An Interview With A Real Life NYU Dominatrix

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Some people spend hours at shitty work-study jobs pretending to look busy while actually browsing Facebook, but one NYU student—who goes by the name Mistress Ava—wears leather, humiliates people and gets paid for it. Here’s what she had to say about working as a dominatrix this summer.

JESSICA: What made you decide to work as a dominatrix?

AVA: I’ve always considered myself sexually open and so when, several summers ago, I found myself living with a seemingly normal girl who worked in this line of business, I was quick to become fascinated. I asked a lot of questions and wasn’t freaked out by any of it and thus my curiosity was piqued. When I came back to NYC, I started making a few bucks here and there off Craigslist and when classes ended and I was without a job, I made the decision to apply to dungeons and make it official.

J: How easy was it to break into the business?

A: It was rather easy because I fit the role, but emotionally it was incredibly taxing. First I had to be sure that, with every possible tool of the trade suddenly at my whim, I was really comfortable with what could possibly happen and then, when I started and I was actually okay with it, I had to really look into myself and figure out what the hell was wrong with me that I wasn’t freaked out. Sure, I got a great job right away, but it wasn’t easy on my demeanor.

J: What kind of things did your job entail?

A: One of the first things I did was sit down and write out my bio and a list of do’s and dont’s. According to my boss, I had a very open mind but there were a lot of things I wouldn’t do because I found them sexual. My do’s were all things that, though I might do in my private life, I knew I could mentally disconnect from and find completely un-erotic. My dont’s were those things that were too close to actual sex for me not to see them that way. For instance, anything involving penetration on a male. There is no sex involved whatsoever but they can ask for strap-on play and that was never on the menu with me. I also avoided any touching with my hands because that felt a bit too “real sex” for me. A lot of girls are genuinely into dominating a man and while I find it extremely fun, it is not a sexual thing for me, which is why I couldn’t stick with it.

J: Did you make a lot of money, as in, a lot more than you would in an NYU work-study job?

A: The money is by far the best part of it. Working retail or something you make, at best, maybe 12 or 13 dollars an hour. For an hour of my time in the dungeon, I put at least 200 dollars in my pocket. The one thing that all of the girls in this line of business have in common is money savvy and the ability to save because, for a good amount, this occupation is just a lucrative business move.

J: What was the weirdest encounter you had?

A: The single encounter that stands out and still, perhaps for a lack of a better word, haunts me, is this older man who contacted me but didn’t want to meet at the dungeon. Instead he wanted to meet at an hourly-hotel in Chelsea. There was just something so stereotypically creepy and perverse about him that I still can’t shake myself of. He rolled his tongue over his teeth in a way that made a horrible sound and he wanted me to play the “Normal Girl” role, which I really had trouble doing though I tried my best. He also kept asking for things that I had already told him I didn’t do. When you make an appointment, the scenario has already been agreed upon and he was the only person who ever refused to accept that. He also wouldn’t give me the money first, another industry faux pas. I knew I was stronger than he was and that I could escape if I needed to but it was still rather unnerving. Thank God the whole thing was over very quickly, but it turns my stomach to this day.

J: I think a lot of people have the idea that working as a dominatrix would entail having sex with the clients. But that’s not allowed, and it’s not even really about sex, is it? Why do you think people come to the dominatrix clubs?

A: For the client, being dominated is 100% about sensuality but it is not about sex. There is no sex and no nudity inside a dungeon. Sure, there are places that bend the rules and give the job a bad name but I was never once naked or even close to it, and no one ever did anything to me, period. Sure, there are girls who do “switch” (the girl starts off submissive and becomes dominant) and “sub” (the girl is the submissive) sessions but there is still no sex involved. Girls who do those kinds of sessions are usually more connected to the act than I ever was and so, for them, it is also somewhat sexual. However, none of the things on the menu for an average couple—kissing, handjobs, fingering, oral, penetration—are on the menu at a dungeon. Instead there is pony play, medical sessions, spanking, flogging, CBT, wrestling, wax play, needle play, etc. It’s all about the fetish of the client and for them those fetishes are very sexual and arousing. Sometimes the client is married and their spouse simply won’t engage in this kind of thing and if they aren’t comfortable or into it, it’s not their job to do so. Everybody is entitled to get theirs just the way they want it and a dominatrix makes that happen the best they can.

J: What were your biggest fears going into it?

A: My biggest fear was the future. Where would this take me? What would people say? Would my parents find out? How would the guy I was dating react? What about the guys after him? Am I ruining my life? I just had no idea how it would play out and that was terrifying. Ultimately, I have no regrets but that isn’t the case for a lot of girls who find themselves sucked into a very bizarre lifestyle that works for some but can destroy others.

J: What made you want a job that’s so different from traditional student jobs?

A: I remember watching Law and Order with my parents and every now and again there would be a dungeon plot and I was already so intrigued. Beautiful women wrapped tight in leather with all the power—it seemed incredible and it was for a little while. When it came down to it and I needed money, I looked into domming. I never thought “I’m so interesting for doing this,” or “I’m too good for a normal job,” its just a much better salary than retail or whatever and I was curious, so I went for it. That’s just always been my style.

J: How long did you work as a dominatrix and what made you decide to stop?

A: I worked, unprofessionally for a few months about a year and a half ago and then I spent the summer as a professional. I stopped because classes were starting and it was becoming too much to hide, simple as that. No horror story.

J: Any suggestions for other NYU students wanting to become dominatrixes?

A: It’s not glamorous. I don’t know a single person that I would ever suggest it to because it takes a very specific kind of person. There has to be a balance in the humors—you have to be simultaneously extremely serious but also relaxed enough not to vomit or cry or laugh, unless humiliation is on the agenda. It is extremely trying and draining and maybe I’m a bitch for it, but not many people could handle the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve done, especially not college students. There’s no going back for me and that’s scary to realize. Its not like I had a job at Hooters to look back and laugh at. This experience will be with me forever and it’s something that, in honest relationships, I have to come clean about.

I’m lucky that all of the friends I told were supportive and interested but not all guys are okay with what I’ve done to those of their gender. One in particular begged me to incorporate my industry skills into our own practice and then condemned me for it in the morning. In that moment, it was disheartening to realize how my life, if I wanted to live it honestly, had changed because of a summer job but I’m not ashamed of it and thats the bottom line. I had fun while it lasted and then I got out, and its safe to say I learned a lot—about the sexual psyche, how to prolong the male orgasm, and about the cliched fine line between pleasure and pain—and I’m a better woman for it.



22 Comments

  • Vicky B
    August 17, 2009

    I’m thinking about becoming a dominatrix, I have no experience but I’m always open when it comes to fetish, this article was very helpful!

  • [...] may have had our dominatrices, but most working NYU students toil away at soul-crushing work study jobs or frustratingly unpaid [...]

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