Episode 96

Startling Burglars with Ariel Anderssen

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Show Notes:

Ariel Anderssen is a model, actor, author, property investor and is perhaps best known for her career as a BDSM model and performer. She is also mad about swords, both for using in stage fight and for collecting.

We cover a lot in this conversation, including talking about whether stage combat or martial arts training would be any use in a “real life” fight, and how Ariel sees BDSM and sword fighting as virtually indistinguishable from one another. After all, they both often involve black leather and giving someone a good thrashing…


Guy’s 1796 pattern cavalry sabre:

Guy’s smallsword:

Here is the link to the Zorro movie with the superb fight:

To find out more about Ariel, you can find her on her website, YouTube and Twitter.

GW: Hello sword people, welcome to The Sword Guy Podcast, this is your host, Dr Guy Windsor, Consulting Swordsman, teacher and writer. Join me for interviews with historical fencing instructors and experts from a wide range of related disciplines as we discuss swords, history, training and bringing the joy of historical martial arts into our modern lives. I’m here today with Ariel Anderssen, who is a model, actor, author, property investor and is perhaps best known for her career as a BDSM model and performer. She is also mad about swords. Now, before we get into the interview, I should perhaps mention how we first interacted, which was on my Twitter feed, I saw Ariel doing the splits on her sitting room floor, which by itself is not such an unusual thing, but she wasn’t wearing any clothes at the time. But this will tell you something about how my mind works. On the wall behind her there was a pair of what looked to me, like late 19th century antique foils crossed on the wall and so I sent her a comment or something asking about the swords. So there is a naked woman in a space on the floor, and I’m asking her about swords. So, Ariel, what is the story behind those photos?


AA: The story behind those foils is I love swords. I’ve always loved swords. Ever since I had a plastic one from a toy shop when I was seven or eight years old. I love them, and I’ve been a professional model for 18 years. But last year I finally had time to do some writing, and so I wrote an article for an online publication and I got paid for it. And I also got a lot of hate mail for it, and I thought I should buy something to commemorate being paid to write something for the first time. And I thought I’d like to buy swords. And then I thought, I’m very angry about all this hate mail and actually buying weapons with the money that I got from writing this article just felt like a beautiful closure. And so that’s why I bought them. So I looked on Etsy. I look on Etsy a lot at weapons, and I found this pair of German duelling foils with this beautiful, I can’t remember what it’s called, like a figure of eight hilt. Beautiful things. And it took up all the money I’d earned from my publication. But now it’s become a tradition. So every time I get something published, I buy a sword.


GW: That is a fantastic tradition.


AA: It’s a lovely tradition, isn’t it? My focus is split because sometimes I buy suffragette memorabilia instead. So, yeah, I kind of have these two things I want and so I sort of take it in turns. So I’ve only got three swords at the moment, but I’m hoping to get more because I’m hoping to get more published. And I imagine when I do, I’ll get more hate mail and I’ll need another sword.


GW: Yes, and when your book comes out, it needs to be a really special sword.


AA: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I’ve got my eye on some.


GW: So you say you’ve got them from Etsy?


AA: Have you not looked at Etsy for weapons?


GW: No.


AA: You should, you should. Where do you get yours from then? I mean, you’re probably buying different things. I don’t know if you’re buying antique.


GW: I have some antiques. Most of my sword budget goes on weapons are made for practice, so they are modern. Sharps and blunts but they’re going to get hit. I have a beautiful, beautiful early 19th century sabre. Which is this one here, I’ll put a photo in the show notes, which I got on eBay many years ago. It’s got this lovely patina on it and it’s just beautiful. And this is my champagne opening sabre.


AA: How?


GW: What you do is… wine bottles are made in two halves, which are stuck together.


AA: You know everything! I did not know that. You’re older than me but you’re not very much older than me. I feel like I’ve a lot of learning to do to catch up with you. Oh God. Well, OK. Carry on.


GW: When it comes to swords, that’s kind of my job.


AA: But wine bottles, I’m guessing, not so much.


GW: When it comes to cutting them open with a sword it is.


AA: So you cut them open with a sword?


GW: Well, kind of. OK, after this is I’ll send you a video of my 14 year old daughter doing it at New Year’s this year.


AA: Please do that.


GW: It’s not hard. I think any, any reasonably solid blade will do. I taught my sister in law to do it with a kitchen knife before Christmas.


AA: So I can do this with my swords?


GW: It depends on the structure. You need a fairly beefy thing because you need a bit of mass behind it. What you do is it’s easiest if you take off the cage and the paper. And you find where the seam runs up the side of the bottle. And where you’ve got that thick lip that runs around the cork. At the point where the seam and the lip meet, there’s a natural sort of point of weakness. So what you do is you run the back edge of the sword and not the sharp bit. You run the sword flat up the up the neck of the bottle. And the easiest way to do it is you kind of go one, two and then three and it just pops off. And what happens is the fairly heavy, rigid steel, don’t do this with a foil. It’s very difficult with a foil.


AA: I’ve got like a 1897 pattern infantry officer’s sword, so I think that might work OK. I might try.


GW: Yet I’m not that well up in the late 19th century swords, so you need to make sure that the blade is designed for actually hitting things. If it’s a purely ceremonial blade, you might break it off at the tang. A heavy kitchen knife would be a good place to start if you’re not sure.


AA: It’s not as fun though is it?


GW: You’ve got to learn somewhere though. As the fairly heavy, rigid bit of steel connects with that lid, a crack propagates around the lid and the cork flies off and you get the spewing of champagne,


AA: That sounds amazing.


GW: It’s a standard feature of all of my sword school parties.


AA: I’m not surprised at all. I love it.


GW: Well, you are very welcome. I’ll tell you what, if we ever get to have a glass of champagne together, let’s have a sabrage lesson.


AA: Totally. And yes, I definitely recommend Etsy for finding swords.


GW: Excellent. OK, so what other swords do you have?


AA: That’s it. Well, I’ve got fencing foils, but I’ve had them for ages and they don’t really count because they’re just from Leon Paul. So that’s it, because I’ve not written very much stuff that’s got published yet, and because sometimes I’m compelled to buy Emmeline Pankhurst things. I need more swords. You see, I can see some of your swords behind you and it’s making me feel a bit itchy about getting some more. So I’m at the beginning of my collection, so I only really started doing it last year because it hadn’t occurred to me that I could afford any. I just assumed they’d all be in thousands of pounds, so it was a shock to discover that they aren’t necessarily. So now I’m doing it.


GW: Yeah, and now is always the best time because they do tend to increase in value. Yes. So I mean, stores are going for a thousand pounds now were one hundred quid in an antique shop 20 years ago.


AA: How many do you have? Do you even know?


GW: As for antiques? I have a 1796 pattern cavalry sabre, which is a thing of glory. It’s not in very good condition, but it’s got its scabbard though. It’s quite a thing. I have a early 18th century smallsword.


AA: Oh, have you?


GW: I actually use this a lot for solo training. And even for some pair drills. It’s a pretty robust thing. And it’s got some damage to the hilt. And again, I’ll put photos in the show that I need to make a note.


AA: So we learnt 18th century short sword.


GW: Smallsword.


AA: It’s beautiful. Beautiful. And I loved it, but I never actually saw what we were pretending to be fighting with.


GW: It’s best to think of it as a knife, I think, because it’s basically a spike. It’s got this triangular section blade, which is relatively rigid and it’s got a sharp point. And its only function really is to make holes in people. If you read the books carefully and look at the illustrations, it is fought very close. So in feel, it tends to turn into foil fencing, which is further away. But when you’re actually really fighting smallsword, it feels to me a lot more like a knife fight than like a sword fight.


AA: OK, well, that would make sense, you know, because when I was doing my advanced qualification in stage fight, I did knife fighting and I loved it. I wasn’t expecting to because I thought it was all about swords. I thought everything else was going to be a kind of also ran for me. But I liked knife fighting very much. And I guess it probably was because it was very similar to my favourite style of fighting with a sword, which was the short sword.


GW: OK, so what kind of knives?


AA: Well, we had like blunt pretend knives. One of the things I think is maybe interesting because I’d love to hear what it’s like for someone who didn’t. For you, I don’t think you did any kind of theatrical stage fight stuff. Have you done any?


GW: I did a little bit. Because back when we were starting to do historical fencing, basically we came up with the idea of historical fencing. It kind of emerged or evolved simultaneously in various places across the globe. So we weren’t like, you know, the founders of the entire movement, but we figured out for ourselves that sport fencing was too artificial to do something more real. And then I stumbled across a book in my granny’s house, The Sword in the Centuries by Alfred Hutton, which woke me up to the idea that there are actual books telling you how to actually fight written in the period. It kind of started from that and our fencing coach, sport fencing coach, Bert Bracewell, who sadly died a couple of years ago, but he was hugely enthusiastic about all kinds of fencing, including single stick, which is like a three foot long stick with a basket on it, which works a bit like a sabre. Also, he did some theatrical stuff, including like Rapier, Rapier and Dagger, and what have you. And we thought, OK, this is the closest we can get to actual instruction in historical fencing. So let’s go and do these weekend training courses in like stage combat, which was really useful for doing things like putting on fight displays at medieval markets. That kind of thing.


AA: OK, so you have actually choreographed some fights? Oh yeah, right, OK, I wondered because of course, everything I’ve done, everything, everything has been choreographed, sometimes by me, sometimes by someone else. And I thought that maybe everything you’ve done has been improvised, I guess is the right word for it, where you haven’t had choreography. So I’m sort of glad that we’ve got a little bit of an area of crossover. But I’ve always wondered what the people who do this for real would think of the people who just do choreographed stuff. And I imagine there might be a little bit of hierarchical stuff.


GW: I can tell you how I look at it. Stage combat battle on screen or whatever and martial arts training have a lot of overlap in terms of the skills required, like weapon control, body control, ability to move that kind of stuff. They are fundamentally opposed in their goals because on stage, everyone should see what’s happening and nobody dies.


AA: And be able to replicate it over and over again.


GW: And in an actual fight. Nobody should see what just happened and somebody should die. So the kind of training you do to get ready for that hypothetical moment when you’re actually going to fight somebody for real is different to the training you do for choreography. But every martial art technique or whatever, every component of it is first trained choreographically.


AA: I didn’t know that.


GW: Let’s say you want to teach a student how to parry a sword strike to the head. You don’t do that by just throwing them into a sword fight how they get on. You choreograph it. It’s like, here’s a sword strike like this, OK, I’ll do the same thing again. Now you do the same thing and they learn it choreographically.


AA: I see, OK. No, that makes absolute sense.


GW: It’s like learning a language. You learn phrases by rote first. Now we don’t stay there for very long. Because it’s not it’s not useful for them to be super good at just the basic choreography and nothing else. But if they can’t learn the basic choreography, they can’t learn the system as a system. But also because we are not going to train anything that isn’t likely to be useful in a sword fight. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that looks awesome on stage that we don’t even know how to do. I mean, I took my kids to see the Black Widow movie. And those fights. I lose interest when things start blowing up, unless I’m blowing them up myself, that’s fine. But the athleticism of those actions, like so spinning around and wrapping your legs around somebody’s neck and flipping around, a bit of that. It’s like, Oh my God, that’s really, really, really high level shit.


AA: And the freedom to be able to concentrate on making it beautiful rather than concentrating on making it functional. There is a pleasure to that.


GW: Yeah. It’s an art. And you know, if you’re going to train somebody to be a good historical fencer or train somebody to be a good stage combatant person on stage. An awful lot of the training in the beginning would look the same.


AA: Yes. I don’t think I would have really realised that, and it’s kind of nice to hear that because I’ve always wondered because I did a lot of stage fight and I choreographed a lot. And I’ve always thought, would any of this be useful if I needed it in real life? And just the couple of times I have been in fights, it has been useful, but I’ve never tried to be in a duel, you know?


GW: So you say a couple of times you’ve been in fights.


AA: Yes.


GW: Do you want to tell us about that?


AA: Oh God. Well, it wasn’t much. I’ve never been in much of a fight. But when I used to live in London, a couple of times I saw people like beating up other people on the underground and stuff, I mean, it’s the sort of thing you see, and so I intervened a couple of times and it was just nice to discover that my reflexes sort of were in working order. I did manage to break up those fights. And that was only with stage fight and my big loud, posh voice, I guess. So maybe it was more to do with that than my fighting skills. It’s not like I picked up a sword. But yes, some of those techniques from the unarmed combat stage fight I’d done. Yeah, they do work.


GW: Yeah, I’m actually I’m actually surprised that they would work because like when you hit somebody on stage, you’re not supposed to actually hit them and hitting a person is actually a skill.


AA: Yes. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Like I’ve done all these fake punches to people’s faces, all of them. I mostly missed. But I suppose that just I guess it maybe just gives you a little bit of confidence and a little bit of, I guess, you’ve got just a bit of vocabulary with how to use your body in order to be aggressive. I suppose it’s that, because I think maybe if it hadn’t been for doing some stage fight, it would just wouldn’t have occurred to me to kind of get into any kind of physical situation. Maybe, I don’t want to overstate this. Like this wasn’t like in a movie. This was me just kind of pushing people around really and shouting at them. “Stop that.” It certainly makes me think. I had a stalker a couple of years ago who turned up at the house. So now I am a little bit more nervous at home than I used to be, and my husband was asleep upstairs and my niece was staying and I heard a noise downstairs. And I went down to investigate and I realised I picked up my infantry officer’s sword.


GW: Good choice.


AA: I just felt, well, all my training is in stage fight, but if I have to defend myself and my family, I’m going to be more competent with this than with anything else. So it’s not like it meant nothing going through that training, I don’t think. I mean, it’s obviously it’s far more useful for trying to make beautiful looking things than it is for actually winning fights, I’m sure. But at least it’s a somewhat related field and some of those skills I have maybe a little more confidence they would have done as a result.


