Time passes. The season changes from autumn to winter. You spend time both at the dungeon and your Daisy Duke gig, a schedule that leaves you with only one day off during the week. However, you write off your exhaustion; you disregard your body's pleas for more than three-hour intervals of sleep. You still remember that rush, the adrenaline that shot through your veins after your first successful session.
Yvette books more appointments with you, and Aphrodite is pleased to see that he likes you. You're thrilled you've got your first steady customer; you feel like you earned a legitimate spot in the house. Now, you're eager to broaden your experience past cross-dressing fetishists, for your house standing to surpass "New Girl." You'd like to kick a little ass.
The house sends you on open calls with the other dommes to clients who come to the dungeon hoping to book a session, but who don't know what they want. You suit up, eager to score a session, but you're not thrilled over the people you meet. You're not surprised by the guys with unorthodox desires or the middle-aged folks. But, you're simultaneously amazed and appalled that two-thirds of the open calls are Orthodox Jews on a lunch break, complete with side curls. Worse, they come asking for submissive sessions, and you're not about to let some closet postal guy from the Diamond District brutalize you. In spite of your revulsion, you refuse to let meeting priestly-seeming weirdoes dampen your enthusiasm. You're sure that at some point, you'll get to take charge and do some proper damage.
Sure enough, you get what you wish for.
One evening, extra job experience arrives in the form of "David", a quiet, balding middle-aged man guy. In his pastel Lacoste shirt and khaki chinos, David doesn't look like a BDSM regular. But, the guy who could be any walking office manager, coffee shop customer, and altogether ordinary is in fact a frequent presence in all the downtown dungeons. He knows the deal. He sees you're new. As you comprehend that, David's soft-spoken voice takes you out of your head.
"Are you really willing to hurt me?" he asks.
Before you can yip out an immediate "Yes," David's question segues into what he wants to have that day—a session some dungeon regulars refer to as a physical one, the kind that just about involves every handheld weapon in the house. He requests to be flogged, tied, and blindfolded; he wants to be tortured and really fucked with. He hopes you won't hold back, that you can inflict the kind of pain that'll set him free from his mundane existence.
You go into session. You create a hostage situation that conveniently allows you to tie him up. Within moments, your polite, elegant Sayoko persona falls out of play, and the raw side of your soul takes over. You remember when your choices were made for you against your will, times when you despised being nice and kind to a parent, boyfriend, boss, and customer. You likewise remember biting your tongue in each memory, but notice that each repressed grudge is fueling you.
You decide to have some fun in the driver's seat; for this session, the money's just a bonus.
So, you strike. You lash his rear end with a flogger, crack him with a crop, and smack him hard with a paddle. Initially, the toy you like using most is the paddle because it makes the most noise, but when you notice that the crop leaves the most vivid welts, you decide to make it your weapon of choice. Your ears ring from each snapping sound of the crop; after each blow, you survey your work carefully. You note that each welt on David's ass is mid-cheek and below; if you're not cautious, you and the house can be sued for injuring him, especially for spinal injuries.
You catch your reflection in the mirror, and you're taken aback momentarily. Your cheeks are flushed. Sweat is forming along the brow line of your beauty-shop wig. Your eyes are gleaming with an almost maniacal sheen. Most of all, you're smiling. However, you don't stop to reflect on what must you seem to David, or to yourself. Instead, you let your eyes meet David's in the mirror, and notice that his features are just as flushed and spirited as yours.
After ten more minutes, your session comes to an end. You watch as David collects himself; at that point, you finally wonder how his body is going to hold up and heal from the beatings you gave him. David sees you staring at him, and faces you.
"You'll do just fine," he says, criticizing you as if he were a P.E. coach watching you try out. "You started off too soft in the beginning, but you got okay."
You arrange your features in a modest expression.
"The only thing you did wrong is that your aim was off a couple times," he adds, holding up his ring finger. "You nicked it."
You crouch down to look. Sure enough, a small paper cut is where he says it is. You wonder if you managed that with the crop, but don't really care. After all, you got a decent review from a scene regular.
After David leaves, you stomp down the hall in your high-high heels to the lounge. You notice everyone stare at you intently. When Mistress Kasha explains that they heard you whaling away on David, you keep your features arranged in the same non-plussed expression while hee hee hee dances in your eyes.
"Yeah, you worked some shit out," Kasha says.
Disappointingly enough, the next few weeks after your session with David are a drag. Business becomes sporadic at the dungeon. Unlike your gigs at bars or clubs, the dungeon does not make a killing on the weekends. You notice that the dungeon books most of its daily time to independent dommes renting rooms by the hour. As far as the house dommes go, the majority of appointments go to Aphrodite and the other senior girls. You're not happy, but decide to keep holding out.
But, as another month or so passes, you start wondering if there any biases going on. Since the walls are thin, you know who spends time in Aphrodite's bedroom, which is adjacent to the lounge. You wonder if the giggling you hear has anything to do with the scraps of gossip floating around about Aphrodite's alleged penchant for sleeping and partying with anyone with a pulse. You briefly wonder if you'd get more business if you hung out and partied with her, but you dismiss the thought.
