Episode 20: Knottyboys - "Pretty Tied Up" - Episode 2 of 2
Knottyboys – “Pretty Tied Up” – Episode 2 of 2
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This is Part 2 of a 2-part podcast. If you’d like part 1, you’ll find it at PersonalLifeMedia.com.
Beth Crittenden: Hello, everyone, and welcome to A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews, on Personal Life Media. I’m your host, Beth Crittenden, here from One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, California. We’re speaking tonight with Two Knotty Boys, J.D. and Dan, who are rope instructors. They’re actually a rope bondage duo, who lead workshops and performances. They’ve written a book called Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes. And they do lots of other things we’re going to get into just in a moment here. But before I get to that, I want to let you know about One Taste Urban Retreat center, in case you had not heard about it. We are a community-run organization, where we have a practice in common called “orgasmic meditation”. It’s a way that people can feel more, can connect more, can learn lots that there is to know about life and study it deeply and have a lot of fun in the process. So at the retreat center we have an organic café. We have a massage studio. We have yoga every hour, on the hour, and it’s just a great place to be, so come check it out if you’re anywhere near San Francisco. Or if you’d like to visit here, you’re welcome to.
Beth Crittenden: Join us today on A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews, as Two Knotty Boys, J.D. and Dan, dispel myths about sensual rope bondage. They’ll let you know which type of rope to use and why, and also learn what you can get out of rope bondage. Why would you tie someone up? Get hints about how to get into the scene, whether you want to keep it behind closed doors or hit the road, and also just learn how to explore your kink side, and do it in a safe, connected way.
Beth Crittenden: Hello, and welcome back to A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews on Personal Life Media. I’m your host Beth Crittenden, here with Two Knotty Boys. Their work has also been featured on Playboy TV’s SexCetera, and you can find them on YouTube. Just log onto YouTube.com and type in “Two Knotty Boys” and see some of their work. And also we talked about in the very beginning that you tie up models for photo shoots. What’s that aspect of the work like?
Dan: Well, it’s nice work if you can get it, although one of the reasons we are popular as riggers is that we go about it very professionally, and we don’t get involved in the models that we’re tying.
J.D.: It sounds funner than it is. I mean, we’re kinky artists, like… and can I keep talking? I rig quite a bit. I just did a rig last week. A lot of times people will hear about Dan and I rigging. We also rig separately. We don’t necessarily rig always as “Two Knotty Boys”. But they’ll, “Hey, that sounds so great! You know, my God, you have these models and they’re so beautiful.” But they’re really like our sisters. We’ve known them, many of them, for years. I mean, the person I rigged last week, I know what her real name is. Do you know what I mean? Everyone has a fake name in the scene. And we meet these people when they’re just coming in, and so long story short of it, it’s for us really about turn-on and artistic engagement, trying to sort of go with the flow of the site, trying to really accentuate the power sensuality points for the model that we’re working with, be they male or female for that matter, and really try to produce something that’s a big powerful turn on, that’s going to be a big hit that week for that particular gallery space. When we’re done, we usually just chat it up and part ways. There’re no great love scenes and there’s no great intensity in between. Most of the time when the actual rig is performed, I usually walk out. I usually get something to drink or… I work out quite a bit, traveling quite a bit, both for the Knotty Boys and other aspects of my life. So I’m usually like napping on the couch in between the rigs, which become so unsexy, but that’s really what’s going on.
Dan: Yeah, for me, sometimes we’ll…
Beth Crittenden: Another day, another tied-up model.
Dan: Yeah seriously, you know it’s funny because we’re so involved in the work it’s almost like giving massage if you’re a therapist is not a particularly sensual action because you have this veneer of professionalism that you’re doing and that’s what people like about us. And so when we’re actually tying… we’re focusing on the knot, making sure that it looks good.
J.D.: That you’re safe. We’re lifting these people off the ground sometimes.
Dan: Exactly, and so by the time we’re done, we’re not… there’s… it looks like it must be like a really sensual engagement when we’re tying somebody up for these photo shoots, but the reality is that it’s… we’re so focused on doing things properly and having them look good that we’re not emotionally involved in it. And there are times where I’ll go back and look at a photo shoot that I did and I go, “Wow, that’s hot! I can’t believe I… I can’t believe I was in the room with this person and she was like…”
J.D.: That’s amazing.
Beth Crittenden: How did you learn how to do this? How did you become an expert at it?
