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The Art of Rope Bottoming: Delano

Michele Serchuk 2010
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Getting tied up isn’t for wimps. To bottom gloriously takes mad skills.

  Why do you teach about better bottoming skills?

When I first started attending kinky scene events and classes, I began to notice that there were dozens of classes aimed at teaching tops their skills, but there was absolutely nothing aimed at bottoms. It was as if the bottom was of little or no consequence in the equation of scene dynamics. Classes on slave etiquette existed but nothing for bondage bottoms, or S/m bottoms in general.

My experiences in bottoming – as a photo model, a stage performer and a private player – told me that there were bottoming skills and these skills could be taught. How to negotiate a scene with a top, how to prepare for play, how to deal with aftercare; all these and more are elements of S/m that bottoms should be aware of and know how to address.

  Got any bottoming bloopers?

My biggest bloopers came from co-bottoming. During a double suspension my co-bottom fainted and vomited and we had to be cut down. Another scene had to be stopped because my co-bottom got tremendous headaches. Both of these incidents happened because the other bottom didn’t follow their usual routines. They ate too much before the scene or didn’t have their usual water intake before play. Both of them were fine after a bit of rest but those incidents really started to drive home to me the need for better bottoming skills.

  Any advice for bottoms on how to get the best possible scenes?

Communicate honestly! Honest communication between bottom and tops creates a foundation for trust crucial for getting the most out of a scene. Without it, bottoms at best risk of not enjoying it and at worst get hurt physically, emotionally or psychologically.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need out of a scene, because that gives the top more to work with! It’s not topping from the bottom if it’s done in a way that helps the top understand where the bottom is coming from.

Bondage bottoming isn’t passive; it’s dynamic, active and powerful on both sides of the rope. A bottom has to take ownership of the scene just as much as the top does.

  Please explain what "topping from the bottom" means, and why it's not desirable.

“Topping from the bottom” is a phrase that describes a scene in which the bottom dictates to the top what should happen in a scene. If you find yourself giving a monologue about what you want the top to do, step by step, with a list as long as your arm of do’s and don’ts, then you’re topping from the bottom. That’s not an S/m scene; that’s masturbation – and tops know it. By the time you take a breath for the next page on your list, the top has moved on. Imagine being a musician playing a duet in which the other musician cuts in and plays your part, too. Topping from the bottom sucks the life out of scene play.

  How can bottoms avoid topping from the bottom?

Communication before the scene is tremendously important. Topping from the bottom often stems from insecurity, fear and lack of trust. Talk with the top and let him or her understand your fears and concerns. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have them. Tops appreciate this kind of dialog because it helps them create a scene that will be enjoyable for both players; it gives them space to be creative, skillful and, yes, caring. It gives the bottom the space to contribute to the scene and build trust with the top. This conversation doesn’t have to be long and drawn out but it does have to be honest in order to create a foundation that both players can feel good about proceeding.

  What do you think bottoms commonly do to sabotages their own pleasure?

Anticipation can be the biggest killer of a hot scene. That’s a sure way to throw off the scene, trying to behave in a certain way instead of reacting honestly to what’s happening. If a bottom is second-guessing the top he or she will surely miss opportunities to be led down surprising paths and deepening their experience. They’ll miss out on the heat that two intimately connected people can generate in a rope scene.

  When a very experienced bottom is playing with an inexperienced top, what can the bottom do to help that top?

Most important: don’t be judgmental or condescending! New tops are dealing with enough anxiety. The experienced bottom needs to reassure the new top that everything will be fine. Judging them will only lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of a bad scene. Let them know that this time is theirs to share with you, to create a scene that is special to the two of you. Put them at ease, relieve performance pressures - and the scene will be something that will thrill both of you.

Give the new top room try things that may not work out; it’s a learning experience for them. Who knows, they may come up with something cool!

  Can bottoms feel isolated in their needs / issues / questions? Where can bottoms go for support?

I co-moderate the JapaneseRopeARt yahoo group, which is a safe haven for rope bondage bottoms to share experiences, information, advice and more. Tops can join but are prohibited from posting. Being able to talk with other bottoms helps alleviate that sense of isolation. To my knowledge this is the only Yahoo group of its kind. From time to time bottoms have also e-mailed me directly. I’m happy to answer questions or explain aspects of rope bondage.

  Last word of wisdom for those who like to bottom?

Know yourself. Think about where you’re coming from, why you want to pursue bottoming, what it means to you and what you want to get out of it. Answering these questions for yourself will help you get what you’re looking for and help protect and take care of yourself as you make your way through the S/m scene. That is your responsibility, not solely that of the top. Don’t be afraid to say “no” when something doesn’t strike you as right or safe or within your comfort zone. If you’re not ready for something, you’re not ready for it. Don’t let anyone bully you into something. Above all, though, approach it with an open mind, an open heart and a desire to have fun! It’s not called “play” for nothing!

DeLano will be presenting this summer at The Floating World and Rope Camp.


DeLano & Midori: Great article and great advice. I have been fortunate enough to see DeLano bottom to Midori and it was truly a beautiful, touching and moving experience to witness.


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