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This is an excerpt from an on-line Interview. The following Questions were posed by a Female graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University who is conducting a study on the scene here in Pittsburgh. I also attended CMU.
How has your perspective on your line of work changed since you first became involved with it?
When I began professional domination of course I had no perspective - nothing to compare any of it to. It was an experiment for me to do professional domination. I approached it with candor. I had a sense of humor about it, and I still do. I have learned more about human nature than I did during 10 years of college. I have faced and conquered my 'issues'. I try to help other people with their issues too, but it does depend on where they want to go with it. I am evolving into wanting my clients to experience catharsis through the sessions. There are different reasons why a person craves submission and it can be anything from escapism and getting off to craving behavior modification. I do long, quality sessions with people I connect with on many levels. I do not perpetuate BS to 'make a buck'. I have studied and learned techniques, and I attend workshops and travel world wide to have new experiences. This has become my 'lifestyle'. I have learned about boundaries in a nontraditional way. I am a fluid person, and I do not think in a linear fashion (beginning middle end) about sexual things. The fact that I have boundaries makes the experience very professional for my clients, and they can leave here without any unnecessary 'confusion'.
Some would say that there is something insidious and harmful about this even existing- the whole decadence/fall-of-Rome thing. What is your slant on this?
If society was perfect there would not be perversions. We are imperfect in an imperfect society. We find pleasure in our perversions and eroticism in our taboos. Comparing Rome and the modern S/m scene is like comparing apples and oranges. We are now living in the age of technology - not the age of iron! Due to technology, we can now interact with thousands of people anonymously about our desires, and feel we have a kinship - even though most of us have to be very secretive.
How would you say professional domination fits into the term sex trade or sex work?
This is 'sex work', because it is a sexual thing to people. There does not have to be sex in order for something to be sexual.
Do you think that the inclination towards BDSM is a sexual orientation, per se?
I define myself as a leather person.
How do you/ other women negotiate the crossover between professional and lifestyle domination?
I have boundaries between my personal and professional life. It is important to know that I don't 'throw it in someone's face' that I am a Dom. With some of my friends and family it isn't even discussed, although they know what I do. I am comfortable with what I do, so I don't feel the need to defend it all the time, by trying to educate/convert people who are not scene savvy.
How do nonprofessional lifestyle people perceive you?
They often befriend me. I have a few lifestyle male friends too, who are switches, dominants and submissives. I have a few girl toys too!
What has your experience been with people not involved with the lifestyle?
I don't advertise to vanilla society. I don't know what they think.
Many women in the scene are highly educated. Why the correlation?
The men who are attracted to this are bright individuals. They are usually in the upper income brackets and are computer savvy. They make important decisions, and many of them run large companies. They want to trust and submit to a woman they feel is bright. The most important thing to most men is the intellectual capacity of the Domina in question. This is often more important to them than what the Domina looks like. There are men who are so severely into humiliation that they would actually prefer a stupid Mistress, but this is rare. Most of them seek out intelligence, and they want to play with someone they would actually find interesting in'real life too. If a Domina wants to be successful she has to be able to mentally spar (and outwit) these crafty men.
Do you look at people/ life differently? Has it changed how you deal with people?
I can read someone very quickly. It is scary. My extra sensory powers have gotten much stronger too. I know what people are thinking, and when I have them in bondage I 'talk to them without talking'. How has doing professional domination changed me? I am much more protective of my personal time. When I was an artist my work was about my life, and my domination is about those who I dominate.
How has your involvement changed your general outlook, if at all?
I have had other types of employment that have affected me more than this one has. I have learned things from each job. From the archaeology I did in the early eighties, I learned that I had 'true grit' to dig holes in the ground in the middle of March at 45 degrees below zero. Its hard work drawing maps and taking pictures when its that cold outside! From being a waitress (while in college) I learned how to 'size people up', so I could make an experience positive. From being an artist I learned how to be spontaneous and abstract with my clients, and of course from being a teacher I learned patience. What made it hard for me in all of these jobs though, was that I am not a follower or team player. I am only really happy working for myself. I am lucky to have found this occupation, because it suits me.
Most importantly - has it changed how you see yourself?
I am a stronger person physically and emotionally.
Would you say that there has been a shift in mainstream perceptions of the subculture?
Yes, due to the new fad of being a 'modern primitive' in our society almost everyone in generation X has a tattoo or a piercing. A whole new wave of 'club life' has popped up in the last 10 years, and its cool to go out in public and submit to a Mistress at a 'fetish night'. These things unfortunately take years longer in Pittsburgh to occur with the frequency that they do in other cities. There is a burgeoning scene in Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington DC (Black Rose) but I mostly go to Europe to get my kicks that I need beyond the ones I get in my studio!
I feel the shift is good in some ways and bad in others. The bad: There is a new breed of Mistresses moving in - the beautiful young fetish model that just wants to be worshipped and adored with gifts. They are not concerned with technique and neither are their clients. Its 'cool' to be a Mistress right now. Madonna has been slinking around dressed up like one, and you can find references to domination in many advertisements. The whole 'male bashing' thing unfortunately gets mixed into the soup too, and people who are not scene savvy cant possibly understand the differences between immature male bashing, professional female domination, and matriarchy or female supremacy unless they are willing to spend time on some serious reading.
The good: All of this is keeping us on our toes! We have to work harder, be more interesting and learn more to inspire our clients to want to continue their sessions with us. Our clients are starting to realize that what we are providing cant be found at some bar with a fetish model, or through some lifestyle advertisement on a 1-900 line. There will always be submissives who would rather visit a professional for their own separation from the scene. The convenience of 'no stings attached' is a very attractive thing. No matter how big the club scene gets or the lifestyle groups become, there are always going to be men that want to separate D/s from the rest of their lives.