GW: And it’s just a fortunate coincidence that you happen to have the sword off the wall to wipe some dust off it when you heard the noise, and forgot it was in your hand when you went downstairs and you were surprised by this burglar. He just leapt at you. And it’s really unfortunate that as you startled, the point came up and he just ran onto it.


AA: Whereas I feel as though the training you’ve gone through makes you actually feel quite safe because you actually do have some well-founded confidence that you could probably cope with someone attacking you.


GW: Yes, and no.


AA: Oh, tell me about the no.


GW: OK, well, the thing is, yeah, I’m reasonably fit and reasonably strong, and I can run pretty quickly. So, you know, I can probably get out of trouble just fine. But the more you study actual fighting, because most of the stuff I’m studying is, this is how people killed each other in duels and on battlefields and what have you many moons ago when swords were like the default sidearm. And also in duels. So this is like the real thing. But when under mortal threat, you don’t rise to the occasion. The phrase is, you sink to the level of your training. And what you are good at is what you have trained to do. So there are multiple examples of, for instance, someone who has trained to do disarms, so they are really good at taking knives off people. And in their training, they take a knife off a person then they hand it back so they can do it again. And so when this person is actually attacked by somebody with a knife, they take the knife off them and then give it to them back.


AA: OK. Do you think that’s what would really happen, though?


GW: It has happened. That has actually happened. And I forget how that particular story ends. My suspicion is the person was so startled that they ran away. But it’s just true that that under that kind of really intense pressure, all sorts of things happen that you wouldn’t expect. And this usually can be traced back to some kind of artefact of your training.


AA: Yes. And I think it’s probably fair to say that it’s people who aren’t very good who probably feel invulnerable as a result of like six weeks of karate classes or something. I guess the more you know, the more aware you are of what you don’t know and what you might not be capable of, I suppose.


GW: And if you’ve done any sort of training, for example, with daggers or knives, unarmed defence against a knife against someone who’s really trying to cut you and has even the vaguest idea of what they’re doing. You have to be unbelievably good to get out of that without getting at least cut. It is really hard. It can be done. There are people who can do it, but if the person who’s attacking you has even a comparable level of training, you’re toast.


AA: Yeah. That would probably be true.


GW: So my approach to the whole self-defence thing, I’m not terribly interested in self-defence because it’s not a very sophisticated scenario and the way you train for the physical self-defence stuff is very simple actions at very high intensity in very stressful situations. That’s how you train. And it’s kind of dull. Whereas if you have a duel, you have two people you’ve agreed to be there and there’s the opportunity for the highest expression of their art to come out. And that, to me, is beautiful. It’s art. And that’s where my actual interest lies. So when it comes to self-defence, my approach is mostly I live in a fairly safe area. I don’t go into dangerous places. I don’t get drunk with people, I don’t know. Things like that.


AA: Yeah.


GW: And I went on this weekend seminar with Rory Miller, who’s been on the podcast before, who is a self-defence expert. No question about it. And the entire seminar was how to think like a criminal so that you can anticipate where they’re likely to be and what they’re likely to do, so you can avoid them.


AA: Oh, wow.


GW: Right? This was like there was like 60 of us and we were all fairly kind of, you know, rufty-tufty, happy to have a bit of a wrestle, a little bit of a knife fight or whatever, you know.


AA: And he was basically saying, don’t. Don’t get into a situation where you need to.


GW: We were happy to be wrestling and knife fighting in training, not on the street. We were all there because we understand that the sort of the specific kind of fighting techniques that you get in almost any martial arts class are either not going to work in a normal self-defence situation or they are totally inappropriate to a normal self-defence situation? OK, I have swords all over the place, and my friend Kaja Sadowski was staying here a while ago, and she was sleeping in the study. Sorry, “they”. They are non-binary. They like knives a lot. And so I made sure there was a knife in every drawer just so that if they woke up in the middle of the night and wanted a knife there was one in any drawer that they might open.


AA: Very considerate hosting.


GW: But the main knife drawer, you couldn’t really see that there were any knives missing because I’m a blade person. But if I hear a noise in the middle of the night, as does occasionally happen, and I come downstairs, I do not take a blade with me.


AA: Look at you being responsible.


GW: No, it’s not that. I mean, if you hit somebody with a stick and you do it right, it’s pretty effective. But if I, with my profession, take a sword and stab somebody, there is a reasonable assumption in law that maybe I didn’t actually have to do that. I’m in a very weak position. But if I have a stick and there are sticks all over the house too, mostly for shoulder presses and things, and there were swords to hand, but I chose a stick. And it still went very badly wrong for the person who came into my house. Then I can say, well, look, I had the option of the sword. I took a stick instead because I wasn’t intending to kill anyone.


AA: Yeah, no. That’s a really good idea. Yes.


GW: But you’re in a different position. A woman in her house, somebody comes in, with no particular martial arts training or anything, that kind of stuff. And you take a sword of the wall, which you would dusting. You were dusting it, at two in the morning and you were dusting the sword because you can’t stand dust.


AA: Because to be honest, I think in the moment what I was thinking was a naked woman with a sword would be such an odd and frightening thing to find that they might just run away.


GW: You missed out the naked bit earlier. I have to adjust my visuals now.


AA: So I think I was thinking of like shock and awe of the visual probably.


GW: Are you familiar with Modesty Blaise?


AA: Is this a burlesque performer?


GW: No, Modesty Blaise is an action and adventure character written by Peter O’Donnell.


AA: Oh, so there’s a model who’s taken her name, OK. Right, she’s a character.


GW: Very possibly. So you see, she’s a sort of James Bond type person and her sidekick, Willie Garvin, and they’re both amazingly good at martial arts and gadgetry and super cool. But she, and this is fiction, obviously. But she has this technique for like, let’s say somebody is in a jail cell and there’s like four guards sitting and playing cards outside the jail cell, and she has to deal with all of them quickly. And she needs a technique for getting that critical two second head start on them as she comes through the door. And I think it’s called the Nailer. And what she does is she takes her top off and she goes in topless and four blokes, eyes riveted to boobs. And in that moment, Boom! There is that distraction.


AA: Perfect.


GW: So it works in fiction. But you’re the first person I know who’s actually tried it in real life.


AA: Yeah. And there wasn’t anyone there, so I don’t know if it would have worked, but it certainly I felt quite confident in the moment.


GW: I just realised we have been talking for like 53 minutes. And I got to my first question.


AA: OK, well done.


GW: Don’t worry, this is podcast gold.


AA: OK, now I’m going to answer the question.


GW: OK. We’ve talked about stage combat a bit, let’s go on to your book. I have read part of it, which you sent me, of your memoir, and you draw a parallel between learning stage combat and your inherent submissive tendencies, which is quite a story and something I hadn’t really thought of before.


AA: Really?


GW: Yeah.


AA: You see, to me, sword fighting and BDSM seem like almost indistinguishable from each other.


GW: OK, let me explain how they’re fundamentally different. In sword fighting, you try and stop the other person from actually hitting you.


