Interview by Maurizio Donini
Good morning Ayzad, why do you define yourself as a reformed journalist?
I admit that’s in part a joke. By a much larger part it is true, though: before becoming a full-time kink educator, I dedicated way too many years to the job of convincing readers to buy questionably useful products, or to be afraid or furious with the enemy of the day. No offense, but today “journalism” is overwhelmingly like that, and I don’t miss it at all.
Alternative sexuality: how can it be defined, and what are the borders between “normal” and “alternative” sex?
Speaking about sex, normality is just a statistical term meaning ‘the most quantitatively common behavior’. Imagine a bell curve with a heterosexual couple doing it missionary-style at its cusp. From there, two slopes descend dotted by thousands of growingly less widespread practices, from gay sex to BDSM, fetishisms, furries and so on, toward truly bizarre territories like dendrophilia. Excluding illegal, nonconsensual and distressing forms of sex, there is no “wrong” sex but simply many equally dignified variants with more or fewer enthusiasts. I prefer studying more particular ones.
Do ‘Bunny’ and ‘Kinky’ sex identify within the above definitions?
I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean by ‘bunny’. On the other hand, ‘kinky’ is a term that covers every atypical practice, what sexology defines as ‘paraphilias’… so, sure: kinky sex is a subgroup of eroticism in general.
Why is it hard to talk and express ourselves about alternative sexuality? When you talk about it, other people look at you askew and yet data tell us that the word ‘sex’ and terms relating to kink are among the most searched for, just like videos featuring that. Is this a form of bourgeois hypocrisy?
Summing up a truly complex subject, the instinctive curiosity we all feel toward sex – not only in its unusual aspects – forces us to face what Jung called the Shadow: our inner self harboring primal, somewhat unsettling and inappropriate desires to be openly talked about. To explore, tame and integrate the Shadow however is a necessary process to grow as persons, albeit a demanding one. We often live the frustration of not managing to make our sexuality conform to an impossibly idealized model, founded on morals that disregard reality. If we only followed ethics instead of morals…
Shouldn’t sex between consenting adults be freely expressed, instead of being opposed in every way? For example, those social networks that are so ready to sell our data are similarly keen to censor every mention of the subject.
Social networks are commercial products that perform their job to perfection: the issue is not their policies, but being convinced that they are as important as offline, real life. Away from the displays, sexuality is way more free than it looks, and unfortunately also much more complicated due to the huge collective ignorance about it. In my small ways, I tried suggesting a solution with the Sexual Explorers Manifesto you can find on www.ayzad.com, collecting simple principles to build a happier and healthier society upon.
Sadomasochism, bondage and fetish: all parts of the same whole, or separate entities that can mix together or stand on their own?
Oh, here we must clear a few things up. Let’s start by saying that sadomasochism is the pathological form of erotic domination and submission instincts that are entirely natural and harmless, and today are better referred to as ‘BDSM’. That ‘B’ in the acronym is indeed for bondage, both in a physical and relational meaning, and it is a set of practices within BDSM as a whole. Finally, fetish is the aesthetics of the exasperation of fetishisms, which in turn are strong uncommon erotic preferences. I usually say that fetish is seduction taken to its extremes, and BDSM the extreme form of whatever happens after seduction. The answer to your question however remains the usual: unless something causes distress to ourselves or whoever surrounds us, everything is perfectly legitimate.
Can you explain to our readers what the BDSM culture actually is? I mean, it isn’t just about alternative sex, but a true culture that embraces several artistic fields.
At the end of the day, BDSM takes that primal instinct for sexual domination and submission we mentioned earlier and sifts it through a series of rules and practical know-how that remove the dangerous aspects. Tools like negotiation, safeword, the so-called ‘SSC’ (meaning ‘Sane, Safe and Consensual’) foster respect and empathy between the partners defusing potential pathological drifts. Told like this it sounds a bit boring, but the reality of it is pretty fun, as I explained in my books including BDSM – A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism.
My previous question was informed by my recent interview with the Grenadilla Lab guys: BDSM erotic art is just art, and I personally find it strange that people like Manara are justly revered while other artists working on the same topics in different forms like shows are seen as perverted. Is it maybe a bit of envy and your classic ‘I’d like to, but I won’t admit it’?
Do you really see so much blame, or is it just a show? I feel that Shadow I spoke about is always at work in these cases… and don’t get me talking about how often people judge their idea of certain topics, without even caring to check out what their reality is about.
Grenadilla Lab exhibited their art at Sadistique, of which you are a founder. I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to visit it yet, so can you tell me what is it about, the mission of the venue, what happens within its fascinating walls?
I believe the best answer to be to invite you to visit at least its official website sadistique.com, where everything is clearly explained and you can also find lots of pictures from previous events. In a nutshell, however, it is a party held monthly in Milan for 14 years now, where kinksters from all over Italy and Europe meet. Every edition has a suggested outfit theme, and besides offering safe spaces to play they offer a themed art exhibition and a workshop where you can learn about different aspects of this erotic subculture. Today it is considered one of the most important European kink events, and just like with everything I do its founding principle is simply to help people to live their alternative sexuality in a woker, happier way.
I only had the patience to read the first book of the 50 Shades trilogy, which I found full of drivel and very superficial. I think people talked about it much more than it deserved. And what about you? Is that story a true reflection of what the BDSM world and culture is? Has it been any good for BDSM by bringing it to the masses, or showed them a wrong vision?
Fifty Shades of Grey was, above all, an exceptional marketing coup centered on what its very author calls a common romance novel without any claim of teaching BDSM. Its huge success obviously means that the subject already intrigued its readership (there are over four million in Italy alone!), who suddenly felt allowed to admit they liked certain atmospheres. In this view, I feel it had an unmatched role in legitimizing unusual eroticism among the topics you can talk about among friends without undue embarrassment; pity that the books are truly awfully written, and especially that too many people regard them as actual manuals even if they present a misguided and pretty dangerous view of BDSM. If you want to have a laugh, my site offers a whole series of reviews and articles about the series.
Do you want to add anything?
The message I always try to get through is that, with every type of sexuality, each moment you spend studying is an investment that makes your quality of life hugely better. The trick is to use legitimate sources, not mistaking porn for reality, and to enjoy every step of an exploration that, if you want, can truly be endless.