During our second half of the shoot Pixie had an idea of an interesting partial scene, using the Butterfly Harness from Shibari Study for an arms free anchor point, coupled with a mermaid leg tie and a strappado.
We have always had a healthy fear of strappado, it’s an extremely dangerous position, particularly when elevating the arms.
The position of drawing the arms back, although exposes the chest nicely, puts your shoulder under an immense amount of strain, it’s risk factor is considerably higher than many other positions, so this is something we have approached with a lot of caution and a great deal of practice.
We have also been using the Butterfly Harness a lot recently for suspensions, so we are very comfortable with it, having worked on the tension and positioning, which meant that we could focus more on the more risky element of the strappado.
A having a nice break following our first scene meant we were all refreshed, and quite clearly in the second half, Pixie found her inner model, flirting with the camera lense and really opening up to being her beautiful self. It was also evident that @Pree_Views was suitably warmed up to stylistically take some risks with angle and lighting to create some really captivating scenes.
I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetic of the Butterfly Harness, its combination of weaves, hitches and diamond forms are so appealing, and when done correctly enhance the natural curves of the body. It is also however an extremely functional harness, with multiple pick up points and a solid foundation for an arms free suspension.
With the upline secured in place, we began the task of the mermaid tie leg lacing. I always prefer to attach the uplines before corset tying or mermaid tying the legs. By binding both legs together in an upright position it puts a lot of pressure on your rope bottom to maintain balance, having an upline in place reduces this significantly as they are able to shift some of the load into the chest harness and almost swing, while remaining upright.
One of my favourite aspects of the mermaid leg tie, is the waist rope, cinched just above the hip bones, resting perfectly in the crease of Pixies pelvis, and mirroring the lower wrap of the butterfly harness, creating a second pseudo diamond pattern, before each wrap clasps and hold her legs together. I could have opted for a Hishi (diamond, based on the shape of the water chestnut leaf) pattern in the legs, continuing the aesthetic to her pedicured feet, but somehow the contrast, and change in style felt natural.
Now time for the strappado, the respectfully feared locking of the arms behind the back. Beginning with a simple single column around her wrists, I gently folding Pixie over, lowering the upline from her chest harness to accommodate. Slowly and cautiously I weaved between her arms, bringing them closer together, adding just enough tension and strain, carefully monitoring her breathing for any signs of pain or risk.
Then, in a moment of wistful enthusiasm, knowing that we were well away from Pixies limit in her shoulders, we gently tested lifting her legs. Gingerly at first, just enough to shift the tension and weight from her legs into the chest harness. Her arms were at this point merely decorative, no actual load through the shoulders and the spare rope used just to hold her position in place.
But with some caution and lots of communication, we took to a short lived strappado suspension, with of course… a little hair rope.
While extremely fun, we were both conscious that the strappado element of this tie remained its biggest weakness, so in the interest of safety while in suspension removed the strappado lines, and repositioned into a bunny ears arms position, significantly reducing the risk.
As Pixie was thoroughly enjoying the slight inversion we began to play with the angle of the leg lines, pushing further and testing the limit of our inversions, taking it beyond anywhere we had been before…. until.
We reached a point we could not surpass, from vertically upright to full vertical inversion, shifting all the load into the shoulders and some minor pickup in the mermaid harness distributed across the waist rope. But that face of bliss. Being an aerialist Pixie is more than comfortable being upside down from prolonged periods of time (something we later tested in the Human Decor Inc. experiment) and once we achieved this final position you could tell she relaxed into it, feeling completely at ease.
However, getting up is only half the story. As we have explored more into our scenes with suspension, it has become clear to us that there is as much connection, intimacy and immersion in the act of untying as there is in the act of tying and suspension. The internalisation that Pixie experiences while in suspension is unrivalled, but the experience of being lowered to the ground and untied is something in of itself entirely. One day I will get her to write a post about it, expanding upon an explanation she once gave online that encapsulated beautifully her experience in rope.
In the decent the anticipation of returning to earth starts to build. The gentle lamenting that the scene is coming to an end is mitigated entirely through the knowledge that we can begin the process of aftercare, something that for us begins before even the last ropes are removed.
But simply returning to the ground does not signal that all rope must be removed immediately. Sometimes it takes a moment to readjust, occasionally catching breath, or simply admiring each other, and the situation we have come through. Or…. if your a dick….
Just a little bit of face rope…. because what else are you to do with your uplines as they are removed. As your beautiful wife, who has given herself completely to you, enduring through 4 hours of rope suspensions, tension, torsion, predicament, hair rope, mouth rope, inversion, bared her soul for you, lies helpless on the floor, still bound in your rope and unable to move from a combination of ecstasy and exhaustion…. it seems a waste to just bundle them up… But in the interests of art…. in those final moments, where there is an opportunity, and three minds converge upon stretching creativity to the limit….
What wonders are in those eyes…. what beauty, and depth. What skill behind the camera, to see the perspective, to organically and intuitively find the right position, angle and focus to bring it alive.
I used to wonder, where the line between documentation and art lay… what makes something art and not just a picture, or a photo, or paint on a canvas. It still remains a mystery to me. Its ethereal, and almost indescribable, but it feels to be something more than itself. A photograph is just light captured, its a moment frozen, but to be art, it inspires, it ignites emotion or reflects ourselves, it defies explanation so attempts to do so become fruitless. In this moment something artistic was born and it lives within me, as a learning experience I cant easily explain but hope to be able to share, as I become more mature in both my rope and my perception of it within the world.
Content with having created something wonderful, we continued on with our scene, taking it slowly to appreciate the journey we had all shared together. As Pixie and I came back to the world, from our focussed and intimate moments, we began to chat, sharing before the ropes had even come off, how the experience had changed us all. It seems cliché, but as a first rope photos shoot for all 3 of us, we created a sense of comradery in what we had achieved, all knowing there were some truly special moments and memories.
As the ropes begin to be removed, focus shifts back to each other, its been an emotional journey and it is with compassion that rope must be removed. It is not simply enough to take it off, it must be removed with the same intentions for which it was placed. If we place rope with emotion, so must we remove it, equally so. In balance is where we find the best scenes are. Ones where we are able to reset from the fantasy world in which rope inhabits, back to the reality of the world around us, yet, the constant between those diametrically opposed realities, is us.
Its clear that the untying is so much a part of the process, it should not be neglected as within it are so many intimacies, its raw and unbridled, held together by loving arms and hearts. After such intensity, it cannot be rushed, no matter the time it takes, to give it the energy it deserves is utmost.
For when those last rope are removed, when you give gratitude to each other, for exploring your strengths and vulnerabilities…. there remains nothing more than each other.