Behind The Art #16: Aivil/Jokey

Firstly I’d just like to take this opportunity to remember both Shad Gaspard and Hana Kimura. Both taken tragically early from us. My thoughts go out to all those who are grieving their loss at this sad time and I’d like to dedicate this article to both of them.

I’d also just like to start this edition of Behind the Art by saying that when I initially started doing this series I had no real idea about what direction I was heading in. It probably showed and probably still does but I think I finally now know what I am aiming to do. I feel that within the last couple of editions you can see huge improvements and my aim is to keep getting better. What I’m trying to show you with these articles is wrestling from a different perspective. Whether it’s interviewing wrestlers and letting them show another side to themselves that you wouldn’t normally see whilst watching them in the ring or just getting a fans perspective of what turns you on and excites you in the wrestling world, I hope this section of the Scottish Wrestling Network website is just as welcome an addition to your consumption of pro wrestling content as all the rest. What I’m really trying to say is thank you for reading my articles and I hope they are providing you with some sort of entertainment and maybe some inspiration in your own life. Thank you.

But that’s enough from me… let’s move on to the main event…

I can’t tell you just how much of a pleasure it was speaking to this wonderful woman. I talked to her over a period of time and a couple of the final questions in this interview were only answered recently with recent events sadly in mind. I admire and thank Aivil for the strength of feeling with which she expresses herself and highly admire her sentiments. Thank you Aivil.

Photo credit Sandy Smith Photography

She’s an artist inside the ring and loves to create outside of it too. I’m so lucky and thrilled to be able to bring you a very special interview with former and, no doubt in my mind, future ICW Women’s Champion Aivil.

I won’t ask you to introduce yourself Aivil because those who don’t know who you are by now should be ashamed of themselves and should go right out and research you work right away. But can you give us a brief biography of where you come from and about how you came to be residing in Scotland.

Hi everyone, thank you for your kind words, but in reality I’m not that special. Just a regular freaky monster 🙂

I was born in Italy and lived there the majority of my life. I moved to Scotland in 2016 for working reasons and with the dream of continuing my wrestling training with some of the very best wrestlers in Europe.

Great. Thank you. Now, Italy has such a rich and illustrious art history doesn’t it? Art must rub of on just about everyone there. I understand you like to draw. What kind of things do you like to draw?

I’ve always been a very creative person. My imagination always runs wild and literally everything (a song, an object, a colour, a person etc) can turn into the most unexpected source of inspiration for me. I like to let my instinct and emotions drive me through everything I do, so my drawings vary a lot.

I love to draw comics and fantasy characters, cyborgs and monsters, but I also like to do portraits, to draw flowers, fashion outfits and there was a time I was also into tattoos sketches.

Nice. Do you have any particular favourite artists? And what about them or their work inspires you?

I love Paolo Barbieri’s art, his elegant trait, the colours, the curves and his ability to improvise on everything. If you guys have never heard of him, go check his art out. It’s stunning! And he’s Italian like me!

To be honest with you, there are so many contemporary artists I love, just to mention a few of them: Kiyo Kyujyo, Luis Royo, Victoria Francés, Xiao Fan Chuan… like I could spend the whole day mentioning artists as I read so many manga and illustrated comics too that it is easy to come up with names. Referring to more classic art, I’ve always loved the colours and the technique of the Impressionists and the perfect proportions and details of the Neoclassicism.

I’d like to touch on your love of manga and comics later on if that’s ok because I understand you like to write also but first I’d like to ask you about your in ring persona. Wrestling is a major art form in itself. It requires a lot of skills that wouldn’t be out of place in say dance or ballet as well as contact sports and it incorporates all the theatricality of acting also. With that being said you include an extra special aspect to your character don’t you? Tell us about your face paint. When and how did that all begin? Has it become a ritual in your performance? And where do you get the inspiration from?

There was never a day I wrestled without my face paint on. For me it’s like wearing a mask that allows me to kick my shyness away for awhile and create that relationship with the crowd that’s so essential in what we do. We are athletes and also storytellers. If we don’t engage with the crowd we’re partially failing as wrestlers. Even though I look very confident from the outside, I have many insecurities. The face paint is a brilliant method, at least for me, to cope with insecurity and let my spirit free.

My inspiration might come from everything around me. Of course, being a clown and a demon priestess, my main inspirations are fellow freaks and Gothic creatures. Paxxo and I, back in the days, took part in a project called Painted for War, where we asked our friends and fans to help us find a character to inspire our next wrestling make up. I think my favourite one to do was Scar, from the Lion King.

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You mentioned clown and demon priestess there. Just how did Jokey and Aivil come about?

Both Aivil and Jokey are fragments of my personality. Of course I took inspiration from books, movies and fantasy characters to create my outfits and build up the gimmicks, but they are part of who I already am. That’s why I feel comfortable showing their colours in the ring. It’s a matter of finding yourself along the journey and not being afraid to show it to the world. Your light, your darkness, your clumsiness, your grace, your faults and your strength points. This is also why it’s important for everybody to remember one thing: beyond the character and the masks we are all human beings, just like you. We might be your superheroes or the best villains on the planet, but we are also people. Words affect us the same way they do with you. Please allow me to use this platform to spread a message of love and support. We, the wrestlers, always try to be at our best for our fans, no matter how difficult our life may be. We perform to deliver you joy, emotions and memories. You are allowed to have an opinion, to like us or not. But remember, you can express your thoughts and be respectful at the same time. We are trying our best. Be kind. Don’t wait till it’s too late to show affection and love. And this last statement goes for everyone.

I couldn’t agree with you more and feel free to express anything you want to say here. That’s no problem at all. You said that you like to read manga and comic books, and like to draw fantasy characters. Are you into writing about them also? You like to write don’t you? What does the act of writing give you?

I do love writing. I am currently working on a book to be honest. I started this project years ago, when I was a teenager. It all began as a way to escape from a reality I wasn’t fitting in. Many things happened since that day and then I left the project aside, for lack of time and inspiration. I wasn’t ready to finish the story, to close that chapter of my life. Recently, during the quarantine, I gathered some courage and I started to go through everything I wrote again and again. It needed some sort of editing, as I have changed through the years and so did my writing and my thoughts about life.

I also write short stories and I find very useful to take notes on my feelings or special life circumstances. As I previously mentioned, when I was around 18 years old I fell in a very dark place. I suffered a lot and it was hard to just think about waking up and be ready to live another day of my life. Writing, among other activities like singing and drawing, helped me be brave and strong enough when all I wanted was to lie on the floor and close my eyes for good. It hurts talking about this, but I am glad you are allowing me to share my experience and my love for writing, because maybe I will be able to reach other people who are suffering the same way and somehow help them. Even just by letting them know they are not alone and there is someone who can understand how they feel.

How important do you think art and self expression is to mental well-being?

Art in general is a beautiful way to express your feelings and get rid of all the negativity that piles up in your brain and in your heart.

It could be any form of art. The simple act of expressing yourself freely will let you feel softer and happier, trust me. Don’t be scared of showing your colours to the world. There is nothing wrong in art.

Sometimes we have to carry heavy burdens, you know. And it gets harder and harder. If you keep everything inside, you will eventually explode. I did. Multiple times.

So whenever you feel the fire burning inside your head and you feel thorns in your heart, let yourself free. Get rid of everything. Of the good and the bad emotions. Turn them into something special and unique. In this way they won’t crush you down. They will lift you up instead, they will empower you and everyone will be able to appreciate you throughout your artistic creations.

The most important thing to do, though, is learning how to love yourself first. And you gotta let people in at some point. Some will hurt you for sure, but that’s the only way the light comes in too. You all have that strength inside of you. Be confident and be brave. You are not alone.

I want to add one last little thing. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing interest in my art and letting me talk about such critical and delicate matters, such as mental health and depression. These are dark times, I hope my words can reach out to a few people in need of help and support them. As my grandma taught me, love is the most powerful medicine in the world.

Thank you. Stay safe and take care of each other.

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What more can I say but thank Aivil profusely for taking the time to talk to me. It was truly an honour.

If you’d like to find out more about Aivil and I highly recommend that you do then you can go to her social media pages here:

Instagram: @twisted_priestess
Twitter: @Twisted_Doll_AJ
Facebook: Jokey & Aivil

And if you’d like to be featured in Behind The Art you can send in your art to:

Instagram: @themaskedembroiderer
Twitter: @TEmbroiderer
Or email us
Or use the hashtags #scottishwrestlingart or #scottishwrestlingfanart

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