Press

Monster Radio RX 93.1 Heard on Thursdays: Burlesque Artist JOYEN

Female Fetish Federation: Joyen is the Triple Threat You’d Let Create You into a Piece of Art

Mantle Magazine: Vignettes from the Life of a Dominatrix

Her Style Asia: The Art of Tying Up

Mantle Magazine: Tease, Don’t Tell

Kink Karnival 2017 Highlights

Purveyr: A discussion of subversive fame and sex-positive space in the Philippines with Joyen Santos

Hella Pinay: [9 Muses] Joyen Santos, Diwata of Darkness

The FilAm: Inside Dominatrix Joyen Santos’ World of Ropes, Latex, Leather, and Tease

Elephant BDSM Ball June 2017 at XX:XX Nightclub

Rogue Magazine Philippines: From the Fringes to the Center

Monster RX 93.1 Heard on Thursdays LIVE

The Neighborhood PH: Freedom in Restraint – Inside the Local BDSM Scene

One Night Stand: Burlesque PH x BTW

Tronche de Vie Episode 10: Bondage, BDSM, and Shibari Culture in the Philippines with Joyen Santos

RBL.ION.MNL + ASEAN Startup Awards

Coconuts Manila: Joyen Santos, Manila’s Queen of Rope, Ties People Up for a Living

FHM Philippines: Anatomy of a Burlesque-Bondage Babe

Hello Krisan: Rope Bondage Workshop – Beautiful and Bound

Kink Karnival 2016 Highlights

Supreme on Assignment: Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Duty, Devotion, and Service Episode 4

SyleBible.PH: Kermit Tesoro is All Tied Up with Roping

Gist.PH: Sounds from the Gray Ground

The Philippine Star Supreme: Burlesque Queens by Cate de Leon

The Philippine Star Lifestyle Feature: All Tied Up by RJ Ledesma

Preview Magazine: Artist Joyen Santos intertwines taboo, art, and feminism by Kara Ortiga

Spot.PH: From BDSM Starter Kits to Friday Freakshows: Where to Go for Your Kinky Needs in Manila

The Philippine Star SUPREME: Discovering the Art of Rope Bondage

Gist.PH Art Event Feature: INSECTS at The Crucible Gallery by Chonx Tibajia

Gist.PH Lifestyle Feature: 5 Cool Girls to Follow – NOW!

GMA News Fashion and Beauty Feature: Bondage-inspired Fashion

Gist.ph Band Feature: Into the Black: the Black Vomits by Luis Medina

GMA News Lifestyle Feature: No “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Intimate Manila January 2015 Muse Feature: Naughty and Nice with the Queen of Rope

Intimate Manila January 2015 Muse Feature: All Tied Up with the Queen of Rope

Men’s Health Philippines October 2014 Sex Feature: Lessons from the Dungeon

When in Manila Lifestyle Feature: BDSM, the Bedroom, and Beyond

Ystyle, The Philippine Star: In Defense of the Dark Arts

Playboy Philippines Playmate of the Month for September 2013: The Music Issue

The Philippine Star, Arts and Culture: Rope Art Studies I: Light and Lust

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Joyen?

The public face of the alternative lifestyle in Manila, a celebrated performer, artist and event producer, Joyen is a professional rope bondage Dominatrix and is also the country’s first homegrown international burlesque stripper – Manila’s bad girl of burlesque, the wicked bitch of the East. In only a few years’ time, Joyen has established her name as a mainstay and the benchmark of creative achievement for alternative lifestyles and entertainment in the Philippines.

Co-founding both Kink PH and Burlesque PH, this black unicorn has also performed at and produced revolutionary events such as Manila’s annual BDSM-themed convention and the biggest kink event in the Philippines – the Kink Karnival, the critically-acclaimed “Ang Pagdidiwata ni Maria Clara” – a collaboration with Hataw, a Toronto-based contemporary folk dance troupe, and the first-ever rope bondage show to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines – INFERNA, as part of the multi-arts celebration, Fringe Manila Festival.

Joyen also broke new ground in May 2017 at the 5th Annual Asian Burlesque Extravaganza at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, being both the first homegrown performer from the Philippines and first artist who performed a rope bondage suspension and burlesque fusion act. Together with Beast House Pole & Aerial Dance Studio CEO, Jamaica Jornacion, she created Aerial Bondage – the discipline that combines aerial circus concepts with Japanese rope bondage

A consummate professional and a world-class entertainer, Joyen continues to develop her artistic abilities and forge meaningful connections with related artists in Asia and beyond, in her unending quest to produce and perform acts that grip the soul.

