for the group Rope Dreams
I have known Jerome from Captive Culture since the early 2000s when we met in a chatroom connected to the old Tied Girls website. He and I go back a long time so it was a really nice trip down memory lane to read his interview because I knew some of the people mentioned in it personally and I fondly remember his many models from Captive Culture. As he points out in the interview, my favorite of his models was Diva (and he even arranged back then to send me an autographed picture of her, which I still have). Jerome’s interview is longer than most of the ones I post but I really hope you will read it because not only will you get a sense of history from it as he talks about the early years of the internet bondage modeling industry, but you will see a man who loved what he did and whose creative work and, indeed, this interview, is so filled with passion and emotions. Jerome’s raw honesty really stands out in this interview.
How and when did you first become interested in bondage ?
Like a lot of people, I have been attracted by bondage situations since my childhood through some scenes from movies or TV shows. Later, when I was a teenager, I started to illegally buy some adult magazines and talk with people who loved BDSM. The last evolution of my taste for bondage came with the rise of internet. At this period, I discovered more pictures made by talented artists and started to appreciate the visual quality of a bondage or ropework, not only one situation or the bound girl.
When did you decide to enter the industry as a bondage rigger / photographer / producer ? What led you to decide to create your website, Captive Culture ?
Everything started by accident. I mean, I didn’t have a plan to become a producer. I was a manager in the DTP industry publishing official documents for companies or the government and I needed to relax during the weekend. I was running a free website showing the pictures posted on newsgroups for a while. I used to edit those images and credit the artist, but I was already dreaming of doing my own photography. Then, in the year 2000, I bought one digital camera and some light units, and decided to try. I have always loved to take pictures, but I was a beginner without any knowledge and connections. Because my website was drawing a lot of traffic, I was able to meet the boss of the main french BDSM magazine and events organizer. I thought they had models but, no, they were just buying their pics and vids from some amateurs. But they found one girl during a fetish party who I met few days later around a drink. I did my first shoot with her, but it didn’t really help me. But was lucky enough to know a woman working in their shop who kindly helped me to meet Greta. She became my first muse, and the sessions we made together allowed me to launch Captive Culture. After this, it became easier to find models who would then recommend their own friends. That’s how the adventure started. Through the years, I enhanced the quality of my work and became a pro working on my productions as my full-time job.
Describe your very first bondage shoot and then describe how you saw your style / technique evolve over the course of your career since that first shoot.
In the beginning, I was mixing fetish photography with some bondage situations, mainly because I had no experience with ropes. At this period, there were no tutorials available or events to meet some riggers, even less so in France which had a very small scene. I got the chance to meet one couple that was locally famous and they introduced me to the best BDSM club in Paris. It was really cool, but there was no one really skilled with ropes. I had to learn everything alone, testing and working during my shoots. No need to say it, but my first bondage was minimalistic and visually bad. It was hard to find ropes in France and I had to train myself with large and soft ropes which were looking bad on my models. I soon bought some nylon ropes sold in the US, and was able to bind properly, but the result was still far away from my expectation. It took me two years before I was comfortable with ropes and found my own style. I was totally into glamour bondage using nylon ropes, but the real change and evolution started in the year 2005 when I discovered the jute rope. Slowly, I moved to the Japanese bondage style and explored my taste for creative ropeworks.
Generally speaking, how did you find the models who worked with you over the years ?
Let’s talk about the context. We are in the beginning of the century and bondage isn’t one mainstream activity. I loved this underground side … we were passionate people doing our own stuff to show it to others guys who shared the same taste for BDSM. I also need to speak about the situation in France. There were no membership websites dedicated to fetish photography. We were only a few photographers shooting these kinds of images without making any business. It meant no professional models, only some girls working to please their needs or, sometimes to pay their bills. Of course, there was a porn industry, but I didn’t want to connect with people who were too different from my philosophy. I have never been interested by porn movies and always preferred the eroticism of a sensual scene or simply the idea behind any kinky situation lived by any woman discovering it. I thought one girl who exposed her intimacy couldn’t give me what I was searching for my photography. I was looking for someone fresh or neutral. So, I focused my search for models on those girls who modeled for lingerie or artistic nudes. I was also interested in girls who had the desire to be in front of a camera and never did it before. In any case, those ladies didn’t know bondage and fetish and it was my pleasure to introduce them into this universe. Most of them had never been bound before and, as in a real BDSM relationship, there was always something new to discover or another limit to break through at the sessions. As explained previously, I have been lucky to meet some models who recommended others girls they knew. I searched for some others on amateur models website and, often, they already knew the girls I worked with. Later, my work became known enough that I would be contacted locally or worldwide by models who wanted to be shot or tied by me.
