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Rope for the Future: Biter gets all knotted up over a bondage demonstration.

Mondo Bondage in San Jose

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BITER HAS RANTED many times before about how San Jose, as a city, is currently practicing self-mutilation. Or that downtown is undergoing the most head-scratching phase of body modification in its history. Or that San Jose has been tying itself in knots for the last 30 years, leaving its culture, well, on the ropes.

That being said, last Saturday Biter sought to disprove its own theory. Besides Biter was in the mood for something twisted and Japanese. So off we went to a lovely backyard garden behind Leather Masters to have a captivating experience.

Leather Masters (another ignored San Jose entity, and one that's been around for 13 years, but don't get us started) hosted a Japanese rope bondage demonstration by Fetish Diva Midori, San Francisco's "ambassador of kink." Born and raised in a feminist intellectual household in Tokyo, Midori moved to the United States in her teens and transplanted to the Bay Area. She was christened "Fetish Diva" by the father of the modern primitives himself, Fakir Musafar. To the dismay of many, she retired from the biz of professional dominance last year in order to concentrate on writing and teaching. She is devoting her life to all that is kink, and she regularly crisscrosses the globe presenting, lecturing and leading workshops on SM, fetish and human sexuality. Her book, The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage (Greenery Press) is the first English language instruction manual on the art and technique of shibari, or Japanese rope bondage.

Biter needs to tell you all right now, that the Japanese style is not like your everyday regular knotted-nylons type of bondage. This one is rooted in ancient Japanese martial arts and military interrogation practices.

Approximately 20 seekers of heightened experience armed with every kind of rope imaginable attended the backyard demo, and Midori led the class through some shibari basics, including simple behind-the-back arm and chest bondage (Ushirote munenawa), the body harness (Kikkou) and the hog-tie (Gyakuebi). In each instance, Midori tied up a volunteer and then the class split up into partners, replicating each scene. Nobody was naked.

Never before has this ancient and esoteric art of erotic restraint been demonstrated so skillfully in San Jose. It contains geometry of balance and specific degrees of symmetry. In an artistic sense, it is similar to Japanese flower arranging or bonsai mini-tree sculpture, without the sharp implements, of course. The fact that the demo took place outside in a natural setting instead of some dark dungeon somewhere added even more to the inherent natural beauty of shibari practice.

Biter immediately volunteered for the body harness and hog-tie, which found Biter face down in the grass, hands bound behind the back, and legs bent back and tied to the wrist harness, turning Biter's body into a compact piece of oval-shaped furniture for the 5-foot-2 Midori to sit upon. "I love being a small Asian femme and being able to suspend, toss and throw around [someone much larger]," she says. "It's that Lilliputian pride."

Kannon, a Japanese Buddhist goddess of mercy, came to mind immediately.

In bondage photographs, not that Biter has ever seen many, it all looks so complicated--the knots, the ties, the harnesses. But this is not the case. "If you can tie your shoes," Midori says, "you can do rope bondage," and she references John Cassidy's classic spiral-bound treatise, The Klutz Book of Knots: How to Tie the World's 25 Most Useful Hitches, Ties, Wraps, and Knots. "The Boy Scouts guide to knots is also a good one," she adds.

But there's much more to shibari than what appears on the surface. "Bondage is not about the knots or the final position," she says. "It's about the whole encounter and the experience you share together. It's creative, it's sensual and it's imaginative."

However, this is not to say that any aspiring tenderfoot can buy 50 feet of polypropylene rope at Stevens Creek Surplus and then tie up his or her partner in the name of kink and blissfully reconnect with medieval Japanese torture. Not at all. "Good kink is not for the stupid," Midori cautions. "You have to be very self-aware. You cannot be dumb and have good kink."

Dumb or not, Biter was a little sore the next day. It reminded Biter of our first yoga session: it hurts so good. Life in these times can often bring one to the brink of pleasure and pain, but when that dose of ancient Japanese culture comes a-whipping, Biter will opt for the phrase: Get a rope!


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From the September 19-25, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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