... so what!!?

This was my first attempt to publish information about my life-long instinctive enthusiasms.

Material from this collection of "questions and answers, ideas and problems, fantasies and realities" has become the basis of this web site.


each tells it'stown story ...
... and now links to an expanded collection of material on related topics


01 THE GREAT HOUDINI MYSTERY questions why so many people people enjoyed his exploits - and why his name is still a household word 80 years after he died

02 SO I LIKE TO GET TIED UP - SO WHAT?!! mainly auto-biographical, the complete text of the original chapter in the book now also links to several areas of this web site. Forty years

03 GAMES WITHOUT NAMES is a title I later used for a collection of informative-but-hot stories. T
he original review of "creative recreational alternatives" still offers a useful over-view of a string of thought-provoking ideas.

04 A TOUR OF THE TERRITORY a short chapter which now
forms one of the three main routes into the site (via the Home Page).

05 SELF-RESTRAINT , whether called self-bondage or auto-bondage, this major topic is now a storage area waiting for further input from site visitors on the topic of self-applied restraints.

06 IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTIONS ... originally correspondence with exchanges of ideas on a wide range of topics. This chapter covered a whole range of separate topics when first published, and is reproduced in full. The chapter heading above now also links to an expanded web area about 'feedback' from players of different games.

)7 STRAIT-JACKETS FOR ALL OCCASIONS combined the "Notes on SJs" from the original eight Fetters Information Sheets (1981)* with extensive correspondence. Follow the chapter heading link
for more on related topics.
* The full text of the early INFORMATION SHEETS is also on site.

)8 ARMY GAMES & OUTDOOR PURSUITS combined related but separate areas discussed by letter long before Internet. The chapter heading link also leads you to other related areas of the site.

09 INDUCTION INTERVIEW a hot-to-read description of an 'Experiment in Endurance'
video project, complete with full text.

10 HOUDINI TODAY is still a

SO I LIKE TO GET TIED-UP ... so what!!?

Jim Stewart
(Complete text)

This book could not have been written without input from dozens of men and women who invented and played their own original fantasy games in isolation ... before discovering that other people were playing exactly the same nameless games. Independently, each had found his/her way to the same mysterious ball-park.
By sharing with me stories of instincts which enabled them to arrive 'Where they are at', many people I met along on the journey helped me to appreciate who I am and how to communicate my enthusiasm for what I like ... without guilt or embarrassment. Thank you all. Enjoy what you enjoy.

Jim Stewart, Seattle, December '95.

Mystery surrounds the death and exploits of "HOUDINI". More mysterious still, nearly seventy years after he died, the reputation of this illusionist/showman is alive and well. The name HARRY HOUDINI is guaranteed to spark interest in people from many different walks of life ... a lot of people! Why is that? Even in these more sophisticated times, an Escape Artist can still drum up a crowd. So, is there something about the idea of a man being bound, restrained or physically challenged that strikes a mysterious chord in the human psyche? Who knows? Who cares!

What I do know is that, quite a lot of grown men have admitted to me their childhood fascination with HOUDINI and his exploits. Now, although grown up, some impulse towards his imagery is still alive and kicking in one form or another. I know this is true, because the first time I wrote a magazine article about my childhood interest in HOUDINI, the feedback was amazing. When I first turned my private hobby into a small business selling Houdini memorabilia including a limited range of handcuffs ... the demand soon turned "Fetters" into an internationally known manufacturer of reproduction restraint equipment, all of it in full working order. So, why are there so many collectors and Houdini-enthusiasts around the world? The answer is not simple. Every personal story I hear is just slightly different. This variety of seemingly unrelated interests is what interests me now. That is what made the appeal of HOUDINI so universal when he was alive, and the same broad and complex appeal is what keeps his reputation alive today.

For me the conscious attraction was challenge. The physical and psychological skills which allowed HOUDINI to beat so many challenges were fun for me to explore as a young teenager. I could never resist a challenge. While learning these skills and experimenting, I met dozens of people who enthusiastically rose to my challenge; people within my limited local area. These would-be challengers put a lot of time, energy and creative thinking into trying to nail me. Natural human instinct? Nothing sinister as far as I was ever aware, but an interesting mix of social/psychological responses.

Forty years later I am convinced that, in a surprising number of people, there's a general instinctive fascination in seeing someone tied and trying to escape. A good indication of this is the number of times the situation crops up in TV and film dramas ... because it wouldn't happen so often if it was generally unattractive. So, where does the root of the mystery lie? There are many variables. Does watching a person struggle to escape or fail to escape really trigger something primitive in some of us? When watching someone being physically challenged do we wonder what it would feel like to be tied or be doing the tying? Does the loss of power, or willing surrender of power appeal to people whose everyday lives offer no challenge?

Whatever keeps this legend alive, I believe the mystery of the perennial fascination will remain unsolved until more people relax and confront the issue if it interests them in any conscious way. Of the many different sides to the question, I know which part of the answer is inside me. Is part of the answer within you? Whether your reply is "Yes" or "No" ... feel free to enjoy what you enjoy. (Jim Stewart June '95)


A hobby with a difference.

Houdini was my hero when I was a kid. Games of Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians and war games were incomplete without some tying up. Win or lose, the chase, capture and shifts of power were the name of the game for me. I didn't grow out of it.

When other young teenagers were battling it out on sports fields I preferred practising my skills as an amateur Escape Artist. The combination of challenge, physical endurance and exhilaration when emerging triumphant was stimulating. My frustration when failing soon turned to determination to crack the problem next time around ... and was equally stimulating. All healthy exercise for a growing boy.

In family life the game of staying-on-top was more psychological than physical, but it was still control and counter-control. Negotiations were more on an emotional level, but internal power struggles still ruled the day between three brothers and parents who didn't always see eye-to-eye.

In the grown-up world of career and business, "Power" manoeuvring is the norm, so we're told; control or be controlled. The point scoring can be obvious or subtle. I chose a career which gave me automatic authority. That wasn't a conscious choice but, in retrospect, I see what attracted me to it. Perhaps I sometimes abused my position of authority. Occasionally, to my embarrassment I'd realise after the event, that I had subconsciously chosen to lose a battle. Confusing!

During this early adulthood my active interest in Houdini-type exploits continued, although I felt I should be growing out of it. Together with a group of like-mined odd-ball friends, regular sessions of escaping and trying to prevent escape by others were long and very competitive; more strenuous than any gym work-out ... and much more fun. The sweat and struggle, the win-some / lose-some interaction retained its appeal.

The word "Kinky" began to crop up, and therefore more socially acceptable ways of getting the same "Kicks" were explored. A couple of years in the Air Force brought welcome opportunities. In training and in barrack-room horseplay my practised skills were occasionally useful. To carry such interests over into sexual experimentation was strictly taboo because "kinky" was disastrous to any reputation (maybe not so much so today?) In the Fifties the slightest hint of unconventional sex-play would inevitably result in powder-room gossip among the girls, which would then travel like a forest fire through the main community.
Becoming a publicly recognised expert on Houdini was a convenient let-out. Getting a few magazine articles published excused my continuing active "experiments" plus a growing collection of handcuffs and stuff. Because my interests also spread to Police & Prison History this opened up even more socially acceptable avenues. Practising unarmed combat and joining in mountaineering activities (including becoming a member of a Mountain Rescue Team for a while) provided stimulating opportunities:- lashed to a metal stretcher being lowered down a mountain side in the pouring rain on training exercises you get time to think about what is "Kinky" and what is pure masochism ... and if you enjoy it, you begin to wonder where it might lead! But such weekend and vacation activities were fulfilling ... a welcome alternative to my sedentary, decision-making everyday life. Therapy takes many forms!

In my late twenties I felt the need to justify to myself these 'unusual' preferences ... but quickly realised that too much self-analysis can destroy instinctive enjoyment. However, I did feel that a wider general knowledge of the territory would give me a better perspective; allow me to experiment more safely. If I was going to take risks they may as well be calculated risks.

This process of finding out more about different aspects of the still unfocussed "buzz" I got from physical challenge and counter-challenge ... was a challenge in itself. Sometimes it was very much a matter of trial and error. Not always trusting my instincts took me on some confusing detours. Occasionally I deliberately suppressed my interest for a while, suspicious of where it might lead.

This taught me two things which are relevant here: Repressing natural instincts doesn't get rid of them; it's healthier to learn to recognise them for what they really are, allowing you to channel them safely so they don't complicate the rest of your life. Secondly, only by finding out about all possible alternatives can you successfully choose what you most enjoy. Gaining this knowledge allows selection and rejection of opportunities. Finding out about potentially dangerous territory is a good precaution ... but, on the other hand, being too cautious may mean missing an experience ... even if you suspect it might be one you will choose not to repeat. My natural attraction to challenge occasionally took me to the edge, but that in turn helped me to recognise my personal limits.

Also, learning to enjoy what I enjoy has allowed me to keep it in perspective. Unfulfilled fantasies too easily turn into obsessions. As with any recreational activity which demands time and energy, it can take over your life. In perspective it can be given space as part of an otherwise balanced day-to-day existence. As the wonderful SALLY BARRETT puts it in her book WE LOVE S&M, "My husband and I have been doing it for 25 years without disturbing the neighbours or corrupting our kids." (see page 82 for details)

So here I am nearly fifty years later. I still like to get tied up and try to escape. I like to challenge other people to do the same. As my skills developed, the exhilaration of a successful escape was confused by a disappointment that I had succeeded. Games of control and counter-control demand ingenuity and skill and often a degree of physical energy when a battle of wills takes a physical form. These are essentially games of common consent. Without mutual consent such games move into a different area and are not what I'm discussing. Without consent, any form of physical restraint becomes a criminal act. For the complicated double think of consensual non-consent (when the right to opt out or set limits is signed away) see details of the "PHYSICAL RESTRAINT ENDURANCE PROJECT on page 63.

That's enough autobiographical stuff for now. What follows will probably reveal more detail about my personal preferences. There is a danger that by stressing my particular likes and dislikes a broader perspective may be lost. The general intention of this book is to identify as many different concepts and points of view as possible, leaving you to decide for yourself what (if anything) pertains to you. Inevitably, because of the wide range of personal preferences discussed, you may not relate to (or even approve of) whole chunks of the action described. Extracts from correspondence Awith people who have highly individual points of view presents conflicting opinions which may sometimes confuse you. It's a confusing, many sided subject.


Creative recreational alternatives

This book (so far) may suggest to you an author intensely, heavily, perpetually involved in a very weird and socially highly suspect activity ... whatever it may be called. Let's get that problem out of the way first.

We are talking about games not lifestyle ... recreation not a career ... private and confidential activities not embarrassing exhibitionism.

"Tying-up games" as an adult recreational pastime may seem to be a bizarre concept. The fact that someone (like me) could imagine it as a category in the Olympic Games may seem ridiculous: Pentathlon, Triathlon and Restrictive Practices. My realistic objective here is to explore elements which combine to appeal, often in an unfocused way, to "... the kid alive and kicking inside many grown men." The fact that you picked up a book with this title and have read thus far would indicate, at least, a healthy curiosity.

The declared intention of this book was, from the beginning, to deal exclusively with the impulses behind (and opportunities to enjoy) man-to-man games of physical control and counter-control on a NON-SEXUAL LEVEL. This may already have alienated some readers ... especially those who already know their way around the sub/dom/het/gay/B&D/S&M "Scenes" (if you'll excuse the jargon). Obviously I am not denying that certain categories of these "Nameless Games" can be rampantly sexual. Unfortunately the vocabulary used to discuss the subject in general remains imprecise. The word "Bondage" is, to most non-players, inevitably associated with Sado-Masochism. "S-un-M-un-Bondage" lumped together too often conjures up a threatening subculture. Demystified it becomes identifiably different groups of people with slightly differing but related personal preferences, trying to find opportunity to "Do their own thing" ... if society would only leave them alone and mind it's own business. Mutual consent remains the key.

Erotic Bondage, in all it's complexity, I have explored elsewhere in a set of notes published as "Bondage - Twelve Talking Points". This is a series of starting points for discussion on the broad subject of mutually consensual sexual/sensual/physical power exchange games. (For details of this and other relevant publications see "Further Reading" on page 81). Here and now, that is not the name-of-the-game we're discussing.

A lot of women tie knots very well but, to be realistic, most can not compete with men in physical games where body weight and strength are prime factors. However, there are many other games where physical restraint handicaps are used to redress the physical imbalance between a man and a woman in mutually agreeable sex-play ... but again these are not the subject of this particular book (See page 82 for details of Sally and Malcolm Barrett's book which is an intimate account of a lifelong SM/bondage relationship.)

Man-to-man games which include physical restraint, however seriously competitive, almost inevitably suggest homo-eroticism to people on the sidelines in the present climate. This myth needs to be exploded. The rough-and-tumble can, at times, be extremely tactile, intimate and essentially trusting. Many men, by instinct, might be more comfortable with the idea of playing "Tying-up" games with women ... but this would, inevitably, bring the activity into the previous category of "Eroticism". That is a popular pastime once the players have accepted their mutual taste for such games. Even then, several men have asked me to teach their wives how to tie them up more efficiently.

For two men who enjoy matching skill, strength and body weight to a point where one gains and retains total physical control over the other ... the inhibiting factor will often be their social conditioning. Even men who have grown up playing body contact sports, if still attracted towards competitive physical games, frequently suppress their interest because they think they're supposed to have outgrown it.

