Hey, all! Something a touch different today. A VERY good friend of mine, Rob66, interviewed me for his Yahoo Group (Rope_Dreams) and his DeviantArt profile. T’was a pleasure to talk to him about industry stuff and give my opinions to his VERY well-thought-out questions.
As it’s a text article, I’ll break it up with images of various gals from the site. Here we go!
1. What made you decide to create a bondage site?
It’s all Jerry’s fault. 😛 Back in the day when I was just a customer and not a producer, UnlimitedBondage (then known as “SweeTies”) had a forum page for all it’s producers. I was responding on a daily basis, and got to know Jerry The Badman through it, and we got to talking about bondage and producing. One day he instant messaged me about FetCon…I went…decided it looked like a fun career…and the rest is history. So, yah…blame Jerry.
2. How much work goes into running a bondage site? What does it entail?
You call this work??? 😛 I don’t really do a lot of “running”, to be honest… UnlimitedBondage takes care of that. By “running”, I mean, hosting the site, posting the stills and vids, code-writing, and promotion (tho I do a fair amount of advertising myself on FetLife, my blog, Twitter, Tumblr…I’m talking about SEO and the like in this answer here). “Running”-wise; I create and edit the material, then send it in to the “home office”…they do the rest.
3. How much work goes into preparing for a bondage shoot?
See question #5…I think I detailed it all there. Honestly, the worst of it is cleaning up my place for the shoot…I’m SUCH a bachelor! 😛
4. How do you decide what outfits or positions will be used for one of your shoots?
Depends on who’s paying. 😛 Regarding outfits, if I’m paying for the shoot out of my own model budget, I’ll look at online pics of her to get an idea of how I want to present her to my fans. If it’s a custom shoot, then the person who ordered it gets to pick from whatever items I have in stock if the model doesn’t bring her own wardrobe. However, if the client desires a look that neither the model nor I can provide from stock, he either purchases it himself and sends it to me or the model, or sends the model the money to shop for the wardrobe needed.
Regarding positions, if it’s my shoot, I try to cover a variety of positions to keep my fans happy (taking into consideration a model’s individual strengths and weaknesses…Sasha Fae, for example, I always put into elbows-together bondage, because she kicks ass at it!). If it’s a paid custom, I’m given a script to work from which includes the customer’s preferred positions that I need to follow.
5. Describe one of your typical photo and video shoots from start to finish.
It entails, from start to finish: getting in contact with the model, scheduling the shoot with the model and my friend and fellow producer Dave Annis (who graciously assists at all my shoots nowadays and who takes “Behind The Scenes” pics for my blog and Twitter; he also runs the camera when I need to be in the scene), cleaning the apartment (I live like a slobby bachelor, after all! :P, setting up the lights to give me good coverage of the room and model, prepping the rope. When she arrives, I’ll do a “meet and greet” with her (welcoming her at the door, sitting down with her to discuss the shoot and what it’ll entail, etc), then start the shoot (after she’s in the wardrobe) by taking a few quick non-bondage pics (so folks can see what the model looks like without rope…I feel that’s important as well), finally tying’ her ass up (lol), then doing the actual shoot, making sure to get a good amount of stills and vid for TucsonTied.com. After that, I set her free (my least favorite part 😛 ). Then, we do more unfun stuff…paperwork (a release is signed and a pic is taken of her holding up her ID for Gov’t/record-keeping purposes), I pay her (my wallet HATES that part :P), get a receipt (for tax purposes), do a quick one-minute interview video if this is the first time she’s worked with me (I post this on my blog for the viewers there to see), give her a hug and send her on her way. More detail than you wanted, right? 😛
I wanted to go into that much detail so you all could see that it’s not JUST fun…there IS real work involved here.
