ON THE FRINGE
Shibari with spice
An artist and author teaches Japanese rope bondage
There's a definite through-line in the life of Lee "Bridgett" Harrington. From a summer camp counselor, she's grown into another kind of educator, this time in the area of eroticism for discriminating adults.
Place: Ong King Arts Center, 184 N. King St.
Featuring: Classes at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; dance party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with DJs Monkey, Jason Silingo and Nocturna
Cost: $20 for each class/party; $50 for all three (18 and over only)
Call: 383-8176 or e-mail email@example.com
Oh, you can also throw into Harrington's résumé art photographer, model, performance artist, gender radical, soon-to-be sex therapist and, at least this weekend at downtown's Ong King Arts Center, teacher and author of "Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macramé."
It's an adults-only topic -- shin nawa, Harrington's version of classic Japanese shibari, the use of knots and ties in the bedroom.
"It's so tantalizing and interesting and beautiful, but nobody in the U.S. was teaching it beforehand," Harrington said, speaking by phone from a stopover in Phoenix.
As you might gather, Harrington appreciates shibari for its artistic, not prurient, aspects. Still, much of what she has to say isn't quite suitable for a family newspaper -- interested parties of age and with appropriate sensibilities will have to hear it straight from her.
Suffice it to say that shibari derived from rope restraints used on Japanese prisoners of war. "How it evolved into an erotic art, we're not quite sure, since the only earlier documentation we have are erotic woodcuts from the 1700s," she said.
Harrington studied the art and formality of shibari, "riffing" on it -- using the metaphor of a jazz singer -- according to her own art and creative vision.
"The finished product is very similar to the Japanese product, so people can enjoy the same experience without having to spend, like, five years at formal dojo," she said.
Materials used by the Japanese and their preparation especially intrigue her and are the subject of her "erotic macramé" classes. "It's all about decoration rather than restraint, and making things beautiful."