Interview with Michael Makai

What makes you an expert on BDSM relationships?
Frankly, I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject, any more than someone who has been married for thirty-five years is an expert on marriage. I do, however, think I may have some insights for those who may be seeking answers to some tough questions about the kinds of relationships that I’ve spent my entire adult life in.
Why did you write this book?
I've always been a little disappointed that most authors in the lifestyle focus so intently on the "whips and chains" aspects of the fetish culture, but rarely touch on how one is supposed to find happiness in this lifestyle and culture. Anyone can learn how to swing a flogger or tie someone up. Few people have mastered how to find a lifetime partner and find happiness in this, or any other lifestyle.
What do you think is the most common misconception about the BDSM lifestyle?
I believe that BDSM is an activity. It's something you DO, whether it's online, in the bedroom, at your local dungeon, or a play party. You don't necessarily have to be in a relationship with someone to enjoy BDSM activities with them. But D/s (Domination/submission) is a relationship dynamic. It's who you are, how you relate; where you find your "happy place" or find joy. It's how you express your love for your partner. You don't necessarily have to engage in kink activities to enjoy a D/s dynamic. This simple distinction can solve a hell of a lot of the problems that people encounter in the lifestyle... being able to separate who you are from what you do can make a huge difference.
How long have you been in the BDSM lifestyle, and what made you choose it?
I have been in the BDSM lifestyle for over 37 years, or basically my entire adult life. I didn't choose it, it was simply who I have always been. I was lucky enough to learn as a teenager that there were others like me, and to put names to the things I was already doing and feeling.
What would you say are the major things 'Fifty Shades' got wrong in its representation of a BDSM relationship?
- What would you say are the major things 'Fifty Shades' got wrong in its representation of a BDSM relationship?

I think the most troubling aspect of the books and film is their casual treatment of the entire issue of consent. The BDSM lifestyle is very, very concerned with consent as an essential cornerstone of our way of life. You can say "yes" a thousand times, but it only takes one "no" to revoke consent. I teach that one of the major differences between abuse and BDSM is the fact that a thousand words can't stop abuse, but just one word ("no" or a safe word) can stop a BDSM activity. We have a word for any sexual activity that continues beyond the word "no".. and that word is "rape." In Fifty Shades, Anastasia says "no" on multiple occasions, and is ignored by Christian Grey. This would be absolutely unacceptable in BDSM circles.

- Would you go as far as saying that the representation could be dangerous for prospective BDSM couples/individuals?

I suppose that depends on your beliefs concerning how people's values and world-views are affected by what they see on the big screen. Does movie violence desensitize us to violence in general? Does seeing depictions of rape on the big screen make us, as a society, less willing to express our outrage when it happens in real-life? Statistics nationwide and in the UK are already showing that "kink-related injuries" and "bondage related" police complaints have spiked since the release of the movie. This is presumably due to people attempting to mimic what they saw in the movie. Do we really want to teach a generation of young women that "no" means maybe or yes? Or that when their partner ignores their protestations, that it isn't rape.. it's just "BDSM?" Personally, I have a problem with that.

- What would have been a better way to portray the relationship?

I realize it's fiction. No one expects murder mysteries to be fair to the murderers depicted. No one complains about vampire novels being unrealistic. So yeah, I totally get it, when people say that the "controversy" about the film is much ado about nothing. But by the same token, it pains me to see something that can be beautiful, and positive, and uplifting for millions of people being portrayed as a way of life that is devoid of any real emotional connection, ignores consent, and condones stalking and harassing behaviors that would get a person banned from their local BDSM community in real-life. I would recommend the film "Secretary" for a better portrayal of how D/s (Domination/submission) relationship dynamics can work in real life.

- Are you surprised the book/film series has done so well, considering for many people BDSM is still considered a 'taboo' subject?

I'm not surprised at all. BDSM isn't the taboo that many people think it is. A great majority of our population has experimented with light bondage, spankings, and many other aspects of BDSM. The problem is, they simply don't associate those fun, playful activities with "the BDSM lifestyle." The average "vanilla" person, when confronted with the notion of a BDSM lifestyle, conjures up images of wanton, indiscriminate sex and/or violence. But it isn't like that at all. That's a "straw man taboo." Build it up to be something that it isn't at all, then condemn the false image. In reality, BDSM and D/s relationships are often some of the most loving, caring, and fulfilling relationships you can imagine.

- What do you think it is about 'Fifty Shades' that has captured the world's imagination so well?

Every generation has its "Titillation Tipping Point." For my parent's generation, it was swinging. For the previous generation, it was "free love" and Playboy magazine Before that, it was bikinis and skirts that showed off a woman's legs. I could go on and on. Each generation embraces something sexually titillating that is designed to shock the previous generation. It was simply the right kink at the right time. I suppose the real question should be, if not BDSM, then what would it have been? Overall, I am glad that it has raised awareness and interest in the lifestyle and the kinds of D/s relationships that I have spent my entire adult life in. I'm a firm believer in taking the lemons that life hands you, and making lemon meringue pie.
Published 2015-07-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Michael Makai's Little Book of BDSM Quotes
Price: Free! Words: 15,820. Language: English. Published: January 28, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Sexual alternatives, Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Sex guides & how tos
Michael Makai's amazing books on the BDSM and D/s lifestyle have taken the world by storm, providing thought-provoking and enlightening information and viewpoints to those seeking to learn more about kink culture. His "Little Book of BDSM Quotes" contains the most profound, enlightening, and entertaining selections from his books to date.
62Q: Sixty-two Questions For Your Dominant
Price: $2.95 USD. Words: 43,590. Language: English. Published: November 3, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Sexual alternatives, Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Dating
(5.00 from 1 review)
Your prospective Dominant is applying for a job. As far as you should be concerned, that job ought to be treated as the most important job in the world. Choosing the right person can mean a lifetime fulfilled and happy. Choosing the wrong Dom can result in a relationship train wreck. “62Q: Sixty-two Questions for Your Dominant” gives you the tools you will need to find the right Dominant for you.
The Warrior Princess Submissive
Price: $2.95 USD. Words: 38,380. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Women's sexuality, Nonfiction » Psychology » Sexual psychology
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
WINNER: 2015 Golden Flogger Award for Best Nonfiction BDSM Book of the Year! She isn't your typical D/s submissive. She is wicked-smart, strong-willed, uber-competent, ultra-competitive, synergistic, switchy, and a crusader. She's no one's doormat; never a victim. The Warrior Princess Submissive is a kick-ass sub for the 21st century, and the hope and salvation of the BDSM lifestyle.
Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook, 2nd Ed.
Price: $3.95 USD. Words: 162,360. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Sexual alternatives, Nonfiction » Psychology » Sexual psychology
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
2nd Edition. The definitive handbook on Domination and Submission (D/s) relationships and the BDSM lifestyle. A must-read for anyone considering or curious about fetish culture! Funny, insightful, educational, and inspiring. You'll love Michael Makai's irreverent and humorous treatment of this subject as he gives you the benefit of his 37 years of BDSM experience!