AA: Yeah. I never tried very hard with that. I should probably explain. So I trained originally as a ballet dancer. I wanted to be a ballet dancer and I got far too tall. I’m six foot two. But I loved dancing. I loved it. And when I was 18, I got a back injury, which meant I had to stop dance training. So at that point, I just got a place at London drama school to do the dancer’s course and I couldn’t dance. So they very kindly let me transfer to the actor’s course, so I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t think I was particularly interested in acting, but I thought, well, I’ve got this place. I might as well try it. So it turned out I loved acting. And then in my second year, we started stage fight training. And the first thing I thought was, oh God, this is like dancing. This is so similar. The way it makes me feel. It’s the same. It’s beautiful shapes. It’s just like dancing with teeth, I guess, it’s like with a different intention. But certainly the choreographed fighting, there’s so much beauty and refinement to it. It felt very much like coming home, really. It felt like accessing that world that I lost through dancing, and it was a little less physically demanding so I could just about do it despite my injury.


GW: What happened to your back?


AA: It should have been very, very minor. I got a couple of compressed discs in my lower back from doing a lot of gymnastics, and they just set up a sort of kind of domino effect that I started getting like sciatic pain. I started getting the neck pain as a result, as I tried to change my posture to protect my lower back. So I mean, it’s a very ordinary kind of injury. It’s just unfortunately for me, it was one I couldn’t really recover from. I’m hyper mobile, which is great for dancing and modelling in lots of ways, but it does make you really vulnerable to injury. And so when I got an injury, it was sort of game over for dancing and gymnastics, but it wasn’t game over for stage fight. So I started taking stage fight quite seriously. And as soon as we got to the point where we were actually having fights, I mean, only choreographed fights, but with other the people, I thought, Wow, this is really hot. This is really sexy. And I think I had the good fortune to be being taught by someone who I remember him saying in class, sword fighting is like a metaphor for sex.


GW: Oh really? I don’t think my wife sees it that way.


AA: Well, so by the time I knew enough to be choreographing my own fights, I made sure I lost because I thought it was much more fun. And I guess if I’d been doing it differently, not in a choreographed sense, the only way I could have demonstrated my ability would be from winning, I suppose. But with stage fight, you can lose everything if you want. And so I did. And so my book is called Playing to Lose because it’s about how I have kind of gone through life manufacturing ways to experience this thing that I’m looking for. And stage fight was the first way I found of doing that. At the time I was training in stage fight at drama school. I didn’t know BDSM was an actual thing, so I thought I was just all alone with this interest. But yeah, it now occurs to me that the other people who took it seriously in the class probably weren’t into BDSM. They just liked it for itself. And I find that extraordinary because just it just seems so inherently sexy. I mean, it’s this beautiful physical display, apart from anything else. And then like, people are hurting each other. A lot of the unarmed combat stuff you do in stage fight, there is actual physical contact. You know, if you’re slapping someone around the face, you actually do it. Quite often, I mean, depending on what you’re doing. But I liked it, and I still a lot of the things I enjoy in BDSM now are things I did in stage fight class.


GW: Like?


AA: Well, like face slapping, like twisting arms behind backs and all of that kind of stuff. So it’s more the unarmed stuff than the sword fighting things. But you know, how to pull hair so that you can get the kind of pleasure of it, but without pulling someone’s hair out. I mean, that’s a technique we learnt in stage fighting. How to dramatise something and not make it ridiculously painful, because I’m doing this stuff on video, so quite often we have to redo things so you want to be able to do things safely. So all the stuff I learnt about face slapping has been really useful to be able to pass on to people who might be slapping my face in a video. So I’m very interested to see if anyone who listens to your podcast would see the things that I see in fighting because I think maybe I’m just terribly, terribly unusual in that regard to see the parallel.


GW: I don’t think you’re entirely alone.


AA: I hope not. I hope not. Because you never want to be alone, do you? I mean, it’s hitting people with sticks. And BDSM is also to some extent, you could break it down to that.


GW: You must remember when Google put all the adult blogs behind a sort of sign up wall thing and MasterCard playing silly buggers with various porn producers and what have you and the British government deciding that you could only produce videos and get paid for them if they could be given a normal rating? All of that absolute shite.


AA: Yes.


GW: And it got me very angry because of many reasons. But specifically, it’s like, OK, people who do historical swordsmanship, we dress up funny, often in black leather, funnily enough, and whack each other with specialised implements, and do so in a sort of ethical and consensual manner.


AA: You can put it on YouTube if you want. Yes, I see the parallel.


GW: But if the government is going to stop passing laws about one kind of dressing up in black leather and whacking each other with specialised implements, they can apply that to another.


AA: I suppose that’s true. Yeah, I suppose that’s true. And I suppose they probably wouldn’t have done because there isn’t the kind of prurient sexual element, but it is not fair.


GW: It doesn’t make any sense.


AA: It doesn’t make any sense.


GW: OK. I watch movies with my kids, and it’s perfectly all right for you to see bullets going into people and blades going into people and then screaming in pain and dying. That’s apparently good, clean fun. But smacking someone who likes it, that’s somehow worse?


AA: That’s an interesting parallel.


GW: It doesn’t make sense to me at all. I think it comes down to the sort of puritanical prurience, you know, violence is fine, because that’s war and honourable. But sex is not because… I can’t come up with a reason.


AA: It just isn’t.


GW: Because it’s inherently naughty and bad. No one would be here unless people were shagging. But plenty of people would still be here if we stopped murdering each other.


AA: Yes. That’s a very good parallel. And it’s an argument I wish I thought of at the time when we were going through the last iteration of the government trying to shut everything down. But next time that’s what I’ll say.


GW: It’s nuts. OK, so how did you get from your drama school doing stage combat and really enjoying getting slapped in the face and then you became a career BDSM model. Most people going to drama school don’t end up in that profession.