Website | Email

Patreon  | Instagram | Fetlife | Twitter

What is it like to be a woman who has become an icon of the alternative lifestyle in a conservative country like the Philippines?

Honestly, I do not feel any different from any other woman in the Philippines. People still stop and stare and assume or ask leading questions no matter what type of woman you are here. Everyone has an idea of what a woman should be and how she should act — everyone but the woman herself, most of the time. I am just one of the many who go through the same judgment every day.

Personal experiences and information available to me also led me to discover certain similarities with the LGBTQ+ community. I am usually presumed to be a gay man, drag queen, or transsexual when I am not on stage, due to maybe my deep voice and peculiar aesthetic. I sense curiosity, fear, disgust, and even hate, yes mostly negative things, towards something they do not understand – me. This all happens in mundane daily tasks like a Grab ride or going to a grocery store.

What are some of the challenges and misconceptions about your work?

My main challenge in performing alternative entertainment acts is sourcing out consistently reliable partners in traditional and conservative Manila. Although individuals support the cause and the mindset behind my work, they are still not 100% comfortable with the implications of being involved with me. I used to be jealous of the mindset of people coming from developed countries – they could easily appreciate the performance as a performance and separate any notion of the sexual act from my sensual brand of performance. Some would say they would support and then suddenly change their mind, while the ones you thought would be perfect advocates would outright ignore, disappear, or even attempt to destroy everything we have worked hard for. This used to isolate and hurt me and make me think about giving up, but my stubbornness got the better of me. I trudged on and performed my art despite all of the obstacles.

I am happy to say now that the Philippines is very quickly adapting to the global mindset of being sex-positive, and am happy to have acquired strong partnerships with like-minded groups and individuals –  entities which help me spread the good word about kink, and support me 200%.

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an acronym for Bondage Discipline, Domination/submission, Sadism and Masochism. The BDSM theater is a broad spectrum of mindsets and lifestyles pertaining “childhood joyous play with adult privilege and cool toys” (Midori, 2018). It is a pretty expansive definition, simply because BDSM can be anything; anything can be kinky.

We have two main guidelines, however, that help us in differentiating what is kinky from what is not. Number one is it has to be Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC). Safe means to prevent the risks and danger present in a BDSM scenario. Sane means it is within the mental bounds of the people involved in such act. Consensual means all parties involved knowingly, intentionally, and freely subject themselves to the act/s in the specific BDSM scenario. The second main guideline is that it is Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK). RACK integrates both the Safe and Sane factors in SSC in the phrase “Risk-Aware”. The main difference in the two guidelines is that RACK acknowledges that no kink activity can be entirely safe; thus, it applies to more extreme forms of BDSM such as suspension bondage and edgeplay. While the SSC mindset tries to eliminate the risks, the RACK mindset states that risks and danger will always be present and the actors in a BDSM scene must do their best to manage these.

Anything outside of the definition of BDSM and these two guidelines is none other than abuse, simply put.

For more information on SSC and RACK, visit this website.

How did you get into BDSM?

By sheer accident actually. I have been in a creative partnership called The Uncoloured  since 2011, wherein I take photographs and my partner writes. It is a purely creative, experimental project where we list down literally everything we want to make art out of, while disobeying every rule in photography and literature.

Japanese rope bondage just happened to be one of the concepts we were both interested in pursuing. Being the bloodhound that I am, I dug deep into Manila’s underground and discovered the local kink community – where I was able to get my very first lessons on safety and communication in BDSM. I started investing in books and self-studying specifically rope bondage and applied these in my creative works. I only found out about the misconceptions and stereotypes later on as my art grew into a wider audience. As my playing field grew, so did the criticism and negativity, but also the support for being a figure of sex positivity.

Please compare/contrast doing this in a private versus a public space. Would you still call it a performance if it was done in private? What did the public/performative aspect of it bring out?

My specialty is performance-style BDSM and exhibitionism, so everything that I do is a performance. I perform the moment I step out of my room, whether it’s in a room full of people or in my own bedroom. However, this is different for every practitioner. Each person tries to define a level of being active in the scene: some are just curious and would like to quietly observe and may or may not want to try later, while some practice privately in the bedroom only, and there are some people like me who live the BDSM lifestyle 24/7. Every person in kink has their personal goals and reasons why they choose this level of activity.

