Guest Blogger

Ask Me Whether I’m Happy After 30 Years in BDSM #Guest Post @Ayzad

Okay y'all, when I say (and I've said it many times) that this BDSM life is a journey and that we're always learning that's what I mean. When Ayzad reached out to me to introduce himself, I was blown away. Here's a man who has been involved in BDSM for 30 years, in a country (Italy) where it's not exactly welcome - making our American puritanical views on sex look downright hedonistic. 

He's here today to share his story with everyone - as a kinkster, as an author, and as a man who spent 30 years learning, seeking, and sharing his BDSM knowledge. His post is long, but it's worth the read. 

Welcome, Ayzad!

Ask me whether I am happy.

You are forgiven if you didn’t get the quote, as it comes from a not especially famous Italian movie. The only reason I know it myself is because I happen to have watched it – I’m Italian, after all. I chose my middle-Eastern sounding pen name on a whim many years ago, when it sounded sensuous, exotic and mysterious; then the Twin Towers attack happened, and now anyone who hears my name assumes I’m a terrorist. Go figure.

The weirdest thing however is that in a sense I am. One definition of ‘terrorism’ is: “changing the status quo by shocking unsuspecting people”, and that is in fact what I do with my work as a kink educator, although I don’t blow up things but just minds. Yet, as odd as it sounds, it took lots of time and serious effort to get there.

Now, if you only visited my country as a tourist you probably have a very charming mental picture of it, complete with all the usual stereotypes: the sun, the food, the songs, the arts… and sex, of course. You have read the news: Italy is that place where a lecherous Prime Minister was blackmailed by the occasionally underage girls he invited by the dozen to his nightly sex parties; the nation whose most watched “news analysis” program is known for its upskirt dance transitions; the country where porn star Cicciolina was actually elected into Parliament and her colleague Rocco Siffredi regularly appears in mainstream commercials.

The reality however is quite different. Culturally speaking, Italy has been the backyard of the Vatican for the best part of a millennium, and the strong influence of the Catholic Church  over every aspect of daily life makes the national relationship with sex schizoid to say the least. Granted, times are a-changing indeed: for example, a few weeks ago same sex couples were even allowed part of the same civil rights of heterosexual families! Crazy concepts like gay marriage are still a political taboo, but things are getting better than, say, 1969.

That’s when I was born. The USA had just put a man on the moon; we still had censored porn magazines, where genitals and nipples had stern black boxes painted over them. The Sexual Revolution – which people politely called Contestation, because of the S word – however had been going strong pretty much everywhere else in Europe, so some of its counter-cultural message slowly trickled in, especially among intellectuals and wannabe artsy types like my parents were.

This is why as a kid I grew up reading stuff like Linus, a magazine that published Peanuts along with the rather erotic stories by Crepax or Pichard, or watching shows like the psychedelic and soon-suspended Stryx, which introduced full frontal nudity to prime time television. Not to mention the Penelope Pitstop cartoons, which were so bondage-oriented that they are almost universally excluded from reruns today. Leaving the latter aside for a moment, while most authors used the sadomasochistic imagery as a metaphor of class struggle my definitely non-Marxist brain just liked the pictures with the bound and tortured pretty ladies.

When it later (but not that later) came to pass that I gained access to a very well-stocked newsstand storage room, the discovery of explicit kinky stuff like the Lady Cruel comics and Jo Farrel’s books just did it, and I embraced BDSM as my preferred form of sexuality. Almost.

I struggled in fact with two nontrivial problems. First of all, BDSM just didn’t exist back then: it was still called ‘sadomasochism’ just like the mental disorder, and treated pretty much as such. My good friend Fulvio Brumatti, who in the early Eighties was the editor in chief of the only sensible kinky magazines published in Italy, often recalls how he had to appear in court on a weekly basis as an expert witness to explain to judges and attorneys how erotic domination games weren’t the same thing as pathological sadism and masochism, therefore if the accused owned a flogger and a few bondage photos he wasn’t necessarily a dangerous maniac.

Secondly, except for a few enlightened liberals Italy was still as sexophobic as it gets. Sex was just not spoken of in public, much less discussed or taught. Catholic guilt meant that everyone was unhealthily obsessed by it and doing the worst things ever behind closed doors, but they would go to ridiculous lengths to deny they had any carnal instinct at all. Especially women. Especially if young. Which, as a kinky male teenager, put me in a rather unpleasant position.

I will spare you the sad and frequently pathetic details, but in a nutshell the above meant that for years I had desires just as intense as they were unsatisfied, and the few timid attempts I made at mentioning them to potential partners went nowhere. As a matter of fact, they permanently branded me as “the weird and creepy guy” whose “scary” reputation kept girls well away and swooning for the good guys – who occasionally turned out to be rapists, ignorant about contraception or safer sex, violent jocks and otherwise much more dangerous than me.

Anyway, this is why I ended up with lots of spare time, which I dedicated to reading a lot, learning languages and writing articles. And masturbating a lot, of course, but that’s not the point. The actual point is that as soon as I turned 18 I realized my biggest dream: visiting a real BDSM club.