Dan: Well I mean I started out as a mountaineering instructor teaching rock-climbing. And so I had a lifetime understanding of knots and the physics of them and how they worked and eventually wound up with a kinky girlfriend who wanted to get tied up. And I go, “Well I know a few knots,” and I tried ‘em out and they worked like a charm and then it just grew from there. And the difference is that beyond the functionality of the knots, of how the engineering worked, I also appreciated the aesthetics, and it wasn’t until I ran into J.D., that I actually met somebody that shared the ideal that rope and knots don’t have to just be functional, that they actually look good.
J.D.: Yeah, and for me, I mean I seriously have been kinky my whole life. I mean my first kiss, and I said this before but, hey it’s my first kiss was a girl tied to a tetherball pole with yarn.
Beth Crittenden: Oh, that’s hot!
J.D.: It was, very. And I always thought she used her real name, so her name was Shauna, anyway she’s still a local girl…
Dan: She’s still on that tether…
J.D.: She’s still on the tetherball pole, yeah.
Beth Crittenden: [laughs]
J.D. Basically for me it was just a fascination with bondage and restraint and slowing down the sensual process. I was a little bit hung-up about sex and so bondage was a way of slowing down my partner so that I didn’t feel like my boundaries were pushed. I could set the pace. I could explore and I felt just safe. There’s a sense of safeness when I’m engaging with bondage. As I grew through middle school and high school and went through all the normal sort of awkwardness that people go through around sexuality, I eventually sort of accepted that I was into bondage rather than fight it -- in my early years I did – and I sort of went with it and became a voracious reader, picking up any information I could on rope bondage, the history thereof, techniques that were being employed by other people. Then I started seeing sort of boundaries, and I didn’t like the structure of traditional shibari-style bondage, and so I broke from it because that’s kind of my nature. And I was kind of a lone wolf tyer, utilizing knots that weren’t conventionally used in shibari-style taught bondage. Fascinated with flat knots because I could roll my partner face down and the knots did not dig into their flesh, and they were pretty. And that led to a skill set that led to some work in emergent websites, porn sites, during the mid-90’s, and in the late 90’s I met Dan. And Dan and I came up with this brilliant idea to be this low-key approachable very not “dom” instructional duo that could teach people how to bring bondage into their life in a way that makes it available, you know, and makes it like demystified, as people have said about us.
Dan: And less threatening.
J.D.: And less threatening.
Dan: ‘Cause we don’t… we like to really engage and have fun and we’re very quippy and…
J.D.: Off the cuff.
Dan: Yeah, we’re off the… we’re… so we like to… we’re sort of disarming because a lot of people go into workshops expecting it to be… them to be dominated, and we’re not like that at all. We try to have you have a good time.
J.D.: And it’s a healing cycle for us because – or for me, I don’t know about Dan – but for me I’m being the change I wish was in the world when I was young. Because I didn’t have any sort of unintimidating role models. Everyone seemed way “too school for school”, the Doms seemed unapproachable, and so I was like, “God, I wish there was just someone who was into this who was just more like me, and just casual, and just, you know, light-hearted. And so then I really tried to emulate being that person in life. And so for me as a teacher it’s healing to be light and casual and open. And I can see it open up things in the people that are being taught. And so in a way it’s a gift to be able to teach it. You know, ‘cause I’m a man now, I’m not a kid anymore and so being able to be this positive image of bondage is awesome. I’m really proud of what we’ve done and I’m proud of what we’ve inspired because there’s a lot of people who kind of teach this way now, which is nice.
Beth Crittenden: What are some misconceptions about bondage that you want to address?
Dan: Well the, probably the common thing is that a lot people think that you have to have a sadistic mind in order to be behind that, and that’s not what it is at all. I mean a lot of times bondage is just… it’s a give-and-take exchange where you’re giving a gift. It’s just another set of your toolbox. It’s just like having a nice brush or any other device that you might use to heighten the sensuality of your partner’s experience. And so it can be a very giving thing and not necessarily something where you’re deriving pleasure from giving anybody pain.
J.D.: Yeah, I think that’s well spoken and another aspect to that is ‘darkness’. You know a lot of people…
Beth Crittenden: Says the ‘man in black’.
J.D.: Yeah, but you know black is just a color. It’s just an outfit that people wear.
Dan: We’re trying to share the light with everyone.
