Dr. Ivan Rusilko is one of our newest authors at Omnific, and while he is deep in the editing process with his co-author, Everly Drummond, and their editor, he took some time to answer a few questions about how this whole "erotic romance novelist" gig fits in to his other life, that as a medical doctor. Read on for an intimate look at the good doctor's day job...and find out how the two jobs complement each other quite nicely!
You’re a doctor AND an erotic romance novelist. How do you reconcile the two? Or better yet how has your foray into writing women’s erotic fiction complimented or enhanced your clinical approach with helping patients?
Writing is an expression – a creative outlet that kind of surprised me and invigorates me – but medicine and helping people is my passion. My medical career and writing goes hand in hand in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Working as a wellness, weight loss, physical enhancement and sexual health physician, I love asking the question to all of my patients, "If I gave you $500 million dollars, financial security for the rest of your life, would you take it if it meant you could never have sex again?" I have yet to find a taker. Working in these fields enables me to improve one’s overall quality of life which is a very powerful thing. One of the most important factors I have found contributing to quality of life is sexual health which is a combination of nutrition, fitness, hormones and creating a new kind of normal when it comes to women’s psyche. Correcting the first three is easy - it’s all science and physiology, consisting of labs, hormones, supplements/medications, diets, and exercise guidelines. Correcting the last one, a mental shift, is the hardest and most important one to tackle. I have the privilege of working with a clinical sexologist in my office, but most patients and physicians don't have that luxury or accessibility. Now, I have also come to find the majority of patients that I am lucky to see happen to be women ranging in age from 20-60. So what makes a women tick and tock in terms of libido? For men it’s easy, give them some testosterone, Viagra and a good X-rated movie and they become Casanovas behind closed doors. Women are a bit more delicate and have to be mentally stimulated not just physically. Erotic novels were a perfect fit for this predicament and I saw it as a chance to help usher in a kind sexual liberation for women wanting to explore, or in some cases turn the volume up regarding their sex lives and let their freak flags fly. Mine flies high, so I hope The Winemaker’s Dinner can inspire women to let theirs soar as well. I hope to start writing two scripts this summer for women looking for a libido lift... One clinical and the other cerebral, for The Winemaker’s Dinner!
So the Book is about you? Is it based on fact?
I can honestly tell you that every experience in that book holds a special place in my heart. From the places Ivan and Jaden travel to, to the food they eat, the smells they indulge in and of course the passion they share... every single one of these things means something to me. This series truly is my romantic memoirs mashed up in a fictional story arc with a girl that is the combination of my romantic triumphs and tragedies, rolled into a singular, mind, body, and soul of a fictional heroine, Jaden Thorne. Now I just need to find my very own Jaden. Anyone have any suggestions as to where I might find her? I am currently single looking to mingle!
Single!? Are you serious or is it a marketing ploy to drive the readers crazy?
Hahaha! Well once you read the first book in the series, Appetizers, I think you may understand better and find the answer to this question. I was taught to always be a gentleman; you know, open doors and always buy dinner, coats over puddles and all that. I grew up in a very small town where that kind of behavior was the norm, but being flung into an environment where chivalry is rare if not entirely dead, one can be a bit intimidated by the "scene." Everyone has different expectations and things that seem shiny and perfect at first, can sometimes lose their sparkle. Luckily, I have a few key wing men and women who have helped out in this department. But as you will find when you read the book, once the pleasantries are over and the seed is set, the "gloves" come off and the shy farm boy turns into a…well, you’re just going to have to read it to find out...
Back to the link between erotica and medicine…women, sex, and society what is your opinion?
I believe women are on the verge of a long overdue sexual liberation. The days of Fabio-laden covers are gone and replaced with the anonymity and privacy e-readers provide, so reading these books is not a scarlet letter of sorts anymore. I honestly don't see why magazines like Maxim and Playboy are socially acceptable to read yet the second you mention an erotic novel you are labeled as a pervert. Hell, I love my girly mags, don't get me wrong, but women need a little fantasy – and a little mental stimulation goes a long way. If my wife or girlfriend was interested in reading these books, I would spend a month’s pay to stock her up with enough reading material to keep her busy for years. A good dose of fantasy and smut for her means somebody’s getting lucky tonight! Viagra costs about $15 a pill and a print copy of a good erotic novel is around 15$... 2+2=4! Husbands, boyfriends – take it from me, encourage the woman in your life to give it a try – or better yet, read it with her. How’s that for spicing things up?! Ladies you’ve got homework to do. THIS doctor prescribes adding The Winemaker’s Dinner to your reading lists and taking charge of your own sexual liberation! Viva la liberation!
Okay, so you are a medical Doctor?
