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      This BDSM Consultant Teaches Famous Actors How to Use Whips

      By Julia Alsop

      March 12, 2016

      A photo of Olivia Troy (left) training actress Annapurna Sriram how to use a whip. Photo courtesy of Natasha Gornik

      Growing up, Olivia Troy dreamed of being just like Xaviera Hollander—the high-class call girl who ran 1960s New York's busiest brothel and wrote a best-selling memor called The Happy Hooker. When parents and teachers asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up, she said madam.

      Troy's childhood fantasy didn't come to fruition, but sex is still her professional domain. For the past decade, Troy has become a career BDSM expert, consulting for TV shows, film sets, and Broadway plays to help actors and writers get it right when it comes to portraying kink on screen or stage. Her resume includes advising Paul Giamatti about the sub he plays on Showtime's Billions and training actors on the Broadway play Trust, and she's currently working on the forthcoming movie The Books.

      A native New Yorker, Troy began exploring BDSM in her mid twenties after an acquaintance confessed his shoe fetish to her at a company holiday party. They spent the rest of the night holed up in a corner while he pointed out women's shoes and explained what makes a hard stiletto so sexy. Her interest piqued, she began going to fetish parties, reading BDSM literature, and practicing the art of domination. At the time, she was a freelance lifestyle writer covering food, music, and relationships. But her curiosity for BDSM led her down the rabbit hole, and she eventually set up her own private dungeon.

      Now in her mid-30s, Troy practices her kink personally, professionally, and legally with her business Kink on Set. At her consulting studio in New York's Flatiron District, she teaches actors, writers, and private clients how to play and punish. The studio is a BDSM enthusiast's dream, with over $90,000 worth of equipment she often rents out to production crews. Recently, I sat down with Troy among her whipping benches, puppy cages, and gimp masks to talk sex and power on set and off.

      VICE: Can you tell me about how someone becomes a BDSM consultant? What does the job actually entail?
      Olivia Troy: Like a lot of the things I've gotten into in life, I fell into this unintentionally. It was 2010, I was practicing as a domme, and a colleague of mine was helping out with the Broadway play Trust, about a guy who goes to see a professional dominatrix who turns out to be his high school classmate. She wanted to show the crew what a real dungeon looks like and how to handle some of the equipment, so she brought one of the producers and three of the principle actors over to my space.

      I ended up talking to the actors and coaching them on everything, from things like how to handle a flogger to how create that dominant presence. From there it snowballed, mostly via word of mouth.

      What do you mean by dominant presence?
      Like, how you talk to a submissive: the tone of voice you use, the different cues you use. When you talk, you talk with intention; you speak with purpose. The idea is to seduce, to be very clear and active. [A dominant presence] is very much about owning your power. There are no questions when I speak to someone. The language is very decisive.

      It sounds kind of similar to having a stage persona, as if it's a character you put on.
      It is a little bit of a stage persona. There's the cliché of the stentorian-voiced dominatrix who speaks in very clipped tones and says, You will obey me . There was a time, when I first started playing going to fetish parties and playing in "the scene," when I thought the way [BDSM] works is that you meet a man, you say hello, you tell him to strip, kneel on the floor, kiss your feet, etc.

      Eventually, I thought, this was really dumb. I don't like having my feet kissed and it's often very awkward. So I thought, Well, what do I like? And that made it easy. For instance, I started undressing my partner myself. Some people start by putting a collar on their sub, but I would come up behind them, put my hands around their throat, and say something like: I'm going to claim you with my hands. My hands are your collar. Where I touch you is the thing that tells you that you are mine. My fingerprints on your skin are what tell you that you are mine and you will feel my touch long after you are gone from here.

      It sounds really sensual and like there's a lot more subtlety to it.
      Yeah, for me it's less about language like "piece of shit" or "worthless pig," etc. Though there are some women who love to say that and some men who love to hear that. But if the goal is to make someone feel pathetic or humiliate them, it's less about calling them clichés like "filthy worm," and more about what is real that you can remark on. There are ways you can do that with just body positioning—how you position your own body, with how you position their body in relation to yours. There's a lot more subtly to it. There's effort, as well.

      You have to actually see the person and understand who they are and what their vulnerabilities are. And that kind of comes to the heart of what my practice is as a consultant. It's about taking away those stereotypes. Teaching people is not really that cartoonish. It's about energetically setting an intention and having your actions lead to the inevitability of that fulfillment. So that's what I try to convey to the actors, too. It's not really about stomping around in boots, though you certainly can do that.


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      On the submissive side, I feel like there's this fantasy of the cold read, of finding a dominant who knows exactly what they want.
      One of the things people often get wrong about kinky sexy is that, sure, people have their fetishes, but being kinky is just like any other sex. The way to make sure that someone is into it—the way you do that cold read and make it accurate—is that, as the domme, you do what you do with pleasure and gusto. As the dominant, they'll like anything I tell them to like because I love it.

      Can you give me an example?
      I know people who have gotten subs to agree to a golden shower who might not have been up for it otherwise. If you just say, Oh can I pee on you? that doesn't sound very sexy. But if I straddle you. Look you deeply in the eyes. Kiss you. And then I say, I want to do something for you. How would you feel if I just squirted all over your cock right now? And just imagine this warm wetness just gushing over you, and I can share that with you and you're just gonna feel this warm wetness between us and be soaked in it like I've just cum all over your cock. How does that sound?

      OK, yeah. Sign me up.
      If you're thinking about doing any BDSM with a partner, think about selling it. How can you say it in a way that's going to make them want it? I think anyone who wants to explore BDSM needs to think of the things they already like and try to amplify it or add a little imagination. And if you present it to your partner as something that is really fun that you can do together—and isn't just something that they are doing to you cause you want it—that makes all the difference.

      When you go onset and speak to directors, actors, etc. what's the one thing you want them to take away?
      I was working with Paul Giamatti for his Showtime series Billions. In the show, he's a high-power, high-profile district attorney and he and his wife have a kink relationship where he's the sub. When I talk with the actors, I try to give them language to think about their character's motivations—why they're doing what they're doing—outside the language of BDSM. It's not so much how you tie this person up, but more about the energy in which you approach the action, and what that character's motivations would be.

      So for Paul's character, there's that erotic tension between his desires and the risk of getting caught. And there's an uncertainty there, too. Is his wife doing this for him or because she really wants it, too? And for Maggie Siff, who plays the wife, is a therapist who analyzes Wall Street dudes all day. Is exercising this more explicit control over her husband a sort of therapy for her? What are the other dynamics at play here?

      "Being kinky is just like any other sex. The way to make sure that someone is into it is that, as the domme, you do what you do with pleasure and gusto."

      It seems like getting it right is also a big part what makes it sexy when it's depicted on screen.
      Getting it right makes it sexy because fundamentally it is about two people connecting over something they both desire. In fact, a lot of the more explicit depictions of SM—spanking, making someone crawl on the floor, binding and tying someone up—is not that compelling in itself. That's part of the reason 50 Shades of Grey failed. You didn't sense any chemistry or connection between the actors. Yes, the environment was beautiful, but you always wondered why are they doing this? Why is she saying yes to this? Why is he interested in her? You could never sense the connection. The leather, the whips, the shoes, the catsuits, etc. are just costumes. It's trappings. It's visual. Depicting [BDSM] accurately is about the relationship between the two people.

      What's one of the most extreme things you do in your work?
      I've seen a lot of crazy shit and done some wild things in my time, so a lot of it is just normal for me. When I was working with Paul, he asked me what's one of the most awful things that could be done to him. And I said, well, "awful" is kind of in the eye of the beholder. For example, I've taken stainless steel urethral dilators and inserted them into someone's penis. He immediately cringed and he said it was too much. I told him it was kind of like I was fucking him. There's a way to talk about penetrating someone's urethra that sounds really awful. But if I say it's like I'm inserting this stainless steel rod and fucking your cock with it and then when I pull it out it's like this jet of stainless-steel cum that's shooting out of you, then you're going to want to know what that feels like.

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      Topics: sex, bdsm, bondage, olivia troy, billions showtime, fetish, kink, kinky, consultant, jobs, experts, sexperts, dommes, subs, whips, leather, olivia troy bdsm, vice us

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