The Violet Ray - 20th Century medical history & modern-day BDSM use August 03 2017

For a person walking into a Dominatrix's dungeon, their eyes are typically met with all manner of large-scale dungeon bondage equipment. Cages, Medical bench, St Andrew's Cross, spanking bench, and other such items. However one of the smaller pieces that most captivates the eyes and imagination is most certainly the violet ray machine.

This is the go-to apparatus frequently used for Dominatrix's (fantasy) interrogations and electro-play.

It makes a buzzing sound when switched on, with glass electrodes that glow with a surreal-looking violet purple (hence the name Violet Ray). When in use, they also spark across a small gap - seen most effectively if you hold the electrode with just a short gap from a sensitive body part! 

They also make a very attractive item of display. Violet rays are housed in a little suitcase box, lined with fabric or velvet, with glass electrodes of different shapes (typically made of pyrex glass or soda lime glass), a cord attached to a phallic or cucumber-like handle (often made of bakelite), with a dial, and a power plug lead. 

I have recently acquired a vintage c1930s era "Kosmosan I" Violet Ray device for the Education Salon, which featured a built-in vanity mirror likely aimed at female buyers. I was lucky to find a device in close to original condition, with all the original electrodes and manual (written in German) included. The cables and plugs have of course been replaced, as the original old cables were brittle and dangerous. 

 

Anne O Nomis's "Kosmosan I" Violet Ray Wand for the Education Salon.

Original manual (in German) for the "Kosmosan I" Violet Ray Wand. 

Different glass electrodes in the Violet Wand case.

And here's what one of the electrodes looks when attached to the handle and switched on, glowing its distinctive violet colour...

 

Violet ray 'comb' electrode when glowing violet.

The History of Violet Rays

Violet ray devices used to be manufactured in the thousands for medical / theraputic use known as "Electrotherapy". They were marketed to treat a range of medical ailments, with different shaped glass electrodes for purpose.

The technology was based upon the development of the Telsa coil, named after Nikola Telsa (1856-1943), a Serbian-American inventor, physicist,  mechanical engineer and electrical engineer. Telsa's patents and theoretical work form the basis for the modern alternating current (AC) electric power supply systems. 

The first prototypes were designed in the late 1800s, and introduced by Telsa at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Over in France, a physician and physicist Jacques-Arsene D'Arsonval was experimenting with the physiological effects of electrical stimulation. Together with his collaborator, Paul Marie Oudin, they would modify Tesla coil apparatus to create the "Oudin coil" (connected to an autotransformer), and experiment with its potential health benefits.

Wikicommons / Public domain image: Oudin coil being used for Electrotherapy treatment of a patient's knee, 1907. (From Mihran Krikor Kassabian Roentgen Rays and Electro-Therapeutics, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, USA, Page 168, Figure 67)

It was out of these technologies that violet rays were designed to be small boxed devices able to be used at home for theraputic use. They were meant to be beneficial to all kinds of medical ailments, from insomnia to asthma to catarrh to gout. 

Above: Part of advertisement for Renulife Violet ray.

 

From the historic advertisements I could find, their marketing was designed to appeal to three areas: Beauty, Vitality and Health. 

Above: Part of advertisement for Vi-Rex Violet Ray.

 

Violet ray with "comb" attachment in use in domestic setting. Advertised to arrest the progress of any scalp disorder and quality of the hair itself.

The violet ray devices were manufactured in large quantities in the early 20th Century, with many devices which survive today dating from the late 20s, 30s and post-WWII. In the USA, they were subject to numerous lawsuits and seizures, and in 1951 their manufacture was prohibited after a case directed at the last US manufacturer, Master Electric.

Their popularity in any case dwindled as claims for their health benefits were disputed. However vintage violet ray machines frequently popped up in flea markets, auctions and the like as a "novelty item".  Their erotic use was well-enough known that they were experimented with in bedrooms (and dungeons) for decades beyond their manufacture.

Modern-day "Violet Wands" manufactured specifically for erotic electro-stimulation (known as e-stim) are sold in specialized sex stores and online in the contemporary era.

Science / nerdy stuff on how they work

Violet ray devices are high voltage, high frequency, low current, electric current.

The electrical control box controls the interrupter (set of contact breakers), a magneto coil and capacitor. Nick and Morphia note that when the violet ray is turned on, "you hear a buzzing sound - a noise made because the contact breakers are snapping open and shut around 55 times a second. It is when the contact breakers are open that the electrical circuit is cut off, and the energy stored in the coil oscillates between the coil and the capacitor at a much higher frequency."

I've read frequently that the wand handle contains a coil, but Nick and Morphia who recondition numerous wands, who I've met personally in London, and trust as a highly reliable source - write that the violet ray wand handle contains two coils:

"The first, a primary is made of thick copper wire and consists of ten or so turns around the high voltage coil underneath. The hv coil consists of 12 -15 layers of fine copper wire wound to a width of 3/4 inch - the rest is insulation.

This hv coil is like a transformer stepping up the voltage to between 30,000 and 50,000 volts and this flows out directly to a glass or metal attachment and applied to the subject. Thankfully the old established laws of energy conservation mean that current is significantly reduced as total energy remains the same (less losses such as heat)

The return end of the hv coil connects back to the mains to complete the electrical circuit - if it did not, it would not work. Interestingly it does so in one of several ways -

  • Directly - in which case there is mostly a physical gap at the business end - usually mica - which isolates the user from the mains - but sometimes not - which is why you need to get any new acquisition checked out by an expert.
  • Indirectly - two metal plates separated by a layer of mica - again to isolate from the mains - and normally buried in the outer layers of the coil
  • Indirectly, layers of electrical insulation (most often Mica and waxed paper) between the primary and secondary coils - and can often be seen glowing in the dark
  • Indirectly - via a capacitor - wax paper ones are not acceptable by modern standards

The effect of this high frequency high voltage current to to jump small gaps and to travel along the surface of a conductor rather than straight through it. This is useful because it means you cannot fry your innards or stop your heart from beating and makes the whole idea of using one of these devices - less scary. The muscles also tend not react to this high frequency oscillating current." (from Nick and Morphia site)

Violet ray with wand (at left), glass electrodes (top compartment & taken out at right side), dial (centre) and electric cord (bottom compartment).

 

How Violet Rays came to be used by Dominatrices in a BDSM context 

I think Violet wands were ripe for use by Dominatrices for a number of reasons, which I'm going to argue for the first time here, based on my research on the history of the Dominatrix.

REASON 1) THE MEDICO-EROTIC SPECIALIZATION

Firstly, historical domination has long had an intersect with medical play and nurse roleplay. I could write an article separately on this subject alone. 

Nursing is a common background for Dominatrices to come from. The famous mid 20th Century Dominatrix Monique Von Cleef was one of many Dominatrices whose background was medical nursing. (see p.145 onwards in 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book.)

From the beginnings of electrotherapy, the erotic possibilities lay within their potential use. And indeed the design of the violet ray kits for private personal home use, and the devices and electrodes designed for the rectum and vagina (purportedly for health and vitality) were included in the kits.

