Sex

Forget Fifty Shades, I was tied up by a real life BDSM Master

Let us show you the ropes.

By Kate Wagner

When people hear the term BDSM, some conjure up fantasies of being tied to a bed, handcuffed and whipped, while others think leather, gimp masks and a brutal dominatrix. But what is it really like to have a master and slave in the bedroom? In the name of investigative journalism, I asked a Master to explain how real bondage was more than just spanking and fluffy handcuffs.

The interview's set up and then, in a totally non-suss way, I'm invited to conduct it in a hotel room.

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I'm ushered into a room with intense art deco vibes. In any other situation, I'm sure the dim lighting and ominous orange backlighting would feel arty, but it's just putting me on edge. Should there be mood lighting while you wait for a stranger to tie you up in a random hotel?

Just as I start to think about how my mum made me promise not to put myself in compromising situations, the door swings open.

Mark, the master, is escorted in with an impressively large bag of ropes. I try to pretend everything's breezy, like I get up to BDSM shenanigans every other week. I don't fool anyone.

He says because I'm not his slave, I don't have to call him Master, which is good because I'm not great at the subservient thing. I almost got fired from a job for refusing to call customers Sir and Madam, so I'm not sure I'd be able to call a dude 'Master' while he bound my arms behind me.

As he lays the metres of red rope on the bed, John explains to me it's designed to minimise friction so when it drags across my skin I won't be left with hideous burn marks. Feeling less stressed by the second.

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"So what are we doing?" Mark gently asks.

"Umm, whatever, it's up to you, I'm totally down with whatever," I say way too quickly for someone who's actually down with whatever.

I take my jacket off because I'm already heating up and I can't imagine getting any cooler as we progress. I put my arms behind my back, my hands clutching the opposite elbow, and Mark ties his first knot and explains what we're doing is actually called Shibari.

As he adds more rope and the tying becomes more intricate, it starts to feel like a piece of art.

"I do different patterns pretty much every time I tie; this one is one of the more beautiful ones," he explains.

The knots connecting the ropes now entrapping my body push on my pressure points. It's kind of like a massage or maybe acupuncture (without all the stabbing). Mark starts to gently teeter me off balance. As I sway forward, the knots dug into my sternum, groin, throat and it actually feels… comforting?

I'd already seen Mark tie up a girl in a performance at his BDSM studio, Studio Kink. She was strung up from the ceiling and her face went so red, I was convinced she was going to choke to death.

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After he released her from the ceiling, my first thought was how much I'd be itching to be free. He slowed down significantly as he got to the final knots and I got increasingly anxious — "Just untie her hands!"

But when Mark finally untied me, although my experience was undeniably more vanilla, the untying might have been the best bit. The knots were so mathematical and precise that as they unfurled, the vibration reverberated across my whole body. Shibari can definitely exude eroticism, but it's also used as a meditative experience and I could see why — I felt so secure.

Do you have to be submissive to enjoy being tied up?

Shibari is definitely a power play — the sub/dom roles clearly defined — but author Rett Tyler doesn't think it's as clear cut as it seems.

"As the person that's being tied, it's all about you," she explained. "It's about what you're going to get out of it.

"The female submissive is often holding the power — not that I could say that in front of Mark — but they're working so hard, and the whole experience is about you. It's a very gratifying thing and it's all directed at you."

In her novel White Horse Slave, Rett explores the concept of release through restraint.

"In the book, the main character Rhiannon uses Shibari as a way to escape," Rett clarifies. "When you experience Shibari, your mind can go to a different place — you can actually escape what's happening around you totally. In the BDSM world, it's called subspace.

"Subspace is your body releasing all these endorphins and adrenaline and your mind is really euphoric — it's like a natural high. It's a totally consuming experience."

Shibari isn’t just about the knots

Mark stressed that although Shibari is ostensibly about the intricate patterns, it's actually not what it seems.

"The knots are a bit like learning to drive a car or reading a map," he confessed. "You learn the road so you don't need to use the map."

"When you learn Shibari, you learn the knots to forget about them — to tie naturally. It's all about energy and connection, not the rope. The rope is just an element that's used as part of the journey.

He agrees with Rett that BDSM should be about your connection with your partner; the tools are just an extension of your tactility.

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"You've got to use your body; you've got to be a person. Even when you're whipping someone, you not doing it from this distance, you've got to touch them, bring them in, manipulate them and touch they're skin to make it real.

"It's about connection, beauty, strength and trust. Even what we did, there had to be trust because if there isn't trust you're not going to let someone tie you up in a hotel room. If you are, you're crazy."

(Just @ me next time, bro.)

The Fifty Shades effect

Despite the stark difference between actual BDSM and Fifty Shades' essentially missionary sex with whips version, Mark admitted the film had a huge effect on Sydney's BDSM scene.

"Fifty shades allowed people to go and explore kinky things they had in their mind without thinking, I'm fucked up," he explains.

"We bring about 600 new people into the studio every year. When I started, there wouldn't have been 500 people in the whole scene in Sydney."

So if you're the sound of being tied up (or tying someone up) piques your interest, I definitely recommend giving it a go. It doesn't even have to be with a professional in a hotel room, but, if you're into that, I know a guy

Read Rett Tyler's novel, White Horse Slave, here.