Randa Mai interviews Akechi Denki (1999)

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Randa Mai interviews Akechi Denki
in Speculum, No. 8 (1999)

The following interview was translated by Nana. Thank you for your help!
Randa Mai has kindly allowed me to share the text and images here. Thank you!
Translation commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks.

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Randa Mai’s SM friendship journal – Series Vol.3
The grand master of the world of Kinbaku: Akechi Denki

Today’s guest is Mr. Akechi Denki, who is my senior and someone that I respect greatly, an influential figure in the SM world. I have already a long-lasting friendship with him. Currently, Akechi Denki is trying to introduce Japanese kinbaku to the world outside Japan. Akechi Denki, who is particular about kinbaku, loves kinbaku dearly, and devotes everything of himself to kinbaku – I am certain that he is the only person who could convince the world about kinbaku. So, this time, I would like to present ‘The world of Akechi Denki’.
Randa Mai [R]: It is a pleasure to see you after such a long time. I am sorry that I came on a busy day for you

Akechi Denki [A]: It has been ages. Have you been well?

R :  Yes. It seems that you have had a lot to do, but I hope you have been well?

A : Yeah, I have been doing my best somehow.

R : Though there is no particular theme we must talk about, I thought I would like to start by asking what you are up to at the moment, and your upcoming plans. It seems to me that your tendency has been considerably different recently, compared to before.

A : Yes, that’s right. It’s 180 degrees different.
About 15 years ago, when I started doing the ‘Phantom Show’, there were quite a few well known journalists coming to see the show. If I asked them ‘Please write about it in the magazines’, they said ‘I don’t want to write about the Phantom Show because I want it to be only for our pleasure’, ‘I don’t want it to come out to the mainstream of society’, and so on.
And indeed, at that time, my soul as an ‘enthusiast’ was deep. I thought: ‘I had better not present myself in the mainstream culture’, ‘SM should stay in the underground for good’, and so on.
However, since about 4–5 years ago, I have been invited to various places and people have started to say: ‘This cannot be a thing only for the underground’.
Back then, various people were doing so-called ‘SM shows’ at various places at that time and I went to see them, and I thought ‘this is not really right’. There were shows in which the idea of SM was strangely twisted, and seemed only superficial. Their so called ‘shibari’ was also absolutely ridiculous. ‘Well then…’, I thought – it was like I was coming out. I told them: ‘Hey, that is not the way to do it’ … And it turned out everyone was pleasantly surprised at what I spoke. They were like: ‘There is someone who thinks earnestly even in the SM world’… I felt I got such a response from them, so I became aware that I would need to do what I did more publicly after all.

R: So, you decided to step into the spotlight?

A : Yes. It was just around that time when I met you, Ran-chan, for the first time, wasn’t it?

R : Yes.

A : You were doing stage shows. I had heard that there was someone who had the same soul as mine. I went to see your show and talked with you. You understood what I said and we connected with each other. I often said ‘Randa Mai is the only one who is promising among the young’ (laughing).

R: I was in my 30s at that time (laughing).

A : SM is about the heart, it cannot be a superficial thing. If you could find one submissive woman, she is a treasure. You have to embrace everything about her. For example, listening to her for things on her mind. I have been saying this again and again.

R : I understand it well.

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A : I have recently been dragged out to different fields again. For example, I made an appearance at a big cultural conference in Akita prefecture. [1]

R : That was also given a big write-up in a tabloid magazine (laughing).

A : Indeed, you are talking about the matter of Ms Ishii Mitsuko [t/n : an actress-turned-politician], right? I was performing kinbaku at the conference, as requested by Mr Saegusa Shigeaki [t/n : a composer]. Suddenly Ms Ishii came in to intervene and I was a bit annoyed, but Mr Saegusa got in between, and I was able to continue. Mr Okuda Eiji [t/n : an actor and film director] talked to the audience. There was a massive ovation in the end.

R : You are receiving a lot of attention, but in the wrong way.

A : That’s right. Various media came to interview me, too…

R : By the way, Sensei, you are going to the Netherlands again soon. Could you tell me about it?

A : Yes. To Amsterdam. I am invited to perform at an annual event called ‘De Mask’.

R : When you do such activities abroad, it is because you want to introduce the beauty of Japanese kinbaku to them, isn’t it?

A : Yes, indeed. I feel that shibari is a Japanese culture. It’s a traditional thing that has been handed down since ancient times in Japan. Indeed, Japan is the only country which has a history of shibari.

R : An invitation to perform at ‘De Mask’ must be a big thing.

