On Transformation With Dia Dynasty PT 2
Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series. Make sure you read part 1 first on Dia Dynasty’s blog.
EW: Can you tell me about a transformation that you recently experienced, either for yourself or that you were adjacent to?
DD: I have two stories, one that is not exactly mine, but that I’m adjacent to, so I’ll start with that. So there has been this client that became a slave, and that is one of the things that happens when you commit to a deeper or a more long-lasting relationship with a client, is that they become a slave, and then they have to go through some form of slave training to please you and to meet your needs. That’s kind of the dynamic: this person is serving you and you are giving them direction and some sort of way to fulfill their emotional needs of submission. So all that’s pretty clear, the set up of this power dynamic. But it was very confusing for this slave to hear and see me, because there’s also another owner—he’s also owned by my partner Lucy. And Lucy has very different ways of executing orders and frequency with which she does things, and I am not that way. I am a lot more spacious and a little more casual. So my slave was very confused by the clarity and frequency with which Lucy would activate her dominance over him versus my less frequent and more spacious dominance. And I really needed to have him understand that just because I don’t do things like Lucy doesn’t mean that I am incapable. So it was like a lightbulb went on in his head when—and it really didn’t take much—this talk clarified things. But I’ve seen him go from pushing a lot of his emotional needs onto me and try and get those fulfilled by me to understanding that those emotional needs are his to fulfill. They’re not my responsibility. And I have to say that that might not be the most illustrative story, but it recently came up and I thought, “I’m glad that this happened.”
I don’t know. I think that transformation for me is happening on several strata of my life quite a bit, quite frequently. Sometimes demarcating one way of being versus another way of being is difficult to see so I think that one of the things that I have found transforming about myself in isolation is how I view marijuana. There was a while when because of the shaming from my relationship partners, I felt ashamed about being high, or going out in public high, or being a stoner. And I sought to hide that part about myself, but there was still also always a cycle of indulgence and shame and indulgence and shame and escape. It wasn’t a healthy relationship. But then coming into contact with more people that see marijuana as medicinal, that engage with it in healthy ways, and meeting with a cannabis doctor, I was allowed to basically dispel all those bad feelings, and start seeing it as something more medicinal. I started to understand that it is a plant medicine, and that it’s not really something that I want to engage in all the time, because it’s medicine.
EW: It’s funny; that shame can lead to some pretty intense detachment. “I don’t want to be engaged with this thing if other people around me see it as X, Y, and Z.” But detachment is also a form of attachment, in the same way that disagreements are a form of agreements, or being anti-something is still calling that thing into being. So seeing marijuana as something medicinal is what allowed you and offered you the freedom to not be attached to it anymore.
DD: yes. Recategorizing it, but also seeing it as something that is not my private little secret. I think that cannabis culture is pretty trendy right now, and there’s a lot of news and legislation around it. It’s not like this naughty person thing anymore. And so I think there’s also a part of me that sought to be subversive and edgy and cool, like “Marijuana isn’t that thing anymore, so maybe I should re-evaluate all the things that I do because I thought it was edgy and cool, and just see how they make me feel now.”
EW: Definitely, and just see what I have in relation to that thing, clearly on its own.
The reason why I do this work is because I actually think will is the most powerful things in the universe. Will is the most powerful thing, and desire is the way in which we can access our will. One time my wife got on the phone with me and she read Thus spoke Zarathustra to me on the phone. And there’s this one line that Nietzsche says, that essentially says, “Will is my liberator; Will will emancipate me.” Or something along those lines. And that is something that has stuck in my head for a really long time. And I think that transformation is really stepping into desire, and stepping into will.
We are committed to a certain set of things; we’re committed to love; we’re committed to creating things; we’re committed to our jobs, our careers, fulfillment (personal or collective), making a difference in whatever ways that that looks like. But I think that we are stopped or blocked in a lot of different areas of our life. And we are blocked because of reasons, and things that are logical, things that are small that we internalize. And then suddenly those are the largest things in the world, and we don’t even realize that they’re there. We can’t see beyond them. They’re like blinders.
DD: I think that a lot of times they’re these limiting beliefs that have been programmed into us by other people.
