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.

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    22 Comments

  1. says

    Why would sex give professional domination a bad name? Answer: Because sex for money is *prostitution*, and prostitution is against the law. Domination for money is not prostitution, and if done wisely is absolutely legal. Even more than that, it is not at all what real domination is about at all.

    A genuine dominatrix, as opposed to someone like “Mistress Ava” who apparently dabbled in it just to make money, is a skilled professional… She’s also a “natural,” it’s her personality, a gift, much like musical or artistic talent that is developed by practice. Keys to her success are her subtle, complex skills, her trustworthiness, and her ability to take responsibility. Submissive men recognize her intuitively. They know they can turn themselves over to her and let go.

    Automatically these men want to serve her, and this may translate into sexual terms for them. (What else? They’re men, after all?) She recognizes the erotic nature of their feelings and tenderly indulges them, but wisely doesn’t lower herself to becoming sexually involved. That’s not what it’s about for her, no more than it’s about sex for a psychotherapist or a teacher or a mentor or a shaman or guide of any type. The true dominatrix understands a submissive man seeks his goddess, and the best thing she can do is to get her ego out of the way and become a screen onto which he can project the image of his goddess. She reads his needs, then helps him get them met. A noble calling indeed!

  2. says

    The illegality is one thing. Though I would imagine that’s not what Ava meant. Ilegal does not equal immoral, after all. But I find that saying that someone is lowering themselves by profiting from becoming sexually involved is really misguided. This is what concerned me from the original interview, and my concern seems to be valid. I can’t agree with the idea that dominatrix work is more “noble” than prostitution, just as I wouldn’t say that my job in human resources is more noble than either. If this is a question of morality, we are really getting into a field of judgement, Madame, that I think neither of us, nor anyone, belongs. Furthermore, you say that a dominatrix “reads his needs, then helps him get them met.” I don’t see how this is any different than what a prostitute does, and I also think that the skills you describe would certainly apply to prostitutes as well. I’m not sure if this idea of lack of nobility stems from the conception that prostitution is generally (maybe incorrectly) considered an occupation of the economically disadvantaged. By allying the work of a dominatrix to that of a psychotherapist or teacher to distance it from prostitution, you seem to have made it something of a class issue, which, to me, seems problematic.

  3. says

    “Jessica Roy began writing for NYU Local by talking about how much NYU Local sucks on her blog, Jess and Josh Talk About Stuff.”

    hahah go Jess! Always love your writing no matter where I’m reading it from! Keep it up!

  4. says

    This is one thing that all sex workers need to get over: the hierarchy. Everyone looks down on those women who actually have sex with their clients.

    Truth is, to the civilian world, just being involved in the adult industry in some form means we’re all regarded the same. We’re all saddled with Whore Stigma. Splitting hairs over whether or not you have sex with your clients in the misguided belief that not having sex somehow makes you “better” means you believe all the stupid crap society throws at women, especially sex workers.

    XX

    PS: Yes, the term “sex worker” includes dommes.

  5. David Zokaites says

    With regard to:

    One in particular begged me to incorporate my industry skills into our own practice and then condemned me for it in the morning.

    Some people are such self-denying wimps. This boyfriend begged for something, received it, then condemned another for the gift. Obviously the man is in denial of his own desires, chooses not to understand himself, and then shifts the blame for his own problems onto someone else. Loser.

  6. says

    @ Amanada I agree and I think that it demonstrates an elitist attitude to say that the work of a dominatrix is progressive, radical, and hierarchy-melting while having sex for money is degrading and complacent with this hierarchy. It’s as inaccurate as it is unfair.

  7. Josh Santos says

    Martha,
    If this is something you have never done and are without experience, then you should experiment privately and see if your desire is genuine. I have helped women in this way before. Let me know if you need help with this.

  8. Mistress Galatea says

    To me the hierarchy comes from the power role. If i have sex with a man for money i am allowing myself to be penetrated, therefore i am allowing myself to be violated. someone is entering me who i don’t want, whereas in the role of domme, I am in control. the man has to come to my dungeon and obey my rules. and they do so by choice.

    i can’t generalize but i’ve never heard of someone becoming a prostitute because it was intriguing. it seems people become prostitutes out of desperation, whereas the choice to become a domme, at least for me, is based more on the desire to learn a science, to feel a sense of power in a healthy setting, and to explore the human psyche.

    i don’t judge prostitution, but i would never, no matter how broke i was, let a man who i wasn’t in to penetrate me.

