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Remembering Zyzz: The Greatest Muzza Ever

"You mirin, brah?"
All images supplied.

Back when Tiesto was headlining Stereosonic, I was working as a videographer at the festival, filming acts as they partied and mingled with the crowd. It was a fun job, and the only real rule was to avoid letting too many "bros" hog the camera. It seemed like a weird rule until I left the safety of backstage. Suddenly I was surrounded by a colosseum of topless heroes—all desperate to have their picture taken. As I shuffled past a group of shredded robots, one of them gestured to his abs and yelled at me, "You mirin, brah?!" I ignored him and kept moving, but the saying stuck with with, and I Googled it later that day. That's when I discovered the messiah of all this madness: Zyzz.


Aziz "Zyzz" Shavershian was a 22-year-old bodybuilder, stripper, and model based in Sydney. He became an internet sensation around 2008 with a slew of motivational videos that tracked his evolution from a skinny "sad cunt" to a god. He wanted to inspire other young rejects or outcasts to stop being "sad cunts". Zyzz's disciples—dubbed the Aesthetics Crew—followed his ideology of shredding at the gym to emulate "the Gods" and transform "jelly" (jealous) followers into "mirin' (admiring) sick cunts."


Aziz "Zyzz" Shavershian. All photos supplied.

Zyzz was born in Russia and moved to Sydney in the early 90s. His older brother, Said "Chestbrah" Shavershian told me that, growing up, Zyzz was pretty different to the persona he became known for. "[He] was the dux of Marist College Secondary School, he was studying commerce, and at the age of 21 ran a successful protein company," Said explained. "But that's nothing compared to the influence he had within the sport of bodybuilding. He was the reason the [International Federation of Bodybuilding] introduced men's physique categories, which focus more on cutting for aesthetics rather than being big and bulky."

In that strange way, which seems almost commonplace now, Zyzz and his crew became internet celebrities in their early 20s, long before Instagram fame was a thing. They were flown all around the country for appearances at nightclubs and shows. Some of his YouTube clips have reached over 10 million views. In the comments section, fans still refer to him as "the patron saint of ectomorphs" and "the manifestation of God's energy."


But it wasn't just Zyzz's titanic ego and cut abs that made him iconic. He tapped into a movement, long before anyone else even saw what was happening. See,
migrant communities have long revelled in identities that meld their homeland's culture with that of white Australia. But around the mid-2000s, ethnic millennials had created an alpha subculture that seemed kind of new. It was Muzza culture—the scene I was born into and genuinely adored.

Feeling good by looking good was a concept that had been totally ignored by the generation of Muzzas before Zyzz. But I think the mantra struck a chord, and explains Zyzz's legendary status. I remember when I was 16 and I saw a bunch of Muzzas at Noble Park McDonald's. Those guys weren't concerned with body image at all, which probably explains why fast food car parks were a common meeting place. Originally, theirs was a culture was obsessed with modifying cars—from canary yellow Holden VLs to Japanese imports like Supras or Skylines. They'd be executing demos at the first sign of any rain. Their therapeutic rush came from pistons, blowoff valves, and throttles.

I remember the first time my older cousin took me into the city in his R34 Nissan Skyline to check out the annual Auto Salon show. This was the era of Fast and the Furious and cars had insane paint jobs with names like "Candy Apple." The guys there had flawless long mullets that had been straightened and waxed for hours, wide body kits, and scantily clad "Marias" (the female answer to Muzzas) by their sides. There were ravers everywhere, Melbourne shuffling to trance music on improvised dance floors in front of the car with the loudest subwoofers.


This Muzza culture came to life most nights on Chapel Street. Once an exclusive precinct frequented by models, the cast of neighbours and footy players it became the home of the Chap Lap (i.e. "dosing it" in your hotted-up car down Chapel Street.) This naturally led to Muzzas filling up the area's main nightclubs, like Chasers and Viper Lounge, with raving Muzteks.

Anyone who went clubbing in Melbourne around the mid-2000s would've found themselves surrounded by sweaty run 'n' sniff t-shirts from local label Stevie, which cost about $120 each. For those older Muzzas, it was all about fluorescent colours, stringer singlets, bum bags, and rosaries (even the Muslims wore rosaries with the crucifix removed)—all set to a soundtrack of Sneaky Sound System.

When Zyzz stepped onto the podium, the scene took on new aesthetics—before him, being a Muzza mostly meant performing hypermasculinity in an abstract way, through the modding and performing on your vehicle. Zyzz internalised this, focusing on applying the same principle to sculpting his body. Muzza culture had always been this strange balancing act: extremely metrosexual ideals, a confronting hunger for violence. The marriage of getting ripped at the gym and raving. Specifically, shirtless "Spartan" Muzz raving at outdoor trance festivals, which provided Muzzas with their outlet.

I remember the first time I saw one of Zyzz's YouTube videos. His total disregard for "jelly" haters combined with his sense of callous honesty gave him this radiating charisma. Take this infamous lecture:


"It's just a fucking act, there is no Zyzz. Everyone has a little bit of Zyzz in them. You're a fucking sick cunt if you want to be brah! So stop being a fucking sad cunt, alright? Go out, get bitches and just be a fucking sick cunt."

Online, Zyzz projected an image of Muzza culture as a quest for self-actualisation. But in a scene full of alpha males that could often be isolating, Zyzz made motivational videos that encouraged disenfranchised teenagers to be the best versions of themselves. He trolled and mocked haters with memes, and shrugged off the seriousness that's so ingrained in professional bodybuilding. And he did all this with language and tone lifted straight from migrant suburbia.


RIP Zyzz. All images supplied.

Six years back someone told me Zyzz had died. I remember hoping it was just another internet hoax. But it wasn't. In 2011, at the young age of 22, Zyzz suffered a heart attack in a sauna while on holiday in Thailand. The media saw his death as a warning about the excessive use of anabolic steroids, although the autopsy later revealed a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. In any case, Zyzz's message to us was never about steroid abuse—it was about exploiting the gym as a therapeutic measure to feel good about ourselves.

Every year since Zyzz's death, the culture I grew up with has slowly faded away. The Muzz dance is probably the last remaining echo of Zyzz's influence on hectic Muzza culture. A recurring staple of most his videos, he perfected the art and encouraged the sport at every local music festival, from Defqon and Stereosonic to Two Tribes.


Today at most trance events, on the periphery, you might still be able to find a few of the last topless hedonists. They've been working on their physique and moves all year round, purely to put on a show for us. We, the boring spectators, who are probably there for something bland like the music. Theirs is a modern Gymopaedia, the ancient Spartan celebration where naked youths displayed their athletic skill through war dancing. The "aesthetics crew" are god-like sculptures performing rituals of war, on a spiritual mission that exerts circular dance manoeuvres as though they were a tribal rite, taught only by being in the presence or emulating the icon Himself. Or as Zyzz would say:

"You gotta go to the gym. You gotta be a shredded cunt. You gotta fuck bitches. You gotta not give a fuck. Because that's what the Zyzz cunts do. None of this sad cunt shit. We're all going to make it bro, that's it. That's what the revolution is."

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