A dominatrix -- that's a woman in black PVC brandishing a whip and generally beating the crap out of some idiot for an extortionate fee right?
Well as with most statements, there's an element of truth in there. And as with most sex work stereotypes, the subject is vastly more complex than the uninitiated wish to admit.
Firstly, the participants are not idiots. From my own research (which consists of conversations with my own domme as opposed to making it all up), her clients, or 'slaves' as she prefers to call them, are generally from the more intelligent, high achieving bracket. Why should this be?
Well there is a cogent argument that high powered men such as GPs, company bosses, MPs and judges spend their lives making decisions about others and need the counter balance of complete helplessness.
There is also my own argument that the more intelligent are often more broadminded and see the therapeutic effects of BDSM, as well as the sexual aspect.
Anyone wishing to visit a domme must realise that it is a vastly different experience to an escort. Some dommes allow full sex, others only intimate body worship and many allow no sexual contact at all.
So what does it mean to me? Well this little snippet, written in the aftermath of a demanding session, may give you a little insight into my own thinking:
''Suddenly it becomes apparent what drives people to push themselves to the limits of endurance and sanity in other fields. It's the feeling of being truly, completely alive, yet staring into the abyss of what, but for one slip, might be the very end of existence itself. That glorious uncontrollable rush of adrenaline and endorphins.
Knowing that nominally you are in control, that with one word you can make it all stop, yet also knowing that you will never say it, that to do so would be a betrayal of you both, everything you had worked towards, everything you both desired. A beautiful, exquisite, vicious, shared experience.
Struggling against your bonds, staring in fear as the next trial appears, revelling in the torment of absolute obedience and complete surrender. Safe in the knowledge that your captor is enjoying every sweet, twisted second. Seeing in her eyes the joy of being the manipulator, of having your entire existence in her hands. No going through the motions, no feeling of being a burden, just the absolute joy of pleasing another in whatever manner she decrees. Absolute, complete, otherworldly joy. At last you have found your own personal nirvana and it has been here all along, daring you to enter, to participate, to envelop you in it's perfect, tainted embrace....''
Essentially, the experience is about completely relinquishing control. I get a huge buzz from being naked, handcuffed and at the whim of a fully clothed powerful woman. It's perhaps akin to the activity of wing walking -- constantly balanced on the edge of oblivion, yet safe in the knowledge that you won't be allowed to fall. In the hands of a skilled dominatrix, you will experience fear, humiliation and tailored pain, but you will be safer in her hands than you would be crossing the road.
The effect is as much psychological as physical. Over time, the domme can read you like a book. She knows just how much to push those little limits of yours and will keep you coming back for more.
Ideally you will leave the premises feeling ten feet tall, completely destressed and self confident. Not perhaps the reaction many would expect, but it certainly works for me.
Now perhaps it's time for those of an anti-sex work bent to explain why I shouldn't be allowed to take part in this therapeutic and rewarding experience.