Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
Slave. Submissive. Masochist. Bottom. Fetishist. Pervert. Slut. Cross Dresser. Client.
Client is the word that makes them squirm. In the general sex industry, clients who frequent escorts, strip clubs, and massage parlors may freely discuss their rendezvous and even pass on referrals to “the boys.” It’s a display of machismo and high capitalism to pay for sex (once in a while); to pay for torture and the denial of sex seems ludicrous to the common mindset. Except in anonymous, specialized chatrooms, BDSM clientele are rarely encouraged or at ease to discuss their experiences with their Dominatrixes. To divulge that they enjoy eroticism without sex would be social castration. I proclaimed in my most recent diary that the dominatrix profession is misinterpreted, underappreciated, taboo, and taken for granted. I would venture to say that clients of the industry are even more marginalized and misjudged.
The first assumption that people tend to make about my clients is that they are super wealthy, white, CEO’s with alpha personalities who need to be humiliated and tortured to blow off steam. One theory I’ve heard often is that these financial dictators are seeking punishment for their corrupt treatment of others, as though they are religiously repenting on their knees as I lash them with a bullwhip. Freud has pigeonholed fetishists as the sexually stunted, who erotically commune with objects rather than people. Other psychoanalysts presume that all masochists were abused children and are regressing and reenacting violent episodes. Overall, the general public tends to mock BDSM clients as self-deprecating and self-loathing pervs.
My clienteles’ vocations are of a wide range that include: classical musician, political journalist, world-renowned chef, social studies teacher, opera singer, fireman, ballet dancer, computer geek, government consultant, NASA engineer, university publisher, pro-skateboarder, hip-hop star, bartender, movie celebrity, and yes, the stock broker, lawyer, doctor, and financial dictator. Did I mention the French circus clown?
There is no way to generalize their personalities or to link their characteristics to their fetishes and desires. No “all bondage bottoms are control freaks with dominant mothers.” No “cross dressers are big, macho men who need an outlet to be sensual.” The only general character trait that I would assign all clients is that they have enough courage to address their desires and to seek them out. I am not saying that all clients are self-aware and confident. But if they make it through the dungeon doors, mine or other commercial venues, at least they brave an outlet of time to get in touch with their inner personas and be truthful about it to another person.
Many of the clientele in the industry are “Johns”; that is the anonymous male who gives a fake name when booking an hour session, enters the dungeon with shifty eyes, and leaves in a hurry while still buckling his pants. These clients are the ones who solicit fast-food-domination (see my earlier Power Lunch entry). They are in and out. No questions, not much small talk, minimal interaction. I am pleased and grateful that there are so many Johns and that there is a well-populated Dom industry in New York City that accommodates them. However, as easy and lucrative as it would be to flip a whip and hand a to-go-torture meal to a John, that style of business would burn me out.
I like my clients. I am friends with many of my clients. I love some of my clients as if they were family. And I will confess that I have dated a few of my clients. Many dominas have (whether they admit to it or not). Where else are we going to meet people who aren’t shocked by our profession? I do not suggest that clients seek out romantic relationships from their professional dominatrix though. There are very few stories that end happily ever after—most end with shattered fantasies and hearts stabbed with a stiletto.
I enjoy the unique personalities and backgrounds of every client. While I do have certain rules that must be adhered to, my philosophy of domination is not to squelch every slave into a mold to just be part of a stable, but to draw out the best part of them within the BDSM context. For example, the mentality of training an efficient house servant is far different than guiding a visionquest masochist or binding a bondage enthusiast.
Some masochists and bondage enthusiasts do not relate to submission. They enjoy the sport of extreme physical engagement, but have no interest in kissing my boot to thank me. And that, in their case, is fine by me. However, some of the most adamant “non-submissive” clients have eventually admitted to feeling safe enough with me that they become intrigued with exploring play in submissive form. I don’t pump my ego with thoughts that I have conquered them with supreme skills of psychological superiority. The key element that allows a client to explore vulnerability is trust. They trust me and me, them.
The obvious assumption regarding trust is the exchange of money. They are paying for a service, so why shouldn’t they trust that they will get what they want? But the financial trade is not where the trust stems from. The trust between a client and a pro-dominatrix is rooted in genuine enjoyment, open judgment, and safety.
