Guess Who’s Coming to Beat Me: Michael Sol

The intricate blade art of Michael Sol.

by David Wraith

Michael Sol is an artist with almost thirty years of experience. His tools are a scalpel instead of a paint brush and rope instead of a chisel. His medium is not clay, but the human body, not canvas, but flesh. He is also an educator. Inspired by the modern primitive movement and pioneers like Fakir Musafar, he believes in rope bondage and blade art, not just as aesthetically pleasing methods of dominance and submission, pleasure or pain, but as a means of emotional and spiritual self discovery.

I asked him for a preview of the classes he will be offering at this week’s Beat Me in St. Louis and here’s what he had to say:

Michael Sol: There are two cutting classes, “Edgeart: Creation in Flesh and Blood: Parts 1 & 2.” Part one is an overview of artistic cutting as a body art.  Part two covers how to maintain sterility in the area that you are working, with the tools you are using and with the person you are creating your art on. We talk about safe practices and I spend a lot of time talking about self cutters; the fact that you have to be aware of people who cut themselves and not reject them. How to deal with it in a healthy way and not a negative way. I go into the modern primitive movement, Fakir Musafar and the fact that for me this is both an art and a spiritual practice.

I’m teaching a class called “Destination Control,” that is more of a martial aspect of rope bondage. We’ll cover things like basic interrogation techniques. Some of these practices will seem kind of silly. I might use rope to tie someone into a piece of furniture. I can take someone in a simple chest harness and immobilize them using three points. These are all control techniques and they show the incredible versatility of rope. Rope is simple; it’s the layers that create intricacy. And those layers, as you add them or peel them away, you find different levels of yourself and your partner.

Another class is called “Yes Suh, I Love the Rope, Layering Shame, Use and Humiliation into your Bondage.” We talk about why a person would want to explore these aspects of self. When people go through these processes of looking at the emotions that they’re feeling, they have to face things about themselves and other people. When they go through these things, at the other end of the process… there’s victory, because you’ve endured. You’ve learned.

The artist at work. Photos courtesy of Michael Sol.

In “Tied Torture via Japan and Other Places: from Tokugawa to Hit ‘em with Sticks” I start with the martial practices of the Tokugawa period and I actually show people what they are and then I take you forward in time to Abu Ghraib prison and I talk about how we reclaim those things in order to do these other practices. And then I take you to the point where you can use these things as an ordeal path.

People think that an ordeal path where you are using hooks or using rope is nuts, but they won’t hesitate to run a triathlon, but it’s the same kind of physical taxing of yourself. The same thing occurs, you get something akin to a runner’s high and you hit the wall and you receive victory by going through it. The fact that you completed the ordeal is victory. Then I show how these forms progress and become an erotic art.