I Went to a BDSM Workshop to Rebuild My Dating Confidence

I also learned a lot about scat play.

|
Aug 9 2016, 2:40pm

Illustration by Brandon Bird

In my 20s, I dabbled in sexual submission with my abusive ex-boyfriend. I drank too much and hoped that experimenting with bondage in our sex life would ease the violence and aggression he showed outside the bedroom. It did not. While sexually satisfying and thrilling, BDSM didn't feel right, because our relationship wasn't right. We eventually broke up and, about three years ago, I got sober. With clarity, I wondered if I'd only liked sexual pain because I'd hated myself.

Sobriety is the best thing in my life, but it's not without side effects. Flirting feels embarrassing without a drink in my hand. I've lost my once unquenchable sex drive. I'm unbearably shy in dating situations, and even worse, I've become vanilla in bed. My version of a wild time is more handjobs than handcuffs.

But recently, seemingly out of nowhere, a stranger DM'd me on Twitter offering to pay me to financially dominate him. I said no—that kind of relationship seemed weird and unethical—but truth is I was oddly flattered that someone would pay me just to talk to him, and not even nicely. That kind of domination wasn't right for me, but it made me wonder: Could another kind of domination help me find the confidence I'd lost in my post-sobriety sex and dating life?

I decided to enroll in the "Art of Female Domination," an introductory class at a popular BDSM den in Downtown Los Angeles. I forced my best friend, who once had sex with the person she'd hired off Craigslist to set up her IKEA coffee table, to come with me.

The class was in a warehouse. We had been given elaborate instructions via email regarding buzzing in and not disturbing the other businesses, but when we arrived, the door was locked and we had to knock loudly.

On the door was a presidential seal. This is because the head mistress, Mistress Tara, is running for president. This is not a joke. She is running under what she calls the Female Supremacy Party (though registered as Libertarian) and her motto is: "Whipping America Back into Shape, One Middle Aged White Man at a Time." She declined to explain any of her policies, referring me to another workshop that details her political platform. I would have to pay to attend that workshop to hear about them.

Mistress Tara, a middle-age woman, was wearing baggy jeans, a baggy work shirt, and worn-out platform flip-flops with rhinestones. Her hair was dyed a light pink, pulled into a ponytail. She wore no makeup. Mistress Tara was not at all what I expected. What I expected exactly, I don't know. A young woman in head-to-toe latex and a whip, perhaps.

There were nine of us in the class—two couples and five singles. One woman drove in all the way from San Diego to attend this workshop and the woman next to me, a sweet-looking blonde in a revealing mini dress, told me she'd already been to four workshops here. She was studying to be a professional mistress. Another woman, a tall, striking brunette, said she was there to learn about macrophilia, or giantess fetish. Men already paid to watch her step on toy soldiers and model trains, and she was hoping to turn this into a full-time gig.

I took a seat on a couch near the back. There were cum stains on it. Or something that looked like cum stains, though it was made clear that dominatrixes do not have sex with clients. I was reluctant to sit (is this cum? whose cum is this?), but I eventually chalked it up as part of the experience. I had come all the way to a BDSM workshop to break through my vanilla habits. A goddamn dirty couch couldn't be the thing that made me turn back.

During class, Mistress Tara wrote on a whiteboard, like a professor. She repeatedly dropped the cap of her dry-erase marker until finally, one of the men in the class bent over to pick it up. She responded with a low, guttural "gooood boy." He grinned as the back of his neck turned beet red. I wondered if this whole scene was deliberate.

The class was essentially a Ted Talk on the generalities of BDSM. Most of what we covered was tame and unspecific, though we did get into a spirited discussion about the difference between toilet training, scatting, and brown showers—all forms of defecating in someone's mouth. Why would someone do this? It's a form of goddess worship, Mistress Tara explained. These men find women to be so holy, so perfect, that consuming their excrement is arousing. At first, I tried to pass this off as gross, but I wondered if that was my low self-esteem creeping in. I can't think of anyone who has ever found me perfect enough to eat my shit. These acts require courage.

Mistress Tara, on the other hand, has a lot of experience in this territory. When she was a practicing dominatrix, some clients would visit her daily to be her human toilet. She told us, almost wistfully, that she would eat a mix of "coffee and black cherries" prior to scatting sessions. Another mistress she knew ate pizza and burritos. The petite woman in front of me, who was practicing to be a professional mistress, dutifully wrote this down in a notebook.

Mistress Tara gave us tips on inventing your domme persona (come up with a backstory and exaggerate your own qualities), knowing the difference between buzzwords and triggers (buzzwords, like saying "you love my big tits, don't you?" can turn someone on; triggers, like degrading someone past their point of comfort, can turn someone off), and cultivating the perfect foot smell for a foot fetishist (wear an old pair of gym shoes in the shower). When a slave licks dirt off your feet, Mistress Tara told us, it feels like someone eating your pussy right after you shave it.

But most of all, Mistress Tara reminded us that you don't have to be the most beautiful man or woman in the room to be an amazing dominatrix. You just have to know your audience and give them what they want. If Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, and Jabba the Hutt are all working at a den one day, and Jabba the Hutt is the only one wearing lace-up boots, he's the only one who's going to book clients who have a fetish for lace-up boots. At least, that's what Mistress Tara told us.

Leaving the workshop, I wasn't sure I would ever be ready to incorporate scat play into my bedroom routine. But I did start to think differently about what it would mean to believe in myself enough to dominate another person. Since I met Mistress Tara, I've started to play myself up when I'm flirting. I use buzzwords; I tease. And when I'm getting ready for a date and starting to panic that I can't find the right outfit or can't get my makeup right and it's all gone to shit, I remind myself that appearance doesn't count nearly as much as attitude.

And if the proverbial Jabba the Hutt can do it, so can I.

Follow Alison Segel on Twitter.

More VICE
Vice Channels