Yes... I think I should start being offended when people ask me that! Just kidding, but I do get asked that every day. Yes, I may wear designer shirts unbuttoned down to there and no white coat to speak of. I have long hair and not a buzz cut, wear an earring instead of glasses, and I’m only 28, but I am a doctor. Even more, I actually hold the national title of Media Expert in Exercise, Diet and Sports Nutrition for the American Osteopathic Organization. The MIAMI Institute (http://www.miami-institute.com/) is my professional home that I share with 6 other world-renowned board certified specialists, and is one of the most internationally recognized medical clinics specializing in anti-aging intervention, located at the prestigoius Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. The services we offer range from facial and body plastic surgery, to cosmetic dentistry, skin care, therapy, and also have a medical esthetician on staff. And of course yours truly sits as the weight loss, wellness, physical enhancement and sexual health go-to-doctor. I have the privilege of meeting and working with amazing patients with fantastic stories every day and have the ability to make them look better but more importantly, feel better and improve their quality of life. It is an amazing opportunity to have and get to practice every day. I still hold fast to my motto, "The best cosmetic procedure is adding a smile," which of course I happen to specialize in as well. ;)
Tell us about your Sexual Health Program at The Miami Institute (http://www.miami-institute.com/). Your website touts, "Medically supervised sexual health by Dr. Ivan Rusilko." ::waggles eyebrows at the good doctor:: What kind of program or regimen might patients experience under your care?
Well before your mind starts to wander, it is actually a very in depth process of gathering information, a unique battery of testing, and the formulation of a comprehensive regimen to maximize one’s sexual health.
Playing a medical sexual nutritionist, I test for all vitamin and mineral levels currently present in the body with a very unique blood test. The reason I like to do this is because certain nutritional deficiencies like vitamin B, zinc, and vitamin E can result in a dysfunctions in the chemistry of sex. For example, poor zinc levels (oysters have very large levels of zinc ;)) can result in decreased testosterone, sperm count, and libido in men. In women it can lead to vaginal dryness. Not a good combination!
As I transition to my role as an osteopoathic physician specializing in fitness, I evaluate the core musculature in terms of strength and endurance. Having a strong core, results in better, more powerful sexual motions that can be sustained for longer periods of time. I suggest adding various exercises to my patient’s current routine to tone and strengthen these muscle groups and improve their performance.
Next, it’s time to play medical doctor. Evaluating hormone levels is the main staple of sexual health medicine. Once I have these results, I can then go to work devising a regimen consisting of hormone replacement, nutritional guidance and supplementation, as well as fitness exercise to turn a love-sick pony into a sexual stallion. New and unique medications can be used to augment the sexual experience, furthering the benefits.
To cover the emotional bases, I have the privelge of workling with one of the few clinically licensed sexoligists in the country let alone the world, Dr. Rhonda Fine, who is fantastic at identifying all the mental triggers and brain chemistry imbalance involved in sexual dysfunction. She can then guide patients through therapy sessions and also consult with me about how to maximize their sexual selves. Working together we can identify mental, physical, and emotional stressors that may be hampering the very complex nature of sex as a whole.
A bit of a long-winded answer, that I bet you were not expecting, eh? Sex is a science and I make it my business to try and help all of my patients reach their romantic peaks, regardless of what age they are.
You are only as old as you feel right?
If readers want to take their sexual wellness into their own hands and kick start a better sex life, but can't find their way to The Miami Institute (http://www.miami-institute.com/) or onto your waiting list, what kinds of things, besides reading The Winemaker's Dinner, would you recommend they try on their own? Are their certain foods or vitamins, or even exercises they can try at home?
Honestly, there are so many factors that can influence how someone perceives sex and sexuality. First, I would say be honest with yourself. What trips your trigger? Second, be honest with your partner and ask, what trips theirs? Third, be open with each other and trip each other’s triggers figuratively and literally. Have fun and explore new things. Sexual health begins at the mental level and grows with physical stimulation. Books like Fifty Shades of Grey and hopefully The Winemaker’s Dinner are what get the mental juices flowing, and then all you have to do is nurture them.
In short, eat a clean diet, exercise that core, stimulate your sexual imagination with books like The Winemaker’s Dinner, and get to MIAMI to see me and my team!
You seem to be very much about women – helping them as a physician and also as an author, providing them with the fantasy that could inspire the sex life they want. Why are you so passionate about women’s health issues and sexuality?
