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When it came to writing the all-important bondage chapter, I had no idea where to begin. I have spent most of my time being tied up, not doing the tying. In fact, aside from my dungeon experience, for four years I played a superhero on a cable access show called The Adventures of Electra Elf. As Electra Elf, I was tied up in pretty much every episode but, again, never did much tying up myself.
I suck at tying knots. I can barely tie my shoelaces, which I rarely ever do anyway because I mostly wear go-go boots. For me, writing a chapter on bondage is like not going to law school and then cramming for the bar exam in a week. But I knew that amongst my cavalcade of wacky friends, at least one would be willing to help me with the daunting task of explaining bondage to others. Luckily, I found plenty of help and advice.
One thing about bondage—it is more than simply tying someone up. While it can be defined as “the tying, binding, or restraining of a person for the sexual, aesthetic and/or psychological pleasure of the parties involved,” there is more to it than technique. My friend Scooter admitted that, like me, she’s not so great at tying people up, but she’s superb at “mental bondage.”
“I’ll just say ‘Don’t move until I tell you to’ and it works,” she said. Mental bondage is a great way to start out down this debauched road. It could be as simple as making your sub just stand in the corner with his eyes closed, then slowly caressing him when you are damn good and ready. One step further— incorporating a bit of physical restraint—could also be as simple as pinning a lover’s arms down and telling him not to move while you give him head. (I had a lover do this to me once and we almost drowned in female ejaculate.)
In this section, we’ll cover everything from mental bondage to rope bondage and orgasm control. Bondage may be used as an end unto itself or it may be used as a part of steamy sex or it might even be used in a public party or club scene. Being an attention whore, I naturally enjoy all three from a submissive’s perspective. Even during my graduation from Princess Reform School, when I was naked, blindfolded, and tied to a wooden X (in a room that I was certain contained everyone from the mailman, to the video store hipster, to my junior high school guidance counselor) and random partygoers came and went, occasionally commenting upon or caressing my bound, half-naked presence, I enjoyed the attention being lavished upon me. So if the sub gets attention and, hopefully, sexual or psychological pleasure ... what does the Dom get out of it?
I asked Amanda Whip, Mr. Hall, and Scooter Pie, “Why bind someone?” They offered a number of reasons. Like most BDSM activities, the trust and communication involved in bondage can bring two people together. Plus, it’s the ultimate power exchange. For the Dom, you feel that you can do “anything” to the helpless sub at your mercy. (Of course, you can only if it’s consensual.) Scooter said, “It’s fun to tie them up and entice them to want to move.”
Everyone agreed that while a sub is bound, especially when her legs are spread wide open, it’s fun to “kiss up and down her body” before finally diving in and giving her oral whereupon the Dom can exercise “orgasm control.” Though not technically part of bondage, I’ll discuss orgasm control later along with several other bondage-related activities for novices.
Before any scene involving bondage, the partners should decide, what—if anything—will happen to the sub when he or she is bound. Do you want to tie the sub’s ankles together before taking her from behind? Do you want to tie her spread-eagle to the bed before taking her from the front? Or do you just want to tie him up because it looks cool?
Bondage is not always sexual. I had plenty of clients who just liked to tie me up and look at their handiwork. When done well, bondage is an art form. If you want to learn more than the limited instructions this one section can provide, I can’t recommend The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori enough.
But reading isn’t enough. Get some rope and practice, practice, practice—and always be safe. When it comes to learning more complex methods of bondage, the best learning technique is hands-on and face-to-face with someone who already knows what he or she is doing.
If you and your partner have just been introduced to the world of bondage, remember these very basic safety precautions:
- Remember that safe word!
- Never leaving a bound person alone. (This includes not practicing “selfbondage” alone in case of an emergency. At the very least, make sure your roommate is home, not wearing headphones, and also not tied up in case your house catches fire or something. A good rule of thumb with bondage is “never get yourself into something you can’t get out of.”)
