Longform

Tie Me Up, Nawashi

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Lochai says the genesis of his fetish is easy enough to pinpoint: on a school bus heading for PS 32 in Staten Island. That's when his 6-year-old playmate, Dawn, started tickling him.

"And it was just pissing me off," he remembers, "'cause I'm not ticklish. So I turned to her, took off my little Cub Scout belt, and said, 'Do you mind if I put this over your shoulders?' She said 'No, not at all. '" So he looped the belt around her, pinning her arms to her sides. "If there was a sexual thrill a 6-year-old could feel, I felt it. I felt that I did something right. I felt I did something natural."

As a kid, cops-and-robbers and cowboys-and-Indians games — as well as Scouting — gave him ample opportunity to explore his urge to tie people up. Once, a phone repairman left a case of wire at his house that ended up binding the kids from the block. He even used to tie up toy soldiers with needle and thread.

"Since then, every girlfriend I've had has allowed me to be who I was," he explains. "To be myself." To this day, he keeps that Cub Scout belt in his closet, occasionally using it as a prop when he's speaking at events. At an event like ShibariCon (which draws more than 250 people to Chicago every year), he's a prominent instructor, though ventures like that are about networking and extending his passion as opposed to making money.

Finding himself in relationships that incorporate elements of "power exchange," Lochai isn't exactly a leather-clad, stern-looking bondage practitioner. In fact, he still looks by day like the bland first-grade teacher he used to be. Thanks to an ad in the Village Voice, though, he and his then-wife hooked up with like-minded Manhattanites during the late '90s. He took on his new name and started hitting the fetish-party scene.

That led to an immersion in bondage and photography that was temporarily derailed when he and his wife split up. "It was the most miserable time of my life," Lochai says. "Not because of the separation but because I went vanilla."

He ended up following his parents to South Florida, arriving just before September 11, 2001. When he started dating, he kept his interests private; it didn't take long, he says, before holding hands in movie theaters or going out to dinner grew old. Soon, he stumbled upon like-minded folks via parties at places like the Fetish Factory.

"I was exploring the scene," he says, "but it didn't have the same genre of play. I was very spoiled in New York. I thought, 'They haven't gotten to my form of play yet.' So I laid low for a while."

Then, when he picked up a camera again three years ago, he felt reborn.

"I live the lifestyle," Lochai says, though he isn't a swinger. He and Janice "are poly [polyamorous] players. We play with numerous people. I travel one week a month for photo shoots, and everywhere I go, I have submissives help with photography. Or just for play."

It's the type of relationship that everyone, even vanilla-flavored puritans, should covet, Lochai says.

"We talk every day," he says. "Our parameters are set up, and I stick to them, but she knows when I'm traveling that I will be playing privately or demo-ing with models."



According to Lochai, those parameters aren't hard to remember:

"Basically, my dick stays in my pants."


Lochai enjoys using Japanese words for what he does. For instance, the word nawashi, which can mean either "shibari master," "rope artist," or "guy who makes money with rope," depending upon whom you believe. To be considered a nawashi, Lochai explains, one must be able to execute a complicated tie perfectly 100 times while blindfolded.

There is a serious, solemn side to shibari, a word that has come to mean Japanese erotic bondage using rope. Hojojitsu (a method of capturing, restraining, and transporting prisoners) was founded in 16th-century Japan, though modern-day shibari bears it scant resemblance. By the late 1800s, examples of rope bondage showed up in erotic art, even if much of it was actually painted by Westerners. Known as kinbaku-bi, this erotically arty bondage hit a peak in the 1950s, with Japanese magazines devoted to it. In Japanese, shibari simply translates to "tie" or "bind."

"Is shibari a culturally accepted form of art in Japan?" asks Midori, a well-known traveling sex educator who was raised in a feminist/intellectual environment in Tokyo. "No. It's much like saying handcuffs are accepted and treasured in Western art."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton