Step into the mysterious world of the dominatrix. A secretive, glamorous world full of dedicated, loyal men who shower you with money and gifts for the opportunity to be whipped, tied down and beaten into submission. A world where every financial need, domestic chore and designer stiletto whim is met by high powered men desperate to relinquish the control they wield in their day-to-day lives. Men who beg to be allowed to lick the sole of your boot before scurrying away, leaving a trail of green bills in their wake…

 

To me, this sounds like a scene from a badly written tabloid exposé. But to many people, these are the images that come to mind when imagining what professional BDSM looks like. I know, because I very regularly receive emails from people interested in becoming a dominatrix or other professional BDSM service provider. So I have put together this blog entry. It’s less ‘how to become a dominatrix’ and more ‘general do’s and don’ts and important things to consider’. This information is very basic and general, based on the most frequently asked questions I receive about starting work in professional BDSM in the Australian context.

 

A further disclaimer: This is all just my biased opinion as someone who has been in professional BDSM for over 10 years. I certainly don’t know everything. It’s no secret that I’m a traditionalist who believes in the value of a BDSM apprenticeship and hands on learning from a qualified practitioner.

 

So, you want to become a dominatrix? Excellent!

The first and most important question to answer, is why. What is your motivation?

 

Fat Stacks

If the answer is fat stacks of cash, fame and glory; professional BDSM is probably not right for you. You want money and you want it fast? Consider a brothel or a strip club instead. BDSM is a ‘long game’ career; you won’t be making any stacks for some time, especially not when first starting out. And especially if you decide upon the independent route right away. You’ll need to hold onto your day job and be prepared to work two jobs for as long as it takes to make it in the world of paid perversion. Fame and glory might be yours in the decades to come, but the adult industry relies upon discretion, so you’ll probably opt for private gold stars for a job well done and recognition among peers instead.

 

Man-hating Female Supremacy

Having zero capacity for empathy doesn’t make you a femdom bitch top – it makes you a sociopath. You might genuinely believe women are superior in all ways to men – and let’s face it, it’s more or less true – but you need to pay attention to your submissive. Use a safeword and respect the bottom’s limits and boundaries at all times. You might negotiate to push them a little further each session, and you might really enjoy watching a sub suffer purely for your amusement. But you’ll be out of a job faster than you can say ‘50 Shades of Grey‘ if you have no respect for people making themselves entirely vulnerable to you.

 

Scene Queens

Neither professional BDSM or BDSM in the scene/community is better or worse than the other, but trust me on this, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. You might have a head start over vanilla people, but don’t think you already know everything. There is always something new to learn or improve or upskill. It’s great that you have some practical and awesome skillsets already, but there’s no need to be an arrogant jerk about it. Eat your humble pie now, because established providers won’t share any of the skills you need to make it professionally otherwise. Be prepared to be doing things at work that wouldn’t necessarily be your first choice at home, but make sure you’re only doing things you’re comfortable with and proficient at. There is much more to professional BDSM than being fabulous and having fun, although this is definitely a part of it.

 

You Have to Earn Your Stripes

This takes work, practice and time. It takes work to literally and figuratively learn the ropes of the profession. It takes practice to perfect the use of implements so you can accurately and safely wield them. And it takes time to build these skills and to learn how to smoothly time and run a session. I cannot stress safety enough. Do not ever use any toy or rope or implement you are not 100% confident you know how to use correctly and accurately. Learn basic anatomy! No one wants a bruised kidney or a fractured tailbone or a ruptured testicle. Especially not you. This means testing out toys and implements on yourself. It means being tied in at least some positions so you know exactly what it feels like. It means hitting a pillow over and over until your aim is accurate or your arm falls off. You must also show respect to professional practitioners who are senior to you. Not in age necessarily, but in experience. You might be able to write a dissertation while you’re asleep, but that Pro Domme 15 years younger than you can singletail someone’s balls. Respect.

