It's very much in vogue to refer to erotic rope bondage as an art these days, and to pin the sobriquet "artist" on those who do the tying. I was reluctant for years to assume that mantle, other than as an expedient for what ever else I might have called my ropework, and in order to escape acknowledging myself as an artist. I was (and am) very caught up in complex ideas about art, art making and aesthetics, and am arrogantly wont to discount received wisdom about such subjects or to distance my ideas and works from inclusion under their rubrics, up to and including reflexive references to my creative output as art or myself-as-maker an artist. Not that I have anything like a fully formed rubric under which to cast my own creative impulses, but I thought I did at least know that no one else's were any good.
In 1999 I met someone who in his own accomplishments and disposition toward rope evinced to me that my self-righteousnessness was not only self defeating, but utterly contrary to the spirit of erotic bondage. The spirit... that was a new idea to me. My fellow top made no grandiose pronouncements nor observations regarding his or my own attitude; I inferred the possibility of a spirit of bondage from what he conveyed to me through his works, which were by that time not inconsiderable and had taken many forms in many venues. The latest of these venues was a wildly successful website. Others had included gallery shows and academic installations, both of which had, in the public reaction to them, apparently driven him out of a respectable middle-class existence and onto the web.
Of course I resisted what I was learning and it was some time after that meeting that I began to see the convergence of my own passions into something like a unified field of endeavoring, which I had learned from the example of this man was possible. 1999 was when I started to get over my own preciousness and out of my own artistic way. It would still be many years before I would be able to completely swallow that I was doing art.
I'm not much for keeping diaries or journals, but I did spend the entirety of a train trip from New York to Albany penning notes about my meeting with this fellow, which I have transcribed and augmented in the following posting and some several to come. I'll take a break from the interview transcripts for the time being and log the content of these near-decade old notes, if for no other reason than to get them on the record. My initial purpose, in fact, in writing this blog was to provide myself a linear structure in which to organize and refine these stray inspirations concerning the experience of beauty and its intersection with my erotic will.
The trip up from Princeton was mercifully fast and in my fatigue I was still able to distinguish between Penn Station in Newark and Penn Station in Manhattan, detraining at the former. Having been out of NYC for all these years had only enhanced the anxiety even a long experienced traveler might feel when embarking with the city’s mass transit from an unknown corner. Finding the PATH train in Newark to the WTC in New York to then switch for a quick uptown jot on the A or C was as good as navigating in a foreign language to me.
It was 11p when I came up in the World Trade Center’s soaring atrium and asked a guard for the nearest public phone. I dialed the number PD had given me via email and got him after a couple of rings. There was clearly audible activity in the background (of the sort I recognized from watching Insex Livefeeds) and I suddenly felt very privileged. Where others had to upload their interaction using kludgey dial-up connections, I was on the Batphone. PD was enthused for my call and suggested that I come immediately to the studio. It was, he said, just across the river. With a feeling of regret (that has only grown over the years) I begged off. Finding my friends’ apartment in the mid-night abandoned lower reaches of Manhattan would be about as much as I thought I could handle – more subways, more rivers, Brooklyn, of all places… when I had left New York in the mid 80s, nice people did not venture into Brooklyn in broad daylight, much less in the middle of the night.
I got directions on the F line out to York Street for the following day. PD and I determined to meet at the highly unreasonable hour of 9a, for he would have a shoot to prepare for in the afternoon. We would have breakfast, talk money, look at figures.
When finally I bedded down on my friend’s creaky vinyl couch at midnight my last thoughts were of my due diligence and whether I’d be able to write the check the next day if I were sufficiently convinced. Did I have enough ready capital for the percentage I needed in order to make it worth getting involved? I knew from my own participation in Livefeeds that Insex had a big, rabidly active following, and that what they were doing was revolutionary (pornographically, erotically and even sociologically). I imagined membership in the hundreds, monthly cash flow to be in the tens of thousands and margins to be pretty healthy. What sort of financials was it reasonable to request of a porn operator if you’re thinking of investing in their operation?
I came above ground at York Street and marveled at the weight of the Manhattan Bridge over my head, turned right and followed the span down into the then still disreputable district called Dumbo. I was just a bit early and so I walked around the giant, sagging warehouse where I was to seek out the Big Worm Productions buzzer, once, that is, I had found the main entrance. There were innumerable decrepit steel doors girded round the building, none of them marked or particularly distinguishable as a main entrance. As I passed by one with more than its fair share of band stickers a woman emerged from behind the battered metal and I ducked in behind her. I clambered my way first over bags of garbage and then up several flights of a decaying stairwell to where a small paper sign with “BWP-Intersec” scrawled on it marked the landing I wanted and pointed me around the peripheral hall to a corner door. I buzzed, waited, buzzed again, heard some shuffling and was presently greeted by a bespectacled, berobed and bed-faced visage I took a moment to recognize.
“Mac! You’re early, fucker.”