Premieres

Start the Year Right With a Doc About Brooke Candy and Japanese Bondage

shibari rope tying has been around for literally centuries, and it's still thriving today in pop culture and beyond.

by Daisy Jones
04 January 2019, 2:00pm

All photography courtesy of Brooke Candy

Japanese bondage – otherwise known as shibari or kibaku – has been around for centuries. The rope-tying technique was initially born from Hojōjutsu, an ancient method of restraining and torturing prisoners in Japan. By the time the 19th and 20th century swung around, though, it had morphed into a form of erotic bondage and of course also art.

These days, that continues. Pop culture is obsessed with it. You may have seen Nobuyoshi Araki’s legendary (!!!) photographs since the 70s. You may have also seen FKA twigs’ “Pendulum” vid. You may have seen a portrait of Gaga suspended in The Louvre. And now you can see Brooke Candy’s own shibari performances, in this new 12 minute doc, directed by Takahiro Nishikawa, which we're premiering below.

“I was asked to do an Asia Tour and the last stop was Tokyo, which is the one place I go that immediately feels like home,” Brooke tells me over the phone, just as she's walking through customs at LAX, “And in my head I was like… I don’t just want to do a show. I want to do something conceptual, an art installation, something that matches the setting.” It was around then that she introduced shibari rope tying to her performances.

“I tried to do it at New York Fashion Week once, where I was suspended in bondage, but we couldn’t get the right mechanics to do it,” she continues, “But my friend Julia [in Tokyo] happens to know this [professional rope artist] called Hajime Kinoko, who is maybe one of the best in the world. So I got him to construct the web live, then tie me into it live, and then I could perform my favourite song, 'I Wanna Fuck Right Now'.”

Brooke and Kinoko's creative relationship continued during her trip (“he's an architect, a mathematician, a genius”). As for the film, that came about almost by accident, after Brooke realised she wanted to capture everything. She had two photographers following her, filming her performances as well as her work with Kinoko, the footage of which was put together by Nishikawa. “I've never really seen myself in this way,” Brooke says. “And honestly, I was like 'I wanna see what that looks like.' I think it's so cool to see someone who's always covered in pounds of make up, to see the raw version of them, so I wanted to do that too.”

brooke candy noisey

But, like all forms of BDSM, shibari has never just been an aesthetic/performative thing. It's much more than that. “It was so painful,” Brooke says, when we chat about the elements of shibari that have made it such a continual source of fascination and interest over the years – obviously provided it's done in a consensual and respectful way. “There's something so powerful about it, but also something submissive. Because I'm letting this person tie my hands behind my back, but at the same time I'm the one in charge, I'm the one allowing that to happen.”

She continues: “I don't have an aversion to pain. I have an obsession with it, obviously, my body is covered in tattoos. It's this moment of escape. I'm also into pleasureful things, even if just for 10 or 20 seconds. I don't know, it's just these things... they're an escape from the dark reality, the one that most of us live in. And that's really cool.”

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