 

I’m Super Amazing and this is My Calling Let Me be Your Trainee Please Please Please

Ok, so you’ve figured out your motivation, you want a career/lifestyle change and you understand it’s going to take work, study, practice and dedication. You’re in it for the long haul. And you’ve just received an email from your favourite professional BDSM provider crushing your hopes and dreams because they’re ‘not taking on apprentices at the moment/until The Beatles re-form with David Bowie as the front man’. Let’s take a look at your options.

 

Independent BDSM Provider

Being self-employed is less like having a job and more like having a lifestyle that kind of revolves around work. Expect to spend a lot of time answering calls and emails, networking on social media, writing/revising copy/ads and managing your advertisements. You might be booking travel and accommodation, as well as managing cash, dealing with some website glitch and doing endless washing/cleaning/disinfecting and reading up on the latest BDSM trend. Everything has trends. Pretty soon, you’ll be wondering how you’ve managed to get through life without that $395 sensory deprivation hood or that $800 latex outfit while you’re sterilising your fabulous new ($200) 17.5” dildo. Did I mention you’ll be doing all of this out of your own pocket? It can be easy to become a workaholic, but try to maintain some sort of work/life balance. In some ways, working for yourself means you’re always ‘on’. Always thinking about your next photo-shoot or that email you haven’t replied to yet or reflecting on the cool new cock tie you’ve only just found out about. All this, and you haven’t actually had a paid session this week.

 

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back to how you might go about entering this Very Glamorous Lifestyle.

 

Time is Valuable

Over the years, I have spent many hours patiently answering questions and offering advice to people who seem very eager, but who, for one reason or another, decide not to dip their toe into the world of professional BDSM after all. I have also spent years learning and refining my skills, as well as figuring out – often through trial and error – what works for me. I no longer just want to divulge my trade secrets as it were, to someone who for all I know, might just be satisfying a curiosity about certain aspects of life. I am not the only person to have had these experiences. So that’s probably why your earnest email went unanswered or didn’t quite receive the response you were hoping for.

 

Mentoring

Occasionally, independent BDSM practitioners mentor an apprentice or protégé. However, I am yet to hear of a situation where the mentor relationship came about from cold calling/emailing. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to benefit from the expertise of an independent BDSM provider if all your friends aren’t secretly dominatrices. But it does mean you’ll have to be prepared to trade something. You’ll also have to prepare for a lot of rejection. Don’t take it personally. Your friendly local BDSM provider is not going to be interested in teaching you the skills to build your business for nothing. Chances are, they have spent years figuring it out through blood, sweat and tears. Remember: time is valuable. So, things to trade. The most obvious, but least considered, is cash. Pay the fee and pick the brain of a business-minded expert, or hone some skills. You might also be able to trade skills if you have something spectacular to offer. Can you build stuff/weld stuff/magic stuff? Do you have a background in engineering? Are you an amazing seamstress/leatherworker/pleatherworker? Of course, having skills or money available doesn’t guarantee you any airtime, your provider of choice is probably very busy or simply might not be interested. But it just might be enough to get your foot in the door.

 

In-House Apprenticeship

There are professional BDSM houses in some states. Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide all currently have one. Just Google something like ‘BDSM dungeon [state/territory]’. You might be able to secure an apprenticeship through one. I don’t have any personal recommendations or suggestions, you’ll have to do your own research on this. When training and working in-house you get the benefit of learning from many different people, who all have different areas of BDSM expertise. You don’t need to invest any money in setting up. So if you discover professional BDSM is not for you, you haven’t lost any capital and you’ve gained an experience notch on your belt. In-house there is always someone to talk to and (hopefully) a steady stream of clients so you can observe sessions and absorb new knowledge like a happy sponge. You probably won’t have to worry about advertising or emails or social media or calls either. Expect to do a lot of cleaning and observe dungeon protocols. Show respect when it is due. In return, you’ll be shown many wonderful and interesting things. And best of all, you get to leave work at work. More or less, anyway.