J.D.: The thing that I often get is that people will make off-hand comments like, “Yeah, maybe we should smack her, or maybe we should beat her, or maybe we should… I’ll smack her on the ass, or…” which is fine but it’s not a bondage. Bondage is just the act of restraint. Or other people think, “I have to tap into my ‘dark side’,” you know. Like I’ve assisted with various community-centered events and people go, “We’re going to really we want to tap into darkness and so we want to bring you in,” and I’m like… I see myself as like rainbow and light. And so I don’t really identify with darkness, and I’m like, “You know, I don’t know… this isn’t dark. Like let’s turn the lights on and make this about sensuality. Let’s turn the lights on and make this about connection and love, and take away darkness and sinister aspects, and ideas that really ort of paint us in a picture that line us up with serial killers and murderers, and sadistic people. We’re not. If you met me, I’m a very light-hearted person, a very connected person, very open person, very community-minded person. I mean gosh, I don’t want to get too personal but I know where One Taste all began, and the people behind it, and like the structure and the security that goes with the events and intentional spaces. And I don’t want to give ‘em a history of the local electronics scene but it’s really huge and I’m a big part of that, going back to like “Raise the Frequency” and the early years of the Community, and even “Benchmark Forum”. All of that is about sensuality, connection and communication, and utilizing all the information I gained from those experiences, I bring those same, that same knowledge frame into teaching bondage.
Announcer: Listen to A Taste of Sex: Erotic Poetry Reading, a companion program to life in an orgasm-based community. It’s open mic night at One Taste San Francisco, a weekly audio program on PersonalLifeMedia.com.
Beth Crittenden: What’s like a “peak experience” story that either or both of you could share, maybe for someone who kind of knows what you’re talking about, but not entirely? Can you give some details?
Dan: A peak experience in terms of the privately tying or in a workshop or in a…?
Beth Crittenden: Either one you want to share.
J.D.: I have one. You want me to go first?
Dan: Fire away.
J.D.: I quick one is, early on in our career about two years into Dan and I teaching, there was a couple that came to a place called Castle Barn, which was over in Bayview. We used to teach there quite a bit in the early days, and we’d seen them about four times. They were a repeating couple. And the fellow took me aside during the break. We used to have breaks. We used to have like three- to four-hour shots; we had cookies and milk in-between. We didn’t have a good structure like we do now. It was great. We should probably bring it back. But he came up to me and he said, “The woman I’m with is my loving wife. I’m really connected. We are more in love than we’ve ever been before. The first workshop we went to, we were on the verge of a divorce. And I kind of confided that it would be great to engage in BDSM.” For him, that was something that he wanted to do, the bondage being an aspect of that. And she said, “Wow, I wish you’d have brought this up years ago, because I’m turned on by that too. Hey, there are these two guys teaching a workshop. Let’s go.” And they went. And they enjoyed it so much they kept going, and I don’t know how they’re doing now but at that time he said, “You kind of saved my marriage.”
Dan: [singing the Pena Colada song].
Beth Crittenden: [laughing]
J.D. I know! It’s like that old song from the 70’s, but I felt really moved by that. I really did. It felt like, Wow! That was my first moment of realizing that we’re – Dan and I – are doing something significant for people. And it felt really good.
Beth Crittenden: Next question. What are some basic terms, that when people are starting to learn this… like do you have this knot, or this technique… or what’s some of the terms that you use that people would want to know?
Dan: Well the way that we teach it isn’t really going to relate much to a listener unless they do much knot tying, but we use a lot of use of the word ‘bite’, which is simply a fold in the rope and that’s kind of hard to… it doesn’t look so great on radio, but in terms of terms that are useful for bondage, I think one of the basic things that need to be talked about is communication.
J.D.: Yeah, there you go, yeah.
Dan: because one of the things, one of the misconceptions people have about rope-bonders is that it’s a one-sided deal, where one person has all the control. Well, one of the things about BDSM that most people in the public world don’t know about is that it’s the Bottom who really has the control because they have the power to say “no”. Because in a proper bondage relationship or bondage engagement, there’s communication going on. That’s one of the neat things about BDSM and bondage specifically, is that it’s one of the… very few other types of sex have more greater focus on safety, communication and trust than rope bondage.
J.D.: Huge. It’s all you have. Your reputation rests on it.
Dan: So you want to give your partner permission to tell you, in the event that they’re having a circulation loss and they’re going to… like if their hand starts to go numb, because you shouldn’t be tying too tightly, and you should let them tell you. A lot of times when you’re tying somebody up, they want to be submissive and they won’t tell you when they’re suffering. And we need to open that communication both ways. You need to be open, like J.D. said before, to let your ego go and loosen the knot or try something else.
J.D.: Yeah, because the communication is huge, I often say…you know people often think of the sinister aspect, that you’re ‘domming’ someone, you’re taking control of someone, but really as Dan has already illustrated, that is not the case. We have ‘safe words’. You know, the general ones are like “red” means “stop immediately”, “yellow” means “check in” and “green” means “everything’s good”.
Dan: “Blue means “you’re boring me”.