EW: Or the lens through which we’re listening to other people is just amplified when other people say specific things. So I think that this work is so incredible because it totally subverts everything that is logical, because it completely shatters all the categories that have already been created. We are incredibly violent towards people, but we are violent towards people in a way that is loving. We commit acts of physical pain in a way that is caring. It’s like you said: we’re totally re-evaluating our sense of “wrongness”, our sense of shame, and the way we engage with our bodies. But I think that what’s most crucial is our sex and our sense of sexuality—I think it’s one of the most powerful feelings in the universe, because people will do fucking crazy shit in order to get their sexual needs fulfilled. So what I tend to do in my work is get somebody to understand, “Listen, you showed up here, you’re willing to undergo a beating for me, you’re willing to have me spit on you, to piss on you, to do X, Y, Z, to poke your eyes out, whatever it is that you’re into, just so that you can be close to me. Because what you want, what you desire is to be close to me. You showed up on time, you put down the deposit because you are so committed to being with the object of your desire that your will overcame all the fear, all the stigma, all of the physical pain and excuses. Now if you could be this in other areas of your life, you would be unstoppable. If you could navigate throughout all these different blocks, past all these different shames and reasons, past the little voice in your head telling you that you’re a shitty person, you would be fucking astronomical.”
DD: I think creating a safe space for somebody to connect with that strength within them, and that, like you said, the desire a way to step into will, is something that is very valuable and not practiced in our culture. We don’t necessarily provide that kind of safe space in daily life. A lot of us have these very rigid roles that we have to play into other people’s expectations and into society’s expectations. So when you and I are able to provide a safe space for somebody to really connect to that part of themselves deep within, it allows them to understand themselves at a new level, and then be able to take it outside of that safe space and apply it to whatever they want. But a lot of times, people aren’t tested in that way, so they don’t really know how strong they can really be.
EW: Yes! Isn’t that so crazy? So many people have no idea how strong they really are.
DD: I think that yoga is one of those places, honestly, where I’m able to overcome the chatter, all the negative, sabotaging, self-demeaning chatter that happens in my mind. And I think that for my clients I’m able to create that space where that chatter is highly diminished as well.
EW: Any last words on transformation or ways of being?
DD: Mmmm. I think one of the things about transformation is that a lot of the times it’s invisible. It’s not always going to work out and losing 50 pounds and looking a different way, although that is a form of transformation. It has a lot to do with internal work and deep psychology--it’s something that’s felt. I think it’s important to acknowledge all the ways in which you already have transformed, and to be proud of yourself for those—to savor the power that you’ve already been able to exercise over yourself.
EW: Can you tell me something that you’re grateful for?
DD: I am grateful for so many things. Living a privileged life where I’m not doing anything out of survival or desperation. I’m grateful for my mental ability to see out of situations that could be potentially hurting my self-esteem. I’m grateful for the community that I have of men and women—women mostly, but allies as well. I’m grateful for quite a few things that have happened recently. That show, Bonding, on Netflix, I didn’t watch it, and I’m maybe not that interested. And there was a lot of criticism from my community. But I think that because my partner’s daughter saw it and figured out that that’s what I do, now I’m able to open up a conversation with her parents about it, and come out of the closet a little bit more freely to her, because it was something that was really hurting me. To not be able to be myself but to have this very strong desire to connect with this teenager. But having to censor a lot of the things that I think and feel about feminism or sex work because her parents didn’t want her to find out something.
EW: That’s amazing. I think that’s transformation
DD: I think so too. It’s very liberating. And transformation is, if you think about it in terms of symbolism, it’s coming out of your shell, the re-inventing of yourself, the destruction of your former self and the reforming of yourself. If you think about it like a butterfly, you’re not a caterpillar anymore
EW: You’re a liquid!
DD: Right! And then you become this other thing, but that doesn’t mean that you were never a caterpillar.
EW: It doesn’t erase the thing that happened in the past. But it reorients you to the fact that you don’t have to be anything. You’re nothing—you can just create anything that you want!
DD: While you’re that liquid you don’t have to be a butterfly.
EW: Yea fuck it, you could become a fucking rabbit or some shit.
DD: Or a praying mantis!
EW: Yea exactly! Well thank you so much Dia. This was such a lovely conversation!
Dia Dynasty is an NYC-based dominatrix and witch who practices tranformational domination. She is also the co-founder of La Maison du Rouge, which is committed to elevating BDSM and fostering community through intersectional discourse and sharing personal narratives. You can learn more about Dia on her website, or about La Maison du Rouge on their website.