The advertisements subtly allude to the erotic potential, cloaked in metaphors that engage the imagination: 

"make very fibre of your body tingle with a new vim and vigour".

And elsewhere use the same specific vernacular used in association with the female complaints of nervousness and hysteria.

"Violet Rays have a soothing effect on the entire system - as a relief for exhaustion and nervousness they have no equal".

Above: Historic image of Violet Ray in use on the back.

So it is unsurprising that Dominatrices would be drawn to historic, vintage and quack medical devices - with many even having a medical bench or clinic set up in within their dungeon or as a separate room.

One of the Dominatrix's arts is the 'Art of the Bodily and Out-of-Body', utilizing techniques which emphasize the corporeal / bodily, and utilizing techniques to drive Out-of-Body experiences. (See Realm Art V in 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book, pp.255). It is to this realm specialization that the Violet Ray device is aptly put to use.

REASON 2) DRAMA & MIND-FUCKERY

The Violet Ray machine looks to many like something that belongs in a stage performance or an historic interrogation.  

The device buzzes, glows purple (particularly effective in a darkened room), and releases an ozone smell. 

As such, these devices are ideal for "mind-fuckery" - playing with fear. For submissives unfamiliar with what these devices are, scared of what level of harm they might do, the Dominatrix's use of the device drives a hormonal cortisol fear response, alongside the psychological anxiety and acceptance of what will come with their application on the person.

One of the violet glowing electrodes from my Violet Ray set.

Violet ray devices are likely to have been part of the torture equipment used by wayward Chicago police commanders (including John Burge) in the 1970s and 1980s, for interrogating / torturing suspects. 

In the 1985 court case, Leonard Hinton described being taken to the basement at Area Two... his hands were handcuffed above his head, his pants and shorts were pulled down, his ankles were handcuffed to a pole so his legs were spread, and then "the officer with the mustache and with the glasses with the black hair, he came in with a rod, and one was carrying a box, a black box. . . . There was a cord to the long rod. . . . The handle on it was black and they plugged the wire into the box. . . . Then they put something in my mouth . . . it was cloth . . . and they tied it so I couldn't holler. . . . Then they took the rod, long part, and they placed it under my genitals. . . . [It was] a pain out of this world. I couldn't describe it. . . . They said, 'Are you ready to talk yet?' The other said, 'I don't think he's ready to talk yet.' He hit me with it again. . . . Then . . . he touched it in the crack of my rectum. . . . Then he took that [cloth] out of my mouth. I said, 'I am ready to talk. Tell me what you want me to say, sir. Please stop." 

(From John Conroy 'The Mysterious Third Device' in Chicago Reader: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-mysterious-third-device/Content?oid=917880)

One can imagine similar ways in which the Dominatrix puts the Violet Ray device to use for fantasy interrogation and torture play. The Violet Ray device having the ability to be able to be "dialled up" in intensity, literally by dialling the nob on the device to its highest setting. Or it can likewise be dialled down, and used for more sensory or teasing effect.

 

REASON 3) MISTRESS MAGPIE COLLECTORS

Dominatrices are consummate collectors. They love their Christian Louboutin shoes, their exquisite boned corsets, their rare smoked dragon canes and hand-crafted whips. Many have long 'Wishlists' of coveted items - to be bought and brought to them by their devoted slaves.

So it should be unsurprising that the Violet Ray should appeal to their magpie impulse. Bright - tick, shiny - tick. Beautiful objects within their own right, which are also held by major museum collections - tick.

Disclaimer note: If you are so inspired reading about these vintage devices that you decide to get one, please do ensure that it's really thoroughly checked-over by a qualified electrician or expert in these devices. It's very likely parts of it will need replacement, careful testing and regular servicing to ensure their safety.

 

  


Designing an Education Salon May 08 2017

Victorian school room inspiration.  

 

Sometimes I get the hardest gigs...(with sarcasm). I've just recently been brought on to convert a space into an Education Salon for teaching BDSM and kink in Melbourne.

 

I have in the past been contacted by a couple wanting to my design skills on setting up a dungeon-style room in their home. And I regularly get asked for advice on the best portable equipment for travel bags. (Including forewarning of airport security scanning embarassment and confiscations... that's a whole other post.) 

 

However this is quite different in that the room is dedicated to education. And as such, I am taking inspiration from Victorian flagellation school rooms, museums of curiosities, and the traditional Parisian salons of intelligentsia.

 

Flagellation being carried out by an historic Governess, Library of Congress collection.

 

I am eager for the room to have a version of English Governess Theresa Berkley's 1828 design of a flogging frame, named 'The Berkley Horse' (or Berkley Chevalet). A high quality image of the device features in my book, 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', from the original print reproduced in 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' by Pisanus Fraxi - the psuedonym of the 'Victorian erotomaniac' Henry Spencer Ashbee. 

 

As far as I am aware, this will be the first Berkley Horse in Australia. I know of one other modern adaption of it in the world, in the collection of USA Dominatrix Irene Boss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Berkley Horse, designed by Theresa Berkley 1828. Right: USA Dominatrix Irene Boss's modern version of the Berkley Horse.

 

Melbourne is already blessed to have a number of devoted BDSM and kink spaces in existence, which speaks to the rich local scene. The suburb of Brunswick in Melbourne features Splinter Cell - a BDSM, Fetish and Alternative Education Center, Rope Bite and other events held at Pulse Studios, and Tantra Rope Bondage held at AKA Studio in East Brunswick. While other BDSM and kink events regularly feature in various hotels, bars and coffee houses in Collingwood and Melbourne city on any specified night, from munches and meet-ups, to events like Provocation. However such events are designed to best serve the more socially extrovert, lifestyle players and people who are 'out' in their kink interests.

 

The Education Salon is designed to cater to the desire for 1-on-1 lessons for women on how to dominate an intimate partner, rather than public play. Such is the strength of interest in BDSM and kink learning - driven by women, that the Education Salon is now to be set up for purpose. To which I am being given opportunity to apply my skills in design, history and education, to help create an Education Salon for women to learn.

 

I look forward to posting photographs of the in-progress or finished Education Room. Watch this space, as they say!

Oh and yes I welcome any historic equipment or contribution that anyone wishes to make to the Education Salon collection...

 

With thanks, Anne O Nomis.

 

 


Mistress & Dominatrix training using 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' April 26 2017

Above: Governess Elizabeth of London Dominatrix School

Back when I was writing 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', I wanted to follow the history with a discussion of what it was that Dominatrices "do" with their clients.

Up until that point, the main manner in which to describe their activities was an alphabetical A-Z of each activity. This seemed not the best approach to me, so I instead attempted an ambitious project - or theorizing their activities as 'Seven Realm Arts'©. (To which I can now add a © "copyright")

I was in Hanoi, Vietnam when I was writing the book. I had journeyed there for three months with the express intention of finishing putting all the research and images on the Dominatrix's history together into a narrative. And I shall never forget the anxiety and concentration I felt on the week I began to write the chapter on the Dominatrices art, for I knew the Dominatrices themselves all over the world would read it and have their own interpretation. And, by way of context, many Dominatrices have degrees in psychology, or even PhDs in psychology. (It's become something of a cliché that Dominatrices end up becoming expert psychologists, Dr such-and-such under their real name, but having gained much of their experience and knowledge through domination.) 