Can you claim credit for “discovering” any models who went onto a successful career of her own in the industry ?
I think it would be too much to claim it. Most of the industry was located in the US when I started my own productions. Europe was rarely visited by pro models in this period. They did it later when the influence of porn became stronger on the bondage industry and they wanted to work without exposing themselves too much. But, in the beginning, France was disconnected from the others scenes, unfortunately. Then in 2004, I got the chance to come to the BondCon event in Las Vegas. I was one of the sponsors and there were only few people coming from Europe. That same year, I went to the Rubber Ball in London and that gave me a lot of good memories. I probably helped to spread something new in Europe. Some artists were now running websites and shooting productions which deserved to be watched. I think a lot of people discovered the freshness of french girls from watching and spreading my pics and videos, and some of my models got well known around the industry even if they never had a successful career because of their location. I guess some of your readers will remember Mina, who mainly modeled for me and some others like Anais or Dana. I worked with a lot of girls, but my goal was to shoot them multiple times. I shot some of those women for 2 or 3 years and their own evolution in front of the camera added something human to my productions. And, to be complete on this question, I could mention that one girl who you, Rob, like a lot — Diva — went onto a valuable career as a burlesque artist which was already her dream when she started modeling and shooting for my websites. I always thought she had the potential to become a worldwide bondage and fetish model, but she was focused on her way to the strip-tease. When you are 18 years old, it’s difficult to understand that you need to work and be patient before reaching the next level. She was influenced by Dita von Teese, but she forgot how the adventure of Dita really started. One of my models also preferred to start a career as porn actress, but that’s another story. In conclusion, I also shot some girls who wanted to be on Captive Culture and grab some popularity. Hopefully, I also got the chance to meet several nice girls who just wanted to explore their fantasies or learn how to model. I always loved to share my experience and help these women to feel comfortable in front of the camera. A photographer’s life is made of cycles … you meet a girl, she learns how to model, we build a strange link and explore our minds, and one day she decides to leave because her dream became a reality and she needs to explore another way or simply stop modeling.
Were there any riggers / producers who influenced you over the years … both before and after you became part of the industry ? If so, who are they and how did they influence you ?
I watched many pictures before I started to do my own productions and I loved it because the situation or aesthetic caught my eyes. It’s impossible to mention all the photographers who influenced me, but I will give you some names and their work are special to my eyes. The first one is Cory Thompson aka Mr T. After all these years, I still remember the pleasure I had to discover his weekly update on Shortfuse. I am sick to think that so many people still like his work nowadays without knowing the artist behind those pictures. That’s sad when you realize even the names of our favorite models are even forgotten. I know it’s been a long time that the world doesn’t have any real taste for the history of our scene and the people who made it real for the ones who followed our way. Anyway, of course, the second name is Jim-Weathers aka The Weatherman, who is still one of my favorite producers nowadays with Bondage Cafe. I liked the work of Jim and Cory together so much. I loved everything about those pics and videos. They gave me the desire to make my own productions. When I started my website, I never imagined that I could do something good enough, but I had in mind the amazing work of Cory and Jim during my early years as photographer. Because I was working alone and running out of time, I stopped to watch pictures from others producers and their influence on me slowly decreased. That’s how I found my own way after several years working on Captive Culture. I could also name PD because there was something unique for a BDSM lover like me on his website Insex. That’s really different and older in my memories, but I would like to conclude with Craig Morey who did some amazing B&W pictures too.
With regard to your sessions over the years, how did you decide what outfits or positions would be used for one of your shoots ?
When I started, the choice was limited. I was using the outfits bought recently or some clothes brought by my model. For the position, I was often trying something new because I wanted to enhance my rope skills. Later, things became different. As a producer, you have to deal with your limits: model, time, money, energy. Clothes were expensive then so I would sometimes dress a new model with an outfit previously used. Then, the new clothes were for the models who were working regularly for me. You also have to follow and respect your model. Everything depends on how she looks in the outfit and what she wants to show or not. You need to analyze her state of mind and level of energy too. If your model doesn’t look relaxed or if the session is too long, you need to adapt the situation and make some choices. For example, you wanted to use the ball-gag, but your partner is exhausted. It’s better to forget your idea, even the photo series is shorter than expected. You also work differently with a girl who has never been bound before and it’s easier to bind a model you know perfectly. Time is the enemy for both sides. The photographer and rigger needs to be fast and productive; your model requires safety and energy. That’s why you have to balance your choices and think about those parameters. Experience also helps … avoid mixing latex outfits with natural ropes except if you want to get a fluffy catsuit ! As a photographer, you would like to be free, but you need to think differently if you have to manage your planning and several productions. In my case, after several years, I was used to organizing my shooting day in 3 different parts: one photo series for my latex website to begin and another set focused on bondage after a break. When the team began to be tired, we finished finish the session filming a video. Spanking was my favorite while the girls preferred to end the day in the bath.
What shoot and / or image are you most proud of having created when you ran your website ?
When Rachel Paine went to Paris to work for Captive Culture on 2005, she joked and gave me me the nickname “Mister Picky” and that’s true. I am hard to please and I am rarely satisfied about my work. My eyes or mind are always caught by some details which could have been better, or the bad side of things. That’s my nature and weakness; I hate this part of my personality. It’s a never-ending source of frustration to be slowly killing myself and that’s also annoying for my partners. But here is the answer to your question. I am proud of the work provided because it’s not so bad for someone who started from scratch and managed everything alone. I love some photo series for their visual results or my mood shooting it. I will share some pictures with this interview and they will be some of my favorites. I was also happy to see how some girls trusted me and shared more than expected. I did many pictures and video, some of those sessions are among the best memories of my life.
What was the general attitude of french society toward bondage, kink and fetish when you were actively producing content ? Has that attitude changed since you retired from the industry ?
As I said previously, bondage was underground when I started. When I was actively producing and shooting every week in my house near Paris, it was still the same. If people were interested by some fetish outfits, anything related to bondage and domination wasn’t popular. I remember my speech for the models: they had a bad opinion about BDSM but the philosophy depicted though my pictures helped me. I always tried to share a positive attitude in my productions; even if the situation could impress the girl, she was able to see my model wasn’t a thing, but one woman exploring her own fantasies. One smile or attitude, the way you capture the situation. Some details make the difference. But I also noticed one evolution among my models. In the beginning, in year 2000, most of my models, except one, were not attracted by the fetish universe. They were mainly born before 1980 and didn’t grow up with the influence of some video clips. Five years later, I started to meet some young models who were attracted by the fetish universe because they loved some artists, like Marilyn Manson, or simply because some movies, like The Matrix, made their opinion evolve about the use of some clothes. After 50 Shades, I didn’t have to explain the concept of bondage anymore and that also got some girls attracted to the beauty of bondage. I would say the attitude changed nicely, but things are probably different nowadays. I have a feeling it would be difficult to shoot like we did. It was another period. We didn’t know the social networks would expose anyone becoming the center point of internet. I am not in the industry anymore, but some friends reported to me about some problems which didn’t exist when I was shooting. That’s difficult to explain but, sometimes, I feel myself to be like a dinosaur and I am not sure I understand the changes of our society.
During the time you were a producer, what was your favorite gag, type of restraint, wardrobe and bondage position for the models you worked with ?
Oh, that’s easy to answer this time. I love the ball-gag harness, the panel one, made of leather. I used it only few times because it doesn’t look nice on every girl. It also took me several years to find a good one! Yeah, France isn’t the best place for bondage lovers. I had to buy my stuff in the US before I had contacts in Europe and had them build the items I needed. You know my work. I love strict bondage using natural ropes. I like total restraint without any escape. I am also known to bind from toes to fingers. My partner has to feel that my ropes are able to catch or bite any part of her body. In the beginning, my models were dressed, but, after several years of bondage, I was into nudity. Partial or full. It’s easier for the rigger and more intense for the girl. As you can read on the biography page of my blog, I like to capture the beauty of a woman exploring her fantasies … shiny latex, tight corsets, nylon stockings and high heels for fetish photography, or simply naked for Japanese bondage. I don’t have any preference for the position. I prefer to follow my mood and follow the energy of my partner. I would say the suspension is one of my favorites because that’s always a challenge for the rigger and the partner.
Why did you retire from the industry ? Do you miss being in the business ?
