Very often, when a group of Leather folk get together, one or two will quietly, out of earshot of their companions, grudgingly admit, “Yes, I like rope…but I’m not a rope person.” There is often a stereotype of rope people as being only straight, middle aged white guys dressing up in Japanese costumes and tying up skinny little yoga fanatics as enya plays quietly in the background. It often seems like this is a world that is foreign to most Leathermen and women and most of the Leathermen I know that enjoy rope are rather private about it. However, I run into enough of them, that I have to think that there are more of them than might be admitting it.
I am a pretty eager rope bottom myself…a rope slut even. I love being tied up. I love the smell of rope, the feel of it on my skin, and the tightness as it binds me. That being said, I rarely, if ever am tied up to Enya and my Master prefers to wear boots and and leather while he ties me. We also often do rope as part of our other play, so a beautiful shibari tie might be followed by him whipping me, lighting me on fire, or doing some other far more rough and raw type of play. I love the contrast in that…turning me into a work of art only to tear me up, to me, is hot.
This weekend, as a gift to my Master, I stayed away from the lure of IML with all the leather and bootblacking goodness going on over there and instead spent the weekend at Shibaricon. To say this was an act of service and submission was an understatement. My leather brothers and sisters were all so close, just downtown in Chicago, while I was among mostly strangers in a strange land. There were even furries there and I felt very alone and strange myself in my boots among the rope people. Yes…I wasn’t in Kansas anymore and I was far outside my Leather comfort zone. In some ways, it was a very tough weekend. However, I came to recognize so many similarities between rope culture and bootblack culture that I began to feel at home, not in spite of, but because of my differences.
Bootblacks come in all different types. In some ways, we could almost be called the rope people of the Leather world. We are often looked at askance as we practice an old artform, even more so if we find a spiritual and creative outlet in it. We take what comes to our chair as it is and create beauty from it. We each have our own techniques and can argue endlessly about the minute differences between them, yet we also come to respect each other for those differences. We are a fraternity bound together by a common artform and we work to preserve it and pass it on. Like rope, the basic techniques of bootblacking are actually very simple to learn, but the come together to create an artform so full of nuances that it can take a lifetime to master and to learn to express yourself through the medium. Almost every bootblack gets something different from their bootblacking.
Rope riggers also come in many varied forms. Some find a deep spirituality and connection to their partner in rope bondage. Others enjoy rough and tumble play and express their sadism with rope, using it as exquisite torture. Still others see it as pure art, weaving their model into a complex design. Some find the same zen in it, by focusing on the minute details to forget about the chaos and chatter of life for a while, that some of us find in bootblacking. Some rope riggers do it simply as a way to get laid and still others do it as a service to please a bottom that loves to be tied up. Like bootblacking, what is happening at first glance in a rope scene is not always all that is going on.
I love rope. I may never completely fit in at an event like Shibaricon, but I think that there is room for all types of rope people and I certainly think that Leather people need not be embarrassed to admit that they are among that group as well. I think there is room for Leather in rope as well as room for rope in Leather.
In fact, I met a guy this weekend who makes rope out of leather…now what could be more sublime than that? To be tied up…in leather? I only hope I can reach my Huberds while I’m in it!