6. What has been the most memorable moment for you out of all the shoots you’ve done?
I would say that “Gunfinger” is at the top of the list. 😛 That’s my name for what happened…it was my 18th shoot with Stacie Snow and my first one with a new custom client. He cast me in the role of a burglar who surprises Stacie when she comes home and ties her up. I wanted to imply an off-camera gun for Stacie to focus on for her acting…but stupidly forgot to tell my cameraman to KEEP it off camera. 😛 I was being threatening, but Stacie wasn’t acting threatened; if anything, in the vid she seemed ready to kick my ass. 😛 In trying to get my “victim” to comply, and when Miss Stacie didn’t respond to my “threats” right away, I put up my hand to indicate a gun in classic “Gunfinger” fashion that every child uses in play as Dave panned the camera to include both of us in the shot! And there I am, ON CAMERA, pointing my fucking finger at my victim, who is reacting in terror at my fat finger and cocked thumb! We all busted into laughter…and Dave got GREAT shots of Stacie laughing at the camera, and of the floor and ceiling as he totally lost it.
You really had to be there…but the vid IS uploaded to my FetLife profile for those who are curious.
7. What is your policy about models bringing escorts or chaperones to your bondage photoshoots? What is the rationale for that policy?
Ah, escorts; one of my favorite topics and one that I even host a message board on FetLife about. Rob, are you ready for the flame war that’ll erupt when I and others answer this??? 😛 It’s easily THE most polarizing question in the industry today, in my opinion, and causes SO many online fights.
Myself, I’ve never had a problem with escorts, but have heard plenty of horror stories. My policy is now and will always be that I’m fine with escorts if they themselves are cool about the model’s line of work (last thing I need is an escort telling a model that she’s so above working for me…and I’m writing that from an instance that happened to a friend…he went a whole shoot with the escort telling her that she was “beneath” this kind of work).
My only rule is I won’t allow a model to bring to a shoot what amounts to an armed guard with her…there will be NO firearms on my set…and when I feel the need for one as a part of the video, it will only be a prop…or a loaded index-finger. 😛 Reason being, shoots can be a charged kind of situation (although mine are very laid back)…and if a paranoid escort (that often is her boyfriend or someone else that cares about her dearly) decides that I’m a threat to her, I don’t want to end up dead because of it. Someone at my FetLife board about this topic said a line that chills me to this day…
“If I feel she’s threatened, I will do what’s necessary to stop that threat.”
“Stop that threat” means me getting shot…no way I’m allowing that kind of nonsense into my home.
I also believe that this is an unanswerable question, no matter how much people think they know the answer…it’s an OPINION and a way a photographer works that varies from person to person and is no different than “No Shoes, No Shirt, No service”…a BUSINESS PRACTICE that no one should be faulted for having. It irritates the FUCK out of me when someone calls down a producer as “unsafe” because they won’t allow an escort…think of it this way, PLAYBOY doesn’t allow escorts on their shoots…wanna call one of the biggest companies on the planet “unsafe”? Didn’t think so.
8. What is the dream shoot you have not yet done during your career as a rigger and site producer?
Jessica Alba or Kylie Minogue. If they won’t return my calls, I have a long “bucket list” of gals I want to work with…but Jasmine Sinclair is at the top of it and has been since the days before I was producing.
9. What are your favorites: gags, type of restraint, model wardrobe, bondage position for the model?
Gags: Cleave gag…preferably a bandanna with a knot tied in the middle. Type Of Restraint: Rope. Model Wardrobe: I’m an “LBD” (“little black dress”) fetishist…can’t go wrong with a form-fitting tight black dress, pantyhose (or stockings and garters) and high heels to go with. Bondage Position: “Three-point” leg tie (ankles and above and below the knees), with arms tied behind the back. Occasionally, I like to challenge myself as a rigger and put the hands in front in a way that she can’t possibly get loose…it’s a nice change of pace.
10. How did you acquire your technique for rigging and photography?
Monkey See, Monkey Do. 😛 I watch vids and stills and reverse-engineer the ties, then add my own spin. I’ve learned a LOT just by being a sponge when I watch either friends at work or material from other producers, then adding my own flair to it. I’ll look for techniques that make the application quicker, then run with my own creativity to finish it all up.
11. Can you describe your very first bondage shoot and then describe how you’ve seen your style/technique evolve since that first shoot?
