Back in 2009 when I was undertaking my apprenticeship at the Dominas Realm dungeon (now closed), the senior Mistresses had a particular expression they used to describe a particular type of client.
The Do-Me sub.
"And what pray tell is a Do-Me sub?", you may ask.
The Do Me sub
A "Do Me sub" is someone who says they're a sub, before proceeding to tell you exactly what you are to do to them.
"I want to be dominated, and for you to take control of me Mistress. I want to be your toy. You will be wearing leather clothes, red or black which allow me to see your skin, for example, a small bra, a short leather skirt and very high heels. I sent photos ahead of how you'll be dressed - did you receive them?
I will present myself in front of you, kneeling down. Then you'll tie up my hands strongly. I am now your prisoner, your slave. Then you will walk around me, caress me or strike my ass. Put a tie around my cock, exciting me as well as being severe. At the same time, you'll give me instructions on how I have to talk to you, always using "Mistress" at the end of my sentences, and no talk if I'm not invited to.
Then you'll continue with total bondage of my body. I like to feel the rope on my body. You'll act slowly, taking your time, and of course I must not move otherwise I am punished. Then you'll play with me, alternating between being erotic, exciting or severe. You'll then test my resistance, pinching on my nipples, or having me stay in the cage, dripping candle wax on me, fixing me to the St Andrew's Cross with mask over my eyes, and whipping me. Within my limits - no watersports.
Then you'll offer me your breasts to kiss very gently. You can also show me your breasts and then take them away just when I am about to kiss them. You'll play with me, caressing one second, and stopping for no reason.
When you consider I have behaved the proper way and obeyed well enough, you'll give me my final reward, making love or exciting me with your hand. You can also ask me for a massage, soft and sensual. Any misplaced gesture is punished unless you agree to it. After that - you liberate me."
The above is adapted from an actual real life email from someone who identifies as a "sub".
A sub who scribes and prescribes the entire session he wants in great detail. And in violation of most professional Mistress's boundaries in respect of the sexual content. And which ironically is prefaced with: "I want to be dominated. I want you to take control of me".
However everything which follows after this first sentence, contradicts it's meaning.
He doesn't want to be genuinely dominated with Mistress taking control. He has his fetish and fantasy in his mind's imagination, and he wants the Mistress to play out and enact this fantasy of Domination.
He's scripted the entire session from start-to-finish according to his own wants. And where's the room here for what Mistress wants? Where's the empowering of the Mistress to dominate him really? Where's the opportunity for her to control him to Her actual wishes?
One of the female graduates of my Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts certificate class recently tweeted me in on this amusing meme:
There's the so-called "sub", wide eyed with his frenetic plans and ideas and visual examples of the session he wants, and the activities he wants.
And often what follows this is a sub disappointed or frustrated that things haven't lived up to his hopes and expectations, and a baffled Mistress who doesn't understand how he could have such high expectations or say he wants to be dominated but then seemingly doesn't actually want to submit but only to submit in the ways he wants. And seemingly a fantasy (masochistic) submission rather than a genuine power exchange.
This operation is seen very well in the film 'Duke of Burgandy' (2014), written and directed by Peter Strickland, in which the so-called submissive it turns out deeper into the film has told her Mistress what to say and do to dominate her - to a great degree. (For those interested in watching the film, the trailer is here and option to purchase in top right hand corner - I have no vested interest or back-kick and am sharing only for knowledge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta6AuPVZM7A )
There is also a very amusing short little animated film here, entitled "SUBMISSIVE MALES WATCH THIS":
It's only 1 minute, 46 seconds long, and gets the amusing point across well by showing the "Do Me sub" in their most extreme form. (Most aren't quite as bad as this, lol)
A "Do-Me sub", or a "master masochist"?
As I explain to my students, this is not a true submissive at all. This is as the Mistresses of the Dominas Realm would call a "Do-Me sub", and in most cases is actually a masochist rather than a submissive.
The popular definition of masochist - as someone who enjoys pain, is due to vast oversimplification and shortening to meet dictionary-style descriptor, and it's not correct.
In fact, someone who enjoys pain is in my definition a "pain slut" or to use the psychology term - an "algophiliac".
A masochist is not someone who necessarily enjoy pain for pain's sake, but rather takes their pleasure from drawing invested punishment (and potentially bullying-style humiliation) from their Mistress, and "bumping" her to get their fetish and fantasy. The masochist enjoys the pain the Mistress is inflicting because it fulfils his fantasy and also her investment in administering it shows that she cares enough about him to be bothered to hurt him.
A masochist also inevitably has a particular fetish - such as for leather, or stiletto shoes, or fur - as was the case of Leopold von Sacher Masoch (the author of 'Venus in Furs' and after whom the term "masochism" was named after), or some other "thing".
Leopold von Sacher Masoch (author of 'Venus in Furs' novella, and in real life he sought to be whipped and beaten down by a cruel women wearing furs.)
If we look to Leopold von Sacher Masoch, as the original masochist, he wanted to be a so-called slave to Mistress, and have her dominate him, wear furs, whip him and beat him down. But the contract he had drawn up reveals she was not to enter his office, leave him alone in specified hours, wear furs frequently, and... and... and the list goes on.
Indeed his letterhead featured a commissioned illustration of his exact fetish fantasy - featuring a woman wearing regal furs and wielding a severe whip.
A psychology with a cadence towards submission and ego regulation
Leopold von Sacher Masoch, and masochists more generally, have a very specific psychology that goes beyond enjoying pain per se. Rather what they seek is a play in which they are beaten down by the Dominant figure - through punishment and/or humiliation, who is wearing or wielding their fetish and to the image and details they have in mind. The masochist often wants to be at her feet, in awe of her, with her elevated above him. For her to tease and torment him, alternating attention on him, and then ignoring him in turn. He wants for her to be cold and cruel, beating him down with whip or with insults (or even in some but not all cases degradation) - until he "submits" and is in a trance-like state of yielding - or "sub space". This is the reason that many masochists (mis-)identify as submissives - is that they do want to submit, to be strong-armed by the Mistress into submission, through a particular sequence which has a kind of cadence to it. And once they are there in that "submissive" state - they do truly enjoy that state, like an infant or small child whose mother whose power and strength has brought them under control.
There is ego regulation going on, from the masochist revelling in (narcissistic) success in machinated - plotting - to draw the attention of the Mistress. To her toying and playing with him as a cat - or rather tiger - would its prey, pouncing with ipower over them and weight upon them, making them little. Bringing their ego into regulation, squishing the air out of their over-inflated balloon. And in the aftermath reassured by the feeling of being invested in, cared about, and thus worthy, clever and loved.
Professional Dominatrices are of course expert in such offerings and services. With a wardrobe typically filled with popular fetish attire requests, of leather gloves, skirts, hoisery, catsuits, corsetry, latex attire, stiletto talon heels and thigh high boots, and other items often to cater to very specific but less common client requests - such as for fur, or silk scarves, items with supersensuality and powerful animal association.
A masochist emailed me just the other day to emphasize an element from a class on fetish - the animal aspect of many fetishes.
Animal aspect of fetishes
I recall Sacher-Masoch had "dreamt of human tigresses" in a letter to the sculptor Rodin, his fur fetish elaborated by some degree by this phrase. Furs are literally the skin pelt of particular animals. The catsuit also evokes this concept of animal skin. Silk fetishists frequently wish to be cocooned in silk. Others want to be woven into a web of ropes bondage, in which the Mistress is by extension the Weaver-spider who has entrapped her prey. One of the FemDom clubs was called Mantis, named after the Preying Mantis who uses its mate to feast upon after copulation. While various birds of prey have powerful talons which they use to grip onto flesh.
Indeed it is no coincidence that the powerful Goddesses across ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia and across and into India - were linked to and symbolised in proximity to lions, tigers and birds of prey.
An algorithm of desire of the "Do-Me sub" or "masochist"
After eleven years of theoretical and practical study of BDSM, I feel that I really know the pattern of the script they want and its rhythm, or rather algorithm. If I was working on the mathematical equation, it would go something like:
Sexy powerful clothing with fetish effect is worn or wielded
+ lowering (of man / person)
+ Invocation of awe
+ they have invested attention of Dom
+ Bringing under control (by bondage or other)
+ Overpowering / strong-arming
+ the 4 Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Ignoring attention of for periods
+ Specific fetish worn or wielded
+ Beating down (eg whipping, bullying) with "hits" of pain
+ more of 4Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Proximity privilege (such as body worship)
+ Begging / bargaining / plea for release
+ Delayed gratification
--> Ending, reward, release & liberation (could end with denial, with caning, with sexual release or ruined orgasm, worship, or numerous other ways)
Phew! That's a lot of energy expended there - did you feel it reading that? Or perhaps if you're a masochist reading this you're just thinking "hot" and you've been taken off into a state of fantasy?
There are individual nuances to the above of course. A CP fetishist will have specific School teacher roleplay and paddling / caning potentially. A latex fetishist will have you and them wearing latex tied in with this session, perhaps strapped down to a medical chair and the tease and torment may be using medical equipment, speculums, clamps, electrics, etc. And numerous other variation. Those with strong algophilia (enjoyment of pain and endorphins from it) will potentially want a stronger emphasis on heavy pain infliction, etc. Many masochists are into forced face-sitting and / or weight upon them pressing down on them, or being sat on their chest or body, or trampling literally walking over them. Some enjoy heavier bullying focus with verbal humiliation and face-slapping, or degradation play such as pissing, etc. To each their own form, but there is nonetheless a pattern and rhythm, and a way this rhythmic cadence makes them feel.
So how does a masochist differ from a submissive then?
The difference of a submissive is that they enjoy pleasing their Mistress, and genuinely care whether she is happy or displeased. I call a submissive a "sub placeur", with placeur meaning "pleasing".
My father - a submissive - used to say "for you I kill ze bull", meaning "for you - anything", like a matador he would slay the bull for me. Much like a chivalrous knight who would slay a dragon for the Lady, a submissive stands at the ready to serve - and please - his Mistress.
Edmund Leighton "The Accolade" (1901)
If you ask a submissive what he's into or what he wants, the answer is often "I want to do what you want to do Mistress". And although this can be frustrating to a Mistress, he is answering in integrity with his identity. They defer frequently to the Mistress.
By contrast, a masochist doesn't relate particularly at all really to the chivalrous knight. To a masochist this kind of thinking is weak and sappy. A masochist is in it for what he wants, to be Dominated to his fantasy, and is self-orientated or self-centred actually in this regard, and he thinks cynically that's true of all people.
A masochist also only wants to "submit" when he's in the mood, at times that suit. Otherwise he's liable to get very grumpy, complain or refuse when the opportunity's there but he's not in the mood. And he needs the algorithm that I elaborated above: the overpowering, the entrapment, strong-arming, the wants you in the sexy powerful attire. And it's really all about them (the masochist).
Now I should additionally qualify this by explaining a submissive does also often enjoy many of the same things, but the difference is that for him that's a bonus to get that "play", and there's a sense of caring about the woman and pleasing her that is the foundation of a submissive's inclinations.
So how does a masochist differ from a slave then?
