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I Get Bound and Whipped by Rich British Men for a Living

An interview with one of London's professional submissives.
16 April 2015, 5:00am

Katie bound and blindfolded

To the ignorant ear, being a professional submissive doesn't sound all that appealing. Imagine the job posting on Monster: "Yeah, you'll pretty much just be tied up and flogged by a stranger for an hour." Probably not going to get too many clicks.

Of course, if you enjoy that kind of thing – and get paid well to do it – it's actually not far from the perfect job. But considering that over three-quarters of women who enjoy BDSM are believed to be submissive, there are relatively few professional subs compared to dominatrixes.

Subby Katie, an American who now lives in London, is one of the few working in the UK. I spoke to her recently to find out a little about her day-to-day.

VICE: What made you decide that you wanted to be a professional submissive?
Katie: I got laid off at my job, and the job market was absolutely awful at the time. I couldn't find another job and was very stressed out. I went out for drinks one night with my ex-girlfriend, and she, knowing my proclivity towards all things BDSM, suggested looking into work in a dungeon.

The next day I started doing research and applied to a few dungeons. I got hired at a very beautiful dungeon in Midtown and trained there. It was mainly dom work, with some submissive sessions on occasion. I don't have a dom bone in my body, so being a dom always felt forced. In this profession, if you don't love what you're doing, it's very obvious, very unfair to the client and not good for the worker. For that reason, I decided to take everything I'd learned at the dungeon and start freelancing, doing strictly submissive sessions. It was a great decision, and now I absolutely love what I do.

Is being a submissive your only source of income?
It's definitely my only source of income. I get some people who disapprove of sex work and ask why I don't get a respectable job, and I always have to giggle. I'm my own boss, I make my own hours, I chose my clients and I make more in a few hours than most people make in a month. I was actually just asked by a friend of a friend if this was what I envisioned myself doing when I was little. I think my goal, being raised by a strong woman, was always to be independent, so the answer to that question would be a huge yes.

How much do you make each session?
It really depends on what the session entails. It's normally between £300 to £600 an hour.

And what do your sessions typically entail?
Caning and bare-handed spanking are very popular. Role play as well – usually the classic schoolgirl or secretary. I find lots of clients like controlled orgasms, which involves restraining me in some way, then using a vibrator to stimulate me but not allowing me to orgasm without their permission. If I do so before they allow it then there is some form of punishment. Forced orgasms are also a favourite of my clients. They're pretty much exactly what they sound like: I'm restrained and made to orgasm repeatedly. It sounds amazing, but becomes very intense and painful. A forced orgasm session was actually one of the only times I've ever used my safe word. Those are some of the things I do, but if you can think about it, I've most likely done it – or at least been asked to.

What's the strangest request you've ever had from a client?
I've been doing this for so long that nothing seems strange. I had a man who asked me to lay in an ice bath for as long as I could take it and then lie perfectly still in silence. There was also a client who was completely symmetry-based. All bruises and marks had to match, so after so many hits with a cane on the left side, the other side had to then be marked exactly the same amount. I had a client who wanted me covered in as many clothes pins as he could clamp on. The entire session was spent with him counting the number of pins he could attach to my skin. Really, though, nothing shocks me or seems that strange any more.

Do you ever worry for your safety, given that you give these men an element of control over you?
Yes, definitely. By the very definition of their profession, submissives allow themselves to be dominated, and that comes with a lot of risk. That being said, pro subs aren't a huge market, so those who seek us out do so not for malicious intentions, but because we offer something they're looking for. Also, I never meet a client who can't give me a phone number or address. For the most part, I meet new clients in public for a coffee or a glass of wine first, and if anything feels off I apologise and leave.

Do you think that being a submissive is riskier than providing other adult services – for example, escorting?
Riskier? I'm not sure. I think it has the potential to be, certainly, but any adult service where you meet a client alone has its risks. Sure, we allow ourselves to be restrained and dominated, but because of those things we have specific systems in place to make it as safe as possible. Someone always knows the name, phone number and address of the person I'm meeting. I text when I arrive and when I leave. Although the danger factor that is associated with pro subs might seem more obvious, I think that all sex workers are at risk, and that backwards laws and discrimination make our jobs unsafe. As long as we're criminalised and thought of as a lesser part of society, no one in the sex work industry will ever be completely safe.

What kind of men use your service? Do you have a typical client?
Not really. The majority are middle aged professionals, many in the financial sector or CEO types. I do get a very broad range of clients, though. I have some who are more my age who tend to want to learn about and explore BDSM in a safe and non-judgmental environment. I also have much older clients, who are looking for some younger companionship. I had an absolutely amazing client for a while who was 89 years old, but you would never have guessed it by the strength with which he could spank.

Is your main motivation sexual or financial?
First and foremost, this is my job. It's how I make my living, and I definitely think of it as such. That being said, I don't think you could do this job if you didn't enjoy it. If you aren't enjoying the session, the client can tell.

Why do you think dominatrixes receive so much publicity but professional submissives receive so little?
Being a dominatrix is, for the most part, fairly acceptable in our culture. Doms are generally portrayed as being strong, powerful women, which is an image that many people are comfortable with. Society looks at professional submissives as victims. They assume that we're weak because we allow ourselves to be tied up, spanked and flogged, and because our hair gets pulled and we beg. They think that we somehow need saving, and believe that we promote violence against women. None of this is true; submissives are very strong people who are in no way victims. We enjoy what we do, and anyone in the BDSM community will tell you that we are certainly not weak or helpless in any way. I think society definitely needs to start understanding what we do and giving us the respect that we deserve.

How accurate do you think 50 Shades of Grey's portrayal of a submissive was?
I didn't read the whole book; the writing was so god-awful that I couldn't get through it. It made me want to stab myself in the eye. That said, I read a good chunk, and even if you forgive everything else, the fact that, at one point, the girl calls her safe word and it's ignored means that the book is supporting domestic violence. Anyone in the fetish community knows that the safe word is everything, and if it's spoken, everything stops. If, like in the book, it's called and ignored, the person that ignored it is not only an asshole, but also a criminal.

Finally, what advice would you give to women who are interested in becoming professional submissives?
First and foremost, don't do this job if you don't truly enjoy being submissive. I've talked to many women who, because they'd done escort work, thought they could switch to pro sub work, and they were miserable. It's very easy to fake your way through a role play session or some light bondage, but when taking a caning, or even a hard spanking, the pain is very real. I would also say to always trust your instincts. If a situation feels off, leave. If you meet a new client and you have even the slightest gut feeling that something is off, walk away.

Thanks, Katie.

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