the sub games. And but then, I like drank too much and I kept going from like the accent to my real accent and people were starting to get really confused.

Wicked Wren [00:17:18] I love it.

Miss Marilyn [00:17:20] And then I was like, Damn, I've ruined it. Like, I've just absolutely ruined it.

Wicked Wren [00:17:24] How many years did you do this?

Miss Marilyn [00:17:27] So I did the accent solidly for six years.

Wicked Wren [00:17:31] Amazing.

Miss Marilyn [00:17:33] There was a, there was a point in time, I was in the dungeon with a client who'd been like my client for like four years. And he had only ever heard me speak like this, you pathetic little b***. And then, there was a girl. Like this mad girl who also used the dungeon. And she like kicked the door in during the session. And I went from talking like this to being like, Get the heck outta here. Why you do it? And she left. And he was like, What happened to your voice? And I didn't know that my voice had changed. And I was like, Oh, my God. What do you mean what happened to my voice?

Wicked Wren [00:18:19] So like, Why did you do that accent in the beginning? Like, what kind of brought that on? I guess is the question.

Miss Marilyn [00:18:29] So I, like I've done a few, I think I've done like two or three sessions in my normal accent at the very beginning. And then I'd done some full line work and one of like my phone lines was like, h****, private schoolgirl.

Wicked Wren [00:18:44] Oh, my God.

Miss Marilyn [00:18:45] And every time I did the phone line, I would put on the accent and it had such a massive like... Just everyone I spoke to loved it so much. They thought it was so sexy. So I was like, Right. Screw it. That will be my whole thing then. I'll just be like, h****, like posh private English schoolgirl. And that's what I went with for years until I got too drunk and everyone thought I was Scottish.

Wicked Wren [00:19:08] And then you were like screw it. Were you kind of happy that people found out that like, and you didn't have to do it? Like, was there any of that kind of like...?

Miss Marilyn [00:19:14] I enjoyed it.

Wicked Wren [00:19:15] Okay.

Miss Marilyn [00:19:15] It was actually, you know, it was actually a lot easier to do my job because it was like putting on a character.

Wicked Wren [00:19:22] Yeah, yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:19:24] And I also never used to use humor a lot in my sessions at all. It was very strict. Like business.

Wicked Wren [00:19:30] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:19:31] Business dom. Like bad b*****. And then all of a sudden, I had my own voice and I was like, Oh damn, it's me doing these sessions and I'm not this, this girl.

Wicked Wren [00:19:44] Yeah, totally. I feel like that is something weird because, like, nobody in kink is, like, themselves, really. Like, there's personas. And I feel like the more stuff you start to do, like, the more like it gets confused with, like, this, like kind of fake person and a real person. But you do...

Miss Marilyn [00:20:02] But oh my god, it's so much easier.

Wicked Wren [00:20:03] Yeah, I bet. I mean, were you doing art as well? Like painting and things like that?

Miss Marilyn [00:20:08] No, nothing like that at all. I worked. I didn't do anything else at all. I dormed full time for about like seven, eight years. And then I started to do kind of other bits on the side here and there. And so it was just, Iwas just canked 24/7. But yeah, I think as well because of the acting background like I...It was just like a client was common. So like, when the door would knock, the act would start. Do you know what I mean? Like...

Wicked Wren [00:20:40] Oh, yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:20:41] It was just like, Right. This is the scene. Whereas when my own voice came out, I was like, really nervous because I was like, Oh damn, it's me now. Like, this isn't an act. This is actually me. Like, this is who they're getting. Oh, no.

Wicked Wren [00:20:54] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:20:54] I don't know if I am able to do this. Like Marilyn is a different person.

Wicked Wren [00:20:59] Yeah. Wow. I mean, it's like, it's like, it's pretty hard to like, I don't know, separate the two.

Miss Marilyn [00:21:07] It was really it was really interesting.

Wicked Wren [00:21:08] I do have a question kind of moving forward in the timeline. I feel like this podcast is all for me because I'm just curious about like...

Miss Marilyn [00:21:17] Listen, that's totally fine.

Wicked Wren [00:21:20] Shibari Study pays for this podcast so I feel like we should talk about rope bondage for a moment.

Miss Marilyn [00:21:24] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:21:25] Have you used it? Do you like it?

Miss Marilyn [00:21:28] I love it. I love it so much. I don't know anywhere near as much as I used to. I used to use it all the time. I did a lot of like, what's the word... Predicament bondage with it.

Wicked Wren [00:21:40] Mm, yes.

Miss Marilyn [00:21:41] Absolute favorite. Absolutely favorite.

Wicked Wren [00:21:43] Me too.

Miss Marilyn [00:21:44] And I learned shibari quite heavily for the first few years of domming and then kind of moved away from it and kind of forgot it. And there's been a few times I've kind of like went back into it quite seriously and started learning again. But I think especially where I live, there's really not a very good rope scene.

Wicked Wren [00:22:04] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:22:05] So it's so difficult. But with Shibari Study, I've actually, I've been subscribed to Shibari Study quite a few times and had great fun like doing the tutorials and stuff. But again it's just, it's just very complicated when you get to a certain level.

Wicked Wren [00:22:23] It's a lot of work.

Miss Marilyn [00:22:23] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Wicked Wren [00:22:25] Did you have in the beginning, like, did you have clients asking for rope bondage or..?

Miss Marilyn [00:22:32] Yeah, I did. And there was one guy who used to like drive for like 4 hours for like a 5 hour session and it was just like really heavy rope bondage.

Wicked Wren [00:22:42] Gotcha.

Miss Marilyn [00:22:43] And it was kind of down to him that I learned a lot of that for, to be honest. But yeah, absolutely. I think as well there's like a, there's kind of like a new found reason for bondage, though. Because it's just like, it's almost like therapy for a lot of people. Like, people just get that, you know, that sub high and, you know, when they're feeling really stressed or their life is not going so great. They want to be tied because that's kind of like their absolute chills on. That's where they feel at peace and I totally understand that.

Wicked Wren [00:23:18] If you're doing like a 4 to 5 hour session with somebody and you have the accent on and you're doing, you're doing the character, how are you structuring that time? Like, obviously there's got to be some a little break, a little downtime in the middle, something like that. Are you just kind of leaving in like or are you just on the entire time? Like, how are you?

Miss Marilyn [00:23:39] So I, so I wasn't on the entire time because – so basically I would like put him into a position and then leave him there for a bit. And then I would like go through, make a cup of tea. I'd come back through and say like, How you holding up? And then give them like a poke or whatever or a little swing, you know, and then maybe change something. Or I'd say to him, you know, How are your wrists feeling? How are your hands? Could you move them? Blah, blah, blah, all that kind of stuff. So safety wise, just check and then maybe leave him. You know, depends on what position it was, but yeah, not on all the time, but most of the time, and especially because he enjoyed being gagged. So there was absolutely no interaction. So sometimes it depends on who it was with. That guy was okay. But there was definitely some people who came for like three or 4 hours and they enjoyed being gagged the whole time and they wouldn't speak. So by the end of it, I would feel so exhausted because it was like a four hour monologue.

Wicked Wren [00:24:41] Yes, yes. With like, no input, no like...

Miss Marilyn [00:24:44] No interaction at all. And I am... Like, I can do that, but I like back and forth, you know. Like I think the hottest thing of a session is being able to ask them questions and then telling you stuff like, if I'm just, if I've just got nothing. I think everyone – well I don't know about everyone, but like most of the people I've spoke to, the ultimate nightmare client is just like the closed book. Like no sound. If you ask them, if you ask them a question, they'll just be like, Yes, mistress. But like, apart from that, like just dead silent and absolutely expressionless, like the amount of times I've probably went too far on a client just because I'm like see. Damn I'm so annoyed.

Wicked Wren [00:25:29] Yeah. Do you think that people are nervous or do you think that they just, like, that's just their thing? Like, what do you. What do you think that is?

Miss Marilyn [00:25:37] I think some of that, some of them have to be nervous. But like other people is definitely just their thing. Because I had a client and for two hours once and a few years ago and I left the session feeling so bad because I was like, he hated me. Like he answered the questions, but like, never a grunt of pleasure or struggle. Nothing. Like, I mean, not a peep. And I left the session and I just felt so bad. My confidence was so knocked. I was like, that went really badly. That session went really badly. I feel terrible. And he came back to me for years and not once did I ever hear a grunt. And every single time he visited me, I hated it. Because I was just like, Oh, here we go again. Just pure silence. And even at the end I would try and speak to him because usually, like, I'd give them a glass of water and I'd say, you know, how is that for you? How you feeling? You want to travel home, all that kind of stuff. And he would just be like, Yeah, it was fine. Okay.

Wicked Wren [00:26:39] C'mon guy. I need more than that.

Miss Marilyn [00:26:41] Nightmare.

Wicked Wren [00:26:42] Yeah, that kind of sucks. You know, it's like, I don't know. Say something. Give me something to make fun of, right? I don't know. So getting into, like, covid times. How has that changed dom work for you? Has that, you know, has it impacted stuff? I guess.

Miss Marilyn [00:27:06] Ugh. I'd say about a year, a year and a bit before covid, I kind of started to focus online. And that was purely because I lived somewhere that didn't really have access to a dungeon. And it was like loads of travel time to get to a dungeon. So I kind of had to still make money doing sex work. But I moved online. I was also seeing a lot of people make a ton of money online, so I was like, Hey, I want to slice it up.

Wicked Wren [00:27:37] I could do it.

Miss Marilyn [00:27:39] Not that I ever got it. But so, yeah, the pandemic rolled around. I don't know about over there, but over here, there's like, business is booming for online content. I think because nobody could work. Everyone was just sitting at home having a good time. So I'd honestly say the first three months of lockdown over here were my best earning months online, at least.

Wicked Wren [00:28:03] Wow. Wow.

Miss Marilyn [00:28:05] So, yeah, not bad. But like I started, I think that's when I started to really hate sex work was during the pandemic. Because it was all online. But not only that, because business was booming and because so many people found themselves going to sex work because they couldn't make money at their normal job, because they weren't allowed to work. The amount of content that you needed to churn out to keep up with everyone else was insane. Like, and this was this was like, sustained. This wasn't like, you could do it for a month and then take a break. Because you needed to just keep up and keep it up and someone else would be doing more for cheaper. And it was just never ending. It was awful.

Wicked Wren [00:28:50] Yeah. Yeah. It's like, it's a, you have to keep feeding the machine.

Miss Marilyn [00:28:55] And it has remained terrible.

Wicked Wren [00:28:58] Yeah. It really sucks. And I'm kind of at this point where I fed the machine for a while and now I hate –.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:05] I hate the machine. Damn the machine.

Wicked Wren [00:29:07] I don't like the machine. I don't. But...

Miss Marilyn [00:29:10] Nobody likes the machine but we're all slaves to the machine.

Wicked Wren [00:29:13] I was about to say, –.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:14] Have you seen the Four Chambers film?

Wicked Wren [00:29:16] No, I should.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:18] No, the... I've got a monologue and the Four Chambers film and it's 'I am the Machine'. So I'm like, Damn the machine. But I'm like, Oh, damn. I am also the machine.

Wicked Wren [00:29:27] Yeah, you are.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:28] But yeah, I've...

Wicked Wren [00:29:30] Everyone is in a D/s thing with the machine.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:32] Yeah, but it's a shame because I kind of fell in love with sex work, but it was just because I think I started doing it in such, like, a good time to start doing it.

Wicked Wren [00:29:44] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:29:44] Because all OF didn't exist. Like there was no subscription platforms at all when I started sex work and it was all in person and it was all really intimate. And very, very cool. And just yeah, I just, I know. I'm like, Damn. So I need to be a domme and an OF girl? Like cool.

Wicked Wren [00:30:07] And the thing about being like an OF girl is like, it's not just an OF girl. That's 10% of it. Everything else is like getting people in. Like, your entire existence becomes monetized. It turns into a funnel, like –

Miss Marilyn [00:30:24] Oh, it's horrendous. It's horrendous.

Wicked Wren [00:30:27] Yeah, it's, like I feel like it has like really big impact on stuff and it sucks. It's made social media not fun. It's made, like it's made me like second guess all these other endeavors I want to do because, you know, like post on social and things like that. Bomb. When it's not just standing there in front of a mirror, you know.

Miss Marilyn [00:30:49] Well, that's the thing. Like I, even what we're saying about the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, I had no choice but to be on OF constantly and social media. By the time that we were allowed to work in person again, I lost all my confidence to work in person again because it had been so long since had actually done someone in person. And as for like the social media aspect of it, I think. Especially when you've done sex work online. You have it so ingrained in your head that no matter what you go on to do, whether it's like a new business doing anything at all, whether you do like nails, art or even like landscaping. You need to be successful on social media. And that's not true. And the disgusting thing is right, see if I post something and it gets like 137 likes. I delete it because I'm like, Oh my God, it's flopped. My post has flopped.

Wicked Wren [00:31:44] Yeah. Yeah. I mean...

Miss Marilyn [00:31:47] I worried about being cool. How uncool is that? I'm the uncoolest guys in the world. But it's like, Oh my God, my selfies only got 500 likes and my last one got 1000. Damn it.

Wicked Wren [00:31:57] I know. It's not good for our brains. It's just like –

Miss Marilyn [00:32:02] No, no. God's sake. Jeez.

Wicked Wren [00:32:04] I've been calling like Instagram and all these things like softcore p*** machines because that's all they are. It's like the most like sexed up thing in the world, but there's like no sex allowed on it and it sucks. It's like, so when you're scrolling, it's constantly just softcore p*** being like, shoved at you or it's like an ad for a mattress. And that is not good for the brain.

Miss Marilyn [00:32:30] No.

Wicked Wren [00:32:30] Okay, you said something. You said that it's, your, how uncool is it ever to be worried about likes, whatever, whatever. Okay. You posted a reel and it hit me so hard.

Miss Marilyn [00:32:45] Many of us.

Wicked Wren [00:32:45] I know it did. It was about Ralph. And your painting. And Ralph is... Remind me the creature that Ralph is, I forget. A mouse? A Rabbit? I think it was...

Miss Marilyn [00:32:55] No, it was lamb, Wren. I'm glad it made such a great impression on you.

Wicked Wren [00:33:01] Everyone. I'm so sorry. I apologize. Ralph is a lamb. You were painting, and you had those monologue behind it where you said that you're scared to say that you're not a domme. Because it's not a cool. Because it's cool to say that you're a domme, and everyone's like, Oh, my God, you're a domme. What's your crazy story? You know, and it is like, and I feel that, too. So, so much. With just like general things. It's like, I want to maintain –

Miss Marilyn [00:33:30] Oh, it's crushing me. It's honestly, it's crushing me.

Wicked Wren [00:33:35] And it's so funny because you're one of the coolest people I've ever seen. I'm like you're –

Miss Marilyn [00:33:40] Yeah, am I not, am I not cool because I'm like, you know, domme for 11 years and I've got all the latex and I feel the parties.

Wicked Wren [00:33:49] I don't know. I mean, I guess. I guess I think you're cool because you're just like a funny person that, like, posts whatever you want to post. And I'm like, Oh, that's neat. But I do see what you're what you're saying because I feel the same thing, right? It's like, if I didn't do all, like, you know, post latex and things like that, people wouldn't want to follow me or whatever. But it also sucks because at this other podcast I do and my co-host, my friend Cam and I, we did a podcast in latex.

Miss Marilyn [00:34:18] Love Cam. Love Cam.

Wicked Wren [00:34:19] Yeah, he's great. And we did a podcast and we are in full body latex and that podcast crushed, but the other ones when we're just talking about how he hates –.

Miss Marilyn [00:34:29] Beans. Yeah, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:34:30] Beans, whatever, has like a hundred likes. But then, you know, latex all podcast destroys and it's like –

Miss Marilyn [00:34:37]  I know.

Wicked Wren [00:34:38] It's like...

Miss Marilyn [00:34:39] I know. And that's the thing. Because I actually had a, I had a conversation with my friend the other day and she was kind of complaining about someone else we know because someone else we know has like, her following has went through the roof and because of this. She's getting loads of brand deals and stuff and it's really amazing for her. So good. She obviously works really hard. But the thing is like and my friend said to me, like, but I know what I need to do to get followers. I just need to post me in latex constantly. And it's true. It's true. It gets you followers.

Wicked Wren [00:35:13] It is true.

Miss Marilyn [00:35:13] But that's not who I am.

Wicked Wren [00:35:15] I know. I know that. That's kind of how I feel. Like I know what's going to crush. I know it's going to do well, but I just don't give a damn. And I'm kind of at a point now where it makes me angry, so I don't want to do it. So I'm doing the opposite.

Miss Marilyn [00:35:29] Yeah, yeah. I'm the same. I'm the same. I've got a dilemma right now, right. I've got an event on the same day that Barbie comes out.

Wicked Wren [00:35:39] It's a big day for you.

Miss Marilyn [00:35:41] It's a huge day for me, okay.

Wicked Wren [00:35:43] I understand.

Miss Marilyn [00:35:44] And it's a cool, it's a cool, private, kinky event, okay? And I'm, I've been invited because of who I am. And I'm like, I have plans to go see Barbie with my best friend, and it's on the same day. And I was like, Oh, do I go? I said I was going, but then I was like, But I really want to go see Barbie with my best friend.

Wicked Wren [00:36:06] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:07] And then my head immediately went, Oh, but the party will look great on social media.

Wicked Wren [00:36:12] Yeah. Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:15] Done.

Wicked Wren [00:36:15] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:15] Die.

Wicked Wren [00:36:16] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:16] Spotless.

Wicked Wren [00:36:17] Shut up. Shut up.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:21] I mean, it's poisonous. It is poisonous.

Wicked Wren [00:36:26] It is bad. It is bad. Do you have any, like. Okay, so you're posting more of your art now. And it's awesome. And it's inspiring to me.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:37] It's just my, just my little animal.

Wicked Wren [00:36:39] It's from Ralph. Little lamb. How are you, like, did you –.

Miss Marilyn [00:36:43] Or mouse?

Wicked Wren [00:36:44] Hm?

Miss Marilyn [00:36:44] Or mouse? Or rabbit? According to you.

Wicked Wren [00:36:47] Everyone, not a rabbit but a lamb, okay. Do you have any, like, I don't know, like, new rules or like a, like a little mantra? Like what was, like, it seems like you made a decision. Am I wrong? I might be kind of putting this out there, but it seems like you're, like, screw it. I'm gonna do what I want to do. That's what it feels like.

Miss Marilyn [00:37:07] So I don't know if you, so I started painting a few years ago and I actually I don't know if you've seen them, but I did quite a lot of paintings of Cam in full latex.

Wicked Wren [00:37:19] Neat, I didn't. I should.

Miss Marilyn [00:37:20] Oh, You've not seen them yet. So basically I did loads of latex paintings and I'm very rarely very confident of anything. But these paintings are freaking hot, right? I have never seen anyone paint anything like this. So I put them out there and they got thousands and thousands of likes. Loads of people wanted to like, buy them, get prints, blah, blah, blah. And then I was like damn it. Because it's just another part of my life.

Wicked Wren [00:37:46] Yes.

Miss Marilyn [00:37:46] That's about the exact same damn thing.

Wicked Wren [00:37:50] Yes.

Miss Marilyn [00:37:51] And I need and what? I just need to keep painting latex every time I paint so I stay relevant like, screw this. And so I was like, I'm not going to paint latex anymore.

Wicked Wren [00:38:03] Yeah. Good.

Miss Marilyn [00:38:04] I'm going to paint a cat. Because I really like cats, and I don't care if nobody likes it.

Wicked Wren [00:38:10] Yeah, they're great.

Miss Marilyn [00:38:12] But the thing is I do care if people like it. That's it.

Wicked Wren [00:38:14] Yeah. We have to – everyone listening. If you like it, please go ahead and drop it a like, okay. Please comment.

Miss Marilyn [00:38:19] And then, I thought, I even thought, you know, Oh, God, how can I combine the two? Maybe I should start painting cats in latex. And then I was like, No, no, no. Because I get heat for that. Because it's sexualizing an animal. People will think I'm a furry. And unfortunately, furries are very stigmatized. There's also negative terms, you know, just that would also hurt the brand.

Wicked Wren [00:38:40] There's a lot going on here, you know.

Miss Marilyn [00:38:42] There is. There are a lot of things at play. And so, you know, but the thing is, I enjoy painting latex, but then I immediately felt pressure to paint more. Yeah. And that's just what turned me right off it. And the thing is, I buy new latex because I love latex and I put it on and I look good. But then I don't want to post a photo because I don't want to feed the damn machine.

Wicked Wren [00:39:09] That's how I feel. And like, screw the machine. I don't want to do this. Screw you, machine. But then I, but then I don't know if –

Miss Marilyn [00:39:15] But it also affects your income.

Wicked Wren [00:39:16] It does. But see, the weird thing about me is I'll put on an outfit, I'll look super cute. I'll go out and do something. I say to myself –

Miss Marilyn [00:39:24] You look super cute in every outfit.

Wicked Wren [00:39:25] Thank you so much.

Miss Marilyn [00:39:26] You're so welcome.

Wicked Wren [00:39:28] So I go out and I live my life. I order the coffee, I have fun in the world. Then I come home and I say to myself, Before I take off this outfit, wash my face, I should post a picture of my story. I should, I should document this. But then I say to myself, You know what? Screw you, I'm not going to do it. But then the weird thing is I feel like crap because I'm like, I missed this opportunity. And I think about all my friends that post constantly and I'm like, I want to be just like her. And it's just very difficult.

Miss Marilyn [00:39:59] There's so many things that go through your head. And I don't think people who – I've never been like a content creator in any facet, in any way whatsoever would understand what we're talking about. But I'm the same. I get to the end of the day and I'm like, I've not posted on my story at all today. I feel really good. And then I see someone else I know and they've posted loads of stuff and they've got loads of likes and they've got a cool new reel and oh my God, it's got 200 comments and I've posted nothing?

Wicked Wren [00:40:28] I know, I know, I know, I know it's bad, but I don't know. I do feel like I have, I think I'm at a place now where I don't care and I'm only posting things that I like and want to do.

Miss Marilyn [00:40:43] That's good. I'm so happy for you.

Wicked Wren [00:40:44] Thank you so much. It's been a journey for me. It's been very therapeutic but I've also been like, I don't know, I just want to make stuff. So I'm going to start making things or doing photography and so doing all these other items. You know what?

Miss Marilyn [00:40:56] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:40:57] Screw it, I'm going to do it.

Miss Marilyn [00:40:59] Yes, you should. What else are you going to do apart from photography?

Wicked Wren [00:41:01] I don't know. Oh, I don't know. I can't draw. I can't. It's just –.

Miss Marilyn [00:41:07] Everyone can draw. Everyone can.

Wicked Wren [00:41:08] Okay, stop. I knew you're going to say that. And this is what everyone in my life said to me. But I don't, I don't understand how to do it. It doesn't make sense. Like perspective? I can't see it. If something like that, like a profile, like the side... It just doesn't make like, I don't –.

Miss Marilyn [00:41:26] Oh, I can't.

Wicked Wren [00:41:28] I think you can.

Miss Marilyn [00:41:29] No, I can't. I can't. I'm telling you.

Wicked Wren [00:41:33] How do you paint then?

Miss Marilyn [00:41:34] I can paint. I can paint really well, but I can't draw.

Wicked Wren [00:41:38] I don't get the difference. I think that that might be the issue. I mean, I... They're still shapes, you have to color them in.

Miss Marilyn [00:41:47] Right. Okay. Yeah. Fair. I can't explain. I don't know what's going on.

Miss Marilyn [00:41:56] But yeah, no, I love that, though. Like, you want to do stuff and you want to make stuff, so that's what you're going to do. And I think that's very much what I'm about now as well, because I'm like, I no longer want to feed the machine. I'm sick of going online and seeing all the other stuff that people have made and feeling really bad about it. And also, I have a few really close friends who have just started sex work in like the last few years. But it's a very different world now, starting sex work. So like I said, it's mostly, well, it's not mostly. They do work in person, but obviously they also need to be really cool on social media. So they're posting, like amazing photos of them in latex with, like, gimps and subs and they're posting photos of them at parties in London. And I'm like, I want that to be me. I'm so freaking jealous of these people.

Wicked Wren [00:42:52] Yeah, yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:42:53] I'm sick. But then I try and focus on the fact that I think my journey was better because –

Wicked Wren [00:43:02] I was going to say that.

Miss Marilyn [00:43:03] For years, there was not a thought in my head about how cool I was. When I was working in person, although I was posting on Twitter about availability and stuff, I just wasn't concerned with – obviously, I wanted to look nice for my clients, but I wasn't concerned with like curating an online presence or brand or anything like that.

Wicked Wren [00:43:26] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:43:27] And I just think, I just think my journey at the beginning must have been so much more enjoyable and not, not authentic, but, like just easier in a way. So I try and focus on that when I get really jealous of my friends that have kind of just started and are down, you know, having an absolute blast at the coolest parties with all the coolest people. I'm just like, It's okay. It's okay.

Wicked Wren [00:43:56] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:43:56] It's okay, right?

Wicked Wren [00:43:59] Right? Right? It's fine. Yeah, no, I agree with you fully. I think like because I came in during the social media time and it feels daunting. It feels brutal. Like it feels, like every day I am, like spinning plates and like, okay, there's Threads and there's Instagram, there's Twitter and there's TikTok, and it's like everything is going on and so I am envious of you, and I'm sure that your friends are also envious of your time coming in.

Miss Marilyn [00:44:30] Me? You're envious of me? Why?

Wicked Wren [00:44:31] Because you got to do it when it doesn't – you didn't have to worry about this little softcore p*** brick, you know, in our pockets. And that's cool, you know? But, yeah. Hey, the grass is always greener. Ralph knows that.

Miss Marilyn [00:44:43]  That is true. And this is what I've been trying, I've been trying to explain to myself multiple times. Because, you know, I'm seeing all these amazing, amazing sex workers posting their content literally 24/7. Like they are constantly, all I see on my phone is them.

Wicked Wren [00:45:01] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:45:01] And I'm like, Wow. One, how are they doing it? Two, why can I not function like that? Like, what is wrong with my brain that I'm unable to, like, work that efficiently?

Wicked Wren [00:45:13] And I think it's more than one human. I think it's a lot of people.

Miss Marilyn [00:45:20] You started mumbling again.

Wicked Wren [00:45:22] Going back to my roots. You know, I think it's, I think, I think it's like people having teams, you know, maybe not everyone. Not everyone. Not everyone. Not everyone. But that's the thing that's kind of annoying to me. It's like...

Miss Marilyn [00:45:36] But some people that do post 24/7 don't have teams. It's just them.

Wicked Wren [00:45:41] I couldn't. I couldn't. I don't know. Maybe it's like, maybe it's like coming into it and being like, prepare for it. Like, this is what it is. Like this is the ecosystem that I'm entering. So it's like if you enter it, you're like, This is all I know. No, I don't know.

Miss Marilyn [00:45:58] I think, I think there was a, there have been a few girls in the last five years and they have came out and said, like, they made a conscious decision to commit to online sex work for like three years. And I'm talking like all day, every day. They did nothing else and they've made bank and then they're out and they're back to life. But that's, that's like 24/7 everyday. And I've actually spoken to a girl who's done this and she like worked her butt off for three years. And don't get me wrong, it paid off, but for me. That's a lot of laughter with my friends that I've missed out on, a lot of good meals and coffees and dogs that I haven't met. Do you know if I've just, if I've just been in the house – for me personally that I couldn't do it. That my brain would just explode. Like I would be so depressed?

Wicked Wren [00:46:57] Yeah, I kind of feel the same way. It's like and if your, if everything you do is about content creation, once that's not there, you're kind of like, Okay, now what do I do? And I'm not saying that that's what's happening with this person, but for me it was like, like if I was doing that for three years, it's like, then how do you get going out and surfing or going out and like doing stuff back into your rotation because you've optimized all these aspects of your life. It's like, you know, it's why, like people after they retire usually take jobs. You know, it's like because they're just kind of bored. But you're very right.

Miss Marilyn [00:47:34] I think another thing worth worth mentioning especially about, well, not actually about online sex work or just sex work in general. Because of the way that we live now and the way that we advertise ourselves, you all know, as well as I do, like, the more you're online, the more money you make. So you have no cap to how much you earn. So if you, if you take any time off, you're so hard on yourself because it's like, it is up to me. Like the the earning potential for sex work is insane.

Wicked Wren [00:48:08] Yes.

Miss Marilyn [00:48:09] Like, even though the market is really saturated, there are still ways to make loads and loads of money. But you need to be constant.

Wicked Wren [00:48:17] Yes.

Miss Marilyn [00:48:17] And the punishment, the like hatred you have for yourself when you take any time off, because there's no hourly wage, there's no sick pay. The only person that's responsible for how much you're making and how well your life is going financially is you.

Wicked Wren [00:48:34] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:48:35] And that just, I ended up hating myself because I was like, I want to make this amount of money. But then when I made that, that wasn't enough. I wanted to make more and more and more. When would it be enough? I don't think it would have ever been enough.

Wicked Wren [00:48:49] Yeah. Yeah. I think like having an out point or something like that or having like some kind of goals is so, so important with it, because if not, you'll go crazy. You know? Because I do that too.

Miss Marilyn [00:49:04] Oh, god. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:49:04] You know, it's like, I can't sit there online all day long. Like some days of the week, I'll sit online. For 15 hours a day and it's cool. But then I'll go in a week and I can't do anything. So it's like, I can't feel bad about that, you know, because –

Miss Marilyn [00:49:19] Especially, when you, especially, when you don't have a team. Like I've never had a team. I had a personal assistant for a bit, but I've never had a team. And I think when you are doing it, it's just all about finding the middle ground of like – because not only is it like the more you are online, the more money you make, but you need to be consistent.

Wicked Wren [00:49:37] Consistency is the number one thing.

Miss Marilyn [00:49:39] And I'm consistent with nothing. And no matter, no matter how – like even though I know, that consistency is key and that would be better for me financially than being online 24/7 for a week and then nothing for three days. I still could not manage it.

Wicked Wren [00:50:00] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:50:00] Like I could never get the balance right.

Wicked Wren [00:50:03] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:50:03] I just, I worried and was so horrible to myself because I was just like, Why is your brain not like everybody else's? Why can't I make, why can't I do it? I'm watching other people do it. Why can't I?

Wicked Wren [00:50:17] Yeah, but you're just a different person. You know?

Miss Marilyn [00:50:22] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:50:22] You're just different.

Miss Marilyn [00:50:24] Yeah, well, I, you know, I never made OF bank. I'm not like a p*** superstar. And that's okay. Like I said in the video. Like I said in the video, you know, like, that's okay. Like –

Wicked Wren [00:50:38] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:50:39] Alright. Okay. I'm not cool. That's okay. Like my friends still like me. That's fine.

Wicked Wren [00:50:44] Well, on that note. They like you, promise. And you are also one of the coolest people in the world. What do you have coming up? What are you excited about? What are you doing? Maybe what are you doing for dinner tonight? Or maybe what are you doing this week? Or maybe bigger? Anything coming up?

Miss Marilyn [00:51:06] Do you know what? I'm going to talk about something really simple. I am, I've been enjoying baking a lot.

Wicked Wren [00:51:13] I love that.

Miss Marilyn [00:51:14] And it's just so simple. And you know what, right? I I've been enjoying baking and I've also been enjoying gardening.

Wicked Wren [00:51:24] Oh my god, I love it.

Miss Marilyn [00:51:25] And I hate myself for it. I don't, I don't want to be that guy. I did the garden, and I could not believe how much I enjoyed it. It's the most I've enjoyed anything for years.

Wicked Wren [00:51:34] I think it's a human thing. We want to do it and we want to get dirty.

Miss Marilyn [00:51:37] I want to punch myself in the face for it.

Wicked Wren [00:51:39] Don't, don't, don't.

Miss Marilyn [00:51:42] Because I'm like, these things you're enjoying. They're not cool. They're not cool. If you post a video of you gardening, nobody's going to like it.

Wicked Wren [00:51:51] No.

Miss Marilyn [00:51:52] Nobody's going to pay you for it. You're not sexy doing the garden. Out with your trowel.

Wicked Wren [00:51:57] Here's my question. Have you thought about gardening in latex? Because maybe that will...

Miss Marilyn [00:52:02] Oh my god.

Wicked Wren [00:52:05] Maybe, maybe that'll get it in the mainstream. You know what I mean?

Miss Marilyn [00:52:08] So, yeah, I am, I am just living the slow life at the moment.

Wicked Wren [00:52:14] I love it.

Miss Marilyn [00:52:16] I signed up to do a degree of forensic psychology. And which I will be starting in October, because I was very daunted to start studying again and very much kind of towards not the end. I've obviously still, I'm still doing sex work to a degree, but like in the last kind of year or so, I was like, how am I, am I ever going to get out of sex work? Like, I've been doing this for 11 years and it's the only thing I've done. My CV is looking very suspicious.

Wicked Wren [00:52:51] Explain this 12 year gap in your resume, please.

Miss Marilyn [00:52:55] Yes. I was sucking d*** on the internet and yeah. I'm just, I'm just living, so I'm waiting for my degree to go. I wanted to do it kind of like working with animals, but I didn't have the qualifications to get into any of the courses. And then I kind of thought, What else am I passionate about? So I'll be studying forensic psychology. I'm working with a few animal rescues and paintings and stuff. I've got a lot of paintings planned and yeah, I've just uhm, I will do some fetish paintings again soon to make myself some money. And obviously I've got, I've got two books coming up as well.

Wicked Wren [00:53:37] What are your books?

Miss Marilyn [00:53:38] So I've got the second installment of Rotten Apple. So obviously the first one was out in 2021. Second is going to be hopefully at the end of this year. And even writing wise, still kinky, still loads of incest. Still loads of horrible fetishy stuff. I've written a collection of kind of really weird, dark fairy tales.

Wicked Wren [00:54:03] Hmm.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:05] So releasing them as well. It's just like yourself what you said. Like, there's things I want to do and there's things I want to make, and I'm just desperately trying to break free from the chains of the content machine.

Wicked Wren [00:54:18] Well, these are chains that I believe in you. I know you're going to break them.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:22] Thank you. Thank you. I hope so.

Wicked Wren [00:54:24] Where can people find these books and paintings and things?

Miss Marilyn [00:54:27] Oh, well, I just, I'm mostly on Instagram, to be honest. I don't really use much else. I feel like I'm getting old, though.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:34] I don't want to use social media anymore. Do you know what I mean like? I would really (inaudible).

Wicked Wren [00:54:38] You're going to be on Facebook soon.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:42] Don't. I had to join Facebook the other day.

Wicked Wren [00:54:44] Of course, you did.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:47] It's just because the, there's a rescue and they were like, Oh, we have a chat on Facebook. And I was like, Oh, I'm not on Facebook. And they were like, Oh, well, could you join? And I was like ugh.

Wicked Wren [00:54:55] That's how it starts now. Now you've got Facebook Messenger.

Miss Marilyn [00:54:56] Yeah, I know.

Wicked Wren [00:54:58] They're going to be like, Oh, you need this Hotmail account too.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:01] Oh, my God.

Wicked Wren [00:55:02] Yeah. This is how it works. You're going to start calling people instead of texting them.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:08] Jeez. No, never. Never. Never. The dread that fills me when my phone rings.

Wicked Wren [00:55:13] I know, I know.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:16] So. Yeah, I'm just, um. I'm just allowing myself to be I think.

Wicked Wren [00:55:22] The slow life.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:24] And, yeah, I'm really, I'm really poor now, you know.

Wicked Wren [00:55:28] Right.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:29] But again, it's just, it's just another thing that's okay. Do you know like –

Wicked Wren [00:55:35] It is okay.

Miss Marilyn [00:55:35] I chased, I chased the dream. I chased the money for a long time and it just never came. And I was so angry about that for so long. And I saw people, you know, doing less that were making more money. And it just got to the point where I just had so much anger that I was just like, This isn't right. Like, I cannot live like this. You just need to let go.

Wicked Wren [00:55:58] Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:56:00] So I'm going to plant some rose bushes.

Wicked Wren [00:56:02] I love that.

Miss Marilyn [00:56:03] And bake more. Bake some more banana bread for my elderly neighbor and pet some cats that need some homes.

Wicked Wren [00:56:10] Honestly, it sounds like you're living the dream. It's incredible.

Miss Marilyn [00:56:15] I just, I very much – especially due to social media, I think the world's not very great.

Wicked Wren [00:56:25] Yeah. Yeah.

Miss Marilyn [00:56:26] The state of it. Especially, you know, there's a lot of hatred at the moment. And it seems to just be getting worse and worse. It's almost like time's gone backwards and it's honestly terrifying. And although, you know, sex work for me has been a wonderful, wonderful job, I still feel very strongly about it. I will always advocate for sex workers and stuff. And I just, I just really want to work hard on putting whatever kindness and softness into the world that I can, because I there's just really not enough going around right now.

Wicked Wren [00:57:08] Yeah. I agree with you. Well, on that note, I want to thank you for chatting with me. You're amazing.

Miss Marilyn [00:57:16] Thank you so much for having me. It's been so nice to actually chat to you finally.

Wicked Wren [00:57:20] I know. So cool. I learned a lot.

Miss Marilyn [00:57:24] Girl, you're so cool. We are so cool. Look at us.

Wicked Wren [00:57:29] Look at us. Well, look. Good luck on your gardening adventures and your banana bread. I can't wait to see pictures of it or not.


DK Blackfish shares how they embraced their identity inspired by the documentary "Blackfish" and discusses their rope journey. Their bottom-up approach includes models reaching out to them and a trauma-informed negotiation process.


DK Blackfish shares how they embraced their identity inspired by the documentary "Blackfish" and discusses their rope journey. Their bottom-up approach includes models reaching out to them and a trauma-informed negotiation process.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

DK Blackfish, a.k.a., Blackfish Rope Works, is a non-binary, non-professional practitioner of the Japanese form of rope bondage since 2016, who has been personally instructed and influenced by various rope artists in the U.S. and in Japan. DK Blackfish has privately practiced rope bondage with dedicated partners to grow in the art form and experience the emotional bliss of tying up humans through private, lifestyle-sessions, and also through 'not-for-profit,' rope photography/videography, performance, and instruction. DK Blackfish, under the alias of Delilah Knotty, previously modeled in the western form of rope bondage photography since the early 2000's, depicting the traditional motif of the 'damsel in distress' in on-line websites and once printed magazines like Harmony Concepts. It has always been their dream through rope bondage expression, practice, and out-reach for over 20 years, to see the rope bondage community grow to what it is today.


Wicked Wren [00:00:08] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm a good read, and today I'm speaking to my friend Delilah. They are a group artist with an everlasting enthusiasm to expand ropes influence in the world. Hello, Delilah. How are you?

DK Blackfish [00:00:23] Irene I'm very well. Pleasure to be here. Good.

Wicked Wren [00:00:27] So you've been involved in rope for a while?

DK Blackfish [00:00:30] Yes, for for a long time.

Wicked Wren [00:00:32] How did you find rope? What appealed to you about it?

DK Blackfish [00:00:36] Well, I am a rope is, you know, is a beautiful heart in itself. And I love to see people tied up. I mean, it's very erotic. And I got into it because I used to buy magazines back in the late nineties, and the Western style rope was like kind of a very interesting take on tying people because it really just emphasized like a damsel in distress scenario. And that was just very beautiful to me.

Wicked Wren [00:01:02] Do you still have those magazines?

DK Blackfish [00:01:04] I have a couple. I have kept a couple.

Wicked Wren [00:01:07] That's so cool.

DK Blackfish [00:01:08] Yeah. Yeah. They're they're old school and kind of hard to find nowadays.

Wicked Wren [00:01:12] Yeah, you should maybe, like, get them framed or something. That'll be really cool to see.

DK Blackfish [00:01:16] Yeah, I've thought of doing that for a couple. You know, one day I might do that.

Wicked Wren [00:01:20] Yeah. You do the damsel in distress motif often?

DK Blackfish [00:01:26] I Yes, I used to do that a lot more, and I kind of got back into it recently, just for fun, just to show something different on social media. Because what we see most of the time now is like the Japanese style of rope, but like, yeah, I brought it back. And then one of this show a little bit more like this kind of rope with cotton. With white cotton rope. Yeah, Yeah. And that's how it was in the in the early 2000s when I started in rope.

Wicked Wren [00:01:50] Wow. And why did you take a break from that? You know, why did you kind of get away from it for a bit?

DK Blackfish [00:01:58] Well, in the early 2000, I was doing a lot of bondage modeling and I was shooting photography with a friend. And it was it was great. You know, I just love doing it. It's so exciting just to be tied up. And also the tie someone. I did take a break because of personal reasons in the late 18th and early 2000, say actually I had children and so I stopped and then I kind of got back into it because, you know, us in rope, we just can't stop tying.

Wicked Wren [00:02:24] Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:02:25] And I got into it again, like the 2011 through 2015, and I was starting to do more Western style rope.

Wicked Wren [00:02:34] Gotcha. Yeah, we don't have to talk about this part, but I think it would be cool to talk about you having kids and being kinky. Would you want to talk about that at all?

DK Blackfish [00:02:44] Yeah, I can talk about that. Yeah. My, you know, having family, just like many of us, we have families and, you know, kink is part of our lifestyle. And you just integrate kink within the family matrix, really, and you just learn how to kind of balance out without, like, necessarily exposing them to it, you know? And until they get older.

Wicked Wren [00:03:06] Do your kids know that you're kinky now?

DK Blackfish [00:03:09] Yes, they do. They do. They definitely know. They they've seen my rig at home. They've never really they've never seen me tie anybody. But they definitely follow me on Instagram. Yeah. Because they I gave them a sticker from my friend Katy calls you and they were like, Oh, and they found Katie. And then they found me on Instagram. Really?

Wicked Wren [00:03:30] Like, this person looks familiar. Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:03:32] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:03:33] Were you nervous to come out to your kids and tell them that you were kinky?

DK Blackfish [00:03:37] You know, they actually approached me, and it was right around here at the beach. They were like, Hey, we want to talk to you about what you do. And we kind of know. I told them, I said, you know, I tie up people and they were like, okay, that's good. That's that's enough. But they, you know, now they kind of think it's kind of cool.

Wicked Wren [00:03:55] I bet that a lot of people are nervous to tell their kids that they're kinky and things like that.

DK Blackfish [00:04:00] Oh, most definitely. You know, I think mainly they're just worried about their friends, their kids, their kids friends and their families finding out. So, yeah, that's where I try to keep it kind of a closed door on that situation.

Wicked Wren [00:04:13] Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:04:14] But I think they tell everybody, you know, kids, they talk.

Wicked Wren [00:04:18] They do. And also the acceptance with bondage and things has really come a long way.

DK Blackfish [00:04:24] It has I believe it has at least. You know, I'm a little bit jaded because I do this and our community is all centered about rope. It's my lifestyle. But, you know, you see it on Instagram, you see it on social media, you see rope and in videos. And it's becoming a sexy new thing. And people really enjoy it. It's I mean, pundit has always been a part of our life. It's been in movies, you know, it's always been kind of like an underlying theme. But yeah, social media really changed the game on this, I think.

Wicked Wren [00:04:58] Agreed. I literally just did a podcast and I talked about how latex is coming into fashion now, like in high fashion. It's people wearing latex to the Grammys and things like that. And that really wasn't a thing as like it is now.

DK Blackfish [00:05:12] No, I know. And they're wearing like strappy kind of like underwear or strappy bras. And just all of that has a very strong undertone of fetish and kink.

Wicked Wren [00:05:22] Yeah, there's a brand. I forget the name of the. Brand, but they make lingerie and they had some lingerie where they sewed in some dollar bills. And then a couple stripper friends of mine reposted that and was like, They want to be so bad, but they hate us in a way. And I think that it's this bad part right now where everyone wants to be a sex worker, everyone wants to be kinky, everyone wants to put themselves out there. They don't realize, like the repercussions of actually doing these things, right?

DK Blackfish [00:05:54] Yeah. Socially, it may seem like it's being more accepted. It is on social media, but we still need to make be active in this and sharing this and making it normal.

Wicked Wren [00:06:03] And yes, I remember when I saw you the like Thriller series on Netflix and the character Joe got tied up anyway. He was in like a hog tie, and I immediately was like, Who did that? Because it was actually like, not bad rope. And I was like, Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:06:21] Yeah, I love seeing stuff like that because you are so curious and you know, really secretly get off and I, I troll for things like that.

Wicked Wren [00:06:28] Yeah. I mean, so you two, so you recently did a project and I've only seen this on your social I don't know much about it. It was called Opera Unbound, right.

DK Blackfish [00:06:38] Yeah, it was unbound. It was a kinky immersive opera in Palm Springs. Okay. And it was all gay male, you know, opera singers that were centered around actually about centered around Jabari. So I had to teach these these singers how to do like a very, very basic suspension in such a phenomenal short time. The run up was like less than a month.

Wicked Wren [00:07:05] Wow.

DK Blackfish [00:07:06] It was intense, but it was a really good experience.

Wicked Wren [00:07:08] And for people that don't know, Palm Springs is a historically very gay area of California.

DK Blackfish [00:07:15] It's very gay and it's really just dominated by, you know, Yeah. Like, you know, older, in fact, older gay community there. And it was interesting why they brought that there because. KING You know, it is a part of the gay community, but not Jabari and Rob art itself. So the producer brought this King opera there to try to like kind of expand the whole thing about Jabari in that community.

Wicked Wren [00:07:42] So you said that you had to bring people up to proficiency very quickly.

DK Blackfish [00:07:46] Yes. Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:07:47] How did you approach that?

DK Blackfish [00:07:49] That was you know, I had a lot of ambivalence on that at first. And so I, I with some hesitation and thought, I said, okay, I'm going to do this. And I just told them immediately right off the bat, like, there are serious risks to this. I almost like scared them off, you know, And they were like, We still want to do this, you know? So like, okay, So I taught them over a series of weekends. Maybe we spent about 20 hours learning like just basic tying and then a suspension.

Wicked Wren [00:08:19] Wow.

DK Blackfish [00:08:20] And I did this by like, module. So we did five. Like the first day was like a basic tie. Yeah. And this second day was like, okay, now we're going to start tying the chests, you know? And they started learning that and they were building the rig inside the director's house at the same time. So day three, we actually did a suspension and, you know, they were really surprised at how difficult it was.

Wicked Wren [00:08:47] Yeah. How many different elements of kink were in this opera?

DK Blackfish [00:08:51] You know, there were a couple of people. And that's a really good question because I got really serious when I started teaching them. I started teaching them how to play, how to get into somebody's head and like how to really make this opera like not just like a singing thing, but I wanted that seemed to be authentic because they were new to role, but some of them were into kink, and so they kind of understood. So there's a difference in acting. One is a call, you know, like I think method acting, and then one is kind of like a natural acting, right? And we had an experience and I'm not going to say who was, but one of them really. They all started doing the method acting and actually got into the headspace of one of them. But one of the actors was like, they actually broke down. They actually had a whole pause. It was like a drama scene. And to their credit, they they said, Hey, this is not really what I bought into this part. This is like, this is an opera. This is a theatrical experience. It's not real. So it became such an interesting learning experience because I had no idea that while I was actually going to teach people like how to actually play and do something that was authentic, that it would actually trigger somebody on an emotional level. Yeah, it was intense.

Wicked Wren [00:10:07] Do you feel like the people that were in the opera took these things into their own kink play after? Do you think of this kind of informed their other kink disciplines?

DK Blackfish [00:10:18] I think for a few, for first, for sure, yeah. There's definitely a few in there that really enjoyed it and like to learn what I was. Teaching them. I think the producer, they really loved that, you know, they were really into it.

Wicked Wren [00:10:32] Was this one of the first times you've done something this quickly, bringing people from zero to like 100? So.

DK Blackfish [00:10:39] Yeah, I've never done anything like that. And I think most people in the community would be like, You can't do that, right? There's so many people. So you can do suspensions for like six months or nine months. They were doing it in a month, you know, But I thought it could be done. I mean, the thing is, actors learn so quickly. They learn the lines and they learn how to sing and do their do their thing. I thought they could be adaptive and they did pick up on it quite quickly.

Wicked Wren [00:11:02] Yeah, well, that was my next question, was that a lot of people would say that's too quick. You know, a lot of them. Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:11:09] But, but they're, they're adaptive. They can kind of learn quickly and they were kind of already in the kink scene. It was like it. And we spent a lot of time learning this, you know, five hour blocks and yeah, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:11:22] You kind of got the perfect setup of person to learn this. Like an actor that was fluent in kink knows about, you know, risk knows about different things like that. Right. And then also in the situation where you're there 100% of the time that they're actually in rope. So you can help mitigate. Right.

DK Blackfish [00:11:43] Like I was there, I was watching and, you know, I taught them all the safety measures, you know, use shears and if you need to and and all the other issues, particularly with the arms and risks for tying people. Yeah, they they did very good. And in the end the show was very successful. I mean they ran through and people really enjoyed it.

Wicked Wren [00:12:04] Do you have any big takeaways that you've learned from that? I mean, you did something super unique. I don't know if anyone else has done something like that. Like.

DK Blackfish [00:12:13] Well, I mean, I learned so much about Palm Springs in the gay community, right, and LGBTQ community, how those don't exactly mesh completely. And then also about like how to teach people that are learning and how to like, really recognize that, you know, there are different ways to teach people. And the takeaway was like, I can have a serious impact on somebody's mental ability or capability while you're teaching them. And it was just it was kind of like a mine. I hit a mine on that. It was beautiful in one sense, but very, very dangerous. And then yeah, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:12:47] Do you think that that informs your play coming back home?