If you’re talking about personal…the less said, the better. 😛 As for professional, that would be Kat. MY GOD, was I nervous. The first time you always are. I was thinking, how will my actions be interpreted? Will she think I’m a pervert? Will she laugh at my pathetic, inexperienced rigging? Does she like bald guys??? 😛 Even to this day, ten years later, first shoots are always a good source of nervousness for me. But with Kat…I was trying to focus on just “getting it right”…making the rigs look good (fail), getting the vids shot OK (fail), taking plenty of pics (success…got a lot of material of her in my then-lame rigging), and making sure she got through the session not thinking I was an ass (mega-success…she not only came back for a second shoot, she brought a friend).
12. Are there any riggers/producers who have influenced you over the years? And if so, how?
Let’s see…the very first would be Jon Woods; I was a BIG Harmony customer back in the day and I always liked how he tied the models. As for influence itself, I wouldn’t be doing this at all if Jerry The Badman hadn’t got me going by practically shoving me (willingly) into it, and incidentally giving me the nickname I carry proudly today, “Tolstoy”, for my long-wordiness…like I’m exhibiting right now. :P. Folks might think my meticulousness and OCD rigging was instilled in me by my pain-in-the-ass, nagging bud Dave Annis (we’ll get back to him later…), but it actually came from looking at RopExpert’s work. When I first noticed his rigging, I was dazzled by how much rope he was using and the neatness of the ties…an influence that follows me to this day.
Around this time I also found JBRoper’s work and had a similar feeling (amount of rope, tightness, etc)…not too long after that, I spoke with him at FetLife and had a complete “I am not worthy” moment. JB is the Gentleman’s Gentleman amongst us and I respect that about him so much. His demeanor exudes class, and I hope to one day be able to put away my “warrior” (at times) persona to be able to be that classy. A true inspiration
But it wasn’t until my model Pantera Noelle introduced me to Dave Annis that I actually started to get “rope happy” (as one of my custom clients puts it; I love that phrase). Dave and I had a conversation early on in our friendship about the style of work I was doing…he literally said to me (I paraphrase), “You’ll never make any money producing stuff like this.” Arrogant asshole. 😛 I could have slammed my laptop closed (we were looking at some of my stuff on it) and walked out of his place…but instead, I replied with, “OK, what do I need to do?” He laid out a plan of action for me and I got right on it…and my intake from the site DID increase because of it. You have to be always willing to learn and never think you know it all…this attitude, and Dave’s influence, guidance and nagging (lol) has definitely improved my work.
13. How do you find the models who appear on your site?
For the most part, they find me. While Dave has set me up with a significant number of gals (including the awesome Sasha Fae, whom Dave discovered), I’ve generally worked with traveling models. A few have found me through…and here’s an oldie but goodie…MYSPACE (true dat…Nikki Sebastian, among a few others found me back when that site was actually relevant). ModelMayhem and FetLife have been good sources as well. But, overall, I’d have to say that word of mouth has been the best for me. I’ve gotten many of my models referred to me by other girls that I’ve worked with. I’d like to think being a nice guy who’s pleasant to work with has paid off. 😛
14. What are your thoughts on the piracy of bondage content on the Internet where your work is posted elsewhere without your permission?
OMFG. It galls me to the core…and when some people actually go so far as to call it “exposure” and “helpful to producers”, it outright, blood-in-my-eyes, enrages me. Fucking piracy sites make money off of my and my models’ hard work, sponging like the fucking parasites they are off of us and our hard work. Tell me in one way…one goddamn way that makes fucking sense, how this can actually help keep me in business when it takes money out of my pocket that I could be spending on hiring models, and put it into their own lazy, thieving coffers?! (So, Tony…why don’t you REALLY tell them how you feel? :P)
Mind you, when my fans post the occasional shot to, say, their FetLife profiles, as long as it’s a small amount, my watermark isn’t removed and I’m credited as the photographer and the model is credited, I’m OK with that…but assholes who post my entire body of work on their pirate site can have unspeakable things happen to them. Soon, please.