 

Workshops/Books/Internet

An apprenticeship isn’t necessarily the only road to professional BDSM – though it is the one I personally recommend. Another possibility might be to attend relevant workshops to learn new skills. This can be a good way to meet interesting people and get some hands-on experience. But you can’t get other skills required for professional BDSM – like advertising advice or boundary and personal safety management – at these workshops. These days there are endless books and tutorials online about many aspects of BDSM. These can be wonderful resources. My bookshelf is full of books on many aspects of sexuality and perversion. But nothing can replace hands on experience or learning something with an experienced person beside you. Self-education can be a beautiful thing, just make sure you are being honest with yourself and others about your level of experience and skill.

 

Focus on the Positive Aspects of Your Unique Self

What are the great and wonderful things that you can offer? What BDSM activities are you genuinely drawn to and enjoy? What are the activities that you know you can become proficient in? And most importantly, what are your boundaries? Know yourself and your boundaries first. No amount of money is worth crossing those boundaries for. Financial gain is always short-lived, you still have to face yourself in the mirror every day forever. Be honest about your level of experience. If you’re not honest you’ll be over your head in a hot second and that’s not going to end well for anyone. While it’s a good idea to be well presented and brush up on your grooming skills, people will pay to be with you for the unique experience you can offer. No matter how hot you are, there will always be someone younger and hotter who will do more for less. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, build your business around what works for you.

 

The Internet is Smaller than You Think – Create your Own Content and Play Nicely

Your reputation is everything. Say it with me now: “my reputation is everything”. Whether you work for a house or independently, you will quickly come to learn that the internet is actually a very, very small place. If you steal a photo or a concept, you will be found out and probably shamed publicly on social media. Don’t be that guy. It might be daunting to write your own copy, but you are the only person who knows your unique qualities and what unique experiences you can offer. Copying text and changing a few keywords is still plagiarism, and no-one takes kindly to it. If you’re super stuck, pay someone to write your content. Saying bad things about colleagues online or to clients will only affect your reputation. It’s a small pond after all. And for the love of all that is holy, Google a name before deciding upon it. Pro tip: don’t use the same name as an established provider and don’t think you can get away with changing the last letter or putting a ‘y’ in it either.

 

Professional BDSM is Sex Work

You might not be doing full service or want the stigma associated with the sex industry attached to you, but in the eyes of the law and most people, professional BDSM is sex work. When doing professional BDSM you are subject to all the same rules and regulations in your state or territory that apply to sex work and sex workers generally. The laws regarding the sex industry are different throughout Australia, so Google ‘sex worker organisation [state/territory]’ for more information and advice. All those awful thoughts you’ve had about people who sell sex for a living? That now includes you. Sex industry stigma doesn’t discriminate, so it’s a good idea to research some facts and figures for all the weird questions you’re going to get asked at dinner parties. There are also specific regulations around skin penetration and other BDSM practices, so it’s helpful to have a quick look through state based legislation, Work Health and Safety legislation, as well as relevant local council guidelines.

 

And Finally, Pay Your Taxes

Just do it, especially if BDSM is your only source of income. You’ll thank me when you get that mortgage for the dream dungeon you’ve always wanted. It will also help you be able to get on a lease, get a credit card, and many other wonderful things in life. It will also help prevent you from getting into trouble from the tax department!

 

TL;DR 

Professional BDSM can be an exciting, challenging and interesting career choice. It can provide a truly unique lifestyle and perspective on human sexuality and interaction. But it’s not a career suited to everyone. When considering if professional BDSM is right for you, be honest with yourself about your interests and goals. Know yourself and your boundaries. It takes time to build the necessary skills. It also takes time for other professional BDSM practitioners to recognise you as a peer. Keep an open mind, be patient and work hard to achieve your goals.

 

A Last Note

I am not looking to mentor anyone or take on an apprentice. However, comments and questions on my blog or directed to my Twitter account are always welcome. Best of luck!