Who said I am retired ? No, I’m joking, but not totally. Maybe I will come back. I doubt about it, but who knows ? Okay, here is the bad part of the story. In my head, I had to stop two times. First, I had to close my company in the beginning of year 2016. You can guess the reason. Like a lot of independent producers, the income generated by my websites became less important than my expenses. I tried to keep it alive by cutting every cost, but there is always something to pay, including taxes, which are high in France. I stopped before generating some debts. After this, I started to have some health issues. Because I knew it would be serious, I had to close my websites. In France, your medical expenses are covered even if you don’t work anymore, but it means no commercial activity. I didn’t have the time to find a way to keep my websites online. We were investigating my health and I knew some surgery would be needed. I wasn’t able to pay any bill from the hospital because I stopped to pay myself for several years. Then I made the choice to protect my wife from a potential debt. That’s why I closed my websites … to avoid any problem with the French administration and preserve my rights. I wanted to focus my mind on my health issues and I was right to do it. In January 2017, we got the answer. It was a cancer and I had to fight against it. Heavy surgery and lot of post-op issues. One month at the hospital and so many problems. My life became so complicated since that period, even more because my mother died the next year in 2018 and I had a hard feeling about the way I had to assist her when she was at the hospital for several months. It destroyed something inside me.
Of course, I miss the good old times of shooting and posting my sessions on the internet, but I don’t regret the business part. When I started Captive Culture, I was working as a manager and left my job to give a chance to this project. I got the chance to build it and live all those memories, but the business matters were too important. I will not complain about it. That’s the kind of thing that you can hear from the YouTubers nowadays. I would only say one thing … money is needed to produce new content. But this money is also a problem between any model and the photographer. I know that a lot of my models were not motivated by this side, but I also know some of them were sometimes feeling trapped like I was, stuck with the need to pay the bills for my company. I don’t like to imagine they could regret some sessions they did because it was the job. I don’t know if you see what I mean but, the human side has always been important for me. I wasn’t into a business madness. My philosophy wasn’t focused on values like this and my goal was to live my passion and please the model with my photography. I always tried to get a smile after every session. Most of my models enjoyed and were proud about being a captive girl. But I know the money question sometimes altered their freedom. That’s the reason why I stopped paying my models during the last years when it became complicated to generate enough membership sales. That side effect solved the problem. I stopped being a producer and started being a photographer. I did fewer sessions but we was free to do what the model wanted or requested. I miss that special link, the atmosphere of our sessions and all the funny moments we lived together through the years. I’ve always explained that Captive Culture was a human adventure. It was real, for me, my models and our viewers.
What were your most embarrassing, memorable and / or funniest bondage related moments over the course of your career in the industry ?
That’s difficult to choose. We had a lot of fun when Rachel Paine and Michael Viking went to Paris to shoot with Dana and me. We were with our friend Alain and those days had been intense and memorable. It was the beautiful mix of American and French bondage together. I really enjoyed it ! I could also mention some duo sessions which have been shot with Mina and Anais; both girls were lovely. I remember the first one. I know that was special for my muse who kissed a girl for the first time. We talked about it a lot and I feel lucky for being the one who organized and captured this unique moment. I don’t see any embarrassing session to mention but I can talk about one interesting situation which is pretty unusual. In the year 2005, one lady asked me to shoot her daughter and I was happy to do it. Her mother was working for a famous fetish magazine and we were in contact for several years. We booked the session and planned a trip to Paris. Alex was a 20 years old girl who shot several photo series. We did good shoots and the atmosphere was delightful. It was nice to see the harmony and complicity between Alex and her mother. But, of course, after the latex photography, I proposed to end that day with some rope bondage and it happened. We went into my bedroom and I bound the daughter while her mother was watching us from the kitchen. Yes, I know. That’s priceless ! After the shoot, we all went to a restaurant for Alex’s birthday with Dana and Alain, who helped me many times with shoots in the past.
Was there a dream shoot you never got to do before retiring from the business ? If so, what was it and why did it never happen ?
As every photographer, you always dream about a great place to shoot. I would have been happy and proud to do it with my favorite models : Mina, Anais or Dana. Every one of them deserved to be shot in a beautiful location, with a great view, like a building or even outdoors. I loved some productions made by Gwen Media when Bob Zak was still among us and I remember the pony girl training on a beach. That’s something which would have been amazing to do. And I know Anais would have loved it so much! I never got this kind of opportunity here in France. I spent too much time behind my computers working on my pictures and websites. Maybe things would have been different if I took the time to travel and socialize with others producers around the world. Life is too short and there is no way back ! We all need a time machine !
What else do you want people to know about you and your work in the industry ?
Nothing more. I think my answers have been too long for most of your readers. If someone reads this last sentence, you can always find the best of my archives at ilovefrenchgirls.com which is the blog where I post my pics and videos for free now. Thanks for the interview, Rob. It’s been a long time that we have been in touch and I have been happy to exchange with you like old friends talking around a drink !