Why I'm not a Rope Performer
I've been asked a few times lately if I would be interested in doing a performance with rope. Whenever this question comes up, I always respond with the same answer, "I'm 'retired' from rope performance". This response almost always elicits a strange look and further questions as I'm only 25, have been tying for only a little over two years and have only ever actually performed at a single event (that most people are unaware even exists). So I'm going to take the opportunity explain my reasoning for this response and why it is likely that if you ask for a rope performance from me, I will likely give you the same response. There are a few reasons that add up to this answer, so bear with me.
The first reason is something that I could fix, should I choose to. Apparently with rope, I get stage fright. Due to the style of rope that I do in public spaces, people tend to watch for a little bit, but they don't usually start watching until I have a bottom mostly bound because for many people, that's when rope gets interesting. By this point, I am so immersed in my scene that I don't notice them and continue on tying exactly the same way. If you put me in front of a crowd from the get-go, I invariably tie worse. You might be wondering "how does she know this if she's only performed once?" The way that I know is that I've been in numerous situations where people are watching me from the beginning that aren't really performances and the same thing happens. I forget how to lose myself in the tying. Right now, I'm not willing to sacrifice a number of scenes in order to work on fixing this problem.
The next reason is about my view on rope. To me, a rope scene is an intimate thing. It is a space and moment of time between myself and my bottom. Performances are inherently not that. Rope performances are for the audience. They are the ones that have paid (or not) to see your rope. While you have a responsibility to pay attention to your bottom, not injure them, and make sure they're enjoying themselves, your primary responsibility in a performance is to your audience. This is not a role that I am willing to take on when it comes to rope. When people walk over and begin watching a scene between myself and my bottom, my responsibility does not become to entertain the audience. It's still a scene between my bottom and myself. If it entertains the people watching, that's wonderful, but if it does not, I have not failed to complete my job because it was never for them in the first place. I am not willing to sacrifice the intimacy of a scene (even with someone I have just met) in order to entertain the people around me.
The third reason is strongly related to the second reason and has to do with what a performance is. Performances, in my mind, are artistic expressions of something. They should tell a story of some kind. The story may not have a beginning, middle, and end in the way that we usually think of stories, but for me to consider what I'm doing a 'performance', it needs to tell some sort of story. And I'm not a storyteller. My rope doesn't tell a story. It is a way for me to connect with the person that I'm tying whether that connection is goofy, sexual, platonic, intimate, emotional, whatever. It's between myself and my partner. I am not trying to express something to anyone but my partner when I tie. In order to do so, I would have to plan out some sort of storyline in my head before playing (or performing), something that I have done many times but have only once or twice actually used those storylines. When I do, my rope feels forced, like I've boxed myself in and if the scene needs to go in a direction that doesn't follow that storyline, I, personally, have a very hard time deviating from what I had written.
My final reason is both the most personal reason and my strongest reason. If I were to start/continue/go back to performing, I am afraid of the person that I would become. This next statement certainly isn't going to make me any friends but is vitally linked to this reasoning. The rope scene is a competitive place, especially among presenters/performers. We have a very saturated market now for rope, meaning that there are many people applying for the same slots as performers and presenters. I feel that were I to start trying to be a performer, I would allow this competition to change the person that I am. As someone that teaches rope locally, I have already seen some of this in myself and I have to reign that in and be very cognizant of when I am starting to go down the path of competing to be better than someone else so that I can earn that slot as teacher/presenter. I've seen it in myself with photos here one Fetlife, the desire to turn what was a fun scene into a popularity contest. I don't like doing that to my rope, my bottom or my scene. It feels like I have cheapened what we did when it starts to be about the attention. With as hard as I'm already working to not become the person that posts photos for the attention, I fear that adding performance would only exacerbate that in myself. I also feel that it could lead me down a path of lowered self-esteem as I am already extremely critical of how I tie, every single time that I tie. Performing where I could critique myself over and over and beat myself up nitpicking every little thing that I could improve (which would be literally everything), will lead me down that path and I have done a lot of work to become happier with who I am as a person and as a rigger. The competition with others and myself is just not a place I'm willing to go.
tl;dr (aka a conclusion or summary)
Rope performance isn't something I'm willing to do for 4 main reasons:
- Stage fright
- I view rope as an intimate thing between myself and my bottom and I don't want to tie for an audience
- My definition of 'performance' means that I would have to sacrifice spontaneity for storytelling
- I fear allowing competition within the rope community to change who I am as a person
I recognize that this view is very different than many riggers within the community and I am always open to differing viewpoints. This is my opinion and the reasons apply to me. This is not me judging those that choose to make decisions that I have not made. It is an explanation of why I have made this particular decision.