A true slave, or "nomis slave" or "titilus slave" as I'll likely call them in my forthcoming book, wants to be owned - their ideal would be 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), and given clear duties, role, place, security.
In stark contrast to Leopold von Sacher Masoch's what I would call "mock slavery" (eg I'll be your slave, during these hours, but you can never enter into my office, and you shall wear my fetish, and whip me, and fulfil my fantasy as scripted and as I manipulate and bribe you to do, etc), a real slave feels that they are a slave as their true identity and wants to be owned and to find an owner who can fulfil their needs.
I recently posted a blog post of some writing by the late (deceased) slave david stein, that explains well what a slave needs. (Direction, discipline and service, explains slave david stein.)
Image: slave david stein
I think in many eras, slaves may well have joined an abbey as a monk to get the kind of sense of place, purpose, duties that they feel most fulfilled by. And indeed the book "The Rule of Saint Benedict" written in around the year 516, for monks living with the authority of an abbot - reads very much like a slave-training manual.
Whereas such a life would not suit a masochist at all; he only wants the play of being a slave when he's in the mood for it, and it involves the ingredients that capture his fantasy of Domination.
So although a masochist may call himself a "submissive" or "slave", and these terms get thrown about readily and mixed up frequently in the BDSM scene, due to misunderstandings also of the term's meanings, and he is not in fact either of these things. And they often don't identify with masochist as they think it means someone who enjoys pain, whereas many masochists don't enjoy pain per se, but rather being beaten down by the Dominant (with pain hits).
And it's one of the reasons I plan to rename the psychology typologies in my new book forthcoming, to get greater clarity of the way people self-identify.
Psychology typologies by Anne O Nomis
submissive --> sub placeur (meaning pleasing submissive) someone who takes their pleasure from pleasing their Mistress and submitting to their Mistress
slave --> nomis slave (meaning name slave)* or titilus slave (title slave)* someone who takes their pleasure from being owned, having duties, discipline, a place, security.
masochist --> supersensual machinator (meaning supersensual + artful plotter)** someone who takes their pleasure from drawing invested punishment and humiliation from their Mistress, and bumping her to get their fetish and fantasy of being strong-armed into submission.
fetishist --> someone who takes pleasure from play with their fetish
kinkster-hedonist --> someone who takes their pleasure from explorative play with kinks and hedonism (and may not be submissive or Dominant but happy to play in either role or switching)
* I am undecided of which of the two slave terms to go with, whether nomis slave (name slave) or titulus slave (title slave), and wish to see which uptakes better with slaves themselves. I don't have ego invested in the "nomis" - it means name rather than referring to my psuedonym Anne O Nomis. The word "anonymous" itself being "without" + "name".
** The term supersensual was the term that Leopold von Sacher Masoch used himself in his book 'Venus in Furs' when its character Severin is describing his own inclination. In German this is rendered as übersinnlich (supersensual), with associations to supernatural, the awe of the magical sorcery-like sensual fetishistic effect.
Are all masochists "Do Me subs"? Do they all scribe and prescribe how you should Dominate them?
No, not all masochists are "Do-Me subs" in scribing and prescribing what they want - but a lot to be fair - do do this.
Some - newbies in particular - don't yet know themselves well enough what they want exactly other than to be "Dominated". As they begin experimenting and some things "work" on them and others "don't", they begin to start bumping towards that which does have the magical sorcery effect upon them, and they can't help but manipulating or scribing this then, to try and get better what they want.
Some masochists have learnt how to be subtle in their manipulations, "gifting" her the fetish they want her to wear, suggesting in nudging ways. Some masochists who are seeing professional Dominatrices or very experienced lifestyle Mistresses feel confident and trusting enough in her knowledge and understandings that they can to a greater degree leave it down to her, because she's doing the algorithm largely anyway which is getting the desired effect. Or by giving her a certain amount of information that is enough to indicate the direction they want to go, and reminding her of their fetish preferences.
However it's true that many masochists do indeed present as "Do Me subs" with tactics of dictating what they want in order to get that magical effect and submission they yearn for.
And as Mistress may have previously had or seen a genuine submissive - who was happy to please Her and much more pliable around the content of the session play - she may get very confused then trying to understand this "do-me sub" or sub who is actually a masochist using the wrong hat to title himself.
The masochist may feel they need to explain to a Mistress clearly that they're not much into doing things like cleaning for her, or doing things for her that are not on their fantasy erotic fetishistic wavelength.
Here's another email from a masochist masquerading as a submissive.
My name is _____ (deleted for privacy),
I am a submissive 34 years old and I would like to meet you for a switch session, as far as I am concerned you can inflict the following punishments on me:
insults, slaps, shoe licking, whip, swift bondage, torture of the nipples and parts, kicks and knees in the parts, pissing, wax, dildo or strap-on.
What are the procedures for meeting you?
Do you see the scribing and prescribing of exactly the activities he wants? Do you see the ingredients I refer to in my algorithm, and indeed in another email was what the Mistress should wear. (For quick referral, a reminder that the algorithm was:
Sexy powerful clothing with fetish effect is worn or wielded
+ lowering (of man / person)
+ Invocation of awe
+ they (the masochist) has the invested attention of Dom
+ Bringing under control (by bondage or other)
+ Overpowering / strong-arming
+ the 4 Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Ignoring attention of for periods
+ Beating down (eg whipping, bullying) with "hits" of pain
+ more of 4Ts (tease, toy, torment, torture)
+ Proximity privilege (such as body worship)
+ Begging / bargaining / plea for release
+ Delayed gratification
--> Ending, reward, release & liberation (could end with denial, with caning, with sexual release or ruined orgasm, worship, or numerous other ways)
This email evidences another very good exemplar of the "Do-Me sub" that the Mistresses of my dungeon of internship would have referred to, and who in my framework of thinking - is a masochist (supersensual machinator) and not a sub.
Masochists often are quite capable of switching, and often do so in order to direct the content and activities exactly as they want. Indeed many masochists switch to playing Dominant role, which might seem odd to many seeing they want purportedly to submit, but it evidences exactly why a masochist isn't a submissive. They want that algorithm above. They "bump" the Mistress in the direction of what they want. They scribe, prescribe, direct, unless by chance she's already doing what they're into. (Such as you may get with an experienced pro-Domme who's so used to the activities and rhythm that she autopilots to it.)
And often frustrated by things not quite going as they want, some masochists opt to switch in order to get the exact content they want, to gain pleasure in both the Directing of the scene as well as vicariously in what the person subbing for them will be feeling.
It's for this reason that the term "sado-masochist" is often used as a further identification to explain the switching from masochist-sub-bottom into the alternative role of directing-sadist-top.
The problem for heterosexual male masochists - here's what women want.
I feel empathy for masochists (supersensual machinators) because they're often misunderstood, or end up frustrated or confused, or sad or let down, or find it hard to find a life partner who can fulfil their needs. And not all, because I know some who are happy and indeed a few such couples come to Villa Domme each year.
However part of the reason that they find it hard often to find what they want, to be dominated as per their hopes or fantasy, with the activities and rhythm they need to get to that delicious place they want to go, is that it's not perfectly aligned or even well-aligned with the activities that most lifestyle female Dominants want.
As a reminder, and I've written a post on this, here are the favourite activities of 43 lifestyle Female Dominants, averaged from the ratings they gave out of 10 for each activity. This is from Elise Sutton's book 'Searching for Wanda', but graph my own creation to visualize the data more clearly in this form:
At the very far end of this graph are many of the activities that masochists want - the more sadistic activities, cock and ball torture, humiliation play (including verbal bullying), corporal punishment and bondage.
Up the top rated activities end of the graph are things which please the woman. Domestic servitude - having the man do the washing, ironing, vacuuming. On body worship the masochist may well be into, orgasm control too. But then her controlling finances and having final authority? The masochist likes to be in control, and I don't know of any example where he's gone along with this, although I'm not saying there are none - it would be very rare for a true masochist to agree to that.
It's the perpetual conundrum for masochists, they say want to submit and give up power, but they don't actually want to give up power and give over actual real power to the woman.
They more want mock power play, once a week or a few times a week, when they're in the mood for it - most typically.
But it's very confusing for the woman because you often say you're a submissive, and say you want to be her slave and plaything, and yet when she goes to take power - orders you to do household chore - you say "no, not like that, I mean sexy stuff, like be cruel to me and can you put on that outfit and then whip me. But now harder. Then ignore me, and like taunt me..." etc.
So what's the answer to this conundrum? Communication. Compromise. Put energy into your Mistress one way or another, because you are zapping a lot of energy out of her, and ultimately that's not sustainable.
If you're seeing a professional Dominatrix, why not just be honest and tell her you're more of a masochist in the sense of wanting (insert algorithm) and be appreciative of her service, knowledge and craft abilities to facilitate that, and pay her appropriately and well? They need the equipment, the attire, the knowledge to execute this. It's a specialist occupation because it's quite complex doing that.
For a lifestyle Mistress, she's not being paid and she's unlikely to fully understand your psychology. So you're going to need to explain with clarity. Be patient that she will take time to "get it". Positively reinforce and compliment when she's doing things your really like. Don't complain and be negative as this will just lower her self-esteem and make her feel unconfident and incompetent and lower morale, and have her potentially want to give up. And a relationship is two ways, not only about getting your fantasy sexual needs met. Treasure her, invest in her, support her, respect her, and importantly - consider her needs and wants, and not only your own.
I suggest don't be a "Do Me" sub.
Allow space for the Mistress's wants too, come at it as a pre-scene negotiation rather than a pre-scene dictation. Find your mutual areas of cross-over and wider willingness. Be honest and frank if possible, rather than manipulative.
Realise and recognize that your needs extract a lot of energy to meet, so ensure you're putting energy back in somehow - whether financially, or domestic labour, or other genuine giving of energy into and towards your Mistress that is not all about yourself. Why would you want to do this? Because bottom line if you don't you'll drain her of energy, of enthusiasm, lower her self-esteem and confidence over time, and you won't find her sexy or powerful or able to dominate you any more if that occurs.
The higher she is, the more you'll worship and respect her.
And because on some level, you believe in the cause of Female Dominance and in the power of women, because a very real manifestation of that captured your imagination and eroticism in the first place. Am I right?
Over and out.
x Anne O Nomis
PS If you want to talk to me more about this topic, I do offer private Zoom consults and now have an online booking system in place in order that you can book, and I also teach classes which cover such topics which are FemDom orientated and open to people of all genders and sexualities.
I also host 'Villa Domme' held in Europe each June, where Doms and subs / slaves / masochists fly in from around the world to attend and live the lifestyle with classes, activities, dinners and drinks for 7-10 days. www.villadomme.com (Note for 2021 we're in a castle rather than a villa, so technically Castle Domme.)
The following is an article written by slave david stein, who sadly passed away in 2017. (The lowercase form of his name is intentional and not be corrected, in the same line as the poet e e cummings, as david stein self-identified in lowercase in keeping with his identity as a slave.)
I wrote an obituary on david stein on 13 October 2017. Although I didn't know him personally in "real life", we were members of the same online groups and posted on each other's threads and freely shared information and ideas with each other. Over the years since his death, many of the work he'd posted online has had the links no longer work as presumably his own website domain and the "bearboy" domain weren't renewed. Many other BDSM and kink website resource domains have meanwhile become inactive, with broken links, error messages and redirection to domain sellers. I fear that some important information is at risk of being lost from the community.
So I wish to repost david's article here, titled "What a Slave Needs: personal view by slave david stein" (written in 1997), and I believe it would be with david's blessing from my interactions with him and our mutual sharing of views, ideas and writing. At the time of writing this, the article is also available presently at Ambrosio's BDSM site at evilmonk.org, (which is an excellent resource and I hope stays around a long time) at: https://www.evilmonk.org/a/slvneed.cfm and in case that ever goes down - will also be preserved here for posterity for the BDSM community.
Like david stein, I shared a view on the distinguishing of the "slave" - who wants to be owned, to have duties, clarity, purpose and place to and with their owner Master / Mistress, - as distinguished (in my view) from the "submissive" who takes pleasure from pleasing their Dominant and submitting.
For david stein, the "needs" of a slave were direction, discipline and service, as he explains and elaborates in this historic 1997 article.
What a Slave Needs: personal view by slave david stein
Some late-night thoughts i felt were worth sharing:
slaves, and those who seek to be slaves, are constantly advised not to be self-centered and not to focus on our needs and desires but rather those of others. And this can be good advice when a would-be slave is so focused on fantasies of what a Master will look like, act like, and do to the slave that he loses sight of what he will do for the Master or bring to the relationship. As i've said before - and no doubt will say again, here or elsewhere - being a full-time sex toy / captive / whipping boy almost never actually happens, and if that's what slavery means to you, 99% of the real-life Masters out there will be terribly disappointing.
But aside from that lesson, there's another, more subtle lesson about slave "selfishness" that's only now becoming clear to me, which is that someone who's looking to become a slave, or remain a slave, needs to be ruthlessly *selfish* about getting his or her slave needs met. By this i don't mean the basic needs of life for food, shelter, clothing, employment, social contacts, and a degree of affection. We all need that, whether we're slaves or Tops or boys or vanilla. Rather, i mean the things that feed and strengthen a slave's slavery: things like direction, discipline, and service. About these there can be no compromise, because when they are lacking in a slave's life, slavery itself cannot long be sustained.
The popular conception is that slaves are people who are forced to obey a Master's orders, and many slaves also fantasize being forced. Being obedient is held to be the opposite of freedom, and the negative connotations of "slavery" largely consist in this lack of freedom.
This no doubt was true of many or most coerced slaves in history. It is not true of consensual slaves today. Those who become slaves today in the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the developed world do so not because they are being forced to obey, but because they positively *need* to obey. Obedience is the voluntary slave's lifeblood. To obey is not our cross but our joy! We only ask to be given the opportunity.
And that's where direction comes in. Any idiot can tell someone else what to do! Lots of people are bossy or domineering or pushy. That's not what can satisfy a slave's need to obey, not in the long run, because people who are merely bossy tend not to be very consistent or intelligent about what they tell others to do; they operate on whim. The more perfectly you obey someone like that, the more likely you are to get into trouble, because today's order may contradict yesterday's or undermine tomorrow's. You can drive a dog or a child insane with contradictory orders; is a slave any less sensitive?
Ideally, what slaves need - whether they're aware of *wanting* it or not! - is clear direction, firm goals, consistent rules, unambiguous orders. And it takes a Master with great presence of mind, intelligence, self-control, and self-understanding to provide that kind of environment.
The most common slave fantasy is probably of being punished, but i think the erotic charge of this is really a metaphor for discipline, which is not the same as punishment. Discipline is controlled behavior; punishment is simply a means, and not often a very good one, of achieving discipline. Just as slaves need to obey, we need to follow rules and to push ourselves to live up to some ideal. i think every (voluntary) slave *wants* to be "the perfect slave" in some sense, and we need - as much as we need air and water --someone to hold out that ideal before us and challenge us to live up to it, even knowing that we'll never actually achieve it.
If it were easy to be a slave, if anyone could do it, what would be the point? If there were no sacrifice involved, if it required nothing "above and beyond" ordinary life as a bottom-oriented leatherman or leatherdyke, why bother?
slavery is a demanding, challenging vocation, or calling, and its challenges cannot end once the slave enters into service with a Master. The Master must provide a continual challenge as well as an environment in which the slave's discipline and dedication are continually honed. To this end, many Masters institute various rituals and protocols for their slaves to follow. These are misunderstood, i think, if they are examined too literally, and especially if the point is taken to be the inculcation of a worshipful attitude toward the Master's person. The point is to enable the slave to develop a worshipful attitude, period. Giving the slave a framework by which to live a disciplined life of respect and dedication is the point, not feeding the Master's ego.
Nonetheless, at the very prosaic level of "enforcement of rules," a Master who does not notice or care about infractions is one who is shirking His duty toward His slave. It is not necessary to punish, but it is necessary to take notice of the lapse and deal with it in *some* definite way. slaves need to feel the Master's eye on them continually, until it is internalized. If He cannot or will not provide discipline, He has no business owning a slave, just as a parent who will not provide it for a child is unfit for that role.
While there are no end of fantasies about obedience and discipline, most slaves only fantasize about *sexual* "service" - but that is typically the lesser part of a full-time slave's service. Indeed, the difference between a slave and a bottom may turn on the willingness, even eagerness, to serve in nonsexual ways. (As i once read in a personal ad, "I don't clean my own apartment - why should I clean yours?" If you have to ask, you'll never understand.)
Difficulties arise when Masters, or slaves, confuse service with being used. The difference is subtle but critical. Perhaps it is the difference between "being used" and "being useful." Being used has a very negative connotation for most people, and i suspect that in cases where it has a strong erotic charge, it refers more to the categories of direction and discipline than service. That is, what is exciting about "being used" is being obedient and controlled, transcending your own ego and its selfish pleasures to be an instrument of someone else's will. That doesn't *have* to be a humiliating, demeaning, or degrading experience - it can be an exhilarating and liberating one.
Being useful, in contrast, is something that most people do find pleasurable and rewarding -- slaves more than others. It is the sense of "right employment," of expending your life energies in a good and satisfying way. The joy of service is the feeling of having "made a difference" in some part of the world, however small.
When Masters think of a slave's service purely in terms of having him at Their beck and call to fulfill any whim or transient desire, They trivialize the slave's slavery and undermine his ability to continue that way of life. On the contrary: a case could be made that the main reason Masters even exist is to provide slaves with an opportunity to serve to the best of their abilities! Whether you accept that view or not, a Master who neglects or wastes a slave's talents is worse than a fool; it is a form of abuse as serious as physical harm or neglect.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for a Master is to determine how a given slave can best serve Him, and to reconsider the matter again and again as the slave grows, learns, and develops. This is not to say that any particular service should be beneath any particular slave - we can all benefit from taking a turn at menial chores. Nonetheless, a slave needs to feel, overall, that he is fulfilling his potential for service, or he will not remain content in his slavery for long.
In conclusion, the lesson i'm trying to convey is that slaves need to look out for ourselves in terms of making sure that our needs for direction, discipline, and service get fulfilled. No matter how sexy a potential Master may be, no matter how many of your fetishes He matches and BDSM buttons He pushes, if there's no clear evidence that He'll provide for your basic needs *as a slave*, look elsewhere. By the same token, a potential Master who's not your wet dream but can offer an environment of clear direction, firm discipline, and opportunities for challenging and satisfying service deserves at least a second look.
Hope this is helpful to someone!
As the author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book, and as a well-known BDSM and Dominatrix educator, I have been receiving emails for years and years around whether I would offer online Dominatrix Mistress training in the Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course. And I have exciting news for you all - that as of this month, the answer is now "yes".
Online Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course (for International and domestic students)
The online Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ certificate course is something that International students had been emailing and asking of Anne for years. Many of her students were flying in for her Melbourne course from all around Australia - from Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast, Perth and other regions, as well as flying in from overseas from Thailand, New Zealand and Canada to Australia - just to take her weekend course. Such was Anne's reputation and word-of-mouth from students who had graduated to their friends and the shift in their knowledge and confidence.
Anne's former reluctance to offering an online course was out of concern for her privacy of being on camera, and on protecting herself and her intellectual property reserved for those who were true seekers of the knowledge and who would be respectful around privacy. Then there was also the cost of filming an online course with a videographer, and the significant workload of putting together all the resources and knowledge into a course that would work online, to the high quality that Anne would want for herself and for her students.
However in March 2020, due to Coronavirus pandemic and with a course imminently approaching, Anne began rapidly working around-the-clock to have a professional videographer film her giving her workshops, editing the rich content, and pairing this with other resources and adding live group videoconferencing for live Q&As. Now part-way into this first-time online course, the feedback has been resoundingly positive, and Anne feels she is succeeding in her aim of delivering a really high quality course through online mode.
NEW DATES JUST ANNOUNCED:
Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ Course dates and times:
Begins Monday 29th June 2020
The new dates have been set with two different streams to accommodate those in different countries:
And for other locations, you can check the time / date difference at: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
To book, go to: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/sex-ed/products/beginning-29th-june-2020-online-dominatrix-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course-taught-by-anne-o-nomis
COST FOR 8 WEEK COURSE
The course is run through Passionfruit Sensuality Shop in Melbourne, Australia, where I've run the in-person course for 5 years with positive reviews, and is priced in Australian dollars. Now the exchange rate fluctuates daily of course, but to give you an approximate idea at the price of the 8 week course, at the time of writing this:
AUD $ UK pound Euro USD $
$880 approx 462 pounds 530 Euro US $576
But please check the latest exchange rate at: https://www.xe.com
Monday 29th June 2020 - Introductory & Framework for Play
Covering Inanna's people, philosophy of large heart and open mind, ascertaining interests, methods of questionnaires, questions, sex map, interest cross-over, medical conditions affecting play, mitigating risks, SSC vs RACK, what to do when things go wrong.
Monday 6th July 2020 - Realm Art I - The Art of the Sublime & Powerful Woman
Covering archetypes, role models of female sexual power, stepping into power, body language and energetics of power, title command, claiming your rightful throne and position above them, etc.
Monday 13th July 2020 - Realm Art II - The Art of lowering the man (or person) to submission
Covering different psychologies of men who enjoy to submit or BDSM activities - including submissives, slaves, masochists, fetishists, kinksters, etc. What makes them tick and from where they take their pleasure. And on how to physical lower and status lower a male (or person) in relation to you in the power dynamic play, combined with proximity privilege.
Monday 20th July 2020 - Realm Art III - The Art of bondage, entrapment & enclosure
Covering different forms of bondage, why men find it paradoxically free-ing to be put into bondage and thus escape their everyday role, and covering bondage equipment and basic bondage wrist ties, decorative slave body harnesses, and cock-and-ball ties.
Monday 27th July 2020 - Realm Art IV - The Art of training, discipline and punishment
Covering discipline, forms of corporal punishment and how to safely use impact equipment, warm-up spanking, use of paddles, straps and strops, canes, etc.
Monday 3rd August 2020 - Realm Art V - The Art of in-body and out-of-bodily
Covering the use of blindfolds, gags, sensory deprivation techniques, use of plugs and pegging, electrics and Violet wand ray, urethral sounds, etc.