15. How do you respond to this statement: BDSM equals abuse of women?
Y’know, folks…men are involved in BD/SM as the submissive partner…so is it abuse when a MAN gets tied up and flogged? Food for thought.
I think the main thing that the Vanillas miss when they throw that nonsense out there is one simple word…CONSENT. In any BD/SM situation out there, the submissive partner, be it a man or woman, is there by CHOICE because this is what they want in their lives. Whether a Vanilla wants to believe it or not, a BD/SM situation is just as loving and caring as a conventional one…we just sometimes need Band-Aids to cover up the “owies”. 😛 I chalk it all up to an unwillingness to learn, and Hollywood only making it worse with that goddamn “50 Shades” crap portraying us in an almost-evil light, and move on. The people who liken to the above are wrong, but debating with them is like talking to a wall, so I do that instead…I get much more meaningful conversation that way. 😛
And since Rob didn’t ask it and I’m visiting that corner anyway, “How did I like “50 Shades”? If I see two dogs getting busy with each other as I walk past, I tend to remark to myself, “That right there is still a better love story than “50 Shades”. That pretty much sums it up. 😛 MY opinion, by the way…YMMV (“your mileage may vary”).
16. What is the hardest, toughest or most difficult aspect of being a producer of bondage content?
Finding models in dumbfuck Arizona. 😛 Seriously, Jerry has those damn “model producing trees” (that’s a joke between me and Jerry…he always says that he has models just falling out of the trees…lol)…here it’s a really dry well, man…lol. Another tough and frustrating aspect of producing is piracy…see my heated opinions above.
17. What advice would you give to a person who wants to begin a bondage website as a producer/photographer/rigger?
You need to have a body of work to show your style and skills to potential models…a good way to get this is to go to a FetishCon and work with as many models as you can…maybe even two or more FetishCons in order to accomplish this. BEHAVE YOURSELF when you shoot…nothing turns off a model more (and rightfully so) than you being a walking woody at your shoot with her, or asking her if you can rub one out while she waits (and no, not being funny there…I’ve had models tell me that this has happened to them!). You’re working with a professional, ACT like a professional in turn. Your models deserve it. Another thing to be aware of is the legal aspects of this…get all your ducks in a row…have a proper release form for the girls to sign and such. Next comes finding a place to host said material…and there’re many platforms out there, most notably being Clips4Sale and Sandra Silvers’ XSiteAbility, which can build your site, host it and get it online earning money fast. (If I were starting up now, I’d probably be with the latter.)
As for finding models? Much as I hate to admit it, ModelMayhem is probably the way to go to get yourself out there. (I say “hate to admit it” because they’re oppressive to bondage shooters unless they shoot fine art…expect to try three or four times to get on their site before they actually accept you…minor rant :P) FetLife is also a more than viable option as well. If you live in a really big city, you might get some nice business cards printed up with your website address, and surreptitiously hand them out at strip clubs or wherever you come in contact with hot women. (For years, strip clubs are where my bud Dave Annis recruited his models.)
In short, be SERIOUS about it. If you’re just using a camera as a smokescreen to find models to bang, they’ll sense you out in a heartbeat and you’ll never work again.
18. How do you manage to stay professional when you’re working with all these glamorous, really attractive women?”
If I expect to continue working with models, I HAVE to remain in a professional state of mind. Models generally don’t care for producers who live from their lower-quarters and can’t even be arsed to not be a walking-stiffy for the amount of time necessary for a shoot to happen. Shows you’re a professional first and a fully-functioning man second, and it speaks to your character.
19. What else do you want your fans to know about you and your work?
To me: Geez, Rob…do you know how hard it is to talk about yourself??? Especially to a group that you’ve been a member of for some time and folks have some familiarity with?? 😛 How do I sum myself up? Bondage-obsessed, piracy-hating, video gamer with pedigrees in both areas who’s morbidly obsessed with the “escort topic” and is mouthy to a fault, but tells it like he sees it, only to regret doing so later. 😛 At the core is a good man with definite faults…faults that he strives to eradicate. I’ve fallen many times…the point is, I keep getting back up, get stronger from it each time, and try my best to learn from every failing instead of blaming it on the world.