So... no pressure right? I'm writing about what a Dominatrix does for the academic and historical record in my book, which is going to be in essence - peer-reviewed by Dominatrices. 

What I came up with was 'The Seven Realm Arts' which is Chapter V of my book:

Realm Art I - The Art of the Sublime & Powerful Woman

Realm Art II - The Art of lowering the man to submission

Realm Art III - The Art of bondage, entrapment and enclosure

Realm Art IV - The Art of discipline, training and punishment

Realm Art V - The Art of the bodily and the 'out-of-body'

Realm Art VI - The Art of cross-dressing and subversion

Realm Art VII - The Art of fetish and fantasy

This was my best attempt at a framework to theorize and describe what a Dominatrix 'does' in her dungeon or playspace.

I was rightfully very nervous when the book came out, as to how the Dominatrices themselves would receive this. Women who I had never met, who were highly intelligent, highly trained, many with very advanced educational and academic backgrounds.

Well they liked it. In fact they liked it so much that it's become the major curriculum book at most dungeons and Mistress training establishments around the world. And the interest of Dominatrix training centres is centred not merely on the history but specifically on that Chapter V - 'The Seven Realm Arts'© within 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'.

Governess Elizabeth (who I've never met or been acquainted with) has just recently written a blog entry on her website about my book, recommending it for her London Dominatrix School. And she describes my book as a "much beloved possession". Awww - bless. :)

Miss Couple who is Head Mistress of the world's oldest BDSM training chateau, La Domaine Esemar, located just out of New York, also utilizes the book for her Mistress training course. The structure of the Mistress training course has been developed from 'The Seven Realm Arts' structural understanding of BDSM (which Miss Couple has developed to her own needs for training).

I've also recently been contacted by Simone Justice in the USA, who trains Mistresses through her Dommecraft Mistress training school.  

Above: Simone Justice of Dommecraft

 

While Chicago Mistress Simone (not the same Mistress as Simone Justice - they both just happen to share the first name Simone) also offers BDSM education and undertook the significant review 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'. (It was published on the major BDSM site in the USA, Leatherati.)

I can see I need to put together a future blog post on where people can do Mistress training around the world....

 


More great reviews of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' January 21 2017

I keep belatedly hearing about online reviews of my book, referencing various people in the fetish community and professional Dominatrices.

So if you're wondering about the gap between when the review was written, I often only hear about them retrospectively.

- A Dominatrix reviews "The History & Arts of the Dominatrix" by Anne O Nomis (by Mistress Simone)

- An Elegant Tapestry of Scandalous History and the Women who Lived It... Bella Bloodlust reviews 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'  (by Mistress Bella Bloodlust)

Review: The History & Arts of the Dominatrix by Anne O Nomis by BDSM Book Reviews (by Book Addict)

- and the official Library Journal Review.

- Review: Domme de Plume - "The History & Arts of the Dominatrix" Review by NUTSR4U 

 


"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman" (Virginia Woolf) January 15 2017

 

In Virginia Woolf's 1929 essay, A Room of One's Own, Woolf noted,

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman".

Her essay was based on a series of lectures delivered the previous year at Newnham College and Girton College - two women's colleges of the University of Cambridge, England. 

The issue of anonymity - and pseudonymity (use of a pen name) - is a very relevant one in relation to my own work. I published The History & Arts of the Dominatrix under an author pseudonym of Anne O Nomis, a word-play on "Anonymous".

In doing so, I was following in a long history of female authors that chose to use a nom de plume - a pen name - rather than their "real" name.

Jane Austen is one of the most noteworthy of the 19th Century women to publish anonymously. Beginning with 'Sense and Sensibility' in 1811, with the cover page listing the author only as 'BY A LADY'.

The Brontë sisters, afraid of their work being judged differently it was revealed they were women, chose to use male pen names for their work, with a book of poems with the names Currer Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell.

Charlotte Brontë published her works (including her well known novel Jane Eyre, 1847) under the psuedonym Currer Bell.  Emily Brontë published Wuthering Heights (1847) under the name of Ellis Bell. While Anne Brontë wrote Agnes Gray (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1948) under the name Acton Bell. 

For astute readers, their choice in pen name retained the same initials - C (Charlotte --> Currer), E (Emily -->Ellis) and A (Anne--> Acton), with their last name initial B (Brontë --> Bell).

Aside from the gender considerations behind the historical use of pen names, the other relevant driver of psuedonyms has historically been by authors writing on sex.

The Victorian Memoir of a man's sexual initiation was published as My Secret Life by Walter in around 1888 and reprinted repeatedly in subsequent years. The author's real identity is often ascribed as likely being Henry Spencer Ashbee, referred to as a Victorian gentleman and erotomaniac due to his extensive collection of erotica. 

Henry Spencer Ashbee did certainly write Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books) under a psuedonym of Pisanus Fraxi. This pen name was a conglomeration of "Fraxinus" (meaning Ash) and "Apis" (meaning Bee), so cleverly referring to Ashbee's surname. While the book is a bibliography of the erotic and "forbidden books" known to Ashbee, including a section entry on Flagellation.

Above: Frontispiece with illustrations of putti whipping (top) and burning books (centre), of Index Librorum Prohibitorum by Pisanus Fraxi. The name is the psuedonym used by Victorian erotomaniac Henry Spencer Ashbee. 

Story of O, one of the most famous fictional works involving BDSM, was published in 1954 under the pen name Pauline Réage. Many people believed the book could only have been written by a man. However the writer's true identity and gender was not revealed until some four decades later. At an interview with a British journalist for The Observer in 1994, an 86-year-old intellectual called Dominique Aury acknowledged herself as the author of the book. That was not to be the end of the story of psuedonymity however. As Dominique Aury was itself a psuedonym, of Anne Cécile Desclos, born 23 September 1907 in Rochefort-sur-Mer, France. She died two years later, on 26 April 1998 (at age 90) in Paris, France.

The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour was published in 2005, based on her web diary blog of Summer 2003 to Autumn 2004. The pen name was taken from the famous French film 'Belle de Jour' starring Catherine Deneuve. Many journalists thought the blog was written by a man, with various names (of both sexes) put forward as the likely author. However when tabloid journalists finally did get onto the correct trail towards identifying and outing the real identity of the author, (tipped off it would seem by an ex-boyfriend,) the author beat them to the punch - outing herself, as Dr Brooke Magnanti.

My own choice to use a psuedonym was driven by concern to avoid limiting my job opportunities - due to the stigma attached to the dungeon apprenticeship, work and subject of the Dominatrix as a niche within sex work. Alongside the concern for my family coming from a small town, and media interest in reporting the book.

Dr Brooke Magnanti considers that once outed it has affected her not getting jobs within her field, due to stigma around her being a former call-girl and the publicity of her book, although it cannot be proved with certainty. 

