Claw is Wink’s erotica section …Here you will find mature content with a dark side… Enter at your own risk! over 18 please*
“Hey man, may I tie up your date?”
“You’ve got to ask her,” I replied to my interrupting questioner while packing a bit of Afghan war hashish onto some superb Romulan herb in my bowl, surprised. I’d not ever been asked this question. “The worst she can say is no.” In fact, instead of saying “no,” her enthusiasm was, so to speak, boundless.
Thus, over the next few hours, I was introduced to the ancient Japanese art of Shibari, extreme bondage knot tying. ‘Shrooming and smoking, I watched as she was literally suspended face down in the air, by using as many differently colored ropes as the guy tying could use, ropes tied in the most bold and constraining fashion all about her body. To her it was an exquisite experience, which fascinated me. The idea that this was enjoyable to her, being roped up and restrained publicly, without any overtly sexual acts involved was a concept that ran counter to every PC, feminist notion I’ve personally come across.
I subsequently discovered that two of my friends, Terro.chik and Ekaterina Dashkova, a husband and wife team performing together for ten years (they’ve long played heavy industrial music together in the bands LoadBang and Archetype of A Crime, with cd releases in early 2007), practice a slightly different, more minimalist but much more intricate and artistic form of shibari, the modern term for kinbaku, which is the preferred term for their artwork. They practice their art at parties, clubs, and privately. They describe it as “industrial rope bondage, based on the fairly ancient form of Japanese rope bondage, ‘kinbaku-bi ni jigoku’ which means ‘beautiful bondage from hell’.”
They also perform kinbaku in what they describe as guerilla fashion. They will enter an establishment, a bar or club or restaurant, find something to which they can tie or suspend Ekaterina, and go to work without announcing their presence.
They invited me to come visit in Philadelphia, to see them perform on stage at the (now defunct) Extreme Diabolique Fetish Ball. All performers that night donated their time, so the proceeds could go to the organizations Women Against Abuse, Inc., Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Woodhull Foundation, dedicated to promoting sexual freedom as a basic human right. Not only was I into the idea of seeing and photographing them performing on stage, but as an Eagle Scout who learned to tie numerous knots in my youth, I was interested in learning more about this incredibly complex and sexy art form.
It was obvious right away, as I watched Terro.chik take an hour and a half to pre-tie knots at various strategic locations about Ekaterina’s body, long before they ever got close to the stage, that what they were doing with ropes differed greatly from the demonstration I’d seen at the party in New York City. After a dramatic show incorporating loud music, strobe lighting, opaque screens, and wrappings dripping in simulated blood, it was clear this was not simple bondage but extreme performance art. The Ball attendees were riveted to the stage during the entire twenty-minute show.
Modern kinbaku is a distant cousin of Hojojutsu, a militarily-derived form of martial arts restraint using ropes to capture, constrain, and even torture prisoners. It is no longer taught except sometimes as part of a larger school of martial arts, such as in advanced jujitsu. Hojojutsu first came into use during the Sengoku period of Japanese history, an era of violent civil conflict lasting from the mid-fifteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries. This era is known today for its extraordinary cruelty, brutality, and imaginative but horrific methods of torture. Modern kinbakuis considered more a sexual bondage, gentler and more compassionate, than the hojojutsu. Japanese bondage artists first began creating wood block printings depicting roping in a relatively sensual fashion as far back as the early 1600s, while Japan was still severely isolated from the Western world. Then
Japanese artists, such as Ito Seiu , began drawing and popularizing more erotic images of bondage in Japan in the early Twentieth Century. Bondage art soon began showing up in the West after WWII, largely thanks to the drawings of Englishman John Willie in his seminal Sweet Gwendoline comic series, and through the work of model Bettie Page with photographer Irving Klaw. The word shibari used to describe kinbaku did not become common in the West until sometime in the 1990s.
One major difference between Eastern and Western tying styles is the type of rope used. Westerners, often going for the most complicated combinations of knots possible, more regularly use synthetic, multi-colored ropes. In this regard, Ekaterina and Terro.chik are more traditionalist, in that they use hemp rope exclusively.
“Hemp is very forgiving,” Ekaterina points out. “So when it’s tight and I’m in a position for a long time, and some parts of my body aren’t necessarily comfortable anyway, there’s a bit of feeling as though the hemp rope is actually part of my skin, a part of me.