Results of this repression too often resurface in real physical violence in domestic or social life. Quite unconsciously the urge to lash out is there, like a steam under pressure. A good healthy opportunity to "let off steam" is hard to find in everyday life. After college age legitimate reasons to hit-and-risk-getting-hit are almost nil. Many men in frustrating occupations, especially one's where politeness to bosses or customers is demanded, are often driven to the edge of explosion. After-hours racquet games are no substitute for some sort of competitive man-to-man rough & tumble. "Crime for kicks" is another possible result of a failure to recognise and channel pent-up energy. Paint Ball games have tapped into this need to add a little extra challenge to everyday life.

Non-sexual physical restraint scenarios, whether energetic and competitive or entered into coolly for a protracted session of surrender of responsibility, could easily be perceived as "S&M". Does that mean, therefore, they must be the exclusive province of the men who feature regularly in predominantly "gay" magazines such as DRUMMER, BOUND & GAGGED and MANIFEST READER. Many essentially "Het" men think so. Unfortunately, the above mentioned magazines and even the more technically serious SM magazine CHECKMATE regularly imply that sex is the inevitable prize or punishment in man-to-man "Bondage" games. This makes it even more difficult for men who would enjoy competitive challenge, capture, restraint, endurance, escape games without sex to find opportunity to experiment tentatively. Although these publications repeatedly state that you should feel free to "Do your own thing in your own way, and you are free to exclude or include ..." they remain intentionally gay and essentially sex-oriented magazines. That is their declared aim. (Incidentally, more information about all publications and organisations mentioned in this book can be found on page 80)

In "Bondage for bondage sake" games a surprising number of men prefer, once the final strap is tightened or lock is closed, to be left alone; left to struggle and cuss, escape or fail to escape depending on their skill, energy, determination ... or due to the skill and ingenuity of their opponent at what ever level of game they have mutually agreed to play. Physical control games between regular players sometimes reach the complexity of bridge or chess with an intensely physical element added. Again I'm talking about a competitive sport ...and the equipment required is no more bizarre than for hang-gliding, rock-climbing or motor cycling.
Sexuality is implicit in other body-contact sports ... in the ring or on the field ... in the showers and in the drunken brawls which so often follow games: "Machismo" and male bonding frequently come embarrassingly close to something unspokenly sensual if not overtly sexual. Buddy-ness in the American male is fine - but how often does it border on dangerous territory? Awareness of temptation to cross this taboo borderline frequently results in defensive resistance to any possibility. Rejection of an instinctive attraction towards male/male horseplay (if no socially acceptable "excuse" is found) can manifest itself in dangerous forms. Especially in Red-neck-type culture, decidedly unhealthy counter-activities emerge such as rampant chauvinism, sexual ill-treatment of women and homophobic violence.

Underlying viciousness has no part in SM or bondage games, but the frustrations which result from unfulfilled, unsatisfying lives can be defused if recognised. The world promises too much and delivers too little to too many people. The media sets unachievable goals in terms of material and sexual expectations. Dreams of achieving what the TV ads insist are our rights, leave most women and men subconsciously resentful, or desperate not to admit their failure to achieve this mythical norm. Alcohol or recreational drugs can unleash this anger, then viciousness may rise to the surface. That is one reason why in all responsible SM related activities, alcohol and drugs are actively discouraged. However, our recurring fantasies and day-dreams often have an intangible influence on our everyday behaviour, so learning to recognise these natural instincts for what they are, is a health exercise.

Men who are uncomfortably aware of unfocused impulses which nudge them towards situations and imagery outside the 'norm', lack opportunity to discuss let alone explore these instinctive urges. This leaves them frustrated, confused and often defensive. Society in general does not know how to respond to men who admit they like to get subjugated, let alone tied up. Any man who likes to surrender power to either woman or man is open to suspicion in American society, but any man who can't resist a challenge can't be all bad in most men's minds.

It's a complicated situation, because a hell of a lot of grownup "wanna-be Good ol', Bad ol' Boys" would enjoy an opportunity to hit and get hit, catch-as-catch-can and generally accept any challenge that comes their way. In particular, men whose everyday lives lack the zest it had before wives and family responsibilities limited the opportunities previously open to them. There are too few outlets. Society is not ready for bondage work-out rooms at the local gym or bowling alley. Male Bonding need not necessarily be bar-room baseball and back-room poker sessions ... or beating drums and howling at the moon on trendy woodland weekend seminars.

There are no easy answers to the problem for a man who, by nature, would like to experiment tentatively in activities this book set out to explore. Personally, even after almost half a century of having fun getting tied up and tying up other people who like to get tied up, I have very few practical, entry-level solutions to offer. The diversity of elements which attract us mean that a different chemistry works for each of us. Compatibility is a matter of luck and learned judgement. I have no clear-cut route to suggest for you to follow, but can only identify the different paths and encourage you to trust your instincts. It is never easy to find a suitable play partner, even for people experienced and tuned into the grapevine. Making exploratory contacts with like-minded souls is, inevitably, a risky business ... but not impossible. But, for any wise Hunter, knowing the territory and knowing the nature of the beast (or various types of beast) is essential to the game.

This book can serve as a guide to the territory by describing what other men have achieved or created for themselves. I have included extracts from letters which describe games played at many different skill levels and intensities ... with a range of different visual/dramatic themes. "To each his own". The name of the game is to be able to focus on and admit to yourself your preferences ... and then, at an appropriate time, to be able to explain them to someone else. A useful ace-in-the-hole is a willingness to help someone else achieve their personal fantasy by supplying their need, even if it does not particularly do much for you. Various "Bondage Buddy" games range from being there to tighten the final strap and tactfully retire to watch TV ... or to remain and provoke. Just "Being there" can allow somebody to indulge in self-applied bondage games which would be dangerous without having a helping hand available in an emergency. (Self-applied bondage is discussed starting page 18). From the lightest self-indulgent 'Pink Cloud' comfort to the most rugged endurance challenges, they all benefit from outside help being available. Contributing to someone else's fantasy can often result in the favour being returned.

The choice is yours. Although many different 'Scenarios' are described in the following chapters, this is not an encyclopaedia of physical restraint games. My advice is to make note of any hint and tip or casual reference which "Pushes any button in your brain". Decide on your own objectives ... then, by using your own initiative, learn to communicate. Be reasonably specific but be open to new alternatives during negotiations. Be able to say "Thanks but no thanks" ... but don't slam too many doors before you know for sure what's on the other side. In this ball-park successful game-players need to bring to it their own creative intelligence plus organisational skills, a desire to take risks and guts. There are many men around the country who find ways to play the sort of games I like to play ... the sort of not necessarily sexual, slightly dangerous, heavily exhausting but ultimately exhilarating games ... the games I'm talking about do not have names.


Strangers' guide to an Adventure Playground

The number of alternative routes which lead to this particular Adventure Playground never ceases to amaze me. That's what this book is really about; to touch lightly on a variety of alternative attractions. It's a play-park in which anyone drawn to it can choose a direction and time-scale for themselves. So, once there, they can adventure where they find something to interest them and avoid areas which either don't appeal or seem threatening.

As an observer from a safe distance, magazines and catalogues can offer orientation to available alternatives ... even to the armchair traveller who never intends to travel. In the FETTERS/MISTER S. catalogue of restraint equipment and 'Fetish' gear (San Francisco circa. 1991) different areas of attraction were neatly defined in slightly odd-ball, pseudo-poetical section headings, each of which outlines the appeal (to some people) of a specific area of power exchange game-playing.

I think they still retain a certain eccentric charm ... but then, I wrote them!

AUTHORITY FIGURES (Police equipment and uniforms)
Handcuffs, a symbol of law enforcement and control, loom large in a lot of fantasies. Arrest and detention in real life has little to recommend it, but every child knows the thrill of Cops and Robber games. Voluntary surrender of control is sometimes made easier by cold steel clicking into place. Displayed as a signal, a pair of handcuffs is worth a thousand words. Around the world and through the ages handcuffs of different designs have captivated and challenged. Collectors lust and lock pickers puzzle but, locked on to a pair of willing wrists with the key under somebody else's control, the ball (it might be said) is firmly in somebody else's court.

COLD STEEL (Prison manacles, etc.)
Unyielding irons enforce without allowing any flexibility. The hard grip of steel on flesh will leave its mark if you're fool enough to fight it. Unbendable rules insist that you comply when you'd like to try to resist. There's little room for poetry when you're chained to somebody else's wall of implacable, unyielding steel-eyed control. Not a comfortable fantasy when keys are out of reach; there's nothing to do but live with the solid reality ... which can be a pleasure in itself ... if your mind runs along metal lines.

SOFT OPTIONS (Bodybags and "Soft Spaces")
Bags and sacks have mystery, and promise a special excitement for a certain kind of person. Willingly entering a warm dark soft space is the adult version of a child pulling the blankets over its head in bed. The back-to-the-womb instinct is active in many a subconscious mind. When surrender is difficult, once inside the soft calming inside of a SLEEPSACK you have no further choices to make. Nothing to do but wait for whatever is going to happen. You're comfortable if the pliable space is being sympathetically managed ... or you may be uncomfortable; frustratingly, infuriatingly powerless; progressively more desperate, angry or resigned to accept what you perhaps couldn't have accepted an hour ago. Nothing to do but wait and deal with it.
The Controller of your situation can also afford to wait. Be patient, giving the sack time to work its magic on your mind. With laces and straps to loosen and tighten he/she can play you like a sensitive musical instrument. For long term sessions with changing levels of tensions; comfort or numbing tightness, the very special bags and sacks Fetters dreams up are the fulfilment of a lot of fantasies. Ask anyone who's spent some time in one.

CRAZY GAMES (Strait-jackets)
Violence plays no real part in so-called 'bondage' games but to thrash around, to work and sweat off a lot of excess energy can be very exhilarating ... therapeutic. To be wrapped and strapped in such a way that there's no way out, can drive you crazy with frustration or (surprisingly) produce a wonderful calm. As you wait, not knowing for how long or what will happen next ... you may decide, after resting a while, to make another effort, have another struggle and this time perhaps find a loop-hole that will lead to freedom ... if you put enough energy into it ... or really want to struggle free.

IMPERSONAL SERVICE (Hospital Restraints)
Lack of physical freedom under the authority of an implacable stranger is epitomised for many in a medical scenario. There's more than one way of playing Doctors and Nurses. For the availability of the bindings and strappings, splints and stretchers, plaster casts and painful intrusions ... a hospital theatre of operations (especially when no serious illness or injury is involved) can provide the dedicated SM/Bondage game-player with a host of alternatives. Sick? ... not if it's how you get your kicks. As the Wise Man said "You don't have to be crazy to be into Strait-jackets".
The Paramedic scenario is another popular fantasy: a physically competent team rampaging around the town with the equipment and know-how to scoop-up and if necessary subdue. These are some people's Flying Angels. To wake up in the cool, clean, clinical, impersonal world of silent efficient controllers of your comfort or pain is an interesting alternative to dungeon fantasies.

MIND SPACE (Hoods and helmets)
The paradox of an enclosed head freeing the mind can only be experienced, not imagined. Each essentially personal response to encasing the head (the centre of our senses) can never be predicted. The variety of alternative head-spaces sometimes takes courage to explore; bagged or boxed in form-fitting leather, head-hugging latex, pressure-inducing straps, or reverberating metal. The smell, touch, sound, and restricted vision can all be the basis of different power games.
More intense games of consent and willing surrender of freedom involving the head can isolate your mind from the rest of your being; out-of-body experience induced by total sensory control. Mouth-invading rubber or leather or liquid can challenge or stimulate. A muzzle can silence a lion as well as cage a lamb. Nostrils quiver to sense alterations in atmosphere. Mind-fucks start with power over the head. Control the mind and the body will follow but, as Sondheim might say in his poetical way, TRUST IS A MUST.

LATEX IN MIND (Rubber and other fetish fabrics)
It's dangerous to analyse sensual pleasures. Instinct plays mysterious games with our rational minds. Latex and rubber attract and repel, and the appeal to something in our subconscious can be exciting to explore. Body heat and sweat may reduce or heighten the restraint experience. The clinging cold soon becomes a pliant warmth. Whether a luxuriously lightweight or more heavily industrial quality appeals to your tastes, feel free to feel good.

More so than most other types of restraint, mouth stuffers and covers are mainly a matter of personal capacity ... and dare one say ... taste! Whatever the name of your particular game, both physically and psychologically any stuffer, mouth-cover or head harness can create effects which may be either exhilarating or devastating. To surrender control of verbal communication is a supreme act of submission. The physical intrusion of something in the mouth can be a traumatic experience ... but it can also be a "release agent" because this allows the gagged person to respond vocally in a more extravagant way than usual without disturbing the 'controller' or distressing the neighbours. An efficient gag offers the luxury of a good healthy shout and scream, which can be very liberating. Another attraction is the physical pleasure or relief of biting into something.

Enforced fidelity between sex partners features in a lot of fantasy literature. The hard reality in contrast to a comfortable fantasy needs to be explored from every angle before surrendering control. Being denied access to one's own body is an intense and wildly variable game. Self imposed restraint whether physical or mental can be experimented with in secret, but to share such games usually opens up new territory in any relationship. Whether played in the safety of home or carried out into public places; if the game involves times when the players are separated; many technical factors need to be carefully explored in advance of more serious challenges.

