MEMBER INTERVIEW – JonTheRigger – First Asian Duo Rigger At Folsom SF

MEMBER INTERVIEW – JonTheRigger – First Asian Duo Rigger At Folsom SF

from Recon News

24 January 2024

We were in San Francisco for Folsom Street Fair in September of 2023 and met JonTheRigger just before he was due to perform on stage. We had a good chat at the booth, and he'd mentioned that he was the "First gay Asian duo team to perform at Folsom Street Fair."

So… of course we had to talk about it.

How did you get into Shibari?

In the spring of 2019, I was intrigued and inspired by a Shibari rope bondage demonstration by the proprietor of The Space 2. Back then, it was the local Shibari school in Vancouver. The models' responses and the fluidity of the rope handling convinced me to join the rope community and learn Shibari. In August 2019, I began taking group lessons at The Space 2.

Did you know of any other gay Asian riggers in your local community that could inspire or mentor you?

At that time, I was the only gay Asian rigger in the rope community, and there was one other gay rigger. I was immediately inspired to help improve representation of men of colour tying men within the rope community, locally and even worldwide.

I gained my first seven months of rope skills from group classes at The Space 2. And throughout the pandemic I was so lucky to have my wonderful mentors on IG @kindred.ties and @fuckyourvanilla. Four years of practising and perfecting my skills in Shibari rope bondage have prepared me to reach out to other rope communities around the world, starting with Toronto and San Francisco.

What was it that made you feel that you "Needed" to perform at Folsom?

It was great to see more female riggers in San Francisco than in Vancouver, but there was a lack of men tying men within the mainstream rope scene, especially Indigenous, Black, Asian and other people of colour from a rigger perspective. That lack of representation was a major factor in my decision to perform at the Folsom Street Fair 40th anniversary in San Francisco. I teamed up with a local out gay Asian, who happened to be a switch in rope.

As far as I can determine, our act was the first gay Asian male duo team to ever perform on the Folsom bondage stage!

The Folsom Street Fair is always described as a completely inclusive event experience by the fair's visitors. What was it like for you, performing on stage, representing the gay Asian community?

The experience was amazing! I met some local riggers, switches, and rope models, and asked them why, with so many gay Asians in San Francisco, some of whom are doing great rope bondage, there is such a lack of representation of men of colour tying on the bondage stage at Folsom Street Fair, one of the biggest kink stages in the world? Nobody could answer the question, except to say that there is a Rope Burn monthly at Transform, plus a people of colour monthly rope gathering at Vox Body studio. But in the mainstream rope community, from this rigger's perspective, there is little to no visibility in San Francisco.

Looking around the fair, I'd say that there are so many communities represented here – not just the people visiting (who are clearly enjoying their best selves and expressing their sexual and gender freedom), but also the people who are exhibiting, like us here at the Recon booth, and a lot of the other kink vendors. But the feeling is still that there's a lack of representation being more prominently featured at the fair?

The answer to the question of lack of representation is no doubt complex. I hope that my performance at the Folsom Street Fair will inspire future performances of men tying men, with more gay men of colour tying as riggers, and more.

What we see matters, so representation matters. An individual may not be able to change the world, but they can have some influence on a small scale. My effort is to make a statement through visual representation that a gay Asian rigger, like myself, can tie like any other rigger in rope.

Now that you've had this amazing experience on the stage at Folsom, what comes next? How do you plan to inspire others to strive for this same visibility?

Toward that goal, within my own community in Vancouver, I have started teaching Shibari on an individual basis, and have created men tying men classes in partnership with the Vancouver Men in Leather (VML) group.

To all people of colour and their allies who feel less represented in kink, I encourage you to represent loud and proud, as it's the only way we can make this world a more inclusive one.

JonTheRigger in Vancouver

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