Stretch Film – Bakushi: The Incredible Lives Of Rope-Masters

Writer: Hande Öçalan

Illustrator: Saydan Akşit

Movie: Bakushi: The Incredible Lives Of Rope-Masters

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki

When we mention the BDSM culture, if we ask those to raise their hands if it reminds them of the tattoo art, it may not be possible to see many hands in the air. However, being the beater or the beaten is one of the most common features of individuals who belong to one or more of the branches of BDSM, such as Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, Masochism.

If we can now question “Why pain?”, in fact we should be able to also ask, “Why lack of taste?” in the world we live in. In truth we are liars of the modern medicine since the places of pain and pleasure thresholds that touch each other in the brain are unfortunately quite close neighbors.

While being tied with a rope as a slave, being subjected to fire, being beaten with whips or being the side who performs these acts, meaning to be the master, can be considered as a wall, a cliché or perversion by people who do not belong to this subculture, there is one emotion that is produced by these activities for both sides; pleasure. Even though the pleasure element is most of the time associated with happiness, peace, love, flower, bugs and trees, in face getting pleasure is more related to pain than the ones we mentioned above.

As adherents of pleasure that is obtained by pain, this connection we have established between pain and pleasure through the BDSM, regardless of being in or out of this world, shall make people involved in tattoo art and culture feel similar sentences as well.

As that person tries to get the 40 cm tattoo done in the most inappropriate place, the tattoo artists, who try to perform their art among those who break limbs, arms and in the middle of screams of people beaten, will understand the sweet gravity of the situation. When things are similar we look at where we stand and observe people struggling between pain and pleasure, elements humans cannot separate themselves from. We observe and catch one who opposes to all the marginal cultures and also another who tries to suppress pain by gritting teeth and reach pleasure as a result. We look at someone who tries to remove the scab of their wound without judging. Because we know that it will be worth.

During the month February 2008 when bullshit statements such as “Is an alternative identity possible” or “we are behind individual freedom” were expressed more easily for some reason, a documentary movie, named Bakushi: The Incredible Lives Of Rope-Masters was shown in Istanbul Independent Movie Festival’s Different Love Anthology. It is a Japanese subculture documentary viewed by 10 people in the theater in Istanbul, 35 people in Ankara to the very end of the movie and nowadays which could be remembered by at the most 45 people.

Even though this successful documentary attempt by Ryuichi Hiroki, Japan’s most famous independent movie director does not seem to appeal to wide audiences as a subject, we know that there are many of us who grow an interest secretly in this culture.

Masters of binding with rope who perform “kinbaku”, the Japanese erotic art of binding with a rope, are called Bakushi. Binding with a rope which is also in fact a part of the BDSM world performances, is referred to as kinbaku in Japan and it is not totally associated with sex. Even though it continues to be a point of pleasure for both the person it is done on and also the one performing it, the foundation of this art’s to be especially individual pleasures is emphasized in this documentary. With interviews with the three important Bakushis who currently continue performing this historical art of Japan, the movie delves into the past and present state of kinbaku and discusses its impact of this culture on the Japanese literature, cinema and drawing.

Bakushism performed as a professional occupation in Japan and kinbaku modelling, continue surviving as private sessions as a result of filming for BDSM publications or as a result of people who participate in performances for their individual pleasures. The situation, which we know its physical explanation as the state where pain and pleasure touch the same spot in the brain and cause the release of endorphin, traps the person experiencing it in the vicious circle of enduring pain, deriving please from pain, suppressing the pain felt or causing pain, getting pleasure from inflicting pain and stopping the pain inflicted and this motion turns into a pleasure session for both parties.

Do you know which situation the kinbaku art which equate pain and pleasure together, resembles at this point? Tattoo art.

As we have observed in the prevailing understanding in societal sense, the initial questions asked to people with tattoos are generally “Did it hurt a lot?”, “What part of the body hurts the most?” or ‘Which one hurt more?’ which are really questions which the people who got tattoos done need the most. As such, the opinion and understanding of the art and performances which make pain and pleasure to be felt together are made to take a backseat by not so much by the popular culture but the society in general. Including Kinbaku, the ritual of getting a tattoo done or making a tattoo which has similarities to many acts in the BDSM world, becomes one of the important factors which contribute to this culture.

For example, during the interviews done with the Bakushi and the kinbaku model in a section of the Unusual Life of Bakushis, the kinbaku model who gets bound by the same master for 10 years says that the same ritual cannot be realized by another Bakushi  due to the special bond with the master. Similar situation, as it is experienced between couples’ romantic relationships in our century, is one that could develop between the tattoo artist and the tattoo customer. The moment shared and that moment to be special for just those two people, the two parties’ getting to know each other’s bodies and in some instances habits come into play.

Whatever the illustration it includes in the esthetic sense, tattoo as an element that emphasizes sex appeal, also appears as a body accessory we come across often in the BDSM world. The milky white bodies we see in the movies occasionally turn into silhouettes covered with ink. And for people who are intimate with the tattoo culture, it provides the pleasure derived from watching multiplied. Especially, in case of a story related to a fetish art like kinbaku or a branch like sports that brings physical pleasure or an occupation where adrenaline is released, tattoo used as an individual expression method continues showing up as a distinct factor in drawing characters in movies.

We say, take a look at the Unusual Lives of Bakushis in terms of the affinity between being bound by rope fetish and the tattoo ritual and stop asking questions related to pain to those who have got tattoos done.

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