- Avoid positions or restraints that may induce postural asphyxia, which occurs when someone’s position prevents them from breathing adequately. When that position is the result of the use of restraint, the legal term that is now used is “restraint-related positional asphyxia.” A chillingly significant number of people die suddenly during restraint by police, correctional officers, and medical staff. (Sorry, this book just took a not-so-fun turn, but before you decide to hogtie your heifer or sissy boy, know the facts!)
Research has suggested that restraining a person in a face-down position is likely to cause greater restriction of breathing than restraining a person face up. Trauma can be prevented. One of the most important things a Dom can do is frequently ask, “Are you okay?” If the sub’s hands or feet are tingling or numb at all, get him or her out of bondage ASAP. Clearly, if his or her hands look bluish, move as fast as you can to get him or her out of whatever position he or she is in (though it should never get to this point with proper care).
- Make sure the sub changes positions frequently.
- Be certain the restraints are not too tight.
- Do not place rope across the front of the neck.
- Have a PAIR OF SCISSORS on hand.
This last point is not to be overlooked. I recall fooling around with a sound guy in the office of a bar where I’d just performed when he suddenly ripped my fishnet stockings off, tied my wrists together behind my back with them, and went down on me. This was fun and hot, but after I reached orgasm (about two minutes in), we realized we couldn’t untie the fishnets.
It was as if they’d been soldered together. (It’s best to avoid pantyhose and scarves as restraint devices for this very reason. If the sub pulls against them the knots can get drawn too tightly to untie.) But I was hardly thinking straight and I was in no position to look for a pair of scissors, so the sound guy frantically rooted through the desk drawers and came up with nothing. Finally, he bravely (and pantslessly) wandered out to the bar where a helpful bartender gave him a pair of scissors.
Don’t be an idiot like I was.
As mentioned before, learning from an experienced partner face-to-face is the best way to “learn the ropes” of bondage. I therefore asked my friend, Stormy Leather, to come over and help me with this section. Stormy is a burlesque performer, go-go dancer, and model who often incorporates self-bondage into her onstage routine. She agreed to show me how to tie myself up. I figured this would be handy once I’d effectively alienated everyone else in my life. As it turns out, tying yourself up is even harder than tying someone else up and, as I already pointed out, you should never practice self-bondage you can’t get out of alone.
When Stormy arrived at my apartment, she brought several varieties of rope with her. My favorite was a 5/16 of an inch thick, Pepto Bismol® pink 30-foot coil of soft nylon. She also brought along twisted hemp rope, the most traditional of the Japanese bondage ropes. I love hemp, but not so much on my skin. It feels a bit too scratchy, like hay.
However, when it comes to bondage rope, it all boils down to personal preference. You’ll often hear people say they find nylon too slippery and prefer hemp or cotton. To each his own. Stormy had procured her rope at Purple Passion, one of New York’s premiere BDSM supply stores. If you live in Idaho and still want bright pink nylon rope, you can conveniently get it at their website: www.purplepassion.com. Of course, you can always get “not pink” rope at hardware stores, which I generally avoid because (at least in my ’hood) the employees are condescending, machismo shitheads towards women and I don’t need memories of their faces flashing before me as I am tied up and taking it in my love-hole.
Anyway, Mr. Hall arrived shortly after Stormy did, carrying cotton rope (j- of an inch which he’d gotten at the hardware store and had then attached to a pair of restraints). My apartment is sort of like downtown New York’s version of Mr. Roger’s home only all the people who just “stop by” are usually kooky artists up to something deviant or creative.
Getting back to Mr. Hall’s restraints and rope, restraints really are a bondage enthusiast’s best friend. They are easy to use and visually appealing, so let’s start with them before we get into Stormy’s tutorial on rope bondage. FYI—When it comes to physical bondage, three main devices are generally used: restraints, handcuffs, and rope. But nowadays with the advent of BDSM web superstores, you can find some incredible bondage kits that come with fancier items like spreader bars, slings, connecting chains, and collars, but let’s keep it simple for now.