With me, women always come first... ;)
Personally, I think the female form and the female mind are beautiful things. It is a shame that so many women feel they have to lock away what is their own personal Picasso because they feel uncomfortable, or that talking about sex or sexy things might somehow be inappropriate. Sexual health is an extremely important part of overall wellness and quality of life. For men it is easy. Through their eyes, sex is everywhere, God bless it. However, for some women they often internalize or compartmentalize sex and feeling sexy, reducing this vital part of their lives into something they shouldn’t talk about, much less desire. This isn’t fair. I want women to have the equal opportunity to be just as sexually liberated as men by all social standards. Plus, it would inevitably make our (men’s) jobs much easier. ;)
You mentioned earlier about the acceptance of men’s magazines and the role reversal for women. Why do you think society puts a ‘Madonna’ stigma on women’s sexuality, but not men’s?
Because women haven’t fought back or stood up for themselves. All the famous feminist powerhouses who weren’t afraid of rebellion or backlash against this kind of ideology are icons. Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Madonna, Lady Gaga, and even Marylyn Monroe were all rebels in their own respects, but they are “larger than life” –women may not know how to incorporate those extreme forms of expression into their lives. They embraced their sexuality, and women dig that because they wish they could be that strong and powerful, but feel constrained by what everyone else may think if they did. People say don’t hold your feelings in because if you do, they’ll eventually break through. Sexual frustration can be every bit as overwhelming and difficult to manage. Just because you are not on a stage or in some other public forum, doesn’t mean you can’t take charge of your own sexual satisfaction—the rise in popularity of erotica and erotic romance books have made this both more acceptable and more accessible for the average woman.
Do you think women are every bit as sexual as men, only they’re better at hiding it? Or are so many women trapped in a self-imposed sexual repression?
Yes, one hundred percent! I have found through careful research (hahaha), that the more reserved a woman is in “society,” the more sexually liberated she is in private. This is why I believe that those women who embrace their sexuality live much more authentic, eventful, and enjoyable lives. I think this topic calls for a clinical study to prove this theory. Anyone wishing to take part in this romantic research project please find me at The MIAMI Institute (http://www.miami-institute.com/) in Miami Florida. ;) All kidding aside, women are every bit as sexual as men and I think it is time they let their hair down and prove it. Claim it!
It’s got to be tough being a man in a predominantly female-authored genre. As a doctor, model, former bodybuilder, and Mr. USA, do you find that now by adding erotic romance author to the list of accomplishments that you are fighting a brand new kind of stereotype or that you have a new hill to climb? I bet people think you’re just the cover model, don’t they?
Well, I always say that I want to be the apple on a table full of carrots, so being a male author in this genre definitely fits that bill. I like to think that I am beginning to climb a new hill. Having something to strive for inevitably makes us work harder. With the amount of radically different things I am involved in from medicine to modeling to politics to writing, I find that challenging yourself helps you excel in all aspects of life. Adding novelist to my resume now will just encourage me to work that much harder to succeed and maybe then another door or opportunity will be revealed to me, whatever that may be. That, and hopefully it will give me an extra pick up line when I am out on the prowl ;). I am a novelist that is a part time doctor… or is that vice versa. Hmmmm…
As for the assumption that I was just the cover model, well I got used to it real quick at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago this April. Yes, being considered a cover model would have been great four years ago when I was intent on being classified as a professional male model. But now being in the industry for this long, I have come to find that being a male mannequin isn’t as glamorous as I had once thought. I do rather enjoy the sly smiles, the dropped jaws, and the gasps when they learn that I am not only the cover model, but that I am also co-author of the book. Then of course comes the question, “Did you really write any of it? Or are you just hiding behind your co-author?” Fair enough questions, but I have found a real passion in writing and once I find something I enjoy or discover that I’m good at, I usually go all in with it. Case in point - just look at my resume. So, I do see some very interesting things in my future after The Winemaker’s Feast Trilogy.
What has been the response from the romance or erotica community so far? Do you think they’re ready for a man like you to entertain and tease them?
Thus far the response has been overwhelming from fans, media, and fellow authors. I love saying that... fellow authors. I am super excited to jump head first into the deep end that is romance/erotic literature. It seems like fans in this niche’ are true fans and I dig that!
Tease?! You make it sound so evil. Well, I hope they are ready because I’m ready and extremely excited to share with them my kind of romance/erotica through the written word. I think they will definitely enjoy it… I hope my friends and fans enjoy it, but never anyone in my family. They’ve been banned from ever reading it!
Are you ready for the very real possibility that YOU will become the real life romantic Hero and the object of their fantasies and affections?
If I can help women really understand and begin a dialog that expresses their sexuality better and improve their overall quality of life, I will consider this whole endeavor a success. Becoming a romantic hero doesn’t sound so bad now, actually it’s quite groovy, but let’s get this first book out and I will happily revisit this question if and when it happens… fingers crossed!