DK Blackfish [00:12:52] It did. It did. Especially if for me to be teaching because I do want to get more into teaching and personally and just small classes if I can. And it definitely gives me perspective. It gave me a perspective, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:13:06] How do you approach sessions? Because I see online you do things that are obviously photo rope, but their artistic. The goal seems to be amazing pictures.

DK Blackfish [00:13:19] Right? Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:13:20] And it also feels like you have things that are play based and where you maybe you're just grabbing a quick picture or something like that. How do you approach those two things?

DK Blackfish [00:13:28] Right. Right. Yeah, they're totally different. Right? Like in in like I'll start with the play sessions, right? How do I approach that? So the play session is, you know, those are very unique and, and they're connective type of rope that people say and it's intimate, you know, it's not in terms of sexual, but it's like between two people when you tie, there is intimacy there. I approach it in a way in a very safe manner and I try to practice what they're looking for. And I tie and we tie together and in a way that's very communicative and embodied and cathartic, if you will. And it's a very beautiful thing. And when I take a picture of those moments, you know, of course, with their permission, it's like you've got to break away from the scene to take it, you know? But, you know, I know how to take a photo for Instagram, right? You know, like, I've done this so long, it's like, hey, I need this for the ground. And they want it to. Yeah, yeah, and yeah, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:14:25] Well, so much of the community is on Instagram, you know, so much of like, so much of everybody's is represented through Instagram.

DK Blackfish [00:14:34] It is a.

Wicked Wren [00:14:34] Better way of saying.

DK Blackfish [00:14:35] Yeah, Instagram is, is the social medium for I think grow.

Wicked Wren [00:14:40] It seems like your play sessions are you're kind of capturing a moment in time with that and then with photography and like art. How are you approaching that?

DK Blackfish [00:14:48] Yeah, for photography and art is it that is like just a lot of fun. I love to do that. It's a great thing to do. I've always done it, you know, for years. I approach it in a collaborative effort. Usually I don't get paid for anything that I do. In fact, I try not to get paid because it allows me the ability to be very creative. Yes. So I collaborate with models and photographers and then we'll get a studio or shoot outside and we'll just create something together, sometimes very much on the fly, but very, very, very esthetically pleasing type of tie so that it can be shown on Instagram. And now I get taken down, but also, you know, spread the word how beautiful bondage can be. And, you know, people really resonate with that kind of thing. It's such a powerful. Actually conveyance of rope bondage through social media. And, you know, I've gotten comments from all kinds of people on this, not even in row, but they just like to see it.

Wicked Wren [00:15:49] Was there a time where you felt scared or nervous to share your art?

DK Blackfish [00:15:57] Oh, that is such a big question. Yes, have. It was interesting. In 2016 or so, I finally got comfortable with myself in rope and actually tying. For years. I've always was worried about what were the social implications of showing myself tied up or tying people because, you know, it's socially accepted in some realms, but generally not in our homes. Yeah, yeah. It's there is a growth and curve on that. And to, to this day now I'm fine. You know, there's not a second that I think about whether if I get outed or something or someone says something that I would feel shame about it because this is my lifestyle and I'm a strong advocate for it and I just want it to be accepted and less marginalized. But yeah, there was definitely a time and I'm sure there is there are others out there.

Wicked Wren [00:16:48] How did you get over that fear? Like, was there an inciting incident that kind of pushed you something? You heard something like that?

DK Blackfish [00:16:56] You know, I don't think there was. I think it was just that one day I just became very comfortable with that. I was just like, hey, you know, I this is who I am. I'm Delilah. Delilah Naughty or D.K. Blackfish, you know. And I got really comfortable with that.

Wicked Wren [00:17:11] Where did Blackfish come from?

DK Blackfish [00:17:14] That's a great question. I love that. You know, thank you for asking. So Blackfish and I deliberately took this name. You know, so the movie Blackfish, right? You were saying that about the killer whales, right? I saw that movie and I resonated with that movie. I was like, Oh my God, you know, here are these killer whales. They're apex animals, and they're being captured and and being made to do these tricks. And they're. And I thought, oh, that I kind of felt like that, like as a bondage model that I was like being captured and being shown to do things, you know, basically take photos and show it online. And also, they're very apex. I mean, the top of the food chain, right? And I kind of look at myself like that, especially when it comes to tying as a top. And so I thought it'd just all work together. So I was like, Blackfish is going to be my new performance name. And I took it up around 2015. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. You know, the thing is, is that with something like that, you really got to look long term because I knew I've been, you know, I've been in this scene for so many years, and you the one thing you do knows is that you get recognition with Google after about five or ten years. Right? So I knew if I took it up in 2015, maybe five or six years later, it would become more of like my pseudonym. And it happened.

Wicked Wren [00:18:34] Wow. Yeah, I've always been curious about that. That's such a cool story, you know?

DK Blackfish [00:18:38] And it's like, you know, sometimes people identify with like, an animal, an animal persona, you know, like, you know, some people say they're a bird or some people they're a fox. Yeah. You know, I say I'm like a killer whale because I am a top. Yeah, I'm a RoboCop, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:18:55] Do you have any killer whale like art or like a stuffy or anything like that?

DK Blackfish [00:19:00] I have a killer whale onesie that was given to me by my real partner, and it's really cute.

Wicked Wren [00:19:05] I love that.

DK Blackfish [00:19:06] You know, my kids got a big kick out of it.

Wicked Wren [00:19:09] Do you tie in it?

DK Blackfish [00:19:11] I haven't yet. I don't know. You get really hot.

Wicked Wren [00:19:13] And I was about to say something. I noticed that you do when you tie that I think is very cool, is that you'll put little piles of rope around places and also carabiners around different places. And I've never seen someone do that.

DK Blackfish [00:19:26] Right? Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:19:27] Yeah. So you don't have to, like, search for it or whatever.

DK Blackfish [00:19:29] I do that in I can I don't know where I'm going to be once I start tying. Sometimes I start on the edge of my, you know, my area or right in the center. It's nice to be able to grab those things without losing your partner. You know, like I try to stay close to them. So if I have to, like, move away from them to grab some rope or a carabiner, I'm kind of losing the connection.

Wicked Wren [00:19:50] Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:19:51] So that's why I. It's strategic. I put them around so I can grab it.

Wicked Wren [00:19:55] It's such a simple fix for that, you know?

DK Blackfish [00:19:58] Yeah. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:19:59] Can you talk to me a little bit about your negotiation process or your intake process or tying with maybe new people and people you've consistently tied with?

DK Blackfish [00:20:09] Yeah, I yeah, I'm happy to talk about that. My, my approach has always been that for the 95% of the time models or, or partners, they approach me. Yeah. And that's kind of been my that's been in my approach to rope is to have a. Model approach me. And it usually either in person, if they've seen me perform with somebody or online. And that's part of the whole intake process because I feel safe, safer, if you will. I don't want to say it's completely safe, but if someone is approaching me, I don't appear to be are looking as if I am like looking for a model or, you know, hunting for a model because I don't I don't like that that the way that looks and it and it definitely can be portrayed incorrectly like you're a predator trying to tie people.

Wicked Wren [00:21:01] It also does flip the power dynamic. Right Right. And makes the model in a place of having to negotiate kind of up versus like someone coming to you and having full autonomy over that decision. But you on equal playing field, Right? That's a really wise thing. Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:21:20] It is a bottom up kind of procedure, if you will. Like they come to me and then I'll open up the engagement and we usually talk and you know, we all talk either through text and I do zoom meetings beforehand frequently. I've met for coffee before we tie. It's very rare that I've actually just brought somebody into my house after like they and that's why, you know, that doesn't that doesn't happen. You know, it's not safe in any way, I think.

Wicked Wren [00:21:46] And when you do a Zoom meeting, are you just kind of hanging out and just like seeing if you do vibe or do you have specific things that you want to ask?

DK Blackfish [00:21:53] Right. Yeah. It's it's really is a vibe like they're going with you. When you look at each other, you kind of see you can read each other like, Hey, I may like to be with the time with that person. I do. They look safe. And then, yeah, we talk about anything that they're comfortable with and what I'm comfortable with, just how we're feeling. And then we go into the real things about what we're looking for and role.

Wicked Wren [00:22:12] Yeah. And how does the conversation around what you're looking for go?

DK Blackfish [00:22:16] Usually I usually ask, you know, why did you approach me? What was it that you really liked that made you want to try with me? And that will lead them into something? Either they want to look pretty or they like to be bound, or it looks very connective. And you know, I want a cool experience of some type and those and that can go into very different, different avenues of like discussion.

Wicked Wren [00:22:44] And then on your tying sessions, are you doing another round of maybe a say, Right.

DK Blackfish [00:22:51] Yeah. So like there's always an early pre negotiation I call it and then on the day of I always negotiate and I've learned this from a group here in negotiations is like you know you're not going to be perfect at it. You ask a lot of key questions and ask questions about how they're feeling, what's going on with their day, do they have any injuries or, you know, they're aware of the risk to this. Also, other things that I really started to bring in are like trauma informed kind of consent issues. And it's it's a really interesting because we all carry trauma and we get into rope to this in some ways to actually kind of healer selves. They're kind of or maybe numb it, but as a rigor, as a top, you know, you may actually accidentally step into that as you tie them. So I'm not asking them to tell me about their trauma. I'm just saying, hey, you know, I know we carry trauma around. If, for instance, I actually trigger something, I ask that we actually be able to to to work through that together because I it's not my intent to, like, bring out trauma. I want this to be a great, fun loving experience or sadistic, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:23:59] But like you said, the avenue for bringing up past trauma is there. I think that the real issue comes in when people, you know, especially top say, I can heal that trauma, which is I feel is very common, unfortunately. Right.

DK Blackfish [00:24:13] Yeah, I would be very wary of anybody. You can say that. I'd be wary of a lot of key things like that, especially if they say make it a safe environment or that's like not possible.

Wicked Wren [00:24:22] Miss True Blue said something that was cool. She has that box is a safer.

DK Blackfish [00:24:29] Safer.

Wicked Wren [00:24:30] Place. And I was like, That's a very cool thing because it'll never be safe, right?

DK Blackfish [00:24:35] Yeah, And that's true. And I totally I totally agree with it is you can make it a safer space. You could put in rules and designate certain persons to watch the environment. But, you know, you can't guarantee everything. You don't know what's going to happen. And, you know, even for people that are playing together for a long time, there's errors and mistakes.

Wicked Wren [00:24:57] Absolutely. You know, yeah, I find that even people that do have a long history should be talked about, maybe sometimes more than people that are that are new. You go in, you're like, Oh, this person's been doing this for a really long time. This person's got to be safe because they know what they're doing right? And like, that should not be a key. Like, Oh, it's fine, you know, I'm going to be safe because this person's all over the Internet and this and that kind of things.

DK Blackfish [00:25:22] Yeah, You know, that's a oh, my God. There's so much to talk about. That in particular is a very important thing that I think about frequently, because years of experience, people tend to kind of to look at as being like a proficiency or an expertise. And that doesn't mean anything. It just means that, yeah, maybe they are better at typing, but that doesn't mean they are safer for you. They may not have they may be perpetuating like bad types of rope for years and keep doing that just because they have a high follower count or years of practice or, you know, have beautiful studios. You know, you really have to be educated on this.

Wicked Wren [00:26:00] Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's so much turnover in what we do that it's difficult to have a track record like no one carries a resumé with them. You know, they can.

DK Blackfish [00:26:10] You can delete your screen.

Wicked Wren [00:26:12] Name and make a new one.

DK Blackfish [00:26:13] Make a new one. You can change your Oh my God, you can change your handle so easily. And yeah, like people can find you but in the community is, is it's so dispersed among in the country. You know, we have small little enclaves in big, major metropolises like, you know, San Diego or Los Angeles, San Francisco. But then it's all interspersed and across hundreds of miles. And how does a community like that self-regulate? You know, it's it's very, very difficult.

Wicked Wren [00:26:39] Yeah. Yeah. I don't know.

DK Blackfish [00:26:40] Yeah. Yeah. There's no real solution to it. Yeah. It's a lot of people have used social media to call out. Right. And that has backfired on some of them. And sometimes it has worked. In the cases, it's just become like noise, white noise. And, you know, it's a very difficult way to try to self-regulate. But we could all just kind of like, spread the word out quietly about something and protect each other as we try.

Wicked Wren [00:27:07] To call out things hard because, ah, the canceling thing because rope I feel like is unique in kink where it is people's lives.

DK Blackfish [00:27:17] Oh yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:27:18] So if someone gets canceled or whatever, they're not stopping rope. So instead it's like you've banished them and then they're going to make a new persona and then continue to harm versus calling someone in and saying like, Hey, this was nice, whatever or whatever. But then that leads into the issue of like, who is qualified to do that? Yeah, you know, who that person. And it's not one person.

DK Blackfish [00:27:46] It isn't. It's a community.

Wicked Wren [00:27:47] Exactly.

DK Blackfish [00:27:48] And like, what is that community? You know, transformative justice is what you're kind of touching on. To try to heal that person, they have to be receptive to it. Yeah. And, you know, they're not always ready to go through that. And they just want to they'd rather just disappear or just kind of move to a new area and keep doing the same thing.

Wicked Wren [00:28:07] Yeah.

DK Blackfish [00:28:08] And you know, and what you're saying particularly about like who wants to do that or who has the qualifications for overseeing that, It's that's a real gray area.

Wicked Wren [00:28:18] Yeah. So what are you looking forward to? What do you what's exciting.

DK Blackfish [00:28:23] Um, I really am looking forward to I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Post-Pandemic. Although I really took off in remote photography at that time and I enjoy photography. I'm going to continue with that. I've realized that I suspended it for a little bit, but I want to go back to it. It it is very creative for me and it keeps me very active. But I want to get into everything now. Like I'm going to get into a little bit of teaching, some small performances if I can, and just kind of keep keep the ball rolling in all aspects of road.

Wicked Wren [00:28:58] One is you suspend the road photography.

DK Blackfish [00:29:02] Um, I got, you know, it was interesting. I had like road photography. It really grew my Instagram account substantially, right? It really gave me a lot of credit. But road photography is not like necessarily a real aspect of rope and how we tie and connect with people. Like, I wanted to show something that was more organic and real and stuff about play and show people that, Hey, this is what I do is not just like I'm not just a rope photographer, a content creator, which I love to do, but I'm also like a rope, you know, I practice this as a lifestyle, you know, And so I wanted to get into that and I started showing it more and more and, you know, it kind of took off again with making reels. But I kind of when I do a photo shoot with models and I'm at a studio and you're collaborating, it's so exciting.

Wicked Wren [00:29:53] Well, where can people find you?

DK Blackfish [00:29:57] Where they can find me? Yeah, you can find me on Instagram. You can find me on the Internet. My Instagram handle is @dk_blackfish. I'm also known as Delilah naughty. That was kind of like my bondage modeling persona back in the day. And by the way, that Delilah Naughty that dk that's how I got the abbreviation decay.

Wicked Wren [00:30:20] That's great. Amazing. Well, I want to thank you for being on. This is really amazing. I learned a lot.

DK Blackfish [00:30:26] Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Wicked Wren [00:30:28] You're welcome.


In this lively episode, Wren chats with Anoxia Rope, who shares their hilarious adventure of using spaghetti in rope play with friends. Get ready for laughs and heartwarming insights into Anoxia Rope's passion for rope bondage. The conversation also delves into the vulnerability of being a top and bottom in rope play and how it influenced Anoxia Rope's approach to tying.


In this lively episode, Wren chats with Anoxia Rope, who shares their hilarious adventure of using spaghetti in rope play with friends. Get ready for laughs and heartwarming insights into Anoxia Rope's passion for rope bondage. The conversation also delves into the vulnerability of being a top and bottom in rope play and how it influenced Anoxia Rope's approach to tying.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Anoxia Rope (they/them) is a Chicago-based rope artist, performer, and educator. Nox loves to deconstruct and synthesize knowledge from an abundance of sources, striving always for a more complete understanding of the interactions of rope, anatomy, psychology, and aesthetics.

After many years of study, they present classes which go beyond patterns and rote memorization to teach underlying principles relevant to students at any point in their rope journey. In play, their rope is often intense, creative, dynamic, and charged with emotional sadism.

They teach privates in their home studio, have presented in small community spaces around the US, and at cons like Tethered Together, Kinkfest, and Desert Bound. Nox also currently serves on the steering committee for NARIX (North American Rope Innovation eXchange).


Wicked Wren [00:00:10] Hello everyone and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wren and today I have on my friend Anoxia Rope. Nox uses they/them pronouns and they're from the Chicago area, has been involved in rope for a very long time. Hello Nox, how are you?

Anoxia Rope [00:00:28] Hi, I'm great.

Wicked Wren [00:00:29] Amazing. So on this podcast, I really like intersections. They're really fascinating because there are so many different intersections we have in the rope world. And your page has something unique I've never seen before. And, you know, on Instagram and not only one, you have two rows that have spaghetti in them.

Anoxia Rope [00:00:54] Yes.

Anoxia Rope [00:00:55] Okay. Yeah, absolutely.

Wicked Wren [00:00:57] I feel like you might be the only one.

Anoxia Rope [00:01:00] I'm really curious where this is going.

Wicked Wren [00:01:01] I mean, if you think about spaghetti is kind of like little ropes, right?

Anoxia Rope [00:01:05] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:01:06] So, I mean, I guess I'll just have to ask. Like, you know, what's the inspiration for the spaghetti content?

Anoxia Rope [00:01:11] I had a big dream to tie somebody in an absurd amount of spaghetti, and it was something that I've wanted to do since before I knew I was kinky, which is kind of weird. But yeah, for my birthday, like 30 people who love me dearly all pitched in to make 900 pounds of spaghetti. And we did just, I think, horrible things in the spaghetti. But I think it really stemmed from a desire to play with something that felt absurd and kind of disgusting. And I loved it. But I will say that really, in the room, every other face was pretty full of disgust. That was perfect. That was exactly what I wanted.

Wicked Wren [00:02:14] We don't really interact with spaghetti in that way.

Anoxia Rope [00:02:17] No, we don't. It is pretty hard to get spaghetti inside of somebody, not through their mouth.

Wicked Wren [00:02:29] I can imagine that. That's one of the hardest noodles to do that with. I do have a logistical question. I mean, how does one cook 900 pounds of spaghetti?

Anoxia Rope [00:02:41] Crowd-sourcing.

Wicked Wren [00:02:43] Got it. Got it.

Anoxia Rope [00:02:44] But also, I will say, and this was probably the worst part, is some of that spaghetti was not cooked. It was reconstituted in water and pasta that has just soaked in water without actually cooking, the glutens don't develop. And so you end up with something that is more like dough than pasta, which added a whole different, honestly like element of disgust. That was really, really fun and very yeasty.

Wicked Wren [00:03:15] Oh, my God. Has this changed how you enjoy spaghetti going forward?

Anoxia Rope [00:03:23] Well, I can say that there are quite a few people who do not eat spaghetti anymore. I am not one of them.

Wicked Wren [00:03:30] That can really change you.

Anoxia Rope [00:03:32] Yeah. I think spaghetti is still a go-to homie food for me. I maybe look on it a little more fondly now.

Wicked Wren [00:03:45] I love it.

Anoxia Rope [00:03:47] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:03:47] So I'm sure that the spaghetti wasn't the beginning of your rope journey. Bring us back to the beginning. How did you find rope? What appealed to you about it? Kind of how did you get involved with things like that?

Anoxia Rope [00:04:02] This story's a little embarrassing, especially in the context of talking to you, because I got into rope when one of your co-host humans started posting rope photos on Tumblr ten years ago.

Wicked Wren [00:04:24] I love it.

Anoxia Rope [00:04:26] And honestly, I found Cam's tumblr in 2013 and was like, That's hot stuff.

Wicked Wren [00:04:36] You're like, There's something here.

Anoxia Rope [00:04:38] Yeah. And it took me another two years before I ever did anything besides follow people on tumblr who posted rope photos. But then one day someone in my close circle who knew that I liked pictures of, I think especially like I was really caught by what felt almost like the romanticization of the damsel in distress trope and that beautiful, vulnerable person tied up. And so I had friends who knew that I really liked that and were like, Hey, do you want to come to a rope class? Wow. And from there it was kind of the rest is history. I was very quickly tying 30 or 40 hours a week, and while I quit my job and moved back in with my parents and spent like two years of income on taking rope classes and just made all rope all the time in my life. And now I get to tie people up and it's really damn hot. It's been my dream.

Wicked Wren [00:05:52] It is. I think it's – I do want to comment. I think it's funny that you started that story saying it was like an embarrassing thing after talking about the 900 pounds of spaghetti situation. And it's just one we're in a world where being like, yeah, spaghetti easy, but then, you know, talking about other things hard.

Anoxia Rope [00:06:12] I think the thing actually it's easy to say, Oh yeah, we do these cool things. It's hard to express our interest, affection, admiration for each other. Like that part is hard. And so saying I have this admiration or there's a human who brought me into this that feels more vulnerable than saying, I like to stick spaghetti inside of people.

Wicked Wren [00:06:38] It really is, honestly. Do you find that you are this like, I don't know if obsessive is the right word, but you go into things this heavily in your life?

Anoxia Rope [00:06:50] No, I think that was actually kind of the thing about rope that was so special is I think I always had kind of – like I would try something and if I wasn't good at it, I didn't stick to it. And I had wandering focus and like change my major in college maybe 12 times. SoI really struggled to find something that I liked. And when I found rope, I think one of the things for me is I found discipline. I found something that captured my attention so fully in a way that nothing else ever had and still nothing else really has. And so for me, rope is like I'm all in on rope. I joke that I'm a little bit like a golden retriever with a ball. Like rope is life. Ball is life. Have you heard about our lord and savior rope?

Wicked Wren [00:07:45] It's pretty wild how rope does that because, you know, there's a lot of stuff in the kink world, obviously, but I just haven't seen anyone feel, you know, towards other things like they do towards rope. It's really all-consuming.

Anoxia Rope [00:08:01] Yeah, absolutely. But I don't regret it at all. And I think it's one of the things that I like about other rope people is we have this shared like, Oh, yeah, this is the good stuff.

Wicked Wren [00:08:14] Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. During covid, it really – I feel like it helped me kind of get through it and add structure and stuff like that because, you know, during covid I was with my rope partner for a lot of it at the time and we would tie and it added a lot of really cool, I don't know, structure to a time that had none.

Anoxia Rope [00:08:37] Hmm. It's interesting because before the pandemic, I was tying 40 hours a week and the pandemic happened and I stopped tying kind of all of a sudden completely for two years. And I – rope for me right before the pandemic took me to a place where I had such incredible connections and partnerships. And what I found with the pandemic was that kind of like heartbroken. This thing is gone now, but it was also a good reminder of just how good it had been. And I got really into macrame during the pandemic. That was like the way that I coped with not being able to tie people.

Wicked Wren [00:09:34] It's like rope light.

Anoxia Rope [00:09:35] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:09:37] Do you still do macrame?

Anoxia Rope [00:09:39] I do. Yeah. The other thing I got really into was plants during the pandemic. And so I like, I tie people and I tie plants.

Wicked Wren [00:09:47] I love it. I'm so bad at plants. I can't keep any plants alive.

Anoxia Rope [00:09:52] I thought I was, too. And then it turns out when you're stuck in your house staring at them, it's hard to be bad at plants.

Wicked Wren [00:09:58] That's a really good point. And I've tried to, like, reverse my thinking on this why I am so quick to say I'm bad at things, but in actuality, I just don't know stuff about it. When you were finding rope, so you said that rope is the first thing that really kept your attention. What were some of the big, I guess, hurdles with that? Did you have any times where you kind of had a low or something like that and or any big hurdles you had to overcome in the beginning?

Anoxia Rope [00:10:26] When you're first learning, there's this focus on harnesses and learning all the different patterns and learning how everything works and maybe learning like the different styles of rope. And then as you get further in your journey, the things that you're learning are less measurable and concrete. And so I found that I had less of the, like instant gratification of like I learned a new harness check. And I think the other thing for me is, so I'm a sadist and I like that discomfort of spaghetti because I love when people are uncomfortable. I love when people are in pain. And rope was kind of the place that I learned that there are people that like to be on the receiving end of all of that. But for me, at the beginning, I think the other thing I had to learn was like one that it's okay for me to want to hurt people, but two what does that look like and how to slow down and not let the frenzy take over? Like excitement of getting permission to do this thing.

Wicked Wren [00:11:36] Can you talk a little bit about the collaboration that is present in a D/s relationship and those kinds of things?

Anoxia Rope [00:11:43] Yeah, I have a couple of partners with whom we play pretty heavy and do sort of a does focus on group. And I think for me it's interesting because what I like in that power dynamic is I like the control, I like the romanticization of suffering. Like tying somebody on trains, tying somebody up turns me on. But I think especially I like when somebody else is suffering for me and I like when they're doing like I think that people like to be in a state of stasis or comfort. And so to me, it says so much about their intention and care when they're willing to go outside of that stasis or outside of their comfort or my sake. I love that. And I think that the partners that I have that play with me that way. They recognize that that's like an act of adoration. And then them being willing to do that gives me the opportunity to give adoration back.

Wicked Wren [00:13:04] That's beautiful the way you said that. I have of a lot of things on like my don't really love list, but aren't reds by any means. It's just like, I don't really love them, but I hesitate to kind of bring those things up because I do like to do them if like a top likes them, because that adds new context to it and it's like an act of service. And if someone else is really enjoying it, then I'm gonna really enjoy it. Like anybody's excited to talk about something that is, that's a fun thing to be a part of.

Anoxia Rope [00:13:44] I think that I even found like early on when somebody really liked pain and when they really enjoyed it, that was actually less fun for me. Like I didn't want to be giving somebody an experience that they already wanted and would do with anybody. I wanted to get the thing that they didn't really want to do but were going to do for me because it spoke more to the relationship that we were building than me just facilitating a thing that they would have ordered from anybody.

Wicked Wren [00:14:13] That's like, that's also really, really it. And I get the same things when I'm topping someone and someone's really into it and they're like, Destroy me. It's like I kind of lose interest in a way, you know? I'm like, I don't know. It's just like, I was like, All right, well.

Anoxia Rope [00:14:30] It's not about us anymore. It's about you wanting that thing.

Wicked Wren [00:14:35] Yeah, and very selfish.

Anoxia Rope [00:14:38] Yes. Yes. I think that might be a known flaw that I really appreciate that my partners validate in me is that I'm selfish. I want this to be about what I want.

Wicked Wren [00:14:50] It is pretty wild because there's this line of like when someone is topping, especially in rope as a bottom, I don't want to really say I want this position and this and this and this. Like, I don't want to say those things. Like, I have things that I like, obviously, but I want that person to make decisions based on what I'm doing and reacting to in rope versus like, you know, collaborating on this scene I guess. Like I don't know, it's a very fine line, obviously.

Anoxia Rope [00:15:20] Absolutely is a fine line. And it's interesting when I talk so, I am at the point in my life where I'm comfortable saying these are the things that I like. These are the things that I want from you, and this is how you can show this interest in me. But it's so hard as a top to find that balance of saying something that you want to do in a way that doesn't feel coercive in a way that doesn't lead somebody to agree to something that they actually really wouldn't do.

Wicked Wren [00:15:55] Yes, the implied power dynamics in these situations are so, so hard. And it's like we really take these things for granted, you know, like someone jas a lot of followers. Someone's really cool. You've known them for a long time. You want to be strong. It's like, that was a lot of the beginning of my time in rope was everyone, like we use the phrase you're a power bottom. You're so strong in rope as this badge of honor and as a bottom, you want that input. So it's like, I'm not saying I did things I didn't want to do, but also it wasn't really about me. It was about like my ego.

Anoxia Rope [00:16:33] Yeah. I think it's also – like it's scary to say, I want you to do this as a top and have like, try to guess. Is this person saying yes because of the power that I have? Are they saying yes because they care about me? I think it's a lot easier when you have a relationship with somebody, whether that's a friendship or a play partnership or something that's romantic. I think the other thing that's hard about it is besides the fear of coercion or the fear of how real is the answer that I'm getting back, it's just hard to express what you want. Like it's hard for me to say to a room of people, I really want to shove somebody full of spaghetti because there's an amount of vulnerability to saying, Hey, that's the thing that I find sexy. Please don't judge me for it.

Wicked Wren [00:17:24] Yeah, totally.

Anoxia Rope [00:17:26] I think that coming to terms with being able to articulate what I want was also really scary. And I think it's interesting, like as a femme presenting rigger, often times bottoms will come tie with me and they'll say, you know, I want to tie with you because I don't think you're going to sexualize me. I'm like, Oh, buddy, Yeah, I actually do sexualize rope and tying people up, and I don't want my desires to be dismissed. I want the opportunity to talk about them and find where those are going to feel good together.

Wicked Wren [00:18:00] Yeah, that's funny. It's like some of the femme presenting or women that tie are some of the most sadistic people, you know, that I've been tied for.

Anoxia Rope [00:18:12] And sexy people who are not – I think that the ability to separate sadism and sexuality is really interesting. Like, Oh, you're just going to hurt me. You're not going to hurt me in a way that's about the sex. And I'm like, No, I'm going to hurt you in a way that is sex.

Wicked Wren [00:18:28] Yeah, exactly. You're like, This is why we're here. This is what we're doing.

Anoxia Rope [00:18:32] Mm-hmm.

Wicked Wren [00:18:33] How long did it take to kind of, like, uncover that suffer? Did you know that stuff in the beginning?

Anoxia Rope [00:18:39] No, rope helped me uncover that stuff. I think that, that's I mean, that's part of why rope is life is that rope is a tool that allows me to connect and find the language or find the intimacy with somebody that allows me to have those conversations. And I think for me, talking to other tops really helped. Like I am such a proponent of make friends with people that you're not going to tie with that you don't want to tie with. Because having their perspectives, sharing information, having a network of people who have totally different approaches and understanding how those approaches don't or do resonate gives you information about yourself.

Wicked Wren [00:19:29] You talked about like building community and things like that. What is your relationship with the word community?

Anoxia Rope [00:19:38] I run this, I've been running this discussion group that meets once a month for the last three years. And we have had the discussion what is a community probably like 15 times. Like at this point, there's dirty players when the word community comes into the room. I think your community is your friends and I think that like community is people that care about each other, that are invested in each other, that have desire to build a type of world together. Like I think of rope as prefigurative. It's creating the kind of world that I want to be in. And my community isn't everybody that does rope. My community is the people that I care about, and some of those people do rope.

Wicked Wren [00:20:27] I love that. You need that outside influence. Rope does take over so many people's lives. And for me, I felt like if I look at when I was healthy versus when it wasn't healthy, the part I wasn't really healthy was when I only had rope people in as input, you know. And I didn't really have other stuff going on. Like some people could give me other ideas and other thoughts and stuff like that, you know.

Anoxia Rope [00:20:53] I think, unfortunately, my other friends have to deal with the fact that everything about me is about rope. So I am, I think probably most of my friends are rope people, but the ones that aren't are like Dungeons and Dragons friends or they're dance friends or foodie friends.

Wicked Wren [00:21:12] I think the Venn diagram for rope people and Dungeons and Dragons people, you know, it's like it's a circle. It's almost a circle. Do you play Dungeons and Dragons?

Anoxia Rope [00:21:24] All the time, yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:21:26] I just did my first campaign.

Anoxia Rope [00:21:28] Oh. How are you liking it? What's your character? Describe your character.

Wicked Wren [00:21:36] I'm a human fighter and her name is Selina Gamble, and she has, she's the heir to the Procter and Gamble fortune, but she doesn't want to have anything to do with that previous life. She wants to start her own path. So that's her story.

Anoxia Rope [00:21:54] Fight her way to a new life.

Wicked Wren [00:21:56] Yes, exactly. So she doesn't use any of her parent's help and her billion-dollar fortune. And then she has a fight her way into a new life. And then there's like (inaudible) as a character. There's another one. It's like, yes, I would just say it's kind of a fun game, if you will.

Anoxia Rope [00:22:16] Yeah, I love that. I play in a game where I'm a level 20 wizard and I'm trying to play through all of the D&D modules myself in kind of this like solo campaign. It's really, really fun. But I have a propensity for ridiculousness, so.

Wicked Wren [00:22:38] I can tell.

Anoxia Rope [00:22:39] Yeah. What was it that gave me away? The spaghetti?

Wicked Wren [00:22:43] Yeah. You know, it gave me a give me an idea, you know, gave me a little bit of a clue.

Anoxia Rope [00:22:50] If it wasn't the spaghetti, I think the next one would have been the harmonica gag I love. I have this harmonica gag I play with, and it is so ridiculous. And like, I think the shame of the person wearing the harmonica gag when they realize that all of those, like sad sobs of pain are just like squeaky gritty noises.

Wicked Wren [00:23:12] So okay. So I'm like, I'm in a partial, you know, there's some rope that's up in my ribs and I'm barely breathing, and you put a harmonica gag on me, and then I'm, what are, are you laughing at me out loud? What is, what are you doing?

Anoxia Rope [00:23:28] Oh, I'm – especially the harmonica gag comes out when it's like a quiet night. And I've talked to people in advance, and I know I'm not going to, like, mess anything up for anybody else. But, like, the vibe was that the vibe was supposed to be soft and sexy, and there's maybe 15 people around and you're suffering and you think you're beautiful. And then the harmonica gag goes in and you're just wheezing and people start laughing immediately because how do they not laugh? And we're like, awful. It's not a cute noise. It's like, because there's also snot and tears and you're trying to breathe around the harmonica gag.

Wicked Wren [00:24:08] Yeah.

Anoxia Rope [00:24:09] No, I'm and I think for me, what I'm doing is like, pointing out to you. Didn't you think you were going to be beautiful? Didn't you think that this was going to be a dream? What do you think all these people think of you?

Wicked Wren [00:24:24] Yeah.

Anoxia Rope [00:24:26] You're ridiculous.

Wicked Wren [00:24:27] You can't play it cool with a harmonica gag.

Anoxia Rope [00:24:30] No, can't.

Wicked Wren [00:24:32] So you were in an intensive that I was in, and it was fun to watch you tie and you get this, like, face of just, it's just, it's like it's scary. It's intense and it's scary. And I just really loved it.

Anoxia Rope [00:24:49] I think I've been told that my tying face. So I've been told that I'm pretty expressive. And when I'm tying, I know oftentimes I'm like, smiling so wide because I'm just like, giggly, happy at watching somebody suffer. I found in work, my colleagues are pinning me to their screens during big meetings so that they can watch my expressive face react to things. And that's my nightmare. So I'm, I think I'm sure I'm really interesting to watch, but I have no idea what my face is doing. I can't control it.

Wicked Wren [00:25:29] So why is that your nightmare that they would pin that?

Anoxia Rope [00:25:35] Oh, man, I don't really want to be the focal point. Like, for me, I'm the facilitator. I'm the like, I think of the person I'm tying as the focal point, the center of attention, the like I'm putting them on display. I don't want to be on display. That's, I do bottom sometimes and I think, like for me, the hardest part about being a bottom is being seen and having one person's attention so entirely on you. And I think even when I'm tying, I don't feel that way because I feel like their attention is also on the rope. But when I'm bottoming, I know that I am the thing that their attention is on. And that is the scariest thing in the world.

Wicked Wren [00:26:25] It really is, isn't it? Yeah. The care that the other person puts into you, like when you're bottoming, is really intoxicating.

Anoxia Rope [00:26:38] There's not a lot of other like when we do activities with each other, when we have sex with each other, when we are watching movies or playing D and D, like everybody's having also their own experience and focused on their own joy. And I know I said that, like, when I tie, I want to do what I want to do. But the other thing is that, like, all of my attention is on them. They are the experience that's happening. It's been really hard as a top to navigate that the world falls away and this person's existence is the only thing that is happening.

Wicked Wren [00:27:19] Even as a top, if you're doing what you want to do, you're still getting input from the human that you're doing it to. They're still shaping the experience, even if you're doing, you know, all the different things in your toolbox that you've gathered over years and years and years and years. You're choosing that.

Anoxia Rope [00:27:38] That's the thing that was interesting about starting to bottom too. Because I'm a top-leaning switch. I started rope topping, only really found bottoming maybe in the last couple of years. When I bottomed, I discovered that even when my top wasn't doing something, I was still in rope. I was still having an experience and my top didn't need to like, take action and move and do things actively for my experience to persist. And it gave me permission as a top to slow down and to watch and to know that, like, I don't need to be hyperactive to make my partner experience something. They are experiencing something, they exist, they are there. How do I notice that and create space for them to feel that and then shape that experience, but like carefully and in a way that allows the space for them to feel it and not just like be overwhelmed by the barrage of actions that I'm taking in their direction.

Wicked Wren [00:28:42] Yeah, that slowing down and letting there be space and stuff is so difficult and everything. I mean it's hard to do in music. It's hard to do in kink. Do you feel like bottoming informed your topping?

Anoxia Rope [00:28:57] I think it did. For sure, absolutely. I think it would have been crazy if it hadn't. I'm a mas or I'm a sadist, but I'm not a masochist. And so I think the first reaction that I had was Jesus Christ, I do this to people, what the heck but like I holy crap, this is awful.

Wicked Wren [00:29:16] Yeah.

Anoxia Rope [00:29:17] I wasn't expecting it to be quite that bad.

Wicked Wren [00:29:22] Yeah, futos aren't fun.

Anoxia Rope [00:29:25] No. No. God damn. Rope on your ribs. Like, who does that? I don't know why pain hurts so much, but.

Wicked Wren [00:29:35] That's so funny.

Anoxia Rope [00:29:36] I think it gave me, I think that's part of what made me slow down, is I realized like, Oh yeah, no, it hurts when you're not doing anything. Like, let that be the experience.

Wicked Wren [00:29:48] Yeah. Do you feel like It's made you, I don't want to say second guess the amount of pain that you're putting in, because this is, this is – go on. Sorry.

Anoxia Rope [00:29:59] No, I'm just thinking through that question.

Wicked Wren [00:30:05] It's a hard thing to, like, communicate, because when you don't know, you don't know. And you just, you just do. You know, you're like, the rope goes on the ribs. This is what we're doing. And as a bottom, that actually feels really good because you're like, I'm here and there's no, you know, getting out of this and you kind of accept the fact that you're in that place. But once, you know, does that knowledge help or does it inform or do you think that it does kind of the opposite?

Wicked Wren [00:30:34] I think my approach to rope, my thought, like if I had to sum it up into one thing is do the thing that you're trying to do reliably on purpose every time. Like whatever it is that you're trying to do, make sure that you're good enough to do it and make sure that you're consistent enough to do it regularly. And I think that when I didn't know what rope felt like, I think I was less successful at regularly creating the experiences that I was trying to create. And I think that knowing what rope feels like has helped me to be, I think, more precise about exactly what it is that I'm trying to create as an experience. And in some ways I think I am probably worse. I'm probably far more calculating and specific in the pain that I cause.

Wicked Wren [00:31:32] Was literally about to say that. Because one of the people I tie with is also switch and gets tied often. And it is the most brutal and scary because they know and they can just like make a little adjustment. And then there's another part of your body that can get hurt and there's none of that like, I don't know, it's like knowing it, It's terrifying.

Anoxia Rope [00:31:55] When you find out how much it hurts to just have bands redressed and how much it is like that there's all this pain associated with that rope that you weren't paying attention to got caught between my toes, and now you're yanking it through. And I like, I found that when I was bottoming, all of those things were distracting and they weren't like, they didn't feel like my top was doing them on purpose. So the power of only causing the pain that you exactly mean to cause and not having all of this peripheral pain that feels like your...

Wicked Wren [00:32:27] It's annoying.

Anoxia Rope [00:32:28] Well, and I think that it really helps with D/s and with control and with power exchange is when your partner believes that the experience that they're having is crafted and intentional and that every ounce of suffering is there because that's exactly what you want them to experience. It makes them trust but also, like, have to endure that. That is what they're there for.

Wicked Wren [00:32:57] That is a very wise thing. Yeah. Cam and I, we joke a lot about someone who keeps running a TK line eight times. You're like, you're like, I'm good. Like...

Anoxia Rope [00:33:10] I'm actually done, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:33:13] Like, we can just stop. We stop. But I'm good, actually. But that, that makes, like, me as a bottom feel so much more afraid of every little thing. Cause I'm like, okay, do we understand how much this seemingly easy thing is or whatever? I don't know. That, it's the very wise words you said.

Anoxia Rope [00:33:35] Yeah. If you don't feel like your top knows what you're experiencing, I think you feel more responsible, maybe hyper-vigilant. Like you need to advocate for yourself because maybe they won't. But I think as a top, if you can be skilled and precise and if you can cut through all of the noise of the things that you're bad at and find the things that you're good at and be really careful with them, that's also how you build trust with your partners. It's how you show that you care. It's how you get to a place where you can do the hard stuff because you both know that it's happening on purpose.

Wicked Wren [00:34:22] Yeah. So it begs the question, like someone who is super skilled in rope like you are. Like, I look at you and I'm like, you can do anything. You can do everything. What are some things that you don't like doing or you think that you're bad at or something?

Anoxia Rope [00:34:39] Oh, I usually when I find something that I'm not good at in rope, I drill it to death. And so I, like if there's a thing that's hard for me, that's the thing that I'm going to work on.

Wicked Wren [00:34:51] What were some of those things?

Anoxia Rope [00:34:53] I think touch was one where I thought that I was touching my partner and I thought that I was being connective with my touch. And it took like my bottom telling me every time I was touching them to realize that most of the time I'm not. I think pausing and taking rests. I would take what felt like a full breath for me and then realize that actually I'm moving so fast that that full breath was not enough time. So that's slowing down. I think right now it's interesting. I think I'm focused on body mechanics and actually not my partner's body mechanics. I feel pretty okay about like how to move a person through space. I think I'm focused on like my physicality and how do I protect myself and like tie in a way that's going to give me the ability to tie for longer because I love rope and injuries over time in your fingers and I've had back injuries from tying and I've had I think like I'm recognizing that I need to be careful with myself and with my own body to keep doing this thing. And age is a never ending movement of time, but I'm going to have to figure out how to navigate. So I think like how to move. I think also one thing that I've been really enjoying is looking at just incredible performances and also performances outside of rope and like performances and circus. And I really, I think I want to take like physical comedy classes and work on like, how do I move my body to express things.

Wicked Wren [00:36:40] If you're okay with it, I would love to talk about touch and your journey with that.

Wicked Wren [00:36:45] I think when I first started in rope, I was touching the rope and the rope was touching the person. And I was using rope to touch somebody. And I heard a wonderful human, say recently rope is an extension of your touch. Rope is, it takes your touch and it allows you to bring that further around your person. And so I think I, I maybe was doing that in the like rope is the only form of touch. Like I'm using rope to interact with this body because I don't feel comfortable with putting my skin against the skin. And I think that finding that rope is touch, but skin is touch and they are different. And how do you play with them and how do you alternate them and how do you allow rope to be hard touch and skin to be soft touch or vice versa. I think gives me more tools to play with.

Wicked Wren [00:37:46] I always found that when I have like skin on skin touch, it allows me to have more rope on my skin.

Anoxia Rope [00:37:54] I think it's like co-regulating. Like in the same way that when things are really emotional and you get a hug from somebody and it helps you calm down. I mean, I think that's one of my goals, is to never let go of a hug too early. And so thinking about how do you offer touch as a like calming and I think that's also like when I'm tying somebody and they can't breathe and they're struggling and they're gasping and crying. But the impact of stopping the rope and just putting a hand on their body and saying, this hand is showing you where my attention is. This hand is showing you that it's not about the rope, it's about you.

Wicked Wren [00:38:39] Yeah. And that's what we really love about rope, is that attention, you know, whether you're a top or bottom. Rope is one of those things that really sets up an area for communication and for talk around these things. And I always said that I wish that more people could experience that because you have to be radically honest. And I just, I wish that more people were able to have that kind of like space for communication.

Anoxia Rope [00:39:05] Yeah, I think it's hard to say what your desires are. It's hard to admit that these are the things that turn me on. It's also hard to say these are my needs and I would love to have you meet them. And it's hard to say, These are my boundaries and these are the things that and hold those boundaries. And I think for me, rope is that like container that creates the opportunity. But it's also for me, rope helps build the world that I want to be in, and that rope makes me be vulnerable. It makes me think about how I'm showing up in the world. It makes me think about the impact that I'm having on other people. It makes me practice empathy. I find that again, being friends with people that you don't tie with, you find that in the discussion groups or talking with other tops. We're not necessarily talking about what is the cool new harness that you learned? We're talking about what do you do when you've hurt somebody? And how do you navigate that and how do you like show real care and a desire to continue to be in community? In like real community with people? And for me, that's the thing that's amazing is like, I don't know that I would have ever had those conversations if I hadn't gotten into rope.

Wicked Wren [00:40:29] Yeah, I agree. It does facilitate those things.

Anoxia Rope [00:40:32] Yeah, I think, I really appreciate the discussion group that I run. I appreciate my friends who are willing to have those conversations with me. There's also like, so I will pitch, I'm on the NARIX committee and NARIX is this rope unconference and that whole model is everybody is here to contribute. Everyone is here to participate and share what their perspectives are, what the things that they do in rope are. But there's so much room in that conference model for people to connect and like get into the meaty things about how we exist in the world. And so I love that, like bringing people together and using rope as a place where we talk about what our values are.

Wicked Wren [00:41:18] Can you tell us a little bit more about NARIX? When is it? Where is it?

Anoxia Rope [00:41:23] Yes, absolutely. I would love to. You know, NARIX is short for North American Rope Innovation Exchange. It's been going since 2014. And it's a unconference model, which means you don't have, like traditional presenters. Everybody is considered a contributor. And there's an application process. There's sort of a, it's not a great first conference for folks. It's a really good conference for folks with a lot of experience looking to like, take things to the next level. We usually get a lot of organizers and people that are really invested in those questions of like what is community that apply. And then it's three or four days together doing sessions and collaborations and discussions. And this one, the next one is actually coming up here. We've already sent out all of the acceptance letters and it will happen right in the beginning of May in Philadelphia. The last one was last summer in Montreal, and I think we'll have another one coming up in the fall here soon. So people should keep an eye. There's a NARIX host on Instagram where we post news about when applications open up. So those that'll happen in the next month or two.

Wicked Wren [00:42:46] That's amazing. Yeah. Thanks for saying that. Is there anything else going on with you that you want to tell us about? Like on Instagram? Stuff like that?

Anoxia Rope [00:42:56] Yeah, I'm on Instagram as @anoxiarope. I'm on F*tLife as anoxia. I'm presenting at rope craft here in Chicago at the end of May. I'm teaching in Madison, Wisconsin, in August. I love traveling, love teaching, love seeing people learn how to use rope to connect. So I'm hoping to do more of that, too.

Wicked Wren [00:43:21] Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being on. This is awesome.

Anoxia Rope [00:43:25] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I love this.

Wicked Wren [00:43:28] You're so welcome. We'll see each other at NARIX.

Anoxia Rope [00:43:30] Sounds great. I can't wait.


Principle over pattern! This is Mo's mantra as he sits down with Wren and reflects on his 13 years of doing rope, exploring the significance of the journey over specific end goals and the importance of building a strong, supportive community on the Shibari Study Discord.


Principle over pattern! This is Mo's mantra as he sits down with Wren and reflects on his 13 years of doing rope, exploring the significance of the journey over specific end goals and the importance of building a strong, supportive community on the Shibari Study Discord.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

MoBights is a Rope Nerd based in Manchester UK, tying for around 8 years with his wife PixieSeraphina and Community Manager for the Shibari Study Discord. Mo enjoys all aspects of rope, researching its rich and diverse history, constantly learning, occasionally teaching, and somewhat obsessively talking about rope on the Shibari Study Discord.


Wicked Wren [00:00:12] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast, I'm your host Wicked Wren. And today, we have on an amazing guest. You will know him from the Shibari Study Discord. Today, we have on MoBights. Mo is a rope top in the UK. He's the moderator and community manager of the Shibari Study Discord. Mo, hello.

MoBights [00:00:32] Hey, Wren. How are you?

Wicked Wren [00:00:34] I am so great. You've been involved in rope for a really long time. It's like over ten years, right?

MoBights [00:00:42] Yeah. I mean. Oh, Lord, when you say it like that, I've been, I keep saying to people, have been saying six years for five years. So yeah. It's definitely getting to that point. I think really probably, I would say 13 years, the first three or four of those years shamefully so. My rope was terrible.

Wicked Wren [00:01:02] Everyone's is.

MoBights [00:01:04] Yeah. And it was bedroom bondage stuff, you know. I definitely credit my wife who introduced me into that kind of world. She was like, I want to be tied up, But I'm like, Cool, okay, right. And then we had really terrible rope and I was just really, really bad. And then at some point, I think back in the sort of early days of Tumblr, I discovered some really interesting looking rope that was like, Wow. And it totally blew my mind. And then from then, I kind of... That's when I consider I started doing rope. I realized actually when I look back on it, I've always kind of done it a little bit in different ways. But yeah, definitely ten plus years, let's say somewhere in that range.

Wicked Wren [00:01:46] When your wife came to you and she was like, Tie me up. Was that the first time you did anything kinky or?

MoBights [00:01:52] It was the first time I felt free to do something like that. She's a very liberating person and I think allowed me to definitely explore and delve into those things. I've always kind of been a bit of a pervert, I guess, but, you know, someone giving you that freedom to really explore that is a whole different world. And, you know, she very much brought me out of my shell where those kind of things are concerned. And and, you know, the idea of being in kind of top, I probably wouldn't have considered myself particularly toppy or dominant beforehand. But she definitely curated an experience where I got to enjoy that side of myself a little bit more. So yeah, so it's been an interesting ride, but it was, I say, more of a more of a blossoming than a discovery I would probably say.

Wicked Wren [00:02:42] It sounds like she set up a space for you to kind of grow and explore. That's pretty incredible.

MoBights [00:02:47] Yeah, definitely. An incredible person, I'll be honest. We've been together for a long time, so it's really nice to have grown alongside someone during kind of my rope experience. And as I've kind of got into kind of more complex rope and more connective rope, that's not just restraint that could be cuffs or handcuffs or chains or steel or anything. Something about rope was kind of special. And I think in the early days it was very much just this is functional. Now it's completely different. And the way we interact with rope is totally different than how we may have done like say, sort of ten plus years ago. And the experience has been very different for us to to grow together during that time. So that's been really cool.

Wicked Wren [00:03:32] It says a lot that you're still doing stuff together, you know, after that much time.

MoBights [00:03:37] Yeah, totally. I think we find lots of different ways to explore and connect to each other. And life throws its ups and downs at you. But I think after 13 years, we've very much kind of grown accustomed to each other. We like to keep things interesting for each other. We like to not take each other for granted as well and give ourselves both the space and freedom to do things that we want to do as individuals, but also kind of making sure we retain that kind of sense of connection and rope is one of the ways in which we do that. There's many of us, but it's one that kind of really has been different in how we interact I guess.

Wicked Wren [00:04:21] You said that was different than if it was steel or cuffs or chains or whatever. What is different about ropes specifically? Like what made that stand out?

MoBights [00:04:34] I think, it naturally is. Particularly for me, there's a warmth to it and a tenderness to rope that, you know, if you're doing things with a say kind of leather or steel, I mean, leather maybe. Maybe it's a bit more worn, but steel particularly feels kind of cold to me and isn't something that if I'm kind of working in terms of restraint, doesn't feel like an extension of myself. Whereas rope and natural materials tend to feel more like that. Like for me, the way I approach rope is like, I don't have enough hands, right? I only have two hands and I can only hook you in so many ways. Whereas rope feels like an extension of that, it's a prolonged hook. I placed it there. And then it's still there and it can still be there 30 minutes later. And it's that, I guess, kind of tactile warmth and sort of natural feel to it where compared to things like, say, like handcuffs or other forms of restraint, I don't feel that same inspiration from. I guess it doesn't feel so natural and organic to me. So that's, I think, something that really stood out about rope that made it different. And it's remarkably flexible as well, like handcuffs off kind of one job, right? Whereas rope can have many jobs and I've used it in many, many different ways over the years. It's an impromptu flag or a whip if you want it to be. It's a way of restraining people. It's an experience. It's an extension to communicate with each other. So I guess that flexibility of rope as well also is something that I find really appealing. And it's definitely been something that's kept me coming back to it. I mean, we've tried many of the different kinky things and some of them stick and some of them don't. Ropes been one that's kind of hung around and I like that.

Wicked Wren [00:06:21] It is funny how the people that like heavy bondage and cuffs and things like that, they're usually, they're not so into rope the way that quote unquote rope people are.

MoBights [00:06:33] Yeah, definitely. I think there's a different mentality. So it's function over form. I guess if you're into the kind of heavy stuff, it is very much function for another purpose, whereas I think rope people kind of are more about the journey to the end point. Sometimes, it's not just I want to tie you up because I don't want you to move while I do something else. It's more we're enjoying the process of getting from here to there. And even if there is undefined, even if we don't get to like a pre determined end point, like you can just enjoy the journey. Whereas I think when you compare that to kind of other, I say sort of heavy bondage, it's very much for its purpose and often it's secondary to something else. Whereas if I was with a lot of rope people, the rope isn't necessarily secondary to something else. It's its own primary thing. So that tends to be something I kind of perceive as a difference in approach, and that's not universal. But it is something that jumps out to me, particularly with, I guess, the people that I spend time with kind of doing rope or the people I interact with on the Internet, which seems to be a growing number of people these days. But yeah, it's, you know, we enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Wicked Wren [00:07:50] What a very cool way of pointing that out. I never thought about it like that. Rope is more about the journey versus other forms of bondage are there so you can do something else to the person. That's really, really nice.

MoBights [00:08:02] Yeah, often times yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:08:03] Do you find that in your scenes, do you think about an end point?

MoBights [00:08:08] I definitely used to. A lot of the sort of initial attraction to rope was quite aesthetic for me. So we used to take a lot of photographs that used to be very much a kind of like we wanted to create a certain form or a certain look. And that very much drove that experience to be I'd say the gratification was reaching that goal. And then I think as I learned more, research more, spend time with more people, that's dramatically changed. Whereas now I'm less concerned with the end point. I mean, the last kind of year, I don't take many photographs anymore. It's not something that's in my mindset to kind of be like, Oh, grab a picture. I'm more in the moment and enjoying it. So that's changed a lot. But I do think there's times when I have a kind of idea of where I want to go. But I guess I'm no longer disappointed in myself if I don't get there. And that's probably something that's happened a lot in the kind of last year where I've done kind of different workshops and classes that led in towards the ideology. I'm very much, I say, kind of enjoying the journey and looking at some different cultural approaches to rope. It's definitely expanding my mindset in that sense. It's not to say having a, you know, preconceived idea of where you want to go is a bad thing or taking photographs is a bad thing. These are wonderful things to do, but it's just where I'm at right now. And I think it's nice to kind of acknowledge the where I'm at right now is where I've always been and where I've always been and will always be constantly changing and kind of fluid in that sense.

Wicked Wren [00:09:50] Was there a time where you were disappointed with not getting to an end goal? Does that make sense?

MoBights [00:09:57] Yeah, totally. Yeah. And I think is what the end goal might be is, you know, it might be a sense of feeling, it might be a particular shape or, you know, a certain position or something like that, or a particular suspension pattern or sequence. But yeah, there's totally been times when I've kind of got frustrated that I haven't reached that goal. A lot of the time it's been where we tried to kind of have a quote unquote scene and it's just sort of turned into labbing and it's not, the connection isn't there, the emotive side's not there, it's just following the steps and going through the process and it's just a recipe of rope and that probably the most frustrating times. Whereas I think the times when we've not set out to have a scene and we've just been able to go and do some rope have been the best scenes ever because there's never preconceptions, right? There's no boundaries and it just goes wherever it goes. And it's enjoyable for the sake of it being what it is, not where it's going. And now I think for me, when I first learned suspension, I was more goal orientated. It was like, Oh, we want to do this particular suspension. And if we didn't get there for whatever reason, it was frustrating. Whereas now I care a lot less about that. It's probably now I've got over the technical hurdle of learning suspension techniques and now I do less of them. I do more flow work, more partials, and they're the more enjoyable things for me than necessarily kind of, Oh, we'll get up in the air and we'll fly around and be floating and stuff and it's great and then we'll come back down and finish. So yeah, it's definitely been lots of ups and downs of disappointments and rewards and progress. It's been pragmatic, I think really about all of those things that has got me through because there's probably times when I would have gone, you know, this isn't working and stopped, but we've changed direction and done things differently and work together to kind of find that path. And again, that's something that I think is been really impactful on me is that I tied with the same person all the time. So, you know, we get to negotiate through all of those things together, and sometimes it works for one of us and not the other. Like finding that balance is an interesting journey in itself.

Wicked Wren [00:12:03] Isn't it funny how once you get the technical aspects of suspension down, you're not worried about it all the time? You kind of tend to go back to the ground and you're like, Oh, partials and floor work is more the fun thing to do.

MoBights [00:12:18] It can be for sure. I mean, I think this sort of like escalator path to suspension, a lot of people jump on, right? They start rope and they see these wonderful suspensions and like they're great to look out and I think you see performances where people are having these almost transcendental experiences and everyone's like, Oh, we've got to get in the air. And then I think once you get in the air, like you say, the sort of fear of overcoming the technical hurdle, really opens things up for people where you don't always have to do suspension, but you have that tool available to you. And I think for me, when I was first learning, there was definitely a lot of fear around a lack of correctness, like, am I doing the right things? Is the harness balanced well enough to to be supportive and as I've kind of learned the principle behind that, not just the pattern which we follow and be able to kind of strip things back and understand how a harness works, how weight and load shifts in a harness, and actually don't always have to be in the air to do that. You can do a lot of that stuff in partial and it's having the ability to change the approach for different circumstances. So there's like, there's been times when I've wanted to achieve a certain shape and suspension and instead of doing it in suspension, we've done it in partial and it's actually been really rewarding. And one in particular I've never even done successfully in a suspension, but we've done successfully on the floor a number of times. And actually that's enough for me. That's okay. I don't need you to be in the air for us to still get the same feeling and sense of experience. So yeah, it's very much kind of overcoming that fear opened up a lot of different avenues to explore in different ways. And then we kind of realized actually it's nice to be on the ground sometimes. It's a different way to play than just always being every session has to go in the air. Every rope scene has to end in a suspension like always. But it's changed our approach in that sense.

Wicked Wren [00:14:17] It sounds like what you're referring to is knowing the principles of the patterns rather than just knowing the patterns.

MoBights [00:14:26] Ohh, I love these. Yeah. People that know me or taught over the last couple of years will probably be bored with same principles over patterns, But it's like, that's my mantra is, you know, you can learn 50 different harnesses, but if you don't understand how they work, did you really learn anything at all. Y follow the recipe sheet and like, I love cooking, like I enjoy cooking. And I think there's similarities between cooking and rope in certain ways. Like you can get a recipe sheet and you can follow the recipe and you can make the meal, right? But is it really going to taste the way you want it to taste if you've never understood why the flavors work, how it's balanced, like what things you want more of or less of is nuanced. And when we talk about adapting rope to different bodies, I think if people really understood some of the principles that sit behind the pattern, why something works, they would probably be more empowered to adapt slightly and not just follow the process and not just go. This is step one, this is step two and and then achieve the pattern at the end of it. That's great. But I think if we really delve into the principles of how things work fundamentally, you know, what we're trying to do is provide support, restraint, a feeling of constriction. Like potentially freedom in contrast to some of that constriction. And when we sort of get into that world, I find that we can be a lot more creative in our approach. And that's the difference between the sort of science of rope and the art of rope for me. The science is the is the process, right? And you learn by replication and we mimic and we get taught. But then at some point you kind of have to find your own voice and your own expression in rope. And I think once we get to the principles of the technique dialed, you can then really start to play around with it and then it opens up a whole different way of exploring more rope and really how you express yourself in rope.

Wicked Wren [00:16:23] Yeah, I do have a kind of off topic question. Are you a Alton Brown fan by any means, or were you a Good Eats fan?

MoBights [00:16:31] I'm not that I'm aware of.

Wicked Wren [00:16:33] Okay, well, never mind. I was curious. You're talking about the science of food and cooking and things. It was all really in line with the TV show Good Eats and Alton Brown and like, Adam Ragusea and things. I just curious.

MoBights [00:16:45] I have ti make a note because I love food programs as well. So I am a big fan of various different food programs like.

Wicked Wren [00:16:52] Alton made Good Eats. It really talks about a lot of the science, quote unquote, behind cooking. And he talked in these absolutes. And looking back on it, it was actually really hard because he had this really definitive way of saying something. He'd talk about a risotto and he was like, if you are making it, it should take this long and should take this much time. So as a kid, I was sitting there trying to make it and it wasn't coming out because I didn't understand the concept of what we were doing. I was just listening to someone and in rope classes I get frustrated as a bottom when we're just being taught a pattern very quickly. And then the top I'm with and I are both trying to just remember the pattern, much less understanding why things are happening and no one's really getting anything out of it. And then the feedback that I can give as a bottom isn't qualified. It's not like does it feel good, does it feel bad? I'm not really sure because this is the first time we've done it and.

MoBights [00:17:54] It's always at that point of reference. Yeah, I think definitely that's the case and kind of whenever I kind of taught groups, I tend not to do pattern based teaching. I'm a big fan of using like Ichinawa or Ipponawa depending which school of thought you come from. And the sort of one rope technique where it's very fluid and you're not highly in a technical mindset because I think it's more accessible to groups of various different skill levels, which is kind of where I've done workshops like ad hoc things, events and stuff. A lot of people's first time in rope, and I think it's much harder to do that when it's a pattern based approach. But recently we did a workshop with Docvale and Banana, which was incredible because they really deconstructed some of those issues in terms of they would show a pattern but then really empower people to if this isn't appropriate for you, that's fine. So they might do a pattern with a gote, for example, and then say any chest harness will work, like do a chest harness you're comfortable with. Because they didn't want people getting kind of caught up in following the steps and executing the exact same gote that was tied. They were more interested in getting people to think about the experience they were looking to have and how they communicated with each other. And when you looked around the room, what you found was all of these sort of nuanced interpretations of what people had been shown. And that was wonderful to not see people doing a cookie cutter rope and just following exactly the same thing and then seeing 12 people with the exact same shape. It was 12 like slightly nuanced and adapted, and everyone was conscious of their bottoms limitations, their desires, the things that they wanted to feel and were able to really tweak it. And that for me was different to what the kind of classes that I've seen or been to where it is that, you know, follow these steps and do these things. And it's important in some ways if you're trying to learn a specific pattern that has specific important or specific structural integrity, what you can't play around necessarily. But I did really enjoy the ability to have some freedom to interpret, and it helps that the skill level in the room was very high. It helped that, you know, people were were very comfortable with what they wanted to tie. And I think on the second day as well, we had been tying gote all weekend, which for us is a bit of an Achilles heel. Gotes in general. And it's been a focus for that kind of last year for us to break through that wall. But it's been the longest time that we've been tying gotes in a kind of prolonged session. And then by the second day we were like, you know what? We're just going to go with a nice, comfortable arms-front harness because, you know, we're both tired. Like we already kind of felt like we'd achieved something with the gote in the first day and a half. So by that point it was like, actually, let's just do something that's really like comfortable, sustainable, that works for where we're both at. And I felt confident to tie because I was tired and my wife felt confident to be tied in because again, her body was tired and the strain on the shoulders and things. And it was nice to be an environment where that was really fostered as a good thing was no one was scolded for going off script. Like it was like, Oh, it was really cool to see the differences in how people approach stuff. So that was that was super nice.

Wicked Wren [00:21:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Nothing to prove by doing TK for, you know, another day or something.

MoBights [00:21:25] Yeah, exactly. It was like that I think would have been like the seventh TK of the week. And then I'm like, okay, maybe no, maybe not this time. Because like, the other ones that we did were great. So like, quit while we're ahead.

Wicked Wren [00:21:36] Yeah, exactly. I with a lot of talk about community management with you. So you are the community manager of the Siscord with Shibari Study and it's a pretty amazing place to see because there's all these different channels, there's different avenues for people to talk. Everyone's very engaged in the Discord as well.

MoBights [00:21:59] Firstly, I mean, I can't take full credit for that. You know that the Discord as an idea was something that was incepted before I joined the team and the general sort of construct of in the setup I was a member of. I really enjoyed that space to be able to talk with like minded people. And it's something that I've always been somewhat passionate about. So I've done community management professionally in the past. It's something that I've done as a hobby when I used to be kind of into e-sports and then racing online with different people and I set up a community for people to meet for weekly races and stuff. And we had a league and it was great. And then my world changed a little bit. I got more into rope and switched my obsessions. So I've always enjoyed kind of, you know, engaging with different people across cultural boundaries, across geographical divides. So when I sort of discovered this Shibari Study Discord, I was like, Oh, this is really cool place, and it was more kind of serendipitous that I became the community manager and it was very much something that, you know, there was a post one day that was like, Hey, we're looking for a new community manager. And, and I was like, Oh damn. Like, I actually have a qualification in this. And I really enjoy rope and I like being here anyway. So like, maybe this is something that I can, I can, I can do. So I threw my hat in the ring and then I guess the rest is history though that's very cliche. Like, no, it's not. It's, it's the present. It's right now. It's happening.

Wicked Wren [00:23:34] Right now. It's not going anywhere. It's only growing.

MoBights [00:23:38] And that's the thing. I think from kind of joining the team and being a part of that, I was very, very passionate to make that community a really healthy space for people to be in. You know, we've got some really good community guidelines around how people conduct themselves. We very rarely have to kind of moderate that sort of role of moderator. We don't really moderate in the community. It's very self-moderated. People are just generally really respectful and.

Wicked Wren [00:24:04] Except when Tomporarily comes in and just gets on hand.

MoBights [00:24:07] Well, you know, some people just like to watch the world burn.

Wicked Wren [00:24:12] You know, he's just, he's unhinged.

MoBights [00:24:14] I mean, I love it as a contrast to that. He in particular actually has some really useful contributions to the community as well, otherwise.

Wicked Wren [00:24:21] Oh, Absolutely.

MoBights [00:24:21] But I think, for me, what I really love about that space is that I see people just coming together and really exploring the differences in how people approach stuff. So for me, my sort of physical rope world is very UK centric and that's quite aligned to the sort of European way of doing work. Like we all have a sort of shared history, I guess a little bit. It's very traditional. There's a lot of Jew, there's a lot of kind of experience of scenes is quite slow, I guess, in certain ways. Whereas when I kind of got onto the Discord and started talking to people from different places, like I realized so many people have different approaches to rope and, and my kind of background of doing decorative rope or very aesthetic rope. There's still a strong community doing that. And then there's people that are into Western bondage, which we probably don't give enough credit to. But there's a whole really interesting, diverse history of our Western bondage and how that works. Going back to the days of John William Bizarre magazine, which if I'm honest, has whole connotations around foot fetishism and heels and stuff that I love and a vibe with that. So that's another conversation for another day. But then I look at stuff happening in the Bay Area and there's a lot of what I call kind of circus rope, but really performing very dramatic stuff. And I don't see so much of that over here and I wouldn't be exposed to that without a place like the sort of Discord community. Because people are sharing the things that they're up to every weekend and things like Folsom Street Fair when I'm like, I don't even know that existed beforehand. And it's a whole cool thing that I'm like, Wow, that'd be awesome. We don't have so much of that over here. So I guess for me, I really enjoy how bridges over those cultural divides and people can share and have different experiences. And and we start to learn more from each other in a supportive environment rather than in isolation. And I think we've probably all got to where we are somewhat in isolation. But now, because the more of these communities and more spaces where people can connect across geographical divides, it's really been interesting to see how that develops, the general sort of global rope community as well as just the the pockets that we all live in physically.

Wicked Wren [00:26:38] Can you talk a little bit about what makes a strong community from your perspective? And what are some tools that you use to kind of foster conversation? Does that make sense?

MoBights [00:26:52] Oh, you're going to make me give away all my secrets.

Wicked Wren [00:26:54] Giving away all secrets now.

MoBights [00:26:58] I'm a huge people person. I love people. That's my biggest thing. And you know, rope and kink, for me, it's about people connecting. And this is community management is another way that people connect. And I think a really strong community is about people feeling a sense of representation. About people feeling a sense of identity in that community. And that has to be shaped by the community itself. Like I could sit here and try and really drive a certain type of community, but I don't like to do that because I find it quite homogenous. And you create echo chambers when you do that, and if you're really strict about the type of people you want in the community, the type of conversations you want to have, like it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy that the only things that you will have. Whereas what I try to facilitate is a space for people to just really talk openly. I like people to challenge each other respectfully, to bring different opinions together. If things are a little quiet, I'll probably start to like, you know, prompt a notch a little bit. So I don't know anyone that's joined in the last couple of months. There's probably a point where I've gone as a gentle nudge. Introduce yourself. So when anyone joins the community, they get a little notification that says, like, check out community guidelines and come and introduce yourself or maybe share a photograph. And a lot of people, I think, are dead nervous about doing that because the community is established and Shibari Study has a brand. And there's a bit of almost anticipation where people don't want to be like, Oh, hi, I'm new here, have been doing it for two months when this people have been doing it for years. Yeah, but I really like the people that bring new perspectives. I like to know why people got rope, what sparked their interest. And I will periodically kind of tag multiple people who haven't maybe introduced themselves and say like, you know, let us know a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Like what kind of rope do you enjoy? What got you into this weird and wonderful world of perversion that we all live in. And they're the kind of things where I think I try and sort of be moving the community around a little bit in terms of like prompting conversation. But for the most part I just enjoy getting into the conversations people start. It moves and it's fluid all the time around. Sometimes it'll be about equipment, sometimes it'll be about experience. The bottoming channel has some great stuff there. You know, I find quite unique in Shibari Study Discord community is to have really pushed to have a lot of representation for bottoms and for them to talk freely about their experience. And when we rolled out the partner feature, that was huge because I think a lot of subscribers of Shibari Study tend to be tops because what we're doing is teaching people patterns and ways to tie. There's some really good content for bottoms. Fuoco's kind of like body care, body conditioning, like the first rope date content that just came out recently. We're getting more aware of targeting content towards bottoms to make them feel engaged. You'll sign a class and you'll learn and there's nothing towards the bottom half of the room. 50% of people aren't really getting to know of it. So that was a big thing when I joined to try and facilitate more people having those conversations and for bottoms to share their experiences and to really think about things not just from a top centric perspective. And when we rolled out the partner feature, that made a huge difference because then we got a lot of people that were on the other side of the ropes in the community, and they were able to share their experiences and broaden people's horizons. And that's something that for me is a top again, like, I don't want my perspective of rope to be tainted by just my kind of viewpoint of the world in the top down view. Like, it's really important for me to be shaped by what my bottom wants to experience and how they want to be feeling in their rope and how they want rope appliance the way they want it or don't want it and that's different for everybody. So that was a huge thing for me to to kind of facilitate the rest of it. It's just super organic. I mean, it's just a really great bunch of people and just like 650 of them right now. So there's a lot of really good people.

Wicked Wren [00:31:12] Can you tell me about the partner feature really quick?

MoBights [00:31:16] Yeah. So I guess one of the things with the community is that it's specifically for Shibari Study members. So it's a close community. There's an ideology behind that, which is to give people a safe space where they feel like they can be open and honest and not have to worry that, you know, the whole world is watching what they say on like kind of social media, like Instagram. Everyone's going to read every comment that you make. Like it is a more closed community in that sense. But because initially you had to have a subscription to Shibari Study to join join, it was a say, the subscriber that joined. And what the part the feature allowed us to do is kind of say, look, we value both parts of the story, the top and the bottom. Something else that I was quite conscious of in the early stages of designing the partner feature was it was initially designed that people could add one partner and I was like, Is that really representative of a lot of people in rope relationships? And so we we extended that and people can add two partners. There has to be a number at some point, I guess, like it can't just be unlimited. But we kind of felt that the two partners really reflected like the sort of primary rope relationships that people would have. I think I have made one exception to allow someone to add a third partner at one time, but it was very much about kind of adding more balance to the conversation. And it not just being a bunch of tops in a room talking about rope, which is fine in one sense, but I think having that other side of the story really did change how the conversations went. And attracted different people to the Discord as well to share their experiences. So that was super, super important for me to provide some more balance in that sense. And it's been really nice to see people bring their partners along and talk freely between themselves and also for partners to talk to each other as well. Like outside of the watchful eyes of all these rope tops.

Wicked Wren [00:33:13] I feel like that's one of the hardest things about bottoming is that you kind of are in a vacuum. You can talk to other tops, you can kind of talk to your friends that are bottoms, but there's not a big community of people getting tied. It's hard to reach out to someone else and say, My shoulder really hurts when this thing or this thing happens. How do you feel about it? Those are hard conversations to have, so the bottom channels are awesome for that.

MoBights [00:33:38] Definitely. And I think if anyone's listening, get in there and have more of those conversations because for me, I like to I like to read those conversations. I like to see what the other side of the story looks like. So, yeah, certainly it's really important for people to be able to have that. And again, being on the Internet, being accessible to people across geographical divides really opens that up to not just say your so small group of friends that that might be bottoming that you feel confident enough to talk to. It really gives people a lot of a broader kind of perspective of experience.

Wicked Wren [00:34:13] Yeah, to echo that, I would say just get in there and talk and it might be scary because there are a lot of people in there and you're new or whatever, but it's not, you know, everyone's nice, You just go in, introduce yourself and just kind of start talking.

MoBights [00:34:28] And jump into conversations like people. I think they get afraid to ask questions sometimes, and especially when we have sort of regular rope office hours with instructors, which is super unique to be able to have this like direct avenue to talk to the people that you see on Shibari Study. And I think people are really scared of asking questions sometimes. And I'm like, Please do. So I tend to go around and like grab questions that people have asked recently and pose them to the instructor to get their perspective. And it's actually like our most read channel for our least message channel. So people don't comment in there, but tons of people read it and they're clearly getting good value out of the information. But I'm like, ask the questions because there are no bad questions to ask where ropes are concerned. Especially if you're if you're new. Challenge the people that have been doing this for a long time to ask them why and to understand why we do certain things. And for people, I've been doing this for a while. Help the new people to understand why we make certain choices over other things and you know, how we can all work together to just create a better space.

Wicked Wren [00:35:35] I was going to say one of the best things is someone that hasn't been in the scene for a long time coming in, asking quote unquote, common sense questions because they haven't been fed the script of what a quote unquote power bottom is or the TK is the only way to how to be in a chest harness or whatever. Like that perspective is so valuable and we never really hear it.

MoBights [00:35:59] No. And I think for me, it's always great to challenge ourselves with stuff like that. When people ask us those, I say the common sense questions that we might have started to take for granted because we've just been curated to do things the way things are done. And it's only through people really challenging that I'm going actually could we do this differently, that we've created some interesting new approaches and new harnesses and things of that to solve a problem. And if no one actually points out the problem, we never solve it. We just all carry on blindly tying TKs and ripping people shoulders out. And, you know, so someone at some point when actually maybe you could just put your arms forward maybe or just have them arms free. Tif might come up with the Tenshi and sub the chest. We'll just do arms. And I'm like, Okay, cool. Like, this is development and it's how we evolve, so we definitely need more of those questions.

Wicked Wren [00:36:53] Is there anything coming up with the Discord, anything on the horizon that we should keep our little eyeballs peeled for?

MoBights [00:37:01] Uhh, so Discord specific not so much because we're doing a lot of work behind the scenes on the blog.

Wicked Wren [00:37:10] Tell me about the blog.

MoBights [00:37:12] Oh, right. So the Discord people know this. They know it's coming. But we've been doing work to really add a different way for people to interact with, with shivers to do so. Obviously, a huge amount of what we do is creating content for the site, this tutorial style content. But there is a demand for different ways of people to interact and different media types. And a blog really extends the way in which we can we can give people information at a different pace as well. Like sometimes you don't always have the ability to sit down and watch a video for 30 minutes. And sometimes it's not about learning a harness more about the experience. And this is something that is very much benefited from the community. So we're looking at some of the things the community have asked for and how we can translate that into different content. That's not necessarily going to be the sexiest video content, but it gives people an insight. And it's the same with the podcast, right? You know, this is adding extra value for people that might want to listen to a podcast when they're on the train, going to work on the commute or, you know, they're not able to watch a video because they can listen to something. And it gives people a different insight and a different lens that we're not just looking at these amazing instructors doing this awesome stuff that might be inspirational or might be educational. We're also humanizing that. And I think the blog is... I'm super excited for that. We've kind of curated a little bit of content from community members. We're looking at how we can listen to the community and translate that, I say, into different ways for people to sort of consume rope content that is really valuable to them. And like I say, kind of some of the conversations about equipment, like we don't have many videos on equipment choices because it's not the most exciting thing to watch a video about. But we could definitely create articles on that, like what different rope types are like why you would choose certain rope types in certain situations, like different kinds of hardware and all of that kind of stuff isn't the... Video is not the best medium to do it. So the blog really, really expands upon that and it means we have a reference guide for the community as well. When people ask certain questions, we can then say, Look, we have this article. It gives you a lot more information than I can sit there typing out over and over again. And that's something that is going to really support what we're able to do in the community. Other than that, I mean, more sort of rope office with the instructors are going to happen and I'm thinking of ways in which we can do more interactive stuff with the community as well. So I'd love to do like a virtual rope jam where people can just get together online and just tie. No, no expectations. No, we're not learning something per say. We're just sitting. People are tying, people are watching and just having that sort of shared experience. But it's. getting the time to be able to do that. That suits everyone because like a lot of our audience are in the U.S., I'm in the U.K. There's a time difference. So it's... I'm still trying to find the right time to be able to do that. I've road tested it a little bit here and there. It's been interesting, but I definitely like to be able to do something like that in the future where people can have that like fly on the wall view. It's all the people's rope worls. So, I would definitely be something that I'd love to do more.

Wicked Wren [00:40:46] God, that'd be huge. It's funny, the actual activity of rope is the only thing we do in a vacuum. Like, we don't have insight into people's personal rope, but we do have insight into what kind of dude they like. All these kinds of things we can see it from pictures. We can see like, like a snapshot of it. But I think seeing people's actual scenes would be so, so helpful, but also very, very vulnerable.

MoBights [00:41:13] Yeah, super vulnerable. I think for me, I love that humanization of it because again, I say we look at people online, we see people do performances, we look at the teachers in videos. And I think sometimes we forget they're people. They just become like dispensers of knowledge and these oracles that we put up on a pedestal. And I guess I say kind of having more of that human interaction where we see people just having real true organic connective rope experiences that sometimes might be great, sometimes might be not so great, like and demonstrating that to people, that is kind of what the real world looks like, not just what we post on the Internet on social media, because that was the great photo that we took and put through 15 different filters and went, Look how amazing this was for 3 seconds before we came down. Like, you know, people seeing the journey, not just the destination. I think that's something that would be would be really, really cool to do. I just need to find the right time to get people together where we can be like, Let's do this thing.

Wicked Wren [00:42:13] Yeah, well, where can people find you, Mo? What are you up to? Anything going on?

MoBights [00:42:19] Discord mostly. Like I'm passively active on Instagram, so, like my handle on all socials is @mobights so you can find me on Instagram and Twitter. But as I mentioned before, I'm not hugely active in terms of putting out content. I tend to just like see what people are up to, get inspiration, but my DMs are always open if people ever want to ask questions and if you're on the Discord, you'll know that I'm I'm quite avid at talking on there and happy to share my opinion. So yeah, definitely come and say hi. Or if you see me around events, I'm at a few in the UK. Manchester's got a really good rope scene and some great, great people here traveling a little bit more down at Nottingham, seeing different people around the scene. So if anyone ever sees me, I've usually got a mohawk and makeup on. I'm easily spottable. So come say, Hey.

Wicked Wren [00:43:14] I thought I was going to see that mohawk today.

MoBights [00:43:16] I know. I'm sorry.

Wicked Wren [00:43:18] It's okay.

MoBights [00:43:18] It's there. It's just got it's a Thursday and it's the week has been long.

Wicked Wren [00:43:22] Look, I understand. I mean...

MoBights [00:43:25] Catch me on a Saturday and it's right.

Wicked Wren [00:43:27] Yeah. It's a day dependent mohawk.

MoBights [00:43:30] Yes definitely. Definitely. It takes days off. It needs a rest.

Wicked Wren [00:43:33] Yeah, I understand. Well, Mo, thank you so much. I appreciate you talking to me.

MoBights [00:43:37] Well, thank you, Wren. It's been awesome.

Wicked Wren [00:43:39] Yeah. Thank you so much for what you do in the Discord. You've curated conversations in there that are really special.

MoBights [00:43:46] Well, thank you. That's so sweet. That's all I ever want it to be is just like special conversations with people who enjoy it.


In this episode, Mistress Kiko shares her story and kink journey. Together with Wren, they explore her job as a pro domme and talk about some of her sessions.


In this episode, Mistress Kiko shares her story and kink journey. Together with Wren, they explore her job as a pro domme and talk about some of her sessions.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Mistress Kiko is a Japanese Dominatrix and uses bondage as a tool for her clients during sessions.


Wicked Wren [00:00:24] Hello and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren. And today I have on Mistress Kiko. How are you?

Mistress Kiko [00:00:32] Good. How are you?

Wicked Wren [00:00:33] I am amazing. So you are a pro domme living in Los Angeles, correct?

Mistress Kiko [00:00:39] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:00:39] How did you get started being a pro domme?

Mistress Kiko [00:00:42] I started in Japan. I walked into a café. I was interested in wearing an outfit and I wanted to hear about it. And I walked in and it was like, you know, it was like a house.

Wicked Wren [00:00:59] Yeah.

Mistress Kiko [00:01:00] And they were like, Well, you need to learn B*** if you want to work here. And then they gave me a list of stuff they do at those places. And I was like, No, no, no, no. I don't want to do that. Like, they were like telling me there's face sitting. And I was like, Okay, no, thank you. I don't want to do that. And then I don't know. And then after that, they're like, You should experience the other side. And I experienced it with the, you know, the owners there. And I was like, okay, I'm not working. But then, I don't know, one day I was like, I really want to understand the psychology of this. It felt very interesting. So I got really into it.

Wicked Wren [00:01:51] Gotcha. Do you think you figured out the psychology of it a little bit better over time?

Mistress Kiko [00:01:56] Um, I think I have more understanding about it.

Wicked Wren [00:02:00]  And is it you wanted to figure out why people wanted to participate in bondage?

Mistress Kiko [00:02:05]  And there's all kinds of fetishes, right? And bondage, I understand because I already had that taught to myself. But the other stuff was very mysterious to me. So I really wanted to understand everything.

Wicked Wren [00:02:22] What was the most mysterious?

Mistress Kiko [00:02:25] There were so many different people that I've met. For example, people who want to be stepped on with a heel. I didn't understand why they would enjoy that called. Tell them that they're just a piece of trash and why people would be turned on by that, you know.

Wicked Wren [00:02:43] Do you think you understand why people want to be degraded and stepped on now?

Mistress Kiko [00:02:48] I don't know. I just feel a lot of the times, they're childhood experiences, and they want to relive it, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:02:59] So did you have issues with doing more humiliation, degradation in the beginning?

Mistress Kiko [00:03:06] No, not really.

Wicked Wren [00:03:09] That's too fun. So you were just like, I don't understand this but I'm still going to do it and have fun with it.

Mistress Kiko [00:03:14] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:03:14] That's so funny. And you said that you're into bondage before you went in.

Mistress Kiko [00:03:19] Yeah, I was into – I had always liked the aesthetic of it. When I was a little child, I've seen magazines. So I've always been – but then when I went and saw their performances, that was when I first saw a real girl hanging from the ceiling. I was like, This is what I want to do.

Wicked Wren [00:03:46] And when you saw that, did you want to be the person being tied or you wanted to tie?

Mistress Kiko [00:03:50] I wanted to tie.

Wicked Wren [00:03:52] Who did you study with?

Mistress Kiko [00:03:54] I studied a long time ago. I think it was more when I first started. The tie I learned was kind of more similar to, you know, Naraki style. And everything was tied off with one. There was no connecting and... But I think it wasn't locked either. So back then, it was more dangerous. And then the modern style came in. I learned some modern style. Kazami Ranki taught me. Also Koizumi.

Wicked Wren [00:04:32] Yeah. What was the change in your career where you started learning the modern style?

Mistress Kiko [00:04:39] I think it was, it started changing, I mean, I took a little break and then when I went back into the scene, that was maybe around 13, 14 years ago. People were already doing, really caring about and thinking about aftercare. And modern tying has become so big. So that's when I really started learning.

Wicked Wren [00:05:15] That makes sense.

Mistress Kiko [00:05:16] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:05:16] So you felt in that break period, there's a big change?

Mistress Kiko [00:05:20] Yeah. I mean, there was more change. I think in Japan, people didn't really teach, so. When I first started, they taught me the basics. But it was more about the speed of the tie. They taught me how to get a gote done within 20, 30 seconds, at the most.

Wicked Wren [00:05:39] That is wild.

Mistress Kiko [00:05:41] Yeah. Yeah, but people didn't care about the subject getting injured. Back then when I first started, if you're injured, you're injured.

Wicked Wren [00:05:52] Yeah, it's just kind of a part of it.

Mistress Kiko [00:05:53] Yeah, kind of part of it. But now after that, you know, the modern tying coming in. People started caring about the safety and the aftercare.

Wicked Wren [00:06:06] What are some things that you use in your sessions rope-wise, that maybe you weren't taught and you learn just from having to tie so many different bodies and things like that?

Mistress Kiko [00:06:19] Like rope technique wise or?

Wicked Wren [00:06:21] Yeah, a lot of rope bondage is set up to tie women.

Mistress Kiko [00:06:25] Mm hmm.

Wicked Wren [00:06:25] But you tie a lot of men in your session.

Mistress Kiko [00:06:27] Yeah, it's completely different. It's completely different. So I tie men so much that I kind of realize like, Oh, like you don't realize how light girls are and how flexible. It's completely different. Yeah. So one time I was like. Tying a girl after I haven't tied girls for so long. And she went up to a ceiling with one hand. You know, it's just completely different. Whereas the guys that come see me, they're all over six feet tall and they weigh over, you know, about 200 pounds. 160 at the lightest. So.

Wicked Wren [00:07:15] Wow. And how have you adapted some of your knowledge to tie different bodies?

Mistress Kiko [00:07:23] A lot of hands down for guys because a lot of guys can't stay in that TK position for a long time.

Wicked Wren [00:07:30] That makes sense.

Mistress Kiko [00:07:31] Yeah. Or I'll do, you know, hands split a little bit, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:07:38] You're saying that there's a weight discrepancy between you and the client. When you're suspending them, how or what are some tips on how you get them off the ground when they're so much heavier than you are?

Mistress Kiko [00:07:52] I mean, I wouldn't, I don't do a lot of the... I would mummy them and then suddenly lift them up. And of course, you know, I wouldn't to be able to do that. I'll just lift them one by one like, you know, the torso and then the leg or the hip or, you know.

Wicked Wren [00:08:09] Definitely. What role does rope play in your sessions currently? Like, you're not doing a lot of suspensions, is it? A lot of partials maybe? Or?

Mistress Kiko [00:08:17] Yeah, partials are actually easier. Recently, I have, if I'm traveling, I've stopped carrying my suspension frame unless I get a request to. Before I used to but it was so much work.

Wicked Wren [00:08:33] That seems like a real pain.

Mistress Kiko [00:08:36] Like I used to ship them over to each city and and set it up. But, I mean, I realize most people don't really care about it as much.

Wicked Wren [00:08:46] That makes sense.

Mistress Kiko [00:08:47] So but I do partial more because then I could do things to them for a longer period of time. If I do full suspension, obviously they can stay up there for a long time.

Wicked Wren [00:09:04] Do you find that a lot of your clients that are maybe new think that they have an idea that they want to get suspended and stuff like that, and then once they do it, they're like, Oh, this actually isn't what I want.

Mistress Kiko [00:09:17] Yes, they all want to try. A lot of people wants to try. And then they realize, like I mean, I can't spend hours, you know, unless I do like a lot of, you know, rope to them, then they're okay. But they realize it's harder to stay there.

Wicked Wren [00:09:38] Absolutely. Well, you brought up a great point where when you're in a partial, you can actually connect and play with the person. I like being put in a partials when I'm bottoming way more.

Mistress Kiko [00:09:47] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:09:48] You know.

Mistress Kiko [00:09:49] I think a lot of people do.

Wicked Wren [00:09:50] And I think that they're more cruel a lot of the times.

Mistress Kiko [00:09:54] Yeah. And so it's not as uncomfortable too. But it can be pretty cruel, too.

Wicked Wren [00:10:03] Definitely. Do you think about the flow of the session in your time period that you have with the person. Maybe like a beginning, a middle and end? Do you construct them in that way?

Mistress Kiko [00:10:16] I actually never think about my sessions until it starts, and then I just go with the flow.

Wicked Wren [00:10:22] Have you always been like that?

Mistress Kiko [00:10:23] I've always been like that. Well, unless it's like a whole roleplay scene where I have a lot of people coming in, like multiple people. Then I'll think about how I would do it. But other than that, if it's a one on one, I actually do what I feel that day.

Wicked Wren [00:10:44] That makes sense.

Mistress Kiko [00:10:44] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:10:46] You were telling me that you do a lot of bondage in your sessions is not only rope. You have a session coming up where someone's going to be in a 48 hour sleep sock, correct?

Mistress Kiko [00:10:57] Yes. Not just a sleep sock. We do bondage, too. He also loves metal cuffs.

Wicked Wren [00:11:06] Gotcha.

Mistress Kiko [00:11:06] Just the idea of being chained up and never allowed to get out. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:11:12] And for 48 hours. How does that work logistically?

Mistress Kiko [00:11:16] It's more of a psychological experience where he's tied down like mummified with rope. And then we'll change the scene here and there, but sometimes in a sleep sack, sometimes in a chain, he's buckled down. So it's just a verbal thing where psychologically we do this whole role play scenario where he just feels like he's never going to get out of the scene. And these girls come in and everybody, they just use him for whatever they want and he's fully hooded so he can't see anything.

Wicked Wren [00:12:05] That was my next question. Is he fully hooded for 48 hours?

Mistress Kiko [00:12:08] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:12:09] Wow.

Mistress Kiko [00:12:09] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:12:10] That has to be wild.

Mistress Kiko [00:12:13] With almost no sleep. Maybe 2 hours here and there, But it's more of a psychological thing, I think. To experience.

Wicked Wren [00:12:26] You talk about the psychological aspects a lot.

Mistress Kiko [00:12:29] Yeah. For that, it's more like, you know, something that normally wouldn't happen. Like he's locked up and he's not never going to get out. He's a prisoner. He's just tied down and just used for whatever anyone wants to use him. And he's never able to eat human food and ...

Wicked Wren [00:12:58] Definitely.

Mistress Kiko [00:12:59] Yeah. And never be able to see the sunlight.

Wicked Wren [00:13:02] So after you come out of the 48 hour mummification. What are some of the first things that you two talk about? What were some things that he says to you?

Mistress Kiko [00:13:15] We talk about it after we leave. So he goes... After he finishes, he goes to the mountains.

Wicked Wren [00:13:24] Okay.

Mistress Kiko [00:13:25] He's totally out of it now. He hasn't had almost no sleep and he's mentally out of it. But usually he goes to mountains and then just, you know, relax.

Wicked Wren [00:13:37] And what are some things that he says about the sessions to you after? Does he say anything about the session to you after?

Mistress Kiko [00:13:48] Actually, not really. No, not really. But I've seen him many times.

Wicked Wren [00:13:53] Yeah. That's suprising.

Mistress Kiko [00:13:56] I just want to destroy him completely. That's my goal.

Wicked Wren [00:14:02] What about previous sessions, then?

Mistress Kiko [00:14:04] The previous session, we do the same thing. But I always like to push his limits.

Wicked Wren [00:14:09] Absolutely.

Mistress Kiko [00:14:10] And make it harder and harder on him.

Wicked Wren [00:14:12] What are some things that scare him?

Mistress Kiko [00:14:15] I think what scares him the most is abandonment. You know, being in that place in the dark.

Wicked Wren [00:14:22] Yeah.

Mistress Kiko [00:14:22] And feeling that there was nobody there.

Wicked Wren [00:14:26] How do you play with the abandonment?

Mistress Kiko [00:14:29] I mean, if he doesn't hear any sound, he'll just start freaking out.

Wicked Wren [00:14:34] And do you purposefully let him get there? A couple of times.

Mistress Kiko [00:14:39] Yeah. Yeah. But I enjoy pushing more. So this time we're trying to feed him dog food throughout the whole time. Whereas last time he ate normal food, right.

Wicked Wren [00:14:52] Yeah. Yeah. Is there going to be kibble, like hard dried dog food.

Mistress Kiko [00:14:56] Canned food.

Wicked Wren [00:14:57] Canned food. So at least, it's soft. You know, it sounds like you like to push people.

Mistress Kiko [00:15:01] I do. I enjoy it.

Wicked Wren [00:15:03] Yeah. Have you always been like that?

Mistress Kiko [00:15:06] Yeah. I like to challenge, you know. Every session, I want to do more. Yeah, I don't know I get greedy.

Wicked Wren [00:15:15] Absolutely.

Mistress Kiko [00:15:17] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:15:18] What are some things that come up in sessions that really excite you?

Mistress Kiko [00:15:22] Excite me?

Wicked Wren [00:15:22] Like the perfect client that could come in and say, This is what I want to do? What would that person say?

Mistress Kiko [00:15:28] I'll do anything you want.

Wicked Wren [00:15:29] Okay.

Mistress Kiko [00:15:30] Yeah. I want to always make it beautiful. But session, it's more about, you know, how that person is experience, what they're experiencing. So I would speed up on purpose or I would slow down. But like, even this time, I wouldn't exactly do a proper tie sometimes. Just the feeling on top of a proper tie, like, you know, just to combine it. Like, they'll feel that they're inescapable. But like, you know, sometimes if there's, like, changes of speed, you know? Their feelings change.

Wicked Wren [00:16:07] So you'll tie something functional and then on top of it, just kind of put rope on it just to add some emotion to it.

Mistress Kiko [00:16:13] Yeah, I just do it because I think when you're tied up, you don't really, you're not really looking at it and making sure it look so beautiful, you know? So I do the basics, but then you want to feel the feeling, right? So there's like a pause, like the speed changes, the tightness, you know?

Wicked Wren [00:16:33] Absolutely.

Mistress Kiko [00:16:34] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:16:35] Yeah. I feel like that's something that people forget a lot.

Mistress Kiko [00:16:38] Like when they're breathing, you know, and then you suddenly change it. You know, you feel something different. So I kind of like to play with that if we're doing a whole bondage scene.

Wicked Wren [00:16:50] Did that take you a long time to figure out? Was that always pretty natural for you?

Mistress Kiko [00:16:56] I just do what I would like, you know? I mean, I think it's more, I think it was kind of... Now, I don't know if they like it, but so if it's a heavy bondage-based session. I would focus on more the, you know, emotional part of it. I mean, I'll do the technical part, but I'm not really focused on, you know, how it's going to look with the photographs. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:17:23] Thank you, Mistress Kiko for being on. This is amazing.

Mistress Kiko [00:17:26] And thank you for having me.


In this episode, Knotty Devil talks about how religion shaped his youth and discusses his approach to rope. He encourages people to tie for flow and break their movements down into how they're connected to the person they're tying.


In this episode, Knotty Devil talks about how religion shaped his youth and discusses his approach to rope. He encourages people to tie for flow and break their movements down into how they're connected to the person they're tying.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Knotty Devil has been infatuated with rope bondage since he first saw a suspension performance five years ago. Since then, he has strived to learn from a variety of sources and is now a shibari artist.


Wren [00:00:18] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren. And today I'm talking to my friend, Knotty Devil. How are you?

Knotty Devil [00:00:26] Ah, good. I'm good. A little sleepy, but doing great. Had some coffee, so.

Wren [00:00:31] Maybe you need to go to bed earlier.

Knotty Devil [00:00:33] Actually, very true. I'm working on it.

Wren [00:00:35] Do you have a nighttime routine?

Knotty Devil [00:00:38] Um, I kind of – I definitely have a morning routine. I do not have a nighttime one. I'm usually, my roommates are usually up until 4 a.m. so sometimes I'm playing video games or hanging out with them, or sometimes it's like, No, I got to be up early, so I'm just going to maybe stretch and then sleep. It's about a 50% chance of me actually stretching or somehow winding down before I sleep. Otherwise I just have a DND podcast or show on and just pass out with that in the background.

Wren [00:01:10] What is your morning routine? I'm fascinated by morning routines in general.

Knotty Devil [00:01:14] I literally wake up, roll over and post to all the social media that I have. I'm just like, Okay, here's – I'm doing posts on Reddit, I'm doing posts on this and that uses 30 minutes of me in my bed on my phone and then I shamble downstairs, make coffee, and then if it's a nice day out, I like to read either manga or a book on the porch because I'm in a big house and it's even if it's cold out, I have a nice coat. But if it's a nice sunny day, which is a rarity these days, I will be outside reading. If not, I will be upstairs in my little room, sipping coffee and reading as well.

Wren [00:01:57] That's amazing. How do you take your coffee?

Knotty Devil [00:01:59] Black.

Wren [00:02:00] Same. So you said that you wake up and you post. How often do you post?

Knotty Devil [00:02:06] Probably anywhere from 3 to 5 times a week. I'll usually be posting on Reddit or on Instagram or Twitter, whichever. Whatever content I have that works for that specific platform. But I usually try to post anywhere from 3 to 5 times a week and then OF. Of course, it's usually two to three times a week as well.

Wren [00:02:34] That's a lot of content to make to post. Are you thinking about that stuff in your sessions?

Knotty Devil [00:02:41] Yes, actually. Well, it depends on it depends on who and what I'm doing, because sometimes it's like, okay, if I'm doing a regular session with someone I've been talking with like super frequently will be like, okay, we're going to make a preview for Instagram, so I'm going to try a build, put you in it, take a quick shot that's like no gags, that's fully closed, and then, okay, next is going to be the one for Twitter. There can be a little nudity, maybe a gag, and then like next is going to be the one that actually goes to Onlyfans. And so we'll do that like per pose sometimes. And other times it's not at all focused on that. But that's tends to be the if I'm like making content, I'm like, All right, let's get this shot, this shot of the shot, and then just call it good.

Wren [00:03:29] That makes sense. Really quick, there's a small clicking sound.

Knotty Devil [00:03:34] Yeah, that is my heart. I have two mechanical heart valves, so there is ticking. It cannot escape me, I'm afraid.

Wren [00:03:41] I've never heard of that.

