A selection of webcam photos of Cleo, the financial dominatrix.
Being a financial dominatrix is a lot like being an accountant. Except for the fact that people masturbate over your penny-watching and you're more likely to work from in front of a webcam than behind a desk in a pantsuit.
The fetish of financial domination basically entails men (or "pay pigs," as they're known within the fi-dom world) transferring large sums of money to women over the internet. The nuances vary, but a relationship can stretch anywhere from a pay pig sending his dominatrix $30 a week to donating the vast majority of his earnings and having his dom take full control of all his finances. Which seems a little frivolous given the current economic climate, but I guess that's kind of the point.
I spoke to a pay pig who wanted to remain anonymous because he figured his family wouldn't be too happy to find out he'd been spending a bunch of money on an internet dominatrix. Which is perfectly understandable. When I asked him how he'd ended up as a pay pig, he told me, "It was always meant to be—I was born to serve beautiful goddesses like my mistress."
His answer wasn't much of a surprise—submissives generally worship their doms. That's the general idea of those kinds of relationships. But discovering the amount he spends a month was a little shocking: "I leave myself enough money to eat basic foods and pay my bills and everything else goes to her. Sometimes I’ll go hungry so that I can spend more on her. I am the manager of a large company, so this means that I spend a lot."
The pay pig I spoke to insisted he wasn't being exploited, and I believed him–it's not like someone was forcing him to find sexual gratification in subsisting on 7-Eleven corn dogs and water scavenged from his neighbor's birdbath. But I figured in the interest of getting a balanced look at the whole thing I should probably speak to someone on the other side of the deal, so I got in touch with Cleo Tantra, a financial dominatrix who I contacted on findoms.com, a kind of fi-dom Facebook, to learn a little more.
A little bit of impersonal financial domination.
VICE: Hi, Cleo. Can you give me a quick rundown of what the financial-domination fetish entails?
Cleo Tantra: To me, financial domination is about dominating someone financially. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. There are so many different ways to play the game. There are the princesses and sugar babies out there who basically say, "I am pretty so give me money." Is that financial domination? They think so, but where is the domination? There are the boys who beg to be blackmailed—they provide all their information and the dom asks for money to keep it secret. Again, where is the domination?
What's real financial domination, then?
There are two ways I do it that I feel are true financial domination. The first is to know everything about my pet—how much he makes, how much he spends, and what he spends it on. I do a budget for him that he must follow exactly. I make sure his bills are paid first, but cut his food spending down by half because he can eat ramen noodles very cheap. I cut his "extras" spending to a quarter. After that, I look at the balance of the earnings and half goes into savings for him and half comes to me. He reports to me via email daily, details any purchases and makes requests for savings withdrawals. I control all of his spending.
What's the other way?
That's just a basic online BDSM relationship with financial perks thrown in. We speak daily via email or on the phone and build a real relationship. I give him various tasks: weight-loss goals if he’s chunky, embarrassing pictures, such as in drag, chastity, etc. He gives me gifts because he appreciates my domination. I penalize him financially for any failed tasks or if he pisses me off.
What do you think the appeal is for your "pets"?
There are two main types of people who enjoy this. One is the guy who craves being abused. He likes to be ridiculed or to feel used. Having someone take your money from you can be humiliating and make you suffer and struggle. The other type is the macho, dominating-in-real-life kind of man. He's stressed out from making business decisions, running a business, and being the one in charge all the time. He really gets off on being vulnerable once in a while and having someone else take charge. It’s like a vacation for him.
How much do slaves typically contribute to their mistresses?
That really depends. I’ve had pets send me $20 a week, which is what they normally spent on the takeout coffee that they gave up for me. Others send all their income after bills and groceries are bought. There are others—"drive-by subs," as I call them—who will send a new dom that strikes their fancy $200 and then never contact her again, though the last is more of a financial fetish than financial domination.
I've heard that some slaves "adopt" their mistresses household bills and pay them. Do you ever do that?
I've heard that as well, but I don't participate in it. Most slaves are turned off if they think the dom needs their money, and paying a bill for her may appear that way. Any and all money I receive is spent on frivolous items, which makes it more exciting for me and my pets.
Do you think the main appeal of financial domination to the dominatrixes is financial or sexual?
I think with most it's financial, though they'll say otherwise. I love the money, but it's also thrilling sexually, mentally, and even emotionally to have control over another person, whether money is involved or not.
Do you have any idea what the top financial dominatrixes are capable of earning?
I don't. Many don’t like to share this information due to tax purposes, and many lie about what they make to make themselves appear more desirable. I would guess from financial domination alone that they could earn a few thousand a month.
Do you ever meet any of your slaves, or is it all done over the internet?
I haven't met anyone in real life yet, though I have two subs who I will meet at some point in the future. Many of my pets are in different countries, which makes it more difficult, and others I haven't known for long enough yet. I'm open to real-life meetings, it just hasn’t worked out yet.
Have you seen any changes to the fetish, given the fact that half the world is a lot poorer than they used to be?
I honestly think it’s disappearing. The number of doms currently completely outnumbers the number of subs. Many girls find out about it and think they can post an advertisement stating how beautiful they are and demand money. It turns potential subs and slaves off and drives them away. Only the girls who truly treat this as an art and get enjoyment out of the interaction as well as the financial side—and those who realize that it isn’t just sitting on your ass collecting money—will continue to thrive.
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