Or everything you always wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized that you didn't speak Japanese

The Beauty of Kinbaku
and Art
Please note: no part of these articles may be reproduced by any means without the express written consent of the author or the publisher, King Cat Ink.

Chapter Nine

Kinbaku and Art-American Bakushi Part Four –
Working with famous performance artist Millie Brown on her remarkable film “Pendulum.”  

by Master "K"
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The stills accompanying this article really do not do justice to Millie’s remarkable performance nor to the tremendous speeds she reached as she swung over her painting. To do that one has to see the video which, in my opinion, is a beautifully directed, filmed and edited piece of work. It was recently released on the net on both NOWNESS and Vimeo and interested readers can view it here:


Please join me next time as we continue our exploration into the fascinating subject of "Kinbaku and Art!"
Usually when I’m asked to do a professional job I like to have some associates with me. It’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes and hands to make the work easier and safer. In this case, I imposed upon my friends Crockoduck and Zetsu to assist. I was very grateful for their presence.

When we arrived in early afternoon the location was buzzing with activity. I was amazed to see the extent of the crew, the equipment and the lighting. There were numerous cameras, dozens of lights, a GoPro camera mounted on a mini helicopter, a sound crew, two professional medics and a half million dollar Technocrane from Panavision! Our little pile of rope looked quite puny by comparison!

The dramatic nature of Millie’s collaboration with Lady Gaga which involved the artist vomiting over the singer on stage (!) led me to believe I was in for something unique but it couldn't prepare me for either her project’s concept or the woman herself.
Lady GaGa - photo by Nobuyoshi Araki for Vogue Homme (Japan) - 2010.
To say I was astonished would be to put it mildly. The type of suspension Millie wanted to experience is called a Sakasa (or head down) zuri (suspension) and is one of the most dangerous styles of suspension to do because of the risk of falling and the internal pressures involved in being hung upside down. In addition to these “normal” dangers, Millie wanted to put this tie into violent motion and for a performance that would take a considerable amount of time to complete!
While I was intrigued by the challenge, on another day I might have demurred--except for Millie Brown herself. Small but powerfully built, soft-spoken and very serious, she radiated sanity, professionalism and serious artistic intent. 
By the time the performance wrapped it had been a long day of tying, problem solving, and, in the end, making art. After six layers of paint and swinging suspended in bondage in an arc of 20 to 30 feet for four grueling hours, Millie Brown had executed her performance flawlessly and safely. Thank you Urato sensei!

Portrait of performance artist Millie Brown.
Of course, I had heard of performance artist Millie Brown when I got the call from her production people saying that they wanted to discuss a Kinbaku film project with me. I knew she was a well known personality in the art world but I knew her name primarily because of its association with the famous pop star Lady Gaga. And I knew of Lady Gaga because of her music and also her famous fashion/rope shoot with the great Japanese photographer Araki for “Vogue for Men (Japan)” a few years ago. (Please see chapter three of this series for more information on the Lady Gaga/Araki/Vogue Kinbaku shoot and an exclusive interview with the man who tied her).
The site of the shoot was an abandoned warehouse open to the sky where the filming was scheduled to be done at night so that the lighting could be controlled by the gifted European cameraman Stoeps Langensteiner. However, the very openness of the location meant that it was going to be a very cold and different environment than our rehearsal space and this presented some new challenges.

The decorative portion of the tie was a full body (neck to ankle) hishi (diamond) pattern. Because of Millie’s slight build a single strand version of this attractive Shibari was chosen. The suspension rigging was created with a combination of techniques including what I call a “Nagoya-style” hip harness. A second support line running from the ankles to the hard point was also added for additional support and redundancy.

After what seemed like several hours of waiting for the light to be right, we began the work as the night fell and the temperature got colder and colder.

Each color of paint used on the artist’s canvas, six in all, required a reset. But there was a problem. In order to support Millie, we would need to step onto the canvas and so mar the painting. To avoid doing this we used another set of ropes which allowed us to literally “capture” her and then pull her outside of the canvas area and so provide support and rest between color “takes.” Her spotters for these moments were the two medics (who kept checking on her condition) and Crockoduck. My sincere thanks to him for his efforts and apologies for all that paint on his clothes!

While I’m very flattered by the kind and generous compliment and, as important, by the trust Millie showed in me and my team, I return it in full measure. Millie Brown is certainly one of the most dedicated and fearless performers and artists it has ever been my pleasure to collaborate with.

For those interested in contacting Master “K” regarding professional rigging projects please do so at the web site--www.masterkclasses.com.

