Queen of Hearts 

Dominatrix wannabes: apply here

Dear Dr. Carol,
For the last several years, it's been a dream of mine to pursue a career being a dominatrix. How does one enter that profession? My past and current life is pretty straitlaced and I don't know people who are in that world, so I can't use the networking route as they advised in my grad school's career counseling office. I have no experience at all in the field of commercial sex work or in being a dominatrix, but I think I could be good at it. Is there a professional organization or group I can contact to break into that field? People with whom I can talk to find out the pluses and minuses of being a dominatrix? I know that like any profession or experience in life, I may not enjoy it or may suck at it once I'm in it, but I really want to give it a try and need to know where to start. --Dominatrix Wannabe

Dear DW,
You don't say whether you're already a member of the SM scene and have enjoyed dominance in your private life. Or perhaps you don't know much about the scene and are looking forward to high financial reward (and a truly fabulous new wardrobe) possessing the skills you already have: the ability to sneer, shout "Kneel, worm!" and pop rich guys on the butt with a rubber spatula. Naturally the latter would seem like a grand career, and a fair number of women pursue it who don't have much more than that to offer--but if doctors and lawyers and CEOs want to pay them anyway and the gals look really good in their latex catsuits, who's complaining?

The BDSM community, that's who (which stands for "bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism," in case you or other readers don't have your kinky abbreviation lexicon at the ready). Within the community there are numerous "lifestyle" dommes who really object to the fact that they have devoted years to their craft, are compassionate, knowledgeable, and good at what they do, yet lose business to the crowd of newbies who think dominance (professional or otherwise) boils down to sneering and slapping. There's another side to it, of course--pro domme work is fundamentally a sex industry position, and if the market wants foxy dominatrices with few skills, the market will create them. Most clients are not "out" members of the BDSM community, after all, and many visit dommes to experiment with new erotic situations, not because their identity and entire sexuality demands that they be tied up, forced to wear a horsetail buttplug, put in cock bondage, or submitted to any of the plethora of tricks a good domme has up her sleeve.

I should also mention that many dommes would object to my saying that they have a place in the sex industry; some SM players, including many dommes, say that while BDSM is a form of erotic play, it's not sex. Dommes rarely provide anything that looks like legally defined sex, though once in a while vice cops fail to make that distinction. (In some parts of the country, though not much around here, professional domination is just about as legally problematic as prostitution.)

But none of this answers your question. If you're dying to know whether you have a future in the slap-and-tickle industry, here's what I'd recommend. Join an SM organization or two. In the Bay Area there are many alternatives, but two that regularly provide education to their members are the Society of Janus (www.soj.org -- mixed gender, primarily heterosexual) and the Exiles (www. theexiles.org), which is open only to women. Network at both these places; each will have some professional dommes among its membership. Read Spectator regularly--it's the weekly sex mag available mostly at newsracks around the Bay Area. In particular, look for Midori's monthly column. (If you can't find Spectator, look online at www.spectatormag.com.) Attend classes regularly at QSM (www.qualitysm.com). Here's where you'll learn many of the finer points of the BDSM craft, often taught by lifestyle dominatrices. When you meet one whose perspective you like, ask whether she would be willing to consult with you. Offer her a fee for this service; dommes don't generally add to the ranks of their competition just out of the goodness of their hearts. Finally, check out the many good BDSM books (and the handful of videos)--you can find a selection at Good Vibes, at QSM, and at Stormy Leather. The latter also has classes, as do Good Vibes and Mr. S Leathers (more of a gay male focus there, but still useful info). Cleo Dubois' new video The Pain Game will be playing soon at the San Francisco Queer Film Festival (June 15 at 10:15 pm, Victoria Theatre--tickets through www.frameline.org); Dubois also gives classes and private educational consultations as well.

In another sort of world, you could go to SM University (no, I don't mean Southern Methodist) and get a degree to hang on your wall. Here, the above actions constitute a lifelong learning program for professionals and everybody else. And by the way, nearly all gals look really foxy in latex catsuits. Good luck.


Dear Readers,
I was aghast to find yesterday that indeed most of your e-mail has not been reaching me because of some glitchy nonsense with my server and the arcana of pass codes. Now that it's been resuscitated, I'll be concentrating on it for a while, trying to catch up. My sincere apologies to any of you who've been watching for answers to your questions. When possible, I will e-mail my answer to you in addition to publishing it. In other computer news, www.carolqueen.com reportedly has a searchable database on previous Queen of Hearts columns. I'll believe that when I see it, but I and my excellent Web woman at kjherreradesign.com will be working out the bugs.

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