J.D.: Exactly. And “beige” means “you’re boring me”. A lot of times people in like the regular straight scene will have situations in a bar where a guy is coming on too strong or a woman is just obnoxiously drunk and throwing herself all over the place. And there is no real language to deal with that situation. In our particular scene, at any time if anybody calls red, you stop immediately. If you don’t stop immediately, the amount of social pressure you’ll be getting from the community is huge. You probably will not be dating in the weeks that continue. And so I find it invigorating and inspiring how much communication is a huge part of the scene and the engagement, and how much it’s enforced as a standard throughout the community. But beyond that, when you give someone the capability to tell you what they’re feeling… and that’s the extreme end – you know, red’s the extreme end -- mostly it’s just like, “This is too tight,” or “this is too loose,” or what have you. You have to give yourself permission to hear them. Because a lot of times people will say, “Hey, you’re going to tell me what you’re feeling,” and then they say it and you feel wrong. Or you feel like you’ve done something bad. And you have to sort of live into your own perfection of your own experience and go with the moment, be present to what’s going on and not be attached to perfection, which Dan and I call ‘a form of suffering’. And just be with the person, and be okay to loosen someone up, or be okay to untie someone and not make it about your ego and not make it about failure. Just make it about the moment and just be with it. And that connection and that love and trust is what builds a sensual relationship. It’s what builds a sensual life.
Beth Crittenden: And so people learn rope bondage. They start to build their sensual lives. They can take it home; they can do it behind closed doors. If they want something more than that… if they want to play with others, if you will, what are the options, at least in San Francisco?
Dan: Well there are a lot of public dungeon play clubs that you can easily find them online. And there are places that have regular parties where you can go and meet and greet other people and the nice thing about that is it’s an opportunity not necessarily -- to go not expecting to play -- but to go and expect to negotiate and meet, and go from there.
J.D.: Yeah, and there’s theme parties. I mean if you’re into strict rope bondage, there are rope bondage nights. There’s leather nights. And then this might be something that people are shy about too, going out into a public setting and putting yourself out there. It’s hard. And so there are also online communities. There’s Tribe.net, which has a large percentage of San Franciscan residents. There are also just your basic chat rooms and IM spaces that are dedicated to certain types of themes and conversations. Putting yourself out there, you know just having conversations with people, showing up at events, showing up at parties, and just not being shy about saying what you like and what turns you on. It’s called “flying your flag”. You just kind of throw your flag out there and… You know, like if a girl, you know, throws on some leather pants and a baby doll tee and… she doesn’t have to knock it out the box, but you know she just teasingly makes some suggestive comments and next thing you know you’re kissing and next thing you know you have three kids, living in Brisbane… just joking.
Dan & Beth Crittenden: [laughing]
J.D.: You just got to be you and be proud of it, and just put it out there.
Beth Crittenden: Nice. So just a reminder also that if people want to find your schedule, your bios, photos of your work, they can visit www.knottyboys.com, that’s k-n-o-t-t-y-b-o-y-s, and also you can check their work out on YouTube, YouTube.com.
Dan: And MySpace.com/TwoKnottyBoys.
Beth Crittenden: Great. And the name of your book again is Two Knotty Boys Showing you the Rope[s]. And where can people find it?
Dan: No, Showing You the Ropes, with an “s”, plural.
Beth Crittenden: Much more than one rope.
J.D.: Yeah you can purchase the book at most of your local bookstores; Barnes & Noble carries it also. Good Vibes, you know, whatever your local bookstore is, go walk in and ask for it. It’ll be there.
Dan: Stormy Leather, [unclear].
J.D.: Stormy Leather, yeah, just lots of places carry it. You can also get it on Amazon.com. You can get it on BarnesAndNoble.com, Borders.com, anywhere they sell books.
Dan: And you can come to workshop and we can sign it for you.
J.D.: And we can sell one right in front of you.
Beth Crittenden: Great! Well thank you so much for speaking with me here today and…
Dan: Thank you.
Beth Crittenden: It’s been great meeting you.
J.D.: Thank you, Beth.
Beth Crittenden: Yes, this has been A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews on Personal Life Media. I’m your host, Beth Crittenden, here today with “Two Knotty Boys”, J.D. and Dan. This was great fun. Thanks for joining us. If you would like text and transcripts of the show to find out which rope it is to get again, you can visit www.PersonalLifeMedia.com. You can also send us an email with any feedback or any other questions to OneTaste@PersonalLifeMedia.com. To check out One Taste’s schedule, including this lecture series or our Connect Ed workshops, visit www.OneTasteSF.com, and tune in and turn on for the next show.
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