Still, you wonder how long you're going to stick out the gig.
A few intermittent appointments come and go. You're okay with most of your clients, but are a little disturbed by two or three guys who expected you to perform erotic services that violate New York's prostitution code and resemble desperate posts on Craigslist. When you tell Aphrodite this, she blithely glosses over it and doesn't seem concerned. When you tell the house security guy, he seems to empathize with you, but doesn't take any real action and disappoints you.
Since appointments become few and far between, you start taking naps in the cross-dressing room. You don't care that you're sleeping amidst The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert's leftovers; from doing this gig and maintaining your other one, you have a mutant power to fall asleep on command. And, since you don't have the patience to watch "Passions" with Mistress Sybil or the other younger girls, sleep seems preferable.
One afternoon, however, you learn otherwise.
"Sayoko. Wake the fuck up, bitch."
The lights fly on in the cross-dressing room where you are napping. But because your body has adapted a resolute defense of ignoring anyone who wants to talk to you during your limited sleeping hours, you flip over. The voice and vulgarity persist, pulling you out of your comatose, mid-shift catnap. You recognize the person speaking to be Alaia, a Dominican waif with a stringbean body that looks as though she entirely subsists on rice crackers and blow. She stands in front of you with her hands on her hips.
"Sayoko. You stole $50 from Venus's purse."
You are open-mouthed. How the fuck would you have stolen anything when you were asleep?
"Don't give me that fucking stupid look, bitch, or I'll take this fucking dildo and rape you with it."
Furious and completely shocked at being threatened with rape from a woman, you tell her to get the fuck out of your face. You go to the lounge to clear your name, whereupon Venus, a skinny white girl who tried convincing you to make a buck by donating your viable ovarian eggs to barren couples, screams at you about her missing money. You absolutely deny it, with Alina and the daytime booker backing you up. Still, Venus keeps yelling at you.
You realize there's no way you can win the argument. Though the day booker and Alina both have your back, Venus is so hell-bent on blaming you that nothing can shut her up. You likewise note that Aphrodite and the house security guy are in Las Vegas, so there is no way anyone with real authority can take any kind of stance on your behalf. Feeling defeated and hating every second of it, you opt to leave for your regular gig. But before you do, you burst into tears and vehemently tell everyone within hearing distance that you're not having any bit of their bullshit.
You leave. As you sit on the train and go to your other gig, you wish you hadn't cried. But, you don't have the heart to turn on your iPod and block out the noise most of the passengers are making. After being threatened with rape, the daily hubbub feels comforting; even though you are surrounded by loads of people, you still sit numb in your seat, unable to think of anything else except that a woman threatened to violate you. A woman. After pulling out of Times Square, you tell God to forgive your thought, but you'd like to kill her.
Less than three hours after you leave the dungeon, you get a call from the nighttime booker, who expresses a deep apology from Aphrodite, the security guy, and most of the dommes in the dungeon. You appreciate the gesture, and tell the nighttime booker as much. But, your heart feels hollow.
When Aphrodite and the security guy come back from Las Vegas, they immediately calls a meeting with you, and promise to deal with Alaia and Venus. But aside from screaming at them, neither of them are sanctioned. They aren't suspended from the dungeon. Nor are they financially docked. Within a week, both Alaia and Venus are goofing around with Aphrodite, and you're still smoldering. The security guy tries to keep your spirits up, but you know he's more worried about both a new ulcer he sustained and his on-again, off-again relationship with Aphrodite to pay any real attention to your needs.
So, after a few more weeks, you quit. You don't exactly give notice; instead, after getting over a bout of the flu, you simply decide that you're not going back. You don't care about the leftover wigs or the extra pair of shoes you left in your locker. Nor do you give a huge shit about the rest of your stuff because you have the important pieces you wanted to keep at home. Since nobody calls you to come back, you figure you're not in any trouble. You don't like quitting jobs without proper two-week notice, but start sleeping in eight-hour intervals again.
Four months later, you read that several dungeons in the area were shut down due to prostitution charges. You're not surprised to hear that's so, and briefly wonder if yours was one of them. Especially given Aphrodite's lax attitude towards conducting business and following the law while in session.
Some answers to your speculation arrive nearly a year later, when one of the former dungeon dommes has dinner with you. You listen as she tells you that the dungeon is gone; she doesn't know if it folded or was shut down. You learn that at the time Aphrodite hired you, she had just screwed over a business partner, the woman who used to aggressively create business for new additions such as yourself and who monitored the money. You likewise find out that Aphrodite is missing in action; your friend doesn't know if it's from partying too hard or losing the business.
After hearing your friend out, you feel vindicated. You always thought Aphrodite seemed haphazard when it came to going about her business, and wondered why she didn't seem to push you hard on new clientele. You likewise wish you knew about the partner Aphrodite eliminated from the business at the time you took the gig, but write it off as coulda, woulda, shoulda. As you can't change the past, that's all you can do.
But, you can't help feeling a bit sad as well. After all, Aphrodite was your teacher, a model who you remember as one of your inspirations when it comes to sexuality and how to work it. You loved her ebullience then, and still can't help smiling at it now. However, you then wonder if she's still messing around with anything that moves, if she's got herself under control when it comes to her relationships.
All in all, you're glad you had your time as a dominatrix. You're never one to really regret anything you do; even though your last few weeks at the dungeon were tainted with ugliness, you feel thrilled over knowing what you do. Sometimes, you wonder if you'd give the Mistress business another crack. You figure hey, why not.
But, if you do, it's on the proviso that you get to pick your new name.
An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.
ABOUT ALEX B
more about alex b
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
1.19.09 @ 5:08p
Alex, this is a well-done (and uncomfortably true) account of a poor work situation. It reminds me of watching some of the artistic-based businesses I've seen in their lack of ability to function in a healthy manner. I'm glad you're out of the politics of that workplace!
1.19.09 @ 5:44p
Brian, hindsight usually works 20/20. At the time, I didn't realize just how unhealthy my working conditions actually were. But after I got away from it, I slept like a log and generally felt relieved to not be there. I've never regretted my Mistress moments, but I don't entirely miss them either.
1.21.09 @ 9:42a
I didn't see this coming! I've been too busy electing presidents and yelling at congress and trying to write a novel and, until recently, caring for a 97 year old aunt with Alzheimer's even to imagine that such things existed. Boy am I naive! I'm vaguely aware that sex workers exist, and that there is an element of sex slavery going on in the world, but I think I thought it was in Thailand and Nevada. As a person who believes that all sexual matters should not be a matter of anybody's concern except the people involved, and that we ought to get over our puritan sexual mores and adopt something more realistic, I'm somewhat surprised that I'm as ignorant as I certainly seem to be. I once had a acquaintance who was a union organizer for prostitutes. She told me some stories I wish I'd never heard about abuse, and self-esteem and assortred horrors. I was sympathetic toward her cause probably as much because I think everything ought to be unionized as feeling real compassion or identification with the women she represented and fought for. I think if all of us were able to enter into sexual relationships of whatever duration for love, money. social status, or for no good reason except momentary pleasure, we'd all be better off for it. It used to be called "free love." Maybe it doesn't all have to be "free," and maybe there are people who would like to make a living in the sex trade, and maybe if there weren't all these social and religious taboos on the subject, we' all live happier ever after. I have read the studies on prostitution, and know that the data show that many, maybe even most, of the women involved were abused and had low self-esteem, and had become addicted to one drug or another. I find this information tragic, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Since I don't understand the concept that pain equals pleasure, I can't comment on that aspect of any of it.
1.21.09 @ 10:39p
Heh. I love Brian's assessment of this being a poor work situation. You could write a book!
-Who Moved My Whip and Paddle?
-The Power of Excellent Body Chains
-The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Dominatrix
1.22.09 @ 11:36p
Andy rules, he is austere if nothing else, but the personally shocking aspect of this is that Alex B, who I once thought of as a very cute and smart Philopino minx, was actually an ass-spanking hooker the whole time. (I know, I don't read that well, my verbal comprehension is for shit.)
I mean, that's fucking crazy, Alex beating flabby cracker ass for a living!
But, you're simultaneously amazed and appalled that two-thirds of the open calls are Orthodox Jews on a lunch break
Not that shocking. The only Jew I know around here is... well.. no fuck it.... it's Kraemer, and therefore I neither find that fact amazing nor appalling. The guy begs for a good old butt-whipping every time he writes a column.
You can take the boy out of Israel, but you can't take the long-suffering masochist out of his victimology-based identity complex.
1.23.09 @ 1:51p
Heh. Sandra, sex-related businesses exist everywhere. But unlike strip clubs, there's a sense of community between BDSM-related businesses. People in NY, SF, Vegas, or LA can look each other up and visit each other's dungeons. If I ever decide to return to the BDSM world, there's an almost franchise-like feeling of being able to relocate myself anywhere I want to, which is downright bizarre.
Tracey, I could definitely write a work-related tome. I could also illustrate a comic strip: Life's Little Destructive Domme Book, Dominatrix and Hobbes, or The 48 Laws of Domming.
And Dan, ultimately, I'm a lover, not a fighter. While beating someone up was a whole lot of fun for novel purposes, it really wasn't a lifestyle calling. I don't hate people enough to kick their asses for a living... yet. Not even old Jewish dudes.
1.28.09 @ 8:00a
You've peeled some scales from my old, tired eyes, and all your "confessions of a sex worker," only endears you the more to me, who has always loved the stuff you write, and by extension, you. I truly hope you find something to do that you really enjoy, and I'll confess to you now, that in my later years I've often wondered why I didn't do a whole lot more whoring than I actually did. I've married three times for what I thought was love, but I'm wondering now if maybe there hadn't been some money involved one of them might have lasted longer. Who knows?