Throughout this series, we are asking our community to help make us smarter. All questions provided by you and for you.
Rope Top: Hi, I'm Conor, I'm a rope top, smut peddler, and I'm the head gimp of the Paraphilia Collective.
When did you first start your journey with rope?
Rope Top: I had been in the kink scene for five years and a little rope studio called Anatomy popped up on FetLife. I went to a couple of jams, went to a couple of classes, and then gradually started tying more and more. I think maybe in the last three years, I started taking it more seriously and started developing a way of tying that I enjoy specifically. I suppose now here we are.
Do you have a favourite rope brand?
Rope Top: I've only ever used the rope from Anatomy. So it's by default my favourite, but I think you just buy the rope from people in your local community that are making it because I think that's the most important thing to do.
What's a good source to learn rope?
Rope Top: It's quite complicated, isn't it? In-person is obviously the best. All of the most complicated parts of rope are sorted out by your fingers, by touch, by tension, by the feel of a body, by the muscles, and the fat, and the bones, and all of these kinds of things. So, you need somebody who's been through that process to show you how those things work. And then video resources are a thing that helps you build upon those initial building blocks.
How do I safely find a rope top that matches my needs?
Rope Top: Well, you're not buying one, so you won't necessarily find one. You should probably find a partner who you enjoy spending time with, because the best rope ties are from people that you've tied with many, many times before. I think there's this idea that you can come into a space and say, 'I want this experience, 'who's the best person that can give it to me?'. But that's not the way it works. If you really want to learn rope and have an amazing experience, you should build a relationship with the person who's either willing to learn or who's in the process of learning. And then you develop together. All of my best development, as a rope top at least, has come from learning with people consistently over the span of a year or two years or three years.
Does body size matter?
Rope Top: Yes. Body size absolutely matters. I mean, I think it's quite a complicated question because there's an idea of representation, which is one thing, but body size and body shape, all of these things matter. And as a rope top, at least, the most important thing is to learn how to tie with these different body types. It's super complicated because no one knows how flexible they are when their arms are behind their back, or nobody knows how flexible or strong they are when their legs are open or their back is bound or any of these things. You only learn how to tie these different compositions of bodies through practice. And so yes, it does matter, of course, but the learning that you need to do to be able to tie any body type is never insurmountable.
How do you prepare rope?
Rope Top: I put on my rosary beads. Get on my knees. I hold the rope. Say a little prayer: to God, our father, who art in Heaven. And then I place it down with all the other ropes. And then say another Our Father, and then it's done, perfect. Every time.
Do you have any safety advice for practicing rope?
Rope Top: I think the best rule throughout kink all the way is always expect your partner to faint. If you always expect your partner to faint, you're probably considering what's on the floor? What would happen if they fell? Can I pick them up if their body were limp? The other side of that is what you should think if you've hurt your partner and you feel responsible and they say, why did this happen? And you say, Connor on the Instagram video said that I should do this. And then your partner will leave you indefinitely. So if you're going to get safety advice, make sure it's safety advice that you feel confident with. You should learn from somebody, and then maybe use a resource like Clover Brook's Rope Bottom Guide which is a great backup reference to have.
What do you get out of being a rope top?
Rope Top: Loads and loads of really nice photos. No, that's the second part. I put very little time into thinking about those things. What do I get out of it? You get to communicate with somebody without language. And I think that's very important because you're accessing some kind of pre-linguistic part of somebody's mind through the physicality of you moving ropes in your hands. So the dialogue that happens without choosing language is a beautiful thing and it spans a huge spectrum of emotions that are very often difficult to access in normal life.
What non-verbal signifiers do you look out for in a session?
Rope Top: I think that one of the things that I like the most, I think the most thing of somebody's mental state is what their toes are doing. If they're like splayed out or if they're curled or crunched or if their foot is bent. You can tell an awful lot, but unless you know what is happening in that person's mind when they show those things, they don't make sense. So you need to be able to note what signifiers mean certain things, but also, what those things mean to the person who's signifying them.
Why is aftercare important?
Rope Top: I don't know. It isn't always important. It's not a definite thing, but for me at least, the aftercare isn't the hour after, it's very often the following day or the day after that. It's like you've come into this very strong emotional space and the person who you've tied could feel a sense of sadness or a sense of regret or a sense of fear. It's a drop, ultimately, and I think the important thing is that you're there supporting them whenever that drop happens. It might be the 10 minutes after they've come down or it could be the following day, or it could be two days later, who knows. I think that's a really important thing that the tie stops when both people feel like it's stopped. And the time span that that could happen in could be a long time. It's definitely not going to be in that one day or that one evening.