Monday 10th August 2020 - Realm Art VI - The Art of cross-dressing, transformation & subversion
Covering the use of cross-dressing from use of panties and stockings for eroticism and sensuality, through to those who desire androgyny as a creative soup escape from fixed gender roles such as rock stars often do, through to more comprehensive cross-dressing and gender transformation.
Monday 17th August 2020 - Realm Art VII - The Art of fetish & fantasy
Covering the process of fetish formation in pre-adolescence most typically by an experience which combines fear, arousal and taboo, and was found thrilling and chilling with awe involved, and wired a fetish for life. A discussion of most common fetishes - leather, latex, PVC, stiletto boots or heels, and feet, as well as more rare fetishes, and how to play with fetish and weave it into fantasy.
Monday 24th August - Standby Date
In case of Anne being sick for any week, there is always a standby date allocated as part of the contingency planning.
The course comprises:
* Filmed and professionally edited workshop presentations streaming to students at the same time weekly (at the 2 hourly class time window; each video around 1 hour, 40 mins in length, followed by live videoconference time)
* Live Group videoconference with Anne immediately after watching the class, with live Q&As from students
* Resources, readings and diagrams each week for the 8 weeks of the course
* Extended optional readings for those seeking to "deep dive" into a particular topic.
* Homework issued each week to undertake relevant exercises and practice as directed by Anne.
* One-on-one video calls with Anne, to keep each student on track and progressing, and to trouble-shoot any issues coming up for anyone in respect of technology glitches, or just general questions you'd like to put to Anne to extend your knowledge.
* Graduation with Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ course certificate signed by Anne O Nomis.
* (NB: Certificate is for those who have demonstrated their mastery / "Mistressery" of the topics. Anne reserves of course the right to not issue a certificate to anyone not completing their work and not applying themselves to the course and acquiring the knowledge and undertaking their homework.)
8 x 2 hour classes + Live Zoom videoconference, comprising 20 hours of class work, plus additional hours of readings, homework and 1-on-1 video calls with Anne.
And for any questions or queries, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
x Anne O Nomis
To book go to: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/sex-ed/products/beginning-29th-june-2020-online-dominatrix-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course-taught-by-anne-o-nomis
A whipstress with wings (or priestess-initiator) from the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii, prior to c79 AD (eruption of Mt Vesuvius burying Pompeii in ash)
I've been giving some thought lately to "comfortable Dominatrix fetish attire".
It's a conundrum facing many Mistresses who conduct long sessions of 3+ hours. The attire so strongly associated with the fetish Dominatrix include thigh high stiletto boots with 6 inch talon spike heels, which it may come as a shock to slaves to hear - but are not all that comfortable to walk around in.
Not only are thigh high stiletto boots not all that comfortable to wear (shocker) but they're also potentially putting Mistresses in some danger, as they are usually in sole responsibility of a slave in bondage or suspension, and should the Mistress slip or mis-step and fall over, worst-case she's at risk of knocking herself unconscious on hard flooring while her slave is otherwise incapacitated. A more common occurrence is of course the Mistress slipping and injuring herself, and having to tend to her own medical care and potentially call off the session. And for those who think this is unlikely, I can tell you having interviewed so many Dominatrices for my book ('The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'), almost all could recount having slipped over in their stiletto boots or shoes in a dungeon accident, and I've been personally present when a Mistress slipped and fell down stairs in the dungeon, with me accompanying her to the A&E department of the nearby hospital. While falls can happen to anyone, wearing thigh high stiletto boots certainly increases the likelihood. (Not to mention the possibility of a drop of silicone lube on the bottom of a boot or dungeon floor.)
Thigh high stiletto leather boots - they look amazing, but ask any Mistress how they feel to wear them for a 3+ hour session!
One very senior London Mistress (with more than three decades in the business) said to me in an interview years back, that if she could give one piece of advice to young Mistresses it would be to not wear stiletto heels constantly. She says she has permanent issues with her hips and knees, has had multiple surgeries as a result of throwing out her posture from constantly wearing corsets and "6 inch "killer heels".
Sure this comment is anecdotal, but it's a theme I've heard repeated by many senior Mistresses.
Another one is how impractical the full latex catsuit is for long sessions, particularly in Summer, as latex doesn't allow the skin to breathe, so you essentially end up "sweating like a dog" and becoming very dehydrated in session. By the time the Mistress takes off her catsuit at the end of the session, there's an accumulation of sweat caught in the catsuit which streams like a river out the bottom as she removes it.
Similarly the tightlace fully boned corsets laced up until the Mistress is what's called "a bout de souffle" (without breath / breathless) are also not ideal for long sessions, and impede to some degree her physical movements in session.
Wearing a corset for a very extended period of time is associated with lower back pain and risk of muscle atrophy, including pectoral muscles, which in turn cause a greater reliance on the corset. The internal organs have to physically move, and this has been found on MRI scans to affect the large intestine in particular and the transverse colon, with the stomach and liver above the waistline. And as the Victorians were aware, tight-laced corsets made it more difficult to eat and could cause indigestion and constipation. The lower lobes of the lungs are potentially put under higher strain due to constriction of tight lacing. The blood pressure is increased by 6-15%.
Historical tight-lace corset in the Edwardian era
German Dominatrix Cora Korsett, circa 1970s who practised waist-training with corsets and here also wears a posture collar around her neck.
While the tight-lace corset achieves undeniable visual effect well-suited to fetishists, the practicalities of conducting sessions can make tight lace corset-wearing less than ideal for Domination arts - with its activities requiring a high degree of focus and attention to the job, dexterity and movement.
As Goddess Alexandra Snow (On Twitter: @DominaSnow ) noted, "Professional domination is the only profession for which the "expected" wardrobe is unsuitable for the work."
I have known a few Dominatrices whose discipline and dedication, paired with fitness and endurance - would see them don fetish outfits and stiletto boots for long periods (Mistress Tokyo from Sydney would be one of those), but I think they are exceptions rather than the rule. Most Mistresses struggle and speak of that struggle amongst their peers.
There are some "tricks" and work-arounds they often share, such as blindfolding or hooding their slave, and getting the slave strapped down on a bondage bench, before sneakily removing their stiletto heels or boots. They then put them back on very quietly at some point towards the end of the session, before they remove his blindfold or hood, so that the slave is (hopefully) none the wiser and has only seen them immaculately kitted out in the full fetish look.
Many say they get kitted up in the most fetishistic but impractical gear for their photo shoots, but don't actually wear the items sessioning in, because they're so damn uncomfortable and not functional for the activities they need to do in session.
It's a real skill and challenge therefore to find the holy grail of Domination gear - that looks fabulous and fetish but is also comfortable (relatively speaking) for hours of sessioning.
On 20 February 2020, I put the question out to Twitter....
And synthesising the feedback on Twitter and in private messages, here's some ideas I can share with all of you, dear readers.
Comfortable Dominatrix Attire Suggestions
1) A Leather Boiler Suit
This was the suggestion of @TheLadyNess, who herself wears a leather boiler suit for comfort. It has something of the catsuit look about it, but it relaxed fit. It has its origins in the Coveralls worn by mechanics, bricklayers, and tank crews to protect their standard clothing. Similar to this design is the "Siren Suit" worn by Winston Churchill in the War era, to throw over clothing in an air raid to be able to stay comfortable, warm and modest. And as soon as it's made in leather and elevated, it becomes a thing of fetish and beauty. So to the idea of a Dominatrix leather Siren Suit? This should become a "thing".
Lady Ness in her Leather Boiler Suit (courtesy of @TheLadyNess )
2) A PVC kimono or a PVC dress
Mistress Fatale (On Twitter: @Mistress_Fatale ) wears a PVC kimono from TealeCoco (unfortunately now sold out), which she notes is essentially loungewear, referring to its comfort. It's shiny, it's fetish. It's also waterproof - as Mistress Fatale notes, with implications as you can imagine in terms of practicality. It also has that air of Orientalism and geisha artistry, deriving its design loosely from the Japanese kimono.
A PVC dress also came up in the recommendations, with Madame Caramel (On Twitter: @LadyCaramelXXX ) commenting in response - that her favourite comfortable outfit for a long session was a PVC dress with a front zip preferably. I speculate that the reason for a zip is in consideration to the ease of getting it on, and the zip also achieving a fetish function of that long line down its centre from crotch to bust line.
PVC kimono by TealeCoco recommended by @Mistress_Fatale
3) A stretch Spandex or PVC bodysuit
In contrast to the restriction and heat of leather catsuit and corset, or the sweatiness of a latex catsuit, if you change the garment fabrication to a stretchy spandex or PVC - and all of a sudden you have a comfortable but still very body-fitting and sexy piece of Dominatrix attire!
This was the preference of @Amikoland, who says "Depends on the kind of session, but I'm generally pretty happy in something like a bodysuit and heels that have a platform." The idea of a bodysuit was seconded by Siren Vandoll (Twitter: @thesensiren ) who commented - "Bodysuits are the best!"
A submissive who goes by the Twitter handle of @subdued_by_Her notes that a: "One-piece catsuit, opaque, but highlighting a woman's curves, spandex (or cotton/spandex) catsuit is the sexiest outfit imaginable, imo [in my opinion]. Also allows for freedom of motion and action." And he posted to the following image to me, of "Modesty Blaise".
4) A latex / rubber apron
Just as the latex fetishists reading might be despairing.... (with one Mistress noting she only ever wears latex for photo shoots but not for sessions), Dominatrix Mistrix Sade (On Twitter: @mistrixsade) offers hope to latex lovers everywhere when she describes her favoured outfit to wear for long sessions as:
"Rubber apron, fishnets, boots."
Love this as an idea. The rubber / latex apron has long been a "thing" within modern gay S/M culture, with a workman / butcher vibe going on.
Or depending on the length and style one chose, the apron could evoke the strict nurse.
And the best thing about latex aprons? They're easy to get on, comfortable to wear, and the skin gets to breathe, but the fetishist still gets their latex fix.
A latex "Playroom apron" by Libidex - great for Dommes too!
5) Vintage lingerie / girdle with suspender stockings
Good old lingerie, given a fetish twist - came up high in the answers.
Mistress Electra Amore (Twitter: @MzElectraAmore) said that her favourite outfit (in the context of sessioning for hours) was: "Vintage style girdle or modern Fetish style bra & knickers with a waist clincher + heels & stockings."
The vintage girdles she refers to can be found in the odd second-hand clothing or opportunity shop, as well as on Etsy and Ebay. They often come in peach and skin colours, and were popular in the era around the 1940s in particular.
Example of a c1940s era peach coloured girdle with lace up and suspender belt.
There are also contemporary lingerie stores such as What Katie Did in the United Kingdom who do vintage lingerie, and Kiss Me Deadly who do Femme Fatale style of lingerie.
The "Maitresse suspender belt" by What Katie Did is particularly popular amongst UK Mistresses. The word "Maitresse" also of course being French for "Mistress".
Maitresse suspender belt by What Katie Did
And the rest...
There were so many fabulous comfortable attire ideas that I haven't been able to cover them all in this list of 5.