Being section headings in a commercial equipment catalogue the above paragraphs act only as general pointers to the map of the territory. A later "European" catalogue of "Restrictive Practices" offers a more comprehensive review of psychological and political aspects of the broader subject. In addition to sixty pages of illustrations of every type of bondage equipment, twenty pages of solid text includes a series of notes entitled "BONDAGE - TWELVE TALKING POINTS" plus a detailed review of safety procedures in bondage games, ("PLAYING SAFE" by David Stein), and three informative magazine articles on related topics. This thought provoking text is now also available, separate from the commercial catalogue combined with "WE LOVE S&M" Sally and Malcolm Barratt's light-hearted account of kinkery in a London suburb (See "FURTHER READING" starting on page 81 for details).


An art, science and dangerous game.

Auto-bondage or self-applied restraint as a topic deserves a whole book to itself! All it will get from me here is a nod plus a couple of nudges in the direction of other sources of information.

It's where most people start - at least those who trust their instincts. Practical solo experiment in some form or other is a common story when there has been an early, unfocussed urge and no one to share it with. Conscious motives are often confused or nonexistent at the time. In most recollections about pre-pubescent self-applied lacing up, wrapping round, tying down, wriggling into self-applied restraint, the motive only became clear at a later date. Stories of early efforts exchanged in Bondage Group discussions usually fall into predictable categories. Here I'm not going to analyse, format-ise or speculate on WHY the need strikes the young and innocent. Even the juvenile HOW is irrelevant here; adult techniques and safeguards are under review. Recalling juvenile technical achievements is only important now if an experiment went disastrously wrong and left an emotional scar. Having one's guilty secret game-playing discovered can leave it's mark on future behaviour. In hindsight one can only ask if it was really so terrible as it seemed at the time ... or does fear of discovery remain part of the 'buzz'?

The need to feel confined/restrained can stem from various emotional promptings. The urge to have a good struggle or relax in comfortably snug body hugging tightness is usually part of a complex mental chemistry. Nothing particularly unusual, just part of the personality. If warm dark isolation is attractive, it is no more than the adult equivalent of a child pulling the blankets over the head: Perhaps demonstrating the need for a private un-distracting space where thinking time can be enjoyed with reinforced concentration; alternatively, where an exhilarating thrash around might defuse a build-up of frustrations. The motives behind the need are for the individual to consciously deal with ... or not deal with, as they choose.

The 'How' rather than 'Why' of self-applied bondage alone would take more space to explore than is available here. Elaborate processes are complicated to document. Meticulous preparations and strenuous gyrations are often employed to achieve what is only an illusion of inescapable bondage. Expending all this energy knowing that a way out must always be available strikes a lot of people as being a pointless exercise. For those who need to feel the feelings, the ingenuity is often part of the 'buzz'. Sometimes, consciousness of the risk involved is also part of the game; a dangerous part. Living on the edge is all very well, BUT ... !
Repeated experiment enables some people to achieve a degree of restraint that demands the added spur of desperation to escape successfully. Risk factors are carefully identified in David Stein's two-part article in BOUND & GAGGED issues 47 and 48 (see note at end of chapter, page 28). Here the main point I'm making is that such activities are common practice; a natural gymnasium for many people who have found no opportunity for shared experiences (so far) or who deliberately choose the solo path.

Playing solo by choice rather than through lack of playmates has advantages. It avoids the need to compromise on personal preferences. This may sound selfish but here we're talking about a special kind of self-indulgence. Accommodating other peoples tastes, pace or level of intensity takes the exercise into a different realm. Shared experiences can be great, but private indulgence allows us to explore ourselves. It may leave us aware of what was missing. It may encourage a sharper focus on the direction of our needs. Time spent alone is valuable to the creative process; any writer or artist will confirm this. The effort to assemble the means of self-applied restraint, then set aside the time to embark on a sensual, technical process, working towards a predetermined goal is an exercise in self-discipline. To achieve a sense of helplessness or immobilisation but still remain in control is, unquestionably, a FANTASY situation. In theatre the "Willing suspension of disbelief" is necessary to acceptance of the illusion before us. In our "Theatre of the Mind's Eye" (which is how I often describe the process of generating a jerk-off fantasy) creating the effect rather than the reality can be extremely potent. The presence of other characters whose input may be out of tune or timing with the illusion we are trying to create, can be a distraction. However, there is a middle ground.

The unobtrusive presence of another person during such activities can allow exciting extensions of the self-induced experience. Having someone within calling distance in case of emergency; having someone to tighten a final strap and then withdraw for a pre-agreed time while still monitoring your well-being; both situations are a healthy extension of an essentially self-determined bondage experience. From a safety angle even when elaborate self-release mechanisms are part of the intellectual exercise, someone unobtrusively in attendance allows greater freedom to explore practicalities and impracticalities of self-applied restraint and self-release. Certainly it makes first experiments with time-locks or more rudimentary devices such as candles and ice more safe.

Trusting to technology in self-applied bondage situations is strongly advised against by most practiced enthusiasts. Electrical timers, set to open at the required time certainly also need to open if the power goes off, rather than stay closed. Rigging keys to drop when the hands of a clock reach a certain point depend on the clock not losing power or the clockwork running down. Ice as a release mechanism can be unpredictable as far as thaw time is concerned. Even a combination padlock closed in the dark leaving someone chained until it becomes light enough to read the numbers depends on remembering to open the curtains so it DOES eventually get light ... and having your glasses handy if you need them to see the numbers!

Possible dangers of Self-applied Restraint are many and varied. Awareness of the potential dangers, limitations and consequences especially in terms of circulation and ability to breathe need to be learned. Obviously, early experiences should be as risk-free as possible, preferably with someone on hand to deal with emergencies. However, you may decide that, although such help is at hand, it need not necessarily be given. An available get-out option can inhibit the learning process. Experience of panic situations and unplanned-for problems provide valuable lessons. Learning to deal with the unexpected is part of this particular game. When a planned escape suddenly turns out to be impossible ... it's amazing what additional resources a person can summon up as the situation becomes intolerable. However, all such experiences are best learned when help is on hand ... even if it is deliberately being withheld. Being allowed to discover the additional personal resources desperation can bring is a valuable experience. Sometimes, knowing help is on hand can be counter productive. The balance of risk-taking and practical precautions is a matter for both parties in such a scenario to explore together ... but self-determination is very much the name of the game under discussion.

Totally escape-proof self-applied restraint is a fantasy objective sought by many. This can, in fact, be achieved but brings with it a dangerous element of risk. For someone completely alone to lock on restraints which allow for no change of mind and no possible let-out ... having previously arranged for outside help to arrive and release at a specific time is a game of serious intensity. This affords experience of anxious time spent alone and unmonitored in totally escape-proof restraint for a maybe unpredictable period ... with absolutely no opportunity for backing out. Knowing that some reliable person is due to arrive and end the session at an agreed time (ALL BEING WELL!) is a Head-trip in itself. If the agreed time is slightly flexible, clock-watching or blind time guessing is immaterial. Dealing with the inescapable situation becomes the name of the game. Obviously the restraint needs to be generally safe as well as escape-proof. Time spent in such serious alone-ness can be unexpectedly traumatic for the trapped person. The risk of fire, flood or earthquake is a real factor which some self-applied bondage game-players are willing to accept ... at least until they've had to deal with the serious possibility. Wondering whether the person due to arrive may forget, lose the key to your door or be hit by a truck does certainly add another dimension to scenarios I am describing.
Many knowledgeable people will be incensed by my suggestion here and vehemently say "do not in any circumstances!". I say "Never say never ... but be aware of all the risks". Then if risk taking is part of the 'buzz' and you're an intelligent responsible adult, you should be free to choose, just as when you choose to go hang-gliding, bungee jumping or to get married. All are calculated risks ... you take all possible precautions ... then enjoy the gamble.

Self-applied restraint miscalculations feature regularly in the tabloid press with predictably contemptuous comments. Death by misadventure features with depressing regularity in Police records. "Auto-erotic Fatalities", a book compiled from F.B.I. records contains bizarre accounts of fail-safe escape routes that failed. As in planning a crime, the unexpected must always be expected. Available safety advice should be taken very seriously. Even the most simple omission in planning can result in embarrassing revelations when you're forced to phone a friend or knock on a neighbour's door semi-trussed-up. In such circumstances better a red face than a dead bondage bunny.

How responsible is a publisher if detailed suggestions (even in the form of fiction) result in someone following a described path and coming to a sticky end? This is something I have often discussed with magazine editors. The argument that publishing information can tempt people to play in dangerous waters is easily countered by the fact that many people will play intuitively but often are totally unaware of the necessary precautions. Availability of information can be extremely valuable to them. Objective advice based upon experience is certainly safer than a conspiracy of silence.

Technical details of self-applied restraint processes have always fascinated me. I have compiled a dossier of described self-applied restraints but it is not comprehensive. On paper detailed description can be as complicated as choreographic dance notation. Home videos of people resolutely putting themselves into, rolling around in and (hopefully) getting out of tight corners are instructive and occasionally hilarious. The extraordinary range of ways different people invent to achieve a sense of restraint is worth exploring. David Stein, in his detailed article gives a thorough over-view of the subject, including descriptions of techniques and a comprehensive list of safety precautions. There is not space to reprint the two-part article here, but back issues 47 and 48 of BOUND AND GAGGED magazine are currently available from OUTBOUND PRESS see page 80 for address. In addition, David's excellent survey of general bondage safety measures "PLAYING SAFE" is available from Fetters (see page 86 for details).


Getting your own thoughts into some sort of order isn't easy without input from other sources. Contact ads are a safe forum for like-minded people ... that is if you have a P.O.box (and don't live in a police state). E-Mail promises to become an even more immediate arena for shared interests and exchange of ideas (again, if you don't live under a power-crazed Bureaucracy)

Since 1965 I've been in correspondence with people who admitted some sort of instinctive attraction towards "tying-up games". Often I was the first person they had ever told about their "guilty secret" ... whatever form it took. Although coming from a range of different backgrounds, isolated individuals wrote to tell remarkably similar stories.What particular imagery comple-mented the situation for them, whether sexual or non-sexual, whatever style of dramatic scenario, props and costumes decked out their fantasy events ... their personal domestic / employment circumstances did not permit them to even discuss these disturbing, recurring impulses. Uncomfortably evasive letters hinted at interests which just would not go away.

My growing awareness of not only the isolation but the amazing diversity of related subject matter encouraged me to place the following ad. in the magazines MAN'S WORLD, GUNS & AMMO & POLICE REVIEW in 1978:

Rope, strait-jackets, handcuffs, Houdini.
Did I get your attention? - or am I alone in the world.
Correspondence invited. BOX???

A trickle of very cautious responses asking what the hell I was talking about soon, by a process of elimination, developed into a regular interchange of confidences. The first reassurance I was able to offer was, not to be overly concerned as to the WHY. It has always seemed to me more practical to concentrate on the HOW to get into perspective some of the spooky things something inside someone is telling them they might enjoy!

The range of urgent questions that came at me promised to turn my PO Box into a vale of tears ... and I was more interested in exploring possibilities for people to turn their anxieties into 'safe and sane' fun and games, rather than soul-searching. Some of my answers were a bit brutal; I'm not cut out to be an Agony Aunt.

Because the focus of this particular volume is physical restraint willingly walked into and occasionally fought to stay out of (or fight somebody else into) ... the rest of this section of the book is composed entirely of short extracts from letters, grouped under three headings:-


I hope at least some of the topics discussed push at least some of your buttons. Skip over any section which holds no interest for you. The subject of each paragraph is printed in bold type.


Extracts from "The Fetters Files"

Dear /////,
Thanks for your letter. So, Jack ///// in San Diego suggested you should write me. Haven't heard from him for several years. Is he still working as an Escape Artist? Last time he contacted me it was to ask how to make a jacket ESCAPE-PROOF! Did he follow my instructions - and is he still stuck in it? No, he was wrong when he told you that I "... know all there is to know about strait-jackets". I'm still learning, and enjoying the process. You ask if I am "Seriously into strait-jackets". Now what does that mean? I guess the answer is "Yes, I definitely am seriously into strait-jackets ... the more seriously, efficiently applied the better, and as often as possible."
Your very general questions might have opened a Pandora's Box because you failed to specify exactly where your interest lies ... are you a budding Escapologist or does the idea/image of being strapped into, strapping someone into or just watching it happen rings bells in your brain ... Because Yes, I'm "turned on to it", as you put it ... but it's not nearly as simple as that. Are we talking sexual, sensual, erotic? Maybe so, maybe no. There are all sorts of boosts and blasts and tingles which happen spontaneously outside our conscious control. So, to give you a better perspective on the subject and at the risk of freaking you out, here is a random collection of extracts (Thank God for Word Processors) from the FETTERS File on Strait Jackets. Make of them what you will!"

Dear /////,
What a lot of questions. Hope I can supply at least a few answers. First you should read the FETTERS Information Sheet "Notes on Strait-jackets". This was first written fifteen years ago to save me having to answer the same questions over and over. However, the sheet is drastically in need of revision and expansion. My Strait-jacket information file has got so fat I could write a book ... but don't hold your breath. So, for what they're worth here are the original brief "Notes" ... followed by other info which may be relevant to your particular interests ... maybe not, so just concentrate on aspects of the subject that do appeal to your tastes ... or lack of taste! As reassurance, you ain't the only one in the world to be "Turned on by ..."

NOTES ON STRAIT-JACKETS (First published I982)
The image of a "strait-jacket".
In the real world there's a general consciousness that such things exist although most people have never seen one except briefly in a movie or used by a street performer Escapologist. Most Escape Artists consider a strait-jacket to be a sure-fire crowd puller. Since HARRY HOUDINI first introduced the stunt (or at least so he claimed) it has proved to be popular with a lot of people in a lot of places ... I think, for a lot of different psychological reasons. It certainly seems to be more than morbid fascination.

