Kinbaku
Leigh Leh Lee by Klara Blanc

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on VKShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

With a deeply rooted conservatism penetrating the core values of the Japanese society, it comes as no surprise to discover that kinbaku is treated as a taboo. Given its illegal status, it is practised behind closed doors in hidden establishments, away from prying eyes. The enforced ban however, does not discourage the BDSM community in Japan which, if anything, is very active, to engage with the practice of kinbaku. A kohai of the well known Hajime Kinoko, Leigh Leh Lee is carving her own path gaining more and more popularity with her fashion twist to the art of kinbaku.

Interview and images by Klara Blanc

What is shibari for you?

It’s a type of visual art. It allows me to create compositions and lines using ropes and a human body. Also, it’s a way to take away loneliness. One who doesn’t know loneliness will not know how to connect. The first time I was on the receiving side of Shibari, I was at a very pitiful low point of my life. And Shibari was an embrace that gave me comfort for a while. In essence, it is a way to relief stress. Like kickboxing, except I would be attacking with ropes rather than fists.

Tell me a few things about you. How did everything start with bondage?

I have a lot of the predisposing criteria for BDSM. I was the different kid in school, fascinated with the underground scene. I love the visuals and the music. I went to medical school and I read a lot of BDSM, domestic violence, sexual abuse, psychology text books in the medical school library secretly. Then finally in private, I felt confident enough to put the theory to practice with a doctor friend who also wanted to experiment. He wasn’t sure about it at first. He needed a lot of convincing. Some anxiolytics was also needed. I tied him up and gagged him in a tub. Then I filled the tub up with cold water. When the hemp ropes absorbed water the fibres would swell and become stiff and impossible to untie. At this point, he was looking very cold, panicking, scared and started to fight. And I kinda started to panic too, thinking I had gone too far. So I quickly drained the water, cut the ropes and carried him back to bed. It was Florence Nightingale syndrome from there on. Cuddling and warming each other up. The candy and the cane. And having control over someone’s life was, in our slightly twisted way, love and intimacy.

Is it your main activity?

No. Doing BDSM for money or “professionally” happened when I moved to Tokyo. Like the saying goes Paris is the city of romance, the sexiest city in the world, and Tokyo is the city of lust, the most erotic city in the world. There’s a lot of kink. Some are healthy and some with severe issues. I don’t wanna judge, but I’m gonna judge. I judge myself sometimes and think how the hell I got myself into this shit. But I have learned from my mistakes and now I’m very selective about the kind of BDSM I do. I can enjoy my BDSM and really help people with it. Using it as a main income source would mean I have to take on clients I can’t stand to be in a room with and take the fun out of it all.

How would you define beauty?

Things powerful enough to change the atmosphere of the room.
Strength and power.

Why do you think people are attracted to shibari ?

Obviously, SMers are attracted to Shibari. Everyone’s SM is different, their reason for Shibari is also different. They are people who separate Shibari from BDSM. People simply see it as a craft or martial art.
From a sociological perspective, I’d say Japan is a very country full of passive aggression. Shibari is somehow a way for people to release their stress and detox.

Who would be the typical client of shibari ? What attracts the rope artists and the subs in shibari ?

Shibari typically works better on masochistic girls or subs better than male counterparts. Because masochistic girls have attachment issues, they tend to like the sensation of Shibari not only physically, but also mentally, since Shibari to them is a way to connect. This is why ropes can be so addictive and dangerous. It can turn girls desperate.
What attracts me to a sub for Shibari is, of course, pretty girls and good bodies. Recently my rope sessions have been mainly visual art projects. But I have to say to take my picture to the next level, the girls usually need to be masochists, the expression of pleasurable pain and vulnerability is clearly seen in their faces. No faking.

Do you feel that it is part of Japanese culture, what would the origins of shibari ?

Yes, Shibari is rooted deeply in Japanese culture. Before the Meiji era (1868-1912), metal was a not always available. Guards, warriors would learn to restrain with hemp ropes. This was called Hojōjutsu. Specific ways to tie the ropes marked the criminals social status, crime etc.
Ropes can also be used to torture and to elicit a confession. Many of these old Hojōjutsu techniques are still used in modern Shibari/Kinbaku.

If you were 10 years younger but knew everything at that age that you’ve actually learned over the last 10 years, what is the one thing you would definitely do differently than you did?

Don’t fall for professional BDSMers. They re very good at creating illusions. The nature of an illusion, of a play is supposed to be blinding. Make you feel like you don’t know whether you should wake up or just chase the dream.

What do you love most about Tokyo ?

Shibuya, because it doesn’t belong to Tokyo. It’s visually inspiring to the whole world. It’s the Republic of Shibuya.

Are there any memorable moments in your experience so far?

It was a trump room event crowd there is usually very young and not sure what BDSM is. I kinda pushed a ballerina friend of mine into being my bondage show partner on stage. Visually stunning because you could contort her body into amazing shapes and poses. But for me aside from that it was her story. She was very “inexperienced” just gotten married. Still Very young. Feeling unsure of it all. But being able to give her a fun dangerous experience was definitely the most rewarding. After that, the young crowd went wild. That night I think 50 girls and boys approached me to take their rope virginity. I opened their eyes to a new world is always rewarding.
Also, the time when my head wanted one thing and my body wanted another. At the time I was already actively doing dominatrix work. Friends and senpais (higher in the hierarchy) taught me the technical stuff about bondage and we had practice sessions but I never really experienced a real session myself. I never really felt like I wanted to be submissive. I can’t, I didn’t want to lose control. When I finally had my first session it was unforgettable. Adrenaline rush at first, my heart was racing, fight or flight. He held me at first his warmth, Ora, and his breath on my breath calmed me down. He signalled me to be empty. Then it was like the ropes where the extension of the lover’s hand and we played around in this hazy place. There was a drowning feeling literally. I blacked out for a few seconds from choking but I could still hear sounds. Finally, I bit his hands and it brought me back to my dom self and signalled the play was over. My friends watching at the time said I looked real imitate and we were in another world. At this point, I was crying. Not because I was feeling sick but because it was over. And of course, no one saw that. I experienced Nawa yoi (getting “drunk” like through roping) for the first time and from there on my rope play changed a lot. I became a lot more gentle and sensual with my rope play. It made me more popular with the submissive.

A guilty pleasure.

Shopping. Chocolate berry sauce on my steak and foie gras.

What is something we do not know about you?

Too many secrets to chose from…
I guess the thing that made me cry a lot was getting bad grades.

Team Credits:

Rope artist : Leigh Leh Lee [instagram] Model : Beniko Maco
Photography: Klara Blanc [instagram] [website]

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on VKShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Comments: