VIP Interview With Ayzad – A Sex Scholar!

I’d like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. As mentioned, I actually have come across your website a few times, and one of my favourite things are the posts of “Inexplicable moments in the history of sexuality”. Those keyhole posts are always so frustratingly good! I also love the subtle, yet important distinction between sex blogger, and sex explorer as well as the reasonings and research behind that. So let’s introduce you first as Ayzad, A Sex Scholar and sex explorer, owner, curator of ayzad.com where you explore unusual things about sex, sexuality, kink and fetish. You’ve written several books and articles. You hold workshops and lectures, and you also do personal coaching all from your base in Italy. There’s certainly enough there to keep you busy! Did i miss anything?

Thank you for your appreciation! The Inexplicable Moments series began as a joke when I found a few puzzling pictures online: I would have never expected it to grow so large, but it is now over six years strong and I keep stumbling on this sort of material on a weekly basis, so it might go on for a while yet. I love the wonderfully odd ways people have of distorting the very idea of sexuality… After the first laugh, those images make you really wonder about our fellow humans and ourselves, don’t you think?

About my strange job, you may have missed the training of kink-aware professionals among psychologists, sexologists and law enforcement, and organizing the largest BDSM party in Italy, called Sadistique.

 

I have to start with the basics. You were once a “traditional” journalist – how did you move into talking about sex and sexuality?

The short story is that around the year 2000 I was hit by a nasty combination of insolvent clients and a market crisis in the local publishing industry, so I took a sabbatical to nurse my business wounds and I ended up using the time to write BDSM – A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism, a book meant to collect what I had learned about erotic domination and submission games and pass it on to the kink community. To everyone’s surprise, it became a mainstream best-seller instead. Besides sparking a few interesting collaborations in the field of sexology, the result was receiving lots of letters and messages from people who thanked me for having opened their eyes onto the fact that their sexual preferences weren’t sick or “wrong”. Many readers recounted how my book saved their marriage, or pointed them to meet the partner of their dreams.

At that point I had to make a choice. Go back to a normally paid job of indoctrinating the masses into buying stuff and being scared and hateful for the fear du jour, or continue giving people the kind of information that could make them happy with their lives? The latter meant becoming financially insecure, but any decent human being would have had no doubt – and having a very understanding life partner with a serious corporate job to support both of us if I was unsuccessful made the jump definitely less scary. Almost twenty years later, the messages keep pouring in and I am still happy with that decision.

You’ve often stated that you began exploring BDSM at 18. How were your experiences when you were young in comparison to now? Has the community changed much in your opinion?

This is a great question that I actually ponder upon rather frequently myself. In many ways, the Nineties (and – ahem – the Eighties) were much darker times for kinksters. Information was rare and questionable; most people didn’t really know how to deal with their own kinks; finding play partners was a feat made even harder by the lack of digital tools to connect with each other; toys were impossibly expensive and often of very low quality… but having to overcome all of these obstacles also meant that the fewer people into unusual sexualities were also extremely committed to their play. In fact, I recall many of them recoiling when I used that word: to “old timers” BDSM (or ‘sadomasochism’, as it was known back then) was ‘work’ – a pretty serious endeavour you couldn’t treat as child’s play.

I feel that in these days the very idea of erotic power play has swung far off in the opposite direction. For all the good a better kink culture has done, people tend to treat BDSM like just another opportunity to fill their free time with, on par with Netflix or dining out. The raw emotion seems to be mostly gone, so much so that I long damned myself over this lack of transcendence. Also, always blessed be the Internet, but online dynamics frequently play a big role in shooting the community in its own foot.

So, besides the fact that on the brink of my fiftieth birthday I am young – or I do feel like that at the least – the matter is, as always, a mixed bag of good and bad. I hope that this wild swing between too much self-importance and too much mindless post-50 Shades fad will eventually settle on a nice middle ground. I am kinda seeing the early signs of that process now.

Sex is so open. There are a myriad of different experiences, genders, identities, interactions. Many people tend to use labels as a form of identification and identity – what are your thoughts on such labels? Especially when it comes to BDSM, Kink and diverse forms of sexual expression, do you feel that we’re approaching/using labels in the right way?

I’d say that labels – or better: strictly defined roles or approaches to sexuality – can be a useful starting point for newcomers to get their bearings around the immense map of pleasure. Knowing, for example, that someone else has already elaborated an attraction to the owner/pet dynamics into something structured that many people agree upon calling ‘pet play’, with all of its rituals and specialized knowledge, allows you to avoid a series of basic traps and dead ends if you harbor a similar inclination. The bad part of this compartimentalization of kink comes when you unwittingly forget your individuality and play into becoming assimilated into a certain pre-packaged view. After all, every one is different and evolving, which is why I am so keen on the notion of “sexual explorers”.

Also, I have now seen a few times the rise of true fads initiated by literal labels. The latest was probably when Fetlife added ‘primal’ among the possible profile descriptors, and so many people jumped on the bandwagon without even having a clear idea of what the word actually meant. A few years earlier the same happened with ‘brat’, and earlier still with the whole ‘daddy/little girl’ subculture. And don’t get me started on furries. I mean, trying new shoes on to see whether they fit you is fine and healthy; committing to a narrowly defined role just because all your online “friends” are doing that doesn’t sound too mature instead, does it? Oh, wait: I am playing into the role of the ancient wise curmudgeon…

With the diversity of sex, expressionism, and identity – what do you personally find to be the most fascinating in unusual sex?

This is easy. It’s the continuing quest for honesty and authenticity. Even just contemplating unusual sexualities opens your mind to boundless possibilities – and forces you in a nice way to deal with your own repressed facets, fears, desires and sense of identity. By hook or by crook, kink stimulates critical thinking and questioning yourself – which is a great path to growing up as a person.

Oh, and I also love how sex things are rarely about sex itself, so when you study them you end up learning lots of interesting facts about the world in general.

What’s something not many people know about you, that you’re willing to share with us today?

Er… that I am a collector of Japanese robot toys from the Eighties? That I am a member of Mensa? No, seriously: I can’t think of anything especially meaningful that you can’t read in my posts on ayzad.com already.

I live in Australia. With a smaller (and more centralised) population than what’s in the Americas, Europe and even Italy. It can be often difficult finding people with similar interests where you can get together for parties and events. You’re involved with Sadistique – what can you tell us about that?

Sadistique is a monthly BDSM party I have been organizing in Milano since 2005, and the spiritual sequel of an earlier endeavour called Revolution. As it happened, my kinky friends and I had been lamenting for a few years the lack of proper kinky events in Italy: we used to meet at such parties all over Europe, and it struck us as absurd that we had to travel abroad for that. So, since nobody else seemed to be willing to set up such a thing in our country, we did it ourselves. It started very small, had its ups and downs, and it finally established itself as a beloved institution for Italian kinksters.

Besides a cool steampunk-ish play space, every month it features a different workshop on various aspects of BDSM; a kinky art exhibition and a professional photo set. In addition to that we occasionally host interesting performances, book presentations or showcases of kink artisans. You should come over and see, should you happen in Milan!

On that question – there’s a dizzying array of fetishes, sexual interests, erotic interests ranging from standard to the unusual and even bordering on absurd – when one is having trouble finding connections for their kinks – what do you recommend they do for their contentment and satisfaction?

My frequent suggestion is to stop searching and making yourself findable instead. Do you recall the Kennedy quote about «Ask not what your country can do for you…»? Unusual sexualities suffer of the same misunderstanding: the kink community can actually do heaps for you, but you are supposed to serve it at the same time, even if just by participating in a constructive way. Most enthusiasts unfortunately behave like vampires who demand their particular needs to be satisfied without giving anything in exchange, whereas there are countless opportunities to contribute and make the scene better – and to shine while doing that, attracting lots of potential partners in the process.

You’re an Italian and you’ve travelled both physically and within your research. Do you think that the engagement of fetishes and fetishism depends on where we live? Does culture influence our carnal/erotic desires, or are we all just kinky and perverse beings?

