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“Yesterday, a middle-school math teacher asked me to castrate him, and last week an engineer asked me to hang him with a noose,” Mistress Josie says…

…By chance one evening she bumped into an old friend…who mentioned that she was making a lot of money as an independent dominatrix. The two women spoke at length, and what Josie heard piqued her interest. Feeling optimistic, she returned to her small Brooklyn room and immediately began researching online the different aspects of the job, from dungeons to salary to equipment.

As she clicked through articles and images, she became captivated by the leading dommes in the industry whose success did not depend on any type of penetration or exchange of bodily fluids. Rather, it depended solely “on ordering men around, beating them, peeing on them, punishing them – and for that they were being worshiped. It was perfect,” she says.

The next day she responded to an ad that, as she remembers, read something like:

Attractive young women wanted for Domination. Fetish. Role Play. No sex. No experience necessary. Top $$$.

“Can you come in now?” asked the woman who answered the phone.

An hour later, Josie was shaking hands with the mistress of the house, a gorgeous, slender woman slightly older than her.

“She basically undressed me with these big black eyes,” Josie says, “and she told me to sit down and complete this long questionnaire filled with hypothetical situations and my feelings toward men.” Following a quick interview, the mistress took her on a tour of the dungeon’s rooms, which were lined along both sides of a long, low-lit hallway. “All the doors opened into these massive rooms, each one filled with different equipment—straight-jackets, leather masks, human-sized cages, bondage tables, fake electric chairs, you name it, it was there,” Josie says. “In some, things like blindfolds, cuffs, whips, floggers, ropes and canes hung from the walls in neat rows. It was extraordinary.”

“Pick a pseudonym and come back tomorrow,” the young mistress told her. “Trial basis. This job will forever change the way you think about men.”

And the following day, Josie found herself sitting in the sprawling living room of one of New York’s premiere domme houses (a dungeon run out of the mistress’s home) waiting for her first client. “I was nervous and excited. I had no idea what to expect,” she says.

“There is no stereotype of who visits a domme,” Josie says. “I see teachers, politicians, bankers, surgeons, religious figures, fathers, you name it. Each one wants to me to validate their fetish.” Some want to bleed, some want to be peed on, some want to be mummified, and some seek a more subdued erotica, “a type of absolution, like Samuel,” she says, wiping some random crumbs off the table.

Samuel is a shy Hasidic Jew with sad blue eyes and a lisp, who has an insatiable desire to be smothered in her armpit. At 27, he is married with six children, and has a rabid fear of God, but none of that prevents him from seeking relief for a fetish which, as he has told Josie, “is on [his] mind all day long.” Twice a week, during his lunch hour, he slips away from the family business and meets Josie in a midtown dungeon. Unlike some other Hasids who wear street clothes to visit dommes, Samuel prefers to wear his traditional garb—the clothes, she points out, are symbols of his transgression, pushing the fantasy into a psychological realm. But despite his longing for sexual prowess, his actions show otherwise—“he undresses so slowly, never looking up, and he’s constantly fidgeting, crossing his legs, trying to hide his body, which is really white and skinny and hairless, like a kid. I feel bad that he’s so scared, but he wants to do it, so we do it,” she says.

Josie becomes more animated as she discloses the more explicit details of the fantasy, such as her verbal humiliation of him while he stands in his boxers and yarmulke beside a wall adorned with hooks, shackles and suspension equipment.

“I begin circling him and shouting in his face that he’s pitiful little prick,” she says. “A joke, an ugly, scrawny fool. A quivering, hairless sissy. I spit at him and tell him that he’s absurd and deserves to be caught.”

After her tirade, she lays down on the couch and watches him “standing there, totally frozen, with his head bowed, apologizing for being such a weak and bad boy.” When she is satisfied with his remorse, she opens her arms wide and the young Hasid “falls to his knees and crawls to me, gasping and repeating ‘thank you my goddess,’” she says, a slight smirk playing at her lips.