A "Regulation" or Officially Approved strait-jacket :
The very existence of such a barbaric device should, surely, make most people cringe. Suggestion that such a piece of equipment might have been used in real-life situations should make the whole idea repugnant? So why do crowds regularly gather to see someone strapped into such a threatening and challenging situation? I won't attempt to analyse the reasons - the fact is indisputable: vast numbers of people enjoy seeing such a happening. Just what percentage of the crowd speculates on what it might be like to have it done to them / do it to somebody else / have a shot at escaping .... who knows? The fact remains that being 'interested' in strait-jackets isn't all that unusual.

What is a strait-jacket?:
Traditionally it is a reasonably tough fabric garment designed to prevent violent mentally disturbed patients and prisoners from causing harm to themselves and other people (before the days of sedatives). Strait-jackets or strait waist-coats can be anything from a simple smock with closed sleeve ends and tie tapes, to deliberately intimidating constructions of sail-cloth, leather straps and metal hardware. The term "Regulation" usually suggests that it is an approved pattern, as used in a particular Institution or by a particular prison authority. In hospitals where a patient may continually remove all his/her clothes the garment was often little more than a night-gown which the wearer could not remove.
In Britain "The Home Office", the authority which has responsibility for most Police and Prison furnishing, has at various times in the past approved specifications for pieces of restraining clothing (although all information on the garments is "strictly classified"). Inevitably, the existence of such equipment has led to it being used as punishment as well as a last resort. In places where such an item would find very little actual use, to have some form of restrainer hanging around serves as a useful threat, to keep would-be troublesome patients in line.

Historical records:
Official records are almost non-existent. Restraint devices and early prison equipment were usually made locally to specifications of people responsible for running the establishment. Hence personal preferences dictated the design and frequency of use of such equipment. There is evidence that many jackets in hospitals and prisons were purposely designed to look threatening; extra bands of canvas and leather to suggest additional strength and durability. In reality such thick and bulky strait-jackets may not have been as efficient as a well constructed garment made from lighter pliable rip-proof canvas. Not only more comfortable, light-weight jackets can be infinitely more confining if correctly cut and sewn - and efficiently applied.

Psychological impact:
Seeing someone restrained by, strapping someone into, or being strapped into ... is what we are dealing with in these notes. Whether as a challenge or punishment, here is a situation in which energy and aggression can be worked off harmlessly. Although strait-jackets are now seldom used "officially" in most European medical/detention institutions - it is still recognised in some circles that the hugging tightness of a well-applied strait-jacket has a calming effect on some patients once they have exhausted all attempts to free themselves. In less threatening situations, to escape from a strait-jacket can be an exhilarating experience for an escaper and anyone watching. Many spectators when watching an Escape Artist probably feel the urge to help strap the would-be escaper. What number of them would, secretly, like to "have a go" at struggling free?

Escaping from....... :
In the short space available only the basics can be indicated. JOHN NOVAK wrote a small book for Escape Artists which covered alternatives. Called "STRAIT-JACKET ESCAPES" it is still in print. Techniques for escaping from a strait-jacket must necessarily vary with the design and manner in which it is applied. This is the main consideration. HOUDINI never allowed anyone a second chance to apply a jacket.
To escape successfully, the main aim must be to gain 'slack' surreptitiously while the garment is being strapped on. Every inch counts, particularly in the tightness of the arm straps.
Factors affecting escape:
(A) Whether straps or tie tapes are used.
(B) If canvas is supple enough to use fingers through it.
(C) If it is possible to work the arms upwards or downwards.
(D) If arm-holes are wide enough to work arms out of sleeve by twisting jacket around the body

Quick release .......
1. Slack is gained mainly by expanding chest and faking tightness by bracing elbows against sides as jacket is strapped on. Extra space can also be stolen by gripping a handful of fabric under the arms out of sight.
2. When ready to escape relax all muscles, hunch shoulders forward to bring all available slack to back, pushing arms deeper into sleeves. This leaves all available slack in-back allowing buckle of arm-strap to be worked systematically upwards until arms can be pulled free over head - or downwards to bring arms under seat. This, of course, can only be achieved in jackets which have no side loops through which arms have been passed. It will be noticed that virtually no Escape Artist uses an S/J with side loops. On TV if the Hero escapes from a jacket, arms are not through the loops.
3. To complete an escape once arms have been un-crossed, fingers through canvas can usually work at straps or ties, or by shifting the jacket around the body, teeth can often reach buckles
4. HOUDINI often made his jacket escapes out of view, inside a "cabinet". Who knows what clips, hooks, razor blade and other useful gimmicks were concealed within what was, essentially, a conjuror's magic cabinet.

Escape from any jacket is very much a matter of practice. To improve chances of escape by methods 1/2/3, when jacket is applied the right arm should be crossed over the left (unless you're left-handed), placing right hand on left bicep (that is, if you are allowed to 'get away with it') otherwise under left elbow. It is best to avoid allowing arms to be 'folded'. When trying to work both arms upwards and over the head, brace the elbow against a wall or door-handle. Or kneel down on one knee, using the other as a Pushing Post. The same effect can be accomplished by lying face down on the floor and rolling alternately from one elbow to the other, forcing the elbows closer together to increase slack in mitt straps. The easiest way to escape from a strait-jacket is to be sure that it is only ever strapped on by someone who has never done it before.

To prevent escape:
Having studied and experimented with ways to escape from a strait-jacket it becomes more easy to devise ways to make escape more difficult.
Jackets used by Escape Artists usually have longish wide sleeves, loose neck-bands and no strap between the legs. (Crotch strap) and certainly no side loops.
A jacket with short, tight sleeves, snug under the arm-pits presents a much more exacting challenge. A close high collar also adds to the general "cling", and straps connecting sleeves should be short with holes right up to the end .... and be very strong. The strain in all directions on a well applied jacket can be intense, seams should be double sewn.

Additional defences against escape:
A crotch strap to prevent the body of the jacket being dragged over the head. In addition to side loops, arm straps anchored through one of the back straps to stop arm strap buckle moving either up or downwards.
Sleeve-ends around hands being made of heavy material or leather to prevent tampering with buckles through sleeves will defeat many would-be Escape Artists.
A small strap added around each wrist before the arms are crossed makes 'slipping' the jacket virtually impossible.
Extra reinforcement of seams, elbows and neck will stop any attempts to wear a way out of an otherwise escape-proof jacket - but most important of all is to eliminate 'slack'.

Getting the jacket on in a challenge situation:
Even with a willing victim, applying a jacket single-handed needs practice. A particular awareness of the various tricks for gaining slack is essential. One way to eliminate stolen slack is, after threading the arm-strap as far as possible, then to stand to one side and brace your body against that of the victim, use the free hand to clamp prisoner's elbows together. The back-strap can then be wrenched tighter at the same moment elbows are pulled closer together.

Two people applying a jacket:
Slack can be eliminated much more easily with additional vigilance. Also as one pulls the arm-strap tight behind, the other can press the victims elbows together at the front. It is amazing how much further arms will reach across the chest with a little persuasion. Two people can also manage to 'fold' a victims arms even against quite violent opposition.

Unwilling victim being forced into a strait-jacket:
This is a complicated and potentially dangerous undertaking. As a test of ingenuity and stamina it can be fun. In a one-to-one situation it is virtually impossible unless the pair are very unequally matched. With two against one, if a 'routine' has been worked out in advance, it is possible to subdue a victim even if he is prepared to put up a healthy struggle. In any event it's certainly fun to try.

Finally, extra defences against a would-be Escapee:
Escape from any form of body restrainer is seriously hampered if feet are strapped together.
A strong leather strap or Pinion Strap Set threaded between elbows at the back defeats most would-be Escape Aritists.
Lacing the hapless (helpless) bundle to a bed or short ladder (which must be safely anchored or laid on floor). Imagination, ingenuity and the element of surprise count for much in the field of escapes and the sort of challenges we have been discussing.
END FETTERS "Notes on Strait-jackets".

Dear /////
Good to hear from you ... No, the Information Sheets still haven't been expanded. Certainly they don't cover the complicated games you and Don play together. Glad the Posey jacket arrived safely and has already been "broken in". So, to your specific questions:-

1) Posey jacket arms too short for Don. The one I sent should fit both of you easily (Measurements are on file in the workshop). Maybe you're buckling it too tight in back before arms are crossed. That has the effect of shortening the sleeves. Don't worry, slack at the back gets taken up when mitt strap is tightened, so it won't effect the security if it's looser. Anyway, jackets needn't be tight to be efficient. Personally I think they're more fun when you can wrestle around inside but still get nowhere. I assume you're using a long single strap between the elbows in back. That also needn't be too tight - just frustrating - but it can make any SJ virtually escape-proof. Even better, get yourself a Pinion Strap Set because they don't tighten around each elbow and risk cutting off circulation. They're a good investment - especially against a determined "Houdini" like Don ... which brings me to your next point ...

2) He's able to get buckles undone using door post and trapping buckles in drawers. That's your fault! What the hell is he doing wandering around? Fix the bugger to one spot on the floor or that wonderful metal bed-frame you sent photos of. Incidentally, did the Builders Supply yard ask what you were making with all those cut lengths of pipe and angle fittings?

3) Front-opening strait-jackets? Yes, the USA navy used one made by "Melrose Inc." who are, I think, now out of business ... but I've made several. There is a danger that busy fingers can undo front buckles through sleeves: Gloves or mitts inside jacket sleeves are advisable when you've got a determined Escape Artist on your hands. The big advantage of Front Opening is you're not lying on lumpy buckles!

4) Technique for "fighting' someone into a strait jacket? The subject deserves a lot of space to discuss. The collected notes on the subject are herewith (see previous page).
In the meantime - have fun - and stay in touch ...

Dear /////
Many thanks for photos of strange strait-jacket in the Belgian museum. Not sure exactly how it's supposed to work with those long, long sleeves. I guess I shall just have to make one up from the pictures you sent and give it a thorough Field Test. Lucky me!

Patent research. Fascinating business but takes a lot of time. We did extensive historic research re Chastity Belts. In these days of computer access to university and medical data bases I assume, if you know which buttons to press, it could be simple to call up Restrainer Device patents. For such matters, like Blanche DuBois "I rely on the kindness of strangers" or, in the words of the Beatles "With a little help from my friends."
If Arizona in-State patents lists are accessible as you suggest - I would very much appreciate copies of anything in the way of unusual restraint device designs. If you do have access, let me know the key words under which you find them filed. Get busy. I'll happily make up usable garments/devices from any pictures or descriptions so I and other people can give them a try.

More information about your general activities, please and specific details about the set-up you and Terry have there. It's good to know where people are "at" and exactly what they get up to. Sorry my forthcoming trip won't permit me to travel to your neck of the woods (do they have woods in Arizona?). Thanks for photos of the canvas and leather Armsdown jacket being strapped on. It's time there was a video!

... Standard leather Biker jacket used as strait-jacket. Yes, delighted to do the modifications you suggest. Not sure your suggestion for zip-on, zip-off leather mitts will be strong enough if strap between arms in back is attached to mitt finger ends in traditional strait-jacket style. But if the link is between wrists there should be no problem.
Interestingly, even without modification, a heavy leather Bike jacket worn back-to-front and zipped up the back is already very very restrictive and the wearer can't easily get out of it. The collar is also very high when worn backwards which increases the sense of restriction. With added mitts or even padded biker gauntlets you're halfway there.

... Biker jacket made lockable: Mini "D" rings and strap-loops added at wrist, waist and top of front zipper makes jacket impossible to remove when padlocks are in place. Modification I would recommend would also have sturdy "D" ring attachment points at sides and back of jacket. These would be sewn and riveted to a strong internal harness - so the jacket could not rip apart if they were used as attachment points for wrists, elbows or ankle chain, etc. A previous customer on your wavelength asked for the jacket internal harness to also extend inside pants and under crotch with "Chastity Jock" under it (Extreme but imaginative!).

Main advantage of this jacket was that it still looked like a standard bike jacket except to the discerning eye. Visible extra 'D' rings on a regular-looking jacket (with or without the occasional dangling padlock) can be quite a conversation opener in everyday use. Also, when jacket is locked on with padded gauntlets under the locked cuffs, even the crash helmet can't be removed without outside help. As pillion passenger it's even possible to use a gag and blindfold under crash helmet when out for a ride. Sound heavy? Not as heavy as adding a butt plug and taking the wearer for a ride on bumpy dirt track roads. Everything's a matter of degree. Have you read John Strickland's story "LOCKED INTO LEATHER"? It is not all fiction. Also, his sequel to "WEEKEND IN THE LIFE OF A MOTOR-CYCLE MESSENGER" has someone staked out in the pouring rain wearing heavy waterproof bike suit over full leathers. Very much to your kinky taste! (For details of both stories see page 85)
Send the jacket to London - we'll talk before I work some magic on it. Other ideas involving lockable clothes always welcome - I'm compiling a dossier.

... Yes, we can line a strait-jacket with latex - or oilskin or waxed cotton - whatever you decide. They all have terrific intensity. However, because they're very heavy and hot (in all senses of the word) we do advise caution. Firstly (and I'm a glutton for heavy and sweaty restraint situations) dehydration and overheating are serious risks. Also, lining a garment with latex reduces the length of time for which it can be used safely. As an alternative I often suggest using a separate latex or other tactile fabric garment INSIDE a strait-jacket. Then the jacket, whether canvas or leather, can give a variety of alternative "experiences".