Knotty Devil [00:03:43] Oh, yeah. It's, it's – you picked up on it so fast. Sometimes, it's really fun to be in a room and have someone look up and be like, Is there a clock in here? And it's funny because it's just a regular thing for me and I'm always excited to be able to explain it or maybe even try and come up with like a weird nerdy thing that's not that and just see how long it takes for people to understand that. No, I actually do just have two mechanical heart valves. At one point, I had someone on TikTok shoot me a message back when I had one and they were like, Hey, why is there this constant ticking in the background? I love your content, but I just can't stand the ticking. I'm like, I'm so sorry, I can't make it stop.

Wren [00:04:22] You're like, Trust me, we don't want to stop.

Knotty Devil [00:04:24] We don't want to stop.

Wren [00:04:26] Have you ever been around someone else and heard the ticking? And you're like, Oh, you have a mechanical heart valve?

Knotty Devil [00:04:31] No, I've really been I, I would love for that to happen. I have been like that, that would honestly be a dream is for me to recognize someone across the room and then do the same and both point to each other and be like, Eyyy.

Wren [00:04:46] Thank you for sharing.

Knotty Devil [00:04:47] Yeah, of course.

Wren [00:04:48] So earlier you were talking about the role of documenting your sessions, and it's always cool to hear different people talk about the camera and what it does in a session because some people are really against photo rope and some people do rope for photos and for posting. It seems like you go in with a creative idea.

Knotty Devil [00:05:08] Yeah, well, it actually it changes based on the people that I am tying because there are people that are good friends of mine in my rope family or who are people that I'm making content with where we go in and the goal of the session is to make content. And then there's people like my partners or other members of my rope family where it's not really at all about making content. It's about the connection, the feeling, the flow. And so it really just depends on who I'm working with and what we all kind of like want based out of that. But I found that going into the session, if we're making content, it's good to come at it with the intent to make content and the intent to like, this is what will work on these different platforms and we'll pass and we'll be fine.

Wren [00:05:59] How are you looking at structuring your sessions? Do you go in with ideas or are you just kind of go with the flow after obviously an intake from your partners and things like that?

Knotty Devil [00:06:10] I think, so once we figure out, once we kind of build the general world that we're, that we're getting into, we're like, Okay, here's what we can do, here's what we want to do today. Or at least like, Okay, where, where do we not want rope on the body? How are we feeling? That kind of thing. And then moving on from there. It really depends on the environment. Are we, do we have a hard point? Do we not have a hard point? Do we have furniture or are we outside? And then based on that, it's kind of like, Okay, let's see, I want to make, let's play with this shape. And if it works, it works. If it doesn't – in fact, just the other day, I was doing a shoot and I decided I had an idea for a pose. And about halfway through, the person in rope kind of shifted and leaned one way and it just it looked so much better and it entirely changed the pose because I was like, No, actually I like this. This just has an aesthetic to it. Let's go with this. And so it's usually pretty flexible as to what we're going to be doing and maybe 50/50, I have a solid plan. The other 50 is like, Let's just kind of see where we end up.

Wren [00:07:23] You said something really cool and you said, I find out where we don't want to put rope and I find that most people do the opposite where they say, What do you want?

Knotty Devil [00:07:36] I think for us in general, a lot of times it's like, Okay, where – finding out where on the body you don't want rope today and so also kind of alongside like, Hey what harness don't you want to use. It gives us a lot more. So for example, my partner Leviathan has is has been over the past few months recovering from a shoulder injury. And so whenever we were labbing out a tie recently, it was like, Okay, we don't want this pose, we don't want this pose and we can't have the rope going over this part of the shoulder. And so figuring that out and then kind of going with that, it kind of shows us, Okay, here's the things that we can't do. So now we have just so much more. We have so much more room for movement, instead of picking like, Here's one thing I really want or here's one or two places I really want rope, which is also good to know and we can play with that. But I find there's a lot more room for movement when you discuss the things that you specifically, the places you specifically don't want the rope.

Wren [00:08:47] Yeah, there's a million kinds of yeses as well, but there's only one kind of no and no is so definite and finite. Yes can mean yes, but, you know, or it could be a fake because you feel pressured to say yes. Like so many things. But a no, it's great.

Knotty Devil [00:09:04] Yeah, it is. And it's also really, it's a very helpful reminder because I have definitely, I had someone who I was doing a performance with and we had briefly tied or we'd have a history of tying, and then one of the places on the body changed where they were, where they felt comfortable with rope. And we had kind of discussed it before our rehearsal and then we went into doing it. And throughout that performance, I actually I did put rope on that part of the body because we had a whole history of tying that way. And I completely, it did space my mind and we checked in afterwards and which I'm so grateful to this person because they communicated, Hey, that was, that was – let's talk about that. And we did. And ever since that point, one of the things that we've brought into that is before every session being like, Hey, where on the body do you not want rope today? Or how comfortable are you with doing all of the rope that we have done in the past specifically? So it's fresh in my mind where on the body do not want rope? Especially if you're tying different people who have different ideas of what they want and different places. They don't want rope on the body. I might be tying someone one day who doesn't want rope on their feet and the next day tying someone who loves having rope on their feet. And it just, bringing that up beforehand, keeping it present in the mind is such a good thing that it's just kind of become a regular staple of my time with people.

Wren [00:10:38] It sounds like you created an environment that allowed for that person to say, Hey, that wasn't cool. Let's talk about it.

Knotty Devil [00:10:47] Yeah. Well, and that's also I understand that's a very difficult thing to do. I've definitely felt uncomfortable and rushed before and have struggled with my own, bringing that to the table because, you know, I was raised to be a people pleaser and it's a difficult thing for me to step up sometimes. So I have huge respect for the person that was like, Hey, this made me feel a little wonky and a little uncomfortable. Let's discuss it. And because that took so much courage. But I think that supporting that 100% makes them feel more comfortable. And I would would absolutely much rather have people feel comfortable and be able to do that because communication is very important. And at some point in time, for me, I think the biggest thing that I really like when I'm tying to people is having that open communication. People who are able to say, Hey, actually let's change it up or Hey, let's do this. And people who feel comfortable enough to say those things, that's so, so important to me.

Wren [00:11:52] It sounds like you have a lot of bottoming experience.

Knotty Devil [00:11:55] Yeah. My first suspension intensive, I actually bottomed. It was a three day intensive and I was bottoming for suspension and it was intense. But yeah, I actually got into the shibari scene as a switch and was definitely self-suspending. And because I wanted to be tied, I had always, it was something that both thrilled and terrified me and I wanted to be tied and I decided that I was going to tie myself and then eventually find other people to tie me.

Wren [00:12:30] You come from a really religious background, right?

Knotty Devil [00:12:33] Yes. Yeah. Extremely evangelical fundamentalism bordering on extremism.

Wren [00:12:41] How does that influence your rope bondage? Does it influence them?

Knotty Devil [00:12:46] I've known from a very, very early age that I loved rope and the idea of bondage. I was, I was playing tied games when I was six. I was thrilled by it. And I think that because the the specific sect of religion that I grew up with heavily discouraged any kind of of sexual exploration without the guise, I guess, or not the guise, without, within, without... Outside of the confines of marriage, any exploration that was heavily, heavily discouraged. And so I think that because that was just something that wasn't really even allowed or explored, I fixated on the rope aspect, that other kind of thing. And so throughout like growing up, that was a a part of my, that was kind of my sexual awakening, if you will, was really more focused on the rope and on the sex.

Wren [00:13:51] Gotcha. And I do think that there's a footnote in the Bible that says that rope isn't allowed either.

Knotty Devil [00:13:59] I don't know. If there's a specific footnote of that. I know there's talks about bondage. And I know, me personally, I used to wear as a... I was 15 year old. I had these big leather bracelets on either hand. One pastor once approached me cause we hav a regular kind of session where your your pastor is kind of your therapist in that regard. And so I was like, Well, I'm worried about my, I have this, I feel like I have an addiction to bondage. And... 

Wren [00:14:30] You said that?

Knotty Devil [00:14:31] Yeah, I did. I was I really wanted to be a good Christian boy at the time. And so I knew that I wasn't really allowed to have a community of kink and rope and so I, at the time, thought I was a freak. I thought I was alone. I was scared. The only people I knew who did, who enjoyed tying people up were serial killers. And I was like, I don't think that I'm that, but I'm so worried that I might be. And I went to my pastor about it and was like, Hey, I'm having these feelings. And he was like, Yeah, no, bondage is a bad, bad thing. Don't do that. And actually made me, not made me, but heavily influenced me to no longer like wear the leather bracelets and throw those out as part of my penance, I guess, for that.

Wren [00:15:23] Wow. And then you just kind of stayed clean of bondage for a while. Did it work?

Knotty Devil [00:15:30] Oh, no, no. Okay, I definitely I actually almost got expelled from my, I went to a Christian school. My graduating class was ten, my high school was maybe 60 kids or the whole school through 12 of 60. And I got, I almost got expelled for breaking into the computer lab to look up just rope bondage, not even porn, but just soft bondage porn, I guess. And I, because we didn't have Internet at home because we were a very kind of strict closed off community. And so we didn't have Internet access at home. So I had to do it through the church or through the church in the school. We're kind of one of the same. And I ended up, we're doing a book report on Kidnapped and I google imaged kidnaped and then suddenly realized that I had a whole world of opportunities open to me. And yeah, I almost got expelled and it kind of constantly started being brought up. I got in trouble a lot, I think probably between the ages of 10 and 14. I got in trouble a lot for for playing tied games and then at 15 for looking at bondage porn on the church laptop.

Wren [00:16:42] And so ironic because if they would have just given you regular sex education, then you probably wouldn't have done all these things growing up.

Knotty Devil [00:16:50] Yeah. If they had if, if it wasn't something that was so, if it wasn't something that was so strict and so... Just like you weren't even allowed to have any exploration at all. If I was able to find a community and know that, Hey, actually it's okay to feel this way and know you're not going to be a serial killer, you're just too kinky. You're just a kinky freak. And that's fine.

Wren [00:17:15] Yeah, well, and it seems like, you know, now you seem to adorn yourself and, you know, your hair is really cool and your nails are painted and you have jewelry. That's always really awesome. And it seems like you're, you know, customizing the canvas, if you will. Was that frowned upon growing up?

Knotty Devil [00:17:36] Yeah. So it's actually really funny because I think me, I think the first thing I came out to my parents about was rope before sexual preference. I think I almost kind of paved the way because the church, our church was very anti anti-gay. We were the, we were the people holding the signs at Planned Parenthood, like we were those people. We were the ones and so we were incredibly homophobic. And a part of me I accepted, at the time, I did not accept the gay part of me because I was like, you know, shove that down, got to survive. But the rope part of me, I accepted or was trying to and was struggling with in that regard. And I kind of just, once I had firmly accepted it, I was like, No, I also understand the argument of people who are like, No, I was born this way because I felt like I was born. My earliest memory was like a tie up game, and so I felt like I was born with this part of me. And so I was like, Oh, I can understand this argument and then ended up kind of exploring that side of myself and then being like, I like looking pretty. I like having – there was always, it was kind of that you see that movie. I forget which one of the Rocky movies it is, but Rocky's kid has like a dangly earring. And I was at a friend's house and watched that and I was like, Oh, I want to I want to look like that. I don't know if I don't know if I want to be that actor or if I want to sleep with that character. But, yeah, I want, I want the...

Wren [00:19:17] The angel of dilemma.

Knotty Devil [00:19:18] Yeah. And then I think I somehow got my hand on a copy of Lost Boys.

Wren [00:19:25] That'll mess you up.

Knotty Devil [00:19:26] That'll mess you up. And I was forever just absolutely taken with that and was like, Yeah, okay, this is my aesthetic, this is what I want. I want that hot vampire, vampire boy who questionably goes both ways. And then yeah, I had a tumblr that was fashion, that was all fashion blog, a bunch of shirtless guys and my friends are like, Are you sure you're straight? Yeah, I'm just into fashion. Slowly over the years, once I became kind of more comfortable with myself and my environment. Once I was outside of that that very strict, very closed off religious environment, I was able to actually breathe and come to terms with who I was.

Wren [00:20:13] So you're also really into competitive juggling. Is this related in some way? Did David Bowie juggle at one point?

Knotty Devil [00:20:24] Oh, you know, I think in Labyrinth there is there might be a the juggling of the thing but I think there was just something about it. There's a secret hidden flow and I will lose hours a day watching. There was a Russian juggler who, he can juggle knives blindfolded. And I've never seen anything like that. And there's, I just came across, there's a competitive juggling video where it's people in a ring and they're juggling back and forth between each other. And it looks like there's teams and there's commentators on like, Oh, this person's trying to swipe this baton away from this guy. And I'm like, No way is this a thing. And so now I'm kind of just deep diving into that. But there's some kind of hidden flow and presence involved and the the clowning that goes into it, the people who are super skilled jugglers who just don't even juggle for the first 10 minutes of the video but instead clown around and pretend to the stage presence. And there's just something there that I've always loved. But with juggling, it is that kind of, there is this hidden secret flow that I just, I want to know more about. I'm not very good at juggling. I can maybe juggle three things regularly or toss and catch a knife, and that's about the best of it.

Wren [00:21:46] You seem really in-tune with flow in general. You're a longboard dancer as well. How do these things come into scenes with you?

Knotty Devil [00:21:56] I think there's a thing I do usually at the beginning,if I'm doing connective rope or rope flow where it's less, I just take a second to just breathe, take three deep breaths before even attempting the flow. But there's just, there's something about this. It's this silent, unspoken movement between two people where it's a shared movement, where it's that body manipulation, where you're moving the body a certain way with the rope or even just with pulling or twisting or something. And there's this moment of connection, this silent communication that's shared. That just, it fascinates me and I love it. And it's this ethereal headspace that I'm just, I get sucked into and I'm thrilled by it, especially the very specific rope for flow kind of scenes that we do.

Wren [00:23:04] Were there any early misconceptions around flow and rope and things like that that you came across?

Knotty Devil [00:23:11] Yeah. So there's this idea that rope flow can be, it's almost kind of partner dancing in a way where some partner dancing can be super flow oriented and incredible communication and some can be very sensual. And with rope, there can absolutely be that kind of sensual. And some people then take that sensual a step further and like, Oh, well, if it's sensual, then it's sexual. And it's kind of like, Well, there's actually kind of a huge chasm between those two things, and jumping from one to the other is a bit much. And it's kind of, there's this idea that just because there's this kind of chemistry that like, Oh, well, it absolutely has to go into sex. And I'm kind of like more of a demi person where it's like, No, I actually – there's a whole myriad of other things that are involved around sex, but it's that flow that is that is shared is not, does not have to be sexual and doesn't even have to be sensual. It can still be kind of that aspect of partner dancing that is that is flow that is not that. But there is definitely, I found kind of some people assume that all three are the one in the same and it's not that they really are.

Wren [00:24:34] That makes sense. I would love to hear a little bit about your negotiation, your intake process for a scene. Maybe with someone new or maybe with a partner that you've played with a bunch. Are there any standards there, some repeat things?

Knotty Devil [00:24:52] I think there is a lot because it definitely, one of my partnerships. We have kind of a, it might be, I don't know what the specific term is, I know everyone does like, Oh, blanket consent, castle consent. It's, I check in on like, Hey, is everything that we've done previously okay? Like up to this point, everything that we have played with previously, that's fine. That's how you're feeling. Kind of just has anything changed since we played last? And because we have that familiar partnership, that's kind of the base of that. And they also like to be kind of surprised as to like what we're going to do and not specifically spell out the same. And we have such good communication that I trust that they will speak up if something is not. Whereas if I'm doing, if I'm tying with someone new, it is, there is kind of like a whole questionnaire that happens before we even start. That's, Hey, what's your... Is there anything medical I need to know? Is there anything that, like once again, where do you not want rope on the body today? Where do you and especially, if it's someone I haven't tied with before. I've definitely made mistakes in the past where I have not set boundaries for myself. And it's something where it's like, Okay, for me specifically, I don't tie with mouth rope, crotch rope or neck rope the first time tying. And that's not something that has always been a thing. But I have learned from my mistakes that previously and been like, No, okay, I have to set boundaries for myself as well. But it's very in-depth negotiation. It's like, Okay, we set the specific intent for the scene, I guess, if you will. Like, Okay, what are we doing? Are we making content? Are we doing rope flow? Are we doing something a little bit more sensual and like, Oh, it's, there's some kind of aspect of a scene that is play. Do you want an artistic design? What are we going for? We set the intent and currently these days I'm mostly tying with the same people that I either have history with or people who I know pretty well. And it's something where there is definitely a huge difference between the negotiation that happens between someone new for me and a partner. But also there are some, I guess, it just really does differ based around the personal and the experiences that we've had and the trust that we have built up there. So yeah, I just kind of like, through so much information.

Wren [00:27:30] No, it's amazing. This is what we want. If you were in some weird world where you could only ask one question and you're telling someone new, what would the one question from your negotiation list be?

Knotty Devil [00:27:44] Oh, that's such a good question. I think it would be, what is your intent for this? What are you – What is the intent for this session?

Wren [00:27:59] That's a really good one.

Knotty Devil [00:28:02] Yeah, that's just seems, because you can say like, Oh, I don't want rope here, I don't want rope here, but that doesn't necessarily, you can still tie very sensually without having rope be on any genitals or on the mouth or around the neck. You can still absolutely tie sensually without those things. And you can still, there's so many different things that are involved, but just basing, gauging the specific intent of the scene is incredibly important.

Wren [00:28:30] That's great. Setting expectations. Getting on the same page. That's amazing. Really good answer.

Knotty Devil [00:28:36] Oh, thank you.

Wren [00:28:37] So if we can leave people with maybe one or two things that they can try in their session that you really like that are more flow based, more connection based. Do you have any, like little, you know, sequences that you'd like for that little opener things?

Knotty Devil [00:28:53] Yeah, I think two things. The first being, just tie. One thing I love to do, especially if I'm tying with, if we're for tying for flow is just put it single-column or double-column tie around the wrists and just in front of the person and then just  pull on it a little bit, change, the intensity of the pull, pull soft pull, a little bit harder, maybe kind of move around and see how that person follows you. Are they a little bit more resistant? Are they jumping into it? Are they, not only being, allowing themselves to be led, but are they leaning into it and kind of very, very eager about that. Are they, kind of gauge their body movements and see. Because that also kind of just helps explore how that person wants to be lead in the rope and then kind of use that as a way to set aspect of intent for the scene or also start to play with that kind of thing. And I think the second thing would be every wrap of the rope over the body, every movement that you make, break it down into every moment, how am I connected to the person I'm tying currently? How – when I pull on the rope, am I just holding the rope? Is my, am I guiding their arms with my hand? Am I, how quickly m I pulling the rope or am I yanking it? Am I catching the breath or am I putting them on their toes?How are my actions specifically affecting the mindset of the person in the rope? How am I connected to that person? Think of almost putting yourself in that rope. How do I feel if my head is slowly lowered towards the ground while my arms are put above me. What feelings come up? What feelings arise in this? How do I feel if I'm swiftly brought from a kneeling position up on to standing on to my toes? How does that make me feel? How does that, how would I feel connected and kind of try and think about both sides. Um, and yeah, utilize that.

Wren [00:31:34] It sounds like there's a lot of active listening there. A lot, a lot of active communication.

Knotty Devil [00:31:41] Yeah, and I think that I have, I've have the privileges of being a switch is that I've both been in both sides of that, both tying and bottoming and. Been able to kind of think on that and also appreciate the non-verbal communication of others when when I am being tied and then kind of taking that and utilizing it as well. But yeah, lot of nonverbal communication that is instinctively just kind of based off of – you're watching, how does their breathing rate change? What's the look on their face? What's the, is there, do I feel their body is a little more just kind of stiff and rigid in the shoulders. Are they kind of sinking and are they breathing a little more? Are they, just like going really, really slowly and taking your time to kind of just assess the reaction that the person in rope is having.

Wren [00:32:52] It's amazing. Well, I want to thank you for sharing all these nuggets. I mean, it's really, really cool to hear this.

Knotty Devil [00:32:59] Yeah. Thank you so much for this opportunity. This has been incredible.

Wren [00:33:02] You are welcome. And hope you have fun watching more juggling today. And again, thank you so much for being on.

Knotty Devil [00:33:12] Yeah, absolutely.

Wren [00:33:15] Okay.

Knotty Devil [00:33:15] Bye bye.


With emphasis on ethical negotiation, Twisted Lily focuses on the importance of exploring different rope techniques and style, while also discussing the possible limitations there are to categorizing rope styles.


With emphasis on ethical negotiation, Twisted Lily focuses on the importance of exploring different rope techniques and style, while also discussing the possible limitations there are to categorizing rope styles.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Twisted Lily is an Atlanta-based rope enthusiast and has been involved in rope for over a decade. She teaches sometimes and also hosts local events.


Wren [00:00:23] Hello and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren and today I'm speaking with my friend Lily. You'll know Lily as Twisted Lily on the internets. She is from Atlanta and she's been involved in rope for about a decade. Hello, Lily.

Lily [00:00:41] Hi. Excited to be here.

Wren [00:00:43] How'd you get into rope? Like, how did you find it? What appealed to you?

Lily [00:00:47] I think for me, rope was really twofold. So there is a very straightforward sex BDSM aspect to rope for me. My primary interest in kink is around power exchange, and I think there's some inherent power exchange that comes along with doing bondage. And for me, the most versatile and fun and really useful type of bondage happens with rope so that's really one side of it. And then on the other side, I would say there's kind of a social and also more stress relieving aspect as well. Making things with my hands is really different than how most of my life goes. And creating stuff that's very tangible and physical can be a certain kind of stress release for me. And also there's the aspect of problem-solving. I like communicating through touch, but I'm not a cuddly type of person really. So I think it meets a lot of needs a lot of the time. And I spend most of my social life centered around rope, honestly. So.

Wren [00:01:52] Yeah. And are you mainly a rope top?

Lily [00:01:55] Yes, I do mostly tie. I employ bedroom bondage as a bottom and I have one partner who I'm kind of up for most types of bondage with as a bottom. But I would say 98% of my rope and bondage life is around tying and being the person tying for sure.

Wren [00:02:12] That's awesome. And it sounds like rope isn't a super sexual thing for you. It's more about power dynamics and that sort of thing.

Lily [00:02:22] I don't know. I mean, I think it's the big question, like, what is next? Right? And I don't know if we have time if we had five years to answer that question, maybe. But for me, power exchange and what is sex are very interrelated. So rope can be a lot of different degrees of sexual. Sometimes it is 100% and sometimes it's 0%. And everywhere in between, mostly depending on what the relationship is with the person who I'm tying with or what we've negotiated for that moment. Though, I wouldn't say it's non-sexual or purely sexual. And I think that might be a little unique in that I like to enjoy it in both ways.

Wren [00:02:59] Can you talk to us a little bit about when you're in a rope scene and there is this power dynamic? How are you doing that ethically? What are some things that you have in mind there?

Lily [00:03:11] I think thinking about power dynamics and growth, there are two ways to approach it. So we could talk about how to use rope as a way to enhance power dynamics. And I also think there's a consideration around how you consider navigating the effects of the inherent power dynamics that exist between people. So like I said, I think that rope inherently has an element of power exchange on it, right? Like when a person allows you to manipulate their body, restrict their movement, and kind of take that freedom and autonomy away from them. I think there's a bit of a natural one person having more control or power or impact over the other, right. When you're talking about partner and rope scenes. And so how far you go into that negotiation, I think the way I'd generally term it is, how collaborative do we want to be here? You know, so when I'm negotiating around rope and power exchange, I usually start from we're both going to have influence over what happens and how much influence are you seeking or how much influence are you seeking to give up? What level of comfort does a person have around not having a lot of control over what happens. I think that's just over... over time, it's really been a more central part of my negotiation then it was early on when it was just like, I will do things to you, you know?

Wren [00:04:39] So what does your negotiation process look like? How has it changed over the years?

Lily [00:04:46] I think negotiation is so unique to whatever relationship exists between the two people negotiating outside of that conversation. So if someone is, you know, someone I've been tying for five years and or a close friend and there hasn't really been a lot of change in their life or my life or the relationship, it could be very easy to negotiate and just a few minutes around like, do we want to stay in the realms we've explored before or do we want to try anything new? Is there anything that you would rather not do that we've done in the past? And that can be very simple. But if it's a person who's more new to me or someone with a big experience gap, I can take a pretty long time just talking about what draws someone to want to be tied? What draws someone to want to be tied by me specifically and then where they really are as far as the amount of context they have around their own risk and their own, you know, interests and how much they may know about their body, how their body feels and behaves in rope, and also their mental-emotional side as well. You know, a lot of times people can have very surprising experiences in rope, and that can happen certainly with a lot of experience, but it's a little less likely. So I think the care I take in that has a lot to do with those experience gaps and also the individual relationship.

Wren [00:06:11] That makes total sense. If there was one question you could ask in the context of a new rope relationship, what would that question be? You could only ask one in some crazy world.

Lily [00:06:25] I think it would be about feeling. That sounds very deep, though, but I think like what feelings are you looking to experience in, you know, the next hour with me or kind of probably, you know, that's just the beginning of a conversation because there are plenty of feelings that I would not – like we wouldn't have overlap necessarily around the feelings that people might express then, but I think that would probably be the starting point. I can't imagine only having one question to ask. That's really hard. Yeah.

Wren [00:06:59] But that does make sense because it's like getting both parties on the same page on what the outcome is going to be. And if you don't know the outcome that both parties want, then how is it going to be successful?

Lily [00:07:11] For sure. For sure. And where those overlaps, right? I think some people maybe have lots of directions they're interested or willing to go in and figuring out the ones that overlap with both parties I think is super important and obviously acknowledging that there's an element of unpredictability that's always at play as well.

Wren [00:07:28] Definitely. Well, the unpredictability is one of the most fun parts.

Lily [00:07:33] Yeah, absolutely.

Wren [00:07:34] Over the last decade that you've been doing rope, what are some of the trends that you've seen come out?

Lily [00:07:40] Sure. That's a great question. I think one of the things that I've been thinking about a lot lately is something that's maybe emerged in the last five years. I'm sure it's on a cycle. I'm sure it's emerged many times in the past before I was aware of it. Because everything – there's nothing new, right. But one of the things that I think can be a little bit harmful and hard, especially like having my own, the way I view rope education and the way I approach it, one thing that can be challenging for me is the sort of false binary that I think gets set up between styles of rope, right? So many people approach rope from a perspective of learning from one specific teacher who teaches in a specific style that might be part of a lineage that has a lot of historical impact. And I have a ton of respect for that. I think it's an amazing way to go deep and to like a certain type of art or practice. And I know that there's a ton of history and tradition around it. It has not been my approach, generally. I have had the opportunity to learn from a lot of different rope instructors from different places in the world, and I don't have a specific style or teacher or instructor that I think is the beginning and end of how I tie in and how I want to tie. And so one sort of binary that I've seen that has emerged out of people sort of associating their style with very specific other people's styles is that we create boxes and labels to put around our rope that I personally find a little limiting. You know, I remember the first time, I think it was in 2019 when I heard someone from another part of the country say that, Well, if you're into SM, you can't do a lot of transitions. If you're doing – if you're staying in the air for a long time and doing a lot of transitions, that is mostly for performance. That's about circus stuff. That's not sexy. That's, you know, that's a very specific thing. And then there's like SM and suffering and that's the opposite, right? So there's like this weird line between those two things. And on one side of the line is technically challenging, physically challenging, but performance and the other side is like maybe also a little more straightforward or simple, but that's what emotion is about and that's about the interaction. And I think for me, the technical way that I tie can often look a lot more like us spending a long time in the air and doing a lot of transitions or whatnot. But the reason for that is more on the other side of that kind of false binary. Like I am doing that to create a journey of suffering. And so. I just have had a difficult time with a lot of people categorizing those two types of rope as like either or. And I think you can have different goals. And the goals don't necessarily always define technique, but one of the outcomes of sort of tying ourselves to specific styles and teaching can be that you think that you know a lot more about what the other style is than maybe what if you had experienced multiple types of rope and styles of teaching and different lineages. So while I have a lot of respect for people who are very rigid in their tying style, it's just – it hasn't been the right route for me. Like I'm not a professional, I don't need anyone else's instructor name like associated with my name in order to get to do the amount of rope I want to do. And so I just would encourage people to be a little more open about the boxes that they put their tying and bottoming style into, because I think it's very possible to have a mixture of objectives and a mixture of audiences and a mixture of technique.

Wren [00:11:43] Yeah, there's a lot more nuance to it than what we like to, you know, prescribe.

Lily [00:11:49] Sure. And it's human nature, right? You see something you like and you want to do it. And so you think that's the way I will tie. I think in doing that you are saying no to a lot of other things. And for me, being able to study with people from very different backgrounds and different lineages of technique has allowed me to kind of create some hybrid versions of those things that I feel sometimes feel more like my own. And that might not be everyone's objective, but for me, I really like having things that feel like a combination of things that I've learned that feel like mine and the person I'm doing them with.

Wren [00:12:27] Totally. Yeah. It's really safe to put yourself into a box because it essentially says, I can grow, but I can only grow within this box of this style and everything outside of that I don't have to worry about. But it's also very limiting, like you said.

Lily [00:12:43] Yeah. Yeah. And they can even come across us, like, presuming a lot about what's going on between two people. I think that there are scenes that I have had that people might see as more performances where I had no idea whether anyone else was in the room or not. You know, so it's really not... It's not always possible to know what goes on between two people and assuming based on technique or style of rope seems just limiting and not very open-minded.

Wren [00:13:11] When you started tying, did you put yourself into a box?

Lily [00:13:15] Oh, my goodness. I've been in so many boxes. Yeah. Again, I think labeling things and limiting them is so natural for humans to do. But I definitely have been through lots of iterations of putting myself in a box, then breaking out of it, and then just finding I was in another slightly larger box.

Wren [00:13:35] Yeah. Do you think that you are currently in a box and you're going to find out you're in a box?

Lily [00:13:42] Oh, my gosh. I'm sure. Isn't that just like the human experience? I don't know. I hope not. Yeah, but I'm sure.

Wren [00:13:50] But it's amazing that you're, you know, constantly getting into new things. Sounds like you have very, very little ego about things, and that allows you to grow and experience and explore.

Lily [00:14:02] Oh, gosh. I don't know if I can claim to have a little, little ego. I am a rope top after all. But yeah, I will take it as a huge compliment and I will take it to the bank.

Wren [00:14:10] You know, I take it back, actually. I realize what I said. Really flirting with disaster here. So I take it back.

Lily [00:14:20] Yeah, I understand. It's fine, but I think it could be a dangerous assumption. So it's hard to maintain any sense of... Any sense of low ego, I think.

Wren [00:14:34] Absolutely.

Lily [00:14:35] A worthy cause.

Wren [00:14:36] So what are you excited about right now? Like, what's keeping you going?

Lily [00:14:42] I think really frequently about beginner's mind and about going back to basics with new understanding of complexity, right. So every time I have changed the way I lock off my up-lines or something. Or every time I have learned a pattern that I like better than my default pattern for that thing, right. It forces you into this kind of awkward period where you have to approach things with a beginner's mind again. And I think I've probably been through like five or six really significant versions of that. So when you're learning something new and complicated, there's always an inflection point in the beginning where you think, I know, I know enough about this, and it's usually just enough to be dangerous, right. And so exploring the plateaus after that I think can be so fascinating. And that's where I've really had a strong depth of learning, I think. It was five or six years in where I started thinking to myself, How does my body negotiate in this space and movement? And how am I both protecting and thinking about grace in my own movement, right. I'm not sure if you've seen videos of yourself tying. It's usually really challenging to see yourself doing something that when you're doing it, you feel confident and encouraged, and then you watch a video, you're like, Wow, I've never seen anything so dorky in my life. Who is that person? What faces are they making? That's insane. And I had that experience so many times that I started consciously thinking about how do my movements impact this... This feel that the person I'm trying has around this experience. I've been trying to focus on, how can I kind of be, you know, especially suspension. The greatest tool and the greatest enemy is always gravity, right? So how can I make a gravitational pull not just up and down? How can I feel like the thing that it's gravity that is pulling a person into certain shapes or movements? How can that be me and not just the ground? And I think that is super weird and conceptual and nerdy, but that's probably where my experimentation is right now in a lot of ways. And that is definitely a result of just hearing other instructors talk about that and having them be open to discussing it, you know?

Wren [00:17:19] Amazing. Well, next episode, we're going to talk about that. But let's turn to Gravity.

Lily [00:17:27] Gravity.

Wren [00:17:29] Yeah, that's amazing. Well, I want to thank you so much for being on. Thank you. I've learned so much talking to you.

Lily [00:17:34] Yeah. Thank you. I learned so much talking to you as well. And I'm always up for lots of nerdy iterating about rope if I could spend my whole life doing nothing.

Wren [00:17:45] Well, great. Part two going to be about being in rope.

Lily [00:17:48] Perfect. Perfect.


In this episode, The Silence shares his photography journey and unveils some secrets to learning how to capture amazing images.


In this episode, The Silence shares his photography journey and unveils some secrets to learning how to capture amazing images.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

The Silence is a professional photographer who centers his work around rope, kink and boudoir.


Wren [00:00:21] Hello and welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. And today we have The Silence. You'll know The Silence from his amazing photographs. They combine rope bondage and high fashion. So welcome. How are you?

The Silence [00:00:39] Hello, hello, hello.

Wren [00:00:41] Hello. Like I said, you're a photographer that incorporates elements of traditional modeling, rope bondage, high fashion in your work. Where does that come from?

The Silence [00:00:50] Oh, let's see. Well, this is actually my first-ever interview about actually this. It is a job interview. Uh, let's see. When I got started about ten years ago. I'm coming up on my ten-year anniversary. I wanted to do, like, you know, rope photography because the photos I was doing were from my flip phone at the time. And, you know, flip phones aren't the best and the other kind of people, like a big tarp on the ground is very messy and ugly. So I want it to be different from everybody. So I just like, started looking at like what people were actually photographing in their rope and it was like usually copying like the Japanese rope bondage photos poorly with their kimonos from, you know, off Amazon and I was like, Wait, why can I not be different. So I started looking at fine art, fashion, regular fashion, surrealist art, any kind of portraiture with really good lighting. And I decided, why don't I do that and just add rope in to it. And I could have a distinct look. I wanted it to look like I'm putting in a lot of work when I'm not, you know, even though sometimes I am putting in a lot of work.

Wren [00:01:59] Absolutely. Yeah, you want to look effortless.

The Silence [00:02:02] Yeah. Sometimes it looks like you put in a lot of hours and stuff and people think it's way more than it is. Audience manipulation pretty much.

Wren [00:02:12] Exactly. But that's what art is.

The Silence [00:02:13] Exactly, yeah. That's what I figured out from musicianship and paintings and it's all about manipulating the viewer to get them to think a certain way or do a certain thing, you know?

Wren [00:02:25] What have you learned about people's preconceived notions about art?

The Silence [00:02:29] Well, a lot of people believe they can do it. And it's like some, I wouldn't say art but it's almost like some kind of magic when really – especially when I'm like I have no idea. I'll just run the numbers or just do the basic run of the mill thing like, Oh, rule of thirds. Okay, I'll do that because I had no ideas and it would turn out well and people were like, Oh my God, that's awesome. Like, I just copied like, you know, a couple of rule books here and there.

Wren [00:02:56] But when you play the classic, that always works.

The Silence [00:02:59] Yeah, sometimes. It depends.

Wren [00:03:02] How long did it take you to find that? Because there's a lot of humility in that statement where you're just kind of doing the quote unquote rule books, or have you always been like that?

The Silence [00:03:12] Yes, because I couldn't afford lessons ten years ago, so I just looked on YouTube and like tried to copy what I saw. Like I would... Like as a musician, most musicians never really start out playing their own things. They're playing somebody else's stuff, whether it's Beethoven or Jimi Hendrix or, you know, Beyonce. They, you know, usually start off singing what other people have sung before. And as you get comfortable with it, you start doing your own thing. And that's what I started doing with my photography. Like I would see this like amazing photographer, like Jake Hicks use bills. And I'm like, Oh, what if I did that with, you know, doing my rope shoots and, hey, we got something new and different, you know, an interesting, you know.

Wren [00:03:52] Are you a musician?

The Silence [00:03:54] Yeah.

Wren [00:03:55] What do you play?

The Silence [00:03:56] Guitar.

Wren [00:03:57] That's amazing. What Style is hard? You play.

The Silence [00:04:00] I suck at it. I have been playing for like, since I saw, like, James Hetfield on the 1992. Oh, 30 years. Jesus, I'm old. I've been playing since then. So I have like a hobby of like, just mixing and making my own music. It's easy. It's like for myself. And I usually keep it to myself because I know people are like, Oh, you do something you made me see. I'm like, No, I'm like the little guy. I'm like the guy with the, you know, the toy set in a basement who, like, they spend hours and hours making his toys. They have like the no intention of, like, ever having anybody like, look at it, you know?

Wren [00:04:33] Yeah, well, you're a very secretive person here.

The Silence [00:04:37] I'm shy. I'm not an exhibitionist.

Wren [00:04:39] Okay?

The Silence [00:04:40] Like, you know, it's like I'm not in a lot of my photos are rarely. And, you know.

Wren [00:04:44] I think you're in none of your photos.

The Silence [00:04:46] Yeah, exactly.

Wren [00:04:49] Have you always been like that, or has it been that you want to show the model more and the rope more or.

The Silence [00:04:56] I think it was more about because I had Legos as a kid, so I was like, Hmm, I could try something new and this art form and try and do this and oh, well, oh, people like it. I remember my first shoots, like for three or four shoots, I got really lucky and had really hot friends who were like, willing to give me a chance and let me, you know, photograph their bodies. And they were people were like, Oh, these are good. You Oh, let me keep trying this, you know?

Wren [00:05:25] Yeah.

The Silence [00:05:26] Still at the point where I don't really care what people think anymore. And especially, you know, the Internet is getting worse and worse for artists and especially anything that shows, you know, anything above basic, fully clothed, you know, vanilla stuff. Yeah. So I'm like more and more like, I'm just going to start doing more and what I find versus it'll work on Instagram, you know?

Wren [00:05:49] What are you working on right now as your growth as a photographer and an artist?

The Silence [00:05:55] Well, right now, it's been a tough year. Uh, let's see. My father died earlier this year, and I'm in between two careers, especially after COVID. And because my job before my final job before was, like, basically depending on, like, lots of people getting together in large groups. So when COVID happened, I pretty much died. And I'd just been trying to be a full time photographer, and I'm still navigating that, which is like really difficult.

Wren [00:06:24] How do you find being a full time photographer is different than making rope bondage photos?

The Silence [00:06:30] Well, people will pay you for photos they want versus arts that you, the artist, want. I understand now why Leonardo da Vinci had a patron versus, you know, a gallery. You know, he had there's not a lot of people who can want to have like especially my kind of art on their walls because it's usually contemporary nudity.

Wren [00:06:51] Definitely.

The Silence [00:06:52] I imagine with a lot of people who have that up in their house, you know?

Wren [00:06:57] So if a lot of your art incorporates nudity, how do you see censorship in Instagram and things like that?

The Silence [00:07:05] I was always shocked that people in this grand before, you know, because I'm like, why are all these real people going to Instagram? You know, it's like there's no way they're going to allow, like, you know, people tied up in mock kidnaping and, you know, torture porn type of stuff. It's like, oh, yeah, this game is totally okay with that. Just don't show any like female presenting nipples or, you know, going to tell you, but you can pretty much do everything else like what really? And then you know foster sister came along and all of a sudden all the companies are like prudish now too where even mentioned, you know, a porn stars name as a credit and you know you're accused of sexual solicitation was happened to me a couple of times. So I was like, oh, fuck, Instagram.

Wren [00:07:51] Has censorship changed your art at all?

The Silence [00:07:55] It did a little bit like I may do one shot here and there that, you know, is vanilla and that's for Instagram or even framed in a way that Instagram likes, you know, which is the vertical playing at a certain age by ten. Mm hmm. But for the most part, I'm like, I'll do one shot like that. But then, you know, the rest of the shots I'll do for myself.

Wren [00:08:15] And the shots that you do for yourself. Where are you showing those? Is that online or is that mainly just saying.

The Silence [00:08:22] I probably primarily post on. That life. Like five days a week. Instagram five days a week. I have to account once more like mine. Just private stuff. It's just me doing weird things. The other ones are like more formal than I used to do it on Twitter, but Twitter's kind of like they're all for like investing Twitter in American. Even though I love it that, you know, you could get a big audience and still not have to censor early to see that on Facebook. So it's mainly Instagram and felt like right now.

Wren [00:08:54] Yeah, Facebook doesn't seem like the place for it.

The Silence [00:08:57] Yeah. No it's and I'm also on onlyfans a little bit and Patreon amazing.

Wren [00:09:06] I am always blown away by people that can consistently post. You're saying you post five times a week on the apps. How do you technically.

The Silence [00:09:16] Ten times a week.

Wren [00:09:18] How do you find that consistency?

The Silence [00:09:21] I do it in the morning. I when I. Every time I finish a shoot, say I have because I like to produce a lot of photos, like at a store with someone and I have like an engine 30 shots, edited and done. I will create like several folder that immediately I will start, you know, put putting them into the note folder. What's it like I'm making the posters for because they're not my best or is it's like I can only pull so much so there's a no folder using it's a book, there's an Instagram folder which gets about five or six and it has to fit like folder, which they get about five or six or maybe ten. And I have another folder which I'll post on my main and family account that I used as my own little personal, like hearing these are my ideas on this and that stuff. So I have like a little system and I have another folder that I put in like mainly for Instagram that I, I will censor those and like edit those for Instagram and just like, put those on there and make. So I have a pool of like several hundred photos of photos, you know, I'll post on Instagram and pledged.

Wren [00:10:27] Fulsome wasn't too long ago, and your photos came out so quickly after that event?

The Silence [00:10:33] Yeah, about 48 hours maybe.

Wren [00:10:36] I think it might have been 36. Yeah, it was so quick. And the other thing I was not shocked about, because I know your work and I love it, but you told the story of all the scenes so. Well, like I did a scene with Doll, and having you there felt so good because I knew that it was going to be represented the way that we were doing it.

The Silence [00:10:58] Yeah, because I well, I, I've seen a lot in ten years, especially with the paper tiger person and knowing real people. I know when something is going to happen in rope. I know like when someone's trying to take it to get that first rope on. I'm going it's going to be kind of controversial, but visually it's kind of boring until something else happens. Yep. So I will move on to the next thing. And until I, in my own mind say, okay, something's changed over here. Maybe the rigger has tied this knee up here. Okay, let me go back over and catch that. And then once I know there's not much else I can be able to get that, I'll move on. I just. I know that when people are tying, you know, especially when they're trying to do performance. And they're tying while performing. There's this moment in that time where it's like really boring as a photographer and it's not have to do anything about experience level. I've seen, you know, big time Japanese riggers who've been doing it for like 20 years and people who did their very first performance in a role with that one moment where they're like behind a futo or TK and it's like. Look, there's doing something back there. Look, I don't need to photograph this because I've got enough. I already got five photos of, you know, artsy photos of them tying a cable or a hip harness or something.

Wren [00:12:17] And have you felt that the amount of photos you make has gone down over the years?

The Silence [00:12:26] It depends on how much mystery I have with the model or how inspired I am by where we are. As opposed to like. An event where, you know, I'm just trying to capture the moment as best as possible is as it was, as opposed to. You know, just photographing what's there, you know.

Wren [00:12:48] That makes sense. Rope and photography is a very polarizing thing. A lot of people think that photography and ropes shouldn't really be together. A lot of people do it for the photography. What role do you think the camera plays in rope Bondage?

The Silence [00:13:06] I've been thinking about this a lot. I think. The camera. Well, there's. In all the key things you do. You see it? It's a say, an open convention like, say, dark Odyssey, where all forms of play are allowed. And I photographed all those. I'm looking at needle scenes, fisting scenes, kidnaping scenes, speaking scenes, leather scenes, service scenes. Some things are more photograph able than others. This on based on the very nature and especially road when it's meant to be like beautiful shapes and weird angles. It's way more photographically pleasing and easy to capture for a photographer, I think compared to like a spanking thing, which can be pretty static and pretty much the same shot and angle over and over as opposed to rope. Especially when you're doing rope like circa the barn. It was like flippy set where, you know, the model's upside down. Then the models this way, then maybe the the the rigger is tackling the model or, you know. So I found that. Full of real. Is it just I don't know. It lends itself more to photography. And because especially with kids nowadays, you know, as kids nowadays, we like to photograph everything we do. Yeah. Like photograph our food. Yeah. I have a friend who, like, photograph their food all the time. I'm like. I mean, you must have like years of, like, photos of your food. And and it's just the very nature of our technology right now, because I imagine like 30 years ago, they had cell phones and, like, really heavy cameras that you could take with you immediately. So all your friends, you would do it, you know.

Wren [00:14:59] Do you find yourself taking a lot of photos of your own food?

The Silence [00:15:02] No, No, because I. I'm a photographer and I'm like, Yeah, like, I'm not going to slum myself out to use my cell phone so I can take a much better photo of my better lighting, you know?

Wren [00:15:16] I'm hearing a little bit of elitism here from the silence.

The Silence [00:15:20] It's only a joke. I do it sometimes.

Wren [00:15:22] Oh, I know, I know.

The Silence [00:15:25] I don't take any of this really seriously. I'm very snarky.

Wren [00:15:28] Yeah. I mean, when you said circus rope and things like that, I mean, you can tell that you don't really discriminate between different, you know, styles of rope and things. And just having fun is important.

The Silence [00:15:38] Yeah. If it's not fun, like, I'm not going to do.

Wren [00:15:41] It with people learning. What are some of the most underutilized concepts about photography?

The Silence [00:15:49] Um, they think the subject matter matters when really, if you can take a picture of anything, well, it'll work in real photography. Like a lot of people are like, I can't find any models to do my real photos on. Well, first of all, you need to learn how to take a photo of regular people. Like, if you have a girlfriend or mom or brother or sister or a friend, take good regular vanilla photos of them. Learn your camera settings. Learn. You know how different lenses affect the body in certain way, how lag works, and you'll have a good portfolio of stuff you can, you know, show someone like like I imagine if you had a friend who never taken a bone and sold it before, but you know, they're professional photographer and everything. They're paid a lot of money to take photos of like weddings and, you know, headshots. You would probably feel more okay with them taking photos of you tied up. And I don't think a lot of people really grasp that. You're still taking the photo of a human being no matter what they're doing, whether they're tying they're raising their car, they're washing their dishes, they're sitting there, you know, you're next to your grandma. You're still a human being is still the same amount of curves still and using the same amount of like limbs and hair and eyes and roundness of the face. So if you can be really good at that, then you can really learn how to incorporate all that to like rope, but also make them more artistic.

Wren [00:17:22] How long did it take you to learn that?

The Silence [00:17:24] How to be a photographer or learn this philosophy of like the bodies is.

Wren [00:17:29] Learn that philosophy because it sounds like you just, you know, summarized a lot of lessons into a nice little paragraph.

The Silence [00:17:37] This is video. I'm giving away some secrets here, but it changed my life with photography. It's called Remember the Egg. And it's it was like a group tutorial of like basically understanding lighting in by photographing an egg. And we think about the human body. It's pretty much a series of spheres, you know, egg shapes and very short streets, whether it's breast, your torso, your head, your butt, your knees. And he was like showing the light around him. And like, I was curving around like, oh, my God. So when I'm trying to visualize when I'm a photograph, a person. I should think about. Remember the egg. And it's like it's. That's how I got started.

Wren [00:18:19] Wow.

The Silence [00:18:21] And I also learn about. Three dimensionality where you want to make an image not as flat as possible, but for most times these are basic rules, but they're not like absolute laws, you know? Mm hmm. Even, you know, even keeping things in focus sometimes you want to keep things are completely out of focus for an artistic side, but. Thinking about three dimensionality and how because when you see when you're doing a rope and you're suspending somebody, I don't want to mess around with lighting. As I know, you've been suspended. You know, if you're in the air and you're in a tough suspension, you don't want someone spending 5 minutes moving a slide back and forth while you're like, okay, yeah, okay. You know, so I have to pretty much figure out where my line is going to be before hand. And one of the things I think about is like hills during the daytime they look pretty flat. But as soon as the sun starts setting, you start seeing those like shadows casting. And I usually think about the body that way. I need to think about it's always best to like, know where the body position is going to be in a suspension and put your lights there to maximize that shape, you know?

Wren [00:19:32] Absolutely. So it sounds like you have the final image in your head before you start and when.

The Silence [00:19:38] Sometimes. I usually do, but I usually fail. Actually, most the vast majority of times I feel like I'm going to do this with this light over here. It's like, Oh, wait a minute. So usually I, I usually start out with like, okay, the market. What kind of model do physically like are they super bendy or they're not super many. Have I done super mini stuff with them before? Do I not want to do something mini or do I want to, you know, what kind of mood do I want? What kind of outfit do they have? What kind of black about do they have? Okay, now I can think about what kind of harnesses can they do? Let's say they can't do a TK. Okay, What kind of how am I going to spend a chance? Am I going to do a suspension? I got to think about all these things and color rope. Then I got to think about where am I going to place my key light, which is the key light is the brightest light in any photo. And where's that going to be? Because I usually want to have that where the focus is. So if they're going to be. Inverted. And I want to show the face. I can't have the latter part because then, you know, their needs are going to be brighter than a face. You know, there's various things I'm thinking about. Well, you know, photographing well beforehand. You know.

Wren [00:20:46] In closing, if there's anything you can leave rope photographers, rap artists with, any tips, anything that you like kind of consistently see people needing to work on, you.

The Silence [00:20:59] Have to love the practice. If you don't like practicing, you'll never get given it like like can imagine like Jimi Hendrix. When he's playing guitar for the first time, he's slept for like a really long time. But I imagine he loved it for a really long time till he was like really good. And people were like, Hey, you're really good. Yeah. And if you don't like practicing whatever you want to learn, you will never get good at it because you'll eventually like, Oh, maybe I just won't practice. Maybe I'll go, I don't know, do something else. So you have to really love that. The practice of whatever you do.

Wren [00:21:36] Yeah. And failing goes along with that which you brought up earlier.

The Silence [00:21:40] I wouldn't even call it breathing. I'm like, It's an experiment. You know, there's been plenty, many times I want to do this with a shoot. And it like, didn't turn out. But I learn something else and I learn why that didn't work. And now that's, hey, I gained some experience. Hopefully the photo was good enough that, you know, the model would be okay with it and people will like it. But yeah, I'm trying to learn like every suit I do is an experiment in trying to figure out, is this all technique work? Does the new technique work? You know, does this work with this body or does it not work with his body? It's all an experiment, and I'm always learning.

Wren [00:22:16] It sounds like you're constantly growing.

The Silence [00:22:19] Yeah, because otherwise I'll just get bored. I can't do like I like some people I saw with like 20 times and I'm like, I have to keep trying to figure out a new way of shooting this person for that. You know, I wouldn't even say the 20th time because if I did three sets with them, it's sad. It's like literally 60 different, like individual shoots, a different lighting situation, going to have to figure out how to, you know, be different all the time.

Wren [00:22:42] Well, where can people find you? Can they connect with you?

The Silence [00:22:45] I'm on somewhat of Twitter. Historically, that's even my starting place. But Instagram online, The silence. Photography, my friend life, the silence and then the silence. Pick on the Silence picks on Billie Jean as well.

Wren [00:23:02] Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being on and talking about your journey. Your art is amazing and I look forward to the next things that you're practicing and unveiling to the world.

The Silence [00:23:14] Yeah, I'm going to work on some more weird pacemaker family stuff.

Unidentified [00:23:18] So I can't make it.


Kazami Ranki talks about how he learned to tie and what keeps him going for more than 25 years as a rope artist while sharing some insight into his teachings.


Kazami Ranki talks about how he learned to tie and what keeps him going for more than 25 years as a rope artist while sharing some insight into his teachings.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Kazami Ranki, also known as Atrocious Nawashi, focuses on the spirit and beauty of women tied in rope.

Wren [00:00:19] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren and today I have Kazami Ranki and Mistress Kiko translating. How are you?

Kiko [00:00:28] Good.

Kazami [00:00:29] How are you?

Wren [00:00:30] Amazing. Thank you so much for being here.

Kazami [00:00:35] Yeah.

Kiko [00:00:35] Thank you for having us.

Wren [00:00:37] You're welcome. So I heard that you play guitar, correct?

Kiko [00:00:44] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:00:45] Yeah.

Wren [00:00:46] How long have you been playing guitar?

Kiko [00:00:48] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:00:52] 45.

Kiko [00:00:54] 45 years.

Wren [00:00:55] Wow. Where did, where did you learn to play guitar? Who in your family played?

Kiko [00:01:00] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:01:02] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:01:04] He studied on his own.

Wren [00:01:06] What kind of music did you listen to or do you listen to?

Kiko [00:01:15] He listens to Japanese pop music.

Wren [00:01:17] What kind of music do you play now?

Kazami [00:01:22] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:01:34] He plays the music from the 80s and 90s.

Wren [00:01:38] Got it. Are you in a band?

Kazami [00:01:42] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:01:42] By himself.

Wren [00:01:43] That's so cool. Do you play any other instruments?

Kiko [00:01:50] Only the guitar.

Wren [00:01:51] Yeah. So you're from Osaka, correct?

Kazami [00:01:56] Yes.

Wren [00:01:56] Yeah.

Kiko [00:02:01] Yeah, he's going back and forth. Osaka and Tokyo.

Wren [00:02:05] Gotcha and that's where you two met?

Kiko [00:02:07] Correct. I met him in Osaka.

Wren [00:02:09] Very cool.

Kiko [00:02:10] Yeah.

Wren [00:02:11] So I heard that you responded to a 1800 number that was asking for bondage in some way.

Kiko [00:02:27] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:02:31] In terms of playing.

Wren [00:02:33] Yeah. And you said that it was hard to get into it, correct?

Kiko [00:02:43] Yeah.

Wren [00:02:44] What kept you going back to it? Why did you keep going and trying to get into it?

Kiko [00:03:04] This is, this might be a bad thing to say, but he wanted girls to like him.

Wren [00:03:12] I feel that's pretty common, you know?

Kiko [00:03:30] Now it's kind of changed but before it was more like this.

Wren [00:03:33] Well back in the day when that happened, did it get girls to like you? Did a work?

Kiko [00:03:44] Once he was able to tie.

Wren [00:03:46] Gotcha.

Kiko [00:03:47] Yeah.

Wren [00:03:48] Well, I think it's the same in the States. I think many people get into rope bondage to get pretty women to like them. So...

Wren [00:04:00] How did you move into making this a career?

Kiko [00:04:39] So this is, he, he kind of thinks he's, he's doing this as a professional right now but it's kind of hard to say, you know, define the difference between professional and amateur.

Kiko [00:05:06] He's teaching now, but he doesn't play that much. But when he does play, he has to use his skills.

Wren [00:05:16] So in America, we do a lot of scenes where we will play, and then we have a lot of labbing time where we try things out. And those two things are kind of separate and then we'll go to classes. How does that look in Japan? Is it the same kind of thing where there are scenes and labbing time and then classes? Does that make sense?

Kiko [00:05:42] It's pretty much the same.

Wren [00:05:43] You've been doing it for so long. What do you love about it so much? Was there something specific that you liked about it, or are you a very engineering kind of person, or are you just a general pervert that likes the rope and tying people up? Why have you kept doing it for so, so long?

Kiko [00:06:02] (Japanese).

Wren [00:06:14] Because most people don't do it for the time span. This is a long, long time to do one thing.

Kiko [00:06:27] That's a hard question.

Kiko [00:06:40] It's kind of like a puzzle.

Kiko [00:06:50] So he's thinking like a puzzle. If he ties this way, this part is going to be that way.

Kiko [00:07:04] It's kind of in mathematics, there's the, what is it? Like the (inaudible)?

Wren [00:07:11] Yes.

Kiko [00:07:11] Yeah.

Kiko [00:07:23] It's like biology or, you know, like there's a weight and how things balance out. So it's kind of difficult, but it's tricky. But it's fun.

Wren [00:07:35] What part of the puzzle are you working on right now?

Kiko [00:07:54] So when he goes back to Japan, he's been, he's been doing a lot of hands behind the back. But he wants to study more of hands in the front and see how that can work well.

Kiko [00:08:21] So, yeah, technical stuff is one thing, but he thinks of it as more of a communication tool with the person he ties with.

Wren [00:08:34] What are some things that you've learned about communication specifically that you can share?

Kiko [00:09:08] So I mean, usually he ties girls, right? So he talks and communicates, but at the same time, he wants to communicate with rope.

Wren [00:09:22] Yes. How have you seen communication change over the years you've been involved in rope bondage?

Kiko [00:09:48] It hasn't changed that much for a lot of women. Rope bondage is something that feels good.

Kiko [00:10:01] At the same time, you can do something very tough.

Wren [00:10:03] Yes.

Kiko [00:10:11] And he likes that back and forth, you know, like, you know, enjoying both sides of it.

Wren [00:10:19] Absolutely. So –

Kiko [00:10:22] It's kind of an abstract way of him describing things.

Wren [00:10:27] So your nickname is the Notorious (inaudible).

Kiko [00:10:42] He does a lot of brutal stuff too.

Wren [00:10:45] Yes.

Kiko [00:10:51] He thinks the first video that was released was the most brutal one. There was one person that said something positive.

Kiko [00:11:05] And his name is Akechi Denki.

Wren [00:11:08] What did he say?

Kiko [00:11:13] He said, you have very good technique.

Wren [00:11:15] You seem like someone that does their own thing. You know, you don't seem like someone that follows the trends of what everyone else is doing.

Kiko [00:11:32] Yeah, no.

Wren [00:11:33] Have you always been like that?

Kiko [00:11:45] Yeah, he hasn't been affected in terms of BDSM and rope.

Kiko [00:11:59] But if somebody asks him what do you want to eat tonight that's when he gets wishy-washy.

Kiko [00:12:12] In Japan, it's okay to be like I can eat anything but here, you know, people tell you need to be like –

Kiko [00:12:23] Yeah, the translators always tell him, "Just to tell me straightforward, what do you want to eat".

Wren [00:12:28] Yeah. Well you always post pictures of your food and things like that.

Wren [00:12:38] You're saying that that food can't complain or no one can be mad about food, and it makes sense now that you told me all these stories about how people have been, you know, upset about stuff you've done.

Kiko [00:12:55] Because they taste good so already.

Wren [00:12:56] Exactly. Exactly.

Kiko [00:13:13] So he puts a lot of food on Instagram and stuff. So a lot of people in Japan thinks he must be gaining weight when he comes back. But he weighed himself today and he lost about 4.53kg.

Wren [00:13:32] Wow. Okay.

Kiko [00:13:32] Yeah.

Wren [00:13:33] Wow.

Kiko [00:13:38] Yeah, He said you could go on a diet when he goes outside of Japan.

Kazami [00:13:41] That is surprising because you would imagine American food to be really fatty.

Kiko [00:13:53] Maybe he's eating more in Japan.

Wren [00:13:56] That makes sense.

Kiko [00:13:56] I think also the rice, right.

Kiko [00:14:03] He eats breakfast in Japan.

Kiko [00:14:05] And then he eats sweets in Japan.

Kiko [00:14:08] And then lunch.

Kazami [00:14:09] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:14:10] And then sweets.

Kiko [00:14:13] And then dinner.

Kiko [00:14:17] And then dinner. He eats double the amount he ate for the sweets he ate for breakfast and lunch.

Kiko [00:14:27] Then maybe the rice.

Kiko [00:14:34] He had a lot of ice cream in Toronto so he doesn't understand why.

Wren [00:14:39] I don't know. I don't know. We need to study you. We need to figure out what's going on.

Kazami [00:14:47] Oh, haha.

Wren [00:14:50] What kind of sweets do you like to eat?

Kiko [00:14:58] Anything sweet.

Kazami [00:15:00] But ice cream cake.

Kiko [00:15:03] Ice cream cake.

Wren [00:15:04] Love it.

Wren [00:15:10] I'm sure you're burning a lot of calories off when you're tying though, because it's pretty active.

Kiko [00:15:19] I have noticed that most have a, their bodies are just always in pain. Do you have any comments on why this happened?

Kiko [00:15:30] Shibari. Then I thought I'd rather do it and if I did, that would get all again that the women's.

Kiko [00:15:37] Club in there and enjoy it all again. Out of the women's.

Kiko [00:15:40] There many reasons.

Kazami [00:15:43] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:15:45] For example.

Kazami [00:15:53] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:15:54] For people who tie, you are using a lot of...

Kazami [00:15:58] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:16:00] You're always focused, right? And that mental pressure...

Kazami [00:16:08]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:16:08] It looks like you're doing it easily, but it's actually very difficult.

Kazami [00:16:24] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:16:25] So in the beginning you might start tying for fun, but when you start doing something kind of difficult and suspension, you're more concerned about that person getting hurt.

Kazami [00:16:52] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:16:53] So and you know, when they're suspending people, you're using power, right? So eventually it's going to... Your muscles start getting tired.

Wren [00:17:05] You were self-taught, correct? You looked at pictures and things like that.

Kiko [00:17:10] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:17:16] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:17:16] And videos.

Wren [00:17:17] Gotcha.

Kazami [00:17:27]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:17:28] So the newer people, most of them have learned from pictures including him.

Wren [00:17:36] Yeah.

Kiko [00:17:38] And most of them have studied under somebody.

Kazami [00:17:48] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:17:48] But back in his era, he just studied these papers.

Wren [00:17:56] What was the education like back then? Was there education then?

Kiko [00:18:07] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:18:08] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:18:08] No, no, not at all.

Wren [00:18:10] How do you think that influences how you teach now?

Kazami [00:18:30] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:18:31] So he's talked about it in Japan but when he was younger, no one was teaching him so he learned by making his mistakes and said, O okay, this is not good. So we're going to do something else and that's how he learned on his own.

Kazami [00:19:06] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:19:07] But because he went through trial and error, it took him longer than most people but then he was able to come up with his own original tie.

Wren [00:19:27] That makes sense.

Kiko [00:19:28] Studying and you know.

Kazami [00:19:44] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:19:45] So people who are learning right now, they're are kind of learning, Okay, I'm going to do you're supposed to do this after this, you know, the orders of what you're supposed to do.

Kazami [00:20:20]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:20:22] He said there are some people who are thinking why is it tied this way. The reason for all of it. But there are some people who are just memorizing the orders, right? So for people who have just been memorizing the orders, it's very hard for them to come up with their own technique from that unless, they're understanding the whole reason for everything.

Wren [00:20:55] How do you think students can understand the reason why we tie something versus just doing it.

Kiko [00:21:12] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:21:18]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:21:20] So first of all, he'll have them memorize the orders, right.

Kazami [00:21:29] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:21:29] And then after that, he explains why he's doing this.

Kazami [00:21:34] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:21:48] So then you train and train and then they do a different tie and then he will ask them, Why are you doing it this way?

Kazami [00:22:02] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:22:03] And if they're able to answer that question, then he thinks they're understanding why they're doing that tie for a reason.

Wren [00:22:16] Do you think it's important to challenge why you're doing something?

Kiko [00:22:28] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:22:28] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:22:41] So he's telling a lot of his students in Japan too but he has three... Do you call them apprentices? Yeah. Outside of Japan.

Kazami [00:22:54] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:22:56] There are two in Toronto, Canada.

Kazami [00:22:59] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:23:01] And there's one in Australia, brisbane.

Kazami [00:23:18] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:23:19] What he's telling them is that please understand why he's tying this way. Like the reason to why he's tying

Kazami [00:23:32] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:23:32] But at the same time, he tells them to come up with their own original style.

Kazami [00:23:45]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:23:46] Because if they have a good understanding of why the ropes are on the body in a certain way, he believes that they would be able to come up with their own original.

Kazami [00:24:01] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:24:08] So once he notices that they're there at that point, he calls them his apprentice.

Kiko [00:24:22] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:24:23] So as a joke, he tells them that you have to be better than me.

Kazami [00:24:30] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:24:31] And they have their own supporters.

Kazami [00:24:37] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:24:37] And the supporters all have the same way of thinking too.

Kazami [00:24:51] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:24:51] So he's hoping it could eventually grow and the supporters would have their apprentices. And then, the apprentices would have their own apprentices and they'll just grow.

Kazami [00:25:11] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:25:12] So if all the apprentices grow then he won't be able to make his own decisions.

Kazami [00:25:30] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:25:30] So if he wanted to find another apprentice,...

Kazami [00:25:42]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:25:43] If he's going to call another person in another country his apprentice, then he would have to do a meeting with everybody in Toronto and Australia and make the decision together.

Kazami [00:26:14] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:26:14] So if he thinks that person in another country is worthy of being an apprentice, but if the people in Toronto and people in Australia don't agree, he can't

Kazami [00:26:34] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:26:34] So it's a group decision.

Wren [00:26:38] Sounds very collaborative.

Kazami [00:26:39] T(Japanese).

Kiko [00:26:42] He thinks that's the best way to go.

Kazami [00:26:44] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:26:49] Because if he makes his own decision, they might clash. They might not like each other.

Wren [00:26:56] Do you find that that style of teaching and growing groups has allowed them to help each other grow as well?

Kiko [00:27:05] (Japanese).

Wren [00:27:17] It's a very unique way of teaching.

Kiko [00:27:21] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:27:21] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:27:27] He likes that way of thinking.

Wren [00:27:28] I love it.

Kazami [00:27:33] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:27:34] But one thing he's always telling everybody is that he wants the group to be close.

Kazami [00:27:42] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:27:42] With those who are studying Kazami style, the apprentices have get along with each other so he wants everybody to be close with each other.

Kazami [00:27:56] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:27:56] So if they start fighting, he's going to be in trouble.

Kazami [00:28:07] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:07] So he's telling Brisbane and Toronto to make sure they get along.

Kazami [00:28:13] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:14] So they can't fight. They're not allowed to fight.

Wren [00:28:17] I love that. Have there been any fights?

Kiko [00:28:21] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:28:24] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:24] No.

Wren [00:28:25] There won't be, I'm sure.

Kazami [00:28:26] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:28] Because he's been saying that all the time.

Kazami [00:28:40] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:40] He hears lot of groups not getting along with each other but personally, he doesn't like it.

Kazami [00:28:52]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:28:53] Who wants everybody to respect each other and grow together.

Kazami [00:29:00] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:29:00] Which he thinks is the best thing to do.

Wren [00:29:03] Absolutely. You teach a lot and you see a lot of different students. What are some of the common things that you see people do incorrectly?

Kiko [00:29:13] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:29:24] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:29:25] Technique wise or...?

Wren [00:29:27] Well, anything. Technique or communication...

Kiko [00:29:32] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:29:36] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:29:37] In terms of technique, he won't be really picky about everything.

Kazami [00:29:49] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:29:49] So he teaches his patterns, right. But there are a lot of people who can't do that exact pattern.

Kazami [00:29:59] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:30:10] As long as things are locked and it's not going to get loose and it's done properly in the right location, he's okay with it.

Kazami [00:30:29] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:30:31] So he has four different levels on someone who's able to teach.

Kazami [00:30:54] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:30:56] But he tells everybody, if they're going to teach, they should teach exactly his orders. But if they're going to do his originals, then it's the original and fine.

Wren [00:31:09] That makes sense.

Kazami [00:31:15] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:31:17] Technical and then other...

Wren [00:31:19] Well mainly, you see so many varied students from Atlanta to Denver to Los Angeles all over. I was wondering if there's a common thing that people do inefficiently or incorrectly.

Kiko [00:31:34] (Japanese).

Wren [00:31:34] Or something people need to work on.

Kiko [00:31:43] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:31:46] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:31:51] Not really. There's not much to that.

Kazami [00:32:10] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:32:11] He said, he's sure there's a lot of different Nawashis coming to different studios but as long as everybody is able to do their own tie, that's working, he thinks that's okay.

Kazami [00:32:43] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:32:44] So when he's coming to teach in two different cities, generally he wants everybody to learn his tie but he's not going to tell everybody, You have to do my tie.

Kazami [00:33:02] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:33:03] Because he's sure there's a lot of people that have their own specific way of tying already.

Kazami [00:33:11]  (Japanese).

Kiko [00:33:12] So he's respecting that while he's teaching.

Kazami [00:33:15] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:33:18] So he never tell anyone to stop their technique or the way they tie.

Kazami [00:33:26] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:33:27] If he told them to stop, it would be nonsense.

Kazami [00:33:29] Yes, yeah. Makes sense. What is next for you? Are there any links or anything that you would like to share for the listeners or anywhere you'd like to direct them?

Kiko [00:33:41] (Japanese).

Kazami [00:34:05] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:34:06] So there is a link to and there's also postings of Toronto and..

Kazami [00:34:17] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:34:19] And Brisbane also.

Wren [00:34:20] Okay.

Kiko [00:34:21] So you can see all of that Kazami style.

Kazami [00:34:26] (Japanese).

Kiko [00:34:26] And they're all in English.

Kiko [00:34:28] Well, I want to thank you so much for being on and sharing your story. I really appreciate it and there are a lot of people who want to hear.


In this episode, Wren and Tom talk about the parallels between poker and rope bondage and how it impacted his negotiation process.


In this episode, Wren and Tom talk about the parallels between poker and rope bondage and how it impacted his negotiation process.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Tomporarily is an Austin-based photographer and "sadistic-ish shibari-ish" artist with a background in poker.


Wren [00:00:21] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. On this episode, I chat with my friend Tom. I was looking through your Instagram. You have this really cute photo from like 2020 where you're just like Peter Pan, and you're tying a Wendy.

Tom [00:00:39] Yeah, it was with Joy in DC.

Wren [00:00:42] What was the context?

Tom [00:00:44] I think the context was green, was like the theme of the court, I guess. I'm sure I'm butchering that. But yeah, we did a performance as Peter Pan and Wendy, which was great.

Wren [00:00:56] I love it because in the majority of your photos you're not smiling, but in that one you are.

Tom [00:01:03] I feel like in the majority of the life, I'm smiling. I'm known for laughing loudly. That's probably like how you can hear me across the dungeon before you see me.

Wren [00:01:10] I love that. And I would not get that appearance from your Instagram because it looks like you're into like very intense, maybe Semenawa style rope, maybe like a lot of suffering and things.

Tom [00:01:23] Yeah, I think so. As things get more intense, I think a lot of the stuff I share on Instagram is either in M positions or like humorous points to get there.

Wren [00:01:32] Yeah, it's difficult to share the journey on Instagram.

Tom [00:01:36] M- hmm.

Wren [00:01:37] Yeah. You've called your rope style Follow your b**** before.

Tom [00:01:45] Yeah. There was a period of tying that I didn't like the idea that anybody else was telling me what to do, or I followed some prescriptive pattern, and I think I, I almost pushed the pendulum too far in the other direction but I didn't have enough technical proficiency or accuracy to necessarily, like, get a cuff the size that I wanted. So I learned the hard and fast way to like – as I made accidents, how to come back and clean them up later and Follow your b**** was my sense of like staying in the moment and going the direction that you wanted to rather than having an end goal that you started with and trying to get there.

Wren [00:02:16] That's awesome. And I'm sure it leads to better communication with your bottom and everything, because that's the best part of bottoming is when the top is actually looking at you and watching you rather than d****** around with a cuff size and trying to get that perfect because as the bottom, I don't care about that. I just want you to care about me, you know.

Tom [00:02:35] The experience you're creating I think is the most important part in the like amount of times I've watched bottom stare at the wall, doing their taxes in their head or in an intensive like class or something like this. This is really tough. So the idea of like, I always want my partner to be engaged and I have a fear that like if at any point they're bored, I won't recognize it if I'm focusing on the rope per se.

Wren [00:02:53] Yeah, and it sounds like you realize that early on, rather than I feel like most people start very, very technical and then bring the bottom in, correct.? Whereas it feels like you do the opposite maybe.

Tom [00:03:05] I definitely had somebody come up to me at an early event when I was tying like a god awful two-rope futo that I had pulled from somebody's Patreon and in the same breath that they leaned down or in the same breath that they said, like, what is this macro made b*******? They lean down and help me untie and retie and actually engage with my partner, which is, which is great.

Wren [00:03:26] That's awesome. Do you remember who did that for you?

Tom [00:03:29] Yes. That's the style of feedback that I very much prefer, it's somebody from Austin.

Wren [00:03:32] I love that. So with online education, do you use a lot of online stuff now or like how are you mainly in taking new info?

Tom [00:03:42] I love watching people tie who are like proficient at it. I think a lot of the nuance of like how you finish something or how you start and the hand movement and how they engage, it's been the primary method of online education that I saw recently. I think RopuNawa put out the most recent like intermediate pack of videos that I purchased that was really good. Shibari Study has been great for either recommending the people or like keeping up on the live classes that I have been enjoying. But YouTube and the free stuff, I kind of tend to stay away from for the past couple of years.

Wren [00:04:15] Yeah, YouTube is kind of a mixed bag.

Tom [00:04:17] It's a very mixed bag. My favorite thing to do is take like experienced bottoms who visit and make them watch like the – here's a pattern that I did on YouTube type videos, the like eight minute on a mannequin. Uff.

Wren [00:04:30] Oh, that's great. Yeah. Yeah.

Tom [00:04:32] Different version of suffering.

Wren [00:04:33] Well, look, a mannequin, you know, doesn't really give a lot of feedback. So sometimes it can be a really fun experience.

Tom [00:04:39] What's why they them, right.

Wren [00:04:42] So you taught a class called Rope for sadistic a*******.

Tom [00:04:47] Oh, God.

Wren [00:04:47] Can you tell me a little bit about how you structure pain in a rope sequence?

Tom [00:04:52] That is a great question. So I think one of my other core rope memories, I think about a year into being lost in patterns and kind of resetting that somebody came up from San Antonio and they were recommended by Kim, who I taught that class with as the first and only person to make them cry with rope. And so I thought, like, I really got to go see what this is about. His style of teaching and tying was like, You apply rope and you step on it to add tension until you hear noises or see pain reactions, and then you reverse tension and go a different way. And it blew my mind that like rope was something that you could more or less use to reconnect rather than something that you had to like sit there and rack your brain thinking of the pattern where you apply whatever.

Wren [00:05:34] Yeah. And you said you were lost in patterns for a while. How did you get out of that? Like, what was the spark that got you out of being so concerned with the patterns and things.

Tom [00:05:44] Was more or less a lack of self-awareness, I think, around like, what was actually happening, right? Like, it's easy to see in other people's scenes. It's hard to see in yours. And so, like opening up to feedback, going to therapy a bunch, having very compassionate partners who held my hand for the first couple of years of like, Oof, there's some painful videos of me like trying to take down a partner for two and a half minutes while they're single pointing a futo. It's, it's a journey.

Wren [00:06:07] It is. What are some things that you did in the beginning or do now when something's going wrong? Do you have a mantra that you say to yourself? Do you have some way that you reset in a scene, something like that?

Tom [00:06:20] Yeah, I think like a deep breath and a reconnection and like, I haven't had like a panic emergency take down moment in a minute, but just being able to smoothly and calmly talk through that and then having a plan that I know that – it's probably not through repetition that I wouldn't like to go back and pay that tax again. But knowing that if anything does go wrong, I have the ability to circle back and reconnect with my partner after has been a big like – if it's going wrong in the scene, I don't fear it enough that I keep going with whatever plan I had. We just take a breath and say like, Hey, this isn't working for us. Like, what can we do to pivot since we're here and we want to tie? And maybe the energy that we anticipated showing up today (inaudible) is what we want to do in somebody's living room or whatever event we're at.

Wren [00:07:01] Yeah, and a lot of people don't talk about that, but it's happened to literally everyone. You know, everyone's met in a situation where they're like, this isn't going great and someone's been in a single futo for too long while you're trying to get them down, like it's a common thing and it's not talked about enough because we expect people to have these pristine track records and it's just not.

Tom [00:07:21] Oh yeah, for every pristine track record you've, I don't know of a single person who's risk profile or skill set is currently calibrated not on some sort of mistake in the past that they regret.

Wren [00:07:31] So you travel a lot, right?

Tom [00:07:34] Yeah. Yeah.

Wren [00:07:35] That's awesome.

Tom [00:07:35] I have a job that we fly for work a bunch, and it's easy to pull up FetLife and see what rope events are going on in what town.

Wren [00:07:40] Well, I'm actually curious about that, too, because you seem like a very methodical human being. Europe is super clean and put together. What is your background in?

Tom [00:07:52] I played poker professionally for a long time, so I have like a weird mathematical slash structured approach to a lot of things, and I probably pull a lot from that. But it's a little bit of that, a little bit of ADHD and math mixed in.

Wren [00:08:05] When you're playing poker professionally, what does that look like? What are you doing on a minor scale while you're playing a game? I don't really understand that.

Tom [00:08:17] It's a lot of fun and it's it's like, what are you doing in a rope scene, right? So there's there's a lot of nuance that goes into your core approach and what you believe and like what you fall back on. I think for me, I started playing online and I applied the mathematical concepts of like, what does the math say in this situation? How much do I have to bet to actually know what's in the middle? What's my equity in this hand? Are you going to win or lose? When you get to showdown? Do you need to bluff? What opponent are you doing? And then you fall back on the core principles usually of like even if I know that in like a paper, scissors, rocks analogy, right? If I'm meeting somebody who has stamped on their forehead, like I always throw rock that I need to know, I need to adjust to throw paper 100% of the time rather than whatever it is. So it's a fun game of information exchange and how well, you know the math behind the cards.

Wren [00:09:01] Wow. That is absolutely fascinating. What are the biggest parallels between poker and rope bondage? Are there any?

Tom [00:09:11] There are and I think it's it's a hard thing to discuss, but I've definitely tried to in Austin that I think I calibrate risk profiles differently than everybody else. And it sounds a little bit sociopathic when you get down to it. But your idea with poker is that every move has an expected outcome with whatever random chance. And so you'll apply like percentages to it, I refer for lack of a better term. So I did the like risk calibration early on of like what does this up-line cost me financially and how much am I willing risk dropping somebody on their head. And if I do, what's the like monetary outcome that I would pay to abate that? And then backing into the calculation of like how much should I spend on my appliance or what should I recycle my kit?

Wren [00:09:53] Wow. Very, very thought out. That's incredible. I don't think anyone else has that perspective.

Tom [00:10:02] It was an interesting one. There's, there's actually one more person up in Seattle that played poker professionally for a little bit, too, that when we found out – we've been best friends.

Wren [00:10:10] That's so cool. And I think I know who you're talking about. And now that I hear that, it makes total sense. In your travels, like when you see people tie, what do you think makes good rope and what do you think some of the intangibles are that people do that are really, really hard to teach?

Tom [00:10:28] I think the like core of interacting with the partner that I've seen across communities is really interesting. And there are some communities who start with that as their like growing piece. They had influence early on for people who otherwise had like martial art, dance, background type influence, and watching them go through the like motion of tying is really, really interesting. The people who had the more like technical approach or the approach that was like telephone game through some core tenet of that is is always the one that's a little bit several steps removed, right? They're like we're doing it to do the acrobatic thing rather than the we're doing it to like interact thing.

Wren [00:11:03] Yeah, I feel like kink is one of the only things that has such diversity because 99% of people have other lives outside of the rope bondage that they do or the kink activities they do, and they all bring that in, whether it's martial arts or poker or anything like that. How do you do an intake negotiation process since you are a poker player?

Tom [00:11:30] I have changed that so many times. So I'm very Type A and I had like a negotiation sheet and I think there's this concept that I pulled from my day job, which is a little bit management baked in. It's called like task relevant maturity. And the idea is that like beginners need checklists, intermediate people need to understand the why behind the checklist and explore it. And advanced people need to like have a bigger framework for how that checklist is applied. So I think like checklists and negotiation are great, so you don't forget something, but at some point they enter like the upper limit of what you can achieve and or like how b****, for lack of a better term, you're going to be about the thing that you're doing. Which is why the first question on my intake checklist or like the negotiation sheet was like, What are you worries about? Right? Like, what are we creating or both excited about? From there, though, it's gone from like having a Google form, which somebody in Houston recommended as like a process that they thought achieved enthusiastic consent in their thing and did it in a way that wasn't coercive or allowed people to like, think away from the stress of the first negotiation and meet, I think like meeting prior for coffee definitely helps. It's all depends on the frequency your tying with somebody and how you interact.

Wren [00:12:36] That is a huge thing. Trying to meet before and just like saying hi and stuff, it's like makes a massive, massive difference.

Tom [00:12:43] Mm-hmm.

Wren [00:12:45] Can you tell me a little about the local group in Austin?

Tom [00:12:48] Yeah. We have a lot of interesting stuff happening after the pandemic, particularly, I think the pandemic brought in a bunch of new people who haven't been introduced to, like necessarily the wider community or like rope events that have happened in the post COVID era of what does it look like without masks? Does it look like with risk profiles that people come in with? So Austin Rope Slingers is the primary big one that runs every Monday night. They've been a core part of the Austin community for however long they've been running. For five plus years now, at least. Long before that, certainly. But they've been running every Monday night. Kim and Knisley out of ATX Empty Space does open rope every other Tuesday night, which has been amazing. Bliss runs that with her. It's been really good. And then we have like monthly parties at Shriner TNG, those have been great too.

Wren [00:13:32] That's awesome. Earlier when you're talking about consent negotiations and things like that, we were recently talking about Lief's, our friend Lief Bound's c** dungeon theory of safety, which I think is so funny. Our friend Lief essentially said that in a – that dungeons used to look like dungeons. They used to have an inherent risk when you walk in, much like when I was getting tattooed early on, it was on a weight bench. And now these places like dungeons and tattoo parlors that look like Apple stores.

Tom [00:14:08] It's really interesting that we're hearing Lief say it, it's like, I can't imagine 18 year old Lief walking in and thinking like, I have to keep my shoes on because there's c** on everything and I don't want that like... But it puts you in an entirely different mindset of how I approach people that I interact with. And when you walk into spaces now and there's there's clouds on the wall and it's empty space in yoga mats in the corner, I can imagine how in the frenzy of initially being introduced, you drop your guard and think like, Sure, like this person who asked me to come over to their place in tie, why would I not? But you need to keep your guard up. And the idea that we've sanitized in some way, shape and form that out of the aspect, I think is possibly introducing a little bit more danger that's, that's unaware for the people who are being introduced.

Wren [00:14:52] Yeah we've sanitized the whole Instagram thing as well. You miss all the context of everything going on. I was recently at Folsom. I was tying with KissMeDeadlyDoll and people were coming up and asking if we knew each other, if we tied together before and I was like, You just don't understand this at all. That's crazy.

Tom [00:15:15] Yeah. It's hard to do what y'all did. I'm sure it's like a total pick up from lack of a better.

Wren [00:15:19] Yeah. Yeah, hat's like, that's not how it works.

Tom [00:15:22] I think it's interesting to see across context in cities how people interact. So I've seen a lot not only like traveling too, but seeing people across cities who meet in otherwise, like they don't bring the awareness of the culture of their city into the context of how they negotiate new plays too. You end up with different paradigms of like an introductory scene from somebody on the East Coast that I've seen tie in, introductory scene from somebody who came from, let's say, Northwest. It's a totally different application of this two hour thing that I'm expecting is not a 30 minute intense thing that you're expecting or vice versa.

Wren [00:15:53] It is really wild when you like see how different people engage and things around the country. That's really, really wild. You said that you're new to camera and video work, and from looking at Instagram, I would not think you're new to this whatsoever because your photos are beautiful and they capture the core of what you're doing. They're always focused on your rope bottom. It's never about your rope, it's about the bottom, which I really appreciate it.

Tom [00:16:18] Thank you. Yeah, that's been a journey to craft. I think I started and had my cell phone and would like pull away and almost had this like anxiety of a row tax for people that I tied, right. They love to post three photos I had to get three ones that were different enough that look like not the same thing twice. And that took me out of the moment. And so like introducing a camera and saying like, I'm doing this so that I can capture things that I'm appreciating. It's not something that you have to pose for, interact with was big and I think I had originally like a tripod in the corner of a room that I put on video and somebody, when I told a joke like curtsey towards the camera and it just took me immediately out of the moment of like, this is a person in the room that I don't want to be here. So now I try to like throw the camera around on the floor, which is why a lot of the angles are just purposefully not good so that the camera is not set up so that you can track it in your mind because that's not something I want you to be doing if we're tying together.

Wren [00:17:10] It's so funny you said not good with big air quotes because in my opinion, the quote unquote not goodness is what makes it so good. Because it makes me feel like I could be there. Because it looks and I don't use, I don't mean this negatively but more amateur than a studio set which isn't hot because we know it's produced. But when it comes from your iPhone and there's one where you have a rope bottom and your phone looks like it's, like you got thrown in the corner and happened to catch it, that's so hot.

Tom [00:17:45] When I have the like fully zoomed out, full set photo, I end up judging what I'm doing a lot more because it's hard to craft like a perfectly aesthetic living room of rope thing, whatever. Like the lighting is never perfect. The rope and angle that you end up with is never square. You have lines that don't work whatever. The like, throwing around of the camera does help me appreciate what's happening in a way that like, even if I can't see the thing that's being tied directly like the expression that people make through their extremities or like what they do with their feet to self-soothe and how their toes like overlap and touch. There's there's beauty in that that like if you take a step back and appreciate is, is what really I think I've shared in a lot of the videos in the past year that I've found unique and special.

Wren [00:18:24] Yeah, no one cares about the plant in the background and if they do, you're doing something wrong, right? I also feel like as a bottom, I love when a camera's like just kind of in my face and look at me versus like when you're like leave. So it sounds like you've gotten a really good relationship with the camera in the scene.

Tom [00:18:47] Yeah, Yeah, I like where we're at now.

Wren [00:18:49] The other thing that when I think of your name, I always think about up-lines. I think about the videos that you make with the up-lines and I just really love them. They're so meditative. Like during quarantine I remember doing my little up-line practice with you and have you on the video.

Tom [00:19:05] Ah, I'm so glad.

Wren [00:19:06] I loved it.

Tom [00:19:07]  It's something that I think was a trauma response to my like two and a half minute taking my partner down from my futo I think.

Wren [00:19:14] Oh, that makes sense.

Tom [00:19:16] Easy to practice alone and like the webbing slash whatever exercise I go through my kit, it'd be a method to condition it, but it really helped manage the rope ends as there are like Munter hitch through so you get a lot of finger dexterity practice through that. I will say my favorite thing though was that didn't translate to like how you put rope on the body. And one of my partners who is otherwise very reserved it seems like in their interaction at the end of our scene was just like for somebody who practices as much as you do, your rope handling is mediocre at best. It was, it was a beautiful moment of just like accepting that they would not have said that to me if they didn't feel safe with me. And so I think I just laughed. And that's been an inside joke for for a long time since then.

Wren [00:19:55] Well, I feel like that's why you're awesome. It's because your ego didn't get hurt. And the worst thing is that if you're like, if you got hurt and you're upset about that, but... Are you still doing the webbing and things like that.

Tom [00:20:09] Much less often. But yeah, I reserve it for like when I get a new kit, that's how I'll break it in. Now it's an easy way to get it smooth enough to go on the body and keep up the dexterity, but it's much less often than it was before.

Wren [00:20:21] That's awesome. Are there any final words on connection that you would like to share? Maybe your journey of connecting with your rope bottom? Anything you found out throughout the years of you doing rope and things like that, or any hurdles you had to overcome that that are hard to get over?

Tom [00:20:42] I think I joked at some point when my up-line started being less, less of a practice point, I started going to therapy, and I think therapy has been the number one thing, It's done a lot for my rope. It got a lot better when I started consistently going to therapy, and that says a lot about where I was when I started.

Wren [00:20:59] But you're the second person to say that on this podcast. I'd like to be clear.

Tom [00:21:05] It's just, it's so true, right? Like, you can't actually bring enough self-awareness to what you're doing or how it's actually received or what you're hearing back. And it's it's a vulnerable experience on both sides.

Wren [00:21:15] It really is.

Tom [00:21:15] If you can't hold some space for yourself and compassion, you can't do that for your partner.

Wren [00:21:19] Yeah. Wow. Amazing words.

Tom [00:21:23] Thanks.

Wren [00:21:24] I love that. Well, everyone should go to therapy after this. We have a promo code for therapy for everyone. Mainly, I want to thank you for being on and sharing your experience. You're amazing and I hope to actually meet in real life one day.

Tom [00:21:41] Yeah. I much appreciated, same. We've done this online far too often.

Wren [00:21:45] I know, right? Well, I will talk to you soon. Cheers.


There’s micro-bondage and then there’s micro-bondage… Rigged Threads is an embroidery artist who translates all the complexity of Shibari into miniature!


There’s micro-bondage and then there’s micro-bondage… Rigged Threads is an embroidery artist who translates all the complexity of Shibari into miniature!

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio

Adrian, known as Rigged Threads, makes rope-inspired embroidery. Her art has been shown in galleries across the US.


Wicked Wren [00:00:18] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. Today I'm speaking with Adrian, the creator of Rigged Thread. Adrian makes stunning rope-inspired embroidery and her art has been shown in galleries across the US. Welcome to the show, Adrian.

Rigged Thread [00:00:35] Thanks for having me.

Wicked Wren [00:00:36] Is it true that when you're stitching hair you use tiny little rollers to curl the hair on the models?

Rigged Thread [00:00:46] Yeah. Yeah. On some of them. There's one that has red hair and I found plastic straws, which was right when plastic straws were also banned from the world. So I had to find these plastic straws and roll the hair and then put little bobby pins in it. And that was, that was fun. I felt very proud of myself for that one.

Wicked Wren [00:01:12] How did you come up with that?

Rigged Thread [00:01:14] So there's a few artists who are really, really good with embroidered hair and I messaged one of them and I was just like, How are you so good? And she was like, I can't tell you my tricks because I need to stay employed. And I was like, Valid. She's like, But really just look at hair and think about how hair works and you will get a lot better at doing hair. And I was like, Okay. And so I started paying more attention to how the color in hair works from like the nape to the neck to the front of the head. How the cut, like how your stylist cuts your hair, how it falls. And so one of the things I'm most proud of in my progression is like when I look at my original stuff, the hair kind of looks like a broom in my mind. And then it gets progressively more hair-like. So the rollers were just like, okay, well, how do you make any hair curly? You put it in rollers, so let's try it.

Wicked Wren [00:02:24] The hair that you have is dead on. And also the rope is too. I've heard that you used small tweezers in order to get the different knots and frictions and things.

Rigged Thread [00:02:34] Yeah. And there are sometimes where I like learned how to do the knot before I made the piece. But ultimately, you know, you can't recreate a 3D tension on a 2D body that's also fabric. It just isn't going to work exactly. I try to mimic it as close as possible. That's also part of the reason why I don't know many of the names because I just like looking very intensely at them. And so some of the frictions are the exact frictions, and then I'll pin them down and sell them. Other times I kind of cheat and just make them look like the knot they're supposed to look like.

Wicked Wren [00:03:21] And you learned how to embroider from your grandmother, right? What were some of the first things that you stitch with her?

Rigged Thread [00:03:27] I actually still have this little button creature that we made where we took buttons and stacks of it. It looks kind of like a little person, a little voodoo doll of buttons. And that was one of the first things that we made together. I don't have any of the things that she and I made together, but I distinctly remember the smell of the basement where I learned how to stitch. And she taught me how to tie the knot. And I'm, I wish I could show you, but you essentially lick your two fingers, roll your thread around your finger and like, roll your pointer finger against your thumb. And she would have me do that on repeat until I could get the knot done really, really quickly.

Wicked Wren [00:04:18] When your mom saw your art, she said that she was concerned.

Rigged Thread [00:04:23] Oh, yeah. Yeah. There was a lot of crying. My mom and I are close now. We've had tricky as most parents and children do.

Wicked Wren [00:04:39] Definitely.

Rigged Thread [00:04:39] Yeah. But she is very emotional and very willing to tell me how she's feeling and also very willing to listen to me. So I feel really lucky. Like, I kind of knew I was like, okay, I'm going to tell my family I'm doing this because I am literally so proud of myself. My mom, you know, cried a lot and essentially started telling me about a friend of hers who had entered a S/M relationship. And that relationship didn't go very well. And so my mom and I sort of hashed all of this out. And it came down to she, like many people, conflate S/M relationships with abuse. And so we sort of talked about, quote on quote, normal relationship can also be abusive and how I feel like I'm pretty, a pretty solid person. And also just we established I will never talk to my mom about sex. By me telling you about my embroidery, of my successes and my pride and something beautiful that I'm making, I am not necessarily telling you about my sex life.

Wicked Wren [00:06:01] It sounds like your embroidery was a catalyst for growth between your mother and you.

Rigged Thread [00:06:06] Yeah, it was. Honestly like there is this point in time where I didn't understand, like internet anonymity, how to, like, stay safe on the internet, essentially. So I had my rigged thread account connected to my personal Facebook and then my mom got up like, Do you know this person? And I was like, Oh, hell no. And she was the one who literally, when I say screenshot, she took a physical photo of her computer screen and texted it to me.

Wicked Wren [00:06:36] Like a true mom.

Rigged Thread [00:06:38] Like a true mom. She was like, You need to stay safe. But yeah, it was a learning curve that she helped me with.

Wicked Wren [00:06:49] That's amazing. Like, yeah, it seems like you two both benefited from that.

Rigged Thread [00:06:54] And honestly, like, at this point, she'll sometimes sort of allude to it and she'll do like my artistic endeavors in general. Because now I'm making more leatherwork than embroidery and she'll sort of just inquire about my belts and bags and we say sort of truce when we want to. And yeah, we have an ability and she has an ability to sort of ask questions in an obtuse way, and I will answer them in an obtuse way.

Wicked Wren [00:07:33] Speaking of asking, the first thing when you visit your website is a phrase that says 'There is joy in asking'.

Rigged Thread [00:07:41] That's something that I really love. I really love this process, which is that behind the scenes for each piece that I make, which is a conversation, I always ask the model, the photographer and anyone else who's cited in the original picture, and I say cited and sort of tags on purpose. And so I contact all of those people and I ask them if it's like chill if I move forward with this. And the answer is very often yes. And as I progress, if I want to make any edits to it, I will also ask. So sometimes in the original photo, someone will be wearing clothes and I'll ask to either edit it or change it or remove them, or move some of them or change their hair color or something like that. And I've gotten a variety of responses. Sometimes people like no, clothes stay on or you can change what I'm wearing, but they need to stay on. You can change the color of my hair, but please keep the length the same. And I feel like that's an important conversation as art is made from that image of that person's body and that person's representation of themselves. Because, you know, a lot of work went into making that original photo and negotiating that original image and between the people who made it and then the person who is presenting themselves how they want to be seen. And so I want to respect that process and sort of move that process forward as it become abstracted from that person originally. But why not keep them in the conversation? And I think that kind of keeps that person more involved and more in actually in the embroidery that I make. And I also just love the conversations that I have after it. Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:09:37] Having that input and having those constraints I feel like makes better art.

Rigged Thread [00:09:42] Agreed. My professional background is science, and as you're writing in science, you always cite the people who kind of came up with stuff before you. And I love that about science. It's like that idea of you're standing on the shoulders of giants and all that, but nobody's ideas are an island. And pretending that they are is actually, I think, silly and almost disrespectful. Every image that I make comes from inspiration. The conversations, the beauty, the practice, the skill, the sometimes pain of the people involved and I want to honor that and be like, You're a part of this thing that I'm making, and I couldn't make it without you. So thank you.

Wicked Wren [00:10:33] You seem like a really good collaborator.

Rigged Thread [00:10:35] I try to be. I try to be.

Wicked Wren [00:10:38] Did you find science first or art first? What was the first love?

Rigged Thread [00:10:43] They are intertwined. I see them as, I see them as similar and I'm really grateful that more and more people are seeing intersections between science and art and that artists are finding ways to display scientific understanding. And scientists are like, okay, I can't convey this image without a really dope artist to help me. All knowledge is, I think, more fully understood when it's words and images and numbers - I also like math a lot - are put together. If you can represent things in multiple modalities, then you can see different aspects of it. You know, you take a picture of one angle, it looks really great. You take a picture from a different angle and you're like, Oh, that sucks. I think having multiple modalities is the same thing as pictures from different angles.

Wicked Wren [00:11:38] You've spoken about radicalizing embroidery, and I feel like that's kind of what you're doing right now with your art is your combining all these different things together. What does radicalizing art or embroidery mean?

Rigged Thread [00:11:52] I feel lucky that there's a lot of people that have kind of taken the skill of embroidery and put it to concepts that no one had before. You think of embroider pieces like little old lady who's making little napkins, and if you do any internet searching for embroidery, now it's all like, F*** this s***.

Wicked Wren [00:12:16] Yeah, very irreverent.

Rigged Thread [00:12:18] Boys will be held accountable for their actions.

Wicked Wren [00:12:20] Yes.

Rigged Thread [00:12:21] You know, all this feminist embroidery out there and all this pro-queer embroidery out there and just people are taking something that is very analog, very, almost antiquated and being like, No, we're going to apply it to the issues and the concepts that are happening right now that are really important to us. And for some reason, when you curse in embroidery, it sounds like way more cool.

Wicked Wren [00:12:49] Yes.

Rigged Thread [00:12:50] And way more intentional. There's a piece where somebody embroidered this big thing that's like, I'm so mad I had to stab something 3000 times and it's literally a giant embroidered protest coup. And there is something really magical about stabbing the word f*** into something.

Wicked Wren [00:13:12] Yes.

Rigged Thread [00:13:12] And that goes even farther into the people who are really researching the history of textiles and how it's actually been a radical field for years and years. And that patterns meant things in the railroad underground, in quilts, and that all of these histories of, quote on quote, women's work. But now is everyone's work, thankfully, has all of these little clues and messages of a better world that we could make a more inclusive world, a more dope world. And it's just really exciting that people are putting it out there and this really usable medium. It's not just hidden away in sort of academic text anymore. People are making things and then quoting academic text in their Instagram posts and being like, This is why this is dope.

Wicked Wren [00:14:10] It's funny how you said the whole stabbing thing. We never think about embroidery being so aggressive. We never think about that part of it.

Wicked Wren [00:14:20] No, I mean, you don't until you have to untangle your like 14th knot of a piece and you're just like, Goddamn it, this stupid thread. It's trying to get me.

Wicked Wren [00:14:30] So what do you do when something's not going right, when your piece just isn't happening or you're failing?

Wicked Wren [00:14:37] Oh, well, there's one piece where I completely took out the person's face and superimposed a different face on top of there. It was, it's not my favorite. Sometimes I power through.

Wicked Wren [00:14:51] As we all do.

