I Tried To Be A Dominatrix For 80 Dollars An Hour And Failed Miserably

Flickr / Will Fisher
Flickr / Will Fisher

When I was 19 and in my second year of college in New York, I was hell bent on having full financial independence as quickly as possible. I found myself perusing Craigslist for odd jobs and modeling gigs, and a vaguely-worded listing with a pay rate of $80/hour caught my attention.

I wasn’t naive, I knew this was likely an escort or dancing gig, but I was genuinely interested in pursuing those types of work. At that age, I was quickly realizing that I was a total horndog. I knew that my life’s work would involve some aspect of sex work or the study of human sexuality. I scrolled to the bottom of the lengthy and poorly-written job description, and quickly gathered that this was a listing from a dungeon seeking a dominatrix. Brilliant!

Now, I had never dommed anybody, but that was really not my concern at the time. $80/hour to do crazy shit to some horny dudes? I told myself that I was a fast learner and didn’t concern myself with the fact that I had literally zero experience. I now have several friends that are dommes, but at the time I had absolutely no peers in the industry to ask for advice.

I was also quite concerned about what my dad would think. Since he and I were 100% honest with each other all the time, I couldn’t bring myself to lie to him about my interest in applying for the job. He was supportive of me pursuing my dreams, whatever they might be, but he was clearly uncomfortable when I told him about this job. He told me I was a responsible adult and was okay with me domming, but also told me to proceed with caution and make sure I was mentally and physically safe at all times.

With my dad’s sort-of approval, I felt better about going forward with a job application. I spoke with a very kind woman who managed the office at the dungeon, and set up an interview. I felt incredibly confident.

The building that contained the dungeon was in midtown in a building with black reflective windows. To get inside I had to buzz in through about 3 sets of doors in a long hallway. Each section of the hallway was filled with cameras, and I remember feeling incredibly anxious as I waited for each door to unlock. I don’t remember what I wore to the interview, but I came straight from class so I probably looked quite pedestrian. The woman who interviewed me was the same person I spoke with — kind, sincere, and reassuring. I asked her a million questions regarding my safety, and her replies put my mind at ease. I learned that the pay rate was only in effect if you were actually selected to dom a client, but I was still interested in the job. She asked me what I’d like my domme name to be, and I chose to call myself “Alexa”. I was told to come in the next day for a trial shift, and then realized I had nothing to wear that was… well, “dommy”.

It was a weekday. I went to class, which ended at 6pm, and then had three hours to kill before my 9pm-3am trial shift. I went to a BDSM-oriented sex shop in Chelsea where I purchased a black leather bustier, garters, black lingerie, and black six-inch heels. I walked along 8th avenue, found an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating, drank two glasses of red wine to calm my nerves (even though I now know domming while using ANY substance is a terrible idea) and tried to enjoy a moment of relaxation.

I returned to the dungeon with a backpack containing my new outfit, class work, and some snacks. I entered the office and was totally thrown by the new woman sitting at the desk. Her facial expression told me she wasn’t expecting me, and I immediately sensed that she had a colder disposition than the first woman I’d spoken with. After explaining who I was and why I was there, she looked at me, unaffected, and instructed me to go “wait with the other girls” in the room next door.

I entered the room full of smiles and pep, eager to show my excitement for the night ahead of me. The girls were all gorgeous, half-clothed, and busy texting or digging through their lockers. The room was tiny, and everyone paused to check me out as I entered. It felt like a high school cafeteria, but one that contained only the pretty popular girls. I introduced myself, and they said hello, but it was clear that none of them had the desire to mingle with me. I kept to myself.

There was a television mounted on the wall playing Cruel Intentions, which I watched to pass the time. I kept going to the kitchen, where smoking was allowed, and I chain smoked all night with a Russian girl who was the only person interested in speaking to me. Throughout the night, different clients would come to the dungeon and our room went into lockdown. They would select their domme from a line-up, but I was told to stay back each time.

“Pony guy is here!” I heard one girl exclaim. All the girls immediately perked up and began to argue over who would get to ride this man, who was apparently a regular. I was amused and excited by the prospect of potentially having clients such as this man.

But now three hours had gone by, and I had been sitting on my ass the entire time even though I was eager to learn. I popped back into the office and asked when I might be able to shadow a girl or at least get acquainted with the different rooms and sets. The woman in the office handed me cleaning supplies and told me to go clean up the “medical room”, where a client had just finished. The room smelled like sex and sweat, but that didn’t bother me. The room had legitimate medical equipment, and I was quite impressed with how nice the set was. But somewhere between scraping some half-dry come off the floor and bleaching a speculum, I realized that this wasn’t the glam domme-goddess job I had pictured in my head.

I returned to the kitchen, where the Russian girl was apparently perpetually smoking. We talked a more about what domming entailed, and I quickly got the impression that I was expected to do sex acts for tip money. Sex acts as in… not domming… just actual sex acts. While it wasn’t “required”, I could tell it was an unspoken expectation of all the girls. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I felt entirely mislead, yet naive for assuming this dungeon was a safe space for me.

I wanted to get the fuck out of there, but felt shy and too nervous to just walk out. Furthermore, I needed the doors to be unlocked for me if I wanted to leave. I should have just told the woman in charge that this job wasn’t for me and left, but instead I faked a migraine. “You’ll have to get over that migraine if you want to work here,” she said, handing me ibuprofen. “I’ve had girls with sprained ankles work through their pain.” I retreated to the holding room, angry at myself for not being assertive enough to leave. After brooding for another fifteen minutes, I grabbed my things, changed out of my six-inch heels, and told the woman I wasn’t interested in staying. She didn’t say anything, and unlocked the first door for me. I waited in the hallways in between locked doors for what felt like ages before being buzzed all the way out. I held it together, since I knew I was being watched on the cameras, and as soon as I made it outside I burst into tears. It was nearly 1am and I felt idiotic for hanging around for so long when I had felt that uncomfortable.

From what my domme friends tell me, most dungeons are much more strict about there being no sex acts for tips. All of my friends in the business work freelance and not for a dungeon, but that comes with it’s own set of issues. While I am in full support of sex work and the legalization of sex acts for money, I knew that I wasn’t personally comfortable stimulating a client outside of what I considered to be “traditional” domming.

The funny thing is that I actually make a pretty good top for such a god damn bottom. In the years since my day of failed domming, I have topped several men, but only in my personal sex life. Certain men are easy for me to dominate, but I usually enjoy being the receiver instead of the giver of sensation. I do love dressing like a top, however, and enjoy how much of a psychological mind-fuck I am to most men; a woman who seems intense and toppy yet melts into a puddle of submission in the bedroom.

Maybe I was too young to realistically realize what I was getting involved with, but I respect myself for at least experimenting with my own personal boundaries. I have so much respect for all types of dommes now, because it is real work, not just the sexy fashion show I had imagined. TC mark

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