But to wrap up this blog post, the others included:
- "Goddess robe and barefoot." (courtesy of Ophelia Margeaux. On Twitter: @MargauxOphelia )
- "Naked, or black skinny jeans and a cotton blouse." (courtesy of Mlle. Gateaux. On Twitter: @HerRoyalCakines )
- "Usually my black leather skirt + black leather bra + black shiny high heels pumps + black sheer stockings." (courtesy of Euryale. On Twitter: @Ms_Euryale )
- "It's got to be a set of thigh high boots with fishnet stockings and suspenders and a sexy bra, the rest I don't care about..." (courtesy of Gemma Jameson. On Twitter: @JamesonGemma )
- "Or nothing at all." (courtesy of Kitty du Jour. On Twitter: @KittyduJour )
- "The classic LBD, some sort of legwear (stockings, pantyhose fishnets - whatever strikes my fancy) and heels." (courtesy of Mistress Noel Knight. On Twitter: @msnoelknight )
- "Sexy short black cocktail dress that shows skin, but not too much. Pref with some sequins or embellishment, but yet hand-washable, and doesn't look cheap. Pair with leather gloves and boots or heels he finds most alluring. Thigh-highs go a long way." (courtesy of Miss Margo Adler. On Twitter: @PiecesofMargo )
- "Black leggings and a sheer black blouse with a black lacy bralette under, no shoes. Or a nice, comfortable black cocktail dress, again, no shoes. Body stockings are sexy and comfortable too." (courtesy of Lucille Lockley. On Twitter: @LucilleLockley )
- "Bodystocking." (courtesy of Mistress Evilyne. On Twitter: @MsEvilyne )
- "Strapless body, corset, thigh high boots". (courtesy of Mistress Bliss. On Twitter: @MistressBliss )
- "I generally just wear jeans, t-shirt, boots and lingerie, and maybe lose some of the outer layers depending on the scene. I'm all about comfort." (Sir Claire Black. On Twitter: @SirClaireBlack )
- "Pants. N NOT FRIGGEN HEELS." (Miss Honey Anal verkehr. On Twitter: @misshoneyanal )
So there you have it folks. Some gold nuggets of advice on fetish Dominatrix attire from those with experience around the topic.
And hopefully any subs and slaves reading this might consider to be a little more empathetic of their Mistress and what she goes through in terms of the discomfort in wearing traditional fetish attire. And perhaps, in consideration, let Her know that you're happy for Her to dress for Her comfort.
x Anne O Nomis
In Australia, I've found to my shock and horror (I mock), that submissives over here don't tend to understand the afternoon tea ritual which is so commonly practised by lifestyle Mistresses - and to a degree professional Dominatrices.
Suffice to say that I've found it necessary to write an entire blog post on afternoon tea so that the submissives reading will hopefully "get it".
A brief history of afternoon tea
In England, "afternoon tea" is part-meal and part-ritual.
When the Portugese Princess Catherine of Breganza married King Charles II, she is credited with bringing with her the tradition of tea drinking to Britain. And although earlier references to tea can be found, it's likely that her arrival and enjoyment of tea helped ensure its popularity.
However "afternoon tea" as a ritual meal was reportedly started in 1840, when Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, was visiting Belvoir Castle, she would get hungry in the afternoon; in the long gap between lunch and dinner at 7 or 8 pm. She requested that a tray of bread and butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. She began inviting friends to join her, and the Duchess of Bedford's afternoon tea became a ritual event.
Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, United Kingdom (Wikicommons)
If Belvoir castle looks familiar to you, that may be because it was used as a stand-in for Windsor Castle in the Netflix series 'The Crown'. In addition to being a location used in the 'Da Vinci Code', for 'The Young Victoria', and other films and TV programmes.
And just who was Anna Russell? She was a close friend of Queen Victoria, and Lady of the Bed Chamber between 1837 and 1841. She was also sister-in-law to the prime minister John Russell, being married herself to Francis Russell, the 7th Duke of Bedford.
In any case, the ritual of afternoon tea meal she enjoyed took off as an idea and a meal amongst the middle and upper classes.
Bread and butter evolved into dainty club sandwiches - it was reportedly the Earl of Sandwich who had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread. Scones served with clotted cream and preserves were common, alongside little cakes and pastries served on fine china. And of course it goes without saying - tea - from exotic climes of India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China.
The afternoon tea tradition continued on through the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Francis Cadell 'Afternoon' (1913)
Richard Miller 'Afternoon Tea' Wikicommons image.
The special appeal of afternoon tea
The fanfare surrounding afternoon tea may seem rather strange to those from outside of England observing it. To quote the American author Alice Walker: "tea to the English is really a picnic indoors".
I've often heard it being referred to as convivial - meaning "friendly, lively, enjoyable". The word convivial is from the Latin convivialis, from convivium ‘a feast’, from con- ‘with’ + vivere ‘live’.
A friendly, social, lively feast is a good description of English afternoon tea. And it was (and is) a privileged affair. Established by royalty and aristocracy, who could spare the time in the afternoon to take this afternoon tea / meal, and with teas grown in far-away places and transported over vast distance.
Part of its appeal was tasting exotic flavours and variants from the romanticised Orient, and taking a fantasy voyage there as one sips the tea. Teas were traditionally held to have medicinal properties, and regardless of one's beliefs, there's certainly something comforting and soothing in drinking a well brewed cup of tea from dainty cups with delicious finger food. Even more so when enjoyed with friends in good company.
The food offerings are designed to pleasantly see to all desires for both savoury and sweet. Most commonly these are served on a multi-tiered cake stand, adding to the visual display and sense of pleasantry.
A traditional English afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream and jam, along with savoury offerings and sweet treats, served on a 3 tier cake stand.
How the afternoon (or 'high') tea became a #FemDom thing
I'm not sure myself even as a historian on the Dominatrix as to how long the tradition of afternoon tea for lifestyle Mistresses and Dominatrices goes back, but I imagine as far back as the tradition itself. As the Dominatrix embodies the Empress, Queen, Lady, and so forth in her play and role, it's only fitting that she receives good service, teas and treats from her submissives and servants.
The pleasure and leisure of the afternoon tea offerings also helps to put women into a state of "owning the want". Whereby they specify their desires and preferences, direct the service, to have the afternoon tea served and tea poured, and to adjudicate the performance of their submissive or slave or maid attendants. (There is plenty of opportunity for chastisement for the tea being too weak, too strong, the wrong amount of milk poured, or sugar put in, not following instructions, and so forth.)
The psychology of submissives is to want to please their Mistress, and the psychology of slaves is to be owned and have duties, so it makes complete sense then that both find suitable role in attending the Mistresses for afternoon tea. It provides a sense of occasion and event, for training, for playing out roles and the power dynamic of D/s. It also provides opportunity for "high protocol" if so desired. (I'll write a separate article in the future on "high protocol" in D/s Domination/submission dynamics in the future, in case there's people reading who are wondering what that is.)
The special event nature of the afternoon tea enables opportunity for dressing up in more elegant attire if one so wanted to do so. Tea dresses for Mistresses (or subversive or latex takes on the formal wear idea), or even period costume. Submissives in maid's outfits or servant's attire. I even know of a submissive turned into 'Miss Brown the scullery maid' complete with appropriate brown uniform for the job. Certainly cross-dressing and sissy maids work well for the afternoon tea ritual. And spankings and mild public humiliation tend to go hand-in-hand with the various misdemeanours committed by the attending submissives / servants / maids and butlers.
Part of Domination has also always been in subversion; taking social norms and rituals and playing with them in a carnivalesque kind of way. So a ritual established essentially by women, based on their desires and wants, and so up for the possibility of delightful subversion - was always going to fly in FemDom.
To see examples of the London FemDom High Tea Ball run by Madame Caramel, there's a weblink here: https://www.femdomball.com/femdom-high-tea-2019/
What do I need for a FemDom afternoon (or 'high') tea?
* Ideally an English-style tea set, with teapot, teacups and saucers, sugar bowl and milk jug. Traditionally these were bone china, and these days you can pick up second-hand sets on ebay auctions, or buy brand new tea sets from major department stores or specialist shops, depending on preference, style and budget. You can go traditional English rose or floral designs, Art deco designs, vintage 50s / 60s and 70s, or modern contemporary. Some famous brands are Royal Doulton, Paragon, Portmeirion, Royal Albert, Wedgwood, etc. You can even get subversive 'Naughty tea cups with Slut, Cunt or Cock inscribed. (see below)
Example of ebay listing for Royal Doulton 'Lady Carlyle' tea set
Naughty tea cup - available in 'Slut', 'Cock' or 'Cunt' from Passionfruit Sensuality Shop. Click here.
* A selection of teas, ideally loose-leaf. Traditionally this was a black tea which was a little less strong than English breakfast tea, however these days most places don't tend to follow such rigid rules, and English breakfast is commonly taken for afternoon tea. However multiple selections of teas are great to enable options and a taste of the world, from Earl Grey (black tea blended with bergamot oil), to smokey Lapsang Souchong (from China), to herbal teas such as Chamomile, to name but a few.
* Champagne. A relatively modern addition to the traditional afternoon tea, but decadence added of course!
* A three tier cake stand wouldn't go amiss either for setting the tone. The display adds to the mood and ritual feel of the afternoon tea. These come in a variety of styles from metal frames onto which you put the plates, to those with graduated plate sizes integrated with smallest sweets plate on top.
Examples of 3 tier cake stands.
* Finger sandwiches. Common fillings are cucumber, or egg (boiled egg mashed with mayonaise and dijon mustard), or salmon and dill, or crab, or chicken, etc. The crusts are cut off, and the sandwiches cut into finger size. And other savoury canapes commonly served also.
Finger sandwiches from Wikicommons.
* Scones served with clotted cream and jam. These can be raisin scones or plain scones, or lemon scones. Ideally baked freshly that day.
Scones from Wikicommons.
* Sweet treats such as little cakes and pastries.
Image from Wikicommons.
* And just to increase the indulgence one more step, some people serve up even more petits fours and chocolates at the very end. (Just in case anyone had any room left in their belly).
Note: I haven't gone into the differentiation between "afternoon tea" and "high tea", because I think people can get a bit snobby and wanky about it. Technically "high tea" was for workers who had to wait until after work to have their tea, by which time they needed more than cakes and wanted hearty substantial food after a day of hard labour, and so it was more of a meal and it was served at a high (usually normal dining) table. Confusingly, people might easily mix this up and think of high tea as the one that was the elevated and posh tea meal, when in fact the reverse was true. Afternoon tea was the posher tea for those with leisure time to have it at around 3.30 or 4 pm, while high tea was the working class meal with tea and served later after they finished work at around 6 pm and served at (high / normal) dining tables.
In New Zealand and Australia, the expression "afternoon tea" is used to refer to the short break for 15 mins in the afternoon at work around 3 pm for a quick cup of tea or coffee, also known as "afternoon smoko break". And so as a result, Australians and New Zealanders used the term "high tea" is used to describe the more formal affair that the English would call "afternoon tea". (Yes just to confuse you further.)
I personally don't worry too much what anyone wants to call it, or how they adapt it. After all, we're living in 2020, and it's a living tradition, so do it in any style you want. And you can call it formal afternoon tea, English afternoon tea, high tea, FemDom high tea, or whatever you wish.