“I like knowing that I’m supporting the hemp industry. I like knowing where my hemp comes from,” Ekaterina adds. “So, my point is there is hemp rope we can purchase that is being hand-braided by indigenous women in other countries, so it’s really good. That way I know my purchase and use of hemp rope is going towards something positive, even if this is just a small thing.”
Not only do they use hemp rope, but smoking pot plays a big part in their entire artistic process. “The aesthetics of the bound person’s position are also important,” notes an entry on the subject at Wikipedia.org, “in particular, Japanese bondage is notorious for its use of asymmetric positions to heighten the psychological impact of bondage.” Tying, and being tied in asymmetrical positions for long periods, smoking pot helps them both relax, and inspires them to new heights of creativity, as it were.
“The rope tying is just one part of the whole creative process,” says Terro.chik, a self-described fan of performance artist and sculptor Joseph Beuys. “For the last I don’t know how many years, I’ve been working on video mixers, working on the industrial music, working with the screens, etc. The rope art is part of a whole thing. Because of the internet and how it interplays in the artistic culture, the art design is all related to the same thing, it’s all part of one thing. Every single element of that has happened in a life that started with my first joint when I was 14 years old. I’ve been smoking ever since, in a project that hasn’t taken days, weeks, or months, but a lifetime. I pretty much smoke the finest herb I can find before I tie, both performance wise or in our own environment or studio, when we practice, which we do a lot.”
“It is a fetish performance that I believe is the real future of fetish performance,” explains Terro.chik, who has previously worked with world-renowned tattoo artist Paul Booth, and Terro.chik has collaborated with Paul Booth, including on a project described by Booth as his “most diabolical ever.”
“Of course, exquisite knots are extremely important and something I practice regularly, says Terro.chik. “But, it is an entire performance piece that truly begins with the one to two hour guerilla pre-tie and ends with Ekaterina bloody and bound behind smoke, harsh music, blinding lights, disturbing video projections and 200+/- feet of hemp rope.”
This article was originally written for High Times, commissioned on the strength that Terro.chik and Ekaterina not only use hemp ropes exclusively in their performances, but also smoke a lot of pot before and afterwards. Once the article was finished and the photos turned in, HT said, “there’s no way in hell we are going to publish these bloody bondage photographs.” Hence, the article did not get printed by the magazine. Still, such a beautiful art form deserves to be seen.
There is no pain involved, or so I’m told by Ekaterina and by my date that first evening. Instead it seems there are feelings of being outside the body while being bound tightly within, an extremely intense form of sensory deprivation as well as an intensifying of bodily sensations. With both partners cooperating, the torture aspects vanish, and it’s joy, thrill, and most definitely sexual arousal that both experience. What more could one want?
On a final note, this is an art that takes years of practice, and not for the amateur to attempt, as it is way too easy to hurt the person being tied. So a word to the wise, do not attempt this on a whim, study up first, and practice long and carefully before hanging your lover/sexual partner from the ceiling, please.
-drawings by Matt Sullivan who can be found at many Drink N’ draw events!
Preston Peet is a NYC-based writer, editor, musician, actor, dj, painter, psychonaut, radical, activist, and general practitioner of art and magick in many forms. Having lived in numerous cities around the US and Western Europe (six years overseas in the 80s, and 90s both). He is editor of, and contributor to, the books, “Under the Influence- the Disinformation Guide to Drugs,” and “Underground- the Disinformation Guide to Ancient Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology, and Hidden History,” contributor to many other Disinformation Company books, and author of “Something in the Way: A True Life Misadventure Tale….” Preston is also a former, prolific contributor to www.disinfo.com. A long time regular contributor to High Times magazine and www.hightimes.com, focused on investigative journalism, and running the THMQ
column for five years. He also has work published on varied topics in a widely divergent range of other publications in print and online both- including writing the feature “The Closing of CBGBs” for Punk Magazine upon their request, the rag that gave Punk Rock its name, an article Preston considers a proud feather in his cap amongst his published work, a real honor. He has a new blog page, http://prestonpeet.wordpress.com/, and can be reached at FB, http://www.facebook.com/preston.peet, or firstname.lastname@example.org. A strict anti-prohibitionist and proponent of legalizing ALL molecules without exception across the board, Preston works tirelessly to help educate people of the dire need to end the evil, destructive yet uber-profitable War on Some Drugs and Users.