About the portrayal of D/s in mainstream society:
S/m is titillating. It sells movie tickets and indeed it does get portrayed in nonfactual and negative ways, but these people want to sell films. They don't care about the scene. Scene people know this, and the more educated ones simply take it in stride. The problem with D/s in main stream filmmaking is that it is too much of a hot potato to 'do the right thing with' and 'send the right message'. Someone somewhere is going to get offended. Filmmakers who choose to use D/s as subject matter for their projects know this and exploit it.
I have a background in hypnosis, and I am curious about how you use it in your sessions. Have there ever been any negative side effects from this?
I use a "space-time continuum" devise that was invented by NASA (the novus system) to 'suggest' things to my clients when they are in submissive mindset. Basically, it is a sensory deprivation devise with sound and lights (headphones and glasses) and induces a meditative/trance state in willing participants. Some subjects do not like the system and fight it. Some find it extremely pleasant. As you know from your studies, hypnosis is a form of mind control, and the subject has to be willing to go there. Only 5% of the population is highly hypnotizable, and of that percentage only a few know they actually are. I am also getting into virtual reality - another way to control the mind.
Just a question, more out of personal interest than anything else; I will not use this one. What are your spiritual beliefs? I get the impression that theyre a little different than simply letting go of what you were brought up with; did you move towards something else?
I am studying Zen Buddhist and the Hindu religions. Most importantly though, I strongly feel the world of D/s to be my religion. There is ceremony in this. There are rituals. I feel at times I am doing powerful things. Conversely, I also do things that make me feel strange. I get off on the strangeness of playing with people I only know in this capacity - the adrenaline rush!
(This is for me do you know of any sources where I could find out more about the history?)
I just read a delightful little book while I was on the treadmill the other night entitled "Uppity Women of Shakespearean Times". This book is a series of small vignettes about each woman (it even mentions transvestites) and what she did and how she coped with being 'dominant' in a patriarchal world. The book also mentions a lot of female 'scoundrels' which is most amusing. The author has such D/s flair to her writing, I know she must have had something to do with the scene (or still does) because of the many colorful uses of certain words and phrases. A must read for some entertaining history. I also have fantastic library link for the members of my site.
What was coming out to your family like; i.e., how did they see it, as opposed to how they see it now?
They already knew before I told them! They find it pretty fascinating but also very intimidating. If you feel good about what you do, those who care about you will be respectful.
Abuse is a common stereotype, as far as reasons go that people enter the scene. (My advisor cant get it out of his head, for example.) My thinking is that this is but one of many catalysts-but that there usually is one present. What is your perspective on this?
I am a sadist. Your adviser has probably met many in his lifetime and not even known it. It is what we do behind closed doors that is scary. The 'victim' is seeking out 'the treatment', and quite aggressively seeking it too! These 'victims' often struggle and act like brats in order to get more 'attention'. The submissive is often the selfish one, and the Top is often satisfying the fantasy of the submissive. Most Tops I know are really nice people. It is consensual play in the world of Professional Mistress and submissive client. It is also consensual play in the lifestyle BDSM world, mixed with relationships that are more personal than professional. Careful negotiations are carried out pre-scene in both worlds, and the submissive ultimately has control over what happens to them. People are partaking because they want to. This is very obvious. Abuse is something else entirely. People who are dangerous to society are not part of 'the scene'. There is a big difference between what goes on in D block, and what goes on in a dungeon. The energy may be similar, but the the morality and ethics are different. This 'energy craving' for realism so many submissives have has popularized such role play games as prisoner/Guard, victim/Interrogator, criminal/Cop, accused/Judge, and so forth. Look at the way the D/s scene has sexualized most types of uniforms. Power play is hot, and those in the D/s scene often 'play around' society roles, which are forbidding and horrible things to actually become. It would be awful to really be a prisoner, victim, criminal, or the accused, wouldn't it? Playing 'around it' in a sexy way makes it hot! Your adviser needs to realize that sadists are often excited by the 'tableau' and that means what we do is 'literally on a stage' even if it is in our own minds. The ideas excite us, often just as much, if not more, than inflicting any kind of real physical or mental 'pain'. The power of the spectacle rules in the mind of the sadist.
Many women with whom I have spoken dominate men professionally while identifying as lesbians. Is there a correlation, or is that just the side Im seeing?
Many professional Dominas are kinky women, who are not repressed sexually. Everyone has same sex fantasies at some stage. This is normal human sexual development. There is a 'lesbian fetish' in the BDSM community, but then there is in main stream society as well. I have noticed that women who stay in this over the years are often gay, but they also have male slaves. The sex industry in general is filled with women who get excited looking at pictures of each other. When we are young, the first pornographic images we see are often of women. It is 'acceptable' for women to look at pictures of other women, and men are turned on by the idea of women being together. A lot of dominant women find the idea of gay male sex to be hot. Some of the stories you hear about famous women actually being gay in the scene are just stories.
I do not know of very many women in the professional dominant scene who do not like other women sexually. Most of the dominant women I know also have relationships that are sexual with personal male submissives. Therefor, I would conclude that most professional dominant women are actually bisexual, with slight leanings towards men or women as a preference. A danger I have noticed that seems to affect women who have been in the scene too long is to become asexual - the woman feels 'trapped' by the scene, and didn't develop any other skills to support herself, and as a result becomes hateful and negative towards men. I am saddened by that, and it does happen.
Thank you for the interview Ms. Boss!
You are welcome. It was enjoyable!