Rigged Thread [00:14:53] Luckily, fabric is pretty resilient. You can undo stitches multiple times, and there are definitely pieces where I'll see them and just be like, Yeah, that nose took me 14 tries and the fabric almost ripped. I'm not very good at stopping things. I'm not very good at abandoning things, so I've actually posted my very, very, very first piece. I think is terrible. But I was like, you know, I'm gonna post it because I do not want to hide behind my perfectionism. I want to make this visible because everything is a learning process.

Wicked Wren [00:15:42] That's really powerful to say. I do the same thing where in the beginning I do a couple of things and I will never post them. And I realize that my perfectionism is actually just me being afraid.

Rigged Thread [00:15:52] Yeah, it's actually an interesting point because right now I'm dealing with the perfectionism of having Covid really mess up any skill that I had in actually doing rope. I was starting to feel confident in my abilities to put rope on a person and then Covid happened and I moved. Now I'm trying to get back into the swing of it and it is really scary. So I'm trying really hard to not hide behind my perfectionism in as many modalities as possible in terms of my embroidery. I have that first piece up, the leather work that I'm doing. I try to put out errors or things that I'm trying to grow at and in actual shibari, I'm trying to just be like, okay, I'm going to get better. Yeah, it'll be safe as I get better.

Wicked Wren [00:16:51] So in regards to rope, I've heard you say that you're more excited than skilled right now.

Rigged Thread [00:16:56] Yes, I am more excited than skilled.

Wicked Wren [00:16:59] What does that mean? And I ask because I think many, many people feel the exact same thing that you feel.

Rigged Thread [00:17:06] Yeah, I definitely have a lot of the conversation whenever I'm starting to tie somebody new or newer is around. Like I'm going to apologize periodically. I'm not going to be super rope-toppy. There's going to be a lot of giggles. I am going to have to undo things, and that's where I am right now. I think that's partially to keep myself understanding that it is okay to be where I am and where I am is exactly where I should be based off of the amount of practice that I've had. And that's something that I feel really lucky about. If I really think about how many times a week do I practice, which is once, if I am lucky, then the technical skills that I have match exactly the amount of practice that I put in. But every time I'm ready to practice, I'm so excited to do it that I'm like, okay, I'm going to try something new. And the understanding that I should build in a lot of time to practice the stuff I feel already good at before I try something new has been really helpful. So I sort of forced myself to practice something I've already done and focus on a different aspect of it and that's been really nice and what ends up happening in that, because I am sort of forcing myself to slow down and not let the excitement push me into something that I might not be ready for or just into this new territory. I'm getting better at this skills that make the whole flow better. I'm not apologizing as often for something that I shouldn't apologize for, not the nervous topology of learning that sometimes happens. Or I'll realize that I'm breathing better and then the person I'm tying is breathing more comfortable. And so it's less about practicing the where does the rope go, but more about practicing the energy exchange. And when I've sort of started focusing on that, the skill and the excitement were more matched than the excitement kind of taking over and the skill aspect of it being like, Wait, you're leaving behind.

Wicked Wren [00:19:35] Then it really allows you to focus on who you're trying to connect with.

Rigged Thread [00:19:39] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:19:39] You had your art displayed at a dungeon, correct?

Rigged Thread [00:19:43] A few?

Wicked Wren [00:19:44] How is it seeing your art in a kink space specifically?

Rigged Thread [00:19:48] I love it. It's so fun to watch people look at the art because then I get to become the voyeur and I don't stand there and I'm like, This is mine. I'll kind of like, be lurking in the shadows, weirdly. And the thing I like the most is watching them want to touch it, but know that they can't because it's art.

Wicked Wren [00:20:14] Yes. It's the golden rule everyone knows.

Rigged Thread [00:20:18] Do not touch the art. But then, they're also like, This is embroidery and you're allowed to touch fabric and you're, I'm touching fabric. And so, like, sometimes people will sneak a little hair flip, and I'm fine with that. I touch the thing for hours. Yes. I've actually watched people, like, swap their friends hands away, and that's kind of weirdly hot.

Wicked Wren [00:20:43] So the real reason why you make this is so you can fulfill your voyeuristic fantasies.

Rigged Thread [00:20:48] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:20:51] So where are you going from here? What's next? What do you have coming up?

Rigged Thread [00:20:55] Last year, I sort of put out some posts where I was like, I am retiring from embroidery. I am not doing this anymore. That is clearly a lie. I have really enjoyed making leather and I definitely am going to be doing that for a long time. But you can't really bring leather on trips. And as travel will become a part of my life again, I think embroidery will come back. It was really nice. I just took a trip. It was really nice to do embroidery while traveling. But right now, a lot of my time is spent in my garage making leather stuff, and I feel really happy about that.

Wicked Wren [00:21:37] Well, I want to thank you for being on and sharing your story. It's fascinating and I can't wait to see more of your embroidery and your leather creations.

Rigged Thread [00:21:46] Thank you. This is wonderful.

Wicked Wren [00:21:48] Oh, amazing. Well, I will talk to you very soon.

Rigged Thread [00:21:51] All right. Bye.


In this episode, Cam Damage and Wren chat about personal journeys and rope journeys, where they intersect and where they diverge.


In this episode, Cam Damage and Wren chat about personal journeys and rope journeys, where they intersect and where they diverge.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Cam Damage is a trans-masculine non-binary actor, director, kinky content creator and self-proclaimed "agony enthusiast".

Wren [00:00:17] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wren. In this episode, I chat with my friend Cam Damage. Cam is a director, a performer, and an editor. He has his own podcast. He's amazing. He's one of my best friends.

Cam [00:00:32] I sound so prolific and, you know, thank you so much.

Wren [00:00:37] You're so welcome. That's what I do, you know. I make everyone look good.

Cam [00:00:41] Yeah.

Wren [00:00:41] You are a general agony enjoyer.

Cam [00:00:45] Yeah. It used to be in my Instagram info back in the day. It was agony enthusiast.

Wren [00:00:50] I know. I love that. And also a Russ Cole fan club.

Cam [00:00:54] Yep. I may need to bring back the agony enthusiast. It was a great one.

Wren [00:00:57] Yeah, I really like that one. I liked it so much I used it for your intro just now.

Cam [00:01:01] Yeah, that was really good of you.

Wren [00:01:02] So you kind of love everything, honestly. And ropes on are your favorite pieces of pain, if you will?

Cam [00:01:11] Oh, I love – I was like, love everything in life or –

Wren [00:01:14] No, there's a lot of life you don't enjoy.

Cam [00:01:17] Yeah. In terms of in the agony –.

Wren [00:01:19] Yes.

Cam [00:01:20] And ecstasy fields.

Wren [00:01:21] Yes.

Cam [00:01:22] Yes. Got you.

Wren [00:01:23] You've been into rope for a while and you started on the East Coast, right?

Cam [00:01:27] Yes.

Wren [00:01:28] Yes and then you recently moved over to the West Coast.

Cam [00:01:30] Yeah, well, technically, I started in the Midwest, if we're really splitting rope hairs here.

Wren [00:01:40] And you talked about you figured out rope on your own, and then you found a scene.

Cam [00:01:47] Yes.

Wren [00:01:48] That you joined. What were the big differences and like, why did you find a scene? Why did you think it was important to do that?

Cam [00:01:54] I was shown rope initially by a partner. Like an now ex-partner. And just was like tied a few times and was like, Oh, this is really cool. And then started self-tying and I didn't even know that scenes existed really.

Wren [00:02:14] Yeah.

Cam [00:02:15] I wasn't introduced to it in a way that was like, Oh, and then we go to this party or, Oh, these things exist and we go to them or any of that. I just thought it was a lot of people at home or whatever. Like just tying and that a lot of people were like me that were just like, Well, I'm just tying myself up. Like sitting around in the evening.

Wren [00:02:35] Yeah.

Wren [00:02:37] But then circumstances unfolded that I moved to Baltimore, which at the time was like the rope hub.

Wren [00:02:49] There's a lot going on.

Cam [00:02:50] Yeah. For like many reasons. And I already had – I don't even remember the original question, but I'm going to keep talking.

Wren [00:02:59] Keep going. You're doing so good.

Cam [00:03:01] I had acquaintances there already via the internet. Can I shout out scene names?

Wren [00:03:07] Yeah, please.

Cam [00:03:08] Shout out to EbiBex and DWL, who are amazing people.

Wren [00:03:12] Big up.

Cam [00:03:13] Big ups. If you ever have the chance to take one of the classes, you should do it. Anyway, so I moved to Baltimore and they took me under their group wings and introduced me to the scene. And what I feel like was a very awesome, positive and productive way.

Wren [00:03:29] I thought that you were going to do like a shrimp flaps with Ebi.

Cam [00:03:32] Shrimp flaps.

Wren [00:03:34] I was like, she took me under shrimp flaps.

Cam [00:03:36] That sounds negative.

Wren [00:03:38] Well, a lot of people would be –

Cam [00:03:42] Not, not thrilled about that.

Wren [00:03:44] Not thrilled about that.

Cam [00:03:45] Anyway, so they opened me up to the entire – there is a scene. There's these play parties that happen and they're, like, heavily roped based. There's so much more to it than what people think would be a play party thing or whatever. Even though I had no idea what they were even.

Wren [00:04:00] Yeah.

Wren [00:04:00] To begin with.

Cam [00:04:01] So when you're being tied by your ex-partner in the beginning, it was just kind of like, This is what we're going to do and if you don't like it, you really don't have an agency to say like, Hey, I don't really like this thing because you hardly know what's going on.

Cam [00:04:13] Well when you put it that way... I – although that relationship ended negatively, I wouldn't put it like that. I didn't, I knew...

Wren [00:04:25] Was it because there wasn't that structure of people doing rope around you?

Cam [00:04:30] Yeah.

Wren [00:04:30] Okay, that makes sense.

Cam [00:04:31] And I didn't have any other like, I didn't have safety knowledge. I didn't have anything else like that. Yeah, it was just what she was telling me, like, whatever. And I trusted her, so it was fine and I never got, like, injured or anything. So I was like, It's good, but I don't want to – we're not going to go too into that.

Wren [00:04:50] When did you start to learn to tie?

Cam [00:04:52] So like pretty much immediately after that partner like started to tie me. It was before we were partners. She came on a trip to do photoshoots with me and tied me for one or two maybe, and then left me with some pieces of rope. And I was like sick.

Wren [00:05:13] Sweet.

Cam [00:05:13] Let's do it.

Wren [00:05:15] Yeah.

Cam [00:05:15] And then that started the obsession of – I self-tied like every day for like years.

Wren [00:05:20] That was my next question.

Cam [00:05:21] Yeah, yeah, that's that – I started with, you know, the Karada body harness thingy that everyone does. Yeah, the whatever diamonds. But then, like, learned, like simple futomomo and little silly chest harnesses and whatever, and just a bunch of, like, learning tension and stuff on the ground. All the way to the point of like self-suspending before tying other people really at all.

Wren [00:05:48] Yeah.

Cam [00:05:48] I did a little bit with Brad, but I was really not confident to tie other people ever.

Wren [00:05:53] Absolutely. I had KissMeDeadlyDoll on.

Cam [00:05:56] Yeah.

Wren [00:05:56] And she's also a big self-suspender. And I asked her how she replicates the agony that someone else can put you into yourself if that makes sense?

Cam [00:06:08] Yes.

Wren [00:06:09] How do you do that?

Cam [00:06:11] I think it's like, it's like not really comparable to me. The way that you feel rope when someone else is tying you versus when you're tying yourself. Because when you're self-suspending especially, it's... you're only getting to a moment. Like it's all, it's working really hard generally to get to one moment when you get to like lay into it and be like, Oh, oh, holy shit, like I'm gassed and then play into it and be like, Oh, here's like the hurting part that like, makes me feel good and whatever. But then you have to get your a** back up.

Wren [00:06:47] Yeah and get out.

Cam [00:06:49] And to like do a different position or get out of it. Whereas when someone else is tying you, you can just not worry about any of it and just be in the, in the like feeling of rope the whole time. And so it's much more sporadic in self-tying where you're like, Oh oh.

Wren [00:07:06] Then you met DWL and EbiBex and then started getting tied by other people and tying other people and things like that more.

Cam [00:07:13] Yes, it's still not that much tying other people until like the last year or two, but getting tied by other people. Like for sure. I think that they took me to my first play party ever in Baltimore and I got tied by like two or three different people that night maybe like, yeah.

Wren [00:07:30] That's something about Covid that messes it up. I miss those little play parties. They're really fun.

Cam [00:07:36] They, I did have... They were a really good thing at the point in time when I had them in my life.

Wren [00:07:41] Same. They're really good for that period.

Cam [00:07:43] Yeah.

Wren [00:07:44] Yeah.

Cam [00:07:44] Same with like cons and stuff.

Wren [00:07:46] Yeah.

Wren [00:07:47] But I wouldn't, I, I could maybe go to a party now still, but I don't think I would want to go to a rope con ever again.

Wren [00:07:54] I think a lot of the stuff that I didn't like about rope cons is that it's you kind of go in the rope room and just jerk off in front of everyone. You know and you just kind of show them how amazing you are and whatever. Obviously, there's exceptions to that but it felt like that was kind of what was happening for like me at least. And I was like, this isn't... This is self-serving.

Cam [00:08:17] I felt very inauthentic when I got to the level of teaching. I was like, Who am I to...

Wren [00:08:24] Yes.

Cam [00:08:25] Why? Why am I doing this? And like, what is... Why am I in this position even? Like, I just want to go tie at home, like –

Wren [00:08:30] Yeah, exactly.

Cam [00:08:31] Yeah.

Wren [00:08:32] We talked about something that is wild and is how much rope has taken over parts of our lives during those periods. Like you didn't want to cut your hair forever because you wanted to be able to do hair rope.

Cam [00:08:44] Yep.

Wren [00:08:44] And then both of us getting tattooed. We, I would put those plans on hold.

Cam [00:08:48] Yeah.

Wren [00:08:48] I put massive surgeries on hold for rope.

Cam [00:08:53] Yep.

Wren [00:08:53] These crazy things. It's just wild how that can take over...

Cam [00:08:59] Yeah.

Wren [00:08:59] Your life.

Cam [00:09:00] Literally, I, I've said this to you before, and I've said it online. I've, I've, I halted transitioning essentially.

Wren [00:09:06] Yeah.

Cam [00:09:07] Because of rope. Because I like wouldn't cut my hair. I wouldn't even think about getting top surgery because that meant I couldn't be in a TK for however long. Like the hair was honestly one of the biggest ones, because the hair is what started my whole, like, physical trans journey.

Wren [00:09:23] Yes.

Cam [00:09:24] And I thought in rope bottoming, like, well, you have to have long hair. You have to do hair rope.

Wren [00:09:30] Yeah.

Cam [00:09:30] You have to look beautiful in these shapes. And that means having that and like, there's no other way about it, which of course, is not true. And we all know that's not true. But as these things we internalize in terms of being a rope bottom and having to fit into certain boxes and being like unworthy or not beautiful if you're not like... Like, honestly, like small, thin girls.

Wren [00:09:53] Yes.

Cam [00:09:53] It is what it is.

Wren [00:09:55] So I was recently in a class and the instructor was tying a guy and his arms didn't come together in a strappado and the instructor was like, This is a very difficult bottom to tie. I think that's such a bad way of looking at it because the default is tying thin, flexible women.

Cam [00:10:22] Yes.

Wren [00:10:23] And when you don't fit that mold, you're difficult.

Cam [00:10:27] And how many people do?

Wren [00:10:28] That's the thing, is that they don't.

Cam [00:10:31] Yes.

Wren [00:10:32] Fuoco was on recently.

Cam [00:10:34] Yeah.

Wren [00:10:34] This is just me talking about all the past podcasts I've done with you.

Wren [00:10:37] Well, that's fine.

Wren [00:10:39] But she said that harnesses are taught to riggers in order to give the most success. And I think that's wild because that's honestly what it is, It has nothing to do with the rope bottoms.

Cam [00:10:51] Yes.

Wren [00:10:51] And she said, she hopes that there's a point in time where we look at the arms and say, If the arms do this, this is how they should be tied.

Cam [00:10:59] Yeah.

Wren [00:10:59] Which is amazing.

Cam [00:11:00] And this is how I can alter a thing to a different body shape because there is no...

Wren [00:11:06] That's the thing.

Cam [00:11:06] Sample size. Like, there... yeah.

Wren [00:11:08] Yeah. And when I got into doing rope, I had a lot of issues with TKs. I still do. Strappados are miserable for me. There's a bunch of stuff that sucks for me.

Cam [00:11:18] Yeah.

Cam [00:11:19] And I always had my metric of success on if I could sustain it, ...

Cam [00:11:24] Yes.

Wren [00:11:25] And that's not what it is.

Cam [00:11:26] No, it shouldn't, it shouldn't be.

Wren [00:11:28] No, not at all.

Cam [00:11:29] I mean, it's not supposed to be... If you're doing rope, the odds are you enjoy pain. And certainly, there are ways to do rope where it is not pain focused. But I think for the most part, that's why a lot of us do it. Our endurance pain or whatever type of pain. But there's a difference between getting your arms thrown into a strappado as tight as possible and your fingers going numb before you even get off the ground.

Wren [00:11:53] Yes.

Cam [00:11:54] Pain. And I'm actually suffering in a thing that I... Is meant to and not harmful to my body necessarily.

Wren [00:12:02] Yes.

Cam [00:12:03] And that's a lot of it is really harmful to your bodies and the things that we're doing. I think because of how... I don't mean to put the onus on riggers because... But like it is a lot of like riggers who lose sight of the fact that bottoms are people.

Wren [00:12:20] Yeah.

Cam [00:12:20] With, like, different bodies and capabilities and things like that.

Wren [00:12:24] Yeah.

Cam [00:12:24] I don't know.

Wren [00:12:25] Yeah. And we're not just people that... are rope receptacles.

Cam [00:12:30] Yeah.

Wren [00:12:30] You know.

Cam [00:12:30] Models, quote unquote.

Wren [00:12:31] Yeah.

Cam [00:12:32] I hate that term.

Wren [00:12:33] That's always been goofy to me. You know, I like even less rope bunny.

Cam [00:12:37] Yeah, I agree.

Wren [00:12:38] I don't love it.

Cam [00:12:39] Some people really like it so I'm like you do you.

Wren [00:12:41] I just...Yeah.

Cam [00:12:42] I don't know. I don't know.

Wren [00:12:43] Yeah, I just feel like it has a little bit of, like, this, like, infantilisation too it.

Cam [00:12:47] Yeah.

Wren [00:12:47] Right?

Cam [00:12:48] It does. It feels like it takes agency away from you, even just by saying the name.

Wren [00:12:52] Yeah.

Cam [00:12:53] And you're like, Ooh.

Wren [00:12:54] It's like you're a rope topper rigger.

Cam [00:12:56] Yeah.

Wren [00:12:56] And I'm a bunny.

Cam [00:12:58] I'm just here to be caught. Caught and strung up.

Wren [00:13:01] Catch me.

Cam [00:13:02] Well, that's when you get into primal prey territory, you know?

Wren [00:13:05] Oh, my God. Well, this is the Shibari Study podcast. It's not the

Cam [00:13:09] It's not the BDSM test podcast.

Wren [00:13:13] I am 100% rope top.

Cam [00:13:15] 100% submissive.

Wren [00:13:17] Yes. So with education and learning, have you seen online education change in rope and has online education helped you?

Cam [00:13:28] I feel like it has changed since I started just because it wasn't impossible to find education stuff online when I was like first starting to tie. But the sites weren't the most, like, approachable. Yeah, like consumable. However you want to word it. And it wasn't always the type of rope that you'd want to do. Like it, like it wasn't like Japanese-style shibari or whatever. It would be like very ornamental. Decorative.

Wren [00:13:58] Yes.

Cam [00:13:59] Like whatever type of people. And I don't need to know how to tie a pentagram chest harness.

Wren [00:14:04] Yeah.

Cam [00:14:04] Like, I don't know. It's cute. Whatever. But... And I know there's other ones besides Shibari Study that existed before, but, I mean, I'm not trying to, like, blow smoke up Shibari Study that's here. But they were like one, they were one of the ones that were like, Damn, they really, like, nailed this online education thing.

Wren [00:14:21] And to be clear, this is the place to blow smoke up their house. Yeah, they're paying for this.

Cam [00:14:25] So it's good.

Wren [00:14:26] So you should.

Cam [00:14:27] No, but it's true, though. I don't know. Do you have another...

Wren [00:14:32] One of those like shooting from different angles, like showcasing things. Like, I learned all the fundamentals from Shibari Study, essentially.

Cam [00:14:39] Yeah.

Wren [00:14:39] It's amazing.

Cam [00:14:40] And how they put, how they stress safety.

Wren [00:14:42] Yeah.

Cam [00:14:42] The models and riggers that are all different genders. Body types. Not just white people. That's cool. We love that.

Wren [00:14:53] Yeah, we love to see it.

Cam [00:14:55] They're very diverse, which is awesome. And it doesn't feel like it's like pandering or tokenizing. It's just fucking people doing rope of all different like types.

Wren [00:15:03] The thing that I like about it is I think it's supplements real impersonal education.

Cam [00:15:08] Yes.

Wren [00:15:08] Because if you go in and you're just trying to keep up with learning the pattern of a TK in a class or something like that, which I think is a bit of a problem in teaching in general. But if you learn the basics and know a TK from Shibari Study or you know, some of the different, you know, how to tie different single-column other than just a Somerville or something.

Cam [00:15:31] Yeah.

Wren [00:15:33] That's really helpful and empowers you to go into a class and learn more.

Cam [00:15:37] Yeah. I do think that it's hard because it's not the most accessible, quote unquote hobby to do, but it is something that needs to be learned both in person and like in person where the teacher's in person and you practice on your own as well. So like, I would never like I personally wouldn't say that someone should learn suspension just off of online videos. That feels sketchy to me. That's my risk profile. I'm sure there's people that do, and it's totally fine.

Wren [00:16:08] Yeah, well, I don't look at it as a thing where you're only learning how to suspend someone from online video. I look at it as you are listening to people that know what they're talking about. You're maybe doing it with a backpack on a hard point in your house.

Cam [00:16:26] That's what we would hope.

Wren [00:16:27] Yeah, and then...

Cam [00:16:28] Yes, absolutely. That sounds great.

Wren [00:16:29] And then you're going out and getting in-person instruction.

Cam [00:16:31] Yes. Yeah.

Wren [00:16:32] Like that. That is what you hope.

Cam [00:16:35] Yeah.

Wren [00:16:36] But being very eager in the beginning, it's difficult to not do that.

Cam [00:16:41] I know. For me in the beginning when I first started suspending people. Poor Brad, for one thing. But I had a friend, Sardonic, who was one of the first people to tie to me in Baltimore also. And he's awesome. Look at pictures that I posted on like Tumblr or something of me quote unquote suspending Brad and he was like, Hey, I'd love to show you some things. And he was like So nice.

Wren [00:17:06] Yeah.

Cam [00:17:07] And was basically like, You're going to hurt someone. Here's how you really do this.

Wren [00:17:11] Yeah.

Cam [00:17:11] And like, taught me stuff and that I like, I'm so grateful to this day that he felt that he could interject in my little wrapped up in, like, excited about rope world.

Wren [00:17:22] Yeah.

Cam [00:17:23] Because who fucking knows what I would have done, like, about bad habits I would have, like, gone with if he hadn't been like, Hey, actually.

Wren [00:17:29] Yeah. Yeah, I was really lucky to have people be like, This is how you do something.

Cam [00:17:35] Yeah.

Wren [00:17:35] You know, And I totally did things I shouldn't have done. And I look back at those times and like, I cannot believe brought for myself and someone else in that situation.

Cam [00:17:44] Or that I bottomed for things where I trusted that person and look at those pictures and I'm like, Holy hell, huff!

Wren [00:17:51] Yeah, well, I want to talk about gender and rope. You took a break from rope for a bit?

Cam [00:17:58] Yes.

Wren [00:17:59] And have you come back after you've started transitioning?

Cam [00:18:03] And I think it's hard to say if it was like taking a break or reevaluating. My guess it was just whatever. It's definitely a step back to reevaluate what I was doing with rope and what I wanted from it. And now I am coming back to it but very selectively, I would say. Because I feel like before I stopped doing rope for myself. Like I was doing rope to get... Not always. There were some people I tied with that it was like genuine fun. Like this is how we express ourselves to each other and like, whatever. I'm like KissMeDeadlyDoll. Anyway.

Wren [00:18:48] Just KissMeDeadlyDoll?

Cam [00:18:48] Yeah.

Wren [00:18:48] Yeah

Cam [00:18:50] Anyway. Yeah, truly.

Wren [00:18:53] Lief too.

Cam [00:18:54] She's not, she's not the only one. I would love to have Lief also. Anyway.

Wren [00:18:56] I can set it up.

Cam [00:18:58] Yeah, you know.

Wren [00:18:58] I know.

Cam [00:19:00] You know they?

Wren [00:19:01] I know they.

Cam [00:19:06] But going back to that, I wasn't, I was doing rope for, like, uh, pretty pictures on Instagram. How, how terrible of a position can I get myself in and survive it. I was wanting to tie with people that were like, not like trading cards, but being like, Oh, it's a dream to tie with this person or this and that and like, what's the next con I'm going to and what's the next rope event? And it was just like taking over my life in a way where I didn't... It wasn't healthy. And I was also physically injuring myself and have. I still have injuries from it. Um, and then transitioning kind of made me realize like, oh, I was not, I was not... My life was like in limbo because I was paying so much attention to rope and I wasn't doing things that I really wanted to do with, like other parts of my life.

Wren [00:19:59] Yeah, that makes total sense.

Cam [00:20:01] Yeah. So it's been... What has it been like two years?

Wren [00:20:04] It's been like two years.

Cam [00:20:05] Yeah.

Wren [00:20:07] Something that I haven't been able to replace because I've also taken a little break from rope is that feeling of I survived this.

Cam [00:20:16] Yeah.

Wren [00:20:16] I climb the mountain. Now I get the treat because they were both very much... People that want to do the activity suffer and then get the reward afterwards.

Cam [00:20:26] Yeah.

Wren [00:20:27] And it's hard to replicate that.

Cam [00:20:29] Yes, I honestly can't. I... It's... Other kinks don't compare in the same way to...

Wren [00:20:36] Yeah.

Cam [00:20:37] To the feeling that rope is which sucks because I do like other kink things. Like I love doing impact.

Wren [00:20:43] Yeah.

Cam [00:20:44] But there's, it's, there's something so only rope about the, like journey through it.

Wren [00:20:50] Yes.

Cam [00:20:50] And the like intense prolonged suffering and then coming down whatever and the feeling after and the adds not... I don't know it's, that's like the one big bummer for me is I do miss that shit.

Wren [00:21:04] Yeah. I can't get it from like a hike.

Cam [00:21:05] Yeah. No

Wren [00:21:07] I've tried.

Cam [00:21:08] Different bummer there. But also it's, it's accepting that I'll still get to do those things. It'll just be much less in number because I'm so selective about who I want to do it with now.

Wren [00:21:20] Yeah.

Cam [00:21:21] And I won't be harming my body and covered in like, rope scars.

Wren [00:21:27] Yeah.

Cam [00:21:28] Anymore. So, like, there's, like give and take with it, in my opinion, I don't know.

Wren [00:21:32] So what's next for you? What do you got going on? Tell me about the things you got going on. Don't laugh at me. What do you got going on?

Cam [00:21:38] You know, I'm got this new podcast called The Corn Corner.

Wren [00:21:43] Nice.

Cam [00:21:43] Pretty great. Not a lot of rope-based stuff going on there, but there is silk on corn ears. And I think if someone tried hard enough, they could...

Wren [00:21:54] They could...

Cam [00:21:54] You know, make a little husk rope possibly or something like that.

Wren [00:22:00] I understand.

Cam [00:22:00] Kinkwise, I'm going to Folsom this weekend.

Wren [00:22:02] Nice.

Cam [00:22:02] Maybe do some rope there.

Wren [00:22:03] Nice.

Cam [00:22:04] Definitely do some other kink things. I don't know. I don't think that far ahead in life.

Wren [00:22:09] Yeah, you really are kind of in the moment.

Cam [00:22:10] Yeah. We're month to month here.

Wren [00:22:12] You're a, you have a lot of plates spinning, and then every day you just wake up and keep them spinning.

Cam [00:22:17] Yep. I'm tired.

Wren [00:22:18] Well, you did get some sleep pills recently.

Cam [00:22:22] I slept last night more than I haven't in, like, weeks.

Cam [00:22:25] That's amazing.

Cam [00:22:26] It was great.

Wren [00:22:27] This is losing context for our viewers by last night, we just got back from the airport. We had a sleepover situation.

Cam [00:22:33] Yeah, Yeah.

Wren [00:22:33] Actually, I slept super hard, too.

Cam [00:22:35] Yeah, it was great.

Wren [00:22:36] This is a great podcast.

Cam [00:22:37] Yeah. Slept on a mattress on the floor is good. Actually, I love it. I really love it. Anyway.

Wren [00:22:43] Anyway, well, thank you so much for being on the Shibari Study podcast, and I look forward to having you on the Shibari Study podcast again.

Cam [00:22:53] So, so likewise.

Wren [00:22:56] Bye bye.

Cam [00:22:56] Bye.


Listen in as Miss True Blue gives an insight into herself and talks about about safe(r) rope spaces and how to foster community.


Listen in as Miss True Blue gives an insight into herself and talks about about safe(r) rope spaces and how to foster community.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Miss True Blue is a rope educator who discovered her fascination with rope in her early forties. She is the founder of VoxBody Studio, a dedicated rope space in Oakland that opened in 2017.

Wren [00:00:22] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren. Today I'm speaking with Miss True Blue. She's a community leader in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's a founding member of BARE, the Bay Area Rope Exchange. She's appeared on vice TV and opened VoxBody in 2017, navigating a closure and reopening through the Covid-19 pandemic. She's a rope switch and an advocate of the idea that rope bondage education should be aimed at both sides of the rope. Welcome, Miss True Blue.

True Blue [00:00:55] Thank you. Hi. Thank you for having me.

Wren [00:00:58] You are so welcome. Out of all the hundreds and hundreds of photos that I've seen, I think my favorite one that you've done is you tied this really adorable mango for a fragrance company a couple of years back.

True Blue [00:01:13] Oh, yeah.

Wren [00:01:15] And I thought that that was really cute.

True Blue [00:01:17] That was such a fun exercise because mangoes are tender. They bruise easily. So it was like a real exercise of figuring out how to get proper tension around that mango without liken destroying it. I'm pretty sure that person was doing that campaign in L.A.. So not only did I tie the mango and I think there was a zucchini and a couple other things. Eggplant, I think too. But then I had to ship them down to L.A., like overnight before they like spoiled.

Wren [00:01:52] Did you find that the consent conversations with the mango and the zucchini were different? Did they all have different meanings surrounding themselves?

True Blue [00:02:01] Of course, they did. Of course, they did. Every, you know, encounter is different, right? Mangoe's tenderness is very different than a zucchini's boundary.

Wren [00:02:13] Well, mangoes have kind of been through a lot, so I can see why.

True Blue [00:02:15] Yeah, I was going to say something about the thickness of the skin of the fruits and veggies. But anyway.

Wren [00:02:22] The eggplant has like a huge ego, I imagine, right?

True Blue [00:02:27] Oh, my gosh. Inflated ego of the eggplant.

Wren [00:02:34] Love it. So your name True Blue. It's from the preface of a Christopher Moore book, Sacre Bleu. And I want to read a little excerpt from that. He says, Blue is beauty, not truth. True blue is ruse, a rhyme? It's there, then it's not. Blue is a deeply sneaky color. Blue can be anything blue needs to be. And I was curious why you chose Miss True Blue.

True Blue [00:02:59] Oh, that's so sweet to hear that again. Actually, the name for me predates by decades. That book and me coming across that book. It started – I had a beautiful blue and chic-y ten-speed bike back in the nineties in San Francisco, and I rode my bike everywhere. And my bike was called Tuesday Blue. And then I graduated to a 1968 El Camino that was like midnight, metallic blue. It was the most gorgeous color ever. And that became Tuesday Blue. And then I became a burlesque dancer. And my stage name was Tuesday Blue. And I was actually part of the Black and Blue Burlesque Reveal. And that was the name of our troupe. And then I got the tattoo I have on my wrists, true blue, because those felt like two words I could live with for the rest of my life. I like those two words. I like the, you know, the saying or the loyalty that is implied. And then I encountered rope and kink and kind of dove into the scene and needed you know, at that point, I needed my like F*tLife name. And so I opted for True Blue. And then I think I encountered the book.

Wren [00:04:24] That is so cool. And I kind of figured that the book came at the end of it. What was it like being a burlesque dancer?

True Blue [00:04:32] Oh, my gosh, I loved it. One of the parts of my story for burlesque, which is similar to rope, is that I found these things, quote-unquote, later in my life than other people. Like, I was in my thirties when I got into burlesque and I was in my forties when I discovered my love of rope and kink. So that's definitely a different age bracket than a lot of people. And I felt when I discovered burlesque very grounded in a place of my life where I was like down for the celebration and tease and sharing of sexuality and expression and felt pretty damn grounded and like, I'm doing this for me approach to it where I was out in life and I loved being part of a troupe. I did some solo acts but really for me, it was always about when there was like five of us on stage doing something like really fun, silly, sexy choreography together. That was like what I really loved about it. And I had the opportunity to kind of like run away with the circus. During those years, we were part of a bigger band that kind of had a road show performed on Old Route 66, performed at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, like had some really epic moments.

Wren [00:05:53] It seems like that's a pretty natural progression to kink and rope bondage.

True Blue [00:05:58] Yeah, when you're moving forward, you don't really know what it is you're like barreling towards and then you look back and you're like, Oh, that totally makes sense that that's where that went. And the other part that really fits in, in retrospect is I was also a teacher and a librarian, and there's something about the librarian archetype that also makes sense to me that that all funneled into my finding rope and really like diving into this world.

Wren [00:06:28] When you found burlesque and you said you're ready for it in your life, what was the catalyst that got you there?

True Blue [00:06:35] A combination of going to a show of all women aerialist performance that I went to in San Francisco, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I want to try this. And there's a circus school in San Francisco. And I started taking some classes there, some like acrobats and static trapeze. And then it was also like the community of people that I was surrounded with at the time who were musicians and performers. I guess this is perhaps similar to what happens with some people with rope. You're doing it for fun and exploration at first, and then you're like, I really like this thing. I want to teach a class or I want to do a performance. And then you start to kind of carve out that part of it.

Wren [00:07:20] Yeah. It sounds like you've always been drawn to community and fostering community.

True Blue [00:07:25] Yes, that era of my life, going back to like the burlesque, being part of the show was one of my earlier experiences of like really strong community projects and efforts. So yeah, it's definitely been a thread for me that has carried into rope for sure. I absolutely love that personal and interpersonal rope, but I'm also obviously really interested in like how we create a community space around that and what it means to participate in like a scene or a network or a social network, whatever you want to call it.

Wren [00:08:04] Totally, yeah. Speaking of community, you founded Vox Body and it is a rope space in the San Francisco Bay Area. I think that it would help maybe to define what a rope space is, maybe what it isn't. What does it offer that isn't provided just at home?

True Blue [00:08:25] Right. That's such a good question. It's such a simple question too, I'm like, Where do I begin? On a really basic level, it was deciding to commit to a space. Finding the space, signing the lease and commit to opening the doors for folks to come in and primarily do rope. And you know what that means to do rope in a space that is a public space is going to mean a lot of different things. That's going to mean classes. It's going to mean jams and social time, performance events, meet-ups, kink education. And with that is going to come the like necessary framework of how is this space run? Who's helping to program and facilitate the events?

Wren [00:09:15] What kind of people do you see coming to your rope space?

True Blue [00:09:18] Well, I will say that we're pretty spoiled in the Bay Area with the depth and breadth of people that are here and want to explore rope and kink. It's kind of inherent in the history of the Bay Area. So I recognize that there's a bigger pool of folks interested in this in the Bay Area than elsewhere. One of the things that I do love about watching people walk in the door is that the age range will really be from early twenties into late sixties, early seventies. And that's kind of an unusual thing to see, like one practice draw that range of age. And we could do a lot better with this always. But I do also think that it draws in quite a variety of walks of life identities, orientations like what people do with their like, their lives otherwise.

Wren [00:10:22] Are there any intentional things you did to foster that kind of diversity in your space?

True Blue [00:10:28] I did intentionally sort of want to create a space that someone could walk into that maybe wasn't sure if they were into rope or kink, or maybe was a little anxious or a lot anxious and could walk in and feel comfortable in a way that maybe walking into like a dungeon your first time is going to be like. That's a big step, right? And it's very clear, like you are in a dungeon now. Like you've made that step. So I did intentionally want to leave light and empty walls and pillows and like a snack table. Things that might be like comfort zones that people could walk in and identify and feel like, okay, I can relax a little bit and sort out if this is a place for me. So just even thinking about the physical space is definitely intentional.

Wren [00:11:20] What are the standout snacks on a VoxBody snack table?

True Blue [00:11:25] Oh gosh. Well, so I'm just ramping back up with snacks because I haven't really been putting them out a lot because we've mostly been wearing masks since we got going. But in the old space, jelly belly. Jelly beans were definitely a go-to. We definitely had a tater tots area. We have definitely–

Wren [00:11:49] Don't we all?

True Blue [00:11:50] Don't we all have a tater tots era. We've definitely had some really pretty charcuterie trays, veggie snacks, Cheez-Its.

Wren [00:12:02] Wow.

True Blue [00:12:03] Yeah, always the dark milk, chocolate, peanut butter cups and the milk chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's. Those are like an always.

Wren [00:12:14] I love on your website how have VoxBody is a safe(r) space. And I think that's a really cool distinction. So just calling it a safe space.

True Blue [00:12:23] Yeah, that's definitely something that I learned along the way. And it is such a small change, but it carries a lot of weight and that is such a subjective thing. Whether a space is safe for one person to the next and that it's always a work in progress. We're learning as we go. So I think it indicates the process of being back.

Wren [00:12:46] Absolutely. And you think it has more power in the influence of the space, is that the hosts or the people coming into it?

True Blue [00:12:54] Oh, my gosh, I love that question. I want to answer both right away is what my gut wants to say. Also recognizing that I am the person that runs the space and has created the space and opens the doors to the space. So I already know that my influence and my presence there is like I recognize a power dynamic there and it is not the space it is unless anyone who walks in the door participates, comes back, turns around and welcomes in another new person and kind of show them around. We're really this time around, we opened in February, we've been really echoing the idea of community cultivating community. And so like what are the things that I can do as the person that runs the space or the people that are like the VoxBody volunteers or who work on certain teams or on certain aspects of the space. Like what are the ways that we can put it in the hands of anyone that walks in the door like, This is how we're doing this here. This is what we're doing here so that anyone can then turn around and like be representative of that. To your question, I love it and I want to say like both either, or, and. And I would be curious how a person who walks in the door would also answer that question.

Wren [00:14:21] I think it is a 50/50 thing. I think that makes total sense.

True Blue [00:14:25] Yeah.

Wren [00:14:26] You hosted a class during COVID called Calling You Back In group and rope jam. And that's really fascinating because it's described as a hybrid discussion rope jam. I thought that was really cool. What did – what does that class aim to accomplish?

True Blue [00:14:41] Yeah, we did a few of those right as I think we had signed the lease for the new space, but it wasn't open yet. But there was this anticipation of, Okay, we're coming out of two years of doing things online and not having in-person community. And now we're gearing up to come back into a space. And so we wanted to have some discussion around that. Like on a very personal level, like where are you at with like maybe you've been doing rope by yourself in your home for two years now.

Wren [00:15:20] Yeah.

True Blue [00:15:20] And like where is the part of you that is going to walk back into a space and do it in a public space to witness and be witnessed and partake in like a community experience. So we kind of wanted to generate some discussion and reflection on that. And there's also been this really interesting thing in the last few years where I think a lot of people have discovered or started doing rope in the last few years, which means primarily online and like I don't know about other towns and cities and places that there are so many more people doing rope right now in the Bay Area than there were in like February 2020.

Wren [00:16:03] Yeah.

True Blue [00:16:04] So that's really cool and exciting. And I think I'm also like super curious what all the variables are that fed into the fact that a lot of people are discovering rope right now and it's also like low key, worrisome. And you've been doing this inherently risky, vulnerable practice in your home by yourself, perhaps without any feedback from a teacher or anyone that could assist you. How's your rope? How are your consent practices? Where have you gotten them from and how is that going to translate into now we're going to come back into a community space together.

Wren [00:16:46] That's a phenomenal answer. And I think in closing, if you could leave us with a couple of things that people in their local groups can do to foster community, foster consent-based dialogs and things, since there are so many new people, that would be amazing.

True Blue [00:17:02] People will write to me and ask about this from like different pockets of the world that don't have established rope communities. And I think the first thing is just start small, do an event, or invite fill-in-the-blank people to your home to do rope. If that's like five or seven or ten people, whatever you can house and start there. And if that goes well, then plan another one. And if that goes well, then maybe plan a third and start to kind of articulate what are we doing here? Like what's the framework and how do we want to engage in this space together. And so start to build not just the events but the guidelines for like how are we going to do this together? I think that a lot of people are so hungry for community and events and spaces to exist and they, you know, want to go 0 to 100 and I think their like frustratingly Libra mom answer is like, Take your time and build it slowly and see because it is a space. If it is a community space, you want to kind of offer something and then see how that works for people that might walk in the door and do it. Did they respond to it in the way that you were hoping they would? And do they want more? And then you can build and build from there. Commit to the fact that if we are doing rope, then yes, it means let's learn the technique. What are the patterns and what are the knots and what are the frictions? But also like commit to the fact that this is a learning journey and communication and consent practices, anatomy, body mechanics, these are all these avenues that you're going to want to go down. So cultivate those as much as you cultivate. Look at this cool new tie I learned. And you don't need to reinvent the wheel either. There are a lot of consent resources out there. There's a lot of spaces that are articulating and re-articulating what that means for them and spending some time kind of poking around and seeing what other groups and spaces have done as their policies or the way that they run a space.

Wren [00:19:19] Totally.

True Blue [00:19:20] Yeah.

Wren [00:19:20] I want to thank you so much for talking with me. This is very insightful and I'm happy to hear that VoxBody is doing great after COVID and everything.

True Blue [00:19:29] Thank you so much. It was – time flew by.

Wren [00:19:33] Can you tell us where people can find you?

True Blue [00:19:35] Well, you can literally find us in Oakland, California, because that is where we are located. Online, our website is We're on Instagram @VoxBody, Twitter @VoxBody, on F*tLife @VoxBody_Studio.

Wren [00:19:52] Blue, I want to thank you again for chatting. You're a wonderful person and I can't wait to see you soon.

True Blue [00:19:56] I will see you soon. I'll see you next month, yeah?

Wren [00:19:59] Yes, I can't wait.

True Blue [00:20:00] Yay. Thanks so much for having me and for doing this. I really appreciated the conversation.



In this episode, Wren and Fuoco discuss a bottom's responsibility, a community's accountability, and tangible bottoming skills.


In this episode, Wren and Fuoco discuss a bottom's responsibility, a community's accountability, and tangible bottoming skills.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Fuoco is a rope educator, circus performer and aerialist. As an educator, her focus is on body mechanics and developing more comprehensive education for rope bottoms.

Wren [00:00:18] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. Today I'm joined by the one and only Fuoco. Fuoco's background is extremely fascinating. She's a professional circus performer and has been in the rope scene since 2012. She's a feminist, a performance artist and an educator, to name a few. As an educator, her classes focus on equipping bottoms with tangible teachable skills. She runs an online zine with Gray called Cut the Leash.

Fuoco [00:00:47] Hello. Hi. Okay. Nice introduction.

Wren [00:00:51] Thank you so much. Well, you are such a multi-skilled human being.

Fuoco [00:00:57] Thank you.

Wren [00:00:58] You're welcome. So two things really excited me about our interview today. One, I was reminded about the rope bondage drills for the apocalypse you did during COVID, which honestly feels like a different life time.

Fuoco [00:01:13] Oh, my God. Right. I remember being like, Okay. Two weeks of lockdown. 14 Instagram videos to keep people entertained.

Wren [00:01:23] Yes.

Fuoco [00:01:23] Also like 14 days where I won't be allowed to work and should probably try to make a little bit of extra money.

Wren [00:01:30] I love it.

Fuoco [00:01:31] Yeah, life changes.

Wren [00:01:33] Well, it definitely can be engaged during COVID. So thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Fuoco [00:01:39] It kept me engaged. It kept my pretty vanilla roommates engaged.

Wren [00:01:43] I love it. I also stumbled across your resumé, which is fascinating because most people under additional skills just list excel. But you have fire breathing.

Fuoco [00:01:56] I do breathe fire. You know, I think actually now I have fire eating. I eat fire. So the distinction being that I will put like a flaming torch in my mouth, but I won't hold fuel in my mouth. So when you see people like put a little puff of fire in their mouth and extinguish it, that's what I do. But when people like breathe like a dragon and like this giant flame puffball comes out of their mouth, that's actually, like, real scary. I don't do that.

Wren [00:02:24] So what is the life of a big professional circus performer?

Fuoco [00:02:28] Nowhere near as glamorous as what anybody thinks it is. I actually am a professional circus performer. I went to school for Circus. I did a three-year full-time program and that was like a life in and of its own, where you're just 8 hours a day training. You're training in your main disciplines. I study aerial hoops and hand-to-hand like I do handstands on other humans. But then I had classes and like handstands and acrobatics and juggling. I'm really bad at juggling. Like my juggling coach fondly refers to me as his greatest disappointment. Oh yeah. At this point now, the life of a professional circus performer having left that is like a balance of taking odd non-circus jobs to make money while also taking like circus jobs that pay the bills but don't make you feel like an artist while also trying to find time to like, do your pull-ups and make your art and like so that you can afford to take the jobs that do make you feel like an artist or, you know, take the jobs or just create the work that makes you feel like an artist. It's all a hustle.

Wren [00:03:38] And you've talked about being drawn to spaces where performance art and politics intersect.

Fuoco [00:03:43] Yes. Yeah. My master's degree – I came to circus later in life. I've met so many people who started when they were 12 and this is just what they've done for their entire life. But I did my undergraduate and gender studies. I did a master's in human rights. I've been involved in a lot of activism around sexual violence and sex workers rights for a really long time. More recently, involved in sort of renters organizing and tenants unions. I feel like there is a place in the world for artists who are just making art because art is beautiful and necessary and part of a politics of joy. But personally, like for me to invest in an artistic project for its own value, right? Like not the thing that's going to pay my rent or keep the lights on, but something that is like the art that I care about. I do want that art to be a part of activist projects be like in conversation with movement work. Yeah, this is a really big question. What is–?

Wren [00:04:46] Yeah, totally. So you have so many varied interests. Like you've said outside your career, you run and write for your zine, you build and teach classes. You're an activist. I'm really curious what a day looks like for you. How do you segment your creative time with the more straightforward time and the more training time?

Fuoco [00:05:05] Yeah, I have tried really hard in my life to actually like – I'm trying right now. I think to deconstruct the notion of career. I just read Work Will Not Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe, and I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to read it. And then if you do read it and want to like slide into my DMS and chat with me about it, I'm all for that. But so that's all I'll just say that like my daily activities fluctuate on a semi-regular basis and there's always in my day something that I'm doing that needs to pay the bills and then something that I'm doing that I think is contributing some good into the world and then something that I'm doing, like for me and my own joy and my own body nourishing all of those things and that fluctuates. So right now I wake up and I work as an editor for a website and I often wake up and train with my acrobatics partner and then do some work for my 9 to 5, which in practice is more like a 10 to 3, and then do something that's maybe a little bit more creative, like working on a zine or most recently in the evenings I've been working on writing this Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Wren [00:06:21] Yeah.

Fuoco [00:06:22] But all of those things shift. Like sometimes I'm editing a lot less and I'm training circuits a lot more and it's because the circus is going to be paying the bills for the next few months. And in moments when my schedule shifts, I try to make sure that I tend to the other activities too.

Wren [00:06:39] Do you have any specific structures that you've put in place to keep the other plates spinning while you're working on one?

Fuoco [00:06:47] Absolutely not, no. I think that's life project. I'm talking about finding this balance but I'm really bad at it.

Wren [00:06:56] Same and this is a very selfish question because my life is similar when I have all these different things going on and I was curious that you figured it out.

Fuoco [00:07:04] No, I will say that having an organizer and scheduling in my organizer that like on this day I'm actually working on my creative project that I'm not going to book a lesson or I'm not going to like go off and train has been really helpful for me. And then the other thing that I love to do is in the last year or so, started my day with morning pages. Are you familiar with morning pages?

Wren [00:07:25] Yes, I love them.

Fuoco [00:07:27] Three pages of just like scribbles, a stream of consciousness writing three pages. I find that clearing my brain of that noise creates a lot more space for like, balancing the other things.

Wren [00:07:43] Agreed. I have a five-minute journal that I used to.

Fuoco [00:07:46] Nice.

Wren [00:07:47] And I really liked that.

Fuoco [00:07:48] Yeah, it's remarkably helpful. It doesn't sound like it's going to be until you do it and then you're like, This is life-changing.

Wren [00:07:54] Yes. And in the beginning, it's awful.

Fuoco [00:07:58] Totally. Yeah. I agree.

Wren [00:08:01] I want to talk a little bit about an essay that you wrote in 2015 and you recently updated it. The essay is called On Bottoming Responsibility. And I would encourage everyone to read it and I'll only get in the show notes below. It's truly amazing.

Fuoco [00:08:16] Thank you.

Wren [00:08:17] You're welcome. And you essentially say that a bottom's responsibility to injury or incident is equal to the top's responsibility in the situation, and that if a bottom doesn't know that something is wrong and injury occurs, the top definitely didn't know that something was wrong. But the burden of blame generally falls more on the top. And this is due to how we initiate bottoms into the scene.

Fuoco [00:08:41] Yeah. Oh, you're really good at summarizing all of that. That was excellent.

Wren [00:08:45] You know, it's easy to summarize something that's written super great, you know?

Fuoco [00:08:51] Yeah, I largely still believe this, but every once in a while I have a couple of posts on F*tLife that someone will like or they'll leave crumbs on it. And then suddenly, like, I log in and there's 50 notifications of someone liking it. And I'm like, Oh, do I still like what 2015 Jenna had to say about that? Yeah, you know, like responsibility is a weird word. Responsibility gets coded for like blame, especially when we're thinking about injury and when we're thinking about injury as sort of failure. And we do think about injuries as failure because we expect a sort of clean track record from the people that we play with to feel confident in their abilities, which is its own problem. So yeah, I do wish that we – and I think that we're moving towards things that were really, really present in communities when I wrote that was I would meet tops and riggers who were introducing new bottoms into the scene, talking to them about rope as this sort of like transcendental experience where like you're going to go into sub space and leave this planet, shoot off to the stars and I'm going to take your life into my hands. And that is the appeal of this thing that we do together. That dynamic is what makes rope so intriguing. And I find all of that to be immensely icky and–

Wren [00:10:11] Be real with your fantasies.

Fuoco [00:10:11] Yeah, and I will say that I don't think that descriptor of like – I think that we've come so far in terms of bottoming education and just rope being a lot more visible and different ways of doing rope being a lot more visible that I don't think that that discourse is so prevalent. And I do think that we've also come a lot farther in sort of valuing people who can say like, Oh, I made this mistake and I learn from this mistake and here's how I've learned and grown from this mistake. Whereas in 2015, like causing injury or experiencing injury, like there was just a lot more shame around all of it.

Wren [00:10:48] Totally.

Fuoco [00:10:49] Yeah. Actually, let me say one more thing about that writing because this is the thing that really irks me when this writing like, pops back up and goes viral again. I don't really want to amend the writing. I'm like, happy for it to be a relic of my thinking at the time. But I receive some criticism or critique of the writing where someone – I don't know if they used the word neoliberal, but if they didn't it was implied or maybe we talked about it in a message exchange after the fact, and I really took it to heart. Also, at the core of that writing is this idea that you can sort of like hyper-optimize yourself as a bottom to like mitigate risk and that this hyper-optimization seems to happen very much so at the individual level. And what I would love to add to that writing or just to like the thought and the discussion around it is like a lot of the responsibility towards risk mitigation can also happen at the community level. And so like a lot of our responsibilities as individuals are to like participate in community and a lot of our responsibilities as community is to fold individuals in ways that like make education more accessible and make vetting more accessible and your capacity to do all of these body checks and mental checks is bolstered by your capacity to, like, trust the people that you're sharing space with.

Wren [00:12:11] You even said in the essay, Imagine if the community as a whole was as nervous as bottoms jumping into suspension as they were about riggers suspending people. So, I mean, it's a community issue. It's not just bottoms because like you said, we romanticize the idea of someone taking us into this different place. You don't have the tools to even audit that experience if it's healthy or not.

Fuoco [00:12:37] Totally. Auditing is a great way and you have the tools in your own body and they're like educational resources available to you as a bottom to help you make decisions in the moment about like how things are feeling for you, how your interpersonal interaction is going, like how you're choosing or deciding to manage your headspace in that moment of being in rope and all of these things. There are things that can help keep you safe. If bottoms knew from the get-go that those resources that the education was available, that that level of self-knowledge was in the way that rigger know, here's a checklist of things that I need to learn before I can safely suspend someone. Like there is a similar sort of checklist of things, skill sets that bottoms can develop that will help them feel more confident in their abilities in rope and like, not their abilities to achieve some crazy position or endure a suspension for a long time. But just their ability to discern who is the right rope partner for them, their ability to discern if what's happening in the moment is something that they are able and happy to sink in to or something that they need to zoom out of and talk about.

Wren [00:13:47] Yes, I feel like teaching bottoms the correct questions to ask would be a really good thing.

Fuoco [00:13:54] Yeah. Well, and I also think that like, that's going to show up really differently from community to community. And so I think that there's a whole variety of skill sets too that we can – and maybe this is part of what I'm getting at when I talk about community. Like there's this checklist that I just reference. There are these skill sets that we construct and name and maybe develop pedagogy around. Largely to protect people from the reality that many of us do rope with strangers or in communities with people who are not necessarily vested in our well-being. And I guess that's maybe more what I'm trying to get at when I talk about neoliberalism, right, is there's like another world. Not just where like community says, like, Oh, here's your checklists. I'm skeptical of you, too, because you haven't gone through your checklist. But a community where, like, we don't necessarily have to, like, know all the right questions or be experts at negotiation because there's a cultural change in how much we expect to establish trust between people.

Wren [00:14:56] I don't really love the word community, honestly. And yet you wrote another amazing essay called We're Not Ready for Accountability, and I'll link it again. And in that, you said, our community is woefully unequipped to actually succeed at accountability. We're a group of people who often see each other as more of commodities, people whose time, bodies and skills satisfy our kinks. We don't really have a framework to talk about community outside of going to the same events, but this is where community ends and it's likely that our definition of community is void of the sort of care required to make this work. And that is so true because the word community kind of gaslights us into thinking there are more structures in place to keep us safe.

Fuoco [00:15:42] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these essays, I don't think that I've talked about them in such close succession with each other. But they are really or rather, at least the conversation we're having right now around these two essays is the same one. I completely agree with you. Our sense of community is the way that the word is used is gaslighting. Absolutely. And I'm definitely not the only person to have raised skepticism about the word community. And I think actually nowadays this skepticism is maybe more commonplace than not, or this critique is more mainstream than not. But I don't see the necessary conclusions that I think should follow that critique being implemented, which is, okay, we've identified that our quote-unquote community does not actually function as community in the way that we would need it to if we were talking about it in terms of accountability and repairing harm.

Wren [00:16:39] Exactly.

Fuoco [00:16:40] And accountability and transformative justice practices are like their generative practices, their practices of building their practices of replacing carceral systems and punitive systems. And we as a – no one can see my air quotes. But as I continue to use the word community, you can sense that it's an air quote. We as a community really invested in transformative justice for its capacity to help us, not ban people. We're really interested in transformative justice as a mechanism for repairing harm, which makes sense because a lot of harm happens in our communities. But I think we're less interested in the lessons of transformative justice around, like what it would mean to build actual true, not in air quotes, community – like the building, the generation. In order to replace and overthrow carceral and punitive systems, that tremendous amount of trust and care needs to be infused into spaces where it is not been. And there are a lot of really, really valid reasons why it's hard to infuse trust and care into community like capitalism and the demands of all of our working lives and the scarcity that we all experience make that really, really hard. And also just the way that rope spaces are run, right. At the end of the day, somebody in your community pays rent on a space and has to make hard choices about how or how not to believe survivors and how – people who have been harmed and like what sort of policies to implement about banning people. And these questions directly interface with their own ability to pay the bills and to keep the lights on. So I think that the lessons of transformative justice actually push us away from like right now in this moment, figuring out how we necessarily even like repair harm at a community level or how we sort of rehabilitate. That's the wrong word. But like how we support people who have consistently caused harm. Like I think that the lessons of transformative justice should actually be pushing us in the direction of how do we form worker-owned cooperative rope spaces, how do we make it such that any person who enters community with us is also aware of the values of those communities is signing on to those values. Like how do we create spaces that are financially sound enough or well-resourced enough that we can both sell tickets to rope education while at the same time be able to offer spaces like book clubs and potlucks and like doing the actual work of community building and that prerequisite to any of the harm repair that we're so interested in.

Wren [00:19:19] Yeah, it would be easy if people said, I want to harm you and then they did it. It's a very binary thing, but it's hard because most people don't mean to cause harm.

Fuoco [00:19:31] Yeah.

Wren [00:19:31] You also said rehabilitate, which I think is a great word because when you just cast someone out, they just find a different community to offend. And it is a lot of rehabilitation of saying that didn't go great. This is what should have happened, you know.

Fuoco [00:19:47] And it's like it's a collective rehabilitation, too, though. I think the reason I shied away from that word is because it assumes that are sort of people who know more, who can like pick you.

Wren [00:19:58] Definitely.

Fuoco [00:19:58] And show you the light as opposed to just sort of like we're all unlearning systems of oppression and we're all unlearning forces that have hurt us and that push us into harm. So like we are rehabilitating our community members alongside the work that we are doing for ourselves and the rehabilitation of all of ourselves to resist this world we live in.

Wren [00:20:20] Absolutely. So I want to talk a little bit about bottoming from a physical aspect since we talk so much about the mental and emotional side.

Fuoco [00:20:29] Yeah.

Wren [00:20:29] And I have a couple things I want to hit on. I'm a person – I've always been very physical, so when I came into rope, I thought that I knew more than I did know about my body, if that makes sense. And that was very difficult for me to unlearn. And I'm still trying to figure out what feels really good in the box tie for me. Things like that.

Fuoco [00:20:50] Maybe the thing that has been most helpful for me in shifting my expectations of my like physical self in rope is I've gotten over the idea that rope is inherently good for my body or that my athleticism will serve me in rope. I think back to my early days in the bondage scene and people were talking about training for rope, or how the fact that I studied circus was such a boon to myself as a bottom. And I think because of that and I wonder if you relate to this experience, like I think folks who come into rope with movement practice and with attunement to their bodies expect that rope will feel like another movement practice. Expect that it will feel sort of like differently nourishing but still nourishing to their bodies. And so like actually what I've landed on that makes sense for me is like rope is not inherently nourishing to my body. Like, rope is like spiritually nourishing to me. Rope is interpersonally nourishing to me. And I put my body through a bit of s*** to experience the like things about rope that are nourishing. But so that that was really helpful. Like changing my perspective from like what is like the best way to like, actively bottom through this? How does my athleticism support me here to sort of – what's the sweet spot of like not putting my body through too much s*** while still getting all of the like emotional benefits that I'm here for.

Wren [00:22:17] For the happy chemicals and stuff.

Fuoco [00:22:19] Yeah, that makes sense.

Wren [00:22:23] Something that I've heard you talk a little bit about is core support in rope. When to use it, when not to use it.

Fuoco [00:22:30] Yeah, there is like a somewhat easy answer to this I think. Or for me, like the easy answer is when your spine feels compromised, like there are a lot of moments where in rope we move past a range of like all of our joints have ranges of passive and active flexibility. And what that means is that like my ability to move my joints through range of motion is less than your ability to move my same joints through a range of motion, right? Like I can lift my leg to a certain extent, but if you were physically manipulating my leg, you can move it farther. And so most rope happens in our passive ranges. Most of the ties and the positions that we experience – at least most of the times that we feel like really, really tightly bound or perhaps even like a little bit compromised. Part of what we're experiencing is just that we're like outside of our range of motion that we can support. This is part of, I think, discerning like what is the right amount of s*** that I will take for my body to –

Wren [00:23:31] Absolutely.

Fuoco [00:23:31] The right amount of s*** that I will put it through. And then so within that, being in your passive range can feel like an activation through your tendons or ligaments. Like you feel like you're hanging through connective tissue rather than hanging through muscular support. And I get particularly worried about this when I feel this in my spine or when I'm experiencing like that sensation, like your core protects your spine and it can protect your spine inflection and extension and twisting. And so find yourself in moments where your spine feels like it's moved past a range that is good. A bit, of course, support can be helpful. Learning about your core is like its own weird, lifelong journey. Like I feel like I'm constantly finding more. More of my insides.

Wren [00:24:21] I wanted to talk a little bit about teaching tangible bottoming skills, because I think a lot of the bottoming education is very esoteric. It's very conceptual. But you talk about teaching tangible things. What are some tangible things that bottoms can take from this or educators can add to their toolbox maybe?

Fuoco [00:24:40] Sure. So tangible things that I like to teach are how do you more accurately assign language to the sensations you're feeling to be able to communicate more effectively with people who are tying you. Not tangible in the sense that you can like touch it, but tangible in the sense that it's not an esoteric skill.

Wren [00:25:00] Well, it's actionable.

Fuoco [00:25:01] Yeah, absolutely.

Wren [00:25:03] I think it's huge.

Fuoco [00:25:04] Yeah. My specialty in my sort of niche is about like, I know a lot about bodies. I know a lot about how bodies work. And for me, my own process of learning about my body has happened in combination. There's been a multitude of inputs that have helped me gain a knowledge of my body. And some of those inputs have been doing and feeling, and some of those inputs have been like actual study of anatomy and looking at skeletons and looking at joints and naming muscles, doing sort of targeted exercises to feel specific muscles, and then putting those muscles in the context of a certain sort of movement pattern. And so that's a lot of the tangible skills that I teach bottoms as well. Like when we're in a box tie, we're in internal rotation. What are the muscles that contribute to internal rotation? How do you feel if they're turned on? How do you feel if they're in stretch? What does it mean to you in terms of how rope should be laid on your body when you feel one thing or another? I think that for a long time, bottoming education sort of took the form of the rope bottoms roundtable, which is a very important and validating format. And I think just sharing your experiences with others and hearing that they have similar experiences can also be really, really helpful. But there are other skills that we can be teaching.

Wren [00:26:20] And speaking of box ties, you're writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book about box ties, right?

Fuoco [00:26:25] I am. It's so close to being done. I'm so excited.

Wren [00:26:29] Yeah, I can't wait.

Fuoco [00:26:31] Okay, so here's my mini rant on this.

Wren [00:26:35] Let me hear.

Fuoco [00:26:36] All of our rope teaching, even in classes where we say, You must come partnered. We're going to teach to tops and bottoms. The way that we teach people to do rope is very rigger-centric. When you walk into a box tie class, what someone will be taught is the harness that that instructor thinks is going to make that rigger, like most likely to have success with the most number of bodies. And then if you are one of the bottoms who has a body, you know, one of the 75% of bodies that is suited to that box tie, like that'll be okay for you. But if you're a bottom, who actually needs to be tied in a really different way or whose body suggests a different sort of harness, you'll be left behind. And maybe the fact that like your specific anatomy would be better suited to a different sort of box tie will be like named by your teacher. Hopefully, it will. Hopefully, you're pointed to somebody else who can teach you and your rigger a better harness for you. I dream of a day where we start teaching box tie from the perspective of, If shoulders do this, then apply the first wrap like that. And if shoulders do this, then the first wrap could go on like this. And that's like sort of what I'm trying to do with this Choose Your Own Adventure book. It's like a giant project and as I write it, I have to keep being like, You can't do everything in this single zine that your self-producing, Jenna. Slow your roll. But hopefully what it does, like hopefully somebody who buys the book will get to choose their own adventure. They'll get to start from a place of like, How does my body work? What does my body need? What do those things suggest about what sort of like rope application would be best over top of my anatomical form? And then like, necessarily like, okay, well, what are the names of the box ties that most closely approximate that? Because that's the sort of shared language we have right now for box ties. And no, having access to that language will be helpful for somebody who's trying to seek out a specific sort of form. But yeah, I would love to move away from like the OS box tie or the Naka box tie. You know, like, no shade to Naka. Sorry, Naka.

Wren [00:28:57] You heard it here folks.

Fuoco [00:28:57] Oh, my gosh. No, no shade to Naka. But, yeah, I've got to move away from, like, learning these sort of, like, named harnesses and patterns as the way that we start to teach people to tie and actually just teach people to tie on bodies.

Wren [00:29:12] Well, it sounds like our next podcast is going to be all about box ties.

Fuoco [00:29:16] Yeah, probably. And I just want to say too I am also totally here for the bottom, who is utterly disinterested in box ties. I think that's rad. There's like a tiny, teensy little section of the book that talks about folks who just don't want to be in box, but maybe do want to feel loads supported across their arms instead of just across their chests and sort of how you can achieve that without just defaulting back to a chest harness.

Wren [00:29:43] I look forward to your book. You're on Instagram @fuocofet and on F*tLife @Fuoco.

Fuoco [00:29:52] Thought I'm like very rarely on F*tLife. So if anyone wants to reach out or please reach out. Like I'm happy to chat with people and anybody who–

Wren [00:30:02] Yeah, you seem nice.

Fuoco [00:30:03] I think I'm nice.

Wren [00:30:04] Yeah.

Fuoco [00:30:05] Anyone who wants to get in touch, should get in touch with me on Instagram. It's much better.

Wren [00:30:09] And you also have a Patreon. It's

Fuoco [00:30:13] Oh, yeah. And it's really new. It's largely sort of like public-facing geared towards the circus community. However, all of the benefits of that Patreon can be transferred to rope folks. There's like pretty big discounts on private lessons and I'm happy for those private lessons to be rope-focused and not just circus-focused. Even though the language of the Patreon doesn't necessarily say that explicitly.

Wren [00:30:37] Beautiful. I'm also going to steal the phrase rope folks. It's great. It just rolls off the tongue.

Fuoco [00:30:43] It does.

Wren [00:30:44] Well, I want to thank you for being here. You're amazing. And I look forward to talking to you soon.

Fuoco [00:30:50] Yeah, you too. Thank you so much.

Wren [00:30:52] You're welcome

Lief Bound

Invaluable tips on consent, switchy rope relationships, exhibitionism and queer rope community.

Lief Bound

Invaluable tips on consent, switchy rope relationships, exhibitionism and queer rope community.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Lief Bound is a full-time rope artist and teacher in Los Angeles who makes rope inspired art and has a puppy named Bamboo.

Wicked Wren [00:00:25] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren. Today I'm talking to my friend Leif Bound. Leaf is a full-time rope artist and teacher in Los Angeles, makes wonderful rope inspired art and has a lovely puppy named Bamboo. Welcome Lief.

Lief Bound [00:00:42] Hi. Thank you for having me.

Wicked Wren [00:00:45] You're so welcome. So you've said rope is like a good glass of wine. It's as intimate as you want it to be.

Lief Bound [00:00:52] That's true. Yeah. Yeah, that's something that I've honestly said for a long time in my rope journey, because it is something that I would have, I could share rope with, like a lover and I can share rope with a friend. And it doesn't have to be anything more than intimacy. And intimacy is  a broad spectrum of things.

Wicked Wren [00:01:18] Definitely. And speaking of intimacy, your partner, Icky, and you have been together for a long time.

Lief Bound [00:01:24] Yeah. We're actually coming up on three years. August 8th is our anniversary. I know, I know. Very cute. 08/08. Wow.

Wicked Wren [00:01:32] Wow.

Lief Bound [00:01:33] It's almost like we picked a cool date around the time that we got together, so it sounded cooler than it really was.

Wicked Wren [00:01:42] I love it. I have a lot of questions about you and Icky's relationship, but before we get to that, I want to talk a little bit about the beginning with you. You said one of your first experiences of bondage was being tied up with a jump rope as a kid.

Lief Bound [00:01:55] Yeah, that is true.

Wicked Wren [00:01:58] And then you entered the scene when you're 18 and you felt like you didn't fit in and you saw that you weren't tall and you're not white, and no one really cared about you in the back of the room while you were, you know, struggling to keep up. How do you think that things have changed in the past ten years?

Lief Bound [00:02:12] Well, when I first came into the scene ten years ago, it was very stereotypical. Cis man top, cis woman bottom. And the bottom didn't have an opinion and the man didn't really care about the experience of the bottom. And I even came into some classrooms where the educator basically would say that females are submissive, like they don't have a dominant quality. Like, that's where we were at ten years ago, where we thought that femmes were only submissive. So it was very hard for me to be in a room because I was either one, one was better than the other. The first option was I was completely ignored and I didn't get any help. Or the second option, which was my least favorite, is I got over, over help. Like the educator, over the man but the man would come up and be like, Let me show you how it's done. And back then, this was before I transitioned, so I was like presenting as a woman. And so, like, that was just really gross and weird, too. And it's actually what really inspired me to become an educator is because I wanted other people like me, other people that were not a cis man to feel empowered and to feel like they could do the thing and to be respected in a classroom setting versus belittled or ignored.

Wicked Wren [00:03:43] And you said that in teaching, you will overexaggerate the consent talks with Icky.

Lief Bound [00:03:50] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We kind of like in classes, we've been together for three years, so we know each other pretty well. But for the sake of classes, we definitely will overemphasize, like, Can I touch you here? Even though this is my partner of three years, I definitely know I could touch them there. But it's good to model for people like what good consent looks like.

Wicked Wren [00:04:11] Why is it important to model for people what good consent looks like?

Lief Bound [00:04:15] Icky and I in private worked really hard to have the consent that we have or in the practice in the way that we trust each other. And I think that if you don't see that hard work, it looks like it magically happened, which good consent and a good trust building does not happen overnight or magically. It is carefully talked about over a long period of time.

Wicked Wren [00:04:38] Can you give maybe one or two tips to move in that direction?

Lief Bound [00:04:45] Oh, my gosh. Yes. One of my biggest things and this goes for like literally kissing someone for the first time all the way to negotiating for a hardcore scene is ask. Can I do this? Even if you're like looking into that person's eyes and you know that they want to kiss you and you know you want to kiss them, just saying, Can I kiss you before you engage in something intimate builds that trust immediately. So that's my first bit of advice. My second is to be okay and say thank you to a no, because when someone tells you their no, that is trust. They are trusting you with a no. And that is almost just as good as a yes.

Wicked Wren [00:05:28] No's are almost more important than yeses.

Lief Bound [00:05:31] Absolutely. When someone tells me a no, I actually trust them way more than someone's like, Yes, do whatever you want.

Wicked Wren [00:05:36] There are a million different kinds of yeses. There's yes, maybe.

Lief Bound [00:05:40] Mm-hmm.

Wicked Wren [00:05:40] Yeah. Yeah. So with Icky, since you two have been together so long and you have a rope relationship, how do you juggle real life and rope and keep that fresh, not bring real life into rope?

Lief Bound [00:05:56] Absolutely. I will say, like, it's hard. When you are in a long-term dynamic with someone, especially if that person is also your live-in partner, it is hard. When you've got bills to pay, you've got a kid/dog at home, you have other things to worry about. It's not that life is always this sexy, magical dynamic. And Icky and I are also switches. So there are times where I'm topping and there are times where Icky is topping. Because it's chaos in our house and we love it that way. So for us, Icky has a rope collar that they wear when we do rope things where Icky is bottoming. That could be a scene at home. But when we are at a convention per se traveling, they are wearing that collar the whole weekend because they are my rope bottom that whole weekend. So sometimes they wait for an hour for a scene and sometimes they wear it when they are in dynamic. And that helps a lot to kind of put it on a container. It doesn't have to be a collar, but just like maybe some sort of intentional ritual to separate, 'Hey, babe, I need to get groceries' from 'I would like to tie my, you know, my rope bottom'.

Wicked Wren [00:07:04] Yeah. Can you elaborate on the chaos of the switchy dynamic?

Lief Bound [00:07:09] Oh my goodness, it is chaos. I consider myself a bottom -eaning switch, which means that most of the time, for most things and most people I would like to bottom. But there are a few things, kinks or people that I really want to top. So for me personally and the way it works, rope almost all of the time I would like to top. There are a few people and circumstances where I do want to bottom for rope and I love bottoming for rope, but it comes few and far between. But when it comes for like impact or needles or other kinks, I would like to bottom. Yeah, yeah. And for Icky, Icky is actually the kind of almost complete opposite, which is really great when we met because it works because they are a rope bottom, but they are like an impact in needle top. So when we work together and got together, we fit into each other's lives really beautifully. It doesn't always work so perfectly. But for Vicki and I, we just kind of went, Oh, oh, that works.

Wicked Wren [00:08:11] Yeah. How did Covid affect that?

Lief Bound [00:08:16] Oh, so it affected it a lot. It affected a lot of things. Being in isolation, especially as two people that practice kink so publicly was really hard. One of the things that we discovered the hard way is that Icky is a true exhibitionist. So that means that when they are in rope and people are watching, they are able to be more present and they are able to take more pain and they're able to enjoy it more because the knowledge that someone is watching them, it excites them. They're a performer. They have a dance background. Same with me. I'm a performer. I have a dance background. So we really like a crowd. And when we were in private, there was actually a lot of anxiety that we had to work through where things that used to be so easy for Icky in rope would suddenly like they were, it was too painful and they needed to come down.

Wicked Wren [00:09:15] I've experienced the exact same thing as a rope bottom.

Lief Bound [00:09:17] Really?

Wicked Wren [00:09:18] Yes, fully. And hearing that actually gives me a lot of, I don't know, comfort.

Lief Bound [00:09:23] Absolutely. Yeah, no, pictures on the internet are deceiving. Sometimes we snap a picture and they're literally up there for literally under a minute. It is tough. The up-line, snap, snap, takedown. So it can be deceiving the Icky is like a tank or Icky can take all the things. Actually, Icky is not a tank at all, and they have very specific needs and very specific settings where they can sometimes maybe do the really hard things. But most of our rope is really gentle.

Wicked Wren [00:09:49] Yeah. Wow. That's really awesome to hear. How has that journey impacted you now that you can go out and tie in front of people? How has that formed it?

Lief Bound [00:10:00] It gives us a perspective and it makes us really appreciate the times that we can be in community. Because I know there are people out there in the world that don't have a community that they can go to at all. And if you're struggling with rope in private, you might be similar to Icky and I where being in community and being in front of other kinksters that are enjoying watching what you're doing does something for you. I think it's also helped us navigate. So basically our solution to the pandemic because it was really long, right, or it still is really long. What did we do to solve that problem is we had to create an audience in the private, essentially. Like we had to create like some makeshift audience for ourselves. So a camera became the audience. So we would set up a camera and we'd be recording. And it definitely doesn't slap the same . It's not as exciting as like, strangers watching you in a dark dungeon.

Wicked Wren [00:10:56] Yes.

Lief Bound [00:10:57] But having some sort of onlooker, even if it's a digital camera, helps create that audience.

Wicked Wren [00:11:04] Going back to hearing a yes, hearing a no, when you're in public and playing with someone, ayes could be very different than being in private.

Lief Bound [00:11:14] Absolutely. I'm at the opposite of Icky. In private, I will be bottom for more things than I will in public.

Wicked Wren [00:11:21] That's so funny.

Lief Bound [00:11:22] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I like the intimacy of knowing that only one person is watching me that I love. I can be more vulnerable and do more salacious things. Whereas like in public, I feel like I'm Lief Bound, I have to be a certain way and I feel this pressure to perform a certain way and do a certain thing. So I don't feel like vulnerability is as accessible.

Wicked Wren [00:11:46] And you've said that rope is where you found your power?

Lief Bound [00:11:49] Absolutely. Before I picked up rope as a top, I was a bottom for everything. Yeah. I really thought like, I was like a little femme bottom. I was like, I just, like, that's all I want. I'm just a little bottom.

Wicked Wren [00:11:59] You're telling me you're a fem bottom?

Lief Bound [00:12:00] I was at the time.

Wicked Wren [00:12:01] I don't believe it.

Lief Bound [00:12:02] I was a woman once. It happens, it happens.

Wicked Wren [00:12:04] I'm going to cut this part out.

Lief Bound [00:12:07] (Hysterical laughing). That's totally fine.

Wicked Wren [00:12:08] That's a joke, I'm not gonna cut it out.

Lief Bound [00:12:11] Cut it out, edit it in post. So when I picked up rope and I started tying, I found because I am five feet tall, I am quite small and anytime I would try to overpower someone before I found rope, it was literally impossible because everyone's bigger than me. And when I found rope, I found a way for me to not only overpower someone but lift someone, manipulate someone in ways that I didn't think were possible. And it made me feel strong.

Wicked Wren [00:12:38] Do you think that had a lot of carryover?

Lief Bound [00:12:42] I think so. I really think so. Yeah. It finally felt like something clicked and it finally felt like I was really good at something. It might be vain to say, but like, I really feel like I am supposed to be doing rope. Like that is the thing that I was meant to do.

Wicked Wren [00:12:57] I love that. You just started A House of Bound.

Lief Bound [00:13:01] I did.

Wicked Wren [00:13:02] Tell me about it.

Lief Bound [00:13:03] In feeling, in my heart that rope is the thing I'm supposed to do and in capitalism, you need a brand. So I had thought a long time, I'd always had dreams of opening up a studio. I took a lot of inspiration from True Blue, who opened up VoxBody and other incredible, you know, rope places around the world. But I wanted a space where I could have my own studio and I could have my own place where rope education could happen in a bigger grand scheme rather than me just going to cons and teaching a class here or there. And House of Bound actually comes from queer culture and house and ballroom culture. Yeah, so if you've seen Paris Is Burning, which is an incredible documentary. If you're watching this podcast and you're queer and you haven't seen Paris Is Burning, it is literally a part of our history and a rite of passage to watch it. It teaches you about the ballroom scene in the 80s in New York City. And not only that, but all the other things that queer people face in the 80s in New York City. It's basically queer people creating family. That's what it is. House of Bound is my family. House of Bound is who I hope one day, I will have people that will maybe take on the Bound name, right? Like I'm Lief Bound. Maybe I'll have some children someday. Maybe I'll become a father, I'll have some rope children, and they'll go out into the world. That's like big, big dreams, though. You know, I would settle for just having a place where people feel safe to come learn rope.

Wicked Wren [00:14:38] Why is it so important for queer and trans people to have the community like House of Bound?

Lief Bound [00:14:45] Because we're not safe or respected in most rope spaces. I mean, even in Los Angeles, California, which is seen as a very progressive place, I have been in the middle of a rope scene at a local dungeon. Like two years ago, so eight years into rope and someone stopped my scene to ask me if I knew what a safe word was. So, like, because I am not a cis man, I am immediately, my skill level and my integrity is questioned in non-queer only spaces. Unfortunately, that's just the truth. People look at me and say, Oh, I can't know what I'm doing because of the way I look or the way I'm perceived by other people. So having a space where it's not queer only, but it's queer-centered.

Wicked Wren [00:15:29] Yeah.

Lief Bound [00:15:29] Or basically queer-made, right?

Lief Bound [00:15:32] Yeah.

Lief Bound [00:15:32] It just functions differently, like and that's what I want. I want someone to look at my rope and judge my rope. I don't want them to look at me and judge me.

Wicked Wren [00:15:40] Okay. Question. If you were put in charge of a fictional rope association, what would be the first rule you would put into place?

Lief Bound [00:15:50] I think that there is no wrong way to do rope if no one is getting injured. I think that there is a lot of this way is the best way or this way is the true way of doing something. And to be honest, if the bottom and the top both come out of a scene feeling good and no one is injured, it is good rope.

Wicked Wren [00:16:12] Yeah. You've spoken about photo rope versus real rope and saying how there's nothing wrong with photo rope. There's just not a real representation of a scene or something like that.

Lief Bound [00:16:23] It's almost like a photo of someone dancing where you see someone in that full split in the air and their foot's in their mouth. But you don't know all of the steps it took to get to that shape. And that is the magic of rope. It's all the steps before that photo was taken. So if you've only seen photos of rope, you're seeing the, almost the height of the rope. But that's not where the magic is. The magic is in the details.

Wicked Wren [00:16:51] Talk to me a little bit about you and Icky's dynamic over time and how it shifted.

Lief Bound [00:16:57] Yes, it's shifted so much. I think that all long-term relationships have to be flexible for them to last. That is, there's this gorgeous, incredible quote that I'll never remember the entirety of it, but the gist of it goes, loving someone for a long time is going to a thousand funerals of their former selves. And in that means that things that Icky and I shared at the beginning of our relationship are no longer present in our current relationship or have shifted drastically. And that is something that there's been some mourning, right? There's been some miss. I miss certain parts of what we had the beginning of our relationship. But there are new things that are forming right now and things that have been staples from the beginning that I cherish way more than the few things that have gone or changed. And being flexible is a big part of being in a long term and I'll just say rope relationship, in general. Bodies change as Icky, and I change. The things that we could do when we were 24 and got together are not the things that we can do when we are 30. And I think also the concept of aging in rope is not something we talk enough about. It's such a young person's game that we don't talk about our aging bodies and how it affects us. So Icky and I actually all the time. And that's the other thing is talk about it again. I talk all the time about our dynamic, how things are going. We check in and we don't just assume things are the same or have changed. If you feel something's off, talk about it. Like don't sit there and go like, Oh no, oh no, something's changing. Just confront things and talk about it and be flexible.

Wicked Wren [00:18:43] It sounds very intentional.

Lief Bound [00:18:45] It is, yeah. I think Icky and I got together and we're very intentional people.

Wicked Wren [00:18:50] Well, what is next for you?

Lief Bound [00:18:53] I will be in Detroit in August at a really cool convention called Smirk. I will be going to Salt Lake in December and I will be going to Austin. I am sure you will see me around Shibari Study every now and again. And I'm also in Los Angeles, available for private sessions and lessons whenever you want them.

Wicked Wren [00:19:20] Amazing. And you're on Instagram.

Lief Bound [00:19:23] Liefboundropes with no spaces for now. We'll see. I also have a backup.

Wicked Wren [00:19:27] Check-in next week.

Lief Bound [00:19:28] Right? Exactly. Lief dot bound. We have a whole podcast on censorship. The best way to reach me is through House of Bound dot com. I have an email form on there and you can also check out my Etsy where if you search House of Bound with no spaces in the search bar, I will pop up and you can get tutorials as well as some really cool art I've been making lately.

Wicked Wren [00:19:51] The art looks so amazing.

Lief Bound [00:19:53] Thank you.

Wicked Wren [00:19:54] You're welcome. Well, thank you so much for being here. You're the best. You always make me smile.

Lief Bound [00:19:59] You're the best, too. Thanks for having me. And having amazing conversations with me always.

Ms. Reemah

In this episode, Wren and Ms. Reemah dive into the intersections of kink, psychology and trauma.

Ms. Reemah

In this episode, Wren and Ms. Reemah dive into the intersections of kink, psychology and trauma.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Ms. Reemah is an Atlanta-based queer Black Domme, rigger and rope bondage educator who says that rope is her love language. She’s been active in the kink community since 2017.

Wren [00:00:21] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. I'm convinced Ms. Reemah Is involved in everything under the sun. She's a member...

Reemah [00:00:33] (Laughing) It's a lot.

Wren [00:00:33] You're a member of The Sisterhood of Black Fem Doms in Atlanta, Georgia. You're an organizer for Rope Bite Atlanta. You're a rope track coordinator for Southeast Leather Fest. And you're, just saying, you hold degrees in psychology, clinical mental health counseling and business administration. And you're currently a board-certified therapist and you're working on your doctorate.

Reemah [00:00:56] I am. While traveling the country, trying to make sure that we're representative of POCs also in rope. Yeah.

Wren [00:01:03] Where did this hunger for learning come from?

Reemah [00:01:07] I wanted to understand how people, like why people do what they do or like. How come people from different backgrounds go through different, like come out differently, right?

Wren [00:01:19] Yeah .

Reemah [00:01:20] Because I have my own, like quite a bit of trauma. And then even just realizing that a lot of other POCs, you know, in general have a lot of trauma. But we're not working through it. We're not talking about it. I've actually had some conversations and I may do a seminar about it. About how in the black family in particular, mental health isn't a thing, and I'm not doing it as well. Mental health. What. My parents not knowing what psychology was. They said you're majoring in what..? You're going to get a Ph.D.? What's a Ph.D.? It was like, Well, you're not getting an M.D. failure. And it was just like, no, Ph.D. is where I want to go. Because there's so much research that hasn't been done within my community. There's a lack of awareness within the community. And just seeing because I've worked with kids, I used to be a child investigator for child abuse and the crimes against children, and I worked with older adults, I worked with young adults and being able to track it through the lifespan and just seeing how trauma comes up, which is untreated mental health and how that impacts the person in the long run. It's like, damn, we got to do something. I'm not one to sit and say, This is a problem. This is a problem. We do nothing and still sit on my a**. I'm like, This is a problem. Hey fam, what can we do to fix this?

Wren [00:02:41] You spoke about family earlier. I know that your dad's a traditional Nigerian, and when he came to your house, he saw your pole in your living room and your mom asked...

Reemah [00:02:51] Oh my goodness.

Reemah [00:02:52] Why you don't have a dining table? And you said, Because I have a rope rig.

Reemah [00:02:56] Yes. So in my old apartment, when you walk through the door, large pink pole in the middle. And then you walk into the kitchen, it was like Thanksgiving and I had cooked. And you walk into the kitchen, you have the kitchen to the right, and you had my rig to the left. My mom saw me for years. You don't want a dining room table. I have such a nice one. I could build one for you. And I was just like, No, I'm a ... She was like in your dining room? And I was like, Mom, you know what's in my dining room and I'm not moving it. So he comes in and he's like, Ah-ah, this table is nice so what is this? And he hangs on and he's there because he's about my size, maybe a little bit bigger. He hangs on it and swings, Oh, this is good. And he's like, What? What do you use it for? And I started laughing and I looked at Mom and I said, I hang people on there. And he's like, Ah, what did she mean by that? So I was like, Oh, Dad, you need to mind your m********* business. We came to get the food and you asking so many questions and I was like, Hello, don't ask questions you don't want answers to. Because I'm going to tell you. And he was confused, don't ask no more questions.

Wren [00:04:05] Was there ever a time where you didn't feel like you could be your full self in front of your family?

Reemah [00:04:12] Uh. Yeah. Coming out was, it wasn't a problem, it was a process. Because I'm close to my sisters, I told them first and they'll say, Sure, whatever. And even though Mon was like the first one, she took me to my first Ugain Prize in middle school and high school. She ain't even know. She was like, I had to go see my friends and you all are coming. It's gonna to be great. And we're like, What is this?

Wren [00:04:45] Yeah.

Reemah [00:04:45] And it was like, This is great. This is so much fun. We're like in a ... It was amazing. But still knowing our traditions with mom being southern, Dad, being Nigerian is like, Oh, this is not really a thing. And we just got over this big thing of me changing my career to mental health. So it was like, Damn. So I decided to pick the year that it was Mother's Day and her birthday on the same day and was like, Oh, this is perfect. I've got to come out. Not only that, you're going to meet my girlfriend in a few hours.

Wren [00:05:23] I love it.

Reemah [00:05:25] So now on Mother's Day, I'm like, Hey, mom, can I tell you something? She's like, Ah, s***. But there were some kickback of me just coming out. Like some family members were really upset for whatever reason. Unfortunately, there was like, some aunts who was upset because I was always around their kids. I thought that was the weirdest and most hurtful thing because it's like, gay is not contagious. But what the f*** does that have to do with anything?

Wren [00:05:58] Yep.

Reemah [00:05:58] What does that have to do with anything? But it's just like, okay, well, that's your discomfort because I'm gonna keep on. I'm gonna keep on because I'm happy. And then I started getting into kink and delivering rope to my mom's house, and she was like, Why the hell you got a box full of rope. And she just looked at the rope and looked at me and I just smiled. And she was like, Ooh, my kids are into some interesting things. And I say, Yeah, just let me know when you're ready.

Wren [00:06:26] And this is about like 2017, right?

Reemah [00:06:31] Yes.

Wren [00:06:32] When you started your kink journey, you wrote I am brand spanking new to kink life. I did not have a role because I'm not sure where I fall. However, what and who a dom represents deeply resonates with how I operate and wish to function in relationships.

Reemah [00:06:46] Oh, you went way back.

Wren [00:06:47] Well, that's so striking to me because in kink there's so much ego and that statement has so much humility in it.

Reemah [00:06:55] Yeah, that's what I've been told by my submissive. We've been together since 2019, and he says all the time, You're so respectful. You're so considerate. You treat me like a person. Even though, we have this master-slave owner property dynamic, I just always find that interesting. Maybe that's how I came up, like I was trained by the elders of Black doms of Atlanta, who's been in the community 20-30 years, and now they're in their 50-60s. So. That's pretty much who I was raised by. So it's like at the end of the day but also that mental health component you're still a whole person.

Wren [00:07:39] Yeah.

Reemah [00:07:39] Regardless of what road you take, you still have autonomy. I'm still not going to come out disrespectful unless I say in my negotiations. Unless that's something you want. Like that's a big part but also someone who has trauma in addition to the training is like, I don't want to be triggering. I don't want to perpetuate anything that looks like trauma or abuse. So I like to be very cognizant of that.

Wren [00:08:03] You've spoken about having trauma come up with different submissives and things.

Wren [00:08:08] Yeah.

Wren [00:08:09] What do you do when something's not going right in a scene or as planned?

Reemah [00:08:16] Uhm, I check in throughout my entire scene. Regardless of what I'm doing, I'm always asking, How are you feeling? Are you okay? And getting my partners to realize it's not just a physical feeling. Like if we're doing well, I'm not just talk about those wraps on your arms. Like, where are you mentally? Are you still here? Present with me? Because I did do it in passing with someone and she had a history of physical abuse and domestic violence in a relationship. And one of the toys, one of the leather toys reminded her of a belt. So she was triggered from that. It took her back and it was just like, where are you? I feel like I'm sitting in the corner. I'm trying to hide. And it was like, okay, let's stop and like just work on some grounding. Like, you're here with me, you're here with your sister, you're in my living room, open your eyes and just kind of reorient. But we immediately in the same. Even I think ourselves, my partner had just got overstimulated with like the sounds and whole lot of people. Because we don't do a lot of public play. So it was just like, let's stop. And I try to encourage them like I need you to red when you need to call red. If you are feeling overwhelmed or it's too much, it's okay to call red. Because I know you're amazing. You're strong. It's okay. It's not a reflection of you. Actually, you calling red are our limits is strength in itself. I care about my people.

Wren [00:09:45] Yeah.

Reemah [00:09:45] I just care about my people.

Wren [00:09:48] It's so strongly ingrained in bottom to be strong and.

Reemah [00:09:52] Push through.

Wren [00:09:53] So how did that experience change maybe your intake process or maybe you know how you're starting relationships with submissives?

Reemah [00:10:02] Oh, I ask about traumas. I asked about mental health. In our relationship romantic kink don't matter. I ask about trauma and then I describe my definition of trauma because apparently people think it's like a big thing. And I'm like, no, anything negative that happens to you that sticks with you for a long period of time, that's just trauma.

Wren [00:10:22] Yeah.

Reemah [00:10:22] If you can think about something that still comes up today that happened when you were seven that's trauma.

Wren [00:10:27] Yeah.

Reemah [00:10:27] Or it could have happened yesterday. That was it could be trauma. I ask about trauma. I ask about triggers cause I am a sadist. I tend to play a heavy risky type of s***. So it's like if we do something, how would you feel and going to depth as to what that looks like. And I go through the line of some of the common things I like. If we do hair rope, if we do neck rope. I have one partner and she's like, Absolutely not. We're not doing neck rope. You're not going to hang me. I say, You know what? I feel that because that's how I feel about the color of my rope. So cool. And we even have conversations about that. I ask about mental health diagnoses or anything that they feel they struggle with emotionally or mentally. And I like to go pretty in depth during my check-in. Regular stressors, even before we start tying. What's your stress looking like? I feel like it's more personal. Like it's past just top and bottom dom. It's like, Hey, we're people coming together about to do this thing. Let's just make sure as individuals we're all right.

Wren [00:11:35] It's so fascinating to hear those through the lens of being a therapist and having all the background that you have. I read that when you got into BDSM, you had a partner that asked you to slap her, and you did and you liked it. So you went to therapy and asked the therapist. And the therapist was like, that's BDSM.

Reemah [00:11:55] Yeah.

Wren [00:11:56] I feel like that's a missing link in kink in general.

Reemah [00:12:01] Yeah, unfortunately, I feel like people are not even replacing kink with therapy because there was no therapy in the first place. But they're using kink as therapy, and I think that's strongly misguided. It can be used in conjunction with therapy or supplements. But also it's like if you're not going to have these open conversations with your therapist so what you're engaging in is kind of, What are we doing? What? There's been false information out there about, Oh, I can help heal your trauma through well.. And it's just like, What's your license? What's your education? How are you, how are you going to try and just help me understand it? How the hell are you doing it? If somebody could explain because I need answers.

Wren [00:12:54] Can you talk about some things that people can maybe be aware of that they weren't aware of? Because I feel like a lot of the times people don't do these things on purpose. They're just doing them because they think that they can help but in actuality, they are not.

Reemah [00:13:09] I was a mediator for quite a few of these instances of the submissive or the dom telling the submissive that they know what's best for them. They don't have a voice, they can't speak, they can't tell what's actually going on with them and is detrimental for the submissive or bottom. And my perspective is it should always be collaborative. What is the negotiation process look like? How do you actually know that everyone's been satisfied and fulfilled? If everyone involved doesn't have a voice. And if you're engaging in something that is detrimental to their mental health, you need to stop that s***. Just stop it. Okay, you may like it. Maybe you need to get another partner who's into that s*** too. But with this person, you need to stop. Not force down or try to coerce them or persuade them to do it. Just, just stop. It's okay to stop. If you care about a person, stop. If you don't, to get out of kink because something's wrong there.

Wren [00:14:09] Yeah.

Reemah [00:14:10] I feel like the foundation, the foundational basis of kink is communication and consent. And I think that's the part that gets lost.

Wren [00:14:19] I feel like it's even lost in teaching. A lot of teachers will criticize rather than encourage, you know, and it's feeding their ego rather than actually helping.

Reemah [00:14:31] Yes. I mean, ego in the rope community is like, I need to simmer down. Okay. Simmer down. I've had people in my class that were like, Oh, you're first person to actually ask your bottom questions and have them speak up. And I'm like, See, that's still the damn problem. My classes are bottom-focused. How am I going to know what to do if I'm not asking my partner what's going on? What they need.

Wren [00:14:56] What do you think is missing from rope education?

Reemah [00:15:02] Bottoms. Like speaking up and I don't know what it is, and it's not because my partner is like, No, I don't want to do a class by myself. It's like, Okay, okay.

Wren [00:15:11] Yeah.

Wren [00:15:11] Well, let's sit down. Let's create a class because you're going to have a designated part. I'm not talking the whole time. So if we teach this concept, what are some things you feel like will be helpful for both tops and bottoms to know? Bringing them in and making them part of the actual development of these classes and then having them speak. I'm not gonna teach a whole class and my bottom is not talking or giving any type of feedback. Because how are other people going to know. They just want to get into that thing and find out. I mean, we do prevent so much trauma and prevent injuries. If we become more bottom-focused because. Because it's happening to them. So in a way, what are we doing to protect them?

Wren [00:15:54] I really love how you said trauma before the physical injury because I find that that's the easiest thing to get.

Reemah [00:16:01] Right. And I tell people and they're like, oh, do you want to know the submissive is like and I'm like, Uh-uh, I don't want the additional responsibility. Because I have to go to class and take care of my partner. So I already have.

Wren [00:16:14] Others say, I know that you take it very seriously. You have your submissive serve your friends and your family and...

Reemah [00:16:21] Yes. Yeah, it's.. I'm very family-oriented. I mean, even my poly style is kitchen table. We actually have a family. My key partners, romantic partners, we all go out to eat once a month and just kick it and chill. That's important to me. It's like community, like that's community to me.

Wren [00:16:42] And you've had to actively build that community, correct?

Reemah [00:16:46] Yeah. And even when people ask, Well, how can I get more POCs. It's like you have to do active outreach. You actually have to message people, call people, walk up to someone and just say, Hey, I'm Reemah, what's your name? How are you? That s*** you've done, what's cool. Or What happened this March, would you like to come? We would love to see you. Like I should be an inclusive, but even specifically for my family, I do interviews, I do questionnaires, background checks, like I'm asking people about you. I'm checking that, I need references that I actually can contact, if I can get in contact like a job.

Wren [00:17:33] Yeah.

Reemah [00:17:33] No references, did not respond within 48 hours, we're not gonna be able to move forward.

Wren [00:17:38] Yeah. If your friends don't know about these people, then there's probably a reason. Or they're very, very new. And if they're not being honest about being very new, then that's a red flag.

Reemah [00:17:48] We have no problem with new people. It's like, Okay, well let's get on some education and I tell them all the time, I'm like, Listen, education, that's how we service our community because coming out of Covid, a whole lot of s*** is popping off. Like consent violations, just people out here doing unsafe things because they had a lack of education for like two years. So it's like, yeah, what's going on here? That's our service.

Wren [00:18:19] You said something that was really amazing to me and you said that you added Ms. to your name to add presence to yourself and that it's really hard for you in the beginning to be served because you're so independent.

Reemah [00:18:38] Ohhhh, where did you do find that? Yes, I was struggling. Oh, my God. Uhm, so I'm the oldest of six. Again, traditional Nigerian and Southern, so I'm in a position where I'm always taking care of everyone else. Even as a therapist, the focus is the clients. Take care of other people. So for, like, the first two years, I was struggling with actually being served because I would just do things myself. And they're like, Ma'am, that's what I'm here for. And it's like to do what?

Wren [00:19:16] You're just like, I'm fine.

Reemah [00:19:20] Yeah. And it was like I had to redefine, reconceptualize where I feel like service is. And it was like anything to make your life easier. And that's my definition. It was like, Oh, well, I need you to go to the store for me.

Wren [00:19:33] I love that.

