Papilicious (he/him) is charming, and disarming, and he will tie you down like there’s no tomorrow. WINGS sat down with the Mexican-born kinkster from Amsterdam to learn more about the Japanese art of Shibari, and to find out how being a rigger brought him a sense of calmness, at a time when he needed it most.
For newbies who are not familiar with the terminology, what’s Shibari and what does it mean to be a rigger?
“Shibari is the Japanese tradition of bondage, which has been around for over a century. It’s inspired by Kinbaku, a Japanese military torture technique from the 1400s. A rigger is a person who ties and does the knots during a Shibari session. For me, being a rigger means leading a scene with my rope partner – the person that I tie up. We play, explore and bond, and we share an intimate moments together, which can get very sensual and emotional. A rope scene can be sexual as well, but it doesn’t need to be.”
In what way can tying your rope partner be emotional?
“Being tied up is a strange situation that usually doesn’t happen in people’s daily lives, so when it does, your brain thinks it’s in danger. It will release a lot of adrenaline, even when you’re conscious of what’s happening and you’re willingly taking part in the process. The moment you’re bound, there’s a release of emotions. People let go of things that they’re dealing with like work stress, family issues, or bad situations that have happened to them in the past. Some cry; others experience joy. There are many bondage positions that can feel caring; almost as if you’re getting a hug. You feel that care from your rigger as well, because they’re there with you the whole time, and they guide you through it.”
What do you get personally from tying someone?
“The first time I experienced Shibari was during a photo shoot in which I was tied myself. I had a burnout at the time, and I was dealing with anxiety attacks. Being tied made me feel connected to myself, present and extremely calm. It was almost meditative. That’s what got me interested in Shibari. I started tying myself to learn how to do it, and then I practiced with my boyfriend. It was really nice to share the sensations that I had felt myself with someone else. When you see a person in bondage for the first time it might look super painful, or you might even relate it to abuse or punishment. But that’s not what you experience when you’re tied. For me, practicing Shibari is a beautiful and intimate way to interact with another person.”
I love that being tied calms you down. Does tying someone else have the same effect on you?
“It does. It connects me to the moment. I’m there with my partner, the ropes, my gear, and nowhere else. There are no shopping lists on my mind and no phone calls that I have to make. A few months ago, I did two Shibari performances at a party. There was loud techno music playing and 450 people standing around my rope partner and me. Each of the performances lasted about an hour. But once we started, the music and the audience faded away, and the only thing there was the connection between the two of us.”
What’s your favorite setting for a session?
“There needs to be a good playlist, one that I enjoy. I like to play classical music and opera. Music helps to make the experience more intense, and it can relax you as well.”
And there’s also a lot of build-up in classical music. It can start like a little wave that washes over you, and turn into a tornado that hits you with full force.
“Exactly. Most of the time I blindfold my rope partners. They can’t move and they can’t see. Once they’re blindfolded, all the other senses become sharper; they become more sensitive to sounds and smells, and they feel more. I prefer to have cozy, intimate lighting. The space itself needs to feel safe, so my rope partner feels secure enough to cry and have a boner. They need to feel that there’s no judgement and that all emotions are welcome.”
You’ve been a rigger since 2019 and you’re really dedicated to the art of Shibari. What are your likes and dislikes?
“I don’t call myself a dominant and I don’t see my rope partner as the sub. There’s a lot of respect for the person that I’m tying, and I don’t feel superior to them at all. I prefer to use the words ‘leading’ and ‘following’. I love playing with whips, paddles, and wax, and I really like to build up a scene. One of my favorite things to do is suspensions. I focus on tightness when I tie my rope partner, and on the feeling of release when the ropes come off.”
What’s the enjoyment you get from doing suspensions? Is it the visuals?
“(Papilicious grins) Seeing my partner struggle. When you tie someone, it can hurt. I like seeing my partner endure that pain and observe how they overcome it by themselves or guided by me. In those moments, I always make sure that my rope partner feels safe and free. I communicate a lot and check that there are no mental or physical complications.”
You identify as queer, right? Does that influence how you experience kink and fetish?
“Yes, I’m queer as fuck! I feel more attracted to a person that really puts creativity into their looks. Someone that has the confidence to wear leather or rubber in their normal lives, like when they go to the office, and not just at fetish parties or in bars. I like to play with all genders. It changes the experience because different bodies have different flexibility, as well as different (genital) parts that you can play with.”
Is there anything you would still like to get off your chest?
“It’s 2022 and it’s time to create a safer environment for queerness and gender fluidity. I’ve been to (gay) fetish bars where you’re not allowed to enter when you’re dressed in feminine clothing. Why would you want to do that? Every gay man has played with things they found in their mother’s closet. Rules like this shame and exclude people, like those who are into crossdressing for example – which is ancient. There needs to be more openness and diversity in the kink scene; not just masc for masc. And there needs to be an awareness that there are people that enjoy other things. They should be included and celebrated!”
Want to see more of Papilicious’ work? Then follow him on Instagram @papilicious__. There you’ll find pics from his latest rope bondage scenes, as well as information on new projects, including the Shibari and kink courses that he’s going to teach in the very near future! And make sure to check out the WINGS Watches series on YouTube in which Papilicious shows you the basics of rope bondage, hosted by yours truly.