Before you evaluate your rigger you need to stop and evaluate yourself. You are what will keep you safe, ultimately you can only rely on yourself.
- Know your body’s limits. You do not have to be an experience rope bottom to know this. When you are faced with your limit you will recognise it, be it an uncomfortable neck rope, a harness that is unstable, a really painful tie. There is no shape or definition to your limits, they evolve and change by the day, you need to respect this.
- Communicate. Communication does not have to mean speaking, you can make noise, body language, breathing, move your hands and flex you feet, all of these signs speak volumes in play. If you want your rigger to listen you need to communicate.
- Understand what you are doing. Know the RISK. Most people will read this and still not take it on board. A nerve injury is not just a problem when it happens. It can happen at ANY time, you might have work, children, you might need to drive, if your hand no longer works you may not be able to do any of these things and nerve injury will never be convenient. Any time you are tied up, you might have a nerve injury, so really think long and hard are you prepared for this. If the answer is no, then you really should not be doing it.
- If you want more information on how to prepare and be risk aware please read the rope bottom guide.
Now that you have looked at yourself and realised the risk and potential harm you are placing yourself in, you have definitely earned the right to be as picky as you like.
While it is incredibly difficult to determine what makes for a good rigger, there are some guidelines to ensure you keep yourself safe and that there are no misunderstandings. Someone may be talented but cannot give you the experience you are looking for.
- References. The most obvious way to determine how good someone is, is to ask other who have been tied by them or other notable local and national riggers. With the likes of kinky social media the world is getting smaller, easier to obtain references, and word travels fast. This is also a reason to obtain as many references as you can, do not rely on one. All reference can offer you is what that person is willing to share with you from their personal experience with the rigger in question. It does not necessarily indicate what your experience will be with them.
- Observation. Observe them tying different people, watch for communication and the style in which they play. Is it a way of playing that you like.
- Negotiation. Discuss what is on offer and what is intended. Negotiation is useful for all types of play but particularly with rope bondage. Do you have a signal for when something is wrong, do you have a safe word, can you speak freely and communicate openly. Will you be in an environment where you feel comfortable to do this, if not, it is a good idea to discuss signals such as hand signals for example. Be prepared.
- Ego. Don’t fall for ego. Ego gets people hurt. If the rigger you are considering is more focused on the people watching, then please trust me when I say you do not want to tie with this person. You should be their focus.
- Test them. Build your knowledge of anatomy and your own body and do not be afraid to test them. Ask them to show you the vulnerable areas, or where they would avoid. Ask them to tie a chest harness on you, this way you will get some idea of their skill, communication, confidence and style. If you feel unsure or that you are not a match you do not have to tie with them again.
- Confidence does not equal skill. Please don’t be fooled by over confidence, it is merely an indication of their personality. A rigger my boast years of experience and drop names, please do not take their word for it, do your research and gather a bigger picture.
- Bondage ALWAYS HAS A RISK. There is always the risk of nerve damage, even with the most experienced and knowledgeable rigger in the world. This risk is always there. By being prepared to communicate, by listening and being aware of your body you can reduce this risk. But it is never gone.
- There are many many stupid, reckless, irresponsible, uncaring riggers out there. As long as we keep feeding them, they will have people to tie. Be a proactive rope bottom, be responsible, know your rope and keep yourself safe. Lets not fuel them.