AA: I think that’s true. I graduated and the first thing I started doing, I wanted to do Shakespeare. So I started doing Shakespeare, like low budget theatre shows and tours. And I also wanted to choreograph fights for theatre, specifically Shakespeare. So I did start doing that, and I realised that I was choreographing fights always for men. And I never got to do the fights myself, because at least at the time, there really weren’t very many roles for women doing sword fighting. I think it is a little bit better now that Game of Thrones had at least one sword fighting woman in it. But at the time there weren’t any jobs coming up where I got to use my skills as a performer. I could get work as a choreographer, but not as a performer at all. And I had carried on working. I kept on being cast as Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream over again because of my height. And I wasn’t making very much money. I was playing the same role over and over again. I ran out of money. I had just done a low budget film that hadn’t been paid for a month. I hadn’t got enough money to get my headshots redone. And I was approached by a couple of photographers in the street about modelling for them. So I thought, I wonder if I could get someone to take my pictures for free in exchange for me modelling for them. Clearly, there are some photographers who’d like to photograph me, so I just wrote to a random professional photographer in my area and said, would you be interested in doing that? And he said, yeah, actually, if you don’t mind doing artistic nude work, it’s quite hard to find models for that and I’ll shoot your headshots for free. So I went along to do that and loved it. A little bit like when I found stage fight, I just found a way to use my dance training modelling. It’s all about making beautiful shapes with your body. And it was less physically strenuous than actual ballet. And I just loved it. So I put my portfolio of new pictures up online. I started getting paid modelling work. And so my first week as a model, my second ever shoot was with someone who, lovely lovely photographer who said, would you like to come to a gallery at an exhibition with me after the shoot? And I hadn’t actually ever been to an exhibition. And I thought I was quite excited, like a photography exhibition. So I went along with him and it was a BDSM exhibition. And it was when I realised for the first time that I wasn’t on my own, I thought this was entirely just my own weird interest that no one else would share. And I was suddenly in a gallery full of representation. We were talking about how much representation matters earlier. Suddenly artistic representations of all of my fantasies. And I realised that I’m not alone, that this room must be full of people who I didn’t know existed. And so by the end of the night, I had business cards from all these artists and photographers who made BDSM work. And so I haven’t only done BDSM modelling since then. I’ve done a wide variety. But as time has gone on, I have built my reputation. I’ve been able to do more and more BDSM work and less and less of the non-BDSM stuff, which has been great. So I mean, it’s a very niche and strange way to make a living. I guess maybe you would relate that when people ask us what we do. I think a lot of people think, how can you possibly do that for a job? How does that possibly work? And I guess if you just find something you are lucky enough to love enough to put the time into learning to do it well, then sometimes you can. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to carve a career out of doing exactly what you love. And I think that’s what I do, and I hope that’s what you do. It sounds like it.


GW: No, I hate swords and sword fighting. What I really wanted to do, I wanted to be an accountant.


AA: So many people do.


GW: But my parents made me do swords.


AA: It’s strange to have to do a job that basically no one really knows exists.


GW: No one who doesn’t already know has the faintest clue what I actually do for a living. So when they say, what do you do? I have two answers, usually. If I don’t want the conversation, when they say, “what do you do?” I say, oh I’m a writer. They say, what do you write? I say, non-fiction stuff in a really kind of niche area, and leave it at that. But then if I have the spoons to have the conversation, I say, well, I teach people how to fight with swords. And then I explain a little bit. And the next question always is, so do you work in movies and TV?


AA: Oh, right. So that’s where they go to, because that’s where they’ve seen it.


GW: The only time people swing longswords they’ve ever heard of is in Game of Thrones or something like that.


AA: No, that totally makes sense, right? Yeah.


GW: And it’s like, then I have the conversation of well, actually, no, I’m doing the historical stuff, which is related, but it’s not the same because they have opposed goals and what have you. Depending on how they respond to that, we might just let the matter drop, or I would geek out with them about history and books and swords and mechanics and training and all the other stuff. But yeah, it’s kind of odd having a job that you can’t explain to someone. I mean, if I say I’m an accountant, everyone knows what that is, even if they don’t really? I love my accountant. She’s amazing. And she’s really, really good at like spreadsheets and numbers. And I’m like, her job is to keep me out of jail. That’s it. And her nature is she naturally likes things like spreadsheets and accounts, and she actually likes that stuff, right?


AA: Yes.


GW: And I don’t. So I find someone who really likes it, and I get them to do it. And they’re happy because they’re getting paid to do what they want to do. And I’m happy because I don’t have to do it.


AA: Yes. It feels like an immense privilege if you do get to do something for your job that you would have done for free. I did used to do this kind of thing for free. You know, dressing up and pretending to be other people was exactly what I was doing as a Shakespeare actor, and sometimes I was doing it unpaid because I wanted it for my CV. And now I get to be paid, and I’ve never stopped seeing that as an extraordinary privilege. The really lovely thing about doing BDSM professionally is you only get to do it with people who are good at it, who know what they’re doing, which as a submissive.


GW: Really?


AA: I turn down a fair amount of work, so I get offered work I don’t think would be safe or sensible to do, but because I’m selective, I only work with people who are basically expert in the field of BDSM. And so broadly speaking, I feel really safe and I’m doing it with some of the best people there are to do that stuff with. It’s really nice as opposed to if I was a professional submissive where people were paying me for sessions, then often I’d be being spanked by someone who’d never done it before, I imagine, or caned by someone who had never held a cane before.


GW: That could be pretty nasty.


AA: Yeah, it could be awful, couldn’t it? Because as we know, doing something physical like sword fighting, there are plenty of ways to get injured and BDSM is no different from that.


GW: Weapons control takes practise.


AA: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And so the privilege of being able to do BDSM with people who are actually good at it is considerable.


GW: Wow. OK. So you segued into it. And I mean, if someone offered you a Shakespeare part now, would you take it?


AA: Yeah, I might do. I might do, because I’d thought of acting and I did love doing Shakespeare. I wouldn’t play Helena again. I can tell you that.


GW: Well, actually Ben Crystal was on the show last year, and he’s doing some really interesting stuff with Shakespeare. So maybe you should go talk to Ben.


AA: Oh, I think I was listening to that. There’s a couple of them that I’ve started listening to and I haven’t finished yet because I got excited by another one. So I listened to the whole Mike Loades one. Again, too many interests. I’ve got all of your podcasts to catch up with, but also all the dressmaking.


GW: Well, OK. So the next question on my list was actually what part do swords play in your life now. I think we’ve kind of covered it. It is mostly so you can startle burglars while naked.


AA: Yes.


GW: And you’re a collector.


AA: Yeah. And I love watching anything, any movie that has sword fighting in it, really any kind of fighting, but especially swords.


GW: Because I absolutely hate it. Why? For the same reason that so many people in the BDSM world hate Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s done wrong.


AA: Oh. And I think my ignorance protects me to some extent because generally, I think it looks great, the modern stuff. Because of because of the way things are being filmed. I often really believe it.


GW: It looks great unless there’s swords or armour. I do shoot, but I can sort of tolerate the gun stuff which isn’t quite right. But yeah, as soon as the swords come out, you can just see that in this actor’s hands, it’s not a sword.


AA: Go ahead. Sorry, no. No, you go ahead. Sorry, I just interrupted out of great excitement. Well, I just wanted to ask are there any films where you feel like it has been done really well?


GW: Yes, the Princess Bride is a brilliant.


AA: Oh good. I’m glad. I was scared you were going to say that it was awful.


GW: Well, it’s not historical, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s beautiful. It’s a fantast movie and it’s a fairy tale and is a perfect fairy tale. So it’s fine. And anyone who doesn’t like that fight, I’ll see them after class. On the more realistic end of a spectrum, Ridley Scott’s The Duellists, the fight choreography by Bill Hobbs.


AA: Oh, I’ve not seen that.


GW: Oh my God. The opening fight is a smallsword fight between a cavalry officer who is a trained killer and good at it, but doesn’t know smallsword and a young civilian who has a bit of fencing training but can’t really fight. Those are the characters.


AA: Sounds awesome.