It's an issue on my mind as I am currently writing a second book within the field of sexuality. This time covering some three millennia of Goddesses of sexuality, their rituals, ancient sex songs and hymns, artwork and artifacts. My new book in progress crosses into material that will be controversial to fundamentalist Christians and Jews, in dealing with God's consort Asherah and biblical passages on Lady Wisdom and the foreign adulteress, and argues 'Song of Songs' as being derived from the tradition of ritual sex songs used in Goddess cults in the Middle East, Levant and Cyprus.

           

Some of my claims will rile some people, clashing with their beliefs and internal shame relating to sexuality and religion. However I feel it's an important contribution to make to the field of sexuality and history, and it's a history which is largely known only to archaeologists and ancient history scholars. I've recently had a baby daughter and cancer, and it's a book I want to complete and get out / birth into the world.

So whether to publish under my pen name or real name, there are pros and cons of each. And myriad concerns, for one's own livelihood, ability to work freely, safety, academic and social reputation, credibility, family to consider... it's not an easy decision. 

 


Stuff Mom Never Told You - Feature on the Dominatrix October 08 2015

A podcast featured on 'Stuff Mom Never Told You' explores the Dominatrix, and does it very well. It's a 48 minute podcast with dialogue between Cristen and Caroline as part of Kink Week. They discuss the Dominatrix image in fashion, in photography from Man Ray, Helmut Newton, through to the history of the professional Dominatrix and what she does for her clients. (Length: 48 mins, 33 secs)

My research on the Dominatrix (from 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix') is mentioned a number of times within the segment, including on erotic flagellation, along with that of other academics - including Danielle Lindemann. 

You can listen to the Dominatrix podcast at: http://www.stuffmomnevertoldyou.com/podcasts/the-professional-dominatrix/

 


Book review on American website "Leatherati" January 13 2015

        

 

I was sitting in the library in Melbourne, Australia, when a review of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' dropped live onto the the major American website 'Leatherati'. For those of you unfamiliar with Leatherati, it's one of the most significant websites in the USA for the BDSM community and "leather people" - a more inclusive term for the community which expanded from "leather men" of the mid-20th Century.

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' was reviewed by Mistress Simone, one of the USA's most well-respected Dominatrices and herself an author and writer.  

To read the full book review of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' at Leatherati go to:

http://www.leatherati.com/2015/01/a-dominatrix-reviews-the-history-art-of-the-dominatix-by-anne-o-nomis/


My book now in the curriculum of Mistress training at Chateau La Domaine Esemar December 18 2014

La Domaine Esemar, World's oldest BDSM Training Chateau, USA

 

I am delighted to report that the world's oldest BDSM training chateau, La Domaine Esemar, has sought permission to use 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' as part of their curriculum for training Mistresses.

La Domaine Esemar was established nearly two decades ago, in 1993, by Master R. It has a reputation as one of the premier training establishments in the world. La Domaine Esemar is located around three hours drive from New York, and under an hour from Albany, in the foothills of the Berkshires. It takes 'MITs' (Masters-In-Training / Mistresses-In-Training) lengthy training - typically of a year or longer - to develop the arts of BDSM and hone their skills.   

Of late years, Master R has been joined at La Domaine Esemar by a talented Mistress known as 'Miss Couple'. Her name reflects her identity as a 'walking dichotomy'.

 

Portrait of Master R and Miss Couple at La Domaine Esemar

 

Miss Couple has a degree in psychology and choreography, reflecting her many talents, and began her training at La Domaine Esemar in 2010. Her own journey took her from exploring submission to eventually qualifying as a professional trained Mistress. Now as Head Mistress of La Domaine Esemar, she passes on the batten of wisdom to others on their own journey, from a full 360 degree knowledge (having herself experienced the full circle of submission and domination). 

Miss Couple has organized for the first time in 2015 to have a 'Weekend Intensive' of Mistress training, for those who wanting to expand their knowledge base of BDSM and learn Dominant skills. It will be run on January 23rd - January 25th, 2015 at La Domaine Esemar's training chateau.

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' books are being couriered over by DHL to La Domaine Esemar, forming part of the curriculum taught there for the course. Miss Couple shares my belief that getting to know the history of the Dominatrix helps understand the Dominatrix's role and her 'arts'. Indeed the 'Seven Realm Arts' section of my book will also form part of the framework for the training itself.

I plan to get over to La Domaine Esemar myself sometime in 2015, to see Miss Couple & Master R. In the meantime I send all my best wishes to them and the new Mistresses-in-training.

For more information on the Mistress Training Intensive: http://www.ladomaine.com/workshops/
For more about La Domaine Esemar: http://www.ladomaine.com/

 

    

Mistresses practicing their arts, with 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book now on the curriculum.

 


Author Anne O Nomis interview with Slutist USA December 18 2014

I was recently interviewed by journalist Coco Te Amo on my book 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'. Here I answer her questions on the impetus for the book, the notion of the Dominatrix's 'arts', the body politic, and the banning of the book by Chinese officials.

You can read the interview at Slutist: Tarting up the Body Politic in Shameless Fashion:

http://slutist.com/the-history-arts-of-the-dominatrix-an-interview-with-anne-o-nomis/

 


Author Talk in Melbourne Australia November 18 2014

      
  
On the 4th and 9th December, 2014, I gave author talks on the History & Arts of the Dominatrix, in Melbourne Australia.  

 

         

 

The talks were hosted at Passionfruit - The Sensuality Shop, in their private salon room, with a slideshow on the history of the Dominatrix through the ages. The talk went for around an hour and a half, a similar format to the one I gave at the Freud Museum in London, and was thoroughly enjoyed by those who came along. All copies of the book were sold out, but I've since had additional copies sent over from Singapore which have just arrived in stock. I managed to autograph copies there on request, some of which I'm sure are due to make beautiful Christmas presents! 

 

404 Bridge Rd, Richmond 3121, Melbourne, Australia

Tel +61 3 9421 3391 


Massad favourably reviews 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' October 31 2014

The International interest in 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' has been ongoing, and reviews coming in from across the world.  

This last month, the famous Dutch fetish magazine, Massad featured a review of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' (Volume 269; pp.70, 72). The magazine is edited by Bert Wibo - a legend in the Dutch and International fetish scene.

Some of the 20th Century underground fetish photographs of 'bizarre' ladies (as they were then known) were taken by Bert Wibo back in the 1970s. As I explained in my book, these magazine editors were networked into the underground scene, and the few surviving material which exist from the era, including archival photographs and accounts of the underground women who made their subversive career in domination.  

It's an honour to hear that Bert Wibo - who holds some of the best knowledge in the world on the subject - has reviewed my book so favourably. 

The History & Arts of the Dominatrix

Je weet, dat je "oud" wordt, wanneer in een boek over de Geschiedenis van de Meesteres jouw foto's met bronvermelding worden gebruikt en je door de auteur wordt bedankt in het nawoord. Anne O Nomis heeft de afgelopen jaren onderzoek verricht naar het fenomeen Meesteres en besloot daar een boek over te schrijven, waarbij ze alle facetten van dit beroep (of roeping) de revu laat passeren. Alles is uitgebreid onderzocht en onderbouwd en het resultaat is een heel lessbaar, soms ook heel herkenbaar boek geworden dat ook menig Nederlandse geinterresseerde liefhebber zal aanspreken. 