A : Yes, it’s the first time for an Oriental person. Enthusiasts from all over Europe, around 3,000 people, will gather there. I was chosen as one of only five performers who have a chance to perform there. It’s the biggest underground event in Europe. Really, I think that this time it could be a critical turning-point for me.

R : It seems your performance in the Netherlands last year became a hot topic and you were recognised. [2]

A : That’s right. I have heard that it became a thing that was talked about. I did a lot of interviews, also with regular newspapers… They thought the whole scene was mysterious, that a woman who was tied in various forms with a single rope screamed with pleasure and held me tight as I embraced her at the end.
It took place in the biggest SM club in Europe called ‘Doma’. No one cared about me at first. They were like, ‘A weirdo came from the East’. I was not welcomed, really. But when the show was over, everyone stood up and applauded. The owner of the club explained to them: ‘This is also one of the forms of love’.

R : Wow, that sounds amazing. So, when is the ‘De Mask’ event happening?

A : It’s the 29th May [1999].

R : I see. By the time this magazine comes out, it’s already over then. I guess it will be a hot topic again, at home and overseas… I am looking forward to hear about it. Please do your best by all means.

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A : Thank you. Yes, I have to work hard. Recently, I have got a request from a famous Taiwanese female film director to create an installation for her film. I am working on it right now. The thing is huge, though it is an installation using rope, of course. Two girls are fiddling with each other on top of a gigantic bird cage which has been made with rope. The movie is a fantasy about what sex will be like 100 years from now. But it is also hard work. I have been racking my brain (laughing). [3]

R : That sounds challenging. Changing the subject, what are your thoughts about the current SM industry?

A : Well… In short, there is not enough ingenuity there. Their ways of expression are quite poor.

R : As I have also written in my column in this magazine, it has become too standardised.

A : Oh yeah, that’s right. They make it too easy. There is something more, a deeper place. The way to express the embracing of the woman, the ingenuity in the tools we use, etc. Devotion, that’s devotion. It’s not there. It seems as if they are doing a routine task. There are too many of them who do not know what SM really is. Even the way they use rope, they do unbelievably terrible shibari. For example, the model’s chest rope is loose and ends up around her neck, so she is almost dying, it is all so dangerous (laughing).

R : There are also people who are not even aware of the difference between musubi [knot] and shibari [bind]. Indeed, some people don’t know that women get sexual pleasure through their minds, rather than just by stimulation of their bodies.

A : Uh-huh, it’s mere abuse those people are doing. There are many people whose soul is not there.

R : I think the amazing thing about Akechi Denki is that you have such a soulful feeling like: ‘I would die with the submissive woman anytime’. How about that? The feeling of: ‘I would die together with her if something was to happen to this woman while we play’… I feel it whenever I see you play…

A : Yes. Of course, I would not be able to do what I do to the women if I was not prepared to commit suicide by cutting my belly. That’s love.

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R : Getting into such a mindset can be ‘pleasure’ on our side, too. It’s like: ‘This woman has my life in her hands’. It’s impossible to do truly bold shibari or play until we get that feeling.

A : It’s about opening your heart.

R : This is the biggest thing I have learnt by watching Akechi Denki’s play. If you are anxious, feel hesitant or cowardly, you are not able to do further, deeper play. We feel an amazing pleasure when both of us manage to get into the same state of mind, that is (laughing).

A : Anyway, men are unreliable nowadays (laughing). Unreasonably immature. They don’t have energy to lead, can’t push it like: ‘Look at me!’. Women are stronger now (laughing). I wouldn’t like to see submissive men taking over the world, to be really honest (laughing). I think that ultimate submissiveness is about ‘to be a baby again’. ‘The other person does everything for me’, ‘The other person finds where I feel pleasure’ and so on. Real babies are like that, aren’t they? If they cry, they get breastfed, food, a nappy changed. Babies can’t take care of themselves. Aren’t submissives the same? They do not need to do anything. The other person does everything for them. …People who have strong submissive tendencies tend to have the ‘habit of return’. They wish to go back to being children. I believe so.

R : I see.

A : So, that’s why men should not live that way (laughing). A man must fight. He must protect the woman. He has to embrace everything about her. Like, up to the point where he is able to take over the role of her mother. You should treat a woman in that way if you love her. We should keep developing ourselves… It’s ridiculous that some people who are not able to do it are messing about with such issues as ‘two-timing’ or even ‘three-timing’ (laughing). I am like: you are really not such a powerful man! (laughing).

R : Dear readers, are you listening? (laughing) Akechi Denki is angry (laughing).

A : Don’t talk about SM if you cannot even successfully seduce one woman! (laughing)

R : Sensei, please calm down (laughing).

