How did I turn out like this? Living the experiences that gave birth to the thoughts that finally made their way into these pages? Let me try to retell my story.
I like the analogy that dominance is a predator living inside of me. At first, I was trying to hide from its existence. Later it tempted me to both be selfish and to hold space through my exploration of the deviant sides of eroticism. And now I’m riding the beast that once scared me. At least well enough to share my story.
I grew up in a white-privileged family with a lively, post-1968-left-wing political bend. My mother was a true matriarch and made most of the family’s decisions. My father happily followed along. Growing up in a working-class neighbourhood, he knew everything about repairing cars and loving his football team. My mother was from an upper-middle-class Danish family. Her mother was a housewife, and her father was in the military. They temporarily moved to Stockholm for one of my grandfather’s promotions, and my mother decided to stay after she fell in love with my father.
I remember how my mother always was the one who fought for me when I got into trouble as a kid. Once, I was accused of hacking the school computer network to copy exams from the printer queue, and she stormed into the headmaster’s office, yelling that mere rumours weren’t sufficient to prove a young boy’s guilt. There wasn’t much to fight or cry about in my boyhood, so I turned to computer games and role-playing for adventure. My goal in my teens was to learn about computers and get a well-paid job, so I could spend the rest of my life learning more about computers. I had no interest in themes of masculinity or sexuality. But this was about to change.
My childhood friends were still cool, even if I was a computer geek. As teenagers, we went clubbing, tried to get laid, and came home trashed in the morning. Our favourite place was the gay club TipTop which played tech-house and minimalist music already in the 90s, making it a cool alternative to our dreams of what things were like in Berlin. Going to TipTop was like an actual real-life adventure. There was a raw display of attraction and sexual expression from beautiful feminine boys to masculine men. This was my first encounter with the erotic polarity of dominance and submission. Someone had to fuck another in the ass, after all. The space was vibrant, passionate, and hedonistic. Through the years, I had a few lovers and did some stupid things that were neither conscious nor consensual. But as it turned out, I was not very gay.
However, my fascination for deviant eroticism was born, and my next stop on that journey was Japan when I accepted a contract in Tokyo. One thing that Japanese culture taught me is that if something is repressed, then it will manifest in the most unexpected places. The repressed eros filled Tokyo’s nightlife with clubs where people came to ‘be maniac’ about a whole range of kinks. It felt like a dream. Yet I found myself as just another observer in an anonymous mass, as I watched the mistress shows, the zombie Lolitas covered in goo and the rubber-wrapped bodies on dark dance floors. I still didn’t dare to face my predator and make it personal.
After returning from Japan, my career took me to Canada. Again, I was like a new ball in a pinball machine. This time I wanted to go deeper. To make it real. But how? The sadomasochistic community in Montreal talked about an old-school lifestyle, but exactly what this meant was unclear. People were members of houses, like old Victorian households with a coat of arms and various rituals. There was a monthly meet-up for newbies at an after-work bar, and I decided to go. I nervously looked around the room. The vibe was lighthearted and loud, with mostly older men in darker colours. I was disappointed until I spotted a young brown-eyed girl hiding behind her notebook. She was an English major at one of the universities and spent her spare time writing sadomasochistic fan fiction. We started talking and started to date.
Two lovebirds with a burning curiosity. Insecure about what to do, I decided to submit, and it was exciting to feel her desire. To unconditionally let her take what she wanted and trust that she would take care of me. It culminated on Thanksgiving when she chained me naked on the balcony of her tiny student apartment and poured a bucket of water over me. I sat there shaking uncontrollably in the cold while she cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes and finished the gravy. It felt like forever, but I trusted her, and I was never afraid. Once back inside, she tucked me into bed and fed me back to strength during the weekend. Making people dependent on her and then caring for them was her thing.
One of the most famous parties in town was hosted by a tech bro and his submissive fashion-model girlfriend at his villa up on Mount Royal. One night the theme was Cowboys and Indians. I found it cheesy, but we decided to go anyway and dressed up as a female vigilante and a bruised bandit. While relaxing in bed and waiting for our pick-up, she told the story of our characters. The vigilante had caught the bandit that killed her husband and tied him by the campfire. Before falling asleep, she explained her devious plan for his coming torment. But the bandit, who had a hidden knife, escaped his bounds during the night and went on to rape the young vigilante. The in-bed storytelling got interrupted by us having sex, just like the bandit and the vigilante. I felt such a rush of power, like a predator on top of the food chain. The next day I was crying on the metro because the world around me felt grey and dull compared to what I had experienced.