... A full latex body-suit is easily available in both Gay and Het mail-order catalogues if the tactile feeling of latex against skin is what you're after. Wearing one inside an S/J also stops the main jacket getting sweatted up.

... All latex strait-jacket - yes, another hot alternative. Very different from canvas or leather when being struggled in because of the elasticity. Not as secure, of course, and naturally the latex is not as tough - but for someone who is content to have a frustrating and weight-reducing roll around, they're wonderful.

Here's a tip: Try a latex strait-jacket with a heavier garment over it (leather jacket, army Parka, rain-suit - S/J arms threaded through jacket sleeves before being crossed, is recommended). This "bundling up" can not only work up a swamp of sweat but keep the water inside. I can tell you from experience - it can be tough ...

Your comments on strait-jackets used for either punishment or torture were interesting. If you have heard anything from 'Someone in the know' I'd be very happy to receive details. In my many tactful enquiries around the world I have found a few instances of pieces of 'official' equipment being used in UNOFFICIAL ways. Perhaps it's human nature that someone in a position of power is tempted to use every means at his/her disposal to demonstrate that power - especially if professionally responsible for staying in control. After a couple of opportunities to use available equipment in the approved, straightforward manner - if the personal tastes of the person in authority lean in that direction - developments are likely to take place.
A strait-jacket is sometimes there only as a deterrent to keep detainees in line. The point at which it gets used may be deliberately provoked by the would-be user - but, from stories I've heard, it's also not unusual for a detainee to "push his luck", whether consciously or unconsciously, until a restraint that he knows is there, gets used on him. May sound far-fetched and I'm sure the Civil Liberties people would not accept the possibility - but "provocation" in detention situations that leads to retaliation is surprisingly common.

Certainly, to make a prisoner more co-operative, the degree to which an S/J can be tightened is a factor. It certainly can be used as an instrument of torture. A more subtle trick is to leave a "jacketed" detainee helpless in a cell and deliberately not respond when he calls that he must use a toilet. I know for a fact this is a favourite with the French/Spanish/Greek police who all use jackets as a matter of course on drunken prisoners. When they eventually return to the cell they humiliate their victims further by making them clean up their own vomit or other excretions which they may have been forced to lie in ... maybe for several hours. I'm told on good authority the French also have a habit of baiting a strait-jacketed prisoner to anger and then drenching him with water "to cool him off" - a legacy from the old Hydrotherapy once deemed effective with hysterical mental patients.

In real life not a fun situation - except, perhaps, for the likes of your good-self! You know how I feel about MUTUAL CONSENT so if everybody involved has agreed to a NO HOLDS BARRED contest ... that means Mutual Consent in my book.

Enough rumination on your theme of unofficial use or mis-use of official equipment ... let me know if you hear of (or dream up) unusual strait-jacket games. Certainly, with your recently acquired American hospital S/J, the degree to which it can be varied from a comfortable restrainer into an instrument of torture is now something you and your two cohorts in the Department can spend time exploring. Only your combined imaginations and individual endurance will limit the experiments. What a way to spend your off-duty hours! Wonderful!! Progress reports and photos will be welcomed ...

Incidentally, there's a JACK LONDON story called "The Jacket". It's not in most editions of his collected works and so far I've not managed to track down a copy. Would you keep your eyes open on my behalf? Thanks. Keep in touch ...
N.B. Eventually, the story I'd heard about called "The Jacket" was discovered to be the name under which London's story "STAR ROVER" was published in Britain. Contains a few passages of interest to dedicated S/J enthusiasts.

... ex-army punishment suit or S/J for sale in a Surplus Store? No, I've never been lucky enough to come across one for sale. I have found the British Prison strait jacket (or rather cape) - but not authentic official ex-War Department S/J - but FETTERS can make a reasonable copy. I took a pattern from one I'd "borrowed".
... British Army Detention Centre "Punishment Suit". Thanks for your vivid description of it's design and having to wear it in real life. Many years ago there was a "Shock Horror" story in one of the British newspapers about treatment of servicemen in Colchester Military Detention Centre. I've been fortunate enough to meet up with more than one ex-serviceman who's had hands-on experience of being put into and putting others into. I even have a stock of the big brass screw-lock clasps which were used (Very uncomfortable to lie on when the wearer was locked into the suit for unspecified periods). Locks were made by Hiatt.

... Yes, I agree, Surplus stores are wonderful hunting grounds for the creatively kinky. I like the sound of your padded Tank Suit with added lockable straps at wrists, ankles, neck and waist. I've seen (and experienced) some mean tricks played with army kit (See details of "INITIATIVE TEST" on page 61). Seems like you're a person after my own heart. I look forward to meeting you ...

... So, you like webbing, canvas, army and camping gear - join the club. The first strait-jacket I ever made for myself was a heavy naval wind and waterproof anorak modified. I have fond memories of an Army "Anti Gas" suit and gas mask which I nicked from the Air Force training Unit. While other guys were bitching about having to wear them I was happy as a pig in shit ... we all have our funny little ways, as my old Granny used to say.

... I still use a tough army Combat Jacket modified as a restraint. Wrists can be locked inside front pockets into handcuffs (For technical details of this jacket modification see "OUTDOOR GAMES" on page 54)

(For convenience I'll refer to "Doer" and Done-to")
For many people the image of a violent patent being struggled into a strait-jacket is intriguing ... but ... it doesn't happen often ... or easily. The image of beefy white coated attendants in a hospital setting, expertly subduing even the most determinedly violent person (either male or female) is mainly from the realms of fantasy. In real life it can be a degrading and damaging business. These days sedatives make it much less dangerous; quick jab with a hypodermic needle and then do whatever is necessary. Hospitals and prisons do use strait-jackets today (whatever you may hear to the contrary) but wrestling somebody into a jacket exists mainly in the realms of games played by people turned-on by physical control and counter-control. In the harsh real world, there are easier ways like a quick punch in the gut or kick in the groin. Both are dangerous - but I'm not saying they don't happen, particularly in the more traditionally violent climate of prisons.

Wrestling someone into a traditonal strait jacket on a one-to-one basis:- In my experience this is impossible without dirty tricks or very unequal physical balance.

More than two people trying to "jacket" a struggling potential victim, even in a physically tough play situation, can result in bloody noses, bruised shins and wrecked furniture. People just get in one another's way. With forward planning and a degree of practice the process becomes easier - specially if the target person has not been present at the planning and practice sessions (Practice sessions can be fun!).

Two efficient and experienced 'handlers' can fight even the most determined-not-to-get-jacketed person into a jacket and then into any advanced state of restraint. In the USA most city paramedics are warned against trying to physically subdue because accusations of brutality and injury are inevitable. But some paramedics welcome the opportunity to exercise their more physical skills ... even if they have to do it off-duty (Believe me I know from experience!).

An efficiently strait-jacketed person can still be dangerous if there is fight in him. An amazing event took place at an "INFERNO" (Annual Boys Camp for men into all aspects of S&M, bondage and man-to-man games). One year a tough young Navy Lieutenant strapped into a very heavy leather strait-jacket was matched against a lighter weight but fit unrestrained opponent, and they wrestled for a "fall" for a count of ten. Using only body-weight and legs the "jacketed" guy fought for more than an hour before eventually being successfully "pinned" for ten seconds. There were at least a hundred enthusiastic spectators.

Handling a potentially violent "jacketed" prisoner still needs care. Ankles should always be hobbled or otherwise controllable. Care should also be taken to avoid head butting or banging. Back straps on the jacket make useful handles for man-handling, but even moving a jacketed person on or off a stretcher/gurney needs vigilance. While bending to buckle stretcher straps, butting and spitting may happen. Steps to discourage such practices may include well judged menace or threats of "Another time and another place" variety. This can sometimes calm the situation but on many occasions the so-called victim just seems to be "Asking for more trouble".

Two people experienced in "jacketing" a third know that surprise is the most valuable asset. Also, having the right space, free from furniture to wreck and (ideally) nothing for the struggling victim to hold onto. Whatever approach is made, the first objective should be to get the victim's hands singly, deep into the sleeves. One way to achieve this is to have sleeves partially inside-out with the hand of the putter-on INSIDE the sleeve. By grabbing the wrist of the victim the jacket can be turned right-side out up the victim's arm. Of course, even when both arms are into the sleeves, the danger is not over - but at least the fabric of the sleeves is easier to grab than flesh. Once the jacket is closed inback (at least one buckle), the "subject" becomes more manageable: Can be flipped over on the floor, and waving arms be pinned and controlled with more ease.
It's generally a matter of practice, and just as in the routine for escaping from a strait jacket (described in Information Sheet "NOTES ON STRAIT JACKETS") the routine for "jacketing" someone who enjoys putting up a fight is something a group of men (and women) can work out for themselves. The rolling and giggling can provide hours of stimulating horseplay.

Step-by-step technical descriptions are usually tedious to read if you don't actually intend to try it yourself ... but ... for the record I did once try to document a few possible alternatives:-

1) If one Doer arm-locks the throat of the Done-to from behind and retreats into a corner sitting on the ground legs wide, he can trap the Done-to's legs leaving the second Doer to control the flailing hands. Still not easy to get both hands singly into sleeves. Grabbing both wrists from INSIDE the sleeves leaves first Doer from behind (while retaining elbow-around-throat hold) to grab jacket collar with free hand, and pull it backwards to throat and then, releasing the Done-to's throat, can quickly grab both ends of collar strap at the back.

Then, in a carefully pre-planned move, if each Doer grabs one of the Done-to's hands and pulls sideways (Back of collar still grasped tightly), Done-to can be face down on floor with arms spread before he knows what's happening. In this quick flip it is essential for his feet to be kept wide apart.

One Doer kneeling in front can then trap Done-to's head between thighs, while other kneels between legs ... or lifts Done-to's ankles, crosses them and holds them crossed with body weight. Jacket collar buckle plus one back strap at shoulder-blade level can then be secured before remainder of jacket can be positioned and final back buckles closed.

Crossing Done-to's arms is achieved by Doer in front reaching for BOTH jacket mitts. Doer behind can unexpectedly hoist back of collar upwards which allows arms to be crossed, then head is quickly returned to be clamped between knees of Doer in front and Doer behind threads sleeves through side loops (most important) and cinches mitt buckle. Crotch strap becomes no problem when ankles have been hobbled.
2) If initial wrestling hits the floor before either Doer gets a firm hold, PART TWO of the previous sequence (Done-to face down, thighs trapping his head, ankles lifted and crossed. Weight of Doers chest against crossed ankles) is still practical. This position leaves both Doers with hands free and Done-to's hands face down against the floor, head locked solid, body not able to move forward or back, not able to raise butt. That's the theory. In practice anything can happen.
3) Obviously, any Doer with wrestling skills has an advantage. An arm lock against the joint and pressure applied can speed up the process of submission. Even non-approved holds and squeezing to gain co-operation is considered acceptable in some peoples rough-and-tumble fun book.
4) Perhaps the best advantage the Doers can have is for the Done-to not to be able to see what is coming or where it's coming from. From behind, dropping a canvas bag over the Done-to's head and closing at neck leaves him totally disadvantaged. Still watch out for lucky kicks and head butts - but generally speaking this Blind Man's Buff achieves quicker results.
5) A very very effective "surprise attack" I've watched recently was when from behind a Done-to suddenly found a sheet of plastic film (serran-wrap or opened up plastic sack) thrown over his face from behind and pulled backwards. Immediate reaction brings hands upwards to tear at the plastic. Attention is away from what else is happening because air supply is temporarily all he can think about. Whether he's kept upright (he may still kick out) or turned face down on floor, the ends of plastic sheet make good handles. Whatever Doers have planned next (and it must be pre-planned and practised) needs to be done quickly because a minute is about the most it should take before air supply is restored. A traumatic experience if not expected.

Other methods of wrestling someone into a jacket against their will are always of interest to me. Your suggestions /descriptions will be welcomed - or videos!

Video games ... Incidentally, if you plan to video any catch-as-catch-can action a very useful tip is to work through the proposed action step-by-step in advance, considering all possible alternatives, using a willingly involved stand-in Done-to. During the practice sessions he should put up only a token struggle, but indicate if the Doers are leaving openings that a determined Done-to would grab.

When the routine and objectives have been practised a few times with a camera handler memorising the hoped-for routine and choosing where he should be to best catch the next step of the hoped-for action but remaining out of the way ... then is the time to bring in the Done-to who will be filmed. This leaves the Doers and the camera with a pre-planned sequence and the Done-to not knowing what will happen next. Such action is still likely to shift in unexpected directions but, generally speaking, if the routine is well rehearsed and opportunities for the Done-to to pull surprises carefully avoided - some hot "spontaneous" action can be captured on tape for future enjoyment. SEND ME A COPY!

Whatever turns you on - play safe and have fun.


Real men don't do that sez who?!

ARMY GAMES INQUIRIES (Excerpts from various letters)
... Get real! you think you're the only person in the world who has "kinky" fantasies that involve Army games. Why do you think Paint Ball games are currently so popular? All that dressing up in cammo gear and running around the woods Bang Bang, you're dead! Muddy, bloody, wet and wild, hung up or pinned down, tracking, smacking, hiding, getting captured. Why do you think "SOLDER OF FORTUNE" magazine and stories of mercenaries risking their necks are so popular? The Army supply mail order catalogues are doing a roaring trade ...