Samuel spends the remaining time with his face buried in her armpit, inhaling and sighing, stopping only occasionally to readjust his yarmulke. Josie reveals that he often likes to talk while being smothered. Sometimes he talks about his wife, who refuses to hear about his fetish, sometimes about his Rabbi who condemns his visits and tells him to pray harder, and sometimes about how difficult it is to ride the subway in the summer because of all the sleeveless women.

Her response to all his confessions is laughter, followed by more sentiments of emasculation: “I tell him that real men want more than armpits. That he’s ridiculous, an embarrassment to your wife and community.” To which he responds with heavier inhalations and an erection…

“Some things are really, really out there. They can freak people out,” she adds. Her face grows pensive. “But, you know, I don’t find the more outlandish things all that strange…do you?” she asks. And then she proceeds to tell me about some of her more eccentric clients. An athlete who revels in licking the bottom of her dirty shoes. A 40-something husband who loves to reenact the moment his mother caught him sniffing her garters and masturbating. The cross-dressing neurosurgeon who looks like “everyone’s grandfather” and delights in wearing his wife’s lacy thongs. Big Baby Timmy, the disabled senior citizen who sucks a pacifier and adores being spanked because he peed in his diaper.

And then there is the human footstool, one of her favorites, mainly “because he’s one of the kindest and sweetest people I know,” she says.

Middle-aged, with horn-rimmed glasses, the human footstool is a prominent landscape artist who lives in a multi-level penthouse. Twice a week, before sundown, he sends a stretch limo to bring Josie uptown. On his terrace, “filled with trees and exotic plants, I will command the pig to get naked and put on a thong,” she says. “Then I’ll bind his hands and feet and make him into a piece of human furniture.” For the next two hours, he will remain on all fours with Josie’s high-heeled feet propped on his back.

During this time, this sought-after landscaper, who owns his own company, relinquishes all control of his life and becomes completely submissive to her. “He feels useful, valuable, needed, things he lacks in his daily life,” she says. To further please him, she will often pay bills or shop with his credit card because that “makes him happy and aroused.”

As for getting tired, it happens. “When his back starts to droop, I give him a break. We play a game: I kick him, pretending to break his legs and he collapses, then I put him back together again by kicking him some more and shouting at him to ‘stop being a pathetic footstool!’” she says with an air of detachment.

That her matter-of-fact delivery could be perceived as callousness or an intrinsic desire to inflict harm does not slip by her. She is quick to point out that it is neither. “That’s the classic domme myth, that we don’t care about our clients, that we just go in whip them and get paid. It’s completely untrue. Any good domme will tell you it’s the opposite. Sure, you’re pretending, but you have to like the people you are playing with, and you have to be in-tune with what they want and how they are reacting to you, especially the ones who want corporal punishment, otherwise it just won’t work,” she says.

The corporal punishment fantasies, which she “finds thrilling and enjoyable,” are also the ones that demand the most from her. They are, as she explains, psychologically exhausting, because the fantasy takes the physical aspect of arousal to daring and frightening levels that transcend what most of us consider normal. For example, many of her punishment clients are whipped until the area is black and blue and crisscrossed with bloody welts. “You have to know where you are hitting,” she says, “because you don’t want to damage an organ or a limb.” Seeing the finale of a hard-core whipping fantasy sometimes shocks her, inciting doubt and reservations about what she does. In those moments, she reminds herself “that the pain and degradation is completely consensual. It’s what they want and what makes them feel whole.” She also remembers that whatever transpires during a fantasy, including ejaculation, has been meticulously planned out and talked about at length beforehand. “There are no surprises,” she says. “None.”

Last year, the prospect of sitting in a multi-million dollar penthouse with her feet resting on the back of a prominent landscaper or playing spy games with an old banker would have elicited “a ridiculous amount of laughter, and maybe calling someone crazy,” she says. But right now, the only crazy thing may be how quickly this novice has become a professional. In just one year, she has secured a steady clientele whom she has carefully selected through interviews and in-person meetings; she has gone from sleeping on her friend’s couches to signing a lease on a Chelsea apartment; and, at last, she enjoys financial security. “For the first time in my life, I can think ahead,” she says. “I have possibilities…”

Maria Smilios
Den of the Dominatrix