The difference between BDSM onstage and BDSM offstage is the number of people involved and their goals for their involvement. BDSM onstage involves a number of people watching and not necessarily participating, while BDSM offstage tends to involve lesser people who may possibly take on a more active role. As a dominant, this means I just have to watch out for either a lot of people or a few.

Do you consider this performance an art?

Yes.

How does the experience differ when you’re the one doing the tying versus being the one tied up?

I could probably show you better than I could tell you *laughs*. On the surface, the two basic actors in the theater of BDSM are the top and the bottom / the leader and the follower, kind of like in partnered dances. Both have different but complementary skill sets and contribute equal input, but the roles of who leads and who follows are agreed upon at the start and set into play in the duration of the BDSM session. On a deeper level, the experiences of both parties are as unique as their reasons and goals are for their involvement. Some wish to control all of the decision-making, while some wish to relinquish this. Some have a flair for dominance, while some find power in submission.

A common misconception about BDSM is that the top is in charge of and decides everything while the bottom passively receives. Power is shared in a BDSM scene – it is freely given and respectfully taken through open communication in an attempt to satisfy all objectives.

Can you tell us more about rope bondage?  What are the hazards involved? How can we learn it?

Rope bondage originated in Japan as a martial art called hojojutsu. This was employed by the Japanese police to detain prisoners of war. A different kind of tie would be used to honor each prisoner’s status – a lord would be tied up differently from a peasant. Some of the biggest risks in bondage include nerve damage, loss of trust, and even death. Mistakes mostly originate from miscommunication between the rope top and rope bottom. Some are not aware of certain important things or choose to hide these things for different reasons, thus, committing some possibly irreversible mistakes. With Manila’s recent warm reception and interest in rope bondage though, some of my partners in the community now hold semi-regular basic workshops targeted to those with little to no experience in rope. We open classes based on demand – feel free to message me if you would like us to hold another one!

Is it painful?

It depends on one’s pain tolerance and the actual activities being done on this person.

Where do you see the future of BDSM in Manila headed?

It can only keep growing from here. In light of the recent BDSM-flavored film that we must not name, the awareness of BDSM has raised on a global level. Everybody is curious about it, us traditional and Catholic folk from Manila notwithstanding. Although that certain film may not be an accurate depiction of the BDSM lifestyle, at least it made sure that the world knows that we freaks exist. It all starts with curiosity, and then the proper people educate the curious. It has been and is going to continue to snowball! I am excited for the time when most Filipinos are educated enough and responsible with sex, and yes, other things.

Where should someone who is new to BDSM go to experience it?

First of all, I suggest creating an account on Fetlife.com – this is the main social media platform for kinky people all over the world. Next, I suggest listing down limits and expectations – what is it that you want to get out of a BDSM scene, and what are your non-negotiables? This can be pretty hard to define at first, but try browsing for local groups on Fetlife and see what interests you.

Go to munches in your area; these are regular meet-ups in neutral public settings (e.g. coffee shops) where newbies can meet people in the scene prior to any kinky activity. Ask questions and make friends who will educate you more about the BDSM lifestyle. No question is a stupid question, as long as this question comes from a sincere and respectful standpoint.

Do you offer private Professional Dominatrix sessions?

Yes. Please visit this page to study my session etiquette and submit your application form.

What is burlesque?

Here in the Philippines, burlesque flourished into the theatrical and empowering art of tease which tells the performer’s story usually in the span of one 3-5 minute song. This broad entertainment genre may include political, comedic, sex and gender – positive, movement-centric themes or the complete lack thereof – a parody. I particularly prefer the Australian Burlesque Festival’s definition of burlesque:

“Burlesque literally means to ‘mock’ or to parody and is an extremely ‘old’ form of variety entertainment popularised in the 1800s but can be found throughout history. Clubs and theatres often had raunchy ‘variety shows’ that were very popular from about the 1840s to the 1940s. Hollywood, in the Golden Era, even tried to recapture or recreate ‘burlesque’ in film that would include elements of vaudeville, comedy, dance and ‘tease’. During the 1940s to 1960s striptease performers such as Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, Jennie Lee, Dixie Evans, Lily St Cyr, Evelyn West and so many more embodied the essence of ‘striptease’.

