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What You Can Learn About Charming People from a Dominatrix

At some point, you're going to have to get people to listen to you—whether at college, work, or with your housemates—and this isn't the worst place to start.

by Margaret Corvid
Sep 17 2016, 2:30pm

The author, on her trusty gynecological bench

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

On Thursday morning, I was getting ready for a professional domination client. It was a medical play session, which meant a lot of prep: making sure my imposing NHS gynecological bench was pristine, with crisp white paper pulled over its navy faux leather, ready to receive my eager, apprehensive "patient." I checked each piece of medical equipment—the speculum to stretch the anus wide; the Wartenberg wheel, with its spikes designed to make the most sensitive skin twitch and quiver. And once all my physical kit was primed, I had to get myself ready, showering, shaving, pulling my hair into a severe bun, and getting myself into the headspace of the evil nurse—clinical, caring, and sadistic.

As I sat down with a cup of tea, waiting for my client's nervous knock at my door, I reflected on my preparation. And I realized that the ways we sex workers get ourselves ready for a booking might offer lessons to anyone asked to scrub up and give a speech to get people on-side—whether presenting at uni, at work or getting ready for The Talk with someone you're dating. Here are some of my top tips.

GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER IN ADVANCE

I'm a little anxious by nature. I was particularly nervous in my first few bookings, but over time I learned that if I had precisely everything I would need exactly where I needed it—from handcuffs to lube to the eyeliner and nail varnish I'd wear—my anxiety would decrease dramatically. Other sex workers are similarly pernickety about their pre-booking rituals.

In Chicago, Farrah* does both sex and office work, and her ordinary office bag doubles as her prep bag for full-service and kink sessions. "My bag contains a change of clothes, shoes, a non-farty snack (unless the client likes farting), tools of the trade for that given session, and always a book," she tells me. In sex work, our bodies are also tools, and for kink, personal prep can be esoteric. "If there's (literally) shit involved I have to plan my meals in advance the day before, then that morning requires lots of coffee and oatmeal with bananas. Healthy breakfast, no?"

What public speaking has in common with sex work is that it's work: a precise combination of craft and creativity. Part of that craft is having the right stuff, working and to hand. These things seem mundane, but their absence can mean a late arrival or a sleepless night undermines my confidence.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Like any work, sex work requires skill. In my work, skills can be anything from convincing acting to safe flogging, but screening clients, marketing, and setting boundaries are equally important. I practice and improve all of these skills, which means that when a new client calls, I can assess compatibility and safety over the phone and craft a session to meet their needs if we're a fit. I'm not following a script; even if a client sends me a laundry list of fetishes and requests, I can work them into a spontaneous session. I have a client who likes heavy bondage and a severe thrashing. Over time, my skill with the canes, crops, and paddles he adores has become a sort of muscle memory, freeing up my mind to play wicked word games and throw sadistic taunts.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Practice and planning free my mind to focus on my changeable client. A good sex worker is a chameleon, and it requires considerable emotional skill and labor to match a client's fantasy. In one hour I mock and humiliate a client wearing panties with a wicked laugh; in the next, I'm nearly silent as my blindfolded client hangs on my chains, unsure of where my whip will strike next. Even then, performances vary.

If a client comes in nervous, I might be more nurturing as I spank them over my knee; if they slide into a submissive role with confidence, I know I can be a bit more imperious. Likewise, repeat clients show up happy some days and grouchy others, and I need to notice—and remember—whether the cure for a client's bad mood is gentleness or an extra hard slap.

The same is true in speaking. If you're getting ready to break up with someone, or tell that housemate to, finally, get their tea bags out of the sink—for the last goddamn time—your voice tone, emotions, and body language all matter. You've got to be firm in the approach for the right person who's listening to you.


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Ms. Slide, a UK-based dominatrix, says what she bring depends on the session. If a client's into sensation play, "I'll bring clamps, hitty things, stinging things (sometimes literally if it's nettle season), thudding things, and pinching things. If the play is more of a psychological nature, or if the client has a specific fetish for certain clothing, shoes, or textures, I'll make sure they're included. If it's a session where I'm penetrating the client, I'll bring strap-ons and plugs. It's all about tailoring the session so that it's pleasurable for everyone involved."

STICK TO YOUR ACTUAL COMPETENCIES

Years of experience as a domme have taught me where my strengths and weaknesses are. I'm no expert with rope bondage, but I'm great with canes and crops. If someone wants an elaborate suspension rig or to pretend to be an adult baby in a realistic nursery, I refer them elsewhere; even if I'm eager to earn the fee, the worry of not doing a good job is more than it's worth, and clients rarely return to a nervous practitioner. If I want to learn a new skill, I study with experts, paying for their time or offering a skills exchange, before I bring that skill into my paid work.

In speaking, it's tempting to jump at opportunities to present on a new topic, but I know that unfamiliarity can lead to boring and superficial chat, even for a practiced speaker. It's better to extend your scope on a familiar topic, or apply it in a new way. Because I understand kink, I can talk about a naughty novel or a politician caught with a dominatrix; because I understand sex worker rights, I can apply their concepts to situations worldwide. Find what works for you, and when anyone asks how you pulled it off, just mumble something about your inner dominatrix. They'll probably leave it.

*Name has been changed to protect her identity.

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Margaret Corvid