GW: The performance is unbelievably good. It goes exactly the way it should go.


AA: Oh, wow. All right. I’ll watch it.


GW: It’s not a beautiful execution of early 19th, 18th century, smallsword perfection. It is a sword fight as it would go with these two people, these two characters, if they met, that’s what would happen. It’s beautiful.


AA: I agree that when you find things that feel like that to you. Obviously, I don’t have so much knowledge, so it’s easier for me to get that feeling, I’m sure, than it is for you. But it’s wonderful because one of the things I was often aware of choreographing sword fights is that I always thought the reality would be much messier than this.


GW: Yes, generally.


AA: And it would be much more hesitant than this.


GW: That depends.


AA: I feel like there’d be a lot of kind of waiting, circling.


GW: It depends. There are there are famous examples of duels just like that in the most famous that the two cousins of Ancona, some 16th century duel, I’ve forgotten the details, who fenced not as if they were cousins, but as if they were blood brothers. Because they were too hesitant to fight each other and they were ridiculed for it because a duel is a social thing. The role of the duel is primarily social. You do it for prestige and honour, and because if you don’t, you’re going to be ostracised as a coward.


AA: Right.


GW: OK, which is incidentally why I think duels are unethical because when you have that kind of social pressure, you don’t have genuine consent. It’s coerced consent.


AA: Yes. Yeah, I agree.


GW: But you know, there are some people who just really like that sort of stuff. And who are famously good sort of marching in and bang, bang, bang, splat. Killing their opponent and off they went.


AA: Yes, I suppose it would depend very much on the character of the people fighting.


GW: If I was in the ring with Floyd Mayweather, I forgot his name. The big boxer chap, it would be more like, Oh shit, okay, okay. I’m running away and running out of the ring, and everyone would laugh and I would never hold my head up in the boxing ring again because Floyd would knock it off. But if you look at two heavyweights like world class heavyweights fighting each other. Of course, there has to be some fear there because they know that there’s a pretty good chance of getting their faces smashed in. But they are trained for that environment, and they’re good in that environment. And however the fight goes, you don’t see them behaving the way you or I would behave in the same situation.


AA: So I guess really, if fighting in film was better, we’d see more variety, I suppose, we’d see all of that represented. And we probably don’t really, not yet. But I think my feeling is it keeps getting better because if you look back at like the old Zorro films, it was horrifically bad.


GW: One of the best, best, best sword fights on screen if you like late 19th, early 20th century Italian duelling Sabre, there is one of the Zorro movies, I’m blanking on which one, but I’ll look it up and put it in the show notes for listeners. It has an absolutely superb sabre fight in it. Absolutely superb. You see, the thing is, my experience has been that the closer a sword style is to modern sport fencing or the fencing of the period of the movie, which back when this movie was made, it was basically classical fencing. Rather than what we think of as modern sport fencing. The closer it is to that, the better it tends to be done.


AA: OK. Yeah, that would definitely make sense. The sword fights that I remember seeing from old movies. Often it was like the sword that was going to be used for the parry would arrive before.


GW:  And you still see that in modern films. When I took my kids to see some movie or other, I forget which, there was a trailer for a movie which had some kind of sword fight on top of a moving vehicle. I think it was on the train. And there were swords. And it was clearly some kind of like Avengery, science fictiony, and my elder daughter looked and me and said, that’s not very good, is it, Daddy? I was like. No. Did you not see that bit where he turned around and put his sword in the way so that, he was clearly anticipating what was going to happen and he just put his sword there so his opponent could hit it. And that made it into the trailer.


AA: Oh, wow, OK, that’s alarming, isn’t it? And I’ve seen a lot of like swords clashing above people’s heads. Like where the sword was never intended to ever hit a person. It was just like, well, we’re going to bang our swords together.


GW: Blades cut. And when you when you’re fighting with a long, sharp blade, it’s different with a smallsword, but with a long sharp blade that cuts, the way you tend to use it, should be with an awareness of the fact that it’s a cutting blade. Like a kitchen knife, like a big kitchen knife. Rather than like a stick. The mechanics of cutting somebody’s arm off are very different to the mechanics of whacking them in the head so their skull breaks. Because you need to use the sliciness of the blade to actually get the job done properly. I mean, it varies a little bit from blade to blade and from style to style. But how you see the big swords being used is invariably as if they are big heavy sticks. Game of Thrones being just, yeah, any time the longswords came out I just closed my eyes.


AA: Oh no. Did it make you sad? Oh, I’m so sorry. Sometimes knowledge can impair your enjoyment of it. It’s really a shame that that happens, but of course it does.


GW: There aren’t that many sword fights in it, and I could just sort of close my eyes and the rest of it was good until Season 8 when it went absolutely to shit. But the first seven seasons were great. Now, I did want to get on to one other thing, which was your Twitter bio mentions property investment?


AA:  Oh yes. I do love houses. That’s another obsession.


GW: OK, you want to tell us about this? OK, let me just put a bit of context on that. One of the difficulties of doing what you really, really like to do for a living is it can actually be difficult to make real money doing it, and it can be difficult to provide some kind of income for the future when you’re not physically capable of doing it any more.


AA: Absolutely. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.


GW: Yeah, I have a bunch of strategies I’m using, for my posterity, if you like. But I’m just curious as to how the property thing came about and how it works.


AA: And I will tell you, do you do property yourself?


GW: Not the way you do. I own the house I live in and I do own the salle that my students train in, in Helsinki.


AA: Oh, right.


GW: But I’m not a landlord in any sense. When I moved to Finland in 2001, I rented out the flat I owned in Edinburgh for a few years before I sold it, and I’ve rented out property and I have two at the moment.


AA; Yeah, so you’ve experienced it? Yeah. OK. So I think ever since I was 18 and I got injured and I realised, wow, the way I thought I was going to make money has just evaporated. I’ve been very aware of that as an issue. And I went into another physical job, not as physical as ballet, but it’s still physical. And I was always aware that modelling is seen as a very front loaded career. Actually, that’s not been my experience, but ever since I started modelling at 25, I thought it was about to be over. At the time I started, I thought, maybe I’ll make it to being a professional model until I’m 30 and then it will probably be over. Then I thought, maybe I can push it to 35. So for my whole career, I’ve been sort of expecting it to end any time soon. And I know that, you know, having to have major surgery would very likely end my career. Any kind of accident could do the same thing.


GW: Why?


AA: Well, because as a model, you have to be physically able, but you also have to look a certain way. And if you’ve got like a massive scar, you just might find your work evaporating. I know a few models that that sort of thing has happened to. So it does make you very aware of your vulnerabilities. And so I was looking for something I could do to secure an income that didn’t depend on my physical ability to do anything, really. And I had a terrible landlord when I was at drama school. One of us didn’t have the rent. It wasn’t me, who didn’t have the rent one month. And he said, “Oh, well, I’ll fuck you then, would that be alright?” So, you know, really bad. Really, really, really bad. Awful. And then a few years later, I had a really good landlord, and he was the last landlord I had before I bought my first flat and it was him who really allowed me to live somewhere safe while I saved the money for my flat. So I was aware that you could be a terrible landlord or you could be a good landlord. And I thought I will try to be a good landlord. So I started acquiring property. To begin with I just rented out the flat that I bought for myself to live in when I bought a house with my husband instead. And then I started buying more. So my aim at the moment is to buy one a year.


