February 02, 2020
Your first experience with bondage was the cover of a porn magazine with a woman in bondage. Do you remember what you thought / felt when you saw it? Why exactly did that cover attract your attention?
This happened when I was about thirteen years old. I collected comics and I was fascinated by female superheroes such as Spider-Woman, who regularly got caught and tied up. I don't know if I realized that those pictures had an erotic charge back then. I do know that I was very curious about the adult department at the back of the comic shop. There I was browsing through the magazine you refer to, a "Massad" (Now the oldest running Dutch BDSM magazine). The cover appealed to me because it had a sexy woman in lingerie on the cover, in a hogtie. I wasn't looking for hard photos of people in leather, I wasn't ready for that yet. For me it was about "real" women in bondage. I particularly liked the gentleness and submissive expression of Japanese girls in rope. I eventually had the courage to buy the Massad and other erotic magazines. I remember that I was standing in line with shame on my jaws and that I absolutely didn't want my parents to find out. Of course they found out at a certain point ...
At what point did you know that you seriously wanted to get started with bondages and did you already have a plan for how to do that and what you wanted to achieve with it?
That moment never actually happened, but this year exactly 20 years ago, in 1999 RopeMarks was officially founded. In a way RopeMarks has more or less "happened" to me. I enjoyed bondage, had been doing it for at least 15 years at that time. I learned by looking on the "pre-internet" for pictures of Akechi Denki, Chimou Nureki and Randa Mai, among others. It was quite a hassle to figure out what they were doing and how, but this has taught me a great deal. Also about the "why?" of certain techniques. So I was experimenting a lot. I took photos of beautiful bondages - at least, of bondages that I then found successful - and placed them on a website.
Creating websites was my other big hobby at that time. I actually wanted to focus on that, but live went in a different direction. I also went to kinky parties with my girlfriend where I played with rope and I was asked more and more often to explain what I was doing, or to give a workshop. At first I always said no, because my interest was not in being the center of attention as a teacher, but the questions kept coming and I finally said yes.
The same applies to shows. People who saw what I did asked if I wanted to give a show at parties. I always said no to that, because then I am in the spotlight and that's scary, I didn't want to, but in the end I started to do it.
Now I have accepted that I am often in the spotlight because of RopeMarks and it is still awesome to give a workshop or put on a kick ass show.
What makes a model a good bondage model?
In my view, there is no clear answer to that. This will depend on the goal you have in mind with the model. It is often said that it is nice if a model is flexible, you can easily contort her in all kinds of positions, but that is not the most important thing. Certainly not if you only do private tying. I think it is very important that my models can communicate about what and how they feel. If you feel pain or feel tingling or feel nothing at all, then I need to know. Bondage looks nice, but as s well known in the scene by now, it also entails risks. I have a lot of knowledge of the human body, but the model is the only one who can communicate how a bondage feels. Everybody and every body is different and even the same person can have days where they can handle less as usual. Body awareness is very important for a model. Sports, yoga and other activities can contribute to that.
If the model wants to be publicly active, for example for a show or in photo shoots, it is nice that she understands you are in front of an audience that wants to be entertained, knows how and dares to move, that she is not a dead weight in ropes. Also she needs to know where the light is, etc. Being a good model in my experience is a profession and there are few people in this scene who have mastered this.
How I see it: a piece of rope 8 meters long and 6 millimeters thick is a lifeless thing. But in the hands of someone who has the above knowledge, creativity and experience, the rope becomes a tool. An extension of your arms to do fantastic, intense and sexy things.
RopeMarks is now an internationally known name. How does that translate into work and travel? Are you also active outside the Netherlands?
RopeMarks has grown into an activity that I perform worldwide. If an organization anywhere in the world thinks I can contribute to an event or party, I will go there.
The first time I crossed the Dutch border as RopeMarks for a photo shoot was as early as 2000. The first time that I crossed the border as RopeMarks for an event was in 2004. An artist in southern France wanted to make sculptures in honor of RopeMarks and organise an art event over the weekend where I was the main guest. In the same period I went as RopeMarks as VIP to BoundCon, in Munich, Germany for the first time, to give shows and workshops.
Since then, countless trips have been followed. Belgium, Germany, France, England, Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Austria, Italy, Japan, America, Russia and ... pffff ... whatever. I think traveling is a big bonus of the RopeMarks adventure. I would have liked a trip to Dubai as well, but unfortunately those negotiations did not work out.
I have had a lasting impression in Japan. I was there for the first time in 2006 and thanks to the contacts I already had there, I was able to do a number of paid shows. These were received very positive. To the best of my knowledge, I was also the first Westerner to do official paid shows in Japan, which I am quite proud of. I also had a number of interviews there in a leading magazine (SM Mania Club) and gave a small Japanese bondage workshop to the Japanese. I was the odd gaijin (foreigner) who does what they do. All in all, this was a very special and fun experience.
In 2006/2007 I discovered that I also really appreciate the work of Naka Akira. To the best of my knowledge, his style is closest to the kinbaku of what you can now call historical. It is to-the-point, effective and looks very aesthetic. In short: I am a fan. Funny detail is that if I spoke to people about him at the time, they would not like him. Today, Naka-san is considered to be one of the better riggers in the scene.
Are you still teaching yourself new techniques or are you thinking of new techniques yourself?
In my view, regardless of the discipline, you are never finished learning and this applies twice for the discipline of kinbaku. It is such a young art that not everything has been explored yet. From time to time new technical insights emerge. What I find more important is that kinbaku, like other activities within BDSM, comes with certain dangers. You want to minimize these dangers for the person in the rope and this is a continuous learning process.
I notice that for me, learning moments are mainly in the details, for example, a way of tying, or other details in the way of working. Bondage with every person is different, there is no fixed "recipe" that is suitable for everyone, you will have to communicate, search and try out, and this in itself is a very important learning process.
And of course the bondage must be aesthetically done. That does not mean that it must be perfect, but that it must be fascinating to watch. Just as during shows, the bondages are real, the kinbaku is real. Because the model experiences everything for real generally connects the model and me in a certain way.
When I'm on a stage in front of a large audience, I want to create a spectacular image. I make my own music, take care of the decoration of the stage and the show is thoroughly practiced. The bondages are real, nothing fake, there is tension, connection, between the model and me. But these details are lost for a large audience, so I focus on the spectacle.
If I do a show, or demo, in an intimate situation, with a smaller audience, then more details of the Japanese bondage can be a prominent part of the show, a look, a sigh or groan. The audience in an intimate situation usually consists of "connoisseurs".
When it is private then it is all about creating an experience together, a kinky experience, a sexy experience, then it is purely about the wishes of me and my partner. Even then I will still set up the bondages aesthetically and nicely, after all I have to look at it myself ... or is that professional deformation?
To give the image more focus on kinbaku, I replace the Western BDSM toys for the Japanese variants, then I use e.g. tenugui's (Japanese cloths) that I use as a gag or as a blindfold.
I also appreciate bondage with materials such as rubber and metal.
The beauty of my bondage activities shows itself when my partner starts to feel free while being all tied up. The freedom to be who she wants to be, respected and loved for all the feelings that can, and usually will, surface.
RopeMarks has a subtitle "The True Beauty of, Japanese rope, Bondage" and with that I focus on what a bondage and specifically Japanese bondage, kinbaku, can have as positive effect if you are working on this together with your own partner. For me, the value here is very much "with your own partner" (or more if you are in a poly situation) and not the "one night bondage" partner.
Are there plans in the pipeline for 2020 that you certainly want to mention in the interview?
2020 Is already quite full of different events where I have been booked and although I set the bar high for myself, each show bigger and better, more spectacular than the last, I expect to put on crazy shows at these events.
Finally, 2019 is the year that I have been doing my RopeMarks activities for 20 years. On April 1, 1999 (this is no joke) I officially formalized my Japanese bondage activities under the name RopeMarks. Therefore April 1, 2019 is RopeMarks' platinum anniversary!
In the 1990s I started a website "Voyage of Discovery" together with my partner at the time, a period in which the WWW was still not there and no social media, no Instagram, FaceBook, FetLife, etc. This "Voyage of Discovery" resembled most what is now called "Blogging".
The website "Voyage of Discovery" became so popular in the period of less than a year that I decided to formalize the activities. On 1 April 1999 the company RopeMarks was started, and, in good English, "the rest is history".
From the moment that RopeMarks officially started, the main activities have been shows, workshops and photo shoots. This has brought me to a large part of the world, including Many cities in Europe, Japan, America, Russia,etc... To the best of my knowledge, I was also the first Westerner to do official paid Japanese rope bondage shows in Japan, which I am quite proud of.
It is not general knowledge that I have a regular job alongside RopeMarks. Making a living from doing only RopeMarks is… difficult, at best and bills have to be paid. Doing RopeMarks and holding a regular job creates some stress in my life.
Therefore I am using RopeMarks' platinum anniversary to slow down my RopeMarks activity. One thought I have is to do fewer shows and more workshops, I think I have something to say after 20+ years. Exactly how this will work out in the will become clear in the coming months. I won't stop with RopeMarks, it is way too much fun and it still brings me a lot.