Feb 14th - with Uwe at the launch of his new shop
At the end of February I flew to Dallas to attend my third South Plains Leatherfest in Dallas. It was a fun weekend seeing friends, attending workshops and going to the Dallas Eagle. Oh, and in the vendor area I got my first tattoo as well - from Kevin, an artist from Bedias, Texas.
Earlier that month our friend, Uwe, had the launch party for his new custom leather shop in London called "Master U". He's been making leather goods under that name since 2000 and the business has finally grown enough to open a shop at 330 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall. His products are very high quality and well worth a look.
Another first for February: on Sunday 10th a new men only rope bondage event started in London called M.O.R.E. (Men Only Rope Event). 50 men showed up during the day for an afternoon workshop and evening party. The event was organised by DogTrainer, and he's kindly agreed to be the subject of this month's column:
May 2006 - DogTrainer in the Bavarian Alps
Hi DogTrainer, an easy question to start with. What's your sexual identity?
Eeek, boxes! I'm a gay kinky man who isn't afraid of playing on the pansexual-scene and is just as happy tying a woman up as a man.
When did you discover what your sexuality was?
I didn't realise I was gay until I was about 18 when I saw a really cute guy and thought "Yum!" Kink-wise, I was about 25 in a relationship where sex wasn't important to my partner, and at the time it seemed more acceptable going "elsewhere" for something that was a bit different. That was about 8 years ago when I first tried out kinky things with other people. I started off as a sub being tied up: vanilla type sex but in a bondage session. It started off quite gently, really, and then I realised that I wasn't very good at subbing and much preferred the giving than receiving. Then GMFA ran a "bondage for beginners" class in London that I went to and thorough enjoyed and wanted to take rope further.
What sort of BDSM do you do now?
Rope bondage is now my main kink, followed closely by human 'dog' training, although it once was the other way round (and hence my scene name). Over the years I've developed other BDSM interests, such as impact play, sensation play, High Protocol, and more. If it gets a reaction from the person I'm playing with then I'm happy!
What are the biggest influences on the way that you play?
Rope-wise my main inspiration came from people like Midori and RopeTopSFbay who do fantastic work, but over the past few years there are many more rope people whose work I admire and have given me ideas. One of the first people's rope work I saw (and experienced from inside the ropes) was a guy called tieemup who has a website www.tieemup.com, although sadly he has removed most of his galleries.
You're one of the few gay guys I know doing a form of Japanese bondage, also known as Shibari. How were you exposed to that?
Purists would say that technically my style is "Shibari-Influenced", but that's a separate argument! Shortly after I attended the GMFA course, I bought a copy of Midori's book on Japanese Bondage and really enjoyed it, so I decided to get some face to face tuition from her as books can only show so much. I cunningly disguised a flight to San Francisco as a holiday with my partner at the time and attended one of her two day workshops and it has gone on from there really. I have a fairly large selection of rope bondage books, spend ages trawling the net for inspiration, go to as many rope bondage events as I can and learn from others and network. I'm still learning really, and always want to strive to improve.
Why do you think Japanese rope bondage is more popular on the straight scene than the gay scene?
I think for some gay men bondage is a means to an end. Leather cuffs, handcuffs etc give a quick and easy way to get someone restrained. As much as I love cuffs and quick ties, I prefer the bondage to make up a large part of the scene, if not the entire scene! As for why Shibari is more popular on the straight scene, I think that is probably because most of the Japanese rope bondage websites show images of women tied up with male riggers, or the few sites which show men tied in Shibari style rope work have female Tops and if we're honest most gay men don't want to look at what they perceive to be straight porn. It's a real shame as we're all bondage fans and the sites are great resources.
What made you create your own website: www.meninrope.com?
Initially it was a personal website to show examples of my work to other rope tops to ask them what I could have done better. The main reason it's grown is that there aren't many websites featuring guys tied up and I felt that was a real shame. I've had a lot of good feedback from straight men who like to get tied up, as well as the women who tie them; it's not just a gay site! From the outset I've always wanted it to be a free resource as bondage is my hobby.
Does the site have any rules?
Yes, I don't have any genital exposure on there, partly because it's not a sex site, but also because seeing guys in kit bound in rope gets me going! Whilst most of the galleries are my own work and feature my own rope pup "ska" there are many other male rope models I have tied up over the past few years. There is also a Guest Gallery section featuring the work of some other rope Tops whose work I admire. All pics in these galleries are reproduced with permission of the photographer, rigger and models. If you'd like to be considered for a guest gallery please email me at DT1974 (at) MenInRope.com
This year you also became an event promoter, with a Men Only Rope Event (MORE) in London.
Well, it's only one event so far with one more in progress. I've been going to pansexual rope events for a couple of years, which I've thoroughly enjoyed. I've been wanting to give something back to the rope community and thought that it would be nice to go to a rope event which was men only. I've had a lot of support from pan UK rope events, which has really helped me. Part of the reason for organising MORE is that most gay guys I know aren't happy going to pansexual events, although that is slowly changing. I would like to emphasise that MORE is for men-who-play-with-men-with-rope, regardless of orientation. We had gay, straight and bi men there.
Why don't more gay men go to pan events?
I don't know. Perhaps it's a ghetto instinct: people like their own thing. Gay men tend feel comfortable in a gay-only environment and might be worried whether they'd be accepted at a pansexual event or not. I was brought up going to naturist camps so I'm not bothered seeing men or women in any state of dress or undress! The first pansexual event I went to I was really worried and almost turned around and went home before setting foot in the door. I didn't know how they'd react to a male-male couple, but I had been in contact with the organiser before hand who assured me that it wouldn't be a problem. Once I arrived I relaxed because everyone was really friendly and it was all about the bondage.
Feb 10th - DogTrainer demonstrating a rope tie on me at MORE
What were your other reasons for starting MORE?
I wasn't aware of a UK based men only equivalent of the rope parties I enjoy going to, and rather than wait for someone else to do it, I decided to give it a try. I wanted to know what it was like being a promoter and seeing if I could do what other people do. I also wanted an excuse to see lots of guys playing with rope!
What were your biggest challenges running the event?
The main challenge was finding enough guys into rope to make it viable. It wouldn't have worked if only a handful of men turned up. In the end there were around 50 guys, so I was really pleased. I was lucky to know of a suitable venue because I've been going to other rope events at the same place. Having my own website helped as it gave me an online "base" and hope it gave me some credibility.
If someone wanted to get into rope bondage what would you suggest?
There are a lot of good books out there, many of which are referenced on my site, but learning person to person will give so much more than a book alone. A lot of the tips I've got about rope bondage have been from seeing other people's work, talking to people, exchanging ideas, and going to rope classes. Don't be afraid of looking in places you don't normally go. There are rope events all around the UK, such as Just Rope and Rope Bondage Peer Workshops. There are more links for resources on my website: www.meninrope.com
Thanks DT and best wishes for your rope work.
Have fun, look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003