There was only one I knew of, and it only opened its doors to non-members just once every three months. As if this wasn’t enough, it was over one thousand kilometers from where I lived: in The Hague. So I used my hard-earned savings to book a plane ticket to the Netherlands – no low-cost flights existed back then, mind you – and I set foot in the Club Doma.

Nowadays the place is nothing more than a kinky brothel, but back in the late 1980s it was at the forefront of BDSM culture in Europe. Owned by a genuine lifestyle couple, it was the place to go to meet other enthusiasts from all over the world, to attend technical workshops, watch live shows, rent a well-equipped dungeon room or to have paid sessions with professionals who actually knew what they were doing. The club also produced a popular series of videotapes and magazines that popularized real BDSM as opposed to the improbable mess pretty much everyone else passed off for “S/M” back then.

That one-night escapade burned a painful hole in my wallet, but I had managed to finally see with my own eyes what I had only dreamed of until then: an actual erotic domination “scene” composed of sensible, educated people who weren’t scary at all, but very nice and cheerful to boot. This may not sound like much in our era of instant access to infinite information, but it really felt like a revelation in a world where kink was still mostly conflated with grotesque violence, nazisploitation, mutilation and death.
With no Internet to help me I went back to Milano more motivated than ever to meet the slavegirl of my dreams by the only available channels: the dreadful personal ads published on shady magazines. This involved waiting weeks or months for an answer through the poste restante service – and the very few replies I got turned out to be disheartening to say the least. In this regard, the slew of fakes, wankers, pranksters and clueless idiots who plague today’s kinky dating sites hasn’t changed one bit from the menagerie I dealt with back then. Looking at the bright side of it, while waiting for true love or at least a passable play partner I could execute my master (ahem) plan.

Always the geek, this basically consisted in moving past the porn version of domination games and getting a solid education on whatever was actually involved in real BDSM play: the techniques, the psychology, the social skills and so on. At the same time I was determined to enter the budding Italian scene, which almost entirely revolved around the magazines I mentioned above.

In practical terms this translated into moonlighting as a kinky porn writer for the mags and as a scholar during the breaks from my day job as a respectable journalist. Again, with no Amazon around this meant tracking down the few early serious book on kink – such as Graham-Scott’s Erotic Power – and trying to get hold of them through customs and months-long overseas delivery times. Or learning enough German and French to understand what the even rarer European publications were about.

Let’s take a pause now. I am not especially proud of my obsession, but I’d like you to consider the crazy intense dedication I put into turning my erotic fantasies into reality. Being a young male living in a repressive country sure made things much harder than they were for other (or smarter) types of persons, but the point is how hopelessly passionate I was about it all.

So passionate, in fact, that whenever I managed to meet some Italian kinkster I discovered that we had almost nothing in common. They were on average 50 or more, grim, scared of themselves and shrouded in stale Sadean philosophy; ignorant of basic safety techniques or empathy for their play partners, but above all stuck in rigid personal rituals that left no space for curiosity or discovery. I could have been the new kid on the block, yet I couldn’t keep smiling when I heard their disapproving comments about “those Northerners with their rubber clothing” or how “you must never use a singletail whip, since it is too scary and dangerous”. Oh, if only they knew…

I had nothing to gloat about, however. Those people just couldn’t care less about my “exotic” knowledge of extreme eroticism, so at the end of the day I could only choose between playing in rather disappointing and scary ways, or not playing at all. I did enjoy vanilla sex all right and I tried to fight the discouragement with kink by pursuing a “regular” relationship, but after a few attempts I had to admit that they just weren’t fulfilling enough for me.

The frustration made life hard. So hard that I even had spells of actual self-hatred, and I grew increasingly desperate. Until the karmic scale suddenly rebalanced in my favor.

It happened during a summer vacation. My beach umbrella was next to that of a German lady who was bored out of her wits by the lack of conversation with my linguistically-challenged countrymen. When she found out that I could handle English enough we naturally started chatting, and we soon discovered we had much more in common than we had thought.

It turned out that she had an appetite for younger men like I was, but most of all that she was a real BDSM connoisseur, thanks to a former husband who had introduced her to the art of erotic domination. Needless to say we quickly moved from talking to other ways to spend our time together, and when she offered me to follow her to Dusseldorf as her pupil I eagerly accepted. Her being a dominant didn’t bother me at all: I had already realized that good BDSM is about the exchange of power, and the position you hold in its circular flow is much less important than your ability to keep this energy going.

She was after all very, very experienced and she taught me countless things that no book could have ever explained so thoroughly. I ended up staying with her for months: when we eventually parted our ways I was so content with my newfound role that I immediately began searching for another mistress – and failed to find anyone even remotely approaching her proficiency with domination.

