This interview was originally published on Deepinox
Class 1969, Ayzad is a pioneer in the Italian BDSM scene. Newbies and experts alike stumbled at least once in his first work, BDSM – A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism, originally published in 2004 and the first in a series of publications printed and otherwise that made Ayzad a true reference in the vast sea of alternative sexuality.
Good evening Ayzad! Let’s open on a talk-show-like question: did Ayzad find BDSM, or was BDSM to find Ayzad? When and how the first encounter with extreme eroticism happened?
Hi! Ayzad was born around 1998 as an online handle. Before that you had an average guy, who like anyone had been curious since childhood about “forbidden” and “grownup” stuff – only, I had been a kid right in the middle of a huge cultural and artistic revolution, that often used sadomasochistic imagery as a metaphor for class struggle… and something from the pages of Linus, the punk/new wave style and from certain television programs unthinkable nowadays must have grown inside. Or maybe it happened even earlier, with the Penelope Pitstop cartoons whose protagonist always ended up tied to diabolical devices!
The true encounter however happened at 18 in Den Haag, at the Doma club, that in those days was the one BDSM club in Europe opening its doors even to non-members just for one night every two months. It was nothing much by today’s standards, but there I found very serene people who had fun with no morbidity whatsoever, and I understood I had found my tribe.
What does it mean to be recognized as an educator in the field of BDSM? What are, in your opinion, the elements that over time build credibility and authority?
Let’s start from the end, listing what I believe to be the three founding elements.
Above all there is consistency: eroticism is built on passion, and you often see people bubbling with hormones who go out convinced they want to make a worldwide revolution… yet they soon after disappear, because they satisfied their personal sexual needs, or they discovered this is a field where you have to work very long and hard, facing lots of hurdles just to earn a pittance.
Then there are the interests. Educators typically only focus on what they like themselves, ignoring the rest and thus becoming invisible to anyone with even a slightly different curiosity. Nurturing a sincere interest even for kinks wildly far from your own allows you to reach a much wider audience.
Finally, we have the method. When we talk about unusual sex, providing factual information is paramount, because there is a definite risk of spreading imprecise but more importantly dangerous notions for those who might want to put them into practice. This involves lots of research, fact-checking, and a scientific openness to always reconsider your own work on the basis of new concrete data.
If you have all of the above, you just have to apply it constantly and long enough, and there you are. That’s when you escape the pointless game of counting followers, and you are invited to take part in rather serious initiatives. The true question, however, is whether it is worth it. After decades of a mostly uphill march I’d say it is not, unless like me you give more importance to the collective wellness than to your own interests.
In the second half of the Zeros themed material began spreading online. How did you get informed in the pre-digital era?
Actually, the online diffusion had begun much earlier, when the Web was yet to be and uber-geeks kept in touch through BBSs. Before twothousandandsomething, though, the BDSM ethics culture was just a fixation of a few California freaks while the rest of the world fed on porn novels and stag magazines – that, by the way, were extremely expensive and could only be found in a bunch of newsstands, offering a confused and often pathological fiction. You only had a couple of serious books on the topic, written in foreign languages and rather approximative to boot. I wrote my first book precisely to collect all the reliable information I had met on my path, to help similarly interested fellows not to believe the bunk suggested by publications and videotapes (200 euros for 45 minutes, thanks) of awful quality.
What do you think of the glamorized portrayal of BDSM in fashion, movies, TV series and music videos? Does it tend to distort reality, or can it have a practical side in spreading our culture?
The answer is ‘yes’. The nature itself of fiction is to offer an unrealistic interpretation of its subjects – but this isn’t necessarily bad. Thanks to the advertising campaign that launched it, even that horror that is Fifty Shades, with all its gigantic faults, can be praised for making BDSM enter the social discourse, meaning the accepted conversation topics in any context. Countless people found a name for their “unspeakable” impulses recognizing them in that imagery, and many of them then chose to study them seriously through more realistic resources. This is what has always happened with any big media event on the subject, from Story of O to Secretary, to many songs, and so on.
After all, it is the same phenomenon by which when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out Archeology majors peaked. The route may have been odd, but the result is what is important: just make sure not to mistake fantasy for reality.
What is your opinion on the constant growth of the kinky lexicon of roles and dynamics? Can this confound people somehow? How important is to self-define or to be defined?
Oh, what a serious question! I once began writing an article about this: I tossed it off when I reached page twenty. My brief answer, though, is that labels can be useful to frame a type of practice, behavior or role – but only identifying through one label is terrible, also because it limits your opportunity to grow, and it fosters discriminations. This without even considering that identity also partially depends on the specific context. If it was up to me, the ideal answer when you are asked «who are you?» would always be «let’s find out together!»
In a tumultuous time for civil, social and sexual rights do you thing that sooner or later BDSM too could find a little recognition in the legal space?
Juridically, you mean? It already has one, and studying a few verdicts you find that the institutions’ approach is much more open and reasonable than what we tend to imagine. In a pinch, the legal point of view is practically identical to the principles promoted by the best BDSM culture.
How much the lockdown situation influenced the rediscovery of intimacy between partners and with oneself? Could being detached by the scene have had positive consequences?
I like to believe that the social distancing caused by the pandemic was a good opportunity to examine and become friends with our sexualities. I couldn’t say how many people actually experienced it like that yet, though, also because many of them found themselves entirely isolated, or sequestered in conflictual relationships, and as a coach in this phase I am mostly helping them solve the problems derived from that sort of situations.
Before leaving, would you like to tell us what are you working on now? Are there any future projects you want to talk about?
Gosh, there would be so many things to say… but I prefer not to, because experience taught me that even the best projects can stumble over countless unexpected glitches, and I wouldn’t want to come off as delusional. Let’s just say I am always working on several initiatives, big and small, and no matter the hurdles they keep marching on, little by little. If you want to follow me on ayzad.com, I promise it will be the first place where I am going to announce every news.