I Went to Dominatrix School but My Main Lesson was in How a Sub-Dom Domestic Relationship Actually Works

The rigid, strictly applied protocol that Alura enforces on Violet is essential to the smooth functioning of their sub-dom relationship that exists from 9 AM until 6 PM, five days a week.

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Apr 7 2015, 9:19pm

Contessa Alura and Violet. All photos by Mattha Busby

After a bus, a train and yet another bus I finally arrived at the gothic detached house of Contessa Alura that I'd been told I "couldn't miss." After I tentatively knocked on the double door, a 5-foot-11 transwoman, donning a choker around her neck, wearing a little black frilly dress answered the door, seated me in a single couch and instructed me to wait for Alura.

I sat down to drink an anglophile's milky, sugary tea, served from a teapot enveloped in a leopard-print cozy. The spine of Dante's Divine Comedy winked at me and I pondered heaven, hell, and purgatory as I waited for Contessa Alura's arrival.

Latex-clad, wig-wearing, suited, and booted, Contessa embraced me courteously before dismissing Violet, her slave to whom I was just introduced, who performed a clunky courtesy and made haste for the kitchen.

We sat and spoke for around 40 minutes before lunch, broaching subjects from "vanilla" sex to the Alternative Lifestyles Community Centre that Contessa also runs from her home—which possesses its own 50 Shades of Grey-esque dungeon—to the misrepresentation of BDSM in popular culture.

I hadn't been entirely sure what to expect; all I knew was that I would be interviewing professional dominatrix Contessa Alura and sitting in on one of her classes with her students. Now though, I realized that this was my opportunity to observe a domestic dominant-submissive relationship. From the outset I found it both bizarre, intriguing, and certainly benign—although I suppose the punishments occur behind closed doors.

Through her self-employed work as a "Professional Elite International Dominatrix," Contessa educates a group of aspiring dominatrixes. As a dominatrix and an educator, she effectively teaches her students how to be her from her own home.

On the day I visited, her students gradually filtered into the house and congregated around the kitchen. Contessa quickly revealed herself to be a lovely, wonderful teacher who opened the floor for discussion. But beyond the power and knowledge she holds, she is genuinely humble and down to earth, at ease with and conscious of her self professed eccentricity.

Drinking from a mug that professes "THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES," Contessa provided her apprentices with a lunchtime workshop that stressed the importance of protocol.

In keeping with their protocol, Violet waits on Contessa's every need. In the kitchen–Contessa had cooked alongside her two previous subs–Violet obediently prepared a lunch of cream of broccoli super after I, the guest, cast my preference.

Alura seemed slightly irritated that she had had to remind Violet to set the table. Once she had done so she served the soup and crumbled two brittle, tasteless, crackers into her dominatrix's mediocre soup before kneeling on a cushion to Contessa's right to ask whether she could now eat.

I then excused myself and listened from afar as the workshop went into full swing and Contessa elucidated upon the varying facets of their protocol, including the provision that Violet cannot look her in the eye without permission.

The rigid, strictly applied protocol that Alura enforces on Violet is essential to the smooth functioning of their sub-dom relationship that exists from 9 AM until 6 PM, five days a week. Violet is paid for her time, and while she takes the weekends off, she lives with Contessa permanently.

"Protocol is what I get off on," she told her group, which probably explains why she employs someone to ensure her fetishes are constantly indulged, citing the British monarchy as a wonderful example of a system where protocol is essential to upholding the rigid hierarchies within.

At 8:30 each morning, Violet will present herself, dressed and showered, at Contessa's door to receive her collar. She kneels and places the unlocked collar onto Contessa's lap, kisses her ankle, praises her beauty that "makes the most beautiful flowers fade" before receiving her collar that Contessa stresses is "a gift" from her.

The class of aspiring dominatrixes––who numbered four––are nearing their May 8 graduation day, after which time the doms will be full-fledged and ready to offer their often lucrative services to the subs of the world.

They ranged in age from around 20 to 45, I'd say; from flamboyantly dressed to the bland, brown attire of one ambitious 20-something dom who had brought his own smoothies with him.

I enjoyed chatting with them as they explained domination topics for me, but largely they let Contessa do the talking as we sat huddled over our creamed brocs. They were all keen to graduate. One female dom had taken the initiative to advertise her services already, which Alura congratulated her for.

Professional domination is a personal business, Alura told me as she explained the details of her business, which is based around the dungeon theatre of her living room.

Contessa's seminal encounter with a sub-dom relationship was when she watched the Pulp Fiction scene where they bring out the gimp. Contrary to Peter Greene's character Zed, whose sadist fetishism led him to habitually keep his sub confined to their cage, Alura only ordered Violet into their cage for our photoshoot.

"You know you're not allowed to dribble in the cage," Contessa lectured as the conversation turned to Friday night's Sin Social Club at Café Cléopatre, where she and Violet often appear.

Contessa and Violet have known each other for many years, primarily through the local submission and domination social scene, before entering into a business relationship through the Alternative Lifestyles Support Centre. Violet and Contessa are the organization's president and director, respectively.

Eventually, they discovered the potential for their relationship, through which they both regularly receive a particular sort of gratification—this relationship is both personal and economic, Contessa told me. There is an exchange of money.

Apparently, though, it is sometimes difficult to maintain the dynamic of a friendship on the one hand and a business relationship on the other. Beyond the dominatrix-submissive relationship, the two spend the majority of their time together, but their relationship is entirely platonic beyond the kinks.

"After 6–6:30, I have to sit and decompress––back to Violet the friend, as I turn off slave mode, whilst of course remaining respectful," said Violet.

And then it was my turn to receive my whipping. I allowed myself to be bound to the wall before Contessa applied some of her toys to my innocent back that moaned with pleasure and longing, not pain.

I wasn't being dominated, Contessa reminded me. Grabbing my hair and briefly pushing her breasts up against my naked exterior, she informed me that I'd have to book an hour session with "Contessa Alura" to experience submission in the extreme.

My libido craved for more, but my debit card screamed in protest––she knows what she's doing. And so our afternoon came to a frustrated conclusion as we went our separate ways.

I then walked back to the bus stop with one of the young doms who explained to me how she wants to reconcile her experiences as a dominatrix within the framework of her activist feminism.

My afternoon allowed me to cast away some of the misconceptions society has about live-in sub-dom relationships. Sure, they exist in subcultures for a reason; but this was a safe place where everyone was getting along just fine, anticipating the date of their graduation and becoming a fully trained dominatrix.

Follow Mattha Busby on Twitter.

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