It's your prerogative right as a FemDom to hold it at whatever time you like. You know the tradition, so you can make it, break it or subvert it - to suit your desires, preferences and D/s dynamic. And have fun and enjoy Your self.
x Anne O Nomis
I just finished teaching a Weekend Intensive format of the Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts™ class in Melbourne, which had sold out months in advance, and most of the students had flown in from all over Australia to take it. (Including two flying in Internationally - from Bangkok and New Zealand).
To try and ensure I keep my classes as wonderful as possible, I send out anonymous feedback survey for my students to fill in.
All but one student rated the course 5 out of 5 stars.
"The practical experience was great. Anne’s experience makes her a very credible teacher - also her approach- learn from mistakes, empathy etc made it a safe space for all."
"Anne is a wonderful educator. I was super nervous prior to attending the course but i felt comfortable straight away. Thank you."
"This course was incredibly informative and inspiring. Anne was an amazing teacher. I loved learning about the psychology & history behind BDSM. The hands-on experience using various implements was great, as getting real-life feedback is vital."
Thank you to my students - it was a pleasure to teach you all, and I appreciate the time you all took to fill in the detailed survey forms. Much appreciated.
NEW DOMINATRIX 'SEVEN REALM ARTS'™ CLASSES FOR 2020 JUST ANNOUNCED
With a long waitlist of people wanting to take the course, and pressure on to come up with some new course dates, I have met with Passionfruit Shop after the Summer holidays to set down new dates for 2020.
There will be two courses running in the first half of 2020.
OPTION 1: Weekly Thursday evening classes, beginning Thursday 26th March from 7 - 9 pm and every Thursday for eight weeks. To view and book this course: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/dominatrix-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course
OPTION 2: Weekend Intensive (Fly-in option), on Friday May 8th from 6 - 9 pm, Saturday May 9th from 10 am - 6 pm, and Sunday May 10th from 10 am - 6 pm. To view and book this course: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/events-workshops-consultation/products/beginning-may-8th-2020-seven-realm-arts-certificate-course-intensive
I've been teaching the course for nearly 5 years now, and it's such a pleasure to watch everyone develop as they acquire the knowledge, psychology understanding, framework for ascertaining interests, practical skills and confidence to apply them.
And due to popular request, I am also intending to run an Advanced class with practicum, and lower teacher-student ratio for more one-on-one support, in August 2020 in Gold Coast. (In planning and not yet officially announced).
I will also be giving a bunch of talks, 2 hour workshops and other events at Passionfruit Sensuality Shop in Melbourne. This year I am "in residence" this year in my Education Salon / office writing new books and beavering away.
For more information refer to Passionfruit's website: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/collections/skills
x Anne O Nomis
Recently I've been teaching classes on some of the different psychologies of people within the BDSM scene and who report to Dominatrices and lifestyle Dominants; submissives, slaves, masochists and fetishists. I feel that this is one of the areas least understood, and which in Dominatrix training is remiss in being taught.
Today I want to write a bit about "slaves".
UNDERSTANDING THE DESIRE TO BE A SLAVE
ANNE'S QUALIFICATION AND CLARIFICATION OF "CONSENSUAL VOLUNTARY SLAVERY"
Firstly let me qualify the term "slave". I am of course speaking of consensual voluntary BDSM slavery in which the aspiring, desiring and self-identifying slave has sought out a slave position with a BDSM Master, Mistress or Dom, because they want to be a slave and to serve. (And not in other words been coerced, trafficked, involuntary or anything else of that nature.)
As David Schachter put it in the Introduction of his co-written book on Master/slave relationships: "this is a consensual relationship, and either can quit at any time. The Master has to make sure the slave is happier serving than not. Therein lays the drama and the difference between Master/slave and other relationships." (David Schachter "Introduction" in Ask the Man Who Owns Him: The real lives of gay Masters and slaves Perfectbound Press, New York, 2009, p.13)
Some slaves live in what's known as a "24/7 live-in relationship", which is an abbreviation for a 24 hours a day / 7 days a week relationship, living with their Mistress / Master / owner in their house.
While others live separately, and are only able to engage in their relationship part-time or sporadically due to other life or work commitments. For example some "slaves" seek training and service under a Dominatrix or lifestyle Mistress, which is fitted in within the rest of their life.
The "ideal" for a slave is typically to want to be in a 24/7 live-in full-time relationship, even if that seems a distant dream or fantasy for many.
Some will attempt to seek out a would-be owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me), and negotiate a relationship, and even move locations geographically and change work places or quit their work in order to try and make it work. It would be folly though to do so without having really got to know and understand fully each other's needs and motivations, and the practicalities of how such an arrangement might work in the real world. It also takes a skilled Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) to manage well such a relationship due to the responsibility and skills required to make it work.
There are also practicalities (such as how are they going to be able to afford to live) which can get in the way of such desires, and other challenges which I will go in to within Part 2.
For this reason, many will practise such a dynamic on a much smaller or short-term scale, such as a day's slavery, weekend or week's slavery. In doing so, they learn more about their needs, capabilities, and about themselves and the Mistress / slave relationship dynamic.
Meanwhile, I want to talk about what's in it for both parties?
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE (consensual voluntary) SLAVE?
Everyone and every relationship is different, however some of the common themes which come up when slaves are asked about what's in it for them.
- Fulfils a need to serve and obey.
- Some (but by no means all) see it as a "calling".
- They may perceive being a slave as their identity and role, and holding deep / life meaning.
- Structure to their day and life, and a sense of purpose.
- Sense of security and belonging.
- Feeling of being cared for / protected.
- Love (may be qualified as love in a spiritual sense rather than romantic sense).
- Enjoy to be developed / trained / given direction and purpose / guidance by Mistress (Master / owner / Dom(me)).
- Excitement / play, and in some relationships this may be sexual use.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment.
From the other side, it's of course a huge responsibility for the owner / Mistress / Master / Dom(me) to take on, and many underestimate just how much is involved in keeping a slave happy, their needs fulfilled, and setting up their duties and structure in order for a M/s relationship to work.
So on the other side...
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE MISTRESS (OWNER / MASTER / DOM(ME))?
Again every individual and relationship is different, however some of the things that Mistresses (owners / Masters / Dom(mes) say they get out of the relationship with their slave is:
- Helps them in some way in life, for example service and support, cooking done, house cleaned, etc, with their slave as servant / caretaker / cleaner, etc.
- In some cases, a slave for BDSM activities / or sexual use of slave (but in some or many M/s relationships, the Mistress or Master does not have sex with their slave, nor do they necessarily have to engage in BDSM activities)
- Receiving slave's love and full devotion.
- Challenge and development of self-mastery and mastery of another person to understand them and to be able to operate and manage such a relationship. (Some see it as a sense of vocation to be a Master / owner, just as some slaves see their slave-calling as a vocation.)
- Entertainment / amusement
- A sense of achievement / accomplishment in being a successful Mistress / Master / slave owner over a prolonged period, working through issues and problem-solving as things in life come up for both parties.
- Happiness and / or a sense of fulfilment
Just how the Mistress / Master / owner / Dom(me) and slave make this type of relationship work is the topic I will explore for the next post. (Clue: A lot of communication, honesty and openness about their needs, clarity and structure around slave's duties, ability to potentially have to make some compromises to their fantasy for reality and make adjustments as needed to make it work in real life, values such as respect and understanding the other's needs, and more.)
Best, Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'
Host of Villa Domme
Titian’s painting ‘Venus with a Mirror’ which was inspiration for Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novella 'Venus in Furs'.
This is part 2 of a two series blog I wrote for Passionfruit Sensuality Shop. You can read Part 1 Female Domination: What Women Want by clicking here
PART 2: Leatherfolk and bringing discipline and clarity into Dom/sub relationships
In the 20th Century USA, returned servicemen and gay BDSM-loving men were amongst those who became part of a sub-culture known as "leathermen", or rather "leatherfolk" to take the more gender-diverse term. (As indeed it came to include a number of queer / feminist identifying participants, as well as heterosexual participants and diversified further over time.) One of the ways they signified their belonging to the sub-culture was in wearing leather - such as motorcycle leathers, as well as chaps and leather strap harnesses, and of course leather boots.
The writings of these leathermen / leatherfolk are very interesting for those who are interested in maintaining discipline and protocol within a Dominant / submissive relationship. The fact that there were so many returned servicemen amongst the 'Old Guard' which meant that their background influenced the high discipline, training and protocol tradition that a number of them extolled and practised. While for others amongst them, BDSM was about getting pleasure and getting off, with less formality and more clubbing. It is often said that there emerged something of a generational and cultural divide, between the Old Guard and the younger generation.
Knowing what you want.
Formal and disciplined, or informal and playful?
Role / activity?
For those pursuing FemDom relationships, these considerations remain relevant.
Are you wanting your own FemDom relationship to be quite formal, strict, clear roles, with discipline and respect? Or are you wanting a FemDom relationship which is less formal, with more joking around and skipping casually into play, and only being in "role" for playtime and events and that be the basis of what you train your partner for, and after orgasm the play is over and roles dropped? (Or by all means a different nuanced understanding which fits neither of these.)
Another interesting thing which came out of the gay S/M scene predominantly, was the use of hankie colours worn to indicate what an individual was in to. If only the world could be so clear about their desires!
It developed into a long list, but to abbreviate some of the key colour hankies and identities:
Black worn in left pocket = S/M topman
Black worn in right pocket = S/M bottom or Masochist
Red worn in left pocket = S/M fistfucker topman
Red worn in right pocket = S/M fistfucker bottom
Dark blue worn in left pocket = Wants to fuck another guy
Dark blue worn in right pocket = Wants to be fucked
Light blue worn in left pocket = Wants to have cock sucked
Light blue worn in right pocket = Wants to suck cock
Yellow worn in left pocket = Wants to give piss
Yellow worn in right pocket = Wants to take piss
Green worn in left pocket = Hustler / wants money
Green worn in right pocket = Wants to hire a hustler
Orange worn in left pocket = Top, into anything
Orange worn in right pocket = Bottom, into anything
Gray worn in left pocket = Bondage Top (does the tying / bondage on someone)
Gray worn in right pocket = Bondage Bottom (wants to be tied up / receive bondage)
(Reference: Larry Townsend 'The Leatherman's Handbook' Updated Second Edition, 1989, p.27, abbreviated further and selectively by me for this blog)
For my 'Art of FemDom relationship training' course, I've included a number of texts from the key figures of the leatherman / leatherfolk scene, as I think they're very useful for thinking about BDSM play dynamics, about discipline and about pleasure, and pursuing and expressing one's own desires.
Tragically, many of the influential writers - such as Geoff Mains, died during what became known as the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which swept through the gay community. It's lovely though that their legacy lives on in their writings, their role and contribution to BDSM, and the changes to society in respect of LGBTQ rights and more awareness and inclusiveness.
Training your dragon (slave): slave positions, protocol, training and reinforcement
One of the other major areas of FemDom relationships is that of slave training. This area owes much to an area known as "classical conditioning", which came out of experiments and writing such as the famous Pavlov's dogs. (Ring a bell, feed dogs a morsel of meat, and the dogs will over time begin to salivate in advance in anticipation of the food coming.)
