Novice Mistress

Friday, February 18, 2005

Question

I am about to apply for graduate schools, but I am scared of going into debt. Everybody I know who took out student loans has a horrible time paying them back. I've been told I'm good-looking but tall for a woman. Most of the men I've wanted to date seem to think my personality is too strong for them to handle. So I am thinking about becoming a dominatrix to put myself through school. It seems like an ideal occupation (high pay for part-time work in which I can be creative and independent, with no boss and no boredom), but perhaps I am being na

Answer

You don't mention the most important ingredient in becoming a highly-paid professional dominatrix who is happy with her work: are you personally interested in and turned on by S/M sex? This matters more than having the personality of a dominant. You can be an avid bottom and still learn the topping skills you need to create a fantasy scenario for a client. In fact, for many pro-doms, this is a useful boundary between the sex they do for money and their private lives. Topping is for business; bottoming is for pleasure and intimacy. But if you don't intuitively grasp the gestalt of dominant/submissive role-playing or the innate thrill of play with restraint or intense physical sensations, you will flop. Well — I suppose you could find some backwater where clients are so desperate for BDSM and ignorant about what they have a right to expect that you could get away with impersonating a dominatrix. But you'd wind up a very bitter, unhappy, and resentful person.

Everybody imagines that sex workers are getting rich quick for minimal effort. This is just not true. There are a lot of desperate people on the street who make barely enough to cover a drug habit and a place to sleep or a meal (not both). You have to take good care of yourself when you are in a service industry. It's your job to look the way clients want you to look. You have to create a persona and sessions that are a compromise between your skills and desires and the clients' scripts. Study the ads in Dominatrix Directory International and the fetish outfits in Skin Two. Simply assembling the wardrobe is expensive, and if you are going to work with transvestites, you'll need a second wardrobe for playing dress-up with them.

Advertising is also a necessary expense. You'll need your own phone line, a pager, and that most important of requirements — a safe and sexy place to see your clients. Most novice mistresses rent out work space at someone else's professional dungeon until they have saved enough money to refurbish a room in their own apartment or home that can be devoted to storing the bondage equipment and doing sessions. Business can be great one day and lousy for the rest of the month, so you have to have a flexible schedule to take advantage of this fluctuating pattern. It's hard to take time off, and many professional dommes or submissives have a part-time job on the side so there's a paycheck that can be counted on.

Most of your clients will be men, with a few women and couples. You'll need to be a good judge of character and a clear communicator on the phone. Otherwise, your time will be wasted on jack-offs who want to hear enough about what you will do to them to shoot their loads without ever handing you a buck. Very few clients want to do anything heavy. The majority want some sensuous role-playing with little or no pain and a lot of dirty talking and simple bondage. But, being the dirty dogs that they are, they are also going to want to have sex with you. Do you know how to manage these kinds of situations, keeping your boundaries firmly in place?

If you check out your local adult periodicals, you'll see that all of the ads for BDSM pay-for-play say "no sex." Indeed, some professionals in the BDSM world will tell you that they are not sex workers, and are offended when the general public confuses them with prostitutes. But law enforcement is not likely to observe such a fine distinction. In an election year or any other time there's political pressure to "clean up" a city, the cops will target various aspects of the sex trade. Most dominatrices do not stimulate their clients to orgasm. But a vice cop who has gone undercover to buy a session can always lie about that, or a judge may be so offended by BDSM that he or she doesn't care. Generally speaking, police have more interest in going after street traffic in sex or off-street brothels or professional dungeons that sell drugs or allow them to be used on premises. If neighbors complain about noise or strange men coming and going at all hours, you'll run into legal problems, even if it's just a visit from the fire department and building inspector or the zoning commission. You should not assume that being a dominatrix makes you exempt from legal penalties. Have a good criminal attorney on retainer. He or she should be able to tell you what local laws exist that might affect your profession.

Some of the nicest, hottest, and smartest people I've met in the BDSM community are professional dominants or submissives. Doing S/M for a living can give you the time to familiarize yourself with some of the more arcane aspects of human sexuality, introduce you to the best and the worst of what clients have to offer, and give you a lot of independence and job satisfaction. But it's not a calling that just anybody can pick up quickly to make an easy fortune. Even if you never get arrested, you are still making yourself an outlaw. That sounds really romantic until you realize how much stigma can limit your life outside of the kinky community. I'm not trying to discourage you from investigating this option, but I do think you should proceed with caution.