Can you tell us a little about your background, how you got started in being involved in this community, and about your current work within the community?
Danny Stygion: When I was 16, I watched a documentary on HBO called “Fetishes” in 1996. The documentary was about professional dominatrices at the New York Dungeon, Pandora’s Box. It opened my eyes to a hidden world of BDSM and fetishism. Around the same time, I came across Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, and Marquis Magazine. I’ve always been drawn to the sight of a beautiful woman in nylons. That was my first fetish.
In 2002, I started doing photo shoots and producing events. The 2nd fetish ball I co-produced featured Dita Von Teese as our headliner. This was a couple months after she had just been on the cover of Playboy Magazine. In 2010, I co-founded Sinical Magazine (along with Jack Mallein and M. Porcine), which focuses on elegant fetish and dark pin-up photography.
What is your overall mission in relation to the Kink/BDSM community? How do your two magazines, subspace and Sinical Magazine, help to accomplish this?
Danny Stygion: My goal with Sinical Magazine was to present fetishism with elegance. The magazine grew slowly, but we’ve now featured many of the most recognizable fetish models, burlesque performers, and photographers, such as Dita Von Teese, Masuimi Max, Bianca Beauchamp, Steve Diet Goedde, and Chas Ray Krider, among others. subspace Magazine was launched several years later, and focuses on professional Dominatrices and the BDSM community. We’ve built up a decent network, and we produce two social gatherings/fetish balls a year, which gives our readers an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded people in a safe environment and enjoy performances. We are working towards producing a monthly private and members-only fetish/BDSM gathering as well.
What can one expect to find in each issue?
Danny Stygion: The magazines feature 4-6 exclusive and high-quality photosets with interviews with fetish models, burlesque performers, and dominatrices. We used to have more articles and fiction pieces, but it’s hard to keep consistent writers. I shoot a lot of the content myself, and Angela Ryan helps stylize a lot of the covers.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? What is the most fulfilling?
Danny Stygion: Staying on schedule with people missing deadlines or not turning in quality content. Dominatrix sponsors changing their mind about their career path before the release of an issue.
The most fulfilling aspect is developing the network and reach of the magazine. Also, making an up and coming adult model, photographer, or dominatrix happy when we feature them.
What type of content do you feature?
Danny Stygion: Dark pinup/fetish imagery set against elegant locations or backdrops with moody/interesting lighting schemes. Stylized makeup and wardrobe, and fetish clothing focused on: nylons, corsets, latex, leather, etc. No cheesecake pin-up style photography. subspace Magazine focuses on the same, but has more Dungeon-type settings with interviews that promote Dominatrices, and articles that cover fetish/BDSM events.
How did your magazines get their start?
Danny Stygion: I researched magazine graphic design and self-publishing for several months before starting and launching the 1st issue of Sinical Magazine. The website was registered in November 2010. Print-on-demand services made it easier to publish magazines on your own, instead of having to spend thousands printing in bulk. Many magazines I’ve enjoyed and admired have disappeared from bookstore shelves, so I’ve been focusing on virtual distribution, e-mail marketing, and social media. I believe it is the way of the future for niche magazines.
How does one go about being featured in your magazine? How does one go about ordering your magazine?
Danny Stygion: We have submission information on our websites: www.sinicalmagazine.com and www.subspacemag.com. The images need to be unpublished. I rarely request a person to be in the magazine now. We receive enough submissions, and I shoot a lot of the content myself. People can order the magazines from our websites.
Are you a lifestyler as well? If so, how does this impact and/or benefit your professional work within the community?
Danny Stygion: I was married for ten years, and after my divorce in 2016, I started actively exploring BDSM and fetishism with various women in my private life. Post-divorce, I’ve consensually played with nine different women at Dungeon locations, hotel rooms, and even a graveyard once. I tried to have a personal D/s relationship with one woman, but it didn’t work out due to lack of communication and incompatibility. I did learn a lot from that experience, and I’ve had much better experiences since then. I’ve very busy, so I choose to explore kink in my private life when I have free time, as opposed to dating someone.
Can you elaborate on your photography, filmmaking, and publishing endeavors? Do you have any new projects you are currently working on?
Danny Stygion: I don’t do many trade shoots anymore unless it’s someone I really want to photograph for the magazine. I’m mainly hired by professional dominatrices to shoot their ads, and by up and coming models and burlesque performers. I shot a short film in early 2017 called “Solitaire”. My goal is to shoot another short film this Summer. I’m currently deeply involved in the co-production of the 8th Anniversary Ball for Sinical Magazine, which will be held in Houston. It is the biggest production I’ve been involved with. I would like to see the Sinical events develop into a multi-day event with workshops, play parties, and a ball. We are headed in that direction. I work with 3-4 other partners on these events: C. Baulch, J. Short, M. Porcine, and J. Mallein.
In your opinion, what is the best way to hone your craft?
Danny Stygion: To keep shooting and learning new lighting techniques. Keep an open mind. I’ve been shooting for 15 years, and I’m still learning. Editing a magazine and seeing submissions all the time has definitely helped me in knowing what makes a photo great, and being able to interview my role models about their techniques also helps a lot.
Do you have any advice for those that are new to the community?
Danny Stygion: If you are a model or photographer, I suggest you do some research and work with quality people, and consistently submit your work and develop a good portfolio. If you are exploring BDSM, there are events and gatherings in each city. That is one way to start.
What would you say is the biggest challenge the community faces at the moment? What can/should be done about this? How does/can your work help to remedy this?
Danny Stygion: FOSTA/SESTA has affected a lot of people in our community, and I believe it was safer for people when they had advertising avenues that had screening processes. It has affected the livelihood of many friends of mine who are professional dominatrices, and it has led to ridiculous censorship, such as hashtags like #lingerie and #stripper being banned from Instagram, for example. I try to do what I can with Sinical and subspace social media platforms, email newsletters, and magazines to help promote the people who support our mission.
Any closing thoughts?
Danny Stygion: I’ve poured what I’ve learned about producing magazines into an e-book guide called How to Create and Sell a Digital Magazine. I released this guide on Friday, June 15th.
Sinical Ball VIII will be held in Houston at the Westchase Hilton Hotel Ballroom on Saturday, Sept. 22nd, 2018, and will feature fetish and burlesque performances by Masuimi Max, Kimber Fox, Sabra JohnSin, and Mistress Genevieve. We will also have over a dozen guest dominatrices, workshops, a play party hosted by The Vault Dungeon, vendors, photo gallery, live body painting, and more. It will be a fun event and a night to remember.
About Danny Stygion
Danny Stygion (born March 21, 1980) is a photographer, magazine publisher,
filmmaker, and podcaster. He is the co-founder and editor of Sinical
Magazine, established in November 2010. Sinical Magazine focuses on
alternative culture and fetish fashion and has featured the world’s top
alternative models such as Dita Von Teese, Masuimi Max, and Bianca
Beauchamp. The Sinical Magazine Podcast was founded in 2015.
In 2013, subspace Magazine was launched, focusing on professional
Dominatrices and BDSM.
In 2015-2016, he produced a series of magazine issues for NightCulture,
Inc., a producer of live electronic music events.
In late 2016, he co-founded an independent film and video production
company called LP-1126 Productions.
Your Sinical Ball sounds awesome!
Thanks for publishing your magazines! I have been reading Sinical Magazine for years, and your work is top notch.
I appreciated being able to learn more about you.
Awesome interview! Definitely will check out your magazines, Danny!