The same dusty garage. The same half-naked man and the same team, including a lot of wild plans to take the game of Japanese bondage to the next level. This time hot wax, fishnet stockings, more ropes and suspensions were to be involved. Consequently, someone having the professional expertise to guarantee both safety and a beautiful result with the ropes was obligatory. To our great fortune Kinbaku teacher and artist GEORG BARKAS, one of only three licensed Osada Ryu instructors worldwide, was in town and willing to work with us. His wife Addie and his assistant here in Vienna, Andi, helped out as well. As the shooting was taking a turn for the unexpected, we certainly couldn’t have been in better hands! Georg Barkas

If you have ever seen images of Kinbaku, in the western world more known as Shibari, you know how sensual people who are tied up and hanging in various positions can look. It is the combination of its historical origins, the art form it has become and the erotic fantasies it triggers that makes Kinbaku so fascinating and therefore a popular practice, especially within the bondage and sadomasochistic (BDSM) community. When there is an interest in adding erotic rope bondage to one’s sexual repertoire, people tend to think all they need to learn, is how to make the knots, pretty patterns and how to make sure that the person in ropes doesn’t get physically injured. That this knowledge is by far not enough to turn a playing session into a positively memorable experience for all involved, is something people are less aware of.

There is another, much greater dimension to erotic rope bondage, namely that of deep, strong emotions, that is not to be taken lightly. If you like me have had the pleasure of attending a workshop led by Barkas, one of the first things he will explain, is that with the rope as a tool you aim to assist people into their happy space. This happy space has many faces cq. emotional expressions. Ideally one enters a state of pleasurable bliss, feeling completely free in one’s mind and physically completely relaxed. This may sound like a contradiction, but if you think a little further not being able to do anything also means you don’t have to do anything. Knowing that the one in charge is taking care of you means you can just let go. But apart from positive feelings such as bliss and joy, anger, fear or sadness can manifest as well. It greatly depends on the personality of the person in ropes, the past events that shaped him into what he is today and the communication that is taking place between him and the one handling the ropes what intrinsic sensations are being unleashed.

When I tie, it’s past directed. It has nothing to do with the future and it has nothing to do with the presence. It is something, that shows me the past – of me as well as of my partner’s past. Tying is an interview for me. I ask questions. The questions I ask, with my rope, with different tensions, different distances, different exposures and so on and so forth, aim for answers in the past.Archaeology of Personalities by Barkas

You may be convinced you will enjoy giving up power and not being in control. In reality, without some experience been tied up Kinbaku style, you cannot be fully prepared for what happens in your mind in that particular moment. It was a first for Christian, who had been looking forward to this shooting for weeks. In his imagination he did not expect he would have to deal with anything more than some physical discomfort. As soon as Barkas had fixated one of his arms behind his head, though, an inner oppressive sensation came over him. Being completely focussed on Christian, Barkas picked up on this negative vibe and paused to help him feel comfortable again before continuing to finish the suspension. Depending on the position Christian was put in the same feeling, enhanced by the fear of not being untied quickly enough, alternately returned and left. During the whole session Barkas made sure he was fully aware of both the physical and mental state Christian was in so he could act accordingly. 

During our shooting pauses in between were necessary, but as you can see photographer Michael Strobl was able to catch some great moments where Christian obviously felt more comfortable. Maybe he even had a naughty thought or two that conjured that slightly provocative smile on his face. Who knows, right? 

Of course I was eager to find out if there is a difference between tying up men compared to women. Addie, who has more experience putting the ropes on men, told me there isn’t really.People who identify as men do tend to resist more. They have more trouble letting go of the power”, Addie explains. The other difference lies in (body)shame. Women are used to being exposed, showing their bodies and being (sexually) objectified. On a psychological level, men have more difficulty handling this. Additionally, the ropes can be used to accentuate the female form, which we as a society generally perceive as beautiful and erotic. Accentuating the male form is still considered unusual and can make men feel self-aware, awkward and even unattractive.

Even though the hot wax and the fishnet stockings were not put into action, we can’t be more satisfied or grateful for having had this insightful experience. As soon as I feel the rope on my skin I close my eyes, let go of all the every day nuisances and simply float. Therefore it was fascinating for me to see this other effect of Kinbaku. Christian in the role of model may have had other expectations, but I’d like to believe that although fear popped up, being tied up by Barkas, a Kinbaku master who at the same time is at eye level with you, has given him something more profound than just a kick.

Photographer: Michael Strobl
Model: Christian
Make-up: Adreas Riegler
Making of: Christian & Esther






Book:“Archaeology of Personalities a linguistic approach to erotic rope bondage” by Georg Barkas

Visually, the aesthetics of Kinbaku is the sweet cherry on top, but in the end making a pretty pattern or a perfect knot is irrelevant. Important are focus, awareness, responsibility, trust and communication. If there is a connection on a deeper level, the result is always breathtaking. 

In his recently released book Archaeology of Personalities a linguistic approach to erotic rope bondage Barkas writes about experiences such as the one we have made during our shooting; about using the rope as a brush at an archaeological site and carefully sweep away the earth to discover what the past has preserved underneath. It is a philosophical and in my opinion psychological approach to Kinbaku, and therefore a must-read for everyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the intense human interaction that takes place when two or more people decide to tie together.

Archaeology of Personalities is available as a paperback and kindle version on Amazon.

Author: Georg Barkas
Foreword: Osada Steve Sensei
Editing: Addie Tahl