I did detect a bit of geographic influence, but I believe it to be mostly a function of the different local cultures. An extreme example can be the Chinese interpretation of BDSM, but of course stereotypes and generalizations don’t help any serious analysis. The Internet is sorta flattening these differences, though.

One fun quirk remains true throughout the ages, though: whatever place and time you pick, you can be sure that locals were sure that in a different, faraway country, people were having so much more sex cultivating exotic, wonderful practices. Never underestimate the power of fulfillment fantasies!

What’s your go to comfort food?

You know that, in order to retain citizenship, we Italians are contractually obliged to talk about food at least six hours a day – so please sit comfortably and thank you for your question! No, seriously: I can be a bit of a foodie when the opportunity arises, but I am pretty forgiving on the subject. Which is a way of saying that I could list hundreds of answers, so I won’t go beyond a diplomatic «anything made with true love».

If you could change one thing about peoples engagement with sex – what would it be?

Oh. A tough one, indeed. I guess it would be erasing that lingering idea that sex is an unwieldy burden, and exchanging it with the concept of sex as a boundless opportunity for fun, pleasure and growth. That’s the principle beyond The Sexual Explorers Manifesto, isn’t it?

You do workshops, seminars and educational events. What’s one thing that comes up frequently that you wish didnt, or what’s something that isn’t brought up often enough at these events?

Education opportunities are privileged environments whose participants enter with a beautiful, unusually open mindset. The worst that I have experienced there is a tad of judgement against whatever doesn’t fit with one’s personal view of sexuality, especially in more mainstream milieus. I strive to transmit the concept of «your kink is not my kink but it’s ok», as they say, but it is not always easy – don’t forget that Italy is still a province of the Vatican, in many ways.

In that capacity, most of the true problems I have experienced so far came even before the events themselves. I am sorry that you’d have to suffer through its occasionally atrocious Google Translate rendition, but you may want to have a look at the laughable year-long ordeal I had to go through when the media and a couple of politicians attacked me… for having accepted an invitation to speak at a major university. The level of political manipulation was astounding – but it also was an exception, not the rule.

On the other hand, the one missing thing that really bugs me is the awareness about the dire need for a comprehensive education to sexuality as  part of the school curriculum, starting as early as possible. The decades-long case history of the Netherlands proves how such approach is extremely beneficial for the indviduals and society as a whole, and yet everyone seems to prefer #MeToo–like horrors to the (wholly imaginary) embarrassment of admitting that sexuality is part of life, and teaching the children about it. Mind you, this is not a matter of teaching how reproduction works, but to also address everything surrounding it with a special focus on respect, consent, diversity, sentiments and so on.

You do personal coaching. What’s involved in that for you and the client?

My own brand of personal coaching is about helping people to identify their issues related to unusual sexuality, and to plot a strategy together to solve and overcome them in the most efficient way. The key is often some information they are missing and which I have encountered in my three-decades long exploration of kink, so I am happy to put my experience at the service of the client. This is basically done through a series of face-to-face or Skype talks, so there is nothing saucy to it if that was what you meant. I would say personal coaching happens halfway between a talk between friends and a session with your therapist.

You’ve been doing this for over 15 years. What keeps you going and what’s the best part about the work that you do?

On the one hand I am fueled by my curiosity: I still keep learning new things every day, and this sort of intellectual stimulation is invaluable. I would lie if I didn’t admit that all this fun comes at a financial and social price, so of course there are times when I feel like I’d better get into something more grounded like selling bricks, for example. Those are usually the moments right before someone reaches out to thank me for how my work made their life better, though, and that makes every effort more than worthwhile.

Ayzad Sexual Scholar

Any final thoughts that you’d like to share?

I can only thank you for the opportunity to talk. This was fun and I hope your readers have enjoyed the interview too. You now know where to find me, so let’s keep in touch, shall we?

I can pore your brain all day long. Reading through interviews that you’ve done previously, and your books, and exhaustive amount of blog work on your website – it’s just absolutely fascinating. I’d like to thank you for the work that you do, for shining a spotlight on what many people find strange and odd and for the presentation of that work with humour, grace and precision. It’s been an absolutely pleasure asking you these questions and i just can’t wait to see what’s next.

Thank you again: it is a delight to interact with such a passionate fan, and – besides the usual weekly posts – I can tell you “next” is going to be a whole book about education to sexuality, but it is such a messy subject that writing proceeds way too slowly and it will take quite a long time yet.

Ciao From Stephanie Curtis – Adultsmart Sexologist!

I have loved my time working at the Oh Zone stores and helping so many people with their intimate lives.  One of the things I most enjoyed was tapping the keyboards and  hoping to share some useful information with the adultsmart community in my articles and stories.  For now I am off to take on sexology as my full-time profession so the articles will no longer be as frequent and the time I enjoyed meeting everyone face to face in the stores has come to an end.  This here is my final article whilst working in an adult shop.

For all those that have visited me in store, ciao, it has been a pleasure.  For everyone on adultsmart I will still publish the odd article.  But for now, farewell my life, living and love provide you with the best they can!!!!

 

What working at an adult store has taught me:

 

I cannot believe it has been two whole years that I have worked in the Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres! If you had asked me 10 years ago, it certainly wasn’t a job I could have imagined I would be doing yet I am so grateful I took a chance and did something so different. As I prepare to move onto my own work as a Certified Sexologist & Intimacy Coach, I thought I would offer some of the things I will be taking away from this job which will benefit me in so many ways throughout my life

 

Communicating about sex

Talking about anything related to sexuality is such a difficult thing for so many people. We live in such a sex-centric world yet as a culture are challenged by frank, honest discussions around sexuality. Coming into this job, I knew I was a sex positive person yet didn’t realise the challenges I would face opening up to strangers very quickly about such an intimate area of their lives. Working at Oh Zone has given me incredible experience in being able to talk about sex, pleasure and genitals in a very matter of fact way.

 

Making people comfortable talking about sex

Similar to the above, working at Oh Zone has given me great experience in getting others to open up about sex. I have learnt to take note of body language and other cues to say or do the thing that will make the customer feel at ease opening up to me. I have found that finding comfort within myself puts people at ease as well as outwardly naming the elephant in the room (i.e. the discomfort around talking about sex) which breaks the ice for most people.

 

Communicating boundaries

As with anywhere in life, you will always encounter people that try to cross boundaries. There are some people that make assumptions about me based on the fact that I work in an adult store so I have had to get really clear with what is and isn’t ok. I have been explicitly asked what my personal sexual preferences are and have had countless people overshare about their own sex life which to many people doesn’t sound so bad but you wouldn’t ask the woman working at Harvey Norman what she’s into so why should it be any different for me? I get that few people have a space where they can open up to about sex & in the right context an adult store is just that but I cannot stress CONTEXT enough. I am grateful that 99% of people that have crossed some kind of boundary are apologetic when I communicate that it is not appropriate so it really has been a good lesson in communicating clearly and in a way that doesn’t shame the person because they usually just don’t know.  

 

Knowledge of Sex Toys

For those around me, I am now the official go to person for sex toy knowledge! Prior to working here, I was only aware of the very basic products such as vibrators and cock rings, thinking that sex toys were all about having an orgasm. I now know that there exist so many products out there that can be used by all kinds of people from all walks of life. From penis pumps for post-operative prostate surgery recovery to Kegel trainers to prevent vaginal prolapse, products in an adult store are about so much more than pleasure (There’s plenty of that too, don’t worry!!).

 

Awareness of the extent of sexual shame (and penis shame)

I have met countless people coming into the Oh Zone store and if there’s only thing that is extremely noticeable is how much shame we as a culture carry when it comes to sex. This plays out in so many ways, from young guys laughing and making crude jokes to mask their discomfort to people who won’t even make eye contact with me when entering the store. I also hear way too many jokes about penis size and male sex toys which is a whole other story of shaming!!  I have been in a great position to question some of these reactions at times and unburden people of the shame of sex and visiting an adult store. 

 

Happy Oh Zone Customers

For many people, working in an adult store carries with it a myriad of ideas of what it is all about as well as judgements of the sex industry. I have felt really lucky to have an insight into this work as it really is much deeper and fulfilling than an average retail job. The satisfaction you receive from seeing the effects of people opening up to you about such an intimate area of their lives compares with nothing else for me.