GW: OK, that’s quite ambitious.


AA: It is quite ambitious. Yes, it is. But that’s my plan. I want to have 10 and 10 would be enough for me to retire, and I don’t want to retire by any means, there’s still loads I want to do.


GW: But you would be able to retire?


AA: And in the process, I want to provide safe, good housing for people. I particularly would really like to. I’d like to specifically rent to kinky people, especially kinky people in my industry. A lot of them are quite frightened of discrimination. So Airbnb, for example, if they discover you’re a sex worker, won’t let you use the platform. Not for work. Not at all. Like, they’ll kick you off the whole platform so you can’t have your holidays through Airbnb. PayPal as well. Some banks won’t let you bank with them if you are a pornographer, even though the work is legal. So a lot of us are quite afraid of discrimination, and so the idea of being a kinky-friendly landlady is really quite an appealing one to me. So that is my kind of long term aim is to have kinky tenants.


GW: If anyone listening is kinky and needs somewhere to live in the UK, then have a word with Ariel, she’ll hook you up.


AA: Yes.


GW: OK, do you mind me asking, how do you finance that?


AA: Just through modelling. Yeah, just through modelling.


GW: I mean, you must have mortgages and things.


AA: I do have mortgages.


GW: So you’re not making enough money every year that you have the spare cash to simply buy a house.


AA: No, not outright, no.


GW: I didn’t think that was the case.


AA: No, no. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? But no, I’m getting mortgages.


GW: But your bank will lend you based on your modelling income?


AA: Yeah. Like modelling, BDSM modelling turns out to be really well paid. Isn’t it awful because it’s not much like a job.


GW: Banks like to see long term employment contracts and things like that.


AA: I’m long term self-employed.


GW: You’ve got the accounts going back far enough, I guess.


AA:  Yeah. And I’m a limited company for my modelling work, so I think it makes you a little bit more kind of removed. I mean, everyone who I work with in property knows that I’m a fetish model. You know, I’ve never pretended to be anything else. But if your income is pretty regular, it’s behaving in a sort of predictable fashion and has done for a while, then it’s alright.


GW: So, yeah, do they lend the money to the company or to you?


AA: To the company. But the company is only me.


GW: That’s an interesting way to do it.


AA: Yeah, it’s quite convoluted and annoying. There are lots of extra hoops to jump through, but yeah, it does make it possible to do. But actually the first couple I bought, I just bought in my own name, not through my company, and that was OK as well because I pay myself a salary. So I’ve got the evidence of that. So it’s OK. Yeah, it’s OK, but I want to say you don’t need a massive income to be allowed to do it. So to get a buy-to-let mortgage, you only need to be making about thirty five thousand pounds a year to buy a fairly cheap property. As long as you’ve saved up the money for the 25 per cent deposit. You don’t need to be making half a million a year to do it by any means. Because really they know that you’re going to be paying the mortgage with the rent from the flat, so they’re not expecting you to be able to show that you’d be able to pay eight mortgages if no one was living in any of your houses.


GW: So do you have any insurance policies against what happens is the flats are empty for a while?


AA: Yes, I have rent guarantee insurance.


GW: I didn’t mean that’s like an insurance policy with an insurance company, I meant sort of like other things, other irons in the fire.


AA: I have them as well. Yeah, I’ve got I mean, the good thing with property is that you can always decide to change how you use it so you could use it for short term holiday lets, for example. Or I mean, you can just sell if you’ve got a property that really isn’t renting well, as long as your finances are in good enough order. One of my flats was empty for three months while I renovated some stuff, and as long as you’ve got just some cash in reserve, you don’t want to be kind of putting everything, every last penny you have into investing in property because you do need a buffer for stuff going wrong. Because it will, always it will. Yeah, but actually, the more property you have, the less of an issue it is if one of them becomes a disaster. The chances of them all becoming a disaster at the same time are very small.


GW: Like if everyone stopped buying my courses, they’d probably still be buying my books for a while or if one book tanks then the other books will carry it.


AA: Exactly. So diversification often makes you less vulnerable, doesn’t it? I don’t buy in the same place every time, I buy in a wide variety of areas, for exactly that reason.


GW: Can I ask, where do you have properties?


AA: Totally. London. I have Barry in South Wales, I have Wolverhampton and I have Telford at the moment, and I’m just looking to buy another one in South Wales at the moment.


GW: OK, excellent. You should come to East Anglia.


AA: I love East Anglia. I love it. My dad is from Norwich, well, North Walsham, really, and we used to go on holiday a lot. I love it. I love it in Norfolk. Or maybe you’re not in Norfolk.


GW: I’m in Ipswich. So technically, I’m supposed to not like you any more because your dad’s from Norwich and Ipswich and Norwich hate each other with a fiery passion. But I only moved here like six years ago, so I have all the local prejudices yet.


AA: I love it and I haven’t actually looked a property in the area. I don’t know what it’s doing, but really it’s one of the things I do if I can’t sleep, I just look at Rightmove. Like, look at areas I don’t know and see what the kind of trajectory of it all is.


GW: Okay, so you buy a place, do it up as necessary. I assume you use contractors for that?


AA: Yes. I do my own painting and wallpaper because I love it. But everything else, I’m useless at.


GW: And then you put it on the market. Somebody rents it, and it’s done. Do you use agents for that?


AA: Yes, I do. Because I travel, well normally when COVID isn’t happening, I travel a lot. So I know I can’t be leaving my tenant without electricity for two weeks because I’m away. So I have agents for all of them so that tenants can get immediate responses if anything goes wrong.


GW: I have a couple questions I ask most of my guests. The first one, I am fascinated to hear your answer to this one because it’s because you’ve done so many different things. But what is the best idea you have not acted on?


AA: Oh gosh, I have so many ideas, so many. And maybe this is the same for you. I feel like people with these really abiding passions, they often have more ideas and they can possibly act on. So I have a book idea that I haven’t written – property investment for models. I desperately want to write it. I desperately want to, and I just haven’t had time. There’s a spanking movie I want to produce called, did you ever see the drama Quantum Leap? OK, I want to make a spanking movie based on that.


GW: OK, tell us about your spanking movie based on Quantum Leap. I am fascinated.


AA: So Quantum Spank will be about a scientist who keeps being shunted into other people’s bodies, into different historical situations where they’re just about to get punished for something they don’t really know what it was for. And I think it might be a little bit of a Jesus complex thing because you’re kind of being a martyr like you’re kind of experiencing this punishment that someone else has earned, that you’re like taking it on. I mean, not through choice because you’ve just been kind of magicked into their body. But the idea of that, someone getting sort of stuck in a loop where they’re just jumping from one historical scenario to another, where they’re just about to get punished again. But it’s very ambitious, and it would need a lot of props and a lot of locations. And I keep putting it off because it’s a lot. So I have many ideas like that that I just can’t take action on them all. But I’m hoping that if this book, I’ve got an agent. But he’s currently trying to get… he’s like, what’s the word? What’s it? Oh, the word is “submitting”.