To my work: I’m always striving to do better with the material…there’s never a “good enough”. I’m always trying new things, different directions, in order to better myself and the overall quality of what I produce. There will never be a point where I say that I’ve done all I can do or this is the best I can do…there’s always a “better” to be achieved, and I go to all the effort of achieving this for the sake of you, my fans. You deserve the best and I’m striving to produce the best that I can for you. I want stuff out there that I’m proud to have the TucsonTied.com watermark on, and for that to MEAN something.
Thank you, Rob, for the chance to talk with folks in an interview setting. It was amazingly fun to do and I greatly appreciate you thinking of me for this project.
(In the comments of the interview, Rob asked a “bonus question”…
I only wish I’d thought to ask him one more question in this interview — why did he use pink rope early in his career and why did he give up that pseudo-trademark I guess we’ll see if he reads this part of the post and answers it now
Oh, fucking hell…he asked about pink rope. 😛
Anyway (I’ll answer that and get back to it in a sec), hi, DA; I’m TolstoyTony. Thanks, (commentor at DeviantArt); I try to be as specific as I possibly can. As Rob mentioned, that’s why I’m “Tolstoy”…I answer in a paragraph…or a PAGE…what most folks answer in a sentence. 😛
Pink Rope. Gah.
It started out because of an asshole LANDSCAPE photographer (no joke!) on ModelMayhem who saw my work and was prolly offended by it. He made a comment to a pic I had of two 19-year-olds hogtied something to the point of, “Should we call the police?” I private messaged him and called him out on that blasphemous (OOOOH! spelled that word right without spell-check; yay me!) comment and he told me that my work sucked. Only being out of the gate for less than a year, I accepted my suckage, but called him on it again, asking what I should do to make it better? Y’know, put up or shut up…you say I suck; how do I NOT suck then? He then told me to get better lighting (that was a few years off) and to soften things up by using colored ropes…
Worst advice I ever listened to. 😛
Again, I was just out of the gate and basically running on fumes…I had no real idea yet what I was doing and where I was going. I’m the type that’ll try anything once, so I got some RitDye and created sacrilege on my rope stock. 😛 Green, Grey (it was supposed to be black, but it came out grey), red (which I never did a shoot with), and pink were the colors I wound up using. Pink (especially when the gal’s wearing black…remember, in the interview I said I’m a “little black dress” fetishist) just stood out from the rest for me and I REALLY (and to this day) liked the look of it. I started using it a lot more in my shoots and retired the other colors in favor of the pink, and I came to be known as “the guy who ties with Pink Rope” along with fellow photographer BronxTies, who was also going down this path (and still uses it).
However…if I’m trying to do a “damsel in distress” kidnapped kind of theme (which I evolved into over time), not a lot of kidnappers have pink rope in their stock. 😛 This was pointed out to me time and again, with folks trying desperately to get past the bedrock that is my skull and cognition (lol)…eventually it sunk in and I retired the little stock I had left. It now resides in the very capable hands of one “The Monk Of Mayhem”, a VERY good friend of mine and fellow DA member…if you search his handle here, you’re sure to find him.
Side Note: I don’t care much for jute or fiber ropes as I’ve heard models complain about how itchy and scratchy they can be on the skin…my rope-dyeing skills turned out to be of benefit to that as I took some clothesline and dyed it brown…made for a good jute-substitute and yes, kidnappers DO use brown rope. Also, since my walls are a whitish-cream color, I don’t use white rope when I stand a model up in her bondage as the rope holding her up (it blends into the wall and disappears)…instead, I use dyed-brown rope for that so you can actually SEE what’s holding her standing.
Now, if you ask me why I occasionally tied a vibrator into the crotchrope (another thing that became a Tolstoy “trademark”), that’s a whole separate story…
It was a custom request.
See…I CAN occasionally get right to the point. 😛