De auteur gaat nader in op de persoon van een Meesteres, maar vertelt over de verschillen de technieken, haalt voorbeelden aan en is in haar beschrijvingen van de materie soms heel erg grafisch, zodat er weinig aan de fantasie wordt overgelaten. Het boek is te verkrijgen via Amazon.com of Amazon.co.uk...

Een absolute aanrader en leuk om met dit boek terug te gaan in tijd near Meesteressen zoals Kitty uit Rotterdam en Bea uit Amsterdam, of meer te lezen over de legendarische Monique von Cleef.

Roughly translated with the help of Google Translate (and I'll attempt to update and refine this when I can find someone who speaks Dutch!): 

You know that you are "old", when your photos with source are used in a book about the history of the Mistress, and you thanked by the author in the afterword. Anne O Nomis has in recent years researched into the phenomenon of the Mistress out there, and decided to write a book about where she shows all facets of this profession (or calling) as it appears through history. All has been thorougly researched and evidence-based and the result of this is an easy-to-read and sometimes recognizable book that will appeal to the interested Dutch reader.

The author elaborates on the occupation of the Mistress, the different techniques, and cites examples in her descriptions of graphic subject matter, and little is left to the imagination. Her book is available from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk...

Highly recommended and fun to go with this book back in time to Mistresses such Kitty from Rotterdam, and Bea from Amsterdam, or read more about the legendary Monique von Cleef. 

(From Massad Magazine, 2014, Vol 269, pp.70, 72)

 

 Vintage polaroid of Monique Von Cleef in her 'House of Pain' in The Hague, signed by the famous Dominatrix herself - which she gifted to magazine editor David Jackson, included in my book along with images taken by Bert Wibo in Holland.


Dominatrix book banned in China - now a 'forbidden book' October 08 2014

 

Flag of the People's Republic of China

 

Book censorship has a long history in China. The First Emperor oversaw the burning of Confucian texts in 213 B.C. In the 20th Century, Chinese officials busied themselves with banning of books. In the 1960s and 70s, foreign books by J.D Salinger and Arthur Conan Doyle were banned books. Students reportedly resorted to hand-writing copies and binding them in string, to circulate them to their peers. [Source: Evan Osnos 'China's Censored World' in New York Times, May 2, 2014]

However in more recent times, the rules governing foreign titles in China were supposedly relaxed. This hasn't stopped 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' being confiscated by officials. Book orders sent out to buyers in China are simply not arriving. No notice is being served. No documentation is sent to buyers to let them know why their book has been confiscated. The book simply vanishes into thin air. Meanwhile a search on Amazon kindle in China comes up with the message:  没有找到任何与 "The History & Arts of the Dominatrix" 相关的商品

The book itself makes no criticism of China, nor even discusses China. So one can only guess that it's the topic - Dominant female sexuality, or discussing censorship in general within the book - that the Chinese authorities have taken exception to. 

 

Archival photograph of Nazi burning of books, Berlin, 1933

They are of course not the first ideological regime to ban books. The Nazi regime banned books written by Jewish authors. The Catholic church had their 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' (Index of Forbidden Books), which featured books deemed subversive to their ideology - by Galileo, Pascal, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Immanuel Kant, Descartes, Voltaire, Casanova, Francis Bacon, Balzac, Emile Zola, Marquis de Sade, Madame de Stael, John Stuart Mill, Georges Sand, Martin Luther, John-Paul Satre, and through to the feminist author Simone de Beauvoir. 

The Victorian author Henry Spencer Ashbee referenced in making his own bibliographic index of erotica in 1877 - under the pseudonym of Pisanus Fraxi. And indeed books dealing with sexuality have regularly drawn censorship.

 

Illustration showing books being burnt, referencing the Catholic Church's banning and burning of books 

in illustration for Frontispiece of Pisanus Fraxi (Henry Spencer Ashbee) 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' (1877)

 

John Cleland's 1748 book 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' (and better known as 'Fanny Hill') saw the author and publisher thrown into prison, and the book withdrawn from print. Copies circulated between friends and were sold 'under the counter'. Indeed due to the taboo of books dealing with topic such as sexuality and flagellation, book publishers would often publish very small runs, and circulate them by mail order to avoid scrutiny.

D.H Lawrence's 1928 book 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was originally printed in Florence, and released only in censored form. While Penguin Books were tried in court in 1960 over their edition, under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959. Penguin were ultimately to win the trial, which examined the value of books "in the interests of science, literature, art or learning, or of other objects of general concern". The R v Penguin Books case was to usher in an era of more liberalization of publishing in the United Kingdom.

Forbidden books have subversively functioned for me as a list of books to be read! My own view on censorship of books features in page 112 of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', and may be another reason the Chinese authorities banned my book. I write:

"In general, that which a person or institution bans, burns, locks away, censors or marks with a red ‘X’, they simultaneously mark as holding power. Those who most busy themselves in banning books and information, index their own belief system in torrent and contradiction at odds with reality. They censor what echoes with some kernel of truth, and with it an immense power, conflicting with or contradicting the ideology that they seek to impose – by force – on everyone else."

(Anne O Nomis 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' 2013 Mary Egan Publishing & Anna Nomis Ltd, UK, p.112) 

 

 

Anne O Nomis 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' (2013)

Mary Egan Publishing & Anna Nomis Ltd, UK, ISBN 978-0-9927010-0-0

 


Russian intelligence meets the Dominatrix August 25 2014

I was interviewed at the Barbican Centre in London by Russian language magazine website, Honeymilk, on the topic of the Dominatrix and my book. For those of you who understand Russian, the interview is up at: http://honeymilk.org/dominatrix/

 

 

 

It has apparently been garnering much interest and debate amongst Russian readers. (I unfortunately don't speak Russian, so am more or less in the dark until I meet up with a Russian friend in a few weeks time.)

 

 

Vintage image of Dominatrix Nicole de Carje, Herbertstrasse, Hamburg, Germany.

 

Adding to the foreign language interest, a review of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' is also coming up in famous Dutch fetish magazine, Massad. In fact, some of the rare vintage photographs featured in the book were taken a long time ago by Massad editor, Bert Wibo. So I can only hope he was pleased with the resulting book. No doubt they would have brought up fond memories of Dominatrices long since retired or passed.

A German website is also undertaking a major review of the book. This is fitting as the book itself features snapshots in time and place of women working in the profession of female domination in the Hague during the 1970s, and the Herberstrasse in the early 1980s. I shall post the links as they all emerge in the next few months for those who speak Dutch and German. Watch this space.


'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' goes into major libraries all over the world July 24 2014


'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' has been ordered by acquisitions departments of major university libraries all over the world. There is a time-lag between their acquisition and cataloguing, however I will try and keep this list updated for students and academics who are wanting to access the book for their research.