Knowledge of classical conditioning and behaviour modification is very helpful to training slaves. It is a common discipline of dog training books to include discipline, rewards and punishment, amongst training strategies for reinforcement of behaviour, alongside the use of tools such as collars. However one of the best (in my view) authors on the use of animal training reinforcement and "shaping", is Karen Pryor, who was a former head dolphin trainer at Sea Life Park.
She advocates an approach which is responsive to the individual psychology of the animal you're working with, and their individual behavioral responses - including those which are idiosyncratic and unexpected. I utterly agree, and indeed the best Mistresses are those who don't have a one-size-fits-all approach and get irritated by any aberrant response of a "slave", but rather those who maintain psychological curiosity and interest to get to know their submissive / slave, their quirks, and things that work on them.
Essentially, one can use lessons from dog and dolphin training psychology and practices, to train one's submissive or slave. I've synthesised these practices into three areas: slave training (to reinforce desired behaviour) , slave shaping (teach old dogs new tricks, as it were, wink), and how to un-train annoying behaviour (yes you can thank me later).
Within the class, I also seek to provide ideas and inspiration as to what you might want to train your submissive to do. What's going to please you? (A glass of your favourite wine presented to you on arrival home after work? A bath run to the perfect temperature with bath salts? A foot massage done perfectly the way you like? Oral sex performed the way you like?) What's important to you? (Respect shown in particular ways? Giving you your space at specified times when you need? Devotion and consideration towards you displayed in thoughtful ways? Or something else?) And what does your submissive / slave long for, want and need? (To know their place? To know how to please you? To get their fetish "fix" every now and again? To get respite from being in charge, or counter-balance to their work responsibilities and role?)
Managing masochists and the fantasy of a Venus in Furs.
One of the most common confusions I see as a Dominatrix and BDSM educator and consultant, is a woman who has a partner who presents as a submissive but is actually a masochist.
What's the difference? Well people often mistakenly think that a masochist is someone who's into pain, and that's partly true but it's not the whole truth. Some of the differences in my view between a true "submissive" and a "masochist" is the following (with some sweeping generalization for lack of space to go into it in too much complexity or depth in a short blog post).
A submissive - wants to please you, and gets gratification from knowing they've pleased you. Is typically very grateful to their Dominant. They may be anxious to know whether they've disappointed you in any way, or if you're displeased with them, following play. They are generally happy to go along with most of what you want, to make you happy. They want to learn how they can please you.
A masochist - will want specific activities that they are into, and will often try and prescribe and script the play they want. They will often send you or leave out particular material as guides or hints to what they want done to them. They will have particular fetishes and fantasies they want fulfilled. They can be grumpy and complaining and negative if they don't get their way, or you disappoint their desires of what they envisaged. In their fantasy, the woman is above them and just out of reach, and is cold towards them and punishes them cruelly and her investment in punishing them shows that she is invested enough to bother spending time and energy on them. However she must seem above them and a bit out-of-reach, and too much proximity and familiarity will result in them devaluing her and getting bored.
In short, a masochist can leave the female dominant (or aspiring female dominant / partner) feeling really unconfident about herself and her abilities, and down that she can't seem to give him what he's wanting.
I would estimate that around 85% of all the consults that are booked privately with me, turn out to be women who are trying very hard to try and dominate their (self-identifying) "submissive" partner - who is not in fact a submissive but a masochist.
The term masochist comes from an author named Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who wrote the novella 'Venus in Furs', based on his fantasy desires for a beautiful cold woman to punish him cruelly, wearing furs (which was his fetish), and to demand he sign a contract to be her slave, and later cuckold him - sleeping with another man. The psychology is that of an inverted narcissist who wants his ego squished down, through cold punishment and humiliation, but is feeding off the attention that she cares enough to bother doing so. After dominating, he will inevitably complain or have some negativity that you didn't do something "right", ie the way he wants.
Sacher-Masoch was in real life a masochist, and tried to get exactly this fantasy from his mistress or wife, throughout his life.
Above: Vintage photograph of Masoch with Fanny Pistor
It is the woman who too often ends up tortured by the masochist, feeling like a failure at dominating him. So if you're reading this - and in this situation - know that it's the masochist, and not you(!).
So how does one deal with this? It seems an impossible situation - no?
It need not be. There are a range of strategies I recommend and discuss in my class, but among these and as "Cliff notes" summary, include:
a) Expectation management - setting expectations low, not promising play and then them getting annoyed if you can't execute on it due to a commitment clash, tiredness, illness or any other reason.
b) Filling up your own cup / energetic tank - as dealing with a masochist can be quite tiring, and psychologically intense, it's very important to take time to look after yourself, and time out doing what you want with your friends and pursuing your own interests separately, take off on holiday sometimes without them (and ironically will see them hold you in higher esteem for being a bit out-of reach and periodically ignoring them, which will have them fantasizing what you might be up to without them). You will need other people, friends in your life, you will help fill needs that your masochist living so much in their fantasy - won't be able to meet.
c) Batting off their greedy / needy fantasy desires, which will come constantly at you if you let them, and warning them of consequences (warn them that you're upping their punishment for the next weekend or event for them being so grumpy, as doing so will keep you elevated and on top of the horse / dragon and in control, and don't let them top from the bottom.)
d) Wearing and wielding their fetish periodically but unpredictably - as it suits you - will keep them ga-ga. Whatever your masochist has a fetish for - be it leather, or boots, or whatever, - if you periodically and unpredictably wear them at your own whim, it will have them go into ga-ga land. And you can grant them some gratification, or deny them to torment them if they've been badly behaved. However don't get into a predictable pattern that will result in expectation that you're going to wear the thing so that it becomes onerous on you, or boring and predictable for them.
It can basically feel like you are in a psychological chess game, if you're with a masochist. The benefits? A masochist will tend to be very loyal to their Mistress if she is meeting their masochistic desires (and is on the horse above them), and if you can manage a masochist - you can manage anything in life.
And if you have a submissive, rather than a masochist, who just wants to please you? Ah well then you're going to have a much easier time. As they're all about pleasing you.
For learning actual BDSM activities, my Dominatrix 'Seven Realm Arts' class is best for that, which I've been running successfully for four years now. (My goodness how time flies.) I have received so much positive feedback from those who have done the course, and their close friends observing them, that their confidence has increased, their knowledge and way they walk and hold themselves, which is lovely to hear.
I hope my new course on the Art of FemDom Relationship Training will help fulfil that gap though, for those that are wrestling with a personal relationship in which they are seeking to dominate a submissive / slave / masochist or other identity (sissy / puppy-dog or numerous other identities, etc).
Happy dominating and training your partner(s) to your pleasure, and practising Mistressery over all areas of your life.
x Anne O Nomis
There was something of a Dominatrix Twitter storm a few days ago, when Mistress Evilyne (@MsEvilyne also of London Dominatrix School) asked what educational books newbie Dommes should read.
'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' came top amongst her book picks, and those of many others.
It's so nice that my years of hard work putting this volume together has been so appreciated and well-received by Dominatrices around the world.
'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' is also picked out for an entire blog post on the website of London Dominatrix School. (I believe this blog post was written by Governess Elizabeth.)
A much beloved possession of Mine, Anne O Nomis' The History & Arts of the Dominatrix is the first book of its kind: it is the first book to cover the history of the art of Female domination.
Thoroughly compiled over the course of four years, Nomis travelled the world, encountered ancient texts, myths and legends, painstakingly trawled through centuries of clandestine advertising in papers and private letters between confidants, researched famous Dominatrices of years passed and interviewed renowned Dominatrices of the present era. This historical perspective sees her tracing Female domination from the practices of and rituals to the Goddesses of Mesopotamia, to the Governesses of the seventeenth century English flagellation schools, to the famous and controversial Dominatrics of the early-mid twentieth century and their interactions with law enforcement to the Dominatrices of the current period sessioning with their submissives in domestic settings and dungeons.
The illustrations are breath-taking and, through this wealth of information and artistry, Nomis crafts a spectacular text that takes a nuanced and informative look at power, beauty, gender, sexuality, sensuality, intimacy, D/s and the variations inherent in Female domination. Her pattern of practices of Dominatrices, which she coins the 'Seven Realm Arts', are certainly worth reading and considering, particularly for those considering female Domination as a profession.
The History & Arts of the Dominatrix is one of those books that, once you start reading it, you will not be able to put it down. It gives you a sense of the history and lineage you enter into once you take your first lesson and become involved in Female domination. A must for every (aspiring) Dominatrix's book shelf.
Thank you Mistresses for that recommendation. I feel very honoured.
Anne O Nomis
I will be giving a one-off talk at the Freud Museum on Wednesday 5th June 2019.
The talk will be a rare "double bill" on both Dominatrix History, and on Ancient Goddess Sex Rituals.
I had previously posted a survey on Twitter to gauge what topic I should give my Frued Museum talk on. However voting ended up being very even between them, see-sawing throughout the 24 hours of the survey, and ending up at 46% to 54%. Hence my taking the decision to speak on BOTH topics.
I am a real fan of the Freud Museum, which features Freud's psychoanalytic couch and his antiquities collection, which is so aligned to my own work and research on sexuality, theory and ancient art and Goddesses.
Freud's psychoanalytic couch, at the Freud Museum London.
Cabinet featuring ancient Goddess figurines & sphinx, Freud Museum London.
I am looking forward very much to catching up with friends and followers during my brief visit. I fly out the following day to Florence in readiness for teaching Villa Domme in Tuscany. (https://www.villadomme.com
Tickets to my London talk are strictly limited due to capacity, so get in quick if you are wanting to attend! Tickets here
I recently wrote a blog post for Passionfruit Shop, on the topic of Female Domination. (With my upcoming new course on 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training' beginning on 1st April 2019 - which is totally sold-out, so sorry for those of you who missed out.)
Female Domination (Part 1 of 2): What Women Want
Our resident Dominatrix, Anne O Nomis, is the author of the first book in the world on the Dominatrix's history and arts. In her book, she developed a framework of the "Seven Realm Arts" to break-down what it is that a Dominatrix does in her secretive dungeon lair. It has gone on to become highly influential around the world, and used by training institutes such as the world’s oldest BDSM training chateau, La Domaine Esemar located out of New York. ‘The History & Arts of the Dominatrix’ is recommended as curriculum text, and is a prized possession at London Mistress School.
Anne O Nomis has been teaching her Seven Realm Arts course for four years now at Passionfruit, and we've watched enrolees go through a journey while taking her course of growing in their confidence and the way they stride through their world, alongside the knowledge they gain.
In a blog post divided into 2 parts, we've asked Anne to talk about her brand new course 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training' and reflect on her four years of teaching the 'Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts' course.Whilst the current FemDom course is sold out, we've managed to squeeze in one more Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts class beginning next week on Thursday April 4th from 7 - 9 pm.
The next 'The Art of FemDom Relationship Training’ course won't run again until 31st October 2019 as Anne is on a 4 month research project from July.
PART 1: Coming to the topic of lifestyle and sexual Domination
For the past year, I've been working on research for a part of Domination that I hadn't previously turned my focus to, and that is to lifestyle FemDom (Female Domination). That is women who are dominating as part of their actual lifestyle and sex life.