“Neo burlesque or modern burlesque was popularised again in the early 90s in the USA and is still extremely popular worldwide. It generally involves ‘striptease’, which consists of the tasteful removal of garments to a final reveal, but can include elements of slapstick, vaudeville, circus, cabaret, boylesque, queer performance art and so much more. In most cases it does not involve full frontal nudity but is more about capturing the ‘Art of Tease’ in its true essence.  There are now Burlesque Festivals, Productions and Conferences all around the world celebrating ‘burlesque’ including Australia. It is an exciting time for performers and audiences!!

“Burlesque is for anyone who is looking for a great night of entertainment!!!”
Source: Australian Burlesque Festival. “About the Festival.” About the Festival | Australian Burlesque Festival, www.australianburlesquefest.com/about/.

What is Burlesque PH and what is your role in it?

I am honored to be the Co-Founder and Primary Performer, as well as the Director of Excellence of Burlesque PH — the Philippines’ premiere brand for burlesque performances, education, merchandise, and community. I am proud to say that we are the pioneer of burlesque in our humble country. In the small amount of time that Burlesque PH has been around, we have already been able to significantly increase awareness and appreciation of the art of tease in the Philippines. Our troupe of neo-vaudevillains never thought burlesque would become such a formidable machine, especially in traditional Manila.

Burlesque Philippines started making its way into the global scene upon the production of the critically-acclaimed “Ang Pagdidiwata ni Maria Clara” (English Title: The Goddess-Awakening of Maria Clara) in collaboration with Hataw, a Toronto-based contemporary folk dance troupe, at the prestigious Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Performing at the CCP is an important milestone for any artist who wants to gain respect for their craft in the Philippines. This revolutionary show took a novel approach to the axiomatic Maria Clara archetype, wherein she peels away layers of the conservative baro’t saya (Filipino traditional costume) to reveal a powerful, liberated Diwata (goddess) underneath.

Do you offer burlesque lessons for beginners?

Yes, I teach Beginner-Level Burlesque with Beast House Pole & Aerial Dance Studio.

How do you personally prepare for performances?

Physically, I train every day alternating ballet, aerial silks, pole, weapon-based martial arts, and toning and stretching.

Are BDSM and burlesque the same thing?

No, but they can overlap.

Do you assess the success of performances? What are your criteria?

Success has different specific criteria for specific activities, but generally, if every performer was able to tell their story to the best of their abilities to an understanding and appreciative audience, then I am generally happy.

Why do you perform?

I just simply want to perform. This is my truth that is beyond any reason and understanding.

What is it like to work with other women who trust you with their sexual fantasies and naked bodies?

I can’t really say that I feel any different from any other artist who creates using any art form. Some people choose to work with oil paint or ceramic, it just so happens that my art materials are naked women and sexual fantasies. I guess third parties romanticize the extreme nature of my chosen tools, but to the proponent of any art form, it is all just in a day’s work.

What do you think made you successful in this industry? How do you see this growing in the Philippines?

Sincerity, consistency, and a hell of a lot of research and practice. I would not exactly call myself successful yet, but those are the ingredients to get to wherever it is I am now. This is my full-time job and, like any other full-time job, those are the things we all need to have when pursuing success in any field. I sincerely love what I do and I compete with myself every time to come up with something as good or even better. This is all backed up with constantly reading up and reinventing what I do.

Do you see shows like this having artistic relevance beyond its aesthetics?

I think that artistic relevance beyond aesthetics is the main attraction here. I get remarks related to feminism and empowerment every time I do a performance. Some people in my audience approach me afterward saying that I unlocked something in them that they never thought was there, to begin with. On my end, I am purely on the side of aesthetics, but apparently, what I do means something else for every single person who views it.

Was it always your intention to bring your particular art form to more mainstream spaces?

I do what I want, but this has often brought about me opening doors for other people. I fell into the role that is to introduce the curious and remain available and accessible for the curious.

Are there any rules during BDSM events?

Here are my general rules for public BDSM events:

1.) All participants are required to present a valid ID with birthday as proof of legal age. All participants agree that they are of sound mental condition and reasoning, are legally authorized to participate and represent themselves in a public setting, and are consenting adults. All participants are aware that the event is adult-oriented, and depicts an artistic interpretation of sensual, sexual, erotic material, including (but not limited to) BDSM. All participants understand that they will have the opportunity to view or participate in activities that may shock, titillate and/or otherwise excite them, and that they are fully prepared to experience such emotions over the course of the event, and for what this entails. All participants assure the venue, organizers, performers, and crew of the event that they are mature and discerning people. All participants release and forever discharge and hold harmless the Event, the Event’s organizers, sponsors, and volunteers, and/or their successors and assigns, from any and all liability, claims and demands of whatever kind or nature, arising from their injury, disability, loss, damage or death which may result from their attendance/participation in the event.