 

Trinity College Library in Dublin

 

AVAILABLE FROM THE FOLLOWING LIBRARIES: 

UNITED KINGDOM:

USA:

Thomas Nelson Community College Library, Virginia, VA 23666, USA - Thomas Nelson, Hampton Stacks (on order - request at library circulation desk) In processing - updated
 

 

Library Journal Review:

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'

(Author) Nomis, Anne O

ISBN 9780992701000

Elusive author Nomis sheds light on a mysterious underground world in this fascinating exploration of female dominatrices. Beginning with the ancient worship of dominatrix goddesses as early as 7400 BCE, she continues through secular domination practices in 17th- to 19th-century England (such as flogging houses), which were spurred by the rise of patriarchal monotheistic religions and schoolhouse corporal punishment. Nomis explains that the characteristic fetish "style" did not appear until the late 1950s, when the dominatrix herself truly carved out her niche as an erotic icon. She concludes with seven "realms" of the art of domination, discussing the nuanced dynamics of dominant/submissive relationships and fetishism in general. This book might not contain a slew of new observations for those well versed in sexuality studies, but the unconventional analysis reinvigorates even the most familiar concepts. It is obvious that Nomis dedicated years of research to compile an engaging, sympathetic history of a well-concealed subculture. The book provides exciting commentary on shifting attitudes toward sex, female power, and female sexuality across different time periods and regions, complete with dazzling visual aids and artifacts. VERDICT Recommended for collections with high demand for sociology and anthropology titles, particularly on the subjects of gender and sexuality.

(Review by Ashleigh Williams, Library JournalLibrary Journal Booksmack! LJXpress Prepub School Library Journal Horn Book Guide Horn Book Magazine Junior Library Guild)

Reviewed on MARCH 15, 2014  |  Social Sciences


The Nordic model & its threat to the the Dominatrix June 23 2014

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' was cited in an article in the New Statesman published on the 16th June:

 

The journalist behind the article, who writes under the name Margaret Corvid is herself a Dominatrix. She asked these questions of me in email correspondence: 

How do the archetypes of the dominatrix - whether the 18th and 19th century versions you write about, or the dominatrices of the 20th century influenced by Atomage, etc - influence mainstream culture today?
The Dominatrix has had a major influence on mainstream culture. The Dominatrix is an archetype of female sexual power, who in the 20th Century became the embodiment of 'bizarre' style and embraced diverse sexualities. The influence of the Dominatrix permeates popular culture. From Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (who famously sang "shiny shiny, shiny boots of leather"), to John Sutcliffe's costume design and leather catsuits worn by strong female TV and film protagonists, to Vivienne Westwood's punk-era work with Malcolm Maclaren for SEX boutique, and Madonna - whose costumes borrowed from the Dominatrix. Today you can see the influence of the Dominatrix's fetish attire and powerful sexuality  taken up my numerous performers, from Rhianna's S&M, to Beyonce's on stage persona of Sasha Fierce, and Lady Gaga's bizarre rubber latex creations.

 

(Around the time I was writing this, a V magazine shoot came out featuring Katy Perry and Madonna featuring BDSM and Dominatrix imagery)
V Magazine - Katy Perry & Madonna - publicity pre-release
 

 

In your analysis of early incarnations of the dominatrix you spoke (fascinatingly) about the archaeological approach to reconstructing a culture not only based on its tools of war and farming, but on its records and implements of beauty and sexuality.  Taking this perspective forward to the contemporary dominatrix, who carries on traditions dating back to the eighteenth century and before, is there a historical preservation argument in favour of the protection of the institution of the dominatrix?
The Dominatrix has historically embraced diverse sexualities - of those who identify as sexual submissives, cross-dressers, trannies, sissies and slaves in erotic powerplay. In ancient Mesopotamia, the Goddess Inanna had special cult officiants of diverse sexual and gender identities, many of whom appear to have been bestowed with special roles in ritual and musical performance, and special cult hairdressers and beautification roles also also recorded in cunneiform tablets. My friends at dinner parties are always amused to hear that the Goddess Inanna's kohl eye mascara was called "let a man come, let him come" in translation. However to beautify and put on jewelry was to take up sacred erotic power, a tradition which went right through to the Goddesses Aphrodite and Venus.
What I found was that in Britain, despite patriarchal attempts to control and passify female sexuality, the practice of female dominance and erotic power was carried on by Dominatrices. They were known by different titles, the 'female flagellant', 'whipstress', or by the female authority roles they played - as a dominant 'lady justice', 'school-mistress' or 'governess' (said with a wink), and included women such as the famous Theresa Berkley who operated near modern-day Portland Place in London. At a time when few options were available to women other than hard manual labour or 'marrying up', these women stand out as savvy erotic entrepreneurs. Their clientele included parliamentarians and the upper classes as well as all other strata of society, and the Dominatrices crafted their own self-image, developed equipment and practices which are as specialist as any craft profession. 

 

'The Berkley Horse' designed by Dominatrix Governess
Theresa Berkley, from 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' illustrated in my book.

 

There is an argument to be made that the Dominatrix is an important part of culture and society, albeit operating along its liminal edges, where the floating crust of civilization drops into a bubbling magma of underground desire. We need however an amount of her heat, gases and minerals to be brought to the surface we inhabit. The Dominatrix taps into this world of suppressed desires and identities, relieving its pressures. 
Her dungeon door is a kind of gateway between the normal world of society's pressures, and a place of play and subversion in which the fixed social and gender roles are relieved. In her space, the man is relieved of the weight of having to be dominant and 'in-charge', responsible, competitive with other men; paradoxically freed in the Dominatrix's fetters to explore identity and subversive desire. There is a correlation too I think to the popularity of carnivals and fancy-dress, of occasional escape from everyday normalcy and the mundane, and England also has a thriving underground fetish scene hosting events such as 'Torture Garden'  - which Dominatrices attend and take active roles in.

 

Mistress Darcy opening door to her realm, NYC, by photographer Ian Reid.
Image illustrated in 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'

 

As to the law around sex work, England should be looking to its young Commonwealth relative, New Zealand. In New Zealand, sex work is decriminalized and paired with education agencies freely accessed by sex workers. Is it working? Yes! A similar system has also been implemented in New South Wales in Australia, with great success. Why aren't politicians looking to the system in New Zealand? The answer is staggering. It's simply for lack of the air fare and long haul to get there. It's easier to fly to Nordic countries or Europe. Yet New Zealand is a much better model for England, and has many similarities in common law. I would urge Dominatrices everywhere to tie down politicians and whip them until they agree to at least take a look at New Zealand's model. I would add that New Zealand was also the first place in the world to give women the vote.

 

Anne O Nomis (2014)


Anne O Nomis arrives back from Cyprus into London April 24 2014

As many of you will be aware, I have been off on an incredible adventure to Cyprus, where I have been undertaking research for my second book, 'Flight of the Goddess'. It covers the journey of the Goddess through millennia, and takes in artworks from the Middle East, Levant and Cyprus. Here are a few photographs from my field trip.

 

 

The Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Kouklia, in 'Old Paphos', which was looking very moody on my arrival. 

