I first heard the voice of Action Bastard (Michael Johnson) on an episode of The Ropecast, my favorite podcast dedicated to rope bondage. I had listened to dozens of great episodes hosted by Graydancer before, but this time around the guest’s unusual voice filled my head inside my earbuds. The man who called himself Action Bastard fired off quips at lightning speed, and he showed a passion for making rope and educating people that I hadn’t heard much before. He made ropes and had started his company Bastard Ropes.
I did something unusual that day. I reached out to Action Bastard and asked him if he would be interested in selling his rope through my web site for my book series How to Kill a Superhero. I gave him copies of my books, and two weeks later, after he read them, he contacted me. Not only did he say yes, but I learned he was so into superhero fetish. I felt like I had run into a long-lost brother. He came up with unusual color combinations and we even decided to call the models Super Villain Rope when I listed it in my web store.
Over time, our relationship developed. We mostly talked on the phone, but we did meet in person a few times. The last time I saw him alive, we drank tequila in a Lower-East-Side joint and talked about doing some rope demos together with me and some models in superhero gear while some twisted fucker (Bastard) tied us and walked the viewers on YouTube through an educational rope demo in Gowanus in Brooklyn. Sadly, that project never came to be, but in my imagination and in my heart, I can imagine just how much fun and creativity Action Bastard would have brought to the project.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to contact Michael, and when he didn’t reply to my calls and texts, I was puzzled. I learned through his Facebook page that he had taken his own life. I was, and am still mournful. Because that’s what I remember the most about this brilliant man. His personality overflowed with humor, wit and love. And not only was he a clever businessman, he was a generous human being. I am sorry for any personal troubles he may have experienced, and I send him all the compassion I can muster. All humans go through pain and suffering, and as I think about Mike, the Bastard, I know he made many of us happy with his love, his humor and his artistry in making rope.