(Photography: David Flores. Model: Ririku6)
(This is an interview of the Shibari Talks series).
Chatting with Nudoss is always funny and enterteining: not only he’s been tying around during a lot of years, but his perspective of self-taught rigger, difficult to classify, is surprisingly refreshing in the scene. We talk about photography, haystacks and the power of enjoying ropes.
How would you define yourself as a rigger, in your own words?
Wow, that’s succinct. [Laughs] And regarding your style?
Some people say I’m caring and cuddly, for others I’m a bit of a bastard… I’m quite adaptable depending of who am I tying. I like everything regarding ropes: photography, performance, vanilla tying or sadistic bondage. I’m not looking for a single thing.
How and when did your interest in rope begin?
When I was twelve or fourteen years old, I started messing around with ropes in a haystack in Soria. It was with a couple of friends my age, neighbours from a little town near Medinaceli… Using a black rope for tying alpacas that I found lying around. I tied them both at once. Well, first one and then the other. [Laughs] While my friends were playing doctors and nurses to feel girls up, I liked to play with ropes to restrain, control…
Then, while you were growing up, how did you keep exploring ropes?
Nowadays it’s very easy, but years ago it was very difficult to find someone to play on day to day basis. Two neighbours, or trying jokingly to overpower a cousin while playing… Until I reached adult age and women got scared when you say that you would like to tie them. Well, all of them got scared except one, the one I married. [Laughs]
Sources of information on rope tying were scarce in Spain at the time… How did you learn to tie?
When I was a child I simply tied like I had seen in the movies, three rope wraps and that was that. Afterwards I started looking for rope and BDSM material in gas station magazines, that were well assorted. I grabbed five porno magazines and one about motorcycles to conceal them. [Laughs] There was where my hobby for motorcycling started, actually. In the porno mags: SM, Tacones Altos, Sumissa or similar ones, there were pictures of ties… Until I found a magazine edited by José María Ponce, with a tied up japanese model on the cover. And I bought it, covered in plastic, very nice, very expensive… And it contained shibari pictures. I loved it. Then I started to copy and develop my own ideas… No fucking clue compared with what we do today, but some interesting ideas came up.
Did you like that japanese way of tying?
When I started in the Internet shibari was seen as something very mystical and aesthetic, with japanese riggers almost considered like monks… But in that magazine I saw a lot of sexual playing, and now we know that japanese can also be dirty old bastards. [Laughs]
Some learning resources started to appear…
Two Knotty Boys were great, they uploaded some video tutorials that were not exactly shibari but filigree bondage. I tried to copy some of their rope shapes, but others were very boring, lots of tying time to accomplish anything.
Which kind of ties did you like most?
I experimented. I tied to play. Afterwards the shibari boom started, learning technique and figures, go to workshops, travel… I’ve done very few workshops with masters, but I’ve studied with some master’s disciples. And if the privileged student of a master was a good-for-nothing, then I discarded the master. Actually there are only a couple of riggers I’d like to have as teachers… Alfil and Osada Steve. I’ve never learnt with Alfil, it just did not happen, but he’s someone I’d like to teach me from scratch, from the first know. And I could not attend Steve’s workshops in Barcelona some years ago, but I’d love to travel to Japan and have some classes with him.
¿Y qué cursos te han servido de los que has hecho?
A couple. With Peter Slemrian, when he came to La Órbita de IO some three years ago, I learnt a lot not so much about technique or aesthetics, but about how to use ropes for playing. And I’ve learnt a lot from Braxter. Even if I’ve only attended a workshop with him, we’ve always been together, I keep paying attention to what he does and he keeps looking and correcting what I do. Braxter’s way of understanding ropes is very special. I always see him tying Anitch, I love the chemistry they show. In a picture they can be seen wearing latex masks and a single rope between them… And just their eyes say a lot about them.
What’s your involvement in the Idobondage project?
IdoBondage it’s Braxter and Anitch. I helped them with their workshops, basically. We are neighbours, we get along well and I liked their workshops a lot. But the problem of any workshop is that among the five or six participating couples there is always one very fast and another one learning very slow. If you center your attention in the slow one, the fast one gets bored; if you concentrate on the fast learner, the slower gets lost. So in the workshops Braxter was explaining in the middle-advanced level, and I was giving a helping hand to the ones left behind. And I added a sprinkle of humor, because Braxter is very organized while explaining, but he’s also a bit of a bore, this is known [Laughs]. Put some jokes into the explanations, man, don’t be bland.