The word “lifestyle” is used repeatedly in pro-domination and the kink world at large. It is a fad for professional dominatrixes to advertise as lifestyle, as opposed to whipping ass for easy money (not so easy, actually), and yet have vanilla relationships outside of the business. In this context, it seems that the definition of lifestyle is simply the genuine interest and pleasure in BDSM engagement. That would mean that clients, by their mere pursuit and obvious pleasure of kink sessions, are lifestyle. However, when I asked a few of my friends in the BDSM community, I received a much more discerning definition. Michele Serchuk, an erotic arts photographer and S&M educator, explains:
Defining someone as a lifestyle requires two things to be present to some degree:
First, they would be people who have intimate erotic BDSM relationships. They might also have intimate
vanilla erotic relationships. The key element here is, is there intimacy in their SM? Not “Do I pay someone for play,” or “Do I pick up date at an SM party every so often.” …but, with my lover, friend, owner, mistress, whatever … is there intimacy between myself & my play partner(s)?
Second, they’d be someone who is out to some degree about being kinky to the people they’re close to. Not necessarily publicly or to bio-family, but certainly their close (probably non-kinky) friends & absolutely anyone vanilla that they’re lovers/partnered with. Not that it’s your pals’ business exactly what you do when you fuck, but it’s like being gay. Being out to one’s inner social circle as gay or kinky is a general thing, but an important part of who you are if that’s where your intimate relationships live. And certainly being out to vanilla lovers/partners is an indication of whether this is deep with you, lifestyle for you, or not.
As an aside … I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not being lifestyle. Some people don’t have kink deep enough in their blood for it to matter so much. Similarly, I don’t feel qualified to judge why someone should or shouldn’t be closeted about being kinky (or queer). But I don’t think you can say you’re lifestyle if you don’t have kink dynamics in your life on an emotional level, and those who care about you & are primary in your life don’t know that about your identity.
I couldn’t have said it better myself and emphasize an agreement with the aside note: No judgment on closeted kinksters. Clients, though sincere enough about their enjoyment of BDSM to cross socially tangential lines, may have a wife and kids at home who are completely unaware of daddy’s dark side. There are reasons for compartmentalization that I do not presume to understand nor judge. However, there are plenty of clients who explore BDSM in their personal, intimate relationships. These clients are also in the lifestyle of BDSM.
I have many young clients who are in the process of forming their comfort level with BDSM and what it means to them as a whole. I must admit that, though I do not judge the need to compartmentalize kink from primary relationships, I do urge many of my single clients to find intimate partners who are at ease with their BDSM involvement. One young, handsome client told me about his inner conflicts about finding a girlfriend who is into kink. He admitted that he has a hard time sustaining vanilla intimacy. “So be courageous and make kink a priority,” I advised. He can’t. He is an aspiring politician. If a relationship goes wrong, the woman could decide to out him to the press. Yeah, that’s a hard one. Careers tend to be a major reason that many clients don’t explore lifestyle relationships. I wish we lived in a world where what happens behind the bedroom/dungeon doors is nobody’s business. But that is not reality.
There are a handful of professional dominatrixes who come to see me as clients. I guess they must feel comfortable that I post my own declaration online of having been a client to several professional dominas in the past and present. I state with pride—I’ve submitted to some of the best Dominas in the scene and paid their full tribute. Which is my contest with clients who have an issue with being clients? There are people who contact me through my professional advertisement, yet have a problem with the monetary aspect of my services. They feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for sessions, yet still seek my attention. I have negotiated and bartered session time for people whose income really cannot meet my standard without dipping into the milk money. Usually, they make up for the tribute by cleaning my studio or offering other services.
Some are looking to date me with the fantasy that during the date, I’ll lure them into my quarters for tie and torture. My answer: If you meet me through my professional website, then you are soliciting my profession. It is like soliciting a doctor to operate on you for free because you’re a likeable guy. If you don’t want to pay for a professional session then don’t—go to a BDSM event to meet a compatible partner. I will consider sessioning for free when universal health care is established.
I am confident in my profession, but I am wary of hubris or “top’s disease,” a term that applies to dominants who actually believe their role applies to everyone. Dominatrixes sometimes buy into their own advertising hype. I am flattered by my success and feel blessed to have such great clients who are good people around me. I know it sounds contradictory, but one word of advice that I would impart on those who are interested in professional domination is humility. Power exchange is a game, a drama in this kinky theatre. Both persons of the exchange are equal and then establish their roles with consent. When someone comes to me and wants to submit their vulnerability to me, I do not take that submission lightly. To me, “client” isn’t such a dirty word.
Up Next: The Face Behind the Hood