... Yes, indeed, pretend Army games suffer if the players aren't in shape - or have never had the training. That doesn't mean guys who have, can't have fun training guys who haven't. I agree that for people who've never experienced it for real, it's usually very unreal. But, even ex service men who still hanker after a bit of man to man stuff, pick and choose on which level they play. All the tedious times and unpleasant (to their particular taste) aspects of real Army scenarios get edited out. You are not alone, believe me! Guys find ways to do it ... and I think a lot more would like to join in if they could get their minds around it and justify it to themselves (and their girl friends, wives, parents) ...

... Yes, the yen to play Army games may seem "stupid to other people" but how much more stupid than Rock Climbing or Cave Exploring. If you're "Turned on by it" as you say you are, only you can say if the turn-on should be kept to yourself or shared. Depending on the group, exercises can be strictly non sexual or rampantly homo erotic ... the games you describe are not uncommon, believe me (as some following clips will illustrate) ...

... Thanks for the report on
field testing the water resistant "SLEEP SACK" . Glad it passed the wind, water and temperature tests. Glad my "INITIATIVE TEST" story inspired. Keep me posted about further adventures of your "team" ...

... Can I put you in touch with other men who play Army games? well, friend, not until you've put a few more cards on the table. There seems to be a sub text to your letter and don't expect me to decode it. You're going to have to give me a few more clues even if you're not exactly sure "where you're at". Make three brief lists: (A) Things you know you're looking for, or at least willing to try; (B) Things you know for definite you would NOT like to happen ... but be careful, don't slam too many doors too soon; under heading (C) list any things that you imagine you would not like to happen ... but if you were in no position to prevent them, you would deal with for the sake of experience. Maybe you would end switching them to your (A) list! Feel free to speculate. Also, be strictly honest about your age and state of fitness. In the meantime here are "THREE SCENARIOS" (contents described on page 83) . Get back to me saying what you found in them that pressed a few buttons and also what was a definite turn off. That'll give us a better basis for discussion. A lot of people are attracted to "Bondage" because it allows them to surrender responsibility for what happens next but, in advance, a few parameters can be set. Think about it talk to me ... and cut down on the evasiveness!
... So, yes, I do know several groups of people who are actively into Army games. Yes, some of them are Gay but there's more risk of you getting raped or brutalised if you hung out with a bunch of "Straight but raunchy" guys once the booze starts running. More about such groups anon.

... don't be embarrassed because you modify Government surplus rather than buy from FETTERS. I still use (at every opportunity I get) a tough British army Combat Jacket (Field jacket, to you) which I modified so wrists can be locked inside front pockets into handcuffs attached to a padlocked waistchain inside. Cuffs aren't visible if wearer keeps hands deep in pockets. I still use it for taking someone totally helpless out in public with all the risk and tension that involves ...
... So, yes, I do know several other people ... including an ex Royal Marine who bought a World War Two underground army bunker on the edge of a forest in a remote area of England. He and groups of like minded ex army nuts spend wild weekends there away from wives and kids, playing some really tough "training, discipline and punishment" games. They also have a nice line in practising "Interrogation" techniques. I leave it to your imagination ...

... Well, Mister //////
So, your previous letter was full of lies! and now we're on real name terms. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Your army experience and current employment as a State Trooper don't exclude you from the human race and you're not the only one of your kind (profession or sexual complexity) to read both PLAYBOY and BOUND AND GAGGED. I would firmly recommend that you switch away from PLAYBOY to VARIATIONS and add CHECKMATE to your list. Because military interrogation scenarios are high on the turn on list you sent me the Editor of CHECKMATE (which now also incorporates DUNGEONMASTER) knows such games from every angle and will, if encouraged, offer you appropriate professional advice on military matters (see page 80 for magagine info.).

Thanks for returning the three stories and your list of "Yes, no and maybes" regarding content. As far as your Gay, Straight or Bi questions sorry, I'm not a psychiatrist (although on these matters I could probably give you better advice than a Shrink). My best advice to you at this time is to forget about the Shrink and spend the money on buying magazines and postage stamps. Then write to and talk to any advertiser you can contact who sounds as if he may be on a wavelength even remotely similar to yours (as you currently perceive it)! Then explore the territory from all angles, even ads. which at first sight might seem threatening. There are all shades of grey when it comes to the "... erotic attraction whether overt or covert" (to use your phrase - I like it!) of the games you described.

Only you can decide how far in which direction when you're ready to move at what speed. What you definitely do need to know is what alternatives are available and how not to get in deeper than you can handle at any given point ... that is unless you enjoy the challenge of getting into something that you can't get out of without having to deal with it first. It still makes sense to define the general limits of play hence the list I asked you for which I may show to a couple of people who may or may not contact you.

So, in your next letter be more specific about your personal preference and "Druthers" as Li'l Abner" would say (now he was a mixed up Bunny!). I know in your case any form of overt sexual stuff is excluded which is no problem to most of the army game players I know, even to those who enjoy hot and heavy Mansex. They're not into rape. "MUTUAL CONSENT" is the key phrase and "CONSENSUAL NON CONSENT" means that strictly no go areas have been agreed in principle. Also, be careful not to emphatically exclude things which ... later, in the right circumstances ... when you've gained a little more trust, you may like to be "persuaded" to try. Believe me, as long as the game plan is established in advance, these guys will respect your limits perhaps more so than a group of so called "Straight" men when the action hots up. Repressed sex is a dangerous thing ...

... Incidentally, how much do you know about The Training Centre in Georgia? It offers prison / capture and interrogation / mental hospital scenario weekends for people who can afford it. They manage to secure the services of real life cops, paramedics, army training personnel and local Heavies to run the sessions!: (Men who pretend they only do it only for the money! Oh, yeah?!). I'll send you details. They also make videos which may be to your taste! Certainly no "Suck and fuck" as you so graphically put it. (See also, 'BONDAGE ENDURANCE PROJECT' on page 63)

Replying to Contact ads is something of an art - and can be a risky business. Many raunchy ads are pure fiction, and the writers happy to keep it that way. Often feedback is disappointing. I recommend always telling the truth, particularly about age, experience, physical condition and appearance.
For safety's sake it's wise to exchange a few letters and phone calls before arranging to meet. Asking for a phone number that works can put some people off, but until a certain trust has been built up, a face-to-face meeting seems unlikely. Even then, meeting on neutral territory such as a bar or diner is often best. Getting handcuffed and blindfolded by a stranger and being loaded into a car and taken to an unknown destination is a hot fantasy - but fraught with danger. Leaving at home evidence of your previous contacts where it will be found in the event of unforeseen circumstances is a wise precaution. Letting a Stranger know you've left behind an information trail should only upset him if he has evil intentions.
Before this booklet is published I hope to have persuaded someone to write a good article on answering magazine ads. Write me (enclosing a S.A.S.E.) if you feel you need to find out more - and write me if you have suggestions on the subject!

... Your letter about Lockable Clothes and carrying control and counter control games out into public places encouraged me to dip back into my files. I already sent you the lockable biker jacket descriptions and details of the army jacket with hands handcuffed inside pockets which can have many variations in sun and snow (if you happen to fall over in public wearing it, it's virtually impossible to stand up again without help!). I know a Swedish guy who often gets taken out for a walk in snow covered woods trussed up under thick cold weather clothes. It's amazing how often he happens to fall over. Sometimes he gets left while his wife goes off for a walk on her own or maybe he gets turned out of the car and told to make his own way home ...
... The story "Top Ridge Farm" ... not everybody's cup-of-tea. Sorry the sexual side of it seemed a bit brutal to you. Takes all sorts ... as they say. Somebody I know even got Politically Correct about suck and fuck sex between brothers (Is that natural experiment or incest?) In fact, the story is based on real life and the brothers both survived (still survive). Glad you liked (and would like to try) the idea of spending all night lashed to the five barred gate in the middle of a field ... suitably clothed, of course ...
... Thanks for photo of you in Foul Weather gear. Yes, games in the rain turn me on too as you will gather from the farm story herewith enclosed. Also "FURTHER ADVENTURES OF A MOTORCYCLE MESSENGER" which I think John Strickland wrote with me in mind. Staked out in the rain in full biker rain gear or diver's Dry Suit ... we all have our funny little ways. Keep the suggestions, questions (and photos) flowing ...
... Great situation, the padded fishing suit made lockable with added wrist, ankle, collar and waist belt. I guess, even when hands are free, it's impossible to remove: Canal walking and fishing trips take on a new dimension. Your suggestion for the athletic crotch protector with urinal bag strapped to a thigh inside a locked suit is very practical; you're not the first with that one! Let me know how the electronic remote control "Zap" jock progresses. I've used one on someone in the USA. There's a lot of potential if you get it right

... interesting idea, the Arm splints inside sleeves of street clothes. These alone make removing any jacket impossible if it's zipped/buttoned in front. Unfortunately, in a bike jacket, it also makes it impossible for the wearer to ride solo, and dangerous even as a passenger. However, in many situations soft splints can totally prevent elbows from bending. If carried down into gloves or mitts they're even more effective and undetectable for outdoor activities.

... Glad to hear you made your own modified Combat Jacket with chain handcuff belt inside. The idea is catching on. Recently a like minded friend in New York met me for lunch with a buddy in tow, suitably locked into a similar jacket. Very pink around the ears, we took him around Woolworth's and the Bank before going into a Coffee Shop (wonder if the Bank security TV monitors kept an eye on him. He was certainly looking very furtive). He was new to our little games and probably expected to sit through the meal only as a spectator. Relieved when the key was slid across the table to him ... he then realised what picking it up would entail. Taking a deep breath he cautiously eased one manacled hand into view to pick up the key and take it into his pocket and was philosophical when ordered to open only one cuff. Trying to achieve this while sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant made him look as if he was tossing himself off. He achieved his task and dutifully returned the key to the table. The rest of the meal was fun for two and severe test of nerves for one. Eating bacon and runny eggs with only one hand free is complicated and quite entertaining to watch if you're that sort of person (and who do we know who isn't?)! My kind of mind game bondage and control in the great outdoors of mid-town Manhattan.
The guy who instigated the scene also runs a mountain "Establishment" where anything can happen. You should meet him you have a lot in common mainly a strong streak of gleeful sadism! Write again soon. Regards to the Gang ...
... PS I promised you a copy of the long letter about heavy layers of motorcycle gear and outdoor games. Hope it doesn't sound too extreme but, if you're into motorcycle gear it should get the juices flowing.

The following scenario is a favourite of mine. I wrote it out in detail several years back - and have played a part in it several times since doing it to others and having it done unto me the rules changing slightly each time - adding surprise elements, intensifying it and encouraging other people to build on the basic idea. If you enjoy "mind games" there's a lot of possible variations on this theme. That's what makes life fun if you're creative. Anyway, hope the scenario's not too hot and heavy for your delicate tastes. It's certainly very much an outdoor game.

British motorcycle clothing, due to our climate, is thick and tough and naturally quite restrictive. Even people who don't have my highly developed "kink" for layer upon layer get a kick out of stomping around in it. In London there's a whole subculture of Motorcycle Couriers who must be masochists to spend their days weaving through the fumes and filth thrown up by heavy traffic especially in wet weather. For people who are turned on to the imagery and restrictive potential of heavy bike clothing, a world of possibilities is opened up by the fact that this is easily available and is a familiar sight in the streets and countryside. So games where a willing victim can actually be taken outdoors efficiently restrained and trapped inside an innocent looking biker's outfit are easily possible.

The layer upon bulky-layer effect is there already, especially in cold weather when thick insulated underwear covered by leathers, covered by rainproof suit are all necessary. In a "Control" situation additions to this can soon reduce mobility dramatically. Instead of thermal underwear, imagine wearing a tight skin-diver's neoprene wet suit under thick motorcycle leather jacket and pants ... then with fisherman's rubber hip boots pulled over leather pants legs covered by a biker's solidly practical wet weather over suit so everything underneath is hidden from view. Because these everyday looking one piece suit are such a common sight, it never gets a second look. Even just walking the streets, passers-by assume you're just walking to or from a parked bike.

So, if padded leather biker's gloves are added (they usually have wrist straps) under leather jacket cuffs, plus waterproof over mitts undetectably taped in place with black duct tap it becomes impossible for the wearer to remove the layers without outside help. So, there you have a restrainee, mobile but only just, ready to be "taken for a ride" ... or even forced to walk the streets and subjected to various sorts of challenges or tests. If accompanied by someone also dressed in bike clothes, this incapacitated totally encased "victim" can be left standing sweating on a street corner helpless until collected or left to walk home alone! With a closed faced crash helmet, it is even possible in extreme circumstances to tape the mouth under the helmet ... and unsuspecting Joe Public is none the wiser (unless somebody asks our hero/victim for street directions! !)

If this scenario sounds unpleasantly extreme, please be reassured that it's not my intention to shock or spook you. You asked about different types of games. Main thing to remember ... not everybody's into everything! But knowing where other people are 'at' helps you to know exactly where you are ... and where you're not. Doubly reassuring to know you're not as weird as some ... which maybe give you courage to experiment with ideas of your own you've perhaps been resisting because you think they're too extreme.
You picked up on the surgical splints worn in public as restraints idea. The real hospital equipment is very expensive, but occasionally is available second-hand; body braces, splints, callipers and crutches seriously slow someone down in public, especially if they're accompanied by a firm but supportive attendant. Here's a note from the files about medical scenes.

... If the more authentic mental hospital-type restraint scenarios interest you: I've always been fascinated by the possibilities of finding myself in a hospital or detention situation which is completely outside my control. Then my instinct would be to fight and thrash around as much as energy or opportunity would permit. The ideal restraint equipment scenario again includes canvas (usually with leather straps) strait-jacket or "Punishment suit", plus bed straps and the possibility of other forms of securing violent and uncooperative people being used in a variety of ways.
Enough about me tell me about you ...