Power of A Female Gaze!

One of the most striking details of a woman’s appearance, according to men – is the eyes.

Eyes can convey the whole range of feelings inherent in a person where love, disappointment, sadness and joy, delight and pain are neighbors. The look of a woman excites, intrigues, attracts men.

Therefore, eyes in self-presentation, which should radiate happiness and confidence, languor and bliss, are so important. It is with your eyes that you can show your sympathy or express your anger.

The person’s eyes reflect his or her spiritual beauty, as they say:

“The eyes are the mirror of the soul!”

And the living expressive eyes with sparks are the true decoration of the woman’s face. The view has many varieties: changing, languid, secretive, studying, glancing a man from top to bottom, intimate and prolonged directly in the eyes.

Your gaze should be open to communication, and not the coldly alienated view of the Snow Queen, which is then approached terribly.  Men do not tolerate arrogance, they have a protest in their blood to submission. The size, color, shape of an eye, framed by flirtatious eyelashes – favorably emphasize the female individuality.

A narrow strip of hair above your eyes gives a variety of looks. After all, eyebrows strengthen this game, as if shading and beautifying the eyes, give mobility to facial expressions. The fact is that a raised eyebrow makes the eye large and meaningful, giving an intrigue and expressiveness.

The same eyebrows give the person a unique charm, create an expression on a face and on them depends the impression that women produce on men. For example, breaking the eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, gives the look of mystery, and of a woman’s unpredictability in deeds.

Not expressive, lifeless eyebrows extinguish sparks in the eyes, reducing their depth.  Therefore, lovely women remember that when you play with a form of eyebrows, you not only update your image, but also attach spontaneity and unpredictability to your image, which fuels the hunting instincts in a man. Face is important, yet if you are one of those busty bikini models, you may have a different set of skills. When you “draw” your face in front of a mirror in the morning, play with your eyebrows, feel them.

However, unobtrusive movements of the nose in the context of the general facial expression mask the signals of your mood. Wrinkles of the nose, can express bitterness and rejection, no matter how you smile, and your eyes do not spark the brightest colors of love, these wrinkles will ruin the whole picture.

The general impression is already greased, the conversation is not glued together. You think that you have said the wrong word, you start to be embarrassed, but it’s all in the nose. Inflating the wings of the nose, intense inhalation can express both rage or excitement. In a certain context of conversation, it can be perceived as a sexual signal.

The visual contact serves as a hint of your openness for acquaintance and further meetings with a man. When your eyes meet for a moment with a man’s gaze, the “spark of emotional empathy of a man and a woman” flares up.

You both signal to each other about your readiness to establish a romantic relationship. The duration of the “conversation with the eyes” is extremely important, the specialists determined that it takes several seconds for the birth of a stable visual contact. If you take your eyes off before the spark breaks out, you will show that you are not ready to continue your acquaintance, and all the more so to establish any kind of relationship.

Otherwise, both you and the man lower your eyes only after

soulful eyes

“the spark pierces your soul.”

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

When was the last time you laid eyes on a person who made the butterflies in your stomach throw an impromptu party by jumping up and down like their lives depended on it? If you can’t remember, and yet you’re not single and consider yourself to be happily married or in a long-term relationship, the answer is probably – the last century. It was so long ago that even if you found yourself single and ready to mingle, you wouldn’t even know where to begin because back in the day no one in their right mind tried to find love online!

Sustaining a marriage or any sort of committed relationship takes plenty of patience, excellent communication skills, and an incredible amount of understanding.  So, what’s love got to do with it? Well, it’s a foundation, and it better be a solid one otherwise all the other ‘stories’ you build on it will come crashing down sooner or later. Today, we’re not here to discuss the foundation but would like to take a look at what it takes to maintain a relationship in this day and age when even the people have become disposable.