I was so disgusted by the ignorance and lack of commitment of the few alleged dominatrixes I saw that I switched back to being a top: that way at least I wouldn’t have to endure their cluelessness. I also gave up seeking a steady play partner, which made my erotic life much easier. I found that my frequent business travels abroad gave me plenty of opportunities for interesting encounters and to attend parties, workshops and other kinky events entirely unheard of in ye olde Italy. And about this time two things happened.

The first was the advent of the Web and the sudden explosion of the BDSM culture as we know it today. All of a sudden the scene changed forever for the best, although developing some newfangled problems that greatly tamed the excitement of anything kink.

The other was a horrible crash of the national publishing industry. Whole companies closed down faster than you could keep track of, including the two I was working for. The outlook was so bleak that clutching at the few remaining straws seemed pointless, so I took a sabbatical year to recover from my formerly hectic working schedule and to immerse myself  in a project that I had had in mind for a while.

All my field experience had translated into a bit of online fame as the go-to guy when you had a BDSM-related question, you see. Tired of the bullshit of “journalism” that was mostly pushing the agendas of whatever advertiser or politician was footing the bill while disrespecting the readers entirely, I decided to do something useful for a change. Namely, committing everything I had learned that far about erotic domination to paper, in a guide that would make other kinksters’ lives a bit easier even if they couldn’t access me directly.

The idea was to write something more complete and better researched than the dozens of foreign manuals I had read on the topic. It was meant to be just a quick compiling effort, but as I amassed more and more material I realized I’d never get a second opportunity to dedicate so much free time to such a futile pastime. I expected the book would to sell just a handful of copies among fanatics, but that was no reason to do a shoddy job.

The result was a 700-plus pages monster (that shrunk down in later editions as parts of it migrated online) that despite its heft, the obscure subject and the above-average price immediately established itself as a surprise best-seller. BDSM – A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism turned my life around in unexpected ways. While it didn’t make me rich, it decided for me how my career and personal life would proceed.

Almost overnight, I was catapulted into the world of professional sexology and sex education and invited to speak at pretty important conferences, or to take part to research projects. I found myself teaching what BDSM was really about to audiences composed of physicians or lawyers who wanted to treat their kinky clients appropriately and to distinguish them from psychopaths; I was called upon to organize parties and events… I received dozens of emails by people who couldn’t thank me enough “for giving a name to their yearnings and letting them know they were not monsters” – and quite a lot of proposals from aspiring slavegirls in search of the master of their dreams, including one who would eventually become my companion and 24/7 submissive. The world was telling me to make Ayzad my main identity, professional and otherwise, and who was I to refuse?

All of this, however, happened in the same country I described in the beginning of this article. This meant that wherever I went I was confronted with the hostility of small-minded and fanatically sex-negative people. Every time my presence as an “unusual sexuality expert” was announced, some delusional religious or semi-fascist group made sure to pop up to express their – sometime violent – dissent. If you think you can endure a very long machine translation, for example, you can read all about the months-long media battle inspired by a lecture I had been asked to give at the Bicocca University of Milano, for which even members of the Parliament felt the urge to attack me.

It wasn’t the only time, either. To this day, I believe I am the only sex educator in the world for whom an actual parliamentary inquiry was held with the objective of discussing the possibility of banning me from speaking at institutional places like schools. Unsurprisingly, its proponent was a senator known for his repeated attempts to reinstate a Fascist Party in my country. Which would be funny, if it only was. The truth is that I am still forced to keep a very low profile in order to protect my loved ones and me from the occasional fanatic who’d like to take their death threats to fruition. I have been assaulted twice by skinhead-looking thugs and saved a couple of times from further ambushes, so now I prefer not to reveal my real name or appear in pictures anymore, even if this greatly damages my business. I told you Italy wasn’t that nice after all, didn’t I?

These inconveniences notwithstanding, I have been living as Ayzad for over a decade now and I struggle to remember the anguish I felt as a young kinkster anymore. I’ve written five more books; my BDSM – A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism has just come out in English too to reach an international public; I am surrounded by lots of kinky friends and – possibly most important of all – when I look around I see a much more open and sex-positive society than in the past, with less repressed people and happier faces in general. I know I can only take very little merit for it, but I like to believe that my continuing job as a kink educator and coach did contribute at least a bit. So ask me whether I am happy, and I’ll answer with a smile.

Are you as fascinated as I was? You can follow Ayzad on Twitter or check out his website. I received a copy of his English release of BDSM - A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism, and I'll be reading and reviewing it very soon.

About the author

Kayla Lords

I am an erotic author, sex blogger, podcaster, freelance writer, and an opinionated marketer. I'm also a masochistic babygirl submissive with an amazing and sadistic Daddy Dom. Welcome to my kinky corner of the internet!

2 Comments

  • Thanks for your enthusiasm, Fred (and other who are writing me in private)!
    I’m so glad you weren’t put off by my verbosity and shaky English.

    The book – which luckily was revised by a native English speaker – is already out, and through the post at http://goo.gl/ZQEQd4 you can learn more about it, download a preview, peek at the index and more.

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