On February 23, the New York Times profiled Georg Friedrich Haas, a 62-year-old Austrian composer and Columbia University professor whose works have been commissioned by opera houses worldwide.
The article praises Haas’ recent spurt in creativity and prolificness, recognized and applauded by his peers in the contemporary classical music industry. Haas credits his artistic revival to being dominant in a slave play relationship with his wife, Mollena Williams-Haas, whom he met in 2013 and married in September 2015.
Haas, who has been married 3 times before, says that his music was previously limited because of his inability to explore his sexual desires. His work is better now that he can, he says.
“Mr. Haas said that he felt liberated after what he described as a lifetime’s and three divorces’ worth of suppressing what he once considered “devilish” desires. The change has altered his music in ways both quantifiable and more ineffable. He said that his productivity had roughly doubled since meeting Ms. Williams-Haas, which will delight his fans…
His move to New York several years ago to take the position at Columbia seemed to open up new personal possibilities. “The most important step,” he said, “was to accept, yes, I want to be dominant. Yes, I love to play with pain.” These are matters he had long considered, even if unconsciously, in his music, he said. His exacting, virtuosic style gives a whiff of the dominant-submissive to the composer-performer relationship. The same can hold true for the composer-audience relationship, particularly in works like Mr. Haas’s third string quartet, “In iij. Noct,” 50 minutes performed entirely in the dark. The JACK Quartet will play it on Wednesday at the Austrian Cultural Forum.”
Williams-Haas does not say much in the profile, aside from briefly speaking on the racial dynamic of a black woman playing slave to a white, European man.
“Ms. Williams-Haas, who described the situation as feminist because it is her choice, said, “I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way.”
She conceded the discomfort many may feel with a black woman willingly submitting to a white man. “It’s a struggle to say, ‘This is genuinely who I am,’” she said. But she added, “To say I can’t play my personal psychodrama out just because I’m black, that’s racist.””
Williams-Haas is expected to make Haas’ life “as comfortable as possible.” Speaking at the Bawdy Storytelling event, Williams-Haas revealed that this includes serving as his muse, being sexually available to him at all times and having sex with other men that he selects for her, as he watches. She refers to him as “Herr Meister” which translates to “Lord and Master”. The collar Williams-Haas wears around her neck signifies that she is owned by Haas. This arrangement is not atypical of dominant-submissive sexual relationships, however the racial dynamic obviously raises eyebrows.
So who is Mollena Williams-Haas?
The 46-year-old has a long and prolific career exploring kink, BDSM and alternative sexual lifestyles, which she also discusses on her website, The Perverted Negress.
She is an author, performer, speaker, teacher and has been quoted in publications including Essence, Ebony, Huffington Post and the New York Times.
On her website Williams-Haas insists that she is able to separate her desires to be dominated from her history as the descendant of American slaves..
“…we, as Black women, are often expected to carry the weight of history such that even expressing our sexuality must be an act scrubbed clean of anything that might resemble non-consensuality. Furthermore, the idea that we are aware of and deliberately choosing to express ourselves as sexually liberated is fraught because we can’t possibly escape the crushing jaws of institutionalised racism. Any Black Woman who would agree to submit, as fantasy or even for a few minutes in a music video, must be a self-hating Negro who needs to have her Mama sit her down right now and talk some damn sense into her…
I think it is rather a shame that we are proscribed from enjoying particular flavors of sexuality because of our racial heritage, ethnicity, skin color, what have you.
I understand why. I absolutely understand that people perceive this as a dangerous slippery slope. I cannot help but wonder at how much more slippery it is for us to step out of authenticity. Is it preferable that we deny our core sexual desires for the sole reason that it “looks bad?” How slippery is it when we, the casual observer, make assumptions about the self-esteem of the players involved in the exchanges we witness?
I have worked for many years to center myself and focus on creating a positive, grounded basis for my submission. This has not been easy. I struggled for years with the idea that my submission was an insult to my ancestors and an affront to other Black women in particular. I realised, though, that living my life in a way that is truly authentic to myself and doing so from a place of honesty, humility, and self-respect is more critical than covering my singular light under a bushel basket of fear. I absolutely believe it is a far worse fate to spend my life wondering “what if I’d just…?” than to wade in, heart and arms open, damn the torpedoes slings and arrows and experience the damn thing.”
However, in a recent blog post, Williams-Haas spoke honestly about the difficulty of playing slave to her husband.
“It is easy to give lip service to submission. It is more difficult to actually bend one’s will to another when you’re rebelling against those things you are ordered to do. It is extremely difficult when you are struggling with feeling like you absolutely know what is best, and yet you are obligated to walk the path differently because of the will or whim of the person you serve. Trust needs to be built and maintained and, when damaged, given room to grow…
I have found myself having to choke-chain my own demon in order to protect my owner from the rage and teeth and fangs she’d undoubtedly use to deleterious effect if let her run rampant. I have a bad temper of my own, but that needs must be checked lest it further fuel his, and tip the balance away from the path of healing upon which he is so newly embarked. It can feel deeply frustrating to feel as though I have to be the one in control while he struggles to learn to trust me. And, most troublingly, it is difficult to maintain my own boundaries, to remain in integrity with The Prime Directive while I am, myself, questioning whether or not my obedience is Righteous And Right or Dangerous And Damaging. It can be tough to look within yourself, teetering on the edge of a maelstrom’s moiling murky maw, and wondering if you are embodying a good slave or a whipped jade.”
Listen to Williams-Haas discuss meeting Haas in a story titled Lucky.