Can you learn how to do really high-end bondage from a book? I want to go further than the standard handcuffs behind the back or four leather cuffs and spread-eagle 'em on your bed. There's nobody around here who is a big-city, four star player. But I still want to up my skills as a bondage master. Recommendations?
There are a couple of good books about bondage that could definitely help you to build good skills. I can recommend Midori's book, The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage, and also the treatise, Jay Wiseman's Erotic Bondage Handbook. Midori's book features several beautiful photographs in full color, while Wiseman's book is supplemented with black-and-white drawings. I also like to buy Japanese bondage porn (which is very hard to find) and figure out how to imitate the poses in the photographs.
If you find books lacking and still prefer to learn face-to-face, invest in a trip to one of the many leather conferences held in North America. One of the best is Rich Dockter and Brian Conway's privately produced Thunder in the Mountains, held annually in Denver. Their web site is the name of the event. The Oregon Leather Alliance features an annual Leather Pride week and Kink Fest conference that is also high-quality. You can get more information at www.oregonleatherpride.org. But these are just two of the events that I've personally attended Dedicated volunteers in many cities produce annual events where you can meet and listen to four-star players and teachers.
There are probably at least one or two bondage experts in your area. If they know you are serious about the craft, many people who have a lot of experience with rope are happy to pass some of their knowledge on to you. A respectful request for some tutoring is a form of recognition that can be quite flattering.
Another way to learn bondage is to assemble the raw materials, find a bottom who will talk to you throughout the scene, and start practicing. See what you can come up with on your own. Just be sure to follow safety guidelines to protect joints from excessive stress and nerves from being pinched. Rope suspension (lifting the whole body off the ground) is a specialized activity that requires extra-strong equipment. I recommend learning this from a person rather than a book.
Because we want to keep every novice safe, the sex educators of the BDSM world often emphasize lists of things you cannot or should not do. We may focus on bondage as performance art rather than for what it expresses about the relationship between top and bottom. Tying someone up can have dozens of different purposes and meanings. Rope can be experienced as sensual, severe, challenging, decorative, corrective, etc. Think about what you want to say with your rope before you begin. Share this with the bottom as you wrap, knot, and adjust your cordage, and it will enhance your experience more than instruction from a stranger.