GW: Hmm. It’s apt in this case.


AA: It makes me want to write another book called On Submission, because that’s what my memoir is on at the moment. On Submission sounds like a good title for a book. So hopefully, if I get a publishing deal for this one, I can start working on the next one and I have many, many ideas for what the next one should be. So those are some of the ideas.


GW: So you need to finish the book that you’re writing at the moment?


AA: I’ve finished it.


GW: Oh excellent. And remind us of the title?


AA: Playing to Lose.


GW: Playing to Lose. Does it have a subtitle?


AA: Not yet. It might have to have one because I don’t think many people would know what it was, would they. It will probably need to be called “Memoirs of a Submissive Model” or something. Probably.


GW: You’re looking for a publisher for that? And you have an agent. Okay. So you’re going the traditionally published route?


AA: Yes.


GW: Excellent. And you want to write a book for basically how models can get into owning property?


AA: Yeah.


GW: That’ll be fairly easy to market because it is a very specific niche.


AA: It is very specific. Yeah, I just I basically want to write it for my friends because models are always asking me and I just want to put all the information in one place, really.


GW: People are always asking me how to make a reasonable living as a martial arts instructor and particularly through the pandemic, where I couldn’t go and teach in person, and yet we were somehow fine because of online courses and books and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah, I keep thinking I should probably just write out like the principles of how to make a living, not in person when you have a traditionally in-person job?


AA: Absolutely. Yes. Yes. So that’s really what I’m looking to do.


GW: And what was your book, On Submission, really about?


AA: My book On Submission? Well, that’s one of the ones I haven’t written yet. I just I’d like to do one, because my memoir is obviously very focussed on me. You can’t get away from it. And I’d like to do a book where I get to talk to other people really, I’d like to interview other kinky people. I’d very much like to do a book where I find people who have been harmed by perceptions about BDSM, people who’ve lost their jobs because of it, people who have experienced discrimination, like the father of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl from Walton on Thames. So he had some bondage magazines in his loft, which the police found and that made him a suspect.


GW: Oh my God.


AA: Yeah. So they completely botched the investigation because they fixated on this, “Oh my god. Well, he’s kinky. Oh my God, he’s probably a murderer.” And stories like that. When you when you start asking you find a lot of stuff like that. Not as high profile, but similar miscarriages of justice as a result. So I’d like to write a sort of more outwardly focussed book on that.


GW: OK. And maybe those books would make loads of money, and with that money, you can produce Quantum Spank.


AA: Yeah, eventually one day, maybe. It is my hope. I can see it all in my mind and in those situations, you really should do something about it, shouldn’t you? Because that that vision doesn’t go away. If there something you want to do, you should do it. So I will.


GW: Yeah, that’s pretty much how I operate. I have all these ideas and I usually write them down somewhere or whatever. And then I will find myself on a Tuesday morning or something busily at work on a project I hadn’t even thought on Monday I was going to go anywhere near. But it turns out this is the thing I need to do next. And so I just do it.


AA: Yeah, it’s a lovely feeling.


GW: Yeah. OK. So my last question. OK, I usually ask my guests if you had a million quid to spend improving historical martial arts worldwide, how would you spend it?


AA: I wouldn’t know.


GW: Well, quite. So if you had if you had the money to put towards some other cause, where would the money go and why?


AA: I would use it to bribe every single media outlet who ever publish any stories about pornography or sex work, I would bribe them to have a sex worker or a pornographer represented every time they discuss it. That’s what I’d do.


GW: Wow.


AA: Because I’m very tired of seeing people talking about my industry who don’t know anything about my industry, and there are lots of intelligent and articulate people in my industry, in my community, and they are not given the chance to talk on these matters. So at the moment, we’re seeing something where online modelling, a lot of people believe that it’s basically sex trafficking. That the women doing it are trafficked. Now, anyone in the industry knows perfectly well, that’s not the case. I mean, there may be some people who are trafficked, but a massive majority of us have never met anyone who’s been trafficked, never met a trafficker. I mean, our industry is full of people who are consenting to be there. As you’d know, if you were in the industry because you see that you see models turning up in their own cars being paid into their own bank accounts, doing work they want to do.


GW: Whereas the construction industry is full of trafficked people.


AA: Yeah, yeah. Or agriculture, I believe.


AA: I would very much like it if when these stories go onto TV, etc., there would always be a sex worker putting their side of the story. And I feel like bribery might be the only way I’d get that.


GW: It’s not the sort of thing that, yeah, it’s hard to see how you how the money could do that. Like, because…


AA: I just can’t think of another way to do it.


GW: Yeah, I think just paying the editors directly probably wouldn’t work in the long term.


AA: I mean, I’d give it a shot. Once it became a thing, a traditional thing that, you know, there are lots of things we don’t discuss on TV without having a professional represented.


GW: I know that people watch football a lot. Personally, no, but I know other people do. And there are always these completely boring people wanking on knowledgeably about what they just saw. And most of them are ex-footballers. That seems reasonable.


AA: Yes. Yes. So I would just like to bribe enough people for it to become a thing that we do when we discuss sex work. We obviously have a sex worker on the programme. And once it became like a normalised thing, then hopefully I wouldn’t have to bribe any more people.


GW: Maybe set up some sort of fund to fund investigative journalism into these areas. But with actual competent journalists who are being paid by this media outlet that the money creates to find out the actual truth about what’s going on.


AA: Actually, I remember now, that’s another idea I’ve not acted on, to make a documentary where I go and try to find models who’ve been trafficked into my industry. Yes. Because I feel like I wouldn’t find them, but I would be interested to try.


GW: Yeah, that would be. Hmm. You’re going to need a lot of money. There’s work to be done.


AA: Yeah, I know. But isn’t it nice to have the kind of mind where you’ve got far more ideas than time or money.


GW: I find it useful to remember that if you have a lot of ideas, some of you are likely to be good. But I think the percentage of good ideas remains pretty much constant, whoever you are. So to have ten good ideas, you need to have a thousand ideas, total. If you only have 100 ideas, you have like a one in 10 shot of one of them actually being good.


AA: Yes, yes. So having more is better.


GW: I’ve got billions of ideas written down various things, which many of which I haven’t acted on because they turned out to not be a great idea.


AA: You probably would. You clearly have like quite a wide range of interests within your field. And you want to have your books and your courses and you want to be teaching in real life. And you sound like the sort of person who always has more ideas than time as well.


GW: Yeah. You still have to have time for doing things that aren’t work, like flying planes.


AA: Yeah, obviously. Yes, yes.


GW: Well, thank you very much indeed for joining me today, Ariel, it’s been lovely talking to you.


AA: You are very welcome. Thank you very much for having me.