Now I know what it feels like. To be on the receiving end, listening to words you would rather not hear, getting a peak into a world you have never bothered to notice, feeling the confusion and anger of cognitive dissonance as you realize this doesn't make any sense to you, doesn't fit into your neat picture of how things should be.
My friend who is an escort is telling me about a client, an old man who was on top of her humping her, how his red face and sweaty body made her worry for his health, and how she wondered if he wore dentures, visualizing them falling out onto her face.
And I am thinking about the conversations I have had with straight friends, about swinging or domme work. How one-sided they were, with the other person looking away, not saying much, waiting for me to finish and change the subject.
There was a girl who hated me when I first started at The Gates, because I would walk into the lounge after a session and talk excitedly about the strap-on play I had just done. I couldn't imagine that anyone would not be interested in what I had to say, or couldn't take the graphic detailing of my actions.
Ah, how funny it is when the shoe is on the other foot!
My friend writes me a note about how lucky she feels to be having so much fun and making such great connections. I know she had an amazing "date" the other night, so she is buzzing with it. Hot sex while being treated like a $$$ princess seems like a dream job to her, no doubt in large part because of the ego boost. But I know there is a lot more going on.
I am happy for her. I support her. She is brave in her own way. Yet my empathy can only go so far. There is a reason why it wasn't anything I thought about too much, until it came crashing into my reality.
A voice cries out inside me that it's is so conventional, so materially-focused, so everything that I have strove against. Part of me is offended. That the professional side of the craft I consider sacred is full of interlopers who migrate from one type of sex work to another. That when I was still actively commercial with my play, my escort friends would ask me, "How's business?" as if what we did were the same thing.
It is not the same thing!
Yes, I am feeling sensitive about it right now. I know my feelings will change with greater perspective and distance from the professional role I held for almost six years. With hindsight, I would have closed my stable to newcomers after four years. Kept more of that lovely glow and a bit less of the tarnish. When you hunker down for fear of moving on, it can wear on you. Well, all the more critical insights for me to share about the experience! I admit this because no matter what critiques I may make, I do think professional domination is an admirable path to follow, for however long it works.
I am proud of the fact that, for most of my career, I was a house-affiliated domme. The sisterhood, the sense of security, the shared energy - these were all integral to my sense of enjoyment when I was a full-time dominatrix. I am saddened that there is such a dearth of houses of domination in the Bay Area - not even one in the City! LA and New York both have quite a few well-established houses. Maybe one day...
Independence was hard for me. The screening of new people and the disappointment when undesirables somehow made it through - that is where most of the tarnish came from. There is a dark undercurrent to domination. And I think that the more special you are, the more protection you need. Seeing new applicants alone as an independent made me feel too accessible.
There is a psychological difference between doing a scene in a house and doing one as an independent that is not often discussed. Ironically, because I felt safer about boundaries and therefore more confident in the house, I was comfortable wearing lingerie or something more "girly" into scene. Whereas with independence, I felt more vulnerable and intimate in the first place, causing me to want to don high fetish as a sort of armor.
I received so many congratulations upon my independence from would-be slaves. Yet I saw this act, necessary as it was for my personal growth, as a wrenching away of my community, thrusting me into isolation and artifice. It seems strange to me that so many session-seekers preferred it. On one level, I think it's because they can feel more special, more catered to, more the object of the Mistress' undivided attention. For me, not everyone deserves such treatment. And so, I closed ranks with those I already knew, trusted and liked.
And now, I have begun the first tentative steps in exploring "lifestyle" D/s relationships. At first, I could only get myself to play with women, finding the need to free myself from all the associations that gender brought up for me. More recently, I have started connecting in this way with a few close male friends - creative and accomplished individuals whose need to be taken by a powerful woman matches my own need to overtake, control and deliver.
I feel my power in a new way. There is a lovely ease to it. To be reminded that both my sadistic and nurturing desires, my urge to dominate and penetrate, truly come from within and are not simply profit-motivated. Before, when I considered integrating D/s more fully into my life, I worried over how it may disrupt my existing relationships. But now, it feels easy, like I was thinking too hard about it. And the craziest thing is, there are a lot more real submissives outside of the professional arena! Who woulda thunk? :)