A common trait in many of your images is that you’re seen laughing and joking; there’s a lot of humor in your compositions. Are you looking for that consciously?
No, I’m just like this. Once in a forum I got asked: “What is BDSM for you?”. And I answered: having a blast, fun, enjoyment. Of course, the response I got is that BDSM must be something serious, and I replied that laughing doesn’t mean that you cannot laugh seriously. I can rely a lot on protocol and still laugh. Moreover, unexpected things are cool. If a guy is always serious he’s not imposing, because that’s his normal behaviour. But if someone who is usually funny and friendly starts getting serious, he’s much more impressive. Everyone should have any attitude they like, but I don’t understand ropes as something mystical, concentrated in posture and attitude. If it was like thins, I would go out looking for the party.
It’s more important to be natural than posing?
I appear in very few pictures. Normally I’m trying to express something, and I enjoy a lot independently of the result. And when I’m posing, it’s directly doing something moronic, laughing like in a making of. I have pictures with a Batman mask and sunglasses, grabbing the leg of the model… That’s me posing.
I see you working closely with the photographers Oliver Cubells and David Flores García… How did you contact them? Any other photographer you like to work with?
A photographer friend of mine asked me about rope pictures, she wanted to try it as model. Some photographers got together: Oliver Cubells, Jota, Gonzalo… We went to an abandoned place somewhere, hanged her up, a policeman with dreads appeared… He didn’t actually told us anything except that we should be careful with the building owner, a bit fascist. Anyway, it was great. Like this photographer friend said, my only work is to put well the ropes. The work of the model is to be expressive and knowing how to pose as requested… And if the picture is bad, blurry or is badly edited, it’s a problem of the photographer. I try to be in good terms with the photographer, I don’t care if pictures are good or bad. In my experience, cool photographers do fucking good pictures. I started doing pictures with Oliver, and then with two or three more photographers. One day they did an Open Jam in Bonzo studio, and there I met David Flores. He did a wonderfully edited picture of a woman tied in a sofa… And we started talking, sharing ideas, looking for models. With David I’ve done a lot of pictures. Then I met his significant other, Mar Moreno, with whom I’ve also worked. She has a different style, more flus flus.
¿Flus flus? [Laughs]
More ethereal. We did some pictures with butterflies, silks, ballerinas… Very funny. With David Flores we’ve pictured beautiful atrocities, like bloody angels ripping the heart of a model… By the way, the heart was sliding by the floor of the studio all evening, that was a carnage.
Have you worked with Tentesion?
I didn’t participate in the first Tattooatados, because moving on a Sunday to Barcelona is quite difficult for me. In the first Shibari Experience I didn’t participate either, except in the presentation of the book, during which models were being tied, but without pictures. That’s when I earned my fame of Mario… Because I went dressed as Mario Bros.
No, I was with some overalls with black dungarees and a red shirt, and Rock&Wolf told me upon entering: “where are you going dressed as Mario Bros?”. I entered into Rosas 5 dungeon, and I found Alberto NoShibari dressed all in white, and Malporro dressed all in black, and I appear dressed as Mario Bros. All the girls were in there, and I ask: “any model to do ropes?”. They all looked at me and started whistling and hiding. [Laughs] But there was one girl that knew me, and she wanted to do ropes with me. But she was very smartly dressed, because she was going to a party afterwards. So I lent her some clothes, saying that I could tie her up in panties and with a T-shirt of mine… And then I discovered that I love to rip T-shirts apart.
With scissors or in a Hulk way?
It’s impossible to tear them by tugging even if they’re from Decathlon, you have to cut a little to rip them afterwards. Probably some of the models that were hiding before liked the idea, and I didn’t stop tying all night. For the second book, both for Tattooatados and Shibari Experience, I’m participating more… Aside from that, the only time I’ve done pictures with Tentesion and medora was in some abandoned pools with Anitch, and with mineko helping us. We laughed a lot, like it’s meant to be.
When did you start doing performances?
My first performance was in 2014 in the Barcelona Erotic Salon, with Líricaa Lamat. We hadn’t rehearsed anything. I went dressed like I usually do, military, with boots… I bought a cap to hide myself, and I painted my face with stripes so I wouldn’t be recognized. In the end I could be recognized anyway, it just looked like I hadn’t showered in days. [Laughs] It wasn’t one of my best ideas…
The cap stayed, didn’t it?
