Oct 202010

The latest Overthinking It podcast (start at the 30 minutes mark) tangentially ties into the history of BDSM when they discuss the Jackass 3D movie and its relationship to the tradition of mortification of the flesh, which also mentions the Mondo sub-genre of exploitation film and the idea that what we see in the Jackass franchise is really only a pale, watered down of what you can see in the real modern primitive/body modification/shock carnival culture.

This struck me as a parallel to the idea that you can see lots of BDSM/fetish influences in fashion, music videos and so forth, but it’s still toned down and made acceptable to the mainstream. It means there’s still such a thing as alternative culture. (I was made aware of this when I was told that, during my former tenure as communications coordinator for a local BDSM organization, I chose poster designs that were too edgy for our avowed purpose of outreach to new people.)

Nov 272009

Graydancer’s Ropecast has another interview with Master K (starting about 24 minutes in), with some recently uncovered skinny on Nikkatsu, a Japanese film studio that, faced with financial difficulties in the 1970s, turned to big budget, high production value, softcore porn features. These “roman porn” movies were a contrast to the small budget, independently-made “pinku eiga” movies.

Naomi Tani, portraying tattooed Asian woman in bondage


Many of these films were BDSM-themed, and Nikkatsu recruited pinku eiga star Naomi Tani, bringing her to a much bigger audience.

Apr 122008

Graydancer’s Ropecast includes part one of an interview with Master K, who provides the most plausible account I’ve found so far of the history of Japanese bondage (shibari or kinbaku) and its relationship to the Western/American BDSM tradition. K says there was a cross-pollination between John Willie, of Bizarre fame, and the Japanese bondage subculture in the early 1950s, with Willie’s books being distributed in Japan (legally or by piracy?) and Willie having access to books and magazines from Japan. He also says the modern Japanese bondage culture grew out of several influences: kabuki theatre, the military tying technique of hojojutsu, the use of tying as a form of physical and psychosocial torture, the use of tying in many other aspects of Japanese culture, including religion. It makes more sense to me that it would come from multiple sources, and go through an evolution that parallels the Western sadomasochistic tradition.

When non-Japanese talk Japanese rope bondage, the discourse often revolves around issues of authenticity, and there’s a certain jockeying for status in who has the most access and understanding of the “real” thing, complicated by the distance, language barrier and general insularity of Japan. It’s hard to separate this from Orientalist discourse of the erotic, exotic Far East. Graydancer makes a point of sidestepping this issue by calling what he does “Japanese-style rope bondage”

Addendum: Part 2 of the Master K interview

Addendum: Now the complete Master K interview has been posted.