A : Just joking, I shouldn’t say those things even if I really want to (laughing).

R : What do you think about the SM world having become commercialised? … Because, all of us so called ‘kinbakushi’, including me, we are making a business out of the unique world called SM. We are using it to earn our bread. But I feel that Akechi Denki is a bit different.

A : Yes. Basically, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a business using SM.

R : As I expected. You are a true ‘enthusiast’. That’s why you are an amazing existence. You don’t do SM for business, don’t take advantage of SM. Those of the same trade are using it conveniently and make a business. I am the prime example (laughing).

A : (laughing) You wouldn’t have any trouble doing it because everyone has approved. … Well, yeah, I absolutely don’t want to lose my heart as an ‘enthusiast’. However, I have a sense of responsibility and self-awareness as a professional, naturally. Without that, I cannot continue to do it. Especially when it comes to ‘SM as a show’, I have a pride and confidence in it as a professional. That’s my grass roots. I am also hoping to make a study of it.

R : What is ‘SM’ to Akechi Denki?

A : … (pausing for a while) …that’s rope. I call myself ‘Nawashi’, I love rope and I love shibari. That’s ‘the act of exchanging love through rope’. I would say, everything begins with Ushirote Shibari and ends with Ushirote Shibari. [t/n : ‘a tie with the hands behind one’s back’.]

R : Do you have any dreams or goals for the future?

A : Yes, I want to keep challenging myself to do various things. I would like to tell the world about the culture and beauty of Japanese shibari. Also, I want to research in the history of kinbaku, and I hope to make this legacy remain. It won’t make much money though (laughing). But I want to leave my footprints in the future generations.

R : I want ‘Akechi Denki’ to always stay on top, one step or two steps ahead. I want you to keep running ahead of us. Then I am encouraged to do my best when I see your back.

A : Yeah, I want my juniors to keep following me, and then I want them to overtake me eventually. Maybe ‘Randa Mai’ can do it, indeed.

R : It’s absolutely impossible to overtake you (laughing).  But I will do my very best to get close to you.

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– After the dialogue –

That was the evening of our reunion after a long while, and we got carried away in conversation. After all, the energy of ‘Akechi Denki’ is incredible. I am always overwhelmed. He is always thinking about something new. I could not get more pages in the magazine for our conversation, but we also talked about the history of kinbaku extensively as we both adore it. I found out that Mr. Akechi has been researching in the history of kinbaku in depth. He is always thorough in everything he does. He is a man who does nothing by halves. That’s why he is phenomenal. I, as a person who failed in my U.S. promotion last year, am proud of his success and high reputation in Europe as a fellow countryman, and I also envy him as a person in the same business.
I can’t resist sighing when I look at my article about ‘black market porn videos of U.S. reimport’ (laughing). Akechi Denki is the greatest. I am not even close. I hope to keep seeing new ‘legends’ of him being born.
Akechi Denki – From Tokyo, Age unknown
In the late 70’s, he participated in the SM experimental theatre-group GSG planning. There, he was responsible for directing and supervising the shibari. He was also active as a Nawashi himself. He constantly creates new shibari projects such as Tokyo SM Project, SM Bomber and SM Aquarium. During the Adult Video epoch of the 1980’s, he became widely known as he made an appearance in many videos by production companies like Uchuu Kikaku, VIP, Endo Pro, Athena Images.
From July 1987, he organised Studio Phantom – a members-only gathering. In September in the same year, SM Experiment Theatre at Studio Phantom was launched and had a regular performance twice a month – it ran a long-term performance of 10 years until June 1997.
After that, he organised four different types of gatherings such as SM Society Denki’s Meeting and so on.
In the early 1990’s, he worked as a nawashi on various photo-publications, V Cinema [t/n : feature films produced and sold as a video format without theatre release, often containing soft porn elements] and TV.
In August 1997, he opened Salon Garasha and still continues. In 1998, he performed in the Europe’s largest SM club Doma, and also at other places in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and elsewhere. In 1999, He is the first Oriental person who is formally invited to Europe’s biggest SM & Fetish party DeMask, and will also perform in the Netherlands, Belgium and so on.

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Notes by Bergborg

[1] The cultural conference included a panel on ”the art of kinbaku” [緊縛芸術]. One of the other participants in the panel was Dan Oniroku.
[2] About the performance in the Netherlands, see an earlier post here: https://kinbakubooks.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/akechi-denki-visiting-europe-1998/
[3] The movie mentioned was given the title I.K.U. Available on DVD. A short trailer for that gives you an idea can be seen for example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyt4UwgMsS0  Read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.K.U. 

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Translated by Nana, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

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