Reemah [00:19:33] Oh, okay, this is great. I need to do to wash the dishes. And then it was like anything, and it just became more comfortable and actually helps take stress off me. Even my submissive, he was like, I want to help decrease your stress. What can I do to help with that? And I was just like, Oh, well, there's quite a few things you could do.Now that I think about it. It was like redefining those things. We put it into terms of stress and help when as opposed to something that is removing my independence or challenging my ability to be self-sufficient. That's not what's happening. I know everybody. My momma knows I could do this s***. But it would be easier if I had help and this kind of just in general, like if I had additional help with support, I feel like with most people, things would be easier.

Wren [00:20:27] And the only reason that happened is because you're open to communication with your bottom.

Reemah [00:20:32] Yeah. So then when I had it, he was like, Why won't you let me help you? And I'm like damn.

Wren [00:20:36] Yeah.

Reemah [00:20:42] Why? Help me do what?

Wren [00:20:43] You're like, I got it. I'm good to go, babe. I don't need this.

Reemah [00:20:47] Yeah.

Wren [00:20:48] Well, Ms. Reemah, you're amazing. I love talking to you. I learned so much. You're currently working on your doctorate, correct?

Reemah [00:20:57] I am. Yes, 2024. I just did like the preliminary stuff of kind of getting the intro to what I want to do. And I was so happy that it was well accepted. Oh, my gosh. I remember sitting in my interview and I'm just like, I'm only studying queer people. I'm not flexible on that. That's a non-negotiable. And they were saying, they're looking at me like someone's mouth dropped. And someone was like, Well, how would you have access to that population? I said, I am queer. So everyone I know, yeah, that is not the hard part for me. I say, honestly, the hard part is finding those who is not into kink and identify as heterosexual. That's the difficult part. That's what I need y'all to help me with.

Wren [00:21:45] Well, I'm sure there's no research like that out in the world.

Reemah [00:21:48] And which is why I want to do it. Because there's so much misinformation. But like actual empirical based research? No.

Wren [00:21:57] Where do people find you?

Reemah [00:22:00] Instagram is the one I check most frequently. Leoreemah. I check F*tlife periodically, Ms. Reemah. And then my email is And that's it. I check that often.

Wren [00:22:15] Well, I want to thank you again for being on and talking here.

Reemah [00:22:20] Thank you for having me.

Wren [00:22:22] Oh, my God. You're sowelcome.

Reemah [00:22:24] I appreciate.


In this episode, KissMeDeadlyDoll (KMDD) talks about self-tying, early fantasies, her passion for creating kink-related content and more.


In this episode, KissMeDeadlyDoll (KMDD) talks about self-tying, early fantasies, her passion for creating kink-related content and more.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
KMDD is a switchy rope lover, photographer and kinky smut creator. She’s an ardent self-suspender, having learned to tie herself after falling in love with bondage as a model.

Wren [00:00:18] Welcome to the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren today. My guest is KissMeDeadlyDoll. Doll has been involved in New York's rope scene for over ten years. She's taught internationally. She's an avid self-tyer and as a photographer, she creates some of the weirdest, most ethereal photos I've ever seen. Doll, I'm so happy you're here.

KMDD [00:00:42] I'm so flattered. Thank you so much for having me.

Wren [00:00:46] You're welcome. So I know something about you that is fascinating. You went to fashion school, right?

KMDD [00:00:55] Indeed, I did. I like to call it the root of all evil.

Wren [00:01:02] Did you say it's the root of all evil?

KMDD [00:01:03] Yeah. I have, like, tattoos based on it. Like, all my tattoos are based on it, and I call them the root of all evil.

Wren [00:01:11] What are your tattoos?

KMDD [00:01:13] One is a dress form. The other is kind of a gothic sewing needle that people often think is like a wizard wand, but it's not. It's a sewing needle. The other one is like a shoe lass so that's fun. Yeah.

Wren [00:01:29] What were like some of the things that you made?

KMDD [00:01:34] I've made it all. All kinds of things. Like I started an apparel with, like, a specialty in tailoring. So, like, I did a lot of coats and, like, suiting. And I have a fascination with corsets because I like being crushed and suffocated. But, you know, that's like a whole other thing.

Wren [00:01:55] Do you think that maybe you got into corset-making things because of your kink interests?

KMDD [00:02:03] Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. I have like such a fantasy when I was growing up about like, well, it's probably not appropriate to talk about here, but it definitely had things to do with corsets and like not being able to breathe very well and that kind of like tight bondage feel and then like of course, getting off. So there is that kind of stuff.

Wren [00:02:28] I love it.

KMDD [00:02:29] Yes.

Wren [00:02:29] Do you remember the first time you saw that?

KMDD [00:02:32] I mean, I can't really think of like a movie or any kind of thing like that, but I definitely read my mom's, like, dirty graphic novels from the seventies, which were all very much kind of fourth fantasy damsel, like inappropriate 70 things. So, yeah.

Wren [00:02:55] Does your mom know that now?

KMDD [00:02:58] I don't know if she does, cause I would kind of sneak them into my bedroom.

Wren [00:03:04] I love that. I know that you got into rope the same way most of us do where you went to a club, and then you saw it happening, and you're like, Wow, I want to do that, right?

KMDD [00:03:15] Yeah, exactly. That was, it was like an epiphany. You know, sometimes when you just see something and you're like, Oh, this is what I've been searching for in my entire life. That was like me for rope. Not as a top, but like more as a bottom. Like, I just saw it and I was like, I want to be in that. I want someone to do that to me.

Wren [00:03:37] Yeah. You started tying yourself, right?

KMDD [00:03:40] I did. At that particular time, when I was starting to explore stuff, I didn't have a partner that knew how to tie, and I wasn't all that interested in tying with any of the people that were in the scene doing rope at that time in New York. So I was like, okay, I'm going to figure out how to do this on myself.

Wren [00:04:00] When you look back at that time, what were some of the resources that were available, you know, to learn from?

KMDD [00:04:06] Uph. Not many. Not many. We're definitely very fortunate to have sources like Shibari Study. Not to like drop the name here, but uhh - 

Wren [00:04:22] I mean they're paying for the thing so... 

KMDD [00:04:25] Totally. There is maybe a few tutorials on YouTube which looking back on, weren't necessarily things I would recommend today. And I was fortunate to find a little rope share that this person was hosting and I would go and this girl would kind of practice on me just like simple floor stuff. And then I would come home and try to remember and like recreate it on myself. So that was also a way that I started doing stuff.

Wren [00:04:56] And looking back at that time ten years ago, learning. What do you think you tell yourself that you know now?

KMDD [00:05:05] Hmm. Like most people who tie themselves, I was very eager to be suspended because that's like the fun part, in my opinion. As a self-suspender. And yeah, I probably did a lot of stupid things that were not necessarily safe that I would probably not recommend now. But you know, sometimes we take chances with ourselves and sometimes very stupid things and we learn from them.

Wren [00:05:35] That's such a common thing in rope bondage. You get excited, then you have a lot of experiences very quickly. What are some things that you think we can do to kind of educate, you know, people that are just getting into the scene? You go out and you're saying yes to a lot of things without really knowing all the implied power dynamics.

KMDD [00:05:56] Totally. It's hard. Of course, location plays a big part in that because I think those of us who do live in big cities and maybe there's a little bit more of a scene there that you can find and maybe go to like a jam or a share or some kind of class first and be like in a public setting. There is definitely an advantage to that. But of course, if you're in more rural areas where you have less access to those kind of things, it can definitely be hard. And (sighing).

Wren [00:06:29] It's a really hard problem to solve.

KMDD [00:06:30] For sure. Looking back on the way I used to be, I would say like take more time to have coffee with someone or like meet in a public setting first to get a feel for them before being like, Yeah, I'm going to come to your house and you're going to tie me up. Yeah, all right. But of course, there's never any guarantee or also ask if you can bring a friend with you that can like, come and watch. If someone has good intentions, that shouldn't be an issue.

Wren [00:07:02] Yeah.

KMDD [00:07:03] If I was seeing someone for the first time and they were like, Hey, can I bring my partner with, I'd be like, Yeah, sure. Then come watch. Totally chill.

Wren [00:07:10] So much of rope bondage is on the internet now. It gives us kind of a false sense of security with seeing the same people over and over in the same photos. How have you seen the internet kind of change role bondage since you've been in it?

KMDD [00:07:25] Uh, uhm... Yeah, it's really changed a lot. I mean, I think I started sharing stuff more on Tumblr in the Tumblr days, which is like the Wild West of social media. And then moving to Instagram was so different because there is so many more rules and restrictions. Yeah, and at first it was fun because we could share more and now it's just getting harder and harder and rope has become so much more... Hip. And I don't know if that's a good word, but it's kind of like a trend, right? And so people see it and they don't always understand the risk that's involved with it. Or sometimes when people are in pain and they're processing, they do look very ethereal and like otherworldly. Relaxed. But it's like, no, they were trying to breathe at that moment. So I think people don't always realize how intense it can be. It doesn't have to be, but like sometimes it is.

Wren [00:08:36] Yeah. I really like what you said, that there's these factors that are in juxtaposition between what's actually happening. How do you find your photos are differing between sessions that are more aesthetically based and then sessions that are more about connection and rope and things like that?

KMDD [00:08:55] Mm-hmm. I don't do a lot of the tying for photos kind of thing. Most of the stuff I post are either from private sessions, and that's still more focused on the person's experience that I provide. And if I can step out to snap a photo, I will. Doesn't always happen. Like, really depends on the person and how things are going. And then with the partners I tie, that's a little more like low-key. Maybe I have a little more time to set up some kind of lighting or some kind of vibe because I tie with them all the time and I know a little bit more like what they can take. And I know I trust that they can communicate with me in those moments. And it takes,well , it takes me a while to build up that kind of trust with someone where I feel like confident in their communication skills. Yeah. And I just trust them. And then we have lots of fun.

Wren [00:10:00] Yeah. You know, you said it takes time.

KMDD [00:10:02] Mm hmm.

Wren [00:10:03] That's really, really important. Figuring out that you don't have to do everything on session number one.

KMDD [00:10:09] Totally. And it's also nice to, like, have sessions where there are no photos, and it's just, like, very focused. I've always been so photography based. I would even venture to say it's a little bit part of my kink because it was like part of how I explore kink and explore myself. So I like it being a part of it.

Wren [00:10:35] I love that. Looking through your Instagram, you have so many photos and so many videos. You know, you have like I think, over 1300 photos on Instagram. What haven't you done that you want to do?

KMDD [00:10:52] Mm. I guess when I think of photos, I have less interest in creating like rope photos per say and more just interested in creating scenes or like fantasies. I'm really into like, exploring lighting. I love playing with lighting and I'm doing more video stuff these days, which is also interesting and so much harder. But yeah, like for rope stuff, I'm not really trying to create this big art statement. I just want to like, capture the person's experience when they're in the moment.

Wren [00:11:29] Well, it's so funny because the way you tie is just so fun. You like muster the bottom and you make sounds and you're goofy and we laugh. And it is really hard to represent that in photos. So I have a question.

KMDD [00:11:44] Okay.

Wren [00:11:45] When you're a self tying, it is hard to replicate the same things other people can do to you, maybe in degrees of pain or pushing yourself. How do you get around that? How do you do the same thing that other people can do to you?

KMDD [00:12:04] I mean, I guess it depends on if that's the experience you're trying to give yourself as a person that's a self-suspender. I mean, I know a lot of people self-suspend for different reasons. My reason is definitely because I'm a masochist and I like to suffer. For me, self-suspension is partially making it hurt and pushing my endurance level. So like, how long can I go? How many kind of transitions and shapes can I make? Can I figure out a way to, like, get all the way to the floor without having to stand up? Can I tie something while I'm already suspended for the next move instead of like, tying it on the ground? But then also giving yourself those moments where you can be like, Oh, this position is hard, and I'm just going to twist into it to make myself sit there for a minute. Those are the kind of things I think about.

Wren [00:13:07] Do you find that you test yourself in other ways, too? Like, do you have any hobbies that you like to test your endurance maybe with or fresh air?

KMDD [00:13:17] I love the feeling when you finish something and you're like, Damn, I survived. That was really hard and I made it. That's the feeling I want to have after. It's like, Wow, I survived that. That was awesome. I recently started doing HIIT workouts because I'm a masochist.

Wren [00:13:41] Oh, I wonder how many people in HIIT workouts are actually masochists. I just don't know.

KMDD [00:13:47] Yo, I think so many. Cause HIIT workouts are like the f****** worst.

Wren [00:13:52] They're very bad.

KMDD [00:13:54] They're so bad.

Wren [00:13:56] I feel the same thing about, like, hikers and things because the thing I really like is the food after the hike or the beer after the hike. That's awesome to me.

KMDD [00:14:06] Right?

Wren [00:14:06] Yeah, that's my issue with self-suspending as I never feel like I can do the things to myself that other people do to me.

KMDD [00:14:14] Yeah, it's definitely harder. I don't bottom so much anymore, but sometimes I feel like I can do meaner things to myself than other people will do to me. Yeah.

Wren [00:14:29] Is there anything you have coming up they're excited about?

KMDD [00:14:34] Oh, I do have a trip. I think you think you already know.  I'm going to go to San Francisco this year for Folsom, so I'll be hanging out and then I'm going to go down to L.A. for a couple of weeks and hopefully work on some fun, dirty things.

Wren [00:14:51] We cannot wait to see. What you make your brain is is amazing, right?

KMDD [00:14:58] Is it?

Wren [00:14:58] It is. It's verified. Amazing. Your Instagram is KissMeDeadlyDoll, your Twitters KissMeDeadlyDol with one L. Is there nowhere else?

KMDD [00:15:08] My website link is on Instagram where you can find all my other other other stuff.

Wren [00:15:15] That's what the people want. They want the other other.

KMDD [00:15:17] You know, I mean, I'm always like, you should check it out because like, it is like pretty hot.

Wren [00:15:24] Link trees is like, This is a sensitive link. And I'm like, I know what I'm doing.

KMDD [00:15:28] You're like, No s***. That's what I'm here for.

Wren [00:15:32] Thank you so much for being on and yeah, I can't wait to see you and talk to you too.

KMDD [00:15:40] Thank you for having me. Bye.

Meet the Founders

Join the founders of Shibari Study as they share intimate insights of themselves, the company's origin story, and their visions for the future.

Meet the Founders

Join the founders of Shibari Study as they share intimate insights of themselves, the company's origin story, and their visions for the future.

0:00 / 0:00
Guest Bio
Sinai and Anton are the founders of Shibari Study. With 10+ years of bondage experience, Sin is the heart the company and Anton the conceptualizing mind.

Wren [00:00:02] Hello friends, and welcome to the first episode of the Shibari Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren. The goal of this podcast is to get closer to the people in our scene and explore intersections that aren't possible to grasp from photos online. And with that said, we have two of the best guests a podcast host could ask for. Sīn (Gorgone) and Anton, the founders of Shibari Study. How are you two?

Anton [00:00:47] Hi. Nervous. Can we swear on this?

Wren [00:00:51] I think, well, let me ask with the founders of Shibari Study and see what they say.

Anton [00:00:56] We're swearing on the podcast.

Sīn [00:00:57] Yeah, I think we can swear on the podcast.

Anton [00:00:59] All s*** aside, I'm a little bit nervous. This is the first podcast I'm ever doing.

Wren [00:01:03] Oh, my God. Well, look, you own the company. So I think that the bar is kind of like where you set it. You can do anything you want on this podcast.

Anton [00:01:10] I love that. Otherwise doing amazing, thriving. How are you?

Sīn [00:01:14] Yes. I'm really good. I'm excited to do this interview together and kind of like, I guess dwell a bit in the past. Because time goes so fast and things grow sometimes in a way that makes us forget how it started. So I'm actually excited that we're going to be talking a bit about like the whole project, going back.

Anton [00:01:36] I'm going with Sīn. It does go back, yeah.

Sīn [00:01:37] Yeah.

Wren [00:01:38] That's amazing. So Anton, I hear that in addition to Shibari Study, you also deejay, correct?

Anton [00:01:47] Do I deejay? No, I don't deejay. I'm really into music and photography. 

Wren [00:01:52] Well, you do make music, right?

Anton [00:01:53] Dibble and dabble. I've got my record players right in front of us here. But am I a DJ? I would never consider myself one. Throw stone here in Berlin, you're sure to hit a deejay.

Wren [00:02:04] I thought you produced the music, for some reason.

Anton [00:02:07] We have synths and I do make music. But I'm not a musician. No.

Wren [00:02:12] Okay.

Anton [00:02:14] Would you consider it otherwise?

Sīn [00:02:15] Hell, no, he's not a musician.

Wren [00:02:21] Well, everyone—

Sīn [00:02:22] No, he does like kind of semi-collect vinyls and gets very excited about like digging out tracks and records. And he will play once in a while, but it's just, like, for friends and just like, at home. Basically.

Anton [00:02:37] Yeah. When the after-hour moment starts, that's...

Sīn [00:02:40] He's an after-hour DJ.

Wren [00:02:42] Let's go with that.

Anton [00:02:44] Exactly. There's a big difference.

Wren [00:02:46] Well, I'm so sorry. I'm going to revise all the documents that I set out. Anton is an after-hours deejay only.

Sīn [00:02:53] Yes.

Wren [00:02:55] Sīn, you talk a lot about daydreaming and manifesting throughout your life. Have you always been a dreamer?

Sīn [00:03:02] Yes, definitely. I mean, I grew up as a single child in the middle of nowhere countryside, so I spent like most of my time with animals and just running around in nature. So I guess I kind of developed this very strong inner world but also inner monologue. And I – yeah, I always – I don't know, I think it's like a superpower and also an absolutely horrible thing but I'm constantly thinking about how things are and how they could be better. And I try, whenever I can, to turn this more like self... I don't want to say 'self-harming' but almost like self-harming, like intrusive thoughts, I tried to turn them into more inspiring directions. And rather than just like feel bad about what I think is missing or what I think is lacking or what I think is flawed, I try to start picturing in my head a rough idea of what I would want. And then I found out that if you start doing this very consciously, it really helps actually manifesting a lot of things because it changes your— it changes the inner monologue and it changes the way you act them out in the world I guess. So, yes, I still do it.

Wren [00:04:34] Do you remember the first time you changed that narrative in your head as a kid? Like, what were some of the first things that you did that with?

Sīn [00:04:43] As a kid, I don't think I ever managed to do it. As a kid, it was more just like this lonely self-talk and self-judgment and it made me feel more isolated than anything else. As a teenager, it got even worse, and I felt very alienated from pretty much everywhere and everyone. But then growing up— I mean, I have to say, actually, it's going to sound like I'm making this up and it's super cliché, but one of the first times I started seeing like potential for my weirdness to become actually like a strength was really when I discovered shibari. And it kind of, I don't know, like all of a sudden, like finding this strange underground, you know, like activity with a bunch of super weirdos who seem to somehow have made a sort of big family together and people actually creating things from a place of, I don't know, like... I don't know. I don't want to speak for others, but I feel like one of the – at least when I started over a decade ago – I felt like one of the big common thing between all people involved in kink was this desire to kind of channel the chaos and channel the pain and make something positive out of the violence that lived inside of them. And this, all of a sudden, I felt like, "Oof, okay, here's like a channel." There's like, you know, it felt like all of a sudden I was drowning in the super agitated sea and feeling like "I don't know how to swim this," and then all of a sudden I felt this like, undercurrent that, like, had a direction and I could even influence this direction. So I would say that the first time I felt like I could go in my head and build a fantasy that I can actually then act out in the real world.

Wren [00:06:58] You've said that your mom kind of told you to go out and do stuff. When you came back, did you tell her that you found this community? Like, how did your family respond to that?

Sīn [00:07:08] So when my mom, like— I always had a very, very open relationship with her, we were always very honest to each other and even the few lies that I kind of fostered as a teenager, I always kind of came out to her pretty soon afterwards. So I never lied to her about what shibari is and the things that I liked about it. Even at that time, in the very, very beginning, I was doing like pretty hardcore stuff, actually very explicit, and I had a whole bunch of pictures and videos published. You know, I was like 19 or 20 and I had these like, it was not exactly like porn, but it was definitely like very naked bondage with pretty intense violence. And she knew that. She always said, "I don't want to see, I don't want to see those things. I don't want to see those images. If you have like nice, beautiful, more like arty stuff to show me, I would love to, but I don't want to see the hardcore s***." But so to her, I never lied. And she really knew. And I think, first of all, like parenting me through teenager hood, I think was like if she survived this as a parent and managed to kind of stay out of my way and trust me that I will land on my feet. Like bondage for her was like extremely, like easy and reassuring to deal with. She was like, "Oh okay, that's not like direct self-harm, so let's go with that. Sounds okay. It's also a positive outlet." It was hard for her to see it but she could understand that I was doing something with my body. I was doing something that involves socializing and empowering myself. And I think she actually felt pretty good about this, and she saw that my social life and my mental health and my happiness, my general happiness, was improving, and that's all that mattered to her. And after, I don't know, about six months or half a year of – maybe, I think a year or half a year, I don't know – pretty soon after I found shibari and started diving really hardcore into it, so I quit art school to start really traveling around and meeting people and doing this. And at some point I started feeling really bad that I had my mother paying my rent because I was supposed to be studying and then I was not studying. I was just going around getting tied up by a bunch of people. So I talked with her and I was like, "Hey, listen, I'm going to find a job." And then I found this job in  an outlet store that was like five days a week, and, you know, that's it, all year round. And when I told her this, I was really proud to be making the right decision. Then she kind of freaked out. She was like, "No way, you cannot do this. I know this is not for you and you're going to, you're really going to go crazy with a life like this, and you're not going to be able to travel anymore for shibari if you work five days a week. So how about I support you for one more year and if you don't find a way to become financially stable with this, then we'll talk about it again? But please give it a try." And that's one of the most amazing things that she's ever done for me.

Wren [00:10:32] It sounds like your mom really encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit?

Sīn [00:10:36] She encourages... I think if it shows itself as an entrepreneurial spirit, then she will support this, if she has the financial capacity to do it. But she's really just generally someone who supports people when she feels— like, she's a very intuitive person, I think. She's a psychotherapist and she's suffered a lot in her own life from not being able to find herself and express herself. It came really late to her. And I think she's very sensitive to this in general, when she feels that someone might have found what's their actual path and what's their talent or what will just make them happy and she can support this, she really wants to. And in this case, it meant supporting like my – I mean, at the time it wasn't an entrepreneurial career. I mean, 12 years ago, a 19-year-old who was half a year into getting excited about bondage...  when I told people, I think I can make a job out of this, like everybody was laughing at me.

Wren [00:11:40] Yeah.

Sīn [00:11:41] People who were not into bondage were like, "What the hell? This is just a crazy phase and she's going to get over it." And people who were into the bondage scene were like, I mean, there's like a handful of people all across the world who make a living only out of this. And they're all like old-school, old generation men who tie.

Wren [00:12:04] Absolutely.

Sīn [00:12:05] Like where do you think you're going as a 19-year-old bottom? I don't think she supported any entrepreneurial ventures. She was just supporting her child...

Wren [00:12:16] That's really beautiful.

Sīn [00:12:17] ...that just started to show, you know, like signs of like happiness and excitement and passion.

Wren [00:12:26] It sounds like everyone needs someone like your mom in their life. That's really amazing that you have her.

Anton [00:12:31] Yes.

Sīn [00:12:32] She's really, I mean, I don't know. She's really incredible with this.

Anton [00:12:37] Your mom is special. I will forever be indebted.

Sīn [00:12:40] Yeah, she really, she really changed my life as her child. But I think Anton always speaks about her as, like, she really changed also his life by then later, when he stepped in, supporting the entrepreneurial aspect of it. And she's like really committed to help, in general.

Wren [00:13:02] Anton, if you could summarize Sīn's mom in one word, what would it be?

Anton [00:13:10] The only feeling that comes up for me and the only word is gratitude. One word to summarize 'maman'? That's a hard one. She's beautiful.

Wren [00:13:21] What is your origin story? Where did your spirit come from? You're a dreamer as well.

Anton [00:13:28] Mine?

Wren [00:13:29] Yeah.

Anton [00:13:34] Born and raised in Berlin. My dad's from Canada. My mum here from Berlin. And, I don't know, being raised in Berlin right after the wall came down. There were so many different influences and it was really it was a really, really fun time. There was so much - it was such a new city and there were so many niches that you can diddle and dabble in. And none of these, none of these scenes were very established like in all of the other cities. So anything you did, anything you were passionate about, you could find your community for it and really like climb the ladder very quickly there. If you were in Paris, New York or London, all of these niches are so established since so many decades that it's impossible to reach as a nobody. But that - I don't know - that freedom, that energy of change was really formative for me, too. Yeah.

Wren [00:14:27] And what niche were you exploring at that time?

Anton [00:14:31] Wow.

Sīn [00:14:34] Me. We both have a turbulent past.

Anton [00:14:37] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So. Let's start around the time that I met Sīn. It was more of a - I was traveling and partying. And trying to study. It took me - I graduated high school, barely, but then it took me six years of traveling and doing god knows what until my mom was slowly beginning to worry, to say the least. And I was like, okay, mom, look, I'll do something. And then I was, introspectively I was like what do I like, what am I into and it was really just plants and insects, right?

Wren [00:15:21] Wow.

Anton [00:15:21] I'm much, much like Sīn. My biggest talent.. I'm not great at anything, really. But what I can do is bring order to chaos. And I'm I see potential and I'm really into like, like ordering like people's talents and technologies in order to make things like systems. And I think that was that was the perfect match. So Sīn brought the intention, the philosophy, the experience, and I brought the vision and also the need, to be honest, like Shibari Study as it is now, was borne out of the need to learn bondage, which... Yeah.

Wren [00:16:02] Wow.

Anton [00:16:03] Which we then did through Shibari Study. Yeah. And with the help of maman.

Wren [00:16:09] She's kind of like the third founding member of Shibari Study, wasn't she.

Anton [00:16:13] She was the only founding member.

Sīn [00:16:14] She's basically the only founding member.

Anton [00:16:15] My goodness. Yeah. Yes, yes. She's the all-seeing godmother.

Sīn [00:16:20] Well, I know who I need to get on the podcast soon.

Sīn [00:16:23] Yeah.

Sīn [00:16:23] You can hook me up. That'd be great.

Sīn [00:16:26] She's actually like, it just made me think that it's been a while that she's asking to be a model for one of our shooting. Like she's never been tied. And she asked me a few times. She was like you know what? Like I really don't get it. I respect it and I don't judge it but I really don't get it. So maybe the best way for me to understand why I don't like it or actually find out that I like it would be to try. So she's asked me a few times to tie her, and every time I'm like uh, yeah. Like I'm kind of excited but also like do I want to do that? But also would I trust anyone else tying my mom?

Wren [00:17:03] Yeah. So that was my question.

Sīn [00:17:06] And then why not? Why not do it for one of your shootings where it's like very chill and casual. And we almost made it but for some reason then it didn't happen. And ever since, like, I don't know, we should actually... Yeah, let's do it.

Anton [00:17:18] It'll come.

Sīn [00:17:20] We should actually do it. She still asks for it regularly.

Anton [00:17:22] 2023.

Sīn [00:17:23] That is one of the coolest things I've ever heard.

Sīn [00:17:27] That would be really cute actually. Maman on the website.

Anton [00:17:30] I love that.

Sīn [00:17:31] It was really cute. So when did you two meet?

Sīn [00:17:37] Oh wow.

Anton [00:17:38] That was a while ago. When was this? It was four years ago?

Sīn [00:17:42] It was early 2018 like spring of 2018. I had just moved back to Berlin after an extremely brutal ending of a previous relationship. And I kind of like crash-landed in Berlin.

Anton [00:18:00] Without your horse.

Sīn [00:18:01] With nothing. With just one suitcase, basically. And I just crashed at like friends' places and I was really a wreck. Like I was very lost and I was just very tired. I had also come out of like about eight years of like solo traveling and teaching and burnouts after burnouts and then this very, very extremely failed relationship that really like broke my heart into a million pieces. So I was kind of like in, I don't know, like some sort of like wreck mode where I was just desperately looking for anything to get me excited again. But I was way too tired to teach. I was trying to slow down the traveling. And I had recorded like maybe five tutorials, like maybe some of the people listening here who were like really, really old, like followers of Shibari Study. They probably remember like those videos were like out there for some people to acces but it was like self-produced, like super low quality and it was only like five of my original harnesses because I didn't feel like legitimate to teach anything else. And it was also very experimental, basically, to like just put bondage classes online. So I wasn't sure it was going to work. But I had this and still like one residency in Paris where I was teaching once a month. So I was pretty tight on like, you know, money and energy. And then I met Anton. We met in a cafe where he was working. He was working there as a barista. And then slowly I stopped paying for the coffee. And then he started sitting at my table a little bit longer. And then eventually we went out for drinks once, and then we stayed together for three years.

Anton [00:19:50] Three years?

Sīn [00:19:50] Oh, my God.

Sīn [00:19:52] And pretty early on, like, a lot of s*** happened. Like basically the one residency I had in Paris, the venue shut down. I was basically the kind of like godmother of this place. And then it turned out that the founder and like leader of this community committed a certain number of sexual assaults on very young new models. So I kind of pulled out and most of the staff pulled out in the venue just closed. So that was also over. And at the time we were like, I don't know, in the first few months of the relationship with Anton and he saw me like freaking out. And I was like, okay, I need to pick up this online classes thing. I'm exhausted by the community. I'm tired of all this s*** coming out all the time. I'm tired of not being able to trust like community leaders. I'm not planning on becoming one and I'm tired of traveling alone. And I need to settle somewhere in the world where I can build actual connections and relationships and, like, stabilize myself. But I cannot do this. I'm extremely chaotic. I have no, I always have, like, I think, powerful ideas. But I have, I cannot, like I can barely open my mail and pay my electricity bills. So building a company, founding an actual company and making all of this happen by myself, I really couldn't see it happening. So he just kind of naturally jumped in and started helping me out so much that we were both like, working 14 hours a day on our laptops, just like trying to plan things and self-produce in our tiny little one-room studio apartment and edit. And we were doing everything by ourselves. And after a while, I told him like, I mean, you can't continue helping me out like this just for nothing. So if we build this company, then let's build it together 50/50. And if anything happens to our relationship, then at least it will be both our baby, and you will continue to be committed to it. So very quickly, actually, like I think half a year after we were together or something, we just found Shibari Study together.

Anton [00:22:05] It was quite quick, yeah.

Sīn [00:22:07] It was pretty quick.

Anton [00:22:07] The first year or so, I think we were traveling.

Sīn [00:22:09] Maybe one year.

Anton [00:22:11] You were still teaching a lot. I was trying to do my little gigs here and there. But I guess it all came down - in the beginning, because like Sīn was saying, it was just are few harnesses on the platform and I really wanted to learn bondage. I was in all of these workshops.

Sīn [00:22:28] But I didn't want to teach you.

Anton [00:22:30] I did not want you to teach me. No, no. So I was left with a question how do I learn bondage, shibari without having to ask Sīn directly to teach me all the basic knots to begin with. So I went online. I was looking for some... how do I teach the tk, how do I learn TK, how do I do the single-column, the double column. And there was no real good information out there. And then I also thought like this platform, like the problem that I have, like most people have in the beginning, there's a huge, huge hurdle for someone to have a curiosity for bondage but then that hurdle of actually going to an in-person class as a newbie, it's connected to so many fears and stuff. That is a big one to jump. And to make that a little bit more accessible and also for me to learn myself, I was like, hey babe, we need to shoot an entire beginners course. So we set up the studio. We were living in a one-room apartment and we blacked it all out, setup a couple of lights.

Sīn [00:23:34]  I resisted that one.

Anton [00:23:36] You really resisted that.

Sīn [00:23:38] I really resisted that one.

Anton [00:23:39] That was the beginning of everything. Really diversifying the content.

Sīn [00:23:42] Why did you resist it?

Sīn [00:23:44] Because it felt like such a huge responsibility to teach beginners content online. And for a really long time, I had said, like, I will not teach beginners stuff and I will not teach advanced stuff on Shibari Study for a really long time. That was kind of like my - that's what I had decided and what made me feel like it was the safest thing to do and the most reasonable. But then Anton convinced me that it could actually be much safer and much easier for a lot of people to just learn these things at their own pace and not just like go to a class, see a bunch of things, get overwhelmed and go home and have nothing to review the techniques and practice by themselves. So there was this aspect. And then I also realized there are so many awful teachers out there and there are so many places where people just don't have access to proper education. Like rope education. And they just end up - because they don't know better - they just end up in these really terrible, you know, whatever, kind of self-proclaimed teacher environments and they also learn dangerous things and they can't even review it afterwards. So if they forgot - like I noticed as an instructor that if you teach like ten ties to people over a weekend, they might really remember one. And the other nine, they've seen it, they've done it with your help and supervision. But as soon as they go home, it's gone. You know, people are always like can I make a video, you know, while you teach. Can I take pictures? Going to make a video so I can review it at home? And I was like, wow, that's also not such a safe thing to do because you just recorded that thing that was taught in a candid way. So it wasn't taught in a way that specifically is made to be reviewed. You know what I mean?

Sīn [00:25:44] Yes.

Sīn [00:25:45] Maybe I gave some specifications while I was teaching that they didn't record or maybe they recorded with the wrong angle or whatever. So I started to also rethink this and, you know, feel like, okay, maybe if I really put a lot of thoughts into this and we curate it and produce it and like if I make the curriculum in a very specific way and then we release it in a platform where people have like unlimited access to the information so they can go again and again and again, then it actually might be as safe as in-person education, not as a standalone. Like, I still really believe that it's important to have both. But it will at least give people some standard. So when they go out there and look for in-person education, if the teacher makes no sense or the teacher doesn't explain things properly, like I think one of my best qualities as a teacher is to dive really deep into the why and how and not just like do it because I said so. And I think that was like - that's something that's valuable to people when they go and look for in-person education. So I started rethinking this and eventually accepted to do the beginner course. But I think it took me like half a year to plan. Like I dragged it. I was like, I really need time. I need to feel very confident with what I'm teaching and how I'm teaching it, and that the curriculum evolves in a way that will really take people through everything they need to know so that they can do those basics safely and autonomously.

Wren [00:27:17] It sounds like there's a huge responsibility that goes along with making beginner courses.

Sīn [00:27:21] Yes. Absolutely. I mean, there's a responsibility that goes along with just teaching anything that's like high risk, whether it's in-person or online.

Wren [00:27:31] Shibari Study in many ways is an act of rebellion against a system that's in place for a long time. What were some of the fears that you had early on, like you said, that you were - you didn't want to teach beginner stuff. You didn't want to teach advanced stuff. How did that play into it?

Sīn [00:27:47] I mean, I think these were more like internal fears and I just had to review the reason why I was worried about this and eventually find out that they were valid worries. But there were ways around it. There were ways to make it actually safer and even like very beneficial and very complementary with what existed already. But if you're talking about a system that I was kind of rebelling against, I think I just felt like the groundwork of trying to shift many paradox of the bondage community. And I mean, you know, the bondage community doesn't exist in a vacuum. It still reflects like our world and our societies and the global system. And it felt very male dominated. It felt very stereotypical, you know, hetero-stereotypical. It was, you know, just like when I started, it was 99%, maybe not but at least in what I experienced of like older men tying very young new bottoms. And I felt like that's just not fair. And it's not... people talk about how it can be empowering but I felt like it was... The empowerment was really very limited. It just kind of like enabled people to choose to live those experiences but always in a way that continued to repeat probably their past traumas or their general like, you know, social trauma and social limitations. And we were a few people trying to change that. I wasn't the only one but we were a few handful of people really trying to like, push for like, you know, female or at least like non-male riggers and trying to become more, you know, respected and become more skillful and talented to the point that we could start teaching and performing and like, you know, representing a different approach to bondage and people who were trying to also bring different disciplines into it and different intentions and make it more like, you know, more spiritual or a bit more like political or, you know, like so on and so forth. But I mean, I think you can ask this to anyone who was part of this movement, quote on quote. It was exhausting. And we got really damaged also on the way. And it felt like, okay, we're creating a little bit of a different type of representation, but at what cost? And we're not really changing the roots of the problem because most of the people who would want to access education can't. Because it's too expensive. I mean, if you go to a a weekend workshop with, you know, like a renowned instructor, it's an enormous cost.

Wren [00:30:52] Absolutely.

Sīn [00:30:53] And you have to travel and you have to, you know, it's super expensive tickets and then, you know, okay, that's it. Then you had access to that one course and you go back to maybe a community where there's nobody who's in the same mindset and then you. So another very big motivation for Shibari Study was also to like really make high quality education, not just in the way it's recorded, but the actual content and later on varied content by bringing other instructors and to make this accessible to as many people as possible. Like, I don't think we can... Like, we cannot say that a space is always safe. We cannot say that it's accessible to everyone but we tried to make it as accessible to as many people as possible, and I felt like that was actually a much more powerful tool to do that and to try to open up this community and like create like deep change at the level of the people practicing, not just the level of the people who are already talented and skilled and renowned.

Wren [00:31:58] Definitely.

Sīn [00:31:58] And really build like a whole other kind of current.

Anton [00:32:04] Yeah.

Sīn [00:32:05] There was an interview where you were asked what were some of your funny mistakes that you made and you answered none of them were funny in the beginning and that really hit me.

Sīn [00:32:18] Yeah. I mean, being a, you know, female-bodied, very young person diving into this world with like, I had a lot of ambition but I also didn't know anything. I was barely like, you know, super young adult. So you're you're barely formed. Like your thoughts and your knowledge of yourself and the world around you are not very sharp yet. I was very naive. I was very influencable. I was very damaged and I made choices and I allowed other people to make choices for me that were incredibly damaging and traumatic and really not funny at all. Like if we're talking about mistakes, like, woops, I dropped someone one time. Even this is not fun. Like, I don't think I, like none of the mistakes I made that hurt other people or that hurt me were ever funny. Like, it's a pretty high-risk discipline. It can be very, very beautiful and very helpful and very empowering and just brings so much joy and pleasure. But like everything high risk when you do make mistakes, both physically or emotionally, they're profoundly, you know, impacting.

Wren [00:33:34] Yeah. Taking the rope side out of it, looking at only the Shibari Study company side, when you open the website right now, it looks like you're navigating a five-star hotel website. It's amazing.

Anton [00:33:49] Oh, stop it, Wren.

Wren [00:33:52] Thank you.

Wren [00:33:52] Let's say if I'm going to suck up to anybody, these are the people to do it to. But I have a feeling that it wasn't always like this. How different was it? And, you know, what were some things that you were worried about in the beginning that didn't really matter that much? You know, like making mountains out of molehills kind of thing.

Wren [00:34:12] I think Anton can take over from here and like talk about the general aesthetics and organizational process of the early Shibari Study under my solo governance.

Anton [00:34:24] Yeah.

Wren [00:34:26] What was it like when you came in?

Anton [00:34:28] Chaos. Unstructured chaos with so much potential though. It was already, Shibari Study already had some really good following before, but it was not navigable. I don't know. I think it plays into the whole accessibility part of Shibari Study. The website needs to be incredibly diverse. It has to be inclusive and definitely navigable. Now, at this point, we've already created a pretty extensive library of courses and classes and different approaches and instructors and even like rope philosophies, if you can put it that way. And also to make it accessible. It has to look good. Though I mean, it started only with video tutorials and then we went to live classes that we stream on a good week two or three times a week. We're bringing out all these new features and this all has to fit under one roof and it's bringing structure into it. I love that.

Wren [00:35:33] A couple of years into the formation of Shibari Study, a global pandemic happens. How did the lockdowns shape Shibari Study?

Anton [00:35:45] So this changed everything because then, I mean, it's been years that I haven't really been in an event. And I don't know, I think if we're talking just more generally without talking about Shibari Study specifically, but how the pandemic impacted the bondage scene from what I see online and what I hear when I still do meet people who are in the community and talk with them is, you know, I think it did both some good and some bad. Like the bad, the negative effects obviously, were that, as Anton said, the whole point of this practice is to connect with other people physically and emotionally and like very directly. It's really like a tunnel through, you know, the walls and all of a sudden people couldn't do this. They couldn't meet their partners, they couldn't go to events, they couldn't socialize. So for people who are really into the community and socializing aspect of shibari who love to go to rope jams and meet new people like, you know, like-minded people and fellow kinksters. I think that was really, really tough and really difficult. And I don't think that Shibari Study and other online platforms, that do exist, could bridge that gap. Like we could still provide knowledge, but we couldn't do anything about the lack of physical connection. But I guess what it did in a more positive way is that I am pretty sure it allowed a whole new generation of people who were curious and interested to start in a way that, as frustrating as it might have seemed to them, really help them build some knowledge before they went out there and met new people and trusted them with their bodies and hearts. And by the time they could again, like go to jams and meet people, I feel like all the time they had to spend online on different platforms learning probably, actually helped them build like a lot more of a clear idea of what they want and maybe what they don't want and how they want to approach it. And I think maybe for some people who were already active, it gave them the opportunity to also like sit back, slow down, relax because I think pretty much everyone new to anything but I feel like especially with shibari with this sort of like kind of addiction that it triggers in the very beginning, a lot of people, especially bottoms become very, very greedy and bulimic very quickly. I was definitely one of those. And it's a lot of very young people. So if you start and you discover shibari, you know, later in your adult life and you probably already have a partner that you trust and know that you're starting this with, I think you're pretty okay. You know, even if things go wrong, you already have like a foundation of trust and love. But for a lot of very young people who just kind of jump into this very excited and still naive, you get yourself into really tricky situations and it doesn't necessarily go wrong, but it can go wrong very quickly.

Wren [00:39:02] Absolutely.

Sīn [00:39:02] And I feel like the pandemic forced everyone to slow down. And as bad as it is and as bad as it was, I think there was also this positive aspect to it.

Wren [00:39:15] That makes total sense. I was the same way where I got into it and went very, very quick. If I could tell myself anything, it would be slow down. But I don't know anybody that's been able to slow down. Do you think it's possible to tell someone that's just found rope bondage, hey, take it slow.

Sīn [00:39:31] I mean... Wow.. Well, I mean, you can you can tell people to slow down. I think everyone was told to slow down by someone else who's been doing it for a longer time and was like, hey, maybe you want to, you know, take baby steps. I think it comes down eventually to people's nature. Some people are more like wired for like self-protection than others. And these people will listen. But if you're a bit more, you know, impulsive and like, have these very intense drives, shibari will definitely kind of activate this. It provides so many positive things that it's difficult to see how easily you know, how slippery of a slope it can be. But I do think that maybe the most positive thing that not Shibari Study but the online, the general like online world around kink and bondage has done is provide so much, like stories, there's so much things that are out there of like stories of people that went through something difficult, public call-outs, public like takedowns of venues and certain community leaders who were extremely toxic. People sharing their experiences. People being much more transparent. There's not really any gatekeeping left. There is maybe a little bit in certain like, you know, schools or groups of people. But mostly I feel like everyone has kind of like agreed to go for that, you know, like let's share as much as we can. And there's so much knowledge out there and there are so many people willing to share their mistakes. And share what happened to them, but also share what they have done to others. I feel like there's more accountability and this is more accessible now.

Wren [00:41:28] That makes total sense.

Sīn [00:41:29] So maybe, the combination of all this being out there just a click away and people in your direct surrounding being like, hey, slow down, probably has brought more people to reflect than ten years ago or 15 years ago.

Sīn [00:41:47] Where are we going with Shibari Study? What is on the horizon? What's happening?

Anton [00:41:52] What's happening? Shibari Study, we've got the podcast now, obviously, which is a great feature that we're really excited for. And then there's the blog, which we're working on. We've been working on the blog for more than a year and we're hoping for it to finally be out there in the world that we can share all of this great content that's being written.

Wren [00:42:11] What kind of stuff is being written?

Anton [00:42:13] Oh, goodness gracious. It it ranges. It ranges. I've got a spreadsheet, so it's probably at least 50 lines of great, great topics. It goes from how to start with bondage, how to be a bottom without without experience and how to navigate tying with somebody new. It goes from different knots, the approaches of different TKs. We've got the different styles. We've got the history of shibari. We're hoping to release all of these articles in the very beginning, and then we're going to grow from there. It's really exciting because this is one of the few features that we can really put out there. And it's free information that we're really bringing out there. And it's really exciting to finally have reached a point where we can create this information hub that everybody can find and finally access.

Anton [00:43:07] Yeah, that's really exciting.

Sīn [00:43:09] I feel like the last year, you were kind of like setting up the ground for a bunch of new things like even the Discord channel that you kind of, I don't know, like went so fast. Like we were having a team meeting and we're like, how can we actually, like, foster an actual community where people can, you know, exchange and like, share their progress? It's sometimes so difficult on Instagram or like social media for people to share kink-related like images or even like text.

Anton [00:43:41] And also ask questions.

Sīn [00:43:43] And ask questions and have a better access to like teachers responding to them. So I think now is kind of the beginning of us realizing that. Shibari in itself as a product was something that we had achieved, like we've recorded. I don't know how many videos are on the website now, but I think it's something like around 700 videos. There were so many different teachers, like this was kind of our goal from two years ago. It was to like move away from just this is a website where you will find classes from Gorgone, to this is a website where you can find just general bondage education from different perspectives, even have like the same things being taught by different people from different angles. So that was kind of the previous goal that I think we've pretty much achieved. There's still a lot we want to do to bring even more like variety to the content and also more like diversity in the approaches and the teachers and bottoms being represented. But we've pretty much achieved the grounding of this goal. And we started to feel like it's not really enough if we want this to be complete. And I don't know. I feel like at some point we basically had kind of two choices. One choice was how do we continue producing content online that would be free and just also different formats in order to bring like also different perspectives and different information. Because we've had people that, I don't know, I believe were like wonderful teachers, but not necessarily of the technique. But like in terms of the history or just general like reflection around those topics. But that didn't feel like they had any like technical content they would want to teach on video. So one option was this like let's go for just different formats online and the other option was, I guess, at some point maybe we should open a venue. And pretty much immediately as this thought came up, we were like no. Like this, like that would be very destructive to the general ecosystem. And also it's just not what we want to do. And it would come with this sense of like, you know, Shibari Study instructors like, you know, when people say... If we talk about someone teaching on our website as a Shibari Study instructor, it just meant, it just means they have taught something on Shibari Study. But we're not affiliated. They're not representing a specific style or school of thought. And that's something that was very important for me at least. Curating the content is to really give people freedom to teach whatever they would teach anyways. And you know, it would come with this whole thing of maybe like certificates and something rigid. And we really didn't want to do this. So we completely shut down this idea and decided to really stay and, you know, in our line which is online and then just expand from there. And like from this point on, basically Anton and the team came - like they came up with the Dischord idea and the podcast idea and the blog idea and whatever will come next. But I think the future plans of Shibari Study are to try, I don't know, maybe now I'm speaking for myself but try and not change it too much, actually. Just like continue to follow our original mission, which is just providing as much education as we can and make it accessible to as many people as we can. That's really the core mission of Shibari Study. How can we just spread the knowledge and that's it? And then people will do what they will do with it. And our only responsibility is to facilitate the transmission of this knowledge. So I don't know. I think it's important that we find a balance, that you know, there's enough growth that the project sustains itself but without starting to just look for new ways to expand. And I think that has been also a really interesting aspect of this entrepreneurial journey is, I mean, obviously it is a capitalistic venture because it is an entrepreneurial venture. It's a project that we were growing. And as it grows, it generates more profit and more reach and the community is growing. So how to find the balance with this fact and accepting it, which that's something I resisted also a lot in the beginning. It made me feel very conflicted because it goes against some of my values. So understand that this is what we're doing, but then really still try to infuse it as much as possible with our values that are to not go nuts on this basically and try as much as possible to never like lose sight of what the original mission is and get too greedy or too crazy. So I think Anton has been working mostly with the team on improving what we have and just make what we had from the beginning just better. Look better, bigger catalog, you know, more diverse format of delivering that information but not divert from this. So I don't know. I don't think there's a crazy future for Shibari Study basically, just an improvement of what we have now.

Anton [00:49:31] There's no crazy future. And like, the formula is set. Once the blog is out, that's it. That's Shibari Study as it is and will continue to be. I think what people have to look forward to now is great content. It's performances. We shot two days with Kinoko-san. Great, great instructor this time.

Sīn [00:49:53] I think our job from now on is just to continue inviting the right people.

Anton [00:49:57] Bring good people on board.

Sīn [00:49:58] Exactly. That's pretty much it which is already a challenge in itself because I personally wouldn't trust just anyone to teach on our platform. We're pretty selective and it's a difficult selection because there are so many criterias. Like we want it to be technically, you know, high level. We want it to be also like great humans that we love and trust. And we just like who they are and how they want to present, whether presenting. So there's like a, you know, like kind of a human skill aspect. There's a technical skill aspect. There is do they want to do this. There are also a lot of people were like, no, I don't want to be a Shibari Study instructor. That's not the way I want to teach. And of course, we respect that. There are people who feel like they're running out of content or insecure to teach their content in this way. There are just so many aspects that basically our biggest challenge that will always remain a challenge is continue to create beautiful content with beautiful people and try to not produce crap content just because we need to create content. So I guess this will remain forever the number one challenge of this project.

Wren [00:51:17] I don't think anybody has ever taken the word crap content and Shibari Study and put it together. I mean, nothing you two made has been anything but spectacular.

Sīn [00:51:28] Thank you so much.

Anton [00:51:28] Thank you.

Wren [00:51:28] Thank you two for spending the day with me. I learned so much from both of you. Seriously. You're both inspiring things.

Anton [00:51:38] So good to catchin up.

Sīn [00:51:39] Thank you so much, Wren.

Wren [00:51:41] You're welcome.

Anton [00:51:42] It's really good chatting.