... In New York I used to hang out with a couple of roustabout guys who work as Paramedics. Their work often involved dealing with drunks and drug crazed people. Together we experimented and perfected efficient (without being unnecessarily brutal) techniques for subduing and immobilising even the most violent and determined "subjects". In experimental sessions with these two idiots I did at the time enjoy acting as either the controller or victim. What happened after the practice session "victim" was suitably restrained was a matter of personal preference of whoever ended up on top and the mood of the moment or the provocation given by the subdued victim.

My "bondage philosophy" is basically if you allow yourself to get into a tight corner you have surrendered responsibility or invited whatever might happen next depending on who you allow yourself to be subdued by. There are risks involved and always unknown factors to gamble on. Sometimes the game becomes one of surviving the moment you're not actually enjoying. I can usually get through such a moment by planning suitable revenge for some time in the future because I usually only like to get involved in play with people who are prepared to take as good as they can give (or vice versa).

... In the meantime, I'll try and dig out some notes on hitchhike and abduction scenarios which you might enjoy (if the stuff you sent me is any indication). But I'm cautious about kidnap fantasies. They make me nervous because of the current dangers in the USA, with so many remote areas and deserted highways. The following notes explore it from various angles:

... First, let me say, your "Kidnap" fantasies aren't so weird as you think and certainly not uncommon ... mainly as a preliminary to some-thing else. However, they are mainly fantasies and, for most people, should remain fantasy. The real thing must be excessively traumatic; on a sliding scale with mugging or attempted rape. Fantasy versions of real life dramas are, however, very much part of both straight and gay turn ons ... for those who enjoy physical control game playing.

In the eyes of the law, the abduction and kidnap possibilities described below could be prosecuted as if they had been actual crimes. Any "Snatch" without the prior consent of the victim, even if you think it's something he will appreciate in retrospect, is sailing very close to the wind legally speaking ... particularly if something goes sour. Next, denial by a previously "willing" victim that he ever gave consent could also turn a fantasy game into a nightmare for the perpetrators. However, from the other angle, a fantasy game "Kidnapping" is ruined by explicit prior consent by the "victim to be". An interesting conundrum to which I do not know the answer. I only know that the situation's a recurring theme in many people's dream book.

Consensual Non Consent
This keeps cropping up in these essays. Active, practical "Control and counter control" demands previous consultation and must inevitably remain within the area of play known to appeal to (or at least be acceptable to) the "subject". Prior negotiation or planning need not always take place between the prospective Doers and the Done to: Intermediaries can act as communicators. Correspondence is another alternative, useful because it provides written record of the potential victim's agreement to or request for the experience. However, if something goes wrong, the Doers are the ones in trouble with the law. When it comes to advance negotiation, every would be player of SM, bondage or physical control games should have their personal orientation list in focus, on file AND in their pocket. When it comes to defining the parameters of interest and exclusion before a Scene of any kind, such a list serves to establish no go areas either physically or psychological. With kidnap, such pre planning can totally undermine a surprise "Snatch" ... but, to be realistic, a pre agreed written list avoids denial that certain limits were set, and makes sure that even the willing "victim" doesn't forget to mention contact lenses, diabetes or the wooden leg. (Continues on next page)

Staging a simulated "Snatch" in the real world.
If it is to take place in public it's a complicated business. If the intended victim is likely to put up a struggle, public places are full of problems.
The slightest hint to passers by may result in police being called or else the would be kidnappers could get beaten up or shot (in the USA). Smoothly picking up somebody and taking him or her somewhere they would prefer not to be needs very careful pre planning, and surprise factors usually crop up to complicate the plan. If the "victim" is determined to kick up as much fuss as possible, extreme physical efficiency is demanded from the Hijackers. People trained in unarmed combat are taught just how damaging some of their skills can be. Medical and legal implications make this a high risk fantasy if put into practice.

It all looks so easy in the Movies.
We grow up thinking how simple it is to render someone unconscious or to disable them. Pressure points, karate chops or a quick bop on the head are all seriously dangerous in real life. Waking up after being knocked unconscious is not a happy experience. Chloroform, ether or 'something in a drink' usually result in the victim waking up feeling terrible for quite a long period. Medically, a full anaesthetic needs to be recovered from slowly so it's no way to start a fun Scene.

But it can be done.
A swift and silent move on someone who is not expecting it is possible if carefully planned and CAREFULLY carried through. Jumping them inside a private space whether their own home or some neutral space is obviously preferable to a public place. Once the victim is off balance there is a variety of ways of reducing their ability to fight back or attract attention too many to list here. Enough to say the game must be within the capacity of the "victim" to survive unharmed and not result in injury or (hopefully) loss of friendships.

If the "Snatch" is to happen close to where the next part of the scenario is to take place, this is a considerable plus factor unless part of the fun is the transportation of a potentially unco-operative "victim". Availability of suitable vehicle plus means of loading and unloading what may be an embarrassingly squirming or noisy cargo is a major factor. A scuffle and a van screeching away leaving a single shoe in the gutter will not go unnoticed as it so often does in the movies. Even silent scuffles in Shopping Mall car parks are likely to attract spectators but, again, it can be done. It just needs pre planning and a lot of good luck. The essential thing is we're assuming a fun exercise among imaginative kink heads, however rough the action may get. In public places a couple of clipboards and a camera tripod are very reassuring to passers by. But even that has risks. In many areas you need a permit to film in public. Another defence is, perhaps, a detailed written game-plan left somewhere the police can go and find it if you've been arrested on suspicion of trying to pull a real kidnap.

Planning, reconnaissance and rehearsal.
This can be as much fun as the actual event (if it ever takes place). A build-up to a purely hypothetical kidnap may provide many hours of stimulating discussion and knockabout 'dry run' action although the actual event naturally brings with it a greater adrenalin rush. For the "victim" anyway the actual "Snatch" is something he/her will never forget ... that I can tell you from experience (see "INITIATIVE TEST" on next page). Knowing your objectives once the snatch has been made is also essential. The excitement of the opening moment can be followed by disappointing anti climax. The action may quickly become an embarrassing non event unless the dramatic line has been thought through to a conclusion satisfying to everybody concerned.

NB: As when attempting to wrestle an unwilling victim into a strait-jacket take precautions; wear shin guards and a protective crotch cover take it from one who knows!

A story of that title appears in a small volume discussed later in this book. This story may read like fiction, but it actually happened almost as written. It describes a military Initiative Exercise in which an unwilling victim is transported from point A to point B without being able to resist, escape or attract attention. It happened almost forty years ago and the forcibly abducted victim was me. Not exactly a kidnap because I knew who my abductors were and their objectives. I knew they were determined to succeed and willing to sacrifice my comfort to achieve their objective. OK aged twenty-one I already had ten years of energetic "Houdini" games behind me but, in fact, it was my first ever experience of being physically restrained against my will and, at the time, I wanted OUT! Of the many occasions before or since, that one remains totally clear in my mind. Which perhaps indicates that being so unexpected and NON CONSENSUAL is what made it such a vivid experience. Forty years on I can tell the story and enjoy it in graphic detail but at the time it was not fun. But as I've said before, that's true of a lot of rough, tough and uncomfortable "Scenes"; they may become enjoyable only in retrospect. Anyway, if you're that way inclined "INITIATIVE TEST is a very potent story (see STORYLINES).


Proposal for a Project

London 15th April
Dear //////
Great to receive your letter. Yes, if you think I could contribute something to your seminar on "LONG TERM CONFINEMENT SCENES" it will certainly brighten up my trip to the USA in June. Not sure exactly what I can contribute, though. You have done similar workshops without outside help, and your article from way-back on the "Psychology of Captivity" (See footnote) covers the subject pretty thoroughly. You know what I feel about "pretend" imprisonment situations - that was well covered in my "Boredom in bondage" ... and that little essay didn't go down well with people who like playing jail cell games. For the record let me re-state the core of that argument:-

Simulated Imprisonment:

1) Straight forward in-jail scenes, to be realistic involve long periods of tedium. I know you have many tricks for keeping a Military Brig scenario bubbling along but this demands constant input from the "keepers" ... and is consequently, unrealistic.
2) However long the sustained scene is planned to go on, it must have been agreed to some extent with the prisoner to take time off from the real world. So he's mentally secure in the knowledge that it will end within a predictable timescale. So the experience is less stressful than in a real hostage or kidnap situation.
3) Whatever prior agreements were reached, if the detainee changes his mind part-way through and demands release, to keep him against his will becomes a crime irrespective of any prior agreement ... unless a legal contract can not only be devised BUT DEFENDED IN COURT if necessary.

My general input to your Workshop:
You and your henchmen are already adept at the Interrogation/Resistance to Torture type tests. (Incidentally, I was very intrigued by your recent weekend Training Course on Interrogation Techniques. Would like to have been an observer at the practical sessions. Is there video or a written report?)
In June I'd prefer you to decide which if any area my contribution might cover. One aspect we might discuss is how general jail cell situations are seriously intensified when restraints are added. Not just manacles and chains, but when strait-jackets, head-bags, bodybags and sacks and strap-down stretchers are unexpectedly introduced; these produce much quicker effect of helplessness on non-bondage oriented "detainees". It's something we could discuss. Give me a call. However, if you would like to get away slightly from the pretend capture/willing imprisonment scenario I'm working on something that might throw a lot of different switches.

"Under Wraps":
This is a Project I've been working towards for quite a while. I already mentioned to you about wanting to get some video footage of LONG TERM PHYSICAL RESTRAINT sessions. This may be outside the scope of your presentation for June - but I know it's something we'd both enjoy working on ... and you certainly know several people who'd be eager to participate if the sessions were set up efficiently.
Basic premise is that most "Bondage" photos or commercial video footage are of people only recently tied, wrapped or strapped. I'm interested in the subtle variations of body language and the progression of psychological/physical changes which happen when the human body has been restrained for different lengths of time. My plan is to establish a standardised static camera set-up and session format in which suitable volunteers would be roped, strapped or taped and just left to deal with the situation. Once the subject stops being aware of the camera and putting on any sort of performance it could be very interesting raw footage. Not most people's idea of exciting videos but I'm also interested in developing some new video editing techniques.
Certainly the sessions wouldn't be uneventful. As you know, even relatively short periods of immobilisation can have unexpected effects. Very unpredictable. The most determined-to-stay-cool-and-survive tough customers suddenly get violent panic attacks. Alternatively a transformation from initially feisty into docile acceptance is more usual. "The bondage Glow" as Richard Hunter calls that smile you often see when you unwrap somebody after a long session in immobilising sensory deprivation. Again, the problem of initially willing victims who Then change their minds comes up. Maybe I've solved this.

Willing Volunteers:
For "UNDER WRAPS" I've devised an advertisement and am in the process of drafting a Briefing Document and Agreement Form. In addition to this I enclose here details of an INDUCTION INTERVIEW which in itself might produce a lot of interesting video footage. During this on-camera question and answer sequence every prospective candidate for a long-term restraint session will sit facing the camera and not only verbally agree to a range of possibilities (which he has previously agreed to on paper), but be asked to re-state on camera that he is prepared to accept a point at which any future change of heart on his part will be denied by force if necessary.
This interview will, if nothing else, produce some very tense and dramatic video footage; very similar to the sequence in "SCENARIO FOR A LEATHER FANTASY" when the guy who wants to experience bondage for the first time is made to ask for, in detail, everything that is going to happen ... right up to the moment when he is made to ask for the hood and gag which will prevent him from any further ability to say "No". Very tense and very hot to watch! I guess the tape would also be sufficient legal evidence that the experiment was entered into willingly, including the "surrender of consent" clause.
Even if what I'm planning is not appropriate for your June event, I think I shall be ready to launch a few experimental sessions around that time. Please read the attached and give me a call.
With all good wishes -


Serious experiments into the effects of physical restraint for extended periods will take place in New York in May/June this year. Experienced military training personnel will supervise. All candidates must be willing to be tested for physical fitness, general intelligence and ability to deal with rigorous endurance tests which last anything from 2 to 24 hours.
All sessions will be video taped and results may be published.
No pay but an opportunity to explore your real potential.
No sexual activity. Sexual orientation immaterial.
If you are in good health, physically fit, between 21 and 40 years old and would be available to participate, for further information send self-addressed stamped envelope to ... ?


Letter thanking applicant.
Give details of organisers qualifications.
Outline objectives and structure of tests.
Detail examples of different types of restraint situations and tests.
Stipulate that legally binding contract/agreement must be signed.
Induction interview to be videoed.
Permission to allow still picture and videoed results to be
published essential.
Fully explain surrender of right to opt out after mutually agreed
limits have been set and accepted.

Part One =

Detailed questioning of:-
Current health status and physical fitness.
Education and previous work experience.
Special skills.
Hobbies / sports
Sexual orientation.
Explore subject's general attitude to proposed tests, SM, machismo.

Part Two =
If seemingly appropriate as volunteer:-
Make list which covers all possible psychological or physical no-go areas including allergies, inability to accept upside-down suspension (for example). Also list possible acceptable exclusions including no sexual, genital or anal interference. Include other possible questionable topics such as do they wear glasses, smoke, drink, use recreational drugs.
NB: This should be the most comprehensive review of their background and mental/physical potential. Your suggestions would be welcomed.






Face Front. Hold identification board across your chest.


Face profile


Sit in the chair.


During this interview each question requires from you a definite response. This response must be verbal - not nods. You will answer each question with "Yes" or "Affirmative" if this is your wish. If you disagree or wish to qualify your reply you are free to do so. Do you confirm that this is so?