Upon my return to Stockholm, I was determined to keep up this new lifestyle. I soon found that it had some unexpected effects on my professional career. I slowly moved from technical expertise to coaching. It was like my vision had changed. Everywhere I saw dominance and submission in endless hierarchies. Hierarchies clashed against each other like massive ships on an ancient naval battlefield. The results were masqueraded as reorganisations or product relocations. To the individual employee, these ongoing battles rewarded dominance and punished submission, and as a result, people were burning out from all stress and pressure. Being involved in steering a multinational company was like turning an oil supertanker. Once a high-level decision rippled down into the organisation, it was impossible to be conscious and consensual about the effects. It was just too hard to predict compared to a sadomasochistic play.
At the same time, I was studying rope bondage – a nerd is always a nerd, right? I loved the trust, sacrifice, and beauty that rope captured. It kept my fascination with Japan alive. One night, at a friend’s birthday party, I made an impromptu performance because I wanted to show people what bondage was all about rather than talking intellectually about it. I wanted them to see how it can be extraordinary to voluntarily stop the fight for dominance and let go into submission and surrender. To my surprise, this got me invited to teach at an esoteric festival themed around bringing sensibility into sexuality. So maybe I was sensible after all. The response to my work was overwhelming, and an undiscovered world opened itself to me that summer of 2012. Polarity turned out to be a central theme in Nordic shamanism, neo-tantra, sex magick, conscious relating, Deida teachings, and much much more.
But one thing troubled me; the story was always about the feminine surrender and the masculine holding space. No one talked about why I had this predator inside me, craving dominance. I met plenty of people who were attracted to the predator or had it inside themselves. Yet it was never spoken about. So, I wondered, was my predator a form of masculinity? Or was it pathological? Or was it a Jungian shadow? At the same time, the media talked about male aggression and toxic masculinity. My confusion pushed me to look for clarity. I wish I could say that I changed my life overnight, but that is not true. I eventually quit my career job to be more free. Free from living a double life. Free to dedicate my life to understanding my own eros and to help others understand theirs. To attempt to make art out of it. I studied the esoterics in bodywork, theatre and philosophy to look for answers I couldn’t find in the sadomasochistic culture. This is where the main part of the story slows to an end. Yet I am still on a path to understanding this predator inside of me although much has become apparent over time.
For a while, I asked friends and lovers what differentiates me from a psychopath. The most common answer was.
You are clear with your intentions. You do not try to manipulate me.
This is probably the most fundamental teaching. To tell the truth. I’ve learnt that there are enough people like me, so there is no need to lie about who I am. There is certainly a lot of stigma around the exploration of deviant eros, but I believe its origins to be in a fear of oneself – what if I too am like that? I say do not let other people’s fears define who you are. Be a proud predator! Not a prowling one.
To clarify my intentions, I learnt to ask myself – for whom does this interaction take place? Do I massage someone’s ass to release muscle tension or to grab something attractive? Is it for them or me? Am I serving or taking? Of course, the predator wants to take, and there are always many people who long to be taken from as it allows them to surrender. But I would caution against being a predator all the time. Learn how to serve, how to be served and how to surrender. This would lay the foundations for a healthier dynamic. For a deeper dive into a description of these dynamics, I suggest the work of Dr Betty Martin, a chiropractor who dedicated her life to the art of touch and created a model called The Wheel of Consent.
I see so much confusion in society today. So many men repress the predatorial side of their eros, and because they can’t relate to it consciously and consensually, it leaks out everywhere, just like in those Japanese maniac clubs. I see it in workspaces, nightclubs, on beaches, etc. Men often offer to serve when they really want to take (or be taken) – can I buy you a drink, another one, another one, can I massage your back, can I walk you home, can I SERVE you some tea, can I TAKE you to bed. The key is the switching between serving and taking. How to be clear about that. Of course, one can also serve in bed if that is what everyone wants. Yet my experience tells me that most people want to take and be taken. To dominate and submit. To trust someone to enjoy their body freely and to be trusted to follow one’s desire. This is one of the most important gifts I received from learning about sadomasochism. The tools to dance with my beloved predator.