#1: The Art of Patience

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and it’s easy to enjoy the good times knowing a difficult period is behind you. But what do you do when you find yourself in the midst of challenging times where the future of your marriage is uncertain, and you definitely can’t predict what tomorrow will bring? Couples who stay together for decades have a common goal – to stay together for as long as they both shall live. This common goal is one of the key factors that helps each partner get through a tough period that threatens to break them up. This is anything but easy, and in most cases, time is the biggest ally because it heels wounds and eventually opens new doors, and it is patience that each partner must have for time to do its job, and bring their relationship back to normal.

#2:  Communication is Key

Getting your message across so that your partner can understand your point exactly is crucial for maintaining any kind of relationship, even long-term friendships. At the same time, listening intently and paying attention to your partner’s body language even when he or she is not talking goes a long way, especially if you take the opportunity to show them you’ve been paying attention when they least expect it. When you run into problems, talk to your partner when the emotions settle down instead of poking each other’s eyes out when you’re each at your wit’s end. Being prepared to compromise on your wishes and desires to include some of your partner’s as well ultimately leads to a happy and healthy life together.

#3: Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Having sympathy for someone is nice, but it won’t get you far. Having empathy and understanding someone else’s point of view means that two people are mature enough to be with each other. Children have extremely narrow points of view and aren’t capable of seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes but their own. As we grow older, we begin to understand that we don’t live on a remote island, are social creatures, and as such must take another person’s feelings, desires and beliefs into serious consideration. Otherwise, a very lonely existence awaits. Couples who are happy in their relationships for years and even decades have no problem putting their partner’s needs ahead of their own, and their partners are more than willing to reciprocate.

This article is written by –

Stefan Guest Post

10 Tips To Be a Modern Day Romeo!

If you’re a single guy then you probably know that impressing women on dates is anything but easy and simple. It doesn’t matter if you’re into young ladies or mature women of the cougar dating scene, you have to possess a certain set of skills in order to dazzle them and seal the deal.

Over the years, the list of mentioned skills changed along with the trends and laws of the dating world. Back in the day, impressing a woman was a bit easier than it is today. So, if you’re a single guy who wants to become an irresistible modern day Romeo, here are the 10 tips that will help you achieve that goal.

You Have to Be Willing to Adapt

One of the best ways to become a master of seduction is to be willing to adapt to the current dating market. When it comes to matchmaking, things are always changing, so you have to be flexible. Of course, you don’t have the change who you are, just make sure you’re in sync with the latest trends.

A Romeo Must Be Confident and Calm All the Time

Being too nervous and jumpy is not something most women find attractive. Girls are usually into guys who are composed and confident, so make sure you come across as a fully self-assured gentleman.

Be a Good Listener

Believe it or not, the most important thing when it comes to seduction is listening. Most guys out there are too busy talking about themselves that they don’t know how to sit and listen to the girl. Therefore, if you really want to impress her, work on your listening skills.

Ask Her What She Thinks about a Certain Topic

Even though we live in a modern society, a lot of women still feel like their voice isn’t heard. The majority of men consider them to be inferior, so to stand out from the crowd, make sure to ask your date to share her opinion on the topic you’re discussing.

Show them a Good Time

These days, romantic dates are very predictable. Women expect men to take them out to a fancy dinner and drinks and that’s it. So, to make a really good first impression, you need to show her a good time. Get creative and plan an exciting first date.

Be Spontaneous

Planning your date is important, but women love guys who can be spontaneous and unpredictable during the date. Therefore, break the pattern once in a while and surprise her.

Make Her Laugh

A lot of guys think that ripped bodies, huge biceps, and expensive cars are the things that will seal the deal. However, these things are useless if you don’t know how to make women laugh.

Tell Her a Captivating Story

Most ladies are attracted to great storytellers. They simply love a man who has his way with words. So, feel free to tell your date a captivating story and she’ll be swept off her feet.

Show Genuine Interest in Her Life

Yes, good storytelling abilities are important, but you also need to know how to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. Don’t make it all about you. Instead, show genuine interest in her life. She’ll appreciate it.

Don’t Look too Desperate

It doesn’t matter how lonely, sexually frustrated, or desperate for love you are, you must never show that to your date. Being too eager is a major turn off, so try your best to stay composed and patient throughout the entire evening. If you manage that, she will want to see you again.

This article is written by –

Stefan Guest Post