Part of that started with trying to track down a decent manual or guide for aspiring lifestyle Mistresses. That might be someone who feels that they are dominant by nature and wanting some guidance on how to channel that and integrate it successfully within their relationship(s). Or in some circumstances, it's that their partner has shared with them that they identify as being submissive. Or rather their partner might want to be their servant, or their slave. Sometimes that may be mixed with particular "kinks", fetishes or fantasies; for example, they enjoying wearing women's hoisery and lingerie and being feminised, or perhaps they have a particular fetish for a powerful dominant woman wearing leather or latex, or high heel boots.
In either case, the woman is seeking some guidance and ideas; and has questions like:
"How do I manage Domination and submission within my relationship with my partner? Do we stay normal and some how click into playtime, or do I try and somehow integrate dominating him as a fulltime thing around-the-clock"?
"How do I work out what I want from the relationship? What should I do to dominate my partner and to keep things fresh and interesting? I need ideas!"
"I'm wanting to train my partner who is submissive, but I'm unsure how to do this."
"My husband has just sprung on me that he's into being dominated and he has particular kinks for being put in bondage and kept in chastity, and punished. This has come as a bit of a surprise to me, but I regard myself as an open-minded person and I want to fulfil his desires, and he says he was attracted to my natural dominance, but I feel like I don't know what I'm doing."
These are by the way literally requests and emails I've had. So I've tried to proffer advice as I could.
The limitations of existing books and manuals
Initially I'd sought a good manual to be able to recommend people, but I haven't found any one book that "does the job" as it were. There are various books that are potentially useful - that for example introduce the basics of lifestyle domination aimed at women who've been sprung by their partner or husband saying he's submissive. They are often titled to I think alleviate women's perceived concern or nervousness about being harsh, cruel or uncaring, with titles or sub-titles which incorporated reference to "nervous beginners" or "FemDom for nice girls", "for nice girls", "caring Mistress", which speaks to all the cultural baggage we grow up with as women, having to be pleasing and appeasing, kind, polite; and to the way in which the word "bossy" tends to be directed culturally at assertive girls or women but not commonly used for men in our society. Amongst these guides those written by Janet Hardy or under her various aliases - which I regard as good just for those looking for something to get them started.
I also tracked down some notorious underground Mistress training manuals, that were rather extreme. Dating from the turn of the 21st Century, some of their content seemed implausible to my trained eye, or encouraging frankly illegal and unethical strategies.
One really useful writer on Female Domination is Elise Sutton, whose self-published books are amongst those that have ended up recommended on the reading list for my new course. She advocates male submissives as being in search of "loving female authority", which is I think an idea and ideal that many can wrap their head around. One could say her views are a little idealized or romanticized, but nonetheless they will be helpful to many who align with the idea of "loving female authority".
And in one of Elise Sutton's books, Searching for Wanda (the last of her trilogy, this third book specifically on the topic of masochists), she included results of a survey she ran with 43 of her FemDom acquaintances filling it out. So not strictly scientific, but nonetheless the results were interesting and completely in line with what I've experienced in the lifestyle scene.
Sutton's findings were reported across just 3 pages of her 250 page book, but I felt they deserved more attention, and I've turned them into a bar graph for easy referral, dear readers. Actually I lie. Truth be told I had my slave do me a bar graph and then corrected his errors, and counted these for cane strokes he'll receive. (Wink)
So what women want when they get their own way?
Turns out - help with housework, being pampered, getting oral (cunnilingus)....
There were 21 activities that Sutton had her 43 female Dominant acquaintances rank, described by her terms used in her book, which were turned into a percentage. They are biased to heterosexual relationships, and there were 31 lifestyle FemDoms, 3 active pro-Dommes, 5 retired pro-Dommes, and 4 phone counselling FemDom/BDSM Dommes who filled in the survey.
See if you're surprised by this:
Domestic servitude (man doing household chores) - 92
Personal servitude (man giving women massages, pedicures, manicures, baths) - 89
Body worship (male orally servicing the woman sexually) - 87
Orgasm control (male masturbation forbidden, male must gain woman's permission before receiving an orgasm) - 79
Control finances (woman makes financial decisions) - 76
Final authority (woman has final say in most if not all areas of relationship) - 75
CF/nm activities (Clothed female / naked male) - 73
Spankings (light to firm discipline upon male buttocks with bare hand, hairbrush or paddle) - 73
Cuckolding (woman has right to have other lovers, male must remain monogamous) - 59
Strap-on play (penetrating male anally with strap-on dildo) - 52
Fetish outfits (woman wears leather outfits, boots, etc) - 51
Forced feminization and/or sissification (feminizing male, dressing up male in feminine attire, having male do chores while dressed as maid, etc) - 48
Light sadism (woman likes to inflict slight pain on male - scratching, biting, pinching, clothes pins, clamps, etc - 45
Male chastity and long term denial - requires male to wear chastity device, his orgasms are restricted and rare - 43
Water sports (golden showers, enemas) - 42
Bondage (use of restraints, hoods, gags, etc) - 40
Corporal punishment (harsh discipline of male via whip or cane) - 38
Humiliation play (woman likes to humiliate the male, verbally, publicly, objectification, other) - 31
C/B torture (inflict pain on male genitals) - 28
Hard sadism (woman gains sexual pleasure in seeing a man suffer- inflict pain, hear male scream, leave welts, marks, bruises, etc) - 25
Extreme play (psychological abuse, blood sports, scat, other extreme activities) - 16
(Source: Elise Sutton 'Searching for Wanda' (2010), Lulu Books, pp.171-173)
Were you surprised by any of this, dear reader?
Elise Sutton noted in her book that professional Mistresses were more likely to enjoy the activities at the end of the list: corporal punishment, humiliation play, CB torture, hard sadism and extreme play. (Sutton, p.173)
While married women were primarily interested in having their husbands serve them domestically, personally and sexually. (Sutton, p.173)
Which is why I knew I wanted my new course on The Art of FemDom to focus on relationship training with these particular areas in mind. That is, how to train and manage your partner doing domestic chores, personal servitude, and how to ask and get what you want sexually, and be the figure of authority within the consensual relationship.
However I also wanted my FemDom guidance to be extended to queer communities and not only traditional heterosexual relationships. And 20th Century BDSM history was rich on this, I knew from my past historical research. As indeed in the USA in particular, there was a fascinating history of "leatherfolk", which developed as a form of identity with their own values and protocols, which included a large contingent of gay men, returned servicemen from the war with military discipline, as well as queer / feminist practitioners and a wider more inclusive BDSM community.
(To be continued in Part 2: Leatherfolk, Protocol, and Training derived from dogs and dolphins and how it's useful to slave training, Masochists and the fantasy of a Venus in Furs)
The United Kingdom's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have just made a landmark announcement that they will no longer prosecute material made by consenting adults in legal acts under British Obscenity Law. This, dear readers, is big news, particularly for those who read / watch or make BDSM films or books.
By way of background, the Obscene Publications Act (1959) in the UK was designed to protect the public from material that could quote "deprave and corrupt" their minds. Prosecutors tried to prosecute the publishers of D.H Lawrence's famous book Lady Chatterley's Lover for "obscenity" in R v Penguin Books in 1960. And failed. It was a win for literature, and a win for the expression of sexuality, desire and humanity. The trial outcome was seen as heralding a new wave of sexual morality, and indeed by the mid-1980s Lady Chatterley's Lover was even on the school syllabus.
Lady Chatterley's Lover, First edition hardback, and popular paperback edition.
And that tradition had continued into the modern era, in which Crown Prosecution Service prosecutions of audio-visual material on obscenity charges were mostly failing.
A landmark case in 2012 was the trial of male escort Michael Peacock for DVDs promoted under the title "Sleazy Michael", in which he depicted male fisting, water sports (urination) and BDSM activities, in I might add - a consensual sexual context.
The general adult public - represented by juries - recognize increasingly that people's sexual interests and proclivities are their own to enjoy, provided that its between consensual adults and no-one is seriously injured or dies. And in the case of R v Michael Peacock, the jury found him not guilty of obscenity.
What's interesting to me also about that particular case of R v Michael Peacock, is the length that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) went to in order to prosecute Michael. He sold his material by advertising it on Craigslist, and it was acquired by the CPS by sending and undercover police officer around to his home in Finsbury Park London to purchase some of the DVDs in what was essentially a "sting operation". And to put this in some perspective, the sexual and BDSM acts that are depicted are not illegal or criminal in UK law. So in other words you had undercover police officers going to great lengths to seek out DVDs on gay BDSM sexual acts, in order to prosecute "Sleazy Michael" for activities which were consensual and legal and between consenting adults. While the buyers of the Sleazy Michael DVDs are adults who want to see this material and have sought it out because - presumably - "they're into it". So quite where the harm is, I don't quite see. Nor did the jury, who found him not guilty of obscenity.
Male escort "Sleazy Michael" Peacock, celebrating his win with a fisting-fist raised, following his win in R v Michael Peacock (2012).
The case is quite representational of the stupid lengths that the CPS "obscenity hunters" were going to to try and seek out "obscene" material and spend much public money prosecuting independent makers of pornography for acts which were in of themselves perfectly legal.
That has all changed now, finally, with today's announcement from the CPS in the UK. Following public consultation, the CPS has announced:
“It is not for the CPS to decide what is considered good taste or objectionable. We do not propose to bring charges based on material that depicts consensual and legal activity between adults, where no serious harm is caused and the likely audience is over the age of 18. (See Guardian article 31 Jan 2019)
The CPS will, however, continue to robustly apply the law to anything which crosses the line into criminal conduct and serious harm.”
And with that announcement, makers of consensual BDSM material around the UK will let out a sigh with collective relief.
Common sense - and consensuality - has won.
I have had over recent years repeatedly turned down requests to offer Skype tuition / consults. Why? Well I wasn't sure I could deliver my energy over the realm of the internet call in the same way I did in classes and talks, and I was busy and my home life and other commitments were not ideally conducive to Skype calls. And meanwhile my classes were going so brilliantly, and I was fulfilled, that I didn't feel the need or desire to offer Skype consults.
So what changed?
Well my curiosity was piqued by a few recent inquiries from very interesting people / potential students, that I felt very tempted or even compelled to want to offer Skype lessons.
Over the Christmas holiday period away, I pondered on it, and decided I would offer Skype consults in 2019. That I would dedicate myself wholly to writing as an author, and teaching, which I'm in a privileged position to be able to do, thanks to the success of my classes and demand for my teaching, alongside book sales and royalties.
So this year is all about my fulfilling myself through my true calling, of passing on knowledge through my books and teaching on the history and arts of the Dominatrix, and continuing my research on ancient Goddess cults - with several overseas research trips tagged onto the end of my teaching Villa Domme in Tuscany.
Within days of my decision to offer Skype consulting, and before I'd even broadcasted that decision, I received an intriguing query from a very interesting woman in the UK, seeking to find her power and to dominate her partner. Her timing could not have been more fortuitous, and she became my first Skype student and I look forward to helping her greatly in her journey.
Our call was scheduled for what ended up being one of the hottest days ever in Melbourne history where I live, with a heatