Last week was a week of firsts for me. I began it by going to a spa in Park Slope to get my very first massage, and I ended it by going to a hotel in Manhattan to have my first session with a dominatrix. The theme of last week, apparently, was "touching."
From the time I received the press release informing that San Francisco's hottest dominatrix, January Seraph, was booking exclusive private sessions in NYC, to the night of my own session with her, my nerves and excitement level went on a serotonin roller coaster that started with "so kooky, so wild, I'm really doing this," to "I'm terrified. I feel like I'm going to a haunted house."
As I told January herself during our ice breaker convo, I'm no stranger to getting beat up by pretty women, but getting spanked by the girl you also watch Gossip Girl episodes with, and getting ball-gagged by a six-foot glamazon who pays her bills by making people cry out in pain is a different story.
For the sake of my GF, and also because I wasn't too psyched on the idea of posting nudes of myself on the Internet, I left my clothes on. Even with the buffer of jeans, my ass stung a little as I rode the Subway home that night. I suspect that January took full advantage of her first time getting permission to beat the shit out of a reporter. OH! Look! It was a night of firsts for both of us!
Here's my interview with January, which I have to add was REALLY awkward to transcribe because I left the tape recorder on during our session. Ever hear yourself making kissing noises on a boot before? It's pretty cool.
VICE: How long have you been a dominatrix?
JANUARY SERAPH: Four years. I started out doing submissive video work, but I was never really good at it. At one point my mentor was like "why do you keep doing this? You don't seem to enjoy it." So she taught me some new skill sets, and let me sit in on some of her sessions. From there I took on a lot of video work first, and then I started taking on private clients once I felt comfortable with it.
**At what point were you able to cut off any sort of day job and just do this? **
Well I never really had a day job because I started off as a stripper, and then I became a bondage model, and then I started this. So this is sort of my day job. And it's a great day job.
Do you book trips like this a lot? Where you travel and have pre-planned special engagements?
I split my time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I also go to cities like here (NYC) and Chicago about three times a year.
Were you booked up pretty fully before you got here?
People always like to wait till the last minute. Once I got here then it was a scramble where people were calling like, "I need to see you right now!"
Well I like talking about what I do, and I found that people always wanted to talk about it with me, so I decided to start doing a series of educational videos geared more towards mainstream people, like people who have NEVER explored kink. I feel like BDSM can really strengthen stale relationships and is also a way to build trust in couples.
Do people ever book sessions with you and then chicken out?
Yes. A lot of people are really excited about their session and they email back and forth, and then when it comes time for them to show up, they can't do it. Sometimes people are constantly sick, or someone's always dying, and I'm like "really? Do you have that many relatives? Because I don't."
Do you think that being a dominatrix is something that can actually be learned? Seems like you'd kind of already have to be a certain way.
I do, because it's all just role play at some level. My personality, in day to day life is not overly demanding, and it's not overly strict. But when I come into a session I have a very strict way of how I want things. Even though it's playful, I have a very clear idea of how things should go and it's my little world for awhile. So as long as someone can learn some acting skills, they can learn how to be a dominatrix.
**What do you do in situations where clients get nuts on you? **
I've never had a bad experience (knock on wood somewhere). I take the time to get to know someone a little bit before I even meet them in person. Either through back and forth emails, or phone conversations. There have been a few people that I've gotten a bad sense from, and in those cases I just said "I don't really think we're a good match, and maybe you should find somebody else." In this type of role play, it's all about connection.
Do you have an even mix of guy and girl clients?
It's primarily men, but I've been getting more and more couples lately.
I wish it were more girls.
(Laughs) Me too. A lot of girls who come in for sessions just want to learn about how to dominate their boyfriends, and that's really fun. They wanna know what to wear, how to set up a scene, how to walk into a room and be like, "okay, now I'm your dominatrix."
Do you ever develop feelings for your clients?
No, I don't have those issues. I think because I've been a sex worker for so long that I became really good at setting boundaries.
Do you have a partner in your personal life?
I have a new boyfriend. I don't seem to stay single for very long. It seems like I should be undateable, based on the things that I do. I'm a bitch dominatrix, I do porn, I travel all the time, and yet somehow I find some really great people to date.
Do you find that people in New York are more or less kinky than people in California, or other places you've worked?
I'd say they're just as kinky, but they're a little more serious about getting their kink on. They'll call and say, "okay, I'm gonna be there at 11:30," and at 11:25 my phone will ring and they'll be like "I'm here!" Where in California if they say 11:30, they mean 11:45. [EDITOR'S NOTE: That's because NYC rules and the West Coast drools].
Is there anything that you've never been asked that you'd really like to be known about your profession?
I guess just that it's kinky adult games. I don't take myself too seriously, and I don't take other people too seriously. At the end of the day, it's all just role play and it's all just fun.
Not sure which I like best about this picture, my tramp stamp, or those awesome nail things. (Where can I buy those, btw?)
Lickin boots. NBD.
The look of nervous terror. My body temperature was about 125 here.
Photos by Adam Gong