Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giant Goodbye

It's dragged out longer than I wanted.  It was harder than I thought to get out.  You keep getting pulled back, even when everything that drew you to it in the first place is like a faded memory.  Even when exciting new developments are waiting in the wings for your full attention.  Old habits die hard and nostalgia has its pull.  But I finally closed the door for good when I said to myself: it doesn't matter who they are, even the dearest ones, it's time to set up a permanent auto-reply and announce my retirement.  They can take care of themselves.  It's time to shut that door for good.

Boundaries have always been my weakness, and so with this leaving it was messy and upsetting.  Maybe it couldn't have been any other way.  In this arena, I was able to turn that weakness into a strength, gaining momentum from those slippery boundaries, sliding in and out of them with bravado.

In the beginning, I had something to prove.  At the time, it seemed such a brave and daring thing.  To show who's wearing the pants around here.  To serve up a slice of pain of violation, subjugation, and objectification.  Straight from the heart, aimed like an arrow into yours.  Revenge and glory all wrapped up into one neat package: Mistress Xia.

It's almost funny how we all keep reenacting our hurt, as if we can somehow make it better, get it right if we just keep at it.  But you cannot exorcise demons through repeated exposure, not unless you are truly safe.  And being emotionally safe in a professional environment revolving around sexuality takes a monumental effort; perhaps a thicker skin than I can muster.  In the end, I think the parameters are off.

Yes, I traded places with the perpetrator, but it was same dance.  A simplistic, binary dance which failed to embrace the shades of gray, the ultimate paradox of life.  An illusory act, complicit in its thrust of inauthenticity - the idea that intimacy of any kind can be up for sale, that people do not really have to see one another, but can simply order up what they've imagined in the isolation of their own heads.  It always seemed like cheating, that you could get to someone you normally wouldn't have a chance with because money exchanged hands.  It's not earned that way, and it's hard to respect because of it.  I do not want to be a part of the lies anymore, nor the misunderstanding and ego-tripping these lies perpetuate.  No more running into pain to run away.


My City was on fire this past week, giddy with celebration over our first World Series win.  It was no coincidence that during this playoff run, I set myself free.  I was loving every minute following these guys who played with such pure hearts and clear minds, without the egotistical fronting.  Weird, wild, fun-loving, hard-working, creative, and humble - this underdog team of 2010 was a beautiful reflection of the spirit of San Francisco. 

It was great to watch these Giants not succumb to the small-minded questioning of the sports press, who cajoled in an attempt to inflate their egos by asking them to choose who among them was the best, tempting the players to alienate themselves from a common effort.  In that last game, the other team's pitcher lost because he wouldn't back down, he said that wasn't his way.  But we could all feel the danger immediately preceding that moment, and knew backing down would have been the wise and prudent thing to do - if not for him, then for his team.  Our scrappy team would not make the same mistake.  And our own unassuming yet phenomenal pitcher, a hero among heroes, without a doubt had much to do with our success.  

I could not help but see some analogies within this arena and the one I just left.  Burning bright and hard with youth, the talented rise to the top.  And though we earn vital wisdom with age, our bodies will inevitably give way.  The seduction of the ego is ever present, and there are many devils in disguise.  There is the pure joy of the game, and the dark side of exploitation and objectification.  It is easy to forget about the fun and get jaded.  But if you protect yourself and learn to tune out the bullshit, you can keep that magic... at least for a little while.

So this past week, amidst the throng of fans who lined the streets of San Francisco, I fell in love with my adopted city all over again.  It's been fifteen years since I moved up here from that hellacious town down south.  The City is my refuge from all that I despised down there: the superficial cool, the forced cynicism, the hierarchy and sexism, the meanness, ignorance, and arrogance - all that powering the machine of Hollywood fast food celebrity culture.  Growing up there, it was almost as if that town goes out of its way to spit on you.  Up here we revel in the goofy, we smile and mostly mean it, we know how to be real and how to love.  We are a wellspring of post/modern culture: from beatniks to hippies to Burning Man and the techno-evolution.  We are unselfconscious, not afraid to show that we speak from the heart and that we believe.  That's what makes San Francisco such a great city, a city where each of us matters, and which inspires us do the "impossible" while others are still saying no.    

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tourists of Fun

A longtime denizen of nightlife, I have noticed a new breed as of late. Camera ready in hand, they take pictures at every opportunity, documenting "how much fun" they are having to show all the world on Facebook. I was at some event recently where I was introduced to a few of this species. I can recall no discernible personality, though they were pleasant enough. What I remember most is their constant picture-taking. To me, there seemed no way for them to actually get into the flow of what has happening all around them. They were oblivious - their awkward machinations, almost robotic in their actions, as if playing off a script. There was no real engagement with their surroundings. The irony of having true fun and connection impeded by the awkward and endless recording of one's life seemed to be lost on them.

Don't get me wrong. My friend runs a nightlife website and I am used to posing for the obligatory photos. I've been told that I have had more photos of me posted over the years than anyone else, a tribute to my ongoing involvement in local dance music culture. It's one thing to interrupt your socializing, dancing, and carousing to strike an occasional pose. It's another to actually not be interrupting anything, but simply to pose as if you are having the time of your life.

It reminds me of a particular way of travelling which I had the misfortunate of experiencing once during a trip to Paris with some other American girls. Our brief stay was a race from landmark to landmark. There was no depth to our excursion. No steeping in Parisian culture. Rather, it was a series of stereotypical photo opportunities. I could have stayed home and seen the same in any standard travel documentary.

So now with Facebook, we have the social movers and shakers who are all show. It's like my lament that LA nightlife looks better on film than in person. In all the years I used to rave and club down there, I saw little real community, at least amongst the non-celebrities. It's a two-dimensional set rather than an immersive scene, and you are an extra. It is all for the eye, to be seen but not felt.

Do these FB clubbers convince themselves that they are having fun? Is it the same as the scientific research which suggests that smiling can induce happiness? It seems so empty and contrived, as I pose for their pictures, colluding in their illusion. I smile and tilt my head, an aesthetically pleasing and fashionable paper doll, there to confirm their status as what? Jet-setting bohemians? Sophisticated party animals? Social butterflies? Yeah right.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hello to all who enjoy reading my blog~

One of the great liberating aspects of writing this blog has been my ability to unabashedly share my thoughts.  This has been contingent upon a certain degree of anonymity and the freedom to write without too much thought about the repercussions of what I say.  Yet the longer I have posted to my Chronicles, the harder it has become - in the sense that I am no longer really anonymous, my identity as Mistress Xia pretty firmly established within certain communities.  And I can no longer deny that I have held back posts on numerous occasions for fear of offending people I care about, or providing too much information to potential supplicants.  Laying my soul bare to strangers is one thing, but doing so and then creating the opportunity to meet with me in an intimate situation is perhaps too much for me these days. 

With these considerations in mind, I have started to post on a new blog which is not restricted to my life as a dominatrix.  I will not be publicizing this blog because that would defeat its purpose.  I will still try to post here occasionally.  Though I regret that I will not be sharing as much in this space, I hope it reassures some of my followers to know that I am still writing, somewhere out there. . .

M. Xia

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 temporarily down

Oops I forgot to renew my main website!  Have no fear, it should be back up in the next day or so ;)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Maggie Q
Le Femme Nikita

Dreamers and Schemers

I attended a conference last weekend and got so stoked on all the intellectual stimulation. I need this, above and beyond emotional sustenance - I need that engagement in higher levels of critical thinking. It was great to have such a meeting of the minds.

I met someone at this event who had also attended the MAPS conference over the summer. He and I both agreed that this organization is a strange mix of dreamers and schemers. The dreamers are the big thinkers whose ideas and experiments inspire and drive the direction of the movement. Yet the everyday running of things seems to be controlled by the schemers, who have nothing original to offer, but seeing this pot of gold in front of them, they want to control it and bask in the glow of those with true power.

The schemers were ego tripping, politicking, power grabbing. The dreamers seemed to float above it, letting the schemers carry them through their execution of the mundane tasks required. Meanwhile, the schemers fought amongst themselves, vying for the opportunity to be the best handler, as if they could somehow own the dreamers. It was strange to observe these two parallel worlds functioning together. I am sure this sort of structure is quite common in ventures where there are powerful idea-makers and a wealth of creativity that needs to be managed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Focus on Enhancement & Optimization

In the trenches now for the first time as a beginning counselor, I am finding it gratifying and incredibly intense. This new challenge may be less glamorous than D/s sessions, yet in many ways it is a fitting extension of the interpersonal growth work which began for me in the dungeon.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it has been books of my own choosing, not those assigned in my classes, which have really furthered my understanding of human nature. The topics of these books, such as lucid dreaming, neuro linguistic programming (NLP), enneagram personality system, and non-violent communication (NVC) are considered too left field, too new or too "pop psychology" to be included in the required coursework. It makes sense then that this would be where the real learning takes place, and that it would require self-motivation, initiative and creative research to find. The good stuff rarely ever just falls into your lap!

As I have continued on in my studies and practice, I am becoming more certain that my path will lead me towards a focus on life enhancement and optimal actualization, rather than pathology. While I feel privileged to be in the midst of such a role at the moment, my life has been so much about pursuing excellence and going beyond the baseline of success to an even higher level of fulfillment. I am looking forward to integrating the knowledge I have gleened from my eclectic explorations into a coaching and training role.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Better than Reality?

In the past, my mother has told me that I have a way of writing that makes things sound better than they actually are. I laugh and wonder to myself if this is because I was a voracious reader of cereal boxes and other everyday snippets of marketing. It is true that what I create with words at once attempts to embody but also transcend that to which I refer.

With this in mind, I sadly must state my disappointment with the movie Salt. As much as I love Angelina Jolie, and as happy as I am about her breaking through the action movie gender barrier, I wish Hollywood could come up with a better quality script than that. We have come to the point where we are merely telegraphing ideas and going through the motions. Mainstream movies are getting longer, but not deeper! Well, there's still Inception. I'm excited to see if the film has any effect on my lucid dreaming explorations.

Speaking of better than reality, I was mildly shocked to see recent pictures of Megan Fox looking a little too plastic at a movie premiere. My first thought was she has succumbed to the pressures of Hollywood and dipped into Botox and other procedures. A quick google search revealed the truth: that the woman we know as Megan Fox is an almost completely artificial, surgically-induced creation. Not happy with her girl-next-door good looks, she has repeatedly gone under the knife to give her the vampish, high glamour appearance of an Angelina Jolie lookalike. I'm not one to censure such actions, as obviously her plastic pursuits got her this far. Yet it seems like she does not know when to stop, and as such has pulled the curtains away from the illusion. The next self-created star will hopefully also be able to act.

To make matters worse, I left my phone in the movie theater! Some part of me is even relieved. These smart phones begin to eat away at our existence, separating us from the immediacy of the physical world. It reminds me of the 1991 Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World, in which people become addicted to hand-held devices which capture their dreams. Eventually, the addicts do not want to do anything else but stare at their dreams, growing lethargic, neglecting to eat or sleep as their red-rimmed eyes stay glued to the tiny screens. In many ways, a prescient movie.

The disembodied effect of new media fascinates me. How awareness of time itself can disappear as we merge with the endless stream of data coming our way. In this era, I feel that it is even more vital to stay connected with the physical plane.

Recently, I had one of those intangible and highly internalized revelations which are hard to describe or fully make sense of with words. It was during some treasured alone time, when the exterior trappings of our self concept are allowed to fall away and we can attune ourselves with a greater consciousness. I sang from my soul and allowed my spirit to dance, loving and rediscovering myself. It was then, as I faced the mirror, that I began to sense my body in a different way. Not simply as a vehicle to be used by my thinking self, but a full-fledged complimentary intelligence residing within me. A body-centered intelligence which we all too often neglect and suppress, if not completely ignore. The duality of our existence is nested within us all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Salt - Changes in Hollywood

I've watched the publicity surrounding Angelina Jolie's new action movie Salt with a great deal of excitement. Finally, a badass action hero who happens to be a woman! They are saying she is the first action star to transcend gender. I also was happy to hear that fellow hapa (he is half Samoan) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is going to be taking over a Clive Owen role that is in production. It is great to see a woman and a multiracial actor stepping into lead roles that had formerly been reserved for caucasian men.

I grew up pissed off at the sexism of the movie industry; my critical lens nourished by the cutting insight of a feminist mother. There have been some changes since then - more women in active roles, not just screaming victims breaking their stilettos at inopportune moments. But of course, there is still a lot of BS in the biz. In her memoir Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, Olivia Munn mentions a sleazy blockbuster movie director who whips it out and masturbates in front of women in their trailers, another filmmaker whose nickname for his girlfriend is "whore", a studio honcho who shows off his sex toy to strangers, and an actor whose improvised dialogue detailed his desire to take a shower with Munn's character. Munn, who is yet another hapa, states that these men are pathetic for needing to debase their power like that. I hope her outing of them helps throw some sunlight on their dirty practices.

I know for myself, working on a studio lot just out of undergrad, I was amazed at how scantily-clad all the women were - not just clerical/gophers, but producers and the like. It hammered home for me that, in Hollywood, all women are expected to objectify themselves. I think that's why I've found only limited success in my dealings with SoCal Mistress seekers. In that environment, it is hard to have one's femme power taken seriously.

A few years ago I went up to the Bunny Ranch to hang out with a friend who was doing marketing for Dennis Hof. I got to watch them film the Cathouse reality show, and be an extra in the background while I privately studied the dynamics of a bordello. During that trip, I met a very attractive woman who had just flown in from LA. She was an aspiring actress, and was happy to be making some money on the side. In all too many ways, the two jobs are quite similar - indeed, for those without the benefit of nepotism, the casting couch is alive and well.

Changes are occurring, yet not as fast as they could be. Studies still show that the more TV a person watches, the more sexist, racist, and fearful of crime they are. The media skews heavy watchers' views of the world, regularly objectifying women, demonizing minorities, and scaring the hell out of everyone.

Back to Angelina, I read one male reviewer of Salt state something like the following: "Listen up kids. The physics is all wrong. Girlfriend has no throw weight." So let's just forget for a moment that movies are supposed to involve a suspension of disbelief. Does this reviewer really think that 5'7" Tom Cruise, who Jolie replaced in the role, would make a more believable secret agent? Homeboy don't have much throw weight himself. I remember reading a review of one of Jolie's Tomb Raider movies in which the male reviewer whined something to the effect of "Who does she think she is? Strutting around as if she were hot stuff." Such juvenile reactions. Ms. Jolie has stated that she never wanted to be a Bond girl, she wanted to be Bond. And not just for her, but for her daughters.

Yet the pushback does not always have to come from men. Olivia Munn has been severely criticized by several female bloggers who claim that the success she has achieved in Hollywood is due to her looks (she co-hosts Attack of the Show, did a gig with the Daily Show, and is starring in a new network sitcom). She counters that a woman can be both smart and sexy - interviewing politicians on the Daily Show and appearing on the covers of Maxim and Playboy. Why do they need to be mutually exclusive? Wouldn't it be reverse discrimination to disqualify her just because she is attractive? There seems no way to please the peanut gallery! Studies on the relationship between self-esteem and put-downs has confirmed my worst suspicions - that people actually can elevate their self-esteem by denigrating others. This goes a long way to explaining all the vicious, misogynist flames you can find in the comments section of articles about Jolie. The threatened reaction of the masses tells a lot about where the real changes are taking place. Keep fighting the good fight my Hollywood heroes - we are getting there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "articulate porn star"

I found the following link to a interview of adult video performer Lorelei on Max Fisch under the heading "Interview with an articulate porn star." I was struck by the title of the thread, which implies a common bias that a woman who engages in work of a sexual nature must be an air-headed bimbo.

Here is another link on the San Francisco Chronicle's website which features an award-winning seven-minute documentary on Lorelei.

Lorelei met a friend of mine, who is also a local pro domme, during a sex workers art show tour. She ended up taking sessions out of my alma mater, The Gates, when she lived in the Bay Area. You can actually catch a glimpse of the inside of the new house in the video.

In one scene in the documentary, Lorelei speaks of her disappointment in one of her professors. After having told him of her work in the adult industry, he told her that he would prefer that she not reveal this to her fellow students, so that she "could stay the smart girl who sits in the front of the class." Once again, that sexy girl=dumb girl bias. As if the two things - being smart and being a sex worker - are mutually exclusive. What follows naturally from this argument is that such work is inherently harmful to women and therefore only stupid ones would engage in it.

Certainly, there are a fair share of individuals within the porn who substitute sex for thinking. Yet in my experience, there are also quite a few players who are highly articulate and critical thinkers. Now in graduate school in New York, Lorelei's interview illustrates cogent arguments from a courageous and insightful mind. My favorite quotes from the interview follow:

The prevailing message women receive is that sexual aggression is unfeminine, that a woman's primary sexual role is as regulator of male desire — to say yes or no, but not to pursue desires of our own. Women are still often taught that sexy is the same as "pretty," that it means dressing a certain way and then waiting to be approached...

If we lived in a society in which women's sexuality was celebrated, and was seen as usually proactive rather than usually passive, I don't think people would jump so quickly to the concepts of exploitation and dehumanization when they thought of female performers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hierarchy & Leadershp

I have been blessed with a certain degree of personal power, the effects of which I have often noticed in various situations involving group dynamics. I used to fret over the self-consciousness and existential angst that this would inevitably bring up for me. To feel watched and then imitated, a process which usually struck me as more unconscious than not, as if all the players involved were simply acting out a primeval, collective dance.

Hierarchy comes naturally to most primates, and on this instinctive level, we are no different. Yet I am not a believer in biology as destiny. Far from it. In this day and age, it may seem that the extra brains of our species have only burdened us with the folly of intelligence-driven destruction. Yet the one thing we may cherish as human beings is the ability to transcend the vestiges of our evolution and envision an as-yet-unrealized ideal.

As for the effects of everyday hierarchy, the reality is one of limited options and minimal personal control felt in the lower echelons of society. We are finding out that the stress of being on the bottom rung of the ladder is insidious, long-lasting, and highly impactful on factors such as life expectancy, overall health and well-being. Even just a small step up the ladder significantly decreases these negative effects.

This real-life exercising of heirarchy is toxic, not to mention boring and non-consensual. Though many people express resignation about this state of affairs, saying things like "It's always been this way and it always will be," I am not so pessimistic. Women's liberation and the civil rights movement has demonstrated how deeply engrained social structures can be transformed. Technology is also on our side, with scientists working to create a "vaccine" to combat the ravages of low status stress (though of course, a medical intervention of this kind would open up a whole other can of worms. Would the vaccine be used to substitute for more equal access to resources? But actually, this status stress has been measured in developed cultures where even the lowest rung has a fairly high standard of living. So it appears that the lack of heirarchical power, more than inadequate basic needs, may be driving these negative effects).

In the big picture, I wish for hierarchy to remain where it belongs; as a titillating game which gouds us into action, provoking innovation and the inspiration of passion. I would not support attempts to obliterate that which is in our nature. I simply believe in manipulating the variables, re-directing energies into more useful, playful, creative and positive avenues.

As for myself, I have spent quite a bit of time shying away from the leadership roles which have come my way. In some ways, I took humility too far. Now, I understand that to lead can be the fulfillment of duty and responsibility, not just a narcissistic crown on one's head. Particularly for my circle of supplicants, some of whom did not serve anyone else during my leave, I feel a desire to connect, fulfill, and transcend. I see my singular vision of what it means to be a domina as both an artistic impulse and a spiritual obligation.

And while, in the past, the gifts I have been blessed with may have seemed like a burden, my experiences during my break taught me plenty, including just how great I have it. Those down-time explorations which were marked by barrenness, banality, and the taking on of shame. Yes, there was dabbling in vanilla and femme sub to boot. No, it didn't work for me, but I suppose I had to see for myself once and for all. And now I am that much stronger and wiser for having gone down those paths, so that I could really know in my heart that this is where I belong. Amen.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rockin' to the Beat of Your Own Drummer

I rocked a catwoman outfit for a villains & heroes-themed gathering. I don't think I've ever worn such a transformative costume. Even friends did not recognize me. It was like I was another person, people reacted to me so differently. Children stared and grown-ups strolled up with smiles, saying "Hey Catwoman..." I was amazed how approachable one becomes when taking on such an icon. I felt very much the supervillain. Yet instead of super powers, these costumes actually seem to decrease one's senses. I could barely hear with my ears covered by a rubber mask, and others complained that their masks blocked their peripheral vision. We laughed at this irony. Isn't it funny how life is like that - a topsy turvy world where things are not always as they seem.

I recently had a chance to study the issue of conformity and as such have been contemplating the full extent of its force upon all of us, most especially at unconscious levels. We conform because it makes us uncomfortable not to, we feel it in our guts when things stray too far outside the norm. In kink, we play with this feeling, as with so many other conflicted dynamics.

One aspect of conformity in the vanilla world I always am disappointed to see is when a beautiful woman wearing a killer, original outfit gets the jitters and midway through the party changes into something more conventional or otherwise tones it down. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen on numerous occasions. I jokingly remember these long lost outfits as "the ones that got away."

Admittedly, it can be a bit trying to don an edgy outfit. But if it's sexy and works, then I think a woman has to learn to suck it up and go with it. We all benefit when we are blessed with a vision of beauty and creativity. Sure, you may be getting more looks than you're used to, but that's because you are rocking it. There's that intangible pull to want to shimmy back to the median, but you have to have the balls to resist and step up. Yes, that's right, women have to have balls too!

All right, well you've caught Mistress in a more playful mood today ;) I'll sign off for now. . .

Friday, July 9, 2010

Domination: Better as a Game in a Dungeon

Living in San Francisco in my carefully crafted unconventional life, I forget sometimes what it must be like for many of the seekers out there. We may play at games of subjugation and humiliation, but Mistress does not really want to cut off your balls. It's unfortunate that I have to state this, yet when I get glimpses into the vanilla dating world through stories that my guy friends tell me, it occurs to me how brainwashed most women out there are. They make all sorts of silly and draining demands on men because they've been programmed to think these are necessary to demonstrate that they are respected and loved. Once again, it's the replacement of true understanding between essentially equal beings with arbitrary signposts of the so-called "right" way to do things.

All of this is much healthier if constrained to the dungeon. We all play power games, but most do it subversively if not unconsciously. Better to name it and turn it into a game than let it secretly rule you, and be frustrated in one's attempts to escape this intangible web.

In coming back into the professional arena, I wanted to stay true to my vision of femme domme. And I still believe in my way. For serving an authentically powerful and wise woman is not unlike going to church - one's spirit is elevated in worshipful ecstasy. Yet I know I must scare some men away with my uncompromising vision. For all they probably have known of female domination is the cold-hearted scheming of those who, in their ignorance and weakness, must make others feel bad so that they can feel good. And I'm just speaking of everyday women in this world, not dominatrices. That is very far from what I am all about.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Double Trouble, Planned Excitement, Battling Vanilla

I had a lovely double session with Mistress Ai-Li. Actually, I think all three of us – submissive included – were amazed at how perfectly everything flowed . And to think, this was our first time running a scene together! I am definitely looking forward to more multi-Mistress sessions. Mistress Ai-Li and I have known each other socially for some time now, and it is gratifying to know that our affinity for one another carries over into our in-scene chemistry.

I was thinking about the idea of planned excitement. Some people’s idea of fun is chaos. They think adventure must be accompanied by pure spontaneity. That to plan things out is boring and somehow takes away from the thrill. I have been accused of just such a thing, and yet I’m afraid that my accusers could not possibly have as exciting a life as me. Waiting for the next fire to put out or some other unanticipated drama is not my idea of a good time. The whole idea of crafting a scene and organizing a session around it goes hand in hand with this idea of planned excitement. It is possible to have a highly pleasurable life that is also well coordinated. In fact, in the adept execution of our desires, we create a safe space to lose control.

I recently posted on Max Fisch in response to a thread which debated the question of whether or not a pro domme is a sex worker. This thread has mysteriously been removed, as I had meant to quote directly from my post. It was quite a long and involved thread, yet I believe that my late contribution to the discussion was the only one to explicitly state that I did in fact differentiate myself from other types of sex workers. It would seem that professional dominas have become so sensitive to the contingencies of political correctness that we no longer can simply state the obvious.

I believe that this distinction matters because without it, the essence of what makes dominatrices unique is lost. If we do not emphasize this delineation, we risk allowing the vanilla to seep in. Indeed, part of what goes on in the dungeon is a playful battle between femme domme and vanilla. Men seek out this alternative experience where traditional gender roles are reversed, yet deep down many unconsciously yearn to turn the tables, to be the one who is able to declaw the cat and transform her into a cuddly kitten.

To me, the oath of the Mistress involves commitment to her role as the anti-GFE, the woman who will not go with you down the well-tread paths of the everyday, but who instead insists upon the twist – and lives and breathes it with all her heart. Are we yet another pretty package to be bought, this time with a bit more naughty spice added to the mix? Of course, there will always be men and women involved in the game who see it that way. Yet that is the difference between play-acting at Dominance/submission and truly manifesting it.

It reminds me of that final scene in the second Batman film where Catwoman tells Batman that she would love to give up the fight and go away with him to live happily ever after in his castle. But in the end, she cannot. The destiny of the dominatrix is to stay on the shadowy path, liberated from convention, reveling in hot perversion… and whatever else her deviously creative mind can think of.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Breaking through the Surface

Surface, surface, surface. It's amazing how one can just live on the surface of life, only caring about the window dressing. I have seen how it is to live like that, sucked in as we all get from time to time, the pull of the bad romance. The irony of the materially-enriched yet internally impoverished existence. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive in most cases. Yet we are forever hiding behind the shell of things. Some have ignored the depths for so long, they no longer recognize that anything is missing. They think the actions and the objects are the same thing as the feelings and the inner growth.

I once had a lover who would describe dreams and aspirations only in terms of how it would look, how we would be dressed and how we would act, as if we were playing parts in a movie. Creative visualization but without a soul, no ghost in the machine. All the pretty things and all the pretty people in the world cannot fill up that emptiness, my dear. In the end, there is no running away from the truth.

Even in the dungeon, some just go through the motions. Admittedly, here it is more complicated. For instance, my critique about the over-emphasis on objects and actions may fall on deaf ears to the fetishist. It is incredibly subtle, the distinction I am trying to make. In my mind, relationships are not really about actions and objects. Though I know many, if not most, see them this way - as if the relationship were a spreadsheet where the rituals of reciprocation and regard are tracked and scored. Yes, consideration matters, but not just the face of it, when it is done by route, and most especially not when there is an expectation that there will be winners and losers. How can we truly see one another when that's all there is?

For those of us who crave the real, the dungeon can be a place where we break through the surface. Through the tools of control and submission, we tease out the impermanent from the everlasting. But you have to be fully present to it. If I simply stay skating on the surface, musing to myself about what an amazing domme I am, how good I look, how desired I am or other self-indulgent tripe, will I notice when my submissive has had too much? If I am not right there with him, inside his head, I cannot possibly know where to to take us and how to get back. Not for anything other than a fill-in-the-blank experience. We both have to be willing, for that journey into truth. As in all worthy endeavors, it takes courage, strength, humility and honesty to know the way and keep on the path.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends

We sit in the workshop classroom as the instructor, a Freudian analyst, tells us that the "hows" and "whys" of therapy are a mystery. That we don't really understand how it works when it does, or what went wrong when it doesn't. The young and eager attendees shift in uncomfortable silence. We want answers. We want certainty. Empirically-based evidence that we are heading in the right direction. We want the validity of science, not just the beauty of art. I think that is why so many in the new generation like the CBT model - no, not cock and ball torture! Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is concrete and measurable. As such, it reassures us. Ambiguity, that sense of groundlessness - that can be so unnerving. We keep trying to stay in control. Again and again, it comes back to balance. Holding the reins lightly but not letting go. Neither one extreme or the other. Neither all-out anarchy nor dictatorship. It requires true mindfulness to stay in the middle.

Since I came back from a dive trip to the Asian Pacific, I have been delightfully deluged with the servitude of my dear submissives. I am blessed to know so many bright, positive, and genuinely nice people. With a little help from my submissive friends, I have eased my way back into the dungeon and stoked my passion for D/s play.

While I am still entertaining applications from those I do not know, I continue to refine my screening process to best meet my need for compatibility. I am a very sensitive person and there is a definite emotional investment in the process of seeing someone new in the dungeon. I cannot do this craft in any other way but to put my heart and soul into it. As such, when there are disappointments, they inevitably have an effect on me. I strive to protect myself from energy-draining experiences, yet it is quite natural that these will occasionally intrude upon my life. I take them as opportunities to learn, providing valuable feedback which allows me to hone both the messages I convey and the parameters of my assessment.

I was speaking with another domina about how, with the advent of the internet, the craft of professional domination has become more service provider-oriented. There is no doubt in my mind that I have benefited from the information age, with my fondness for visual technology and my ease with online communication. Yet this illustrates a newfound subtlety for me - namely, weeding out those who are ultimately looking for a service provider experience. Sometimes this distinction, intangible as it is, is not consciously known by the seeker. Sadly, it may be due to the fact that he has never encountered any other kind of experience. Whatever the case may be, I am happy to find my skills at discrimination to be progressing.

With our Mother Earth bleeding oil and disasters a regular news item these days, sometimes it feels so trifling to play the Mistress. Yet because of these outside stressors, the time we set aside to get away from it all can be vital. For me, it is not about forgetting reality, but about acknowledging it, grieving our losses, and celebrating the spirit which soothes and strengthens us all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Lessons often seem simple after the fact. But that is because we must live them to learn them. We cannot just be told and then somehow absorb that wisdom. That's why all the fortune cookie sayings in the world cannot change you. You must change yourself. Or be willing to surrender to it.

The realization that I have had of late concerns the exercising of choice. Many dominas claim to be selective. But how many actually are? I think the happy ones must be. Those foundation years at The Gates, I wanted so badly to believe that my craft was one and the same as my independent sisters. In doing so, I deluded myself on the one key difference: the freedom to truly choose who would serve me.

In retrospect, the thing that wore on me during my twilight days at the house was not being a Mistress in and of itself. On the contrary, each time I come back to it, it feels more right. It was the burden of accommodation. The sloppy compatability, the disregard for the importance of good fit.

Even when I left, burnt out from the poorly mannered and crude who could never fully appreciate all that I am, I still denied myself the power in my own hands. Entering independence that time, I was still in the mindset of a service provider. I thought I had to see everyone who wanted to see me, so long as they sought my listed activities and did not overtly offend with requests for sex or the like.

And yet, in my personal life I have long been very particular about the company I choose to keep. My social circles are peopled with sophisticated jet-setters, cultured aficionados of artful aesthetics, ambitious thinkers and fun-loving metaphysical explorers. So why the dissonance? I think this craft of session-based domination, with its necessity of a double life, led to a compartmentalization of all that I experienced therein.

So like many things, my search for bliss as a Mistress has been a progression towards integration - of "Xia" with the rest of my life. And this has involved, first and foremost, an application of the high standards which I expect of myself and others in my personal life to the dungeon. The valuing of health, prosperity, intelligence, humor, humility, creativity, intuition, positivity and overall balance. . . as well as giving myself permission to say no. These things have made my return all the sweeter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catching Up

The outpouring of support has been tremendous. After cultivating many wonderful D/s relationships over the years, it would seem that catching up with those who have served me in the past is all I need for the moment. With my busy schedule, I only have time to session 2 to 3 times a week - and actually, that suits me just fine! A sprinkling of kink to spice up the vanilla in the rest of my week. And having already established trust and goodwill between us, there will be no end to the devious hijinks!

I will likely lock in a few of my favorite submissives, masochists, and strap-on sluts into a regular schedule, then fill in any extra time I may have on an as-needed basis with my out-of-towners. I find the vetting process for new applicants to be quite time-consuming, a bit stressful, and unfortunately often leading to disappointment. So for the time being, I will be focused on re-connecting with old friends and exploring new paths together.

I am playing exclusively out of the City and have 3 sumptuous playspaces at my disposal: an historic chamber in the inner Mission, an extremely well-equipped loft in SOMA, and a sleek North Beach dungeon.

All the best from Mistress Xia

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Touched by the Support

I have caught a few episodes here and there of the re-imagined TV series "V," about too-good-to-be-true aliens from another planet who proclaim they come in peace but are secretly intent on the destruction of humanity. I have a certain nostalgia for the original '80s series, having watched it as a young child. For me, nothing can match the original V's bright red uniforms, echo-laden voices, or Diana's shocking engulfment of a guinea pig, her jaw unhinging like a snake. The new conceptualization is more a play on the idea of "What if the good guys had to be the terrorists?" In any case, I watch it intermittently now mainly because I am drawn to Morena Baccarin, the actress who played the space travelling courtesan Inara Serra in Firefly and who is the supremely evil V leader Anna in this series. In the reconceptualization, she is more than a political leader of her people, she is an actual biological queen in a sense analogous to that of a queen bee. She rules her subjects mercilously, in part through her administration of "bliss," which is some sort of innate, hypnotic power she has over the others of her species.

Then there is her teenage daughter, Lisa, who is set by Anna with the seemingly trifling task of seducing a human boy. What was interesting in the season finale was watching Lisa transform from hapless daughter to a powerful woman in her own right. When confronted with the choice to betray her cold-blooded mother, she initially vacillates, but ultimately makes the right decision. It is in one these scenes that I resonated the most. Joshua, one of the leaders of the V underground resistance, has been found out and Lisa goes behind Anna's back to release him from captivity. Before they take leave of each other, Joshua surprises Lisa by bowing his head and quietly uttering, "My Queen." In that moment, Lisa realizes her destiny.

Since allowing Mistress Xia to reemerge, I have felt the ripples of excitement from friends, supporters, and lovers. I have been touched and my eyes widened by the response of the men in my life, an emotional reaction akin to falling to one's knees and saying, "My Queen." There is an almost tangible sense of relief in some quarters to see me coming back to myself, an embracing of my power once again. It's a marvelous thing to be surprised by oneself through others. To finally feel comfortable in one's skin, holding onto the reigns of power firmly yet lightly. To come into one's own, this time having earned through hard experience the strength and compassion to rule wisely. I have tried to be like everyone else. Many, including me, are thankful that I have failed. I'll say it again: it is good be back.

With Gratitude,

Mistress Xia

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Embrace the Paradox

Oh my - reading my last few posts, what contradiction! Shame on me? Quite the opposite. As my favorite inspirational writer of writers Brenda Euland once wrote, "Consistency is the horror of the world!" The mercurial ebb and flow of our divine essence is beyond binary logic. Embrace the paradox. . .

Experiment Over, Back to Being Me

Sometimes we have to diverge from our path to truly appreciate where we were before. I had been anxious about putting myself out there again. I relished the idea of tip-toeing back in, testing the waters a bit. So I experimented - as it turns out, ever-so-briefly - with a different persona, and in a channeling of dark desire, I also embraced the ambiguity and surrender of the switch. Like Catherine Deneuve's icy-hearted masochist Belle Du Jour, I toyed with the cold heat of lurid, semi-anonymous encounters, but for me within a house of domination rather than a so-called house of ill repute. I needed to cast out Xia to find her again. To vandalize my own creation, so that I could burst forth again like a phoenix from the ashes.

And now I am back where I belong: at the helm, with my treasured submissives at my feet. For this is who I am. I can breathe a sigh of relief, to have liberated the Goddess within. She gets to play again! Damn, it's good to be back.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Wicked Grounds of Power

Finally made it to Wicked Grounds, a unique coffee shop here in San Francisco that caters to the openly kinky. Even my marginally perverted acquaintances had already made it there, so it was about time! The opportunity arose when my friend Mistress Victoria gave me a call today. She told me she was there with her personal sub P, who was visiting from out of town, and that they were planning on doing a public scene.

The cafe was a quaint little space tucked in the South of Market area, conveniently located just down the street from Mister S Leather & Fetters. I found Victoria in the back, looking smashing in her mix of rocker and vintage pin-up looks. P soon made an appearance decked out in black rubber, his arms restrained against his torso and a breathing/sucking tube attached to his face mask. He was gleefully teetering on edge, having already spent a fortnight in a metal chastity device with 70+ metal teeth pressing against even the thought of an erection. Part of his humiliation was having to explain to airport security why he was setting off the metal detectors!

It was such a fun and relaxing afternoon, drinking tea and snacking as we chatted and casually tormented P with even the slightest touch, he was that sensitized. We zipped up his mask so that he could no longer see, and then he sat back and really went into subspace. I especially liked his gold-coated stiletto boots, which really made him look like a nasty rubber slut!

Victoria ran into another gentleman friend at the cafe. While they caught up, I got to tease and torture her sub 'til he squealed and yipped like a little dog. Then I looked at my watch and realized I'd be late for my personal training session - when I get my butt kicked by a sadistic Vietnamese exercise buff who could be a dominatrix in her own right. I quickly said my good-byes, which gave them all a chuckle after my wham-bam mini-scene. Well, P wasn't chuckling - more like whimpering and cooing, sweet thing!

Before we got into play mode, we had been chatting about how strangely unwelcome switches can feel in the scene. Even though people give lip service to the idea of creating more balance in one's life, when it comes to BDSM, one often feels forced to "choose sides." Even more than that, one's attractiveness as a domme does not necessarily carry over when representing oneself as a switch player. There is less glamour there for some because one is no longer the unyielding, unattainable Venus in Furs.

Yet in most cases, being "strictly domme" is more a delusion than reality. At The Gates, I remember how tiring it was to have to watch my own actions and demeanor like a hawk because certain so-called slaves would become unhinged at any perceived sign of weakness on my part. From making sure I didn't get on my knees when rigging bondage, to abhorring the color pink, to stating that I was being "served" even as I was presented with an exhaustive list of activity requests - the ridiculous symbolism was all that mattered because it was more about fantasy than authentic power exchange, with me as fill-in-the-blank dream domme. Talk about the making of burn out: passive aggressive men who insisted that they were submissive and looking for truly dominant women, yet exacting in their specifications of things like scene details, the mannerisms of the domme, and the kind of attention showered upon them. Like most people, they were skating on the surface, going through the motions, focusing on the materials and goal-acquisition rather than the moment or the journey. Mindlessly grasping, thinking that doing equals being; as if to say you are one way and then to pay for others to treat you as such can make it so.

When it comes to pro dommes, by pushing this misguided fantasy of individuals who are "born to rule", we may actually be encouraging the continued disempowerment of women. Because being 100% dominant is typically a fallacy, the pro BDSM industry makes a joke out of genuine femme power by insisting on an untenable position of "perfection", thereby creating a sense of constant insecurity in the women who practice the craft. By overstretching the truth, we make imposters out of our own powerful selves, placating the existing male-dominated authority with the trifling level of our bold assertions, especially confined as they are to the sexual realm.

I am struck time and time again by how, on a fundamental level, we can all see that women hold the keys to power and that most of what men do as individuals is to attract and bewitch women. Yet on the level of societal structures, we are still dealing with male politicians attempting to take away reproductive and sexual freedoms, dictating not only how we as women should live, work, play, and breed, but also how and if we are allowed to mix any of these things together. What happened to the Goddess? She was pimped out.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This is Late, but. . . Rest in Peace Veronica

I have been out of the pro domme scene for quite some time, and am not someone who socializes much in the scene. But my curiosity has been reawakened as of late, and after my friend Ren mentioned the message board of Irene Boss, I decided to check it out. It was on that board that I learned of the untimely death of Miss Veronica, pro domme and international fetish model. She was a very special woman who I had the privilege of hanging out with on several occasions over the years.

She took her own life last August, and now I am sitting here in shock and tears - I can't quite believe that it's true, or that I could not know for all this time. I look at her myspace page, which has turned into a memorial to her, and see comments from mutual acquaintances. But I guess this isn't the sort of thing to come up in casual conversation on the rare occasion I run into these people.

Veronica was the real deal. She used her real name. She was genuinely kinky and truly unique. She always stood out to me. The first time I met her was at the Climate Theater space, I believe after Folsom Street Fair. She was so striking and her energy was so open, we struck up a conversation and she told me she was a switch and had just started at The Dominion. A few years later, I saw her at the fetish ball thrown by Mr. S. She had come into her own, had transitioned to independence and was jet-setting around the world for fetish photo shoots. It was three years ago that I ran into her at AVN, looking incredibly stunning in a leather bodysuit with thigh high boots, trolling the GayVN section for twinks (her personal fetish). We spent the afternoon together bonding over our experiences not only as dominatrices but as avid scuba divers. It would only have been a couple years ago that I hung out with her last, took her to the End Up for a night of dancing, then dropped her off at Simone Kross' place.

Wow Veronica, you were an amazing presence that graced this world for not long enough. I feel like this world failed you Veronica, and I am so sorry that you weren't able to make it to 30 (The Daily Show on in the background in my living room: John Stewart interviewing Rosalyn Carter about the dire need for reform in our mental health system). Your memory will live on, you quirky, brilliant girl who shone so bright and went away too soon. R.I.P.

That's all I've got on this. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Sometimes I feel paralyzed to write. Not so much writer's block, as there are usually more than a few ideas swirling in my head, but more of an existential angst - a why does it even matter anyway? So though I pride myself on my autonomy, it does feel good when I meet new people who have been following my blog. I may express weariness with the process at times, as is the case in virtually all creative expenditures. Yet it is like the air I breathe, and I doubt I will ever really stop writing, universe willing.

I have been lightly stepping back into various enterprises to help subsidize the cost of my graduate education. I had thought, half in denial and half in naivete, that I could simply utilize my free hours towards this goal without having it all spill over into the rest of my very busy life. But there is something about doing this work that engenders fixation. Like the myth of Narcissus staring at his reflection in the pond. Maybe it's impossible to disentangle one from the other. Like getting paid to shoot up while trying not to get high (no, I don't do that stuff - still, an apt analogy). The pleasure and the ego stroking are part of the package.

So now, I am trying my best to strike a balance. I do think I'm doing a better job than before. It's nice to have one foot in the vanilla world. Not just to keep grounded, but because everything else seems that much kinkier.

I saw this interesting talk from ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison, former wife and colleague of psychedelic legend Terence McKenna. She spoke of the need to value folk research - the millennia of soul-searching on ayahuasca that has become a part of the knowledge base of Latin American tribes, but which modern researchers too quickly discount. She also spoke of the systematic and brutal repression of traditional herbalists in Western Europe, who also possessed esoteric knowledge about mind-expanding plants. These herbalists and healers were predominantly women.

Countless were silenced and killed to make way for modern, patriarchal structures which channelled power into the hands of male authority. From my own research, I know this happened in the Philippines as well. Women had been leaders in the villages. They were mystics and healers. They were pushed out and replaced by the priests, and then made to fit their powers into a role based on the virgin Mary, with all the impossible challenges such a model evokes. Women had their feet knocked out from under them, their confidence in their own power trampled, and in many ways we are still scrambling to recover from that historic fall.

The thought that keeps coming back to me is what a massive brain drain we still have when it comes to women. And I am not even talking about countries that actively maintain gender inequality. That can almost be seen as the easy part - getting our rights is pretty straight forward. It's in a society that has progressed as far as we have that the intangibles get in the way. Vanity - maybe the church was right in making that a deadly sin. Women are taught to value themselves based on their looks and their femininity. Not only does the maintenance of vanity take away precious time in this world when we could be focusing on more important things, it is a drug in and of itself. It induces mental laziness in women, reinforcing a tendency to skate on the surface. Because batting our eyelashes is all we need to do to have a man take care of things. Women have legal equality in our society, yet we play a double standard. We demand all the rights of men, but also many more privileges.

The time will come when these sacred cows of femininity will get torn down. I often think one sign will be when there will be more female comedians. When we can poke fun at women with the same permission as men, when we can tolerate being laughed at equally as well as men - I think that will be a better sign of having "come a long way" than getting to pick up a gun and fight. That and strap-on play in every bedroom. Amen!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Checking in

Uh-oh it looks like I've fallen behind on my posting! I've been so busy with end-of-semester scrambling, as well as the addition of new responsibilities in my life. And after the initial high of my reemergence, a lingering question of whether or not I even want to blog. Does it even matter? Yes and no, of course. One thing thats been in my head lately is the idea that perhaps sometime soon, ergonomics will make a quantum leap and it won't hurt so much to sit down to type and click at the computer. At the this point, it is a fairly serious impediment to extending my writing efforts. One day perhaps we'll all be suited up and submerged in tanks of water so we can be completely relaxed while we interface virtually. That is the matrix, isn't it? Speaking of matrix, check out this fascinating article on the Matrix Theory. I am kind of pissed at New Scientist though. They have great articles on cutting edge science, yet their operational backend is still stuck in the dark ages. Trying to get my subscription renewed has been a pain in the ass - calling London, being told I need to get some statement from my bank. It was so ridiculous, I ended up resubscribing via Amazon because it was easier than going through their site! All right, enough pointless venting. Back to my studies. I'll try to write more soon...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I was at the comic book convention in town this past weekend. In the past few years, it has gotten a lot more crowded. I love it because it is such a nerd fest. Comic books, anime & manga, vampires, the Industrial Victorian look of the steam punks, the Serenity brownshirts, sword & sorcery fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons – geek culture is now mainstream culture. But Wondercon still retains its geek roots, with a focus on good-natured fantasy fun without the “trying to be cool” attitude. It’s so comfortable there for me, chortling with others about some obscure Star Trek allusion. Nerds are my people!

I did get slightly weirded out by an interaction with an acquaintance there, who I'll call T. She was madly dashing around meeting dates she had connected with through a dating website called OK Cupid. We met up with one of her cute geeky guys in line for the Arkham Asylum talk. This was going to be a panel discussion with a psychiatrist and psychologist attempting to analyze the various criminals of Batman’s Gotham City. I was intrigued at the concept, but imagined excusing myself at some point during the talk, as these days I get my fill of real-life DSM analysis. There was a lot of excitement about this program and the line winded down the hall and out the doors. As we met up with this guy, the women behind him became incensed at our “cutting” and began to make comments about “tearing heads off” and the like. T began to talk back, telling me that "they couldn't beat us up." All of this was making me feel pretty nervous, and I didn't want to take up someone's place who had been waiting the whole time in line. In an attempt to assuage these angry women, I offered to let them go ahead of us. They were letting in people a few at a time, and it wasn't clear when the limit would be reached. Instead of ameliorating the situation, things actually grew more tense as others behind us insisted on going ahead as well. I quickly decided it wasn’t worth all the trouble and told my friend I was bailing.

I meandered around the mezzanine, watching Transformers and sexy anime girls pose for photos. Later on, I found out that T decided to go looking for me to “make sure I was okay.” When I saw her next, she expressed disappointment that she had missed the talk (and so had her insta-date, the poor sap had followed her lead, but by this time she had moved on and he was nowhere in sight). I told her that I’m a grown-up and that there was no need to sacrifice her pleasure to check on me. She said that was just the kind of person she is. I told her that if I’d really wanted to see the talk and she walked away, I would have let her. She repeated that she was simply acting on her principles of friendship. She was insistent to the point of being argumentative about the justifications for her trying to find me. Mind you, this is not someone who is my best friend. Even further, this act of entangling herself in my affairs only reinforces my desire to not pursue her friendship. This is what bothers me. How people are so chained to their etiquette, their guilt- and shame-inducing “shoulds.” They go about bending their life in an attempt to suit the needs of others. They are not liberated to do what honors them in any moment, their first priority is making sure that they come off well in the eyes of others. Why can’t we all just assume that we can each take care of ourselves? That way each of us can focus on just that, instead of having to think (for example) “I’d really like to just sit here for a moment by myself in silence but I see so and so over there and if I don’t immediately go and say hi they will think I am rude.” In any case, T came back the next day and spent the afternoon hunting down another of her friends because she wanted to get high and he had the stuff. Spinning in circles, not seeing what is there. That’s how I feel about people like her.

I dressed up in a corset one day, my red satin Chinese dress the next. I didn’t wear too much make-up, just wanting to look into it but not distractingly glammed out. I get so much attention for my looks, I am not one who needs constant validation that way; there are times to flaunt it and other times to lay low. Sometimes it’s nice to be hidden in plain sight, to let that specialness be known only to those who are paying attention. It’s like the metaphor of the masked superhero. Superpowered, a gifted individual, with the capacity and desire to use her powers to affect positive change. Yet the mask of the superhero conveys a sense of humility. For when one is truly superpowered, there is nothing to prove, only good deeds to be done. It is choosing a life of anonymity, instead of one full of the roar of accolades. It can be disquieting at times, yet ultimately liberating, to choose to stay in the shadows. Out of the spotlight, we can embody the flow, instead of being trapped in self-conscious reflexiveness. We are free to connect with our truth from moment to moment, rather than pinned down like an insect under glass. That light we shine on things, ostensibly to make us feel better about ourselves, often has the effect of piercing the energy away. It’s almost like the concept in quantum physics where the act of observing changes the outcome. Not that observing is bad – as a vipassana meditator, I am a believer in observing to gain insight. Yet there is another kind of observing that is not so mindful; it’s that automatic, compulsive fixation on our own egos that is the opposite of true observation. So I believe it is through the quiet work, in the shadows of society, that some of the most impactful change can happen. Not the ideas whose originators are so busy protecting them that they trip over themselves, but the memes that flow freely. That is where we are evolving. Invisible chains, rippling through with the energy of our actions and intentions.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Everything & Nothing

The other night I was looking at TS porn from Asia. I always knew when a Japanese model came up on the slide show because her make-up, hair, clothes, and posture would convey that culture's sexual aesthetic of the young, innocent doe-eyed girl. This contrasted nicely with the more knowing, brazenly sexy aesthetic of many of the Thai kathoey.

When I lean heavily towards any particular preference, I notice how the others that are not in my sights can seem absolutely digusting. Yet pick another night, and my mood could be totally different, with the things that formerly seemed disgusting now making me really hot. This has made me think about how we create false dichotomies. In aesthetics, there is young vs. mature, innocent vs. knowing, blonde vs. brunette, fair vs. exotic, skinny vs. shapely, petite vs. statuesque, dominant vs. submissive, real vs. fake, down-to-earth vs. classy, femme vs. butch. Which ever ones we like, we think are "the best." Yet the longer I have played in this bounty of creation, the more I see that our own tastes can be ever changing. And thank the gods for that, for then we can taste life's many sweetnesses.

This binary thinking permeates our very belief systems and spiritual practices, where we search relentlessly for the "right" path, judging the ones we are not on as "incorrect." We over-apply our faculties of judgment, in our strenuous efforting to "get it right." Maybe Battlestar Galatica's Caprica is on to something with this monotheism vs. polytheism story line. Maybe our current paradigm limits us to seeking only one right way.

What I'm realizing more and more is that the truth lies in diversity, in all its mess, uncategorizable, contradictory. The path to strive for and protect is not any one path, but Diversity itself - this is the thing of value. Paths of peace and mutual respect, of course (and excellence works for me, but yes that is a preference). Beyond that, there is nothing that needs to be one way or another. Omnia et nihilum.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On my mind...

The one that got away... when I let the domain name lapse. At least it's being put to use now. For a while there, it was being wasted as an Amazon redirect.

An injustice that irks me... that a place like Mitchell Brothers/O'Farrell Theater can flaunt itself as a virtual legal brothel in the city while women like me who have the talent to run a kick-ass house of domination (something sorely missing from San Francisco) are too afraid to even try because of the very real threat of legal repercussions. Shouldn't such an enterprise, with its limited sensuality, be welcomed in a town where strip club handjobs are a dime a dozen? It seems like another case of male-centric double standards.

A meme that I am noticing, that I seem to have helped spread... The use of blogger as one's primary website. When I decided to downsize from my website, I found google's free hosting (and pre-set warning page) an easy way to park my images and highlight my blog using custom domain names. Now I see numerous BDSM providers on Eros doing the same. I spent way too much time managing my site before, though I admit I enjoyed obsessing over it. With grad school, I just don't have time for that kind of self indulgence!

What I'm excited about... Meeting new faces in the kink scene, exploring means of advocacy for kink and poly issues within the mental health arena, playing with old friends, getting a second wind, remembering what drew me to all of this in the first place.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Happiness Space & other Japanese Adventures

If you have not seen it already, I highly recommend watching the documentary about Japanese host boys called The Great Happiness Space - it's available streaming on Netflix. This film caused an important shift in my outlook, fundamentally altering how I view companion work and female/male relations. After years of sessioning as a professional dominant at The Gates, I had started to develop the all-too-common, cynical attitude towards men and the work, as well as a mindless acceptance of my own complicity in games of deception which traded false intimacy for ego strokes, gifts and money. I had begun to lump all men into the category of liars, perpetrators, and insensitive, selfish assholes. Conversely, I had begun to see myself and the other women as slighted victims of men's transgressions.

Yet this documentary helped me to see that that this dynamic is not one dictated or limited by gender. When men are the providers and women the clients - as is the case in this documentary - the same complaints surface but with the sexes flipped. In the film, veteran host boys speak in jaded tones about how their female clients are selfish and manipulative. They complain about rude things said to their face and say that the women don't feel as obligated to be polite because they are paying. One host boy said they were all liars, and that he no longer saw them as attractive women but only as money in the bank. It was amazingly eye-opening for me to hear these Japanese male companions saying the same sort of bitter complaints that I have heard come out of the mouths of female sex workers in the States. All of a sudden, I realized that the misery we had all been party to wasn't a case of biology as destiny, but really was a construct of our time and place. And that the touchy dynamics of pay-for-play is a dance of the human condition, not a battle between women as providers and men as clients.

I had an opportunity to see the host boys working the corners in Kubukicho, Tokyo last spring. Kubukicho is called a red light district but it's not like the dank and dirty places in the west, filled with shame-ridden folks and junkies with nobody making eye contact. No, Kubukicho aka "The Sleepless Town," is jammed full of hip young people, arcades, restaurants and bars, as well as the companion- and erotic-oriented venues. Even in the ordinary bars, you may pay a table fee in addition to a drink minimum, in exchange for which you are conversed with by one of the employees, male or female.

Paid company seems to be an accepted part of Japanese culture, whether erotic in connotation or not. In the crazed mega-technology district called Akihabara, we had our maid cafe experience. Here, sweet girl geeks in modest dresses with aprons and frilly hats served us on their knees. As kinky as that sounds, it was really quite innocent. Others in the cafe included a group of young people, two older women, and one lone young foreign man. We did actually find a BDSM dungeon during our foray through the city, not too far from Harajuku. We noticed a woman in full kimono escorting a man in a business suit out to a waiting car. After some time, we entered the discrete little office building where she had retreated to, and guessed that she was now behind a door that read, "Sakura," which means cherry blossoms. The building also held a graveyard-themed restaurant. We were about to leave when we noticed a beautifully wrought sign, in the style of samurai art, which depicted a ball-gagged man under the foot of a dominatrix. We rung the doorbell and a man with many facial piercings, long hair and a goatee answered. A woman in a corset in the background appeared to be getting herself out of the remnants of shibari suspension. Another corsetted woman flitted across the doorway. We were intrigued and excited. Unfortunately, our Japanese was virtually nil, as was the proprietor's English, so in the name of safety and common-sense, we called it a night, scenes from Tokyo Decadence flashing through our head.

I had already seen The Great Happiness Space, so I wasn't as perplexed as my friend when I saw the cadres of attractive young men in stylish dress clothes with big, highlighted hair flirting with Japanese women passers-by, though I was still delighted and surprised to actually see the boys in action. We passed by medium-size billboards with rows of their headshots, each one like an anime come to life. There is no corollary to this phenomenon in the west, and my friend, who hadn't seen the film, insisted that their customers must be men. Then we passed by the entrance of a club. Two giggly young women made their way down an ornate spiral staircase. At the top of the stairs, two hosts boys, looking like impeccable rockers in their designer duds, gave them the royal wave.

The full title of the documentary is The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, but I don't really agree with the latter part of the phrase, especially because I think it skews the host boy phenomenon to fit it into a more traditional view of female-male relations, with women as passive weaklings and men as the ruthless aggressors. The film itself does not back up this view, but rather shows men and women both engaging in a range of behaviors from combative to supportive, and from affirming to unethical. If a woman familiar with the provider point of view had been behind this film, I don't think it would have the same title, nor do I think it would have been quite so negative a take on the host boy's role. Certainly, the relationship between clients and professional companions can be tainted by exploitation. Yet to tar the entire enterprise as innately without merit seems too simplistic. Similarly, while I loved the twisted scenarios which lit up the erotic classic Tokyo Decadence (the scene with the dominatrix was a pivotal early influence for me), in order to fully enjoy it, I end up having to force myself to ignore the film makers mixed messages (portrayals of seemingly liberated women engaged in kinky, tawdry sex on the one hand, portrayals of the same women as heroin addicts and lost, needy loners on the other), messages which I think reflect a need to reaffirm the traditional female-male dynamic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Own Best Friend

Women sing and cry about not being seen or heard. Yet if that other person truly did not see you, then you were also not seeing them. For if you were, then why would you stay? At the very least, you have willingly put blinders on. We cannot cling to our sense of injustice and abuse if we allow ourselves to fully grasp this truth.

Why do patterns of dysfunction keep playing out in some people's lives? Of course, this is a complicated question. Yet at the heart of it, I think it's partly that we have memories of pleasure and connection along with the ones of trauma and dissolution. The awful truth is that love and pain are too often intertwined, and the things exposed to us at a young age become engrained within us, so that life's impetus can be a journey of undoing and remaking of oneself. To be whole again, from the fragmented pieces.

Sometimes in the course of that journey, we are drawn to that which can only lead to our undoing, the link between our deepest impulses and our self-destruction too strong a pull to deny. If we come close enough to the flame, perhaps we will learn. For some of us, it takes more than being singed - for the more we can take on, the more we seemingly must endure to learn. Somehow, life rarely pushes us far enough. So on and on, we seek the extremities of experience, for our salvation or destruction, whichever comes first. And if we manage to escape from a hell of our own making, wounded yet spirit stubbornly intact... maybe then we will have come close enough to the vast void to say our prayers of gratitude, and finally become the loving keeper of ourselves, protectors of a unique spark of creation.


Elektra is a beast, four feet long, thick, with a beautiful golden brown pattern. She is a three-year-old royal python. A slight dilemma has emerged since taking her home. She is a hunter and her appetite leans toward the living. I have not been able to wean her off her taste for live rats. In one sense, it is easier than handling a frozen one, which in its own way is creepier. Some of my friends have tried to guilt me for sacrificing living rats to my snake. None of the naysayers are vegetarian, so this argument doesn't really fly for me. Maybe it's not such a bad thing to get closer to the source, not be so detached from the experience of being a carnivore. We will see. I realize I have a soft spot for predators. Part of me wants to embrace the whole world. I am learning it is all right to want to connect and at the same time, that boundaries are very important for my own self-preservation. Immersing myself in the healing profession has helped me draw those lines, allowing me to reach out and connect while maintaining my own integrity. I am learning that connection does not necessarily have to mean baring my naked soul to everyone, that real intimacy is a gift shared with a special few, and that there is nothing wrong with taking care of myself first. As Tracy Chapman sings, "This Time, I'm gonna be my own best friend." I am still learning, thank you universe.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ch Ch Changes

I'm a science junkie and read New Scientist every week as well as the science section of The Economist and the comic book/sci fi/all things geeky site It's pretty incredible - all the latest developments coming from seemingly every field imaginable. From potentially revolutionary energy technologies like the $3/gallon algae-based jet fuel being tested by the military and the Bloombox fuel cell, to new pieces of the puzzle like a proposed new theory which would finally explain gravity's force using the holographic model of the universe (on a side note, Michael Talbot's Holographic Universe was a seminal work for me when I read it over a decade ago), to the hacking of the code which forms all life on this planet and the subsequent creation of new proteins based on a novel four-codon structure. This last development may be a complete game-changer for life as we know it.

Things are seemingly moving at a breakneck pace in so many directions, no doubt made possible by the immense processing capacity we now have in this computer age. Accelerating change is a reality. And I'm not entirely sure our social or political institutions can keep up. Culturally, many shifts are happening as well. I see much cause for hope and celebration, yet people still cling fearfully to cynicism and negativity. There are real things to be concerned about, issues we need to stay on top of - yet reflexively sinking into the same old grousing is the opposite of where we want to be. We must stay awake not only to the dangers, but also to the wondrous possibilities. It has always been this way.

Whatever time we find ourselves in, we think this is the time it will be different. There are those who believe this accelerating change is leading to an end point, a singularity. To me, even radical transformation will likely lead to a continuation rather than some grand finale.

I have been experimenting with my dreams lately. Willing myself to become lucid in the dreamscape is as difficult as willing myself to become lucid when I'm awake. Yet in both settings, such a goal is a worthy challenge - to increase one's consciousness, to connect with the timeless divine, to see through the illusion and transcend boundaries. My explorations in this vein only reinforce my sense that, no matter how much we accomplish in this material plane of existence, it is only scratching the surface of all that is and all that may come to be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

RuPaul's Drag Race

I've just discovered RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo. A reality show in the same vein as America's Top Model, this show features fabulous drag queens in competition with one another. What really impressed me was the level of self-awareness, maturity and personal evolvement demonstrated by the participants.

I tend to avoid reality shows and find that I don't have much time for TV except for my science fiction favorites like Battlestar Galactica. When visiting friends or family, I occasionally get trapped into watching drivel like Rock of Love or Millionaire Matchmaker (the latter show certainly reinforces my sense of gratitude for the pure and generous relationships with which I have been blessed). Reality show participants in the straight world are commonly narcissistic, emotionally stunted and vindictive. While there definitely was some posturing on RuPaul's Drag Race, there was also a higher degree of self reflection and emotional maturity.

Often after the initial exchange of bad mouthing, the competitors were able to step back and re-analyze the situation in a more objective and forgiving manner. I suppose this is already to obvious to some, but for me it spoke to how those who regularly experience oppression - in this case, for being gay and drag queens - have the potential to be more enlightened than the average person. In a world that does not accept them for who they are, they learn early on to transcend the bullshit and focus on what's truly important. There is a lesson there for us all. This show got me teary-eyed with joy at its whole-hearted embracing of a too-often ridiculed community. Thank heavens for Logo!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Binary? Guilty as Charged!

A friend commented that it's either all or nothing with me. Yes, when it rains, it pours! I have had more than a few good laughs about that one. I know I can be binary, coming at life in fits and spurts. Over the years, I have smoothed out a little. Yet I know this is part of my nature, that when I'm on, it's all the way. So I work with it, ride it as far as I can, then jump off when necessary - all the while trying to maintain that meta-awareness that can help give me pause at key moments.

I've learned to enjoy the balancing act, finding my own brand of moderation not in a lack of extremism but in a balance of extremes. But it isn't all just leaping from one thing to another. In some ways, I am a slow stewer. I take things in and let them steep. And as more things are taken in, the pressure builds. At some point, all that energy comes bursting through. It only looks sudden and unexpected.

So many of the cliches contain nuggets of wisdom, which makes sense since they 've stayed with us all this time. Three steps forward, two steps back - I think this more aptly describes how we learn that most of us would like to admit. Mistakes are necessary to learn from, yet we delude ourselves into thinking there is a thing called perfection and then kick ourselves for not holding up in comparison. As I have mentioned before, I only really found my rhythm when I allowed myself to start making mistakes. As I've passed my twenties, I've begun to see a split take place between those of us who continue on the path of growth and those who stagnate into bitterness. The difference seems to stem, at least in part, from the degree of flexibility one possesses. Those who are rigid and rate themselves against external standards seem to be at a disadvantage. Whereas those who have learned to balance gentleness and a sense of focus within themselves seem to thrive. You can tell a lot just by looking at someone's face - what expression is it set in? What is the look in their eyes? We can never really hide the truth, though our words may tell another story.

I have an interesting instructor in one of my classes. He challenges with the level of intellectual dexterity he requires, often making students feel a bit stupid for their comments by cutting them off and attacking their points. I like that he's impatient with mental laziness, though I can see his approach has the effect of cowing most of the class into quiet submission. Not surprisingly, our verbal tussling only encouraged me to speak up more as the class went on. He's seen that I won't back down, and that I know how to reason to substantiate my points. The truth is, I do like a good, rational argument - so few people know how to engage in logical debate, it can be exhilarating to find that someone else in the room is actually awake. We will have to see if this observation plays out, but so far he seems to coddle the few boys in the class and be more critical of comments from the rest of us, begrudglingly conceding my points while heaping praise on one of my male peers (I did get the last word in class the other day, which of course, works for me). I find myself stepping back from the immediacy of the class to analyze him as a potential therapy client, observing his body language and tracking his comments for hints of his past experience. I know this is a strategy to leverage my sense of power. But hell, he sits comfortably in his authority at the head of the class, so why not summon mine? I realize a lot of the other students in class, especially with so many of them recently coming from undergrad, are, whether consciously or not, seeking his approval first and foremost. When he doesn't automatically give it to them, they withdraw. His style seems dismissive of this, like by being off-putting he's trying to show us it's about gaining his respect through critical thinking, not having him pat us on the head for being good girls. It should be a stimulating class.

What made me think of that instructor was some comment he made about how, back in the days of Seneca et. al, people wrote things simply to convey their ideas to others and not to gain tenure (obviously one of his hot buttons, as he mentioned it more than once). I too have cursed the nature of society, where one's art and ideas get whored out to make ends meet. Yet here I am, blogging for no other reason than because I feel like it. There is hope, dear professor - you just have to stay open to finding it.

I'm off to South Beach, Miami. Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coming back to My Life

Having exorcised demons, I am coming back to my life with a vengeance.

Lost in a hall of mirrors, before long I thought the reflection in the mirror was actually me. But my doppelganger liked the things I did not, embraced places I dared not go. I suppose there was some form of liberation there, to sneak in amongst the others, to try to go that way. Yet slowly, almost inperceptibly, I was draining away. I knew it in my dreams, where I would scream out, "I'm a prisoner!" or literally try to walk away in my sleep. My inner self knew what my outer self stubbornly denied. And so I walked that path for a while, long enough to start feeling it as a relentless beat, a pain which wracked me so hard, my body rebelling against the lie, I could no longer move with fluidity. Is this how the rest live? I wondered, and yet I knew the tragic truth.

Live life directly, don't take someone else's word for it - this has been the closest thing to a mantra for me. The mind whined and whimpered in the corner like a little lost dog. A blindness of the senses prevailed, somehow soothing in its suffocation. How could this amnesia overtake me? Falling without reason, too afraid to reach out and find one. I had never been this way before. In my three and a half decades of life, it had been mostly glory, shame banished to the recesses. Yet the dark coil of wanting, yes like a moth to a flame, kept me circling this thing until it was done. I have lived through it. No - not without a scratch - but still, no regrets. For there was beauty, even in the road to destruction.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Going Red

I had a nice long break from grad school over the holidays, it was good to decompress and take stock of my first semester. You might be surprised to hear that I just officially started my graduate studies, since I've mentioned taking classes here and there over the years. I moved up to San Francisco shortly after earning my undergrad degree in History. Once here, I continued to pursue learning for its own sake, seeking out myriad subjects - both in the classroom as well as in the dungeon and elsewhere - which could expand my understanding of the world and enrich my ability to see it in all its greatness. So it has been a long and winding road to get to where I am now, pursuing an advanced degree in this particular field. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Yet once ensconced in the situation, finding my rhythm within my cohort of classmates, circle of professors and clinical supervisors, I have found myself chafing a bit at the role of clinician-in-training. That little voice in my head that, up until this point, had been advising me to dress a particular way to "look the part" has now rebelled against the idea of being just another pony-tailed, cardigan-wearing, smooth-talking arbiter of convention. That's not really the job I am working towards, now is it? To become an enforcer of the normal? How deathly boring that began to sound.

In a stroke of admittedly impulsive inspiration, I dyed my hair an intense shade of red. The color is a bright burgandy with a hint of magenta, reminiscent of Dr. Pepper. By no means does it look natural! It's Europunk, superhero, anime fun.

It feels great to break out of the mold a little, let that natural-born freakiness come through a bit more. Pretty blondes and brunettes come up to me at school telling me that they love my hair, confiding that they once had it that shade back in the day. All of a sudden, I feel like the cool, edgy chick - which is great, because I am. We'll see how long I keep it this way. My hair, like my entire being, likes to be in flux, endlessly transforming from one stage to another.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Question of Authority

Several months ago, I started doing over-the-phone counseling and consultations. I have a few different listings, the most popular one being my expert advice on alternative sexualities. It's really quite striking how different it is to chat with men about issues of sexuality using the label of sexual health advisor, as opposed to Mistress. The sense of deference, respectfulness and professional decorum I had wanted and expected as a domme is now there for me. It would seem that as I journey toward becoming an "expert" in the conventional sense, I am finally finding the level of interaction which most suits me.

It is a shame that as a dominant woman, it is so hard to be taken seriously. When men would call me up as Mistress Xia, there would so often be rudeness and a passive-aggressive undertone, with the presumption that letting it all hang out sexually was completely acceptable and without the need to ask for permission. Well, look at the difference between the so-called legitimate telephone advice sites and adult phone sites like Niteflirt - that says it all.

One interesting development in advising as a sex expert is the predominance of men who call wanting to discuss their first sexual experience with another man. of course, I get my fair share of callers who are into kink in one form or another. Yet this other group of men is new to me, in that they certainly did not reveal themselves in any great number during my session days. They are typically in their 40s or 50s, and often had never really entertained the thought of doing such a thing until spontaneously availing themselves of a serendipitous opportunity. Yet in the act itself, they find liberation through an unmatched intensity of eroticism and hang-up free pleasure-taking.

While I suspect some have had these inclinations lying dormant, without their conscious awareness, in discussing their previous interactions with women, I detect a pattern of submissiveness on the men's part and frigidity on the women's part. These men seem to be in need of having the other party be the aggressor, and not a lot of women fit the bill. Moreover, many American women are still quite repressed in their sexual expression, afraid that if they do more than just lay there they will be taken for a slut. And so it makes sense that as some men turn the corner toward middle age, and find that they have never really satisfied their sexual urges in an uninhibited, balls-to-the-wall kind of way, that they would turn to another man.

Sometimes gender roles can be such a troublesome barrier to having hot sex. And so not having to worry about that particular power dynamic can feel incredibly freeing. I am happy to report that pretty much everyone I have talked to on the subject is only minimally distressed by this development, and they typically leave the conversation feeling even better about it than before. For the most part, they are at peace and simply want to be able to express this secret joy with someone, knowing that it probably wouldn't make the best water cooler conversation with the other boys in the office.

I'm so jazzed to be back blogging. There are all these thoughts and ideas, big and small, that I'd like to share. That tap of creative energy has been turned back on and I am feeling like myself again. Thanks universe!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pop Culture Tangents of Love & Hate

A former sissy of mine (former in that he no longer serves me - he still is a sissy!) turned me onto Lady Gaga. I just watched her Grammy performance with Elton John. I even got a little weepy, it was so beautiful to see a hitmaker who is also a true artist: provocative, multi-layered, fearless and extremely talented. The Fuse interview I watched of her only confirmed her astonishingly real presence, which makes so many of the others out there seem like mere hustlers in comparison.

It is so refreshing to see a freak-loving pop star really have fun with the elements of the genre. I think we've all grown a bit tired of the vapid popular girls of high school as a template for divadom.

Speaking of which, in an attempt to gauge the status of popular culture (and torture myself with shite), I occasionally channel flip. I found myself on the Disney channel watching the dead-eyed little sister of Britney Spears play just such a character on her own show. Let's forget about the fact that in real life, as a teenage mother, she's not the best role model. The dialogue on this show was mind-numbingly inane, reeking of suffocatingly conformist attitudes. But what really got to me is the way they portray this one character. She is obviously supposed to be the "smart girl," with her glasses and interjections of arcane information, which result in the obligatory "you're so weird" face cringes and eye rolls of everyone else. In one scene, she is french kissing a fat boy. He then asks her if she had tuna for lunch. She shreiks in embarrassment and madly applies breath spray to her mouth. What utter bullshit. Now that Disney has bought Marvel, I am scared of what they will do to my favorite femme comic book heroes and villains. Will they turn them into insecure idiots? I sometimes think these Hollywood players are so lost in their own game, where virtually every woman has to whore it or at least act like one, they forget that the real world (or at least the Bay Area - my refuge!) isn't nearly as fucked up.

I also recently caught up with the latest videos from Shakira. I first fell in love with Shakira when she was still a brunette ingenue and only singing in spanish. I memorized the lyrics to her "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" album and it helped infuse the passion of the language within me. So it was with mixed feelings that I watched her transform into a blonde vixen, sexing it up and shaking her hips. I was afraid that she had turned into just another generic sexpot. All these years, I've kept my distance. Yet I was intrigued to read an article by her in a year-end report by The Economist about the schools she has started in Columbia. I decided to catch up with her. Watching her current videos, I see a rising maturity, a coming onto her own - I love seeing women emerge into their prime. Before she was a girl, not yet ready to flaunt her sexual power. But now it seems that she has learned to hone that energy, to celebrate it and use it for good. She knows how to play the game, while maintaining her strength and individuality.

These divas of our age - Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Shakira - play the same conceptual role as the famous courtesans of 19th Century France. They are unobtainable objects of desire, universally lusted after, emulated and adored, symbols of brazen feminine sexual power. And they are all doing interesting work at the moment, seemingly feeding off each other's creative impulses. It gives me hope, in some way, that this is happening. It's hard to see when we are in the midst of it, but this and other signs - such as the upsurge in well-written, intelligent shows for television - may be pointing to a cultural renaissance of sorts. We will see. . .