  9. Joseph Cooper says

    In regard to prostitution, I think that most women have a dislike for sex with completely random people because of the entirely natural (sometimes subconscious) fear that they might get pregnant with the baby of someone they don’t want to have a long term relationship with. But wouldn’t it at least theoretically be possible for a woman to emotionally know that she was protected from pregnancy by contraceptives and think of prostitution as a neutral job which she might enjoy sometimes and just consider a normal job at other times?

    Just because she isn’t attracted to every client doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to hate the job. I mean, the interview above gave an example of a case where the dominatrix did a session with an older man which she didn’t enjoy. Dominatrixs don’t love all of their sessions and prostitutes at least theoretically don’t have to hate all of theirs. I feel like it is at least theoretically possible for both to view their job neutrally.

  10. Yana Moreaux says

    With regard to the most recent comment, I do not feel it is accurate to say that “In regard to prostitution…most women have a dislike for sex with completely random people because of the entirely natural (sometimes subconscious) fear that they might get pregnant”. I think I am speaking for most women when I say that for women, sex is more about establishing an emotional connection rather than a physical one. Pregnancy is just a small concern, especially in a time where we are inundated with information about contraception and safe sex. Sex is NEVER just about making babies, or providing pleasure for the partner and self. I would never think of having sexual intercourse with some random person, just for the fun of it, because it would be like violating myself and toying with my emotions. Moreover, I do not believe in giving myself to a man who I don’t know and who won’t appreciate me once it’s over. This is the part of prostitution that irks most women. We just cannot imagine “doing it” with someone for money. Which is why many of us feel that prostitutes are only in the profession because there is no where else to go. Hence the desperation that sticks to the job. Hence the place in the lowest pedestal of the societal hierarchy.

    You are completely missing the point when you say that it is possible to view the job neutrally because unlike other jobs, the amount of emotional strain involved and the personal space being violated in this one is very high. And they get treated like shit by the society because of their line of profession. How can you say that it is possible for prostitutes to view prostitution “neutrally” if the respect you show them varies from all the other “neutral” jobs? And I don’t think they get into the business for fun. Or in the rare case that there are some who do, I am quite sure the fun wears off after a while anyway. In this profession, the only fun is the one the client is having. All that the prostitutes can do is to dress and act the way the client wants to be pleased, even if they have no wish to do so. And on top of all this, they have to put up with the gross amount of hypocrisy thrown at them by the society. The very same people who patronize brothels look down on prostitutes outside. That’s just how superficial the society is, where the moral burden attached to such private spheres is intense, and we are all just looking to push it away from us.

    Sex is a natural part of a comfortable relationship, but its immoral for you to seek it. But those who seek it can get away with it, while those who provide it get insulted. We have no right to criticize those in the sexual professions to stop placing each other in a hierarchy, because we have put them there. We have decided to put ourselves into a patriarchal hierarchy which rates women. And no one wants to be on the lowest step below everyone else, hence the distinction between those who have sex for money and those who provide non-penetrative sexual favours. We cannot ask of them to view they profession neutrally, unless we can view them to be neutral, equal members of the society.

  11. says

    Though we can say that there ediot if they pay over 200 dollars for a NYU dominatrix, lets also understand the fact that they work for living like we do. It’s simple as if you payed for the food that you eat or the service that you are able to use.

    For your replies Please feel free to visit my site @ http://www.durasolbpo.com.

    See you then… :)

  12. Tina Bowman says

    I’d like more information about this job. I am not experienced, but i am very interested in this type of work. I am curious and in desperate need of money. I am currently a full time student and work part time on campus. A woman I met in one of my classes last semester told me that she was, at one time, a dominatrix. I took her information to contact her, but she gave me the run around. I understand there is training available. I would like to know how to find a personal trainer, and where I would train; as well as where I can find work. Please contact me at Janedough2lm@hotmail.com ASAP.
    Thank you
    Tina

  13. Vicky B says

    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!

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