 

The site of Amathous, near Limassol (Lemesos), Cyprus.

 

I am busy undertaking more research at the British Museum, and from a long list of publications, articles and books on the Goddess over long duration.

Meanwhile 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' books are journeying off all over the world. I find it very fascinating to see such a diverse range of countries where my book babies are finding new homes, in libraries and dungeons.

As well as being able to order via my website, the book is also available in select erotic boutiques: 

Stockroom (USA), 2809½ West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA.

Weblink: http://www.stockroom.com/The-History-and-Arts-of-the-Dominatrix-P5270.aspx

 

Coco de Mer (UK), 23 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DD, London, UK.

Weblink: http://www.coco-de-mer.com/products/the-history-arts-of-the-dominatrix-by-anne-o-nomis/

 

So for those who prefer to check out a book before buying, you have the opportunity to go into a store and see the book in person. I am hoping also to give a salon talk on the history of the Dominatrix at Coco de Mer in Covent Garden while I am back in London. I will keep you all posted!

 

x Anne O Nomis


Limited edition available in the USA from Stockroom March 13 2014

 

 

The limited edition copies of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' are now available in the USA, from erotic & BDSM boutique, Stockroom USA. You can check out the book at the Stockroom retail store, 2809 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. Or purchase the limited edition online, shipped anywhere within the USA, at: 
 

 

 

 


Great review from Library Journal - recommending 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' March 01 2014


 

Anticipation of a book review from Library Journal was first sparked by this blog entry from their website, on Library Journal staffers' current reads: 

Ashleigh Williams, Bookroom Assistant, LJ
My current obsession is The History & Arts of the Dominatrix, self-published by elusive author Anne O. Nomis. Rife with facts, statistics, and exclusive images, this book has kept me enthralled from start to (almost) finish. The accompanying photos of the classic “dom” as she evolves over time are just one of the many highlights. I’m having far too much fun making people uncomfortable on subways and in coffee shops once again!"

http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2014/02/in-the-bookroom/spies-lovers-ww-ii-what-were-reading/

 

A few weeks on, the much-awaited review has just been posted on Library Journal - Reviews, officially out on March 15th (Library Journal).

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'

(Author) Nomis, Anne O

ISBN 9780992701000

Elusive author Nomis sheds light on a mysterious underground world in this fascinating exploration of female dominatrices. Beginning with the ancient worship of dominatrix goddesses as early as 7400 BCE, she continues through secular domination practices in 17th- to 19th-century England (such as flogging houses), which were spurred by the rise of patriarchal monotheistic religions and schoolhouse corporal punishment. Nomis explains that the characteristic fetish "style" did not appear until the late 1950s, when the dominatrix herself truly carved out her niche as an erotic icon. She concludes with seven "realms" of the art of domination, discussing the nuanced dynamics of dominant/submissive relationships and fetishism in general. This book might not contain a slew of new observations for those well versed in sexuality studies, but the unconventional analysis reinvigorates even the most familiar concepts. It is obvious that Nomis dedicated years of research to compile an engaging, sympathetic history of a well-concealed subculture. The book provides exciting commentary on shifting attitudes toward sex, female power, and female sexuality across different time periods and regions, complete with dazzling visual aids and artifacts. VERDICT Recommended for collections with high demand for sociology and anthropology titles, particularly on the subjects of gender and sexuality.

(Review by Ashleigh Williams, Library JournalLibrary Journal Booksmack! LJXpress Prepub School Library Journal Horn Book Guide Horn Book Magazine Junior Library Guild)

Reviewed on MARCH 15, 2014  |  Social Sciences


A room with a view... if she is to write February 25 2014

Room in Hanoi where I wrote
'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'

 

Virginia Woolf famously noted that "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write...". Woolf was referring to fiction, although I think the same applies of non-fiction. Space, glorious space to oneself. Natural light to bolt the body's circadian rhythms into action each morning. And, I would add, a local dealer or supply of caffeine drug. 

 

Having undertaken the research for my book in museums, libraries and dungeons of the world; predominantly Australia, the UK and the USA, I decided to go to Hanoi to finish up the writing of my book, over a 3 month period. Why Hanoi? The considerations were threefold. I hadn't had a proper Summer in years, with my European summers usually cut into by the annual visa pilgrimage back to the Southern hemisphere Antipodes and into Winter, meaning I only got about a month of Summer for four years running. So criteria 1, was somewhere that would be warm and sunny in April. Secondly it had to be somewhere "cheap and cheerful", where I could afford to be off work for 3 months, with inexpensive accommodation. And lastly, I wanted to be somewhere exotic that I hadn't been to before, with healthy and nourishing food. I settled on Vietnam, and in particular the French colonial flavoured city of Hanoi in the North. 

 

Street scene in Old Quarter of Hanoi 

I booked a cheap 2 star hotel in the old quarter which had cheery reviews on Trip Advisor. And I flew off into the exotic unknown with relative confidence. It was a great trip. I achieved exactly what I set out to do, finishing up my book. Breakfasts of fresh fruit, cheese, toast, and fabulous coffee. Who knew Vietnam had such amazing coffee?? Amongst the best I've had in the world, with selections of coffees that are passed through the bodies of animals such as civets, to come out the other end in their feces, with the beans processed and sterilized to make the world's best coffee. So thanks to 'shit coffee', warm weather, light, and friendly people, I had the perfect environment to finish off my book. 

 

I write this as I prepare to depart to another location to write my second book,- the island of Cyprus. I am due to leave in just over 2 weeks time, to undertake final research and writing of 'Flight of the Goddess'. I've begun packing, and my suitcase is already half-full of articles, books and reference material.

 
The island of Cyprus, where I will be based to research and write my
second non-fiction book, 'Flight of the Goddess'.

Online reviews... January 30 2014

As I wait on the official review from the Library Journal Book Review in the USA, various reviews have been cropping up on blog sites all over the place. 

Here's one of the latest, which is a very thorough and balanced review:

 'Domme de Plume' (A review of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix) at Nuts4R2

Update: Another brand new blog review has gone up at Her Majesty's Plaything

There are also reviews up on Amazon UK and Amazon.com 

 


'Uncovering the History of the Dominatrix' - Talk at Freud Museum, Sunday 9th February at 5.30 pm January 23 2014

On Sunday 9th February 2014 at 5.30 pm, I will be giving a talk on 'Uncovering the history of the Dominatrix' at the Freud Museum in London.

 

Freud's famous couch at the Freud Museum

 

I share Freud's love of archaeology, of digging into the psyche, and the past. I have discussed my research as a kind of "journey into the Underworld". It came about during my father's decline and imminent death from a rare form of cancer, and the appeal of the dungeon was of that of an 'otherworld realm', offering insight into matters of submission, suffering, accceptance, and people's deepest desires. 