State your name
You have signed a written agreement to willingly undergo a long-term physical restraint and endurance test?
You have been given assurances that your physical and mental health will be safeguarded - but the tests will be intense, uncomfortable and maybe painful?
You are at liberty to back out at any point up until the end of this video interview. Correct?
You agree that after a given point, having confirmed that you agree to the parameters of the proposed test, you will relinquish all rights to opt out.
Your participation will continue by force if necessary, once you have agreed to the general parameters of the physical restraint endurance test and confirmed your willingness to enter into this agreement. Confirm.
If the specifics of your written and videoed agreements are adhered to by me and my assistants you confirm that you are willing to accept and endure all and any physical restraint, immobilization, incarceration however uncomfortable, stressful, intense this may become?
You accept that these experiments may last anything from two to twenty-four hours?
You accept that you may physically be prevented from resisting, questioning, or at times even communicating with the coordinators of the experiment once it has commenced?
You confirm that you have stated and signed that you are in good health?
You have, as far as you are aware, no respiratory, heart or circulatory weaknesses?
You agree that, subject to specified exclusions you will accept and endure all and every physical restraint position and situation which we deem necessary to this experiment?
This is your final opportunity to specify and confirm any limitations or exclusions. Feel free at this point to stipulate any prohibition or exclusions. You are also at liberty to ask any questions at this point.



In your written agreement you have confirmed that beating, striking, physical and verbal abuse will not be included in the experiment: not because you stipulated it, but because the objective is survival of the effects of restraint, immobilization and isolation. Correct?
You also agreed that it shall be our objective to test your limits by bringing you to a point when you would, if permitted, terminate the experiment. Yes?
You have agreed that if such point is reached you wish NOT to be allowed to terminate the experiment. Yes?
This agreement to allow us to explore your limits and continue with the experiment by force if necessary is willingly accepted?
Final clarifications. (DEPENDING ON SPECIFIED EXCLUSIONS) You agree to be restrained by any means, with any materials in any position we deem appropriate and not injurious to your health?
You agree that we and only we shall decide if any situation or position for whatever duration is too demanding for you to endure?
You agree specifically to being gagged if and when necessary?
You agree to be blindfolded, hooded or otherwise isolated as we see fit?
You accept that air supply may occasionally be limited but not beyond a safe and professionally controlled level?
You will cooperate in the initial stages in terms of entering the experiment clothed or unclothed?
There will be NO specifically sexual activity but genital restraint or encasement may be part of the total physical control situation?
(UNLESS OTHERWISE PREVIOUSLY SPECIFIED!!) You specifically accept that there may also be non-sexual anal or oral plugging as part of the total physical control. This has not been excluded?
(UNLESS OTHERWISE PREVIOUSLY SPECIFIED!!) There may be liquid input orally or anally. You agree that this has not been excluded?
Finally you confirm here that your written agreement and this video were undertaken willingly and without duress?
Confirm again.
You are now ready to begin a period of confinement, physical restraint for an undetermined period lasting from two to twenty-four hours as I and other investigators decide?
Once more you confirm that, from this point on, you agree to surrender your right to terminate the experiment, and you agree that we shall be free to continue as we deem fit, if necessary by force.
Apply initial restraints.





Confirm that you willingly surrender your right to opt out from this point on or communicate further. Last chance?

Mouth open.


You are still free to change your mind if you wish. No worse will be thought of you as a man. If you wish to be released blink once. If you wish the experiment to continue blink twice.
We have affirmation. Proceed with experiment.



Proposal for a book - 1977

Early this century HARRY HOUDINI, illusionist and Escape Artist, spent over 20 years challenging "anybody and everybody" to devise any restraint situation from which he could not escape. Police, fire fighters, sailors, lumberjacks, box makers, boiler makers, Boy Scouts, Insane Asylum attendants and Suffragettes came forward with plans based on their personal skills. Every challenge he accepted he beat ... according to the records. If he ever failed to meet a challenge, evidence is hard to find. Were people more gullible then? Were they less imaginative or technically competent than now? Was HOUDINI more of a conjurer and illusionist than an "Escapologist"?

"HOUDINI TODAY" will ask the question ... Could he get away with it today? It will review the techniques with which HOUDINI managed to side-step difficult challenges but, more importantly, will ask what challenges a "HOUDINI" might expect to meet today. With modern materials and equipment and, perhaps, less gullibility ... who might come forward with public challenges and risk failing as ALL those who challenged HOUDINI seem to have failed.

COULD YOU DEVISE A SERIOUS CHALLENGE for a present-day "HOUDINI"? Using your special knowledge of a process or material, your access to equipment or techniques, how might you challenge a determined "Escapologist"? This question will be asked of many people in different walks of life and, I intend to seriously review any suggestions. The aim will be to evaluate each offered challenge and, if possible, explore it's efficiency. If enough challenges are received, they will dictate the final form and content of the proposed book "HOUDINI TODAY".

Please contact me Jim Stewart


London 1995
Dear Steve,
Delighted and surprised to get a letter from you after all these years. Yes, the "FETTERS" you remember from 1978 has not only kept going but shifted it's territory drastically. My original enthusiasm for HOUDINI struck chords in so many other people ... both it and I took off in unexpected directions. My attraction to "Escapology" and the Houdini legend gradually refocused ... and maybe is still changing ... but it has not taken over my life!
No, sadly, the HOUDINI TODAY book never got into print ... but researching the challenges which came in from the magazine article gave me a lot of fun opportunities during 1977/8. Perhaps that was my true motive behind the Project in those days. I kept detailed notes of the various challenges and experiments for several years, thinking that one day I might pick up on the idea. Memory jogged by your letter, I will settle down later today and write a brief review of a few of the challenges I received and explored physically/technically. Main problem at the time was that it was a hobby and my theatre career kept me extremely busy. Also, the process of actually trying out the challenges meant that a photographer should have been standing by to capture the details. That never seemed practical so we lost some good opportunities ... and, anyway, I was too busy enjoying accepting and evaluating each "Challenge" which, let's face it, is what I've always enjoyed.

Without digging back into the cellar for the relevant note books the following memories will be off the top of my head ... but I will enjoy rethinking the Project ... and it might be a basis for further discussion.

Apart from that, I'm delighted to have heard from you ... etc. etc.

From late 1977 to mid 78 I guess I had about 20 tentative enquiries or "offers" as the result of circulating a leaflet outlining the Project (see previous page) which I also mentioned in an article in Man's World magazine and a now defunct popular magazine in Britain. In addition I actively solicited suggestions from friends and friends of friends with skills or who worked with potential challenge materials or equipment.

Challengers who approached me:
It's easy to see how Houdini was able to embarrass people who challenged him into doing a less than efficient job. Many of my willing challengers were easily thrown by the physical intimacy of the tie or restraint they'd worked out in their minds. I usually invited the challenger to bring a pal or mate and this usually added to the embarrassment unless they were very determined or truculent. It was then interesting to find out if they'd modify their intentions if I made it look as if they were hurting or it was uncomfortable.

I really wanted challenges that did work, rather than to beat the challenge, because that was the point I wanted to make in the book ... that one of HOUDINI's main skills was manipulating the Challengers. So, I soon developed a technique for after having demonstrated why their original idea for the challenge might fail ... helping them make it more effective and be able to apply it more efficiently without being put off by any Escape Artist's tricks. Also, this way I had more fun by getting the best of both worlds ... escaping and failing to escape!!

Wire ladder tie.

A pair of lively lads who ran the local metalworking and welding yard took up the challenge. Their original idea involved a couple of complicated braces and bars and closing them with hot bolts ... but they settled for a more manageable challenge using wire and a metal ladder.
Once they'd gotten used to me being uncooperative and "sneaky" as they put it ... they learned that they had to be very determined and very organised. After a little private practice they settled for a Ladder Tie, using soft wire and pliers. To avoid complaints of cutting skin or circulation I allowed them a couple of practice runs (I'm no fool!). Eventually the "Challenge" they settled for involved:- feet on the first rung, ankles wired to sides of ladder, then below and above knees and at top of thighs ... all separately wired and made-off. The waist and chest, then arms above head at elbows and wrists. Having started from ankles and getting used to the process, they could take one side each and keep pace with one another. Also, they discovered that the soft wire needn't be tight so no excuses for having to let me loose. Each individual wrapping point was: - round the ladder and limb twice and then between ladder and limb in a wire Square knot configuration. After a couple of practice runs their third try went like clockwork and was totally escape proof.

Having succeeded with me they conned a young apprentice who worked in the yard to try this "challenge" they had devised (He wasn't in on any of the trial-and-error sessions). Having wired him to the ladder they loaded him and the ladder onto a truck and drove him around the neighbourhood for an afternoon. The intellectual and physical process of working out the challenge was enjoyed by the two guys and they were elated by their success. I wish I had photos (or better still, video) of it.

A telephone installer also thought it would be easy to use wire for an ordinary rope tie. Naturally it was a very un giving material but he did leave lose ends which, when I was left alone, could be reached first with teeth and then fingers. Having demonstrated that escape was relatively easy, together we devised a tie that wouldn't allow the same opportunities for escape but it wasn't exactly a spectacular challenge. I asked him to try with some industrial adhesive tape he also used in his work. That, as I already knew from experience, could be very effective but he wasn't a very inspired challenger.

A guy who did rock climbing and camping first tried his abseiling harness and rope as a basis for restraint. I'd already explored all of this, but hoped for imaginative input from him. As an alternative he tried his steel framed back pack with arms lashed down either side and tied off around body. This had been used in the "Initiative Test" situation and is simple but effective as a joke played on a happy rambler. However, in a serious challenge situation, left alone I demonstrated that escape was possible. He got more into the swing of things with other mountaineer gear, and the session was fun, but nothing I hadn't already tried before came out of it.

A lorry driver with access to mechanically tightened straps and tarps was persuaded to try his skills in lashing down loads. Several attempts at rolling in tarpaulin were very hit and miss. Although full body tarp wraps can be hard work to wriggle out of, I still haven't devised a totally escape-proof system. It should be possible! Too unpredictable for a serious public challenge ...but fun to work on!

A Packing Department employee thought wide packing tape would be easy, but failed four times before he devised a routine and configuration which really held. I demonstrated this by keeping my body rigid during wrapping - then, as soon as I started the escape, by bending the body - all weak points in the wrapping immediately became obvious.

Several people who approached me really just wanted me to tie them up and didn't have any clear idea for a "challenge" as such ... and I was interested in learning rather than teaching.

An Army guy, active in the Territorials (National Reserve) had access to his unit equipment and premises which were mainly used in the evenings and weekends. As an Instructor he was familiar with webbing strappery and assault course equipment . Obviously he was an old hand at horsesing around on army exercises with groups of younger lads, and had several well tried ways of tying somebody to a tree, to a climbing net and over a low "Balancing Bar" (like a tree trunk lying a foot above the ground supported at both ends). He was well practised and could have offered several serious challenges but we never got round to documenting them. The potential was there.

The local Fire Station responded well to the leaflet. They have a range of efficient equipment for hoisting and lowering, strapping and wrapping including an efficient carrying/lowering stretcher similar to Mountain Rescue. A couple of the men described different initiation tricks they like to play on new recruits at different Fire Houses. Usual stuff, including strapping them into a lowering harness for tower exercise, rendering them helpless and hanging, usually hosing them down before leaving them. An alternative was in physical exercise sessions, to show them a first aid splinting technique with adhesive tape. Often they'd just grab the "Initiate" after his first call out, strap his hands to his knees with various hose straps (short webbing straps) and leave him to struggle while everybody else goes off to the canteen. If they're really being vindictive they grab one of their number in the showers, tie them naked to a canteen table and leave them until just before the kitchen women are due to arrive. All the usual macho semi-sexual harrassment. Of course that was all before women were permitted to join the crews. Maybe they now join in the fun. I wonder if any of it happens to the females - I wouldn't think so.

British Lifeboat men are notorious for their rugged life style and in a coastal town I did manage to get a couple of the local crew to show me over the Boathouse. There they had a rescue sling, a sort of canvas and bamboo cradle used for swinging an injured seaman from one ship to another. I persuaded them to strap me into it. It had wrist, knee and ankle straps plus head stabiliser straps ... but it was possible to get out of it (it wasn't designed to keep people in by force). However, after I'd disappointed them I suggested that whoever they usually transported in these cradles would be wearing heavy seagoing oilskins and boots or fully waterproof Immersion Suit. As an Escape Challenge exercise I suggested that in full gear, strapped into the stretcher it would be impossible to work free. They decided this was a wonderful idea (and I wasn't going to disagree) so we all got togged up in their working suits and then they strapped me into the stretcher and went back to the pub, leaving me to stew. I guess I enjoyed that more than most of the challenges. I was only disappointed they didn't wait and take me out in the boat the next time they had a call out.

As you can see from these notes I long ago discovered my particular attraction for Houdini exploits was not for lock picking or magician's tricks ... but for the struggling and trying to outwit somebody who knows his own equipment and doesn't like to lose a challenge. I also learned that the most enjoyable times for me were those spent unable to escape and waiting for other people to decide when (and occasionally at what price) I should be freed.

Hope the preceding comments haven't freaked you as a "Serious Collector" and card-carrying member of the Brotherhood of Magicians. I still am an avid collector of cuffs and Houdini memorabilia ... and I don't want to debase the memory of HH. The legend he created is based on the fact that he seems always to have Escaped!


The original slim glossy-covered paperback from 1995 has some out-of-date information about publications and sources of equipment
. These have been omitted