2.) Anyone participating in BDSM activities while under the influence of prohibited substances will be reprimanded by the crew, ejected from the venue, and blacklisted from all events.

3.) FULL NUDITY IS NOT ALLOWED – all participants and guests must come in nipple pasties and thongs minimum. No exposure of nipples, anus, and organs is allowed.

4.) Photo and video documentation of the performances is NOT ALLOWED. Only official event photographers and videographers may document the performances. Participants and guests may be photographed or captured on video without the need for consent. By entering the event, participants and guests allow such photographs or videos to be distributed for any legitimate purpose without monetary compensation to them, and the participants and guests understand that they alone are responsible for preventing identification in said photographs or videos (e.g. wearing of masks).

5.) This is a performance and a show, not a play party. Anything overly aggressive or sexual will be stopped by the crew. NO SEXUAL ACTS OR ACTS INVOLVING PENETRATION, URINATION, AND DEFECATION ARE ALLOWED.

6.) Safety comes first. Please do not take any shortcuts or unnecessary risks. If unsure, ask the event crew and organizers.

7.) Only one load-bearing suspension point will be provided and only the event organizer is allowed to grant permission for its use.

8.) Strictly no sharp objects and firearms are allowed in the venue.

9.) All participants agree to abide by and follow all the House Rules. All participants agree that the event organizers reserve the right to eject them from the event for ANY reason, such as but not limited to: violation of any of the event policies, house rules or for behavior deemed disrespectful, disruptive and or/destructive, deemed ‘under the influence of’ or use of alcohol, recreational drugs or illegal substances, and failing to respond to safewords or failing to respect the limits of the behavior set by other individuals for themselves (including touching without permission). Compliance to requests of organizers is required for attendance. Attendance and/or participation is voluntary and all participants understand that they may leave the event at any time for any reason, such as when they disagree with the rules and/or how they are implemented.

10.) If you are unsure about any part of your performance, presentation, presence, feel free to contact [email protected] for any questions.

What are your thoughts on BDSM/kink, burlesque, and alternative lifestyles becoming more mainstream in general?

I think that awareness is a double-edged sword. The public events that I have been regularly holding are nothing compared to the global phenomena called 50 Shades of Grey and Burlesque. The novel and the films do a great job of informing everyone of the existence of the BDSM and burlesque scenes. However, there are a whole lot of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the work. Initial awareness about BDSM and burlesque is a great first step towards understanding the subject matter, but we have many further steps to take before at least getting close to comprehending the basics.

There’s a disclaimer in the description of your events. What is that for exactly? Are you expecting violent reactions?

I always have disclaimers stating that my events are of an erotic and adult nature and consent is freely and knowledgeably given upon purchasing a ticket. This is how I handle all my endeavors. I always make sure that I communicate with whoever I am engaging with, and he or she knows exactly what they are getting into. This is based on legal consultation on being able to showcase my art.

What do you hope people get out of the experience?

As with everything that I do, I hope that the average person would gain some level of appreciation for alternative art. It has always been my goal to show the raw and violent dimension of sexuality because I believe that this is nothing to be ashamed of. It may be difficult to digest for some, but this exists, and this could even be the best thing you’d ever realize in your life.

What do your parents think?

I’m openly practicing, which means everyone knows what I do, and this includes my parents. I’m bad at keeping secrets, so my parents were some of the first few people to know – they were also two of my first-ever producers. They get it. Well, they don’t completely understand it because you know how parents are, and of course, they were resistant at first, as traditional Filipino parents, but if they see that I’m not hurting anyone (nonconsensually, that is), and it makes me happy and I’m earning from it’s fine.

Where do you go from here? Any upcoming events?

It’s mostly training, travel, private lessons and sessions for me nowadays. Occasionally, I open classes to the public and make guest appearances here and there.  I also do some admin work for Beast House and Burlesque PH and organize a couple of BDSM events and The Champagne Club, and you can view updates for these on our social media.