And it was literally from the underground where much of my material came from. The excavated artifacts of cuneiform tablets and figurines to the Goddess Inanna (Ishtar) in ancient Mesopotamia, votives of Artemis Orthia on Sparta, and from the formerly buried Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii with its Whipstress figure. From museum storage and library vaults of the British Library 'Rare Books' collection, and 'forbidden books' called up from the deep for me to view under security camera, fragile and rare. And from within darkened and often lower-ground basement dungeons of Dominatrices, I gathered the formerly unexamined knowledge into their practices.   

  

Freud's collection includes Goddess figurines from the Levant and Mediterranean, including the Goddesses of sexuality, Astarte and Aphrodite. 

 

Were Freud around today, I'm sure he would have a lot to say about the contents of my book and the Dominatrix who who taps into suppressed desires, providing a safe space to her clients and offering 'play' within the psycho-sexual realm:

"The Dominatrix operates along civilization's fault lines, where its floating crust drops into a bubbling magma of underground desire. A chaotic and flowing heat, which we seek to suppress within our society and within ourselves, frightened by its power and potentially destructive properties. (We paint it as Dante's Inferno, a fiery hell, we rightly fear to tread.)

We need, however, an amount of heat, gases and minerals to be brought to the surface we inhabit. And indeed the Dominatrix taps into this word of suppressed desires and identities, relieving its pressures. She not only plays out fantasy, but raises jewels on self-knowledge, suffering, ecstasy, acceptance, mercy and wisdom." (Exert from Anne O Nomis 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' 2013, pp.24-25)

 

FORMAT OF TALK

I will be giving a one hour talk, presenting artwork and historical material from my recently published book by Powerpoint presentation. This will mainly focus on: 

- The Ancient Dominatrix Goddess & Her Priestess Initiates

Examining the Dominatrix as archetype of female sexual power, and iconographical representations of ancient Goddesses such as Cybele, Inanna / Ishtar, the 'Mistress of Animals' motif, Artemis Orthia, and Dominatrix rituals known from ritual texts and hymns. Brought together for the first time in my book, these include hymns which present Inanna as the all-powerful Goddess who makes men and Gods bow down in subservience to her, and performs rituals involving cross-dressing, punishment, pain and ecstasy, and games using a 'keppu' (which I postulate may be a whip). 

 

       

Left: Votive artifact from Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Sparta, where male adolescents were whipped in honour of the Goddess. (late 6th-early 5th Century BC); Right: Whipstress with wings on wall fresco of the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii. (pre 79 AD)

 

- The Female Flagellant Governesses of the 17th - 19th Century

Examining the secular profession of the Dominatrix as it emerges in surviving texts and prints, and which in England was more particularly absorbed with the female disciplinarian figure in various roles (as School-Mistress, Governess, Kept Mistress etc), and around which an entire craft of psycho-sexual expertise was developed. Much of the information comes from rare books including the Victorian erotomaniac Henry Spencer Ashbee's volume 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum' or Index of Forbidden Books, and a preface written by Mary Wilson in 'The Venus School-Mistress'.

    

Left: Flagellation engraving of English origin from Library of Congress (1752); Right: Erotic flagellation scene from frontispiece to 'The Use of Flogging in Veneral Affairs' in reprint edition by Edmund Curll (1718)   

The Dominatrix creates a special playspace as an 'otherworld realm'. It is variably a workshop and playroom of the Dominatrix's toys, a theatre of transformative performance, a school-room of female discipline, a medical room of bodily operation, a feminine boudoir of dress and gender rituals, and most ubiquitously - a subterranean dungeon chamber of torture and release. 

The Dominatrix and her domain have many riches to offer to the field human desire, brought up from the forbidden deep.  

EVENT INFORMATION:

'Uncovering the history of the Dominatrix' talk by Anne O Nomis

Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX, London

Tickets ₤15 per person, available from: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/uncovering-the-history-of-the-dominatrix-talk-by-archaeologist-author-anne-o-nomis-at-the-freud-tickets-10320429683?aff=estw

(Also option to purchase an autographed first edition book with ticket as part of a package)


For the design geeks - the making of a modern 'forbidden book' January 20 2014

As I was undertaking research in the British Library 'Rare Books' department, I sought out in particular one very special book. That was the manuscript copy of the Victorian 'erotomaniac' Henry Spencer Ashbee, a book he called 'Index Librorum Prohibitorum', or 'Index of Forbidden Books' (1877).

It included some of the most important passages on the Dominatrices of the preceding era, then known as Governesses or 'female flagellants'. I had to get special written permission from the curators of the British Library, with a time allocated to view, for which the book was drawn up from the deep, to be collected from the room's long desk, like an altar. I had to view it under video camera surveillance, and handle it with extreme care due to its fragility.

The book itself is beautifully produced to Ashbee's specifications, with scarlet red headings. It evokes the history of the 'forbidden books' which circulated between friends in Georgian and Victorian times.

So, when it came to designing 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', I managed to actually locate a rare copy of Ashbee's 1877 volume for inspiration, from an antiquarian book dealer. I arranged to courier the book over to New Zealand as a gift, to the offices of Anna Egan-Reid, book designer extraordinaire. Where she drew inspiration from its features; a nod to the historical format, while ensuring it retained a strongly contemporary feel.

Anna Egan-Reid has won awards for her book design, formerly while at Penguin Books, and now she works for her family-run company (with sister Sophia, and mother Mary Egan). You can see some of the features of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' below:

* Gold leaf Victorian frame

* Belly band extolling limited first edition

* Scarlet ribbon marker

* Scarlet red headings

* Specially chosen typographic fonts (read Anna's blog below for her 'eureka' moment)

* Dominatrix 'props' discreetly positioned in four corners of the frame

 

 

 

 Detail images of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' by Anne O Nomis

(Images courtesy of Anna Egan-Reid, of Mary Egan Publishing)

 

For design geeks (and we put ourselves in that group, Anna and I), you can read Anna Egan-Reid's own blog entry 'How We Whipped the Dominatrix Into Shape': http://maryegan.co.nz/articles/how-we-whipped-the-dominatrix-into-shape/


Happy readers in university libraries and other contexts! January 17 2014

It's always lovely to get feedback from happy readers. I've been receiving emails from people all around the world thanking me for putting together all the research on the Dominatrix for the first time into a book. 

I received this wonderful photograph today from renowned Dominatrix, Madame Caramel. Yes, that's 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book on her luscious lap, while she receives a foot massage from one of her subjects!

 

Photograph courtesy of Madame Caramel

 

Meanwhile 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' has found its way onto university reading lists, and is zipping its way around the world. It's one of the only scholarly books ever written on the subject of the Dominatrix, and I've had orders from a number of colleges, libraries and universities. I've been very careful to reference all my sources, and present it in a way that is suitable for students and professors, and illustrated with historical images through the ages.

I think my book babies must be very happy. For it's not many books who can claim their place in the most auspicious libraries of the world AND the dungeons (and laps) of world-famous Dominatrices.  

 

 

Library at University College London (UCL)

 


The History & Arts of the Dominatrix now available digitally ...on kindle, itunes, etc January 07 2014

 

'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' is available digitally as an e-book on all your personal devices including Amazon kindle, and Apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/history-arts-dominatrix/id787263852?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 and from Waterstones, and other online booksellers around the world.