Friday, April 11, 2008

Beauty Unbound

When I started out as a pro domme, I used to wear my glasses into scene, along with just a hint of make-up. I understood how to get all dolled up and ultra-femme glamorous, but I reserved that for my nightclub and swinger party forays. It seemed ridiculous to go for the showgirl look when trying to convey a more stern and serious tone. Besides, I was confident in my appearance, and did not feel the need to overly embellish.

In those early days, though I may have been inexperienced in running a BDSM scene, my power was contained within myself and dependent on no one. I was like a virgin in the original sense of the word - before it meant someone who has not yet had sex, it meant a woman "beholden to no man.” A woman unbound by the obligation or desire to do or be a certain way for another.

Before I entered pro domination, I had been an active adventurer of the amateur persuasion. I jet-setted to Miami, New York, LA and Vegas for the best dance and swinger parties there and here in the City. Growing up in the shadow of Hollywood (Echo Park back in its "Mi Vida Loca" days, no less) influenced my love of getting dressed up in sexy, funky original outfits.

My club friends and I would joke that we made great drag queens. We would always get our pictures taken for local magazines and websites when we went out. It was fun to pose for the camera. We were stars in our own little world.

In the swinger scene, my partner and I attended A-List, invitation-only gatherings which sometimes required that photos be submitted beforehand for approval. I know that sounds pretty superficial - and it was - but it was also a lot of fun to run around in outrageous get-ups and be immersed in all that sexual energy. Sheer, racy outfits that would only bring you trouble in an ordinary club brought you smiles, compliments and plenty of attention from the couples and single women who peopled these events.

One summer we even went on an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico where we hung out with porn stars. We watched them make their movies all day against the backdrop of a white sand beach and coconut palms. It was a wild time, and I kept getting mistaken for the "talent." What struck me though, was that most of my friends in the swinger and club scenes were more naturally pretty than the porn stars.

I stood out with my boy short hair back then, giving me a slightly androgynous look that was emphasized further by a mischievous sneering grin and body toned from hours of kick-boxing. I became infamous for wielding a mean strap-on at orgies. Girls would line up, while their men would whisper their secret desires in my ear. I saw sex not in terms of how much value should be placed on each and every little act and interaction, but more as this amazing free-for-all.

In both the dance club scene and the swinger scene, men and women would regularly come up to me, my partner or my friends to say how "hot" I was and how "playful" and "natural" I seemed with my sexuality. I tried not to let it all get to my head, and I think I had a healthy confidence in my own attractiveness and erotic powers.

Swinging was great for encountering so many different types of women: the hot blondes, smouldering brunettes, petite Asians, squirters, big fake tits, perky real ones, the expert pussy-eaters... It was a smorgasbord of flesh, and I had no issues with objectifying others or myself.

I had no issues with fake versus real. Or blonde versus brunette. Or white versus non-white. I had no issues with strippers. All these issues came up for me after I turned pro. It commercialized eroticism for me, turning former playmates into either the competition (women) or my secret judges (men).

No wonder as soon as I began taking sessions, I could no longer swing. It's the slut versus whore dichotomy. Once you start placing dollar value on erotic acts, it becomes harder to give anything away. I saw this happen with a girlfriend at the time who is an escort. She felt so special on her paid dates, that the swapping she felt obligated to do with her boyfriend felt demeaning to her.

As I've mentioned before, I was so naive when I first became a dominatrix, I had no idea there were online review systems with associated message boards that the men employed to anonymously rate their encounters. This was when my fantasy of being a domme first took a drubbing. My very first review the guy said that with my tanned body and friendly demeanor, I could make a killing being a sensual masseuse. That completely mortified me. Why the hell would I aspire to that? My mistake at the time was giving too much power to this silly man's words with its arbitrary labels. I became paranoid that clients would think I didn't look "domme" enough.

The review system felt completely dehumanizing to me, with ratings for looks on a scale of 1 to 10. On one site, this is broken down further into face and body. What got to me is that reviewers almost always rated my body higher than my face. I guess that's a fate I can share with Britney Spears LOL! I think it's because I never showed my face, so they were trying to give some context to what it looked like. Can there be anything more subjective than rating a face? I mean, you show people a face and ask them to rate it, then change the hair color or hair cut of the same face, and you'll likely get an entirely different opinion.

After basking in such positive - and unsolicited - feedback from those in my social circles for so many years before going pro, I was unprepared for the heightened scrutiny one receives in the public spotlight. Remember Christina Aguilera in her rebellious phase when she had punked-out hair and facial piercings? The press gave her such a hard time, she sang that song "I am beautiful, no matter what you say," then went completely conventional with her look.

As for me, I stopped wearing my glasses, grew my hair out, started wearing colored contacts and more make-up in scene. At one point, I even clipped in extensions to add volume to my hair. All in some vain effort to look attractive to absolutely everyone who came to see me.

Up 'til then, I'd always relied on my good hapa genes to get me by. This was the first time in my life that I learned all the the feminine tricks to applying make-up and fixing hair. Though I am glad for the knowledge, I am also glad that I don't feel the need to do that to myself all the time!

Needless to say, for a while there I fell into the trap of getting caught up in a game I could never win - mass approval. That's the trap that fells many women in show biz as they get surgery after surgery to achieve that boring, lowest-common-denominator prettiness. Nepotism is good for something, namely getting exposed to the out-of-the-box beauty of a Kim Kardashian, Sofia Coppola, Isabella Rosselini or even Tori Spelling. Thankfully, I seem to have escaped the boring beauty trap unscathed. And when I found out recently that some people were trashing me online for my attitude, I actually felt gratified. I must be doing something right to draw their ire unprovoked. How I see it, seeking validation from the peanut gallery is like going to a party full of degenerates and feeling hurt that no one wants to talk to you.

The ratings of looks are not just subjective based upon the preferences of the rater (ethnicity, haircolor, breast size, body type, etc), but also a reflection of perceived value. For instance, take my escort friend I mentioned earlier. She is someone who has consistently been rated 10 in looks and performance in reviews over the past few years on a site which covers all types of "providers" across the country. Yet this same woman encountered difficulty obtaining an invitation to a popular A-List swinger party. Like some other escorts I know, her ratings have gotten progressively higher as her rates have increased. So there is a perceived value being projected here. If a man pays thousands of dollars for a date, she better be a 10, right?

Perceived value also seems to reflect the level of sexual activity allowed by the woman, rating pro dommes more harshly for not "putting out." A man who would go behind a pro domme's back to review her - on a site where dommes are lumped together with women who give handjobs and have PV intercourse with their clients - is more likely to be the kind of man who carries resentment over the fact that he cannot be more sexual with his Mistress. I think he is also more likely to be uncomfortable with his own enjoyment of the femme domme role reversal, particularly the fact that he is the receptive, penetrated partner.

Since it has become industry standard among pro dommes to show one's face, I believe those of us who choose not to are rated more harshly for this as well. It's as if you are punished for trying to keep something for yourself. The more you expose yourself and make yourself vulnerable, seeking validation and approval from the powers that be (i.e. the men who are potential clients), the more you are patted on the head and told you are a good girl.

I have been wondering as of late if there really is an untenable contradiction between being a dominant woman and being a professional service provider. The longer I did it, the more I seemed to care about what the men thought, and the less I felt connected to my inner strength and sense of self. And in the beginning, every time I was reviewed without my permission, I seriously contemplated quitting.

In fact, my commercial withdrawal now was precipitated by a recent unauthorized review -- of a scene which took place at The Gates over a year ago! Perhaps I shouldn't admit that these things bother me. But that would be bullshit. In the end, I do feel that I am too good for this. To have to deal with such invasions of privacy, callous disclosures of intimate exchanges and disrespect for my rules. Maybe that's the real reason why some people have to talk trash. Because they know I'm better than all that, that I never deigned to stoop down to their level and "admit" that I am really there just to serve them.

Whatever the case, there were signals that it was time to say goodbye. I have no regrets. I learned and lived so much. I had so many thrilling, joyous moments. It's just now, I can also talk about the rest.

The private playtime I continue to enjoy feels lighter, truer and more intense.

My hair is cut short again.

I count my blessings.