And the sunglasses! I was scared because they were going to take pictures of me, and I thought that I was going to find a neighbour there… And afterwards I thought: that neighbour would be visiting the Erotic Salon, right? What is he going to criticize exactly?
Did you like this experience of doing a performance?
It’s not what I like most about ropes, but there’s something about it. You do something for the audience, not for the model and yourself. You’re acting in a theater play when you move with the ropes, thinking in a way that doesn’t show that you’re thinking… You’re not playing, because the audience would not see it. The model, if she’s good, will be moaning “aaah, oooh”, and you thinking, “what the hell, I’m really good, but I’m not doing anything” [Laughs]. If I did public performances the way I play in private, people would get bored, because I’m playing with a lot of concentration.
Have you ever tied male models?
Two times. It’s not my cup of tea. I’m rigidly heterosexual, I can’t avoid that, I would love to be bisexual. I tied a man once, because we were going out of a workshop and we had to practice a takatekote… And the second time it was Deb, there it didn’t matter if I was hetero, because I tied him with two naked models at his feet. Deb was acting as a column: he’s tall and thin, so he did well his part. [Laughs]
Why do you think that in the scene (except in gay venues) there are less men tied than women?
There aren’t so many public male models, but a lot of men ask me if I could tie them, a lot. Why there are so few pictures? I don’t know. There are a lot of girls more.
Tell me what do you understand by semenawa and if you practice it…
Yes, but only if I’m with someone who gets aroused by pain. Once someone asked me what pleasure do I find in ropes… And the answer is none, ropes are just coiled fibers, I’m not a fetishist of ropes but of the feelings and expressions that they can generate on the model. It’s not necessarily something active, just with tying someone, leave her in a corner and looking, you are already generating sensations. So with some models I apply pain, and with others I’m very careful to generate the least amount of pain possible. Then I can be very smooth, that’s my fame with some people, but it’s important to consider that the first time you time someone you can’t and mustn’t be rough. For instance, for a Shibari Experience where I don’t know the model, I start with floor work, sensations, flexibility, reactions, no strange things… And then I go forward to try semis, even sometimes a suspension the first day, but after having studied the reactions of the model. And then there’s some cases in which you know the model beforehand, you know for instance she’s a masochist, and then I go to full play mode and torment mode, sometimes even almost too much. But I know very well when someone says enough or uses whatever safeword… I can enter into an altered consciousness state, but never to the point that someone tells me to stop and I don’t.
Have you lived any incidents during your years as a rigger?
The most serious incident was that a model passed out while doing a semi suspension. It was at 6 a.m., in Pamplona, we had been there for two days… There I understood that a problem can appear in just two seconds. It was nothing: she passed out and was left hanging from the main line of the takatekote, I took her down, took out the scissors, cut and that’s it. She was prone to passing out, hadn’t told me that, and she also liked the sensation. But what the fuck, that was a scare. Aside from that, I’ve never had serious issues. I’m very scared about hurting someone, so I’m very careful.
Some dizziness, a hand with a bit of prickly feeling in one hand until next morning… Nothing else. During a party in Tarragona, someone put the heater on and the hot air was going just over the point where I was tying a girl to a post. I untied her just in time, because both of us got dizzy. And with Monika Aln in Clandestino, we had to stop two ties a tie, first because I was sick, and the second one because she got sick [Laughs] That was not our best day, so we stayed there sat down seeing others have fun.
Have you explored other methods of immobilization? Chains, cloth, bandages…
Yes. Transparent film is great. I don’t like duct tape, maybe because I use it all day at work and enough is enough, what the hell. [Laughs] Chains are very cool, I have some pictures of chain suspensions… A functional takate with the safeties made with padlocks. That suspension was criticized saying that it was not possible to suspend safely from those chains… But it was a photo with some trickery. I raised her feet just enough time for taking two or three pictures, she was suspended only some seconds from the chains. In general you can use anything for tying if you have it available, the sleeves of your shirt or shoelaces.
You’ve defined yourself as a self-taught rigger: have you been criticized by that?
No, because nobody knows that I’m self-taught [Laughs]. For me shibari is very serious, a Japanese tradition that works as their culture does. For instance, there are less than ten true Japanese katana makers in Japan. Each of these senseis has seven or eight pupils that spend all day in his workshop learning his techniques, and when they come out from there they will use those same techniques. That’s the Japanese learning style… So there are actually only two or three people in Spain doing shibari: the ones who have studied with a teacher and tie exactly the same way. The rest of us keep doing different workshops… And normally most adopt the latest takatekote they’ve been studying. I’m not like that. I’m a mechanic. A teacher must explain me why a takatekote works, it’s not enough for me “I was taught this way”. When I learn something technical I study it and I end up modifying what I learnt: that’s a way of being self-taught, adapting what you are taught to your own way. Some people do not allow you to do that, they’re horrified. Sometimes that annoys me. For instance: years ago everybody went up from the main line to the suspension ring, went down, passed the rope through the loop and went back up again. I was not convinced by that. I can reinforce a lot near the ring, but everything will depend in the end on a fragile loop with single rope! And I thought: if I pass the rope through the loop when I go up the first time, I go to the ring, then down and under the rest of the ropes instead of through the loop…
Most people do it this way nowadays.
But a lot of people criticized me when I started doing it! And now everyone does it this way, even for leg suspension. Now they criticize the one who passes the rope through the loop!
You told a story in Facebook that I found to be significant, about the “gravity boot” and how was it first received…
I call that figure the greek stocking, I saw in a tutorial years ago… And it was criticized saying that it was macrame, not shibari. And some months ago I found a video with a famous Japanese rigger explaining that he attended a workshop in the USA and there he had learnt that beautiful rope figure from a local rigger. And in the comments everybody was praising the structure. Why was it macrame when I did it and a great invention when it was a Japanese rigger doing it?
Apart from tying, do you practice any other activity to help you be a better rigger?
Frequent naps. [Laughs] I should do some yoga, sport, walking around… And I would be a better rigger, because right now, when I’ve been tying for a while on the floor, I get more cramps than my model.
What do you think it’s the best approach for a newcomer who wants to learn shibari?
Depends on what does he or she want to learn. Some weeks ago I gave a workshop for the first time. It was not a workshop to show technique, except for the basic one of the first knot, safety… It’s all the same to me if a newbie doesn’t put the kannuki ok when doing floorwork. The first thing to learn is to have fun, and the technique will be learnt along the way. But if you start with technique the newbie will get bored and end up quitting. It’s like English, that I haven’t learnt because I never found a teacher that allows me to have fun while learning. And English would have been useful one time I could have tied two Dutch girls, but we didn’t understand each other [Laughs].
Shibari has been getting more and more popular during last years, and some people see risks in that situation. Do you share that vision?
It has a good and a bad side. The problem is not that it’s fashionable now, but that there is a lot more of people tying because it’s fashionable; they want to be kings of the party and also complicate things needlessly to stand out from the crowd. That’s when accidents and bad vibes start, that’s the only bad side I see. The advantage is that there’s a lot of models… It was more difficult to find models in haystack in Soria [Laughs].
When do you think a new rigger is ready to start suspending?
Suspension is reached by accident. I was not interested in suspensions: why would I want to try aerial complications when floor work exists? But something happens… You are enjoying yourself, you keep learning more technique, you learn a takatekote, you study and adapt it, start doing semi suspensions and things get a bit more complicated, you lift a knee, an ankle… And suddenly the model lifts the only foot left in the floor and says: “look, I’m suspended and it’s comfortable!”. So only thing left is to tie a rope to that other ankle and there you are, a suspension. It’s a process in which you end up suspending almost without noticing… It’s not about learning to suspend at the start, but enjoying ropes and living that process.
Another classic debate is about the pros and cons of tying a single model with whom to deepen your shibari knowledge versus tying a lot of different models.
If I tied only a model I would know her a lot, I would know exactly where to put the ropes, how to read her in detail and I could do very advanced things with her… Disadvantage would be what happens to certain good riggers, that if they get their model changed they don’t know how to tie, because she is more heavily built, thin, tall, short, muscular… The good thing about tying a lot of models is that each one is different, and you have to think and adapt to be more versatile.
When a new girl comes and asks to be tied by you, what do you say about…?
I say yes. [Laughs]
I know, but I wanted to ask how do you negotiate a shibari session with that unknown person?
First I explain a bit what I’m going to do. That I will start testing on the floor, that if she does not like something she should warn me with a bit of time, not when she’s out of breath already. We talk about safety, touching the fingers to check blood circulation… I also try to find out what does she like, what’s she expecting, although they normally don’t know. I explain above all that I tend to get very close to the model and get into her vital space. It’s not the same as fondling!
How should the rigger/model communication be during a tie?
Depends if I know the model or not. If I know her it’s not even necessary to talk, simply watching I know if the session is going well or bad, and how to lead it. On the other hand, if it’s the first time I tie a model, I talk a lot. In a low voice and pitch, not screaming “HOW ARE YOU DOING?!” [Laughs]. Without breaking harmony and space, I ask if everything’s OK. Yukimura said that in order to create a good ambience you have to say lewd things close to the model’s ear. Once I was tying a good friend when I got her close and whispered: “I’m going to say lewd things: I’m going to eat a chorizo sandwich, with ham and cheese, with a cold beer” [Laughs]. And there we were in the middle of the dungeon, laughing our asses off. “Don’t say such lewd things, I cannot bear that!”. Every model is different, you have to catch her drift.
And what kind of care do you give afterwards?
Depends on the model. I like hugging, talking about how did it go, sensations, feelings, whatever the model wants… A certain follow-up. Not giving an ass-kick and that’s it, doing that would be the coldest thing in the world.
Do you think that it’s an advantage for the rigger to be tied up frequently, it’s enough to have experimented once, or it is not necessary at all?
I’ve let myself to be tied up to know the physical sensations, but the emotional ones are not really my cup of tea, I’m very frigid receiving the ropes. If what I feel when tied was what the models feel, there wouldn’t be any. The experimental or mechanical part yes: to tie a harness on me or a futomomo to ascertain where it’s tighter, for instance.
Which currently active riggers are more interesting to you? At least one local, one international and one Japanese.
I don’t really follow what the rest of the riggers do. It’s like with music, I like it but I don’t have a clue about particular artists. From here, I’m very interested in Alfil because I’ve known him for a lot of time. I’ve heard about him, I’ve seen his pictures… And he’s quite mystical. Then maybe I do some classes with him and I don’t like him, who knows. With Braxter I’ve already worked and I know him. As Japanese, Osada Steve, because he’s the best. OK, he’s Swiss, but he looks Japanese already. And from abroad, Peter Slemrian, even he’s missing now. I like his way of tying, but I don’t have a clue about how he is at a personal level… Nor can I say anything about the incident that took him out of the scene.
A menudo se dice que para aprender shibari hay que repetir una y otra vez las figuras básicas, como si fueran katas de artes marciales. ¿Tú lo haces así?
I don’t, because I have a memory problem. I don’t have abstract memory, and I can’t retain names. On the other hand, I remember well everything that’s mechanic. When I’m teached a new takatekote, I catch it on the fly. Then I repeat it to memorize it more, but it’s not necessary that they explain it to me ten times. When some people say that tying is complicated, I answer that it’s not, because I know at every moment where the ropes are passing through. If after tying a model I grab paper and pen, I can draw exactly where each of the ropes has gone. But if in that moment you ask me what’s the name of the model, I won’t remember. [Laughs] Mechanical memory and abstract memory…
Where does you Nudoss Aabye nick come from?
The first time I entered a BDSM forum I tried with Nudos [Knots in Spanish], but it was already taken… I insisted, though, hence Nudoss. And the Aabye started when I entered Second Life in 2007, out of curiosity, and I had to choose a surname with a drop-down menu. I chose the first one by alphabetical order: Aabye. Nothing mystical, you see. The name Pepe Nudoss García is because Facebook forced me to choose a name to have an account [Laughs].
You did an exhibition on Second Life, right?
I moved around there a lot during a couple of years, and I made good friendships I still keep. We opened a virtual BDSM venue, Domus Áurea, with a library, conferences, talks, debates… It was one of the most visited sites about S&M. Another similar site did photo gallery, and they offered me to show real images in Second Life. It was like a virtual 3D gallery.
Haven’t you thought about doing an exhibition in real life?
No… I lent a hand in the opening of the Cincomonos exhibition, but the only thing I remember is your octopus finger and the scream you did at the beginning with the queimada spell.
How do you see the next generation of shibari riggers and models?
I like the people I know from the next generations. The problem is that they seem to be very accelerated. We hadn’t much information, so we had to progress slowly… They have so much information that they are tying difficult things in three days. It’s not bad, really, but this makes that the majority of them center too much in technique and lack communication skills. On the other hand, it’s great that there’s young people rigging. When with them, I’m the grandpa.
What do you like the least about the current shibari scene?
The snobbish perfectionism… To tie only to look good in pictures, not for actually playing. And this has to be taught: workshops on how to enjoy ropes.