There is a particular role in almost every community known as “The Rope Guy”* Usually it’s the person you go to when you want to get tied up/suspended/decorated/figure out how to tie down the mattress to the van. It’s not a pejorative by any means. But like any label, it can sometimes be the end of a conversation, rather than the beginning of one.
That’s not just for the people of the community. More insidiously, it’s within the heads of the Rope Guys themselves.
This came to me as I was reading a book that my former metamour Steve Eley pushed at me, called “The Passionate Programmer.”
Not, as I’d hoped, a book about erotic mind control. Not even a book about technosexuals such as TruckerSpike, OohSpicy, or Nellodee. Nor am I about to give up the highly lucrative and secure life of a Ninja Sex Poodle for the flighty and hedonistic lifestyle of a programmer.
This is a book about “Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development.” They could have stopped after the first four words. In fact, I’m only on page 34 and I have to stop and write about the sentence at the top of the page. Author Chad Fowler is talking about “Choosing Your Market” and developing your skillset accordingly, and he brings up the subject of specialization.
“Too many of us seem to believe that specializing in something simply means you don’t know about other things. I could, for example, call my mother a Windows specialist, because she has never used Linux or OS X. Or I could say that my relatives out in the countryside in Arkansas are country music specialists, because they’ve never heard anything else.”
A while back I was getting a little burned out on rope. Rope Rope Rope, everywhere I went, and it was the time I began broadening out my class list to go beyond rope tutorials. I was looking for something, some area of kink that would intrigue me and satisfy me in the way rope bondage does – sexually, artistically, geekily, emotionally, and more.
I thought maybe needles (nope). Singletail (nope). Wrestling (fun, but nope). Fireplay (nope). I developed a level of competency, and in some cases even skill, in each of these and more, but it was frustrating. You know what ended up becoming the thing I became passionate about?
Cigars. Motherfucking cigars. Classes from Whip Master Bob, Sarah Sloane, Jim & Jereth, Daddy Wendell, fascinated me. Explorations of cigar play with Rita Seagrave, Ava Amnesia, Mollena Williams and especially the service of Naiia all fulfilled and satisfied me on a level I would have never expected. I picked up cigars at all just for a prank, for a part of a mindfuck. But now there’s a whole world of cigars, cigar play, cigar history, cigar protocol waiting for me to explore, and it’s grand.
Sometimes you are the Rope Guy because you committed to memory every page of Bondage for Sex and have music from the Knotty Boys videos on your iPod and have the kanji for every tie you’ve done from Master K’s “Beauty of Kinbaku” tattooed on your arm. That’s fine; it’s an accomplishment, and a tribute to your passion and dedication. I’m guilty of it myself (except the tattoo part).
But if that’s the extent of your kink… it might be time to pick up a single tail. Or learn some fire play. It’s not that you have to like the new skill, or that you have to have more than a cursory idea of what’s involved. But having that cursory idea can’t help but broaden (and improve) your skillset in human interaction, and that’s (in my humble opinion) the single most important skill for anyone interested in kink.
On the other hand, if you know the Rope Guy(s) in your community, don’t assume they are a one trick pony.** Ask them what else they might want to do, or introduce them to what you enjoy. Above all, don’t assume that every conversation/interaction has to be about rope. Don’t assume that’s the only class they can teach.
People are more than the gear in their bag or the shape of their flesh. I would encourage you to explore that “more-ness”. I believe it can’t help but make the world of kink a far richer place.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert A. Heinlein
* Note that “Guy” in this case is gender-neutral, as reflected in the use of pronouns throughout.
**Hell, they might actually BE a pony!