February 02, 2020

RopeMarks is an active Japanese rope bondage artist for 20+ years and there are rumours he might slow down his activities.


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 ...

Photo: RopeMarks.com

You started bondage with girlfriends at the time. What was your goal with that (if you already had one) and how did you manage to get them to do so?.

Haha, doesn't everybody want to be tied up? The very first time I tied someone up with rope I think I was about 15 years old. I just wanted to give it a try and my niece was a volunteer. Although we had no sexual intentions, I thought it was very exciting to do. Later when I was 16, 17 and the hormones screamed, my girlfriends where to object of getting tied up. I hadn't thought of suspensions for a long time, because hands tied and simple constructions were already very exciting. Fortunately, most also found it fun and sexy. If they would not have wanted it at all, I think the relationship would not last long. By the way, I was also interested in shackles and other ways to tie girls up, but I didn't have such things. Rope was easier to find and there was enough creativity. If you lie on the lower bed of a bunk bed, you can use the bars of the upper bed to capture someone in nice, usable, positions.

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.

Photo: RopeMarks.com

You have been working for 20 years. How do you keep it exciting for yourself?

A lot has changed in 20 years. In the beginning, I more or less mastered everything I could do by myself and later dotted the I's by taking lessons in Japan. Nowadays you can attend a bondage workshop somewhere every week. As a result, the level has gone up enormously. The challenge that keeps it exciting for me is to continue to do unique things, my own things.

I have the impression that many people go to workshops to learn new patterns. They try them out and then go to a workshop to learn a new pattern. In workshops I teach people to really understand what they do. I don't want them to be able to do a nice trick. It's not that hard to copy and make a bondage look good, but I want them to be able to tie safely with their own partner and possibly also with other partners. Everybody is different. Only when you are really in control you are free to play. I grant that flow to every rigger and their partners.

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.

Photo: RopeMarks.com

Without an extensive technical explanation: which bondage techniques do you mainly use and why exactly?

I prefer to do bondage in the traditional Japanese style, kinbaku. The actual techniques are limited as I see it, it is the patterns that you apply that make what you want to achieve. With any pattern I use two specific knots a lot and I use many frictions. The knots are the square knot and the overhand knot.

As a rigger you also need to know what safe hardpoints are (the point in the ceiling that you use when doing suspensions), what the breaking- and working load of your rope is and that these numbers change under tensions and through knotting. And very important: you must know and understand when the bondage you do becomes dangerous or challenging for your model. Understanding some human anatomy is mandatory.

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.

Photo: RopeMarks.com

Who do you think is a good bondage artist and why?.

When I started, there were no workshops and you had to invent almost everything yourself or reverse engineer photos or videos. The overall technical level of bondage was not high. Nowadays you have a workshop every few weeks in several places in the world where you can participate. As a result, the technical level at which people do bondage is relatively high. Yet in my opinion this is not enough to be a good bondage artist or kinbakushi. For this you need more, including creativity and your own style.

With this kind of criteria, when I started looking for photos and videos of Japanese bondage, I was immediately fascinated by Akechi Denki. In the beginning I did not know that the photos and bondages that appealed to me were of his hand, I only found out later. This man, who unfortunately died a few years ago, was able to play his model like no other. Because of his creativity in coming up with bondages, he has left a clear mark on the current scene.

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.

Photo: RopeMarks.com

In my experience live shows need a certain speed to hold the interest of the audience, on top of that my shows have a high degree of technical complexity in dealing with my partner and in the actual bondages. Here I am constantly looking for, innovations, ways to implement that as smoothly and safely as possible.

With my shows I constantly try to distinguish myself from the crowd and one of the ways is to put down a technically strong show and thereby promote my model in a way that you would not expect. And this without violating the "spirit" of kinbaku. With what I want, I often cannot get along with the existing way in which things are done and I therefore come up with a lot myself. In that respect, I continue to innovate.

A number of innovative ways to deal with a body that are now widely used are from my hand. For example a way to hang someone with legs spread from bamboo. Unfortunately, the bondage scene is very fragmented and openly claiming patterns / techniques often leads to heated discussions.

Is your bondage primarily about the result of the bondage, the erotic tension or the powerlessness in which the model finds itself, or is it a mix of those three things?.

This depends to a large extent on the goal. Roughly, I do bondages in private, on a stage as a show or as a demo or during a photo shoot.

For a photo shoot, the goal is a picture, this picture will reflect the essence of what we should do as well as possible. A good bondage forces the model into a pose in which all female forms come out nicely and which shows the struggle with or surrender to the rope.

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?

Photo: RopeMarks.com

Are you also interested in other SM-related matters and do they possibly also appear in your bondages?

The main part of my interest is certainly bondage, I take pleasure from seeing the bound feminine form, this is where my preference, fetish, is. But my interest certainly goes further than just bondage.

D/s has always had my interest and I try to incorporate this into my private activities and partly in my RopeMarks activities. Recently a more complete D/s situation has come on my life and that is very nice.

Although my focus is on Japanese bondage, I am far from being Japanese. I grew up with Western (and partly American) BDSM and because of that I also have a preference for gags, collars, blindfolds, high heels and so on. I also like to mix things like this with my kinbaku. You get a kind of fusion image, and a very personal image.

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.