Whatever one thought of the project or the value of the art involved, this was a serious and strong personality. I agreed to help but with one proviso. We had to attempt a rehearsal well before the shoot to see if Ms. Brown was a suitable candidate for such a taxing suspension.
I met with the artist and several of her production people for a preliminary discussion and was told that for this new piece of performance art she wanted to be tied in an intricate Kinbaku body tie, then suspended nude and upside down in a large abandoned warehouse where she would then be swung like a pendulum while paint was sent streaming down her naked body onto a large canvas set out below her on the warehouse floor! The idea was that she would use her body and the motion she could generate while suspended to paint the canvas below her. All of this to be filmed by a large camera crew for later broadcast.
A few days later we met in a comfortable, modestly sized, interior space which contained a hard point. After agreeing on an attractive full body tie suitable to Millie’s proportions, we proceeded to rehearse the suspension. To my surprise, Millie seemed to be a natural athlete and had absolutely no trouble in doing the Sakasa. In short, it was clear Lady Gaga had nothing on Millie Brown and in the end I found myself agreeing to do the rigging for the film shoot. If only I knew what was to come!
To complicate matters, the use of paint over the ropes meant they would swell and tighten as the cords absorbed the fluid. Therefore, the tension of the tie had to be exact--not too loose or it would not provide enough support, but not too tight either since the ropes could constrict over time and become painful and might even interfere with the artist’s breathing.

I could see the production team begin to tense as I attempted to redo the critical portion of the tie several times. Nothing seemed to be working! Fortunately for me, I recalled a most valuable lesson taught to me by one of my Japanese sensei, the legendary Urato Hiroshi--the rope artist famous for tying and suspending models and actresses (including the Queen of SM films Naomi Tani) in many of the Japanese Nikkatsu films of the 1970s. Once in a class years ago he had shown me an alternate ankle tie used for suspensions that puts much less pressure on the lower legs. (Please note: for much more information on Urato Hiroshi, Nikkatsu films and Naomi Tani please see “The Beauty of Kinbaku.”

The technique worked! Not long after, Millie was suspended and swinging with paint cascading down the rope, onto her body and across the canvas. Her arc of motion had her moving at speed an incredible 20 to 30 feet across the canvas; a dramatic and beautiful effect. 

(Please note: most of the images used in this article are video captures taken from a web interview given by Ms. Brown for The Red Bulletin: About the Red Bull TV series “Diplo Presents: @Large Creators at Work”, episode #3 and the film “Pendulum”--performed by Millie Brown, directed by David Solomini, photographed by Stoeps Langensteiner with rope by Master “K.”) 

Millie Brown quoted in a recent interview for The Red Bulletin: About the Red Bull TV series “Diplo Presents: @Large Creators at Work”, episode #3.
Millie Brown quoted in a recent interview for The Red Bulletin.
Sakasa zuri - photo and rope by Master "K" - 2008. 
Screen captures from the film "Pendulum" performed by Millie Brown.
The day of the shoot dawned crisp and cold and I was concerned about the chilly, winter weather as I set out for downtown LA and the location.

For instance, we needed to make sure the artist looked good, was safe, and also that the tie was well constructed enough to keep the performer comfortably bound, relatively speaking, while the video was being filmed. To complicate matters even more, it was clear from our discussions that Millie couldn’t be untied at any point while the “performance” was being filmed. To do so would mean having to redo everything: lighting, paint, canvas, rigging, etc., which would take far too much time given the budget and time allowed. This meant that the artist might have to remain tied up for several hours.

Miniature helicopter and camera.
Millie Brown quoted in a recent interview for The Red Bulletin.
Millie Brown quoted in a recent interview for The Red Bulletin.
Screen captures from the film "Pendulum" performed by Millie Brown.
Screen captures from the film "Pendulum" performed by Millie Brown.
Screen captures from the film "Pendulum" performed by Millie Brown.
Screen captures from the film "Pendulum" performed by Millie Brown.
IntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Special-Photo EssayChapter 4
Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7-AB Part 1Chapter 7-AB Part 2Chapter 7-AB Part 3Chapter 8-Part 1
Chapter 8-Part 2Chapter 9-AB Part 4Chapter 10-AB Part 5Chapter 11-AB Part 6Chapter 12Chapter 13-AB Part 7
Chapter 14-AB Part 8Chapter 15-AB Part 9Chapter 16-AB Part 10Chapter 17-AB Part 11Chapter 18-AB Part 12Chapter 19
Chapter 20Open at Last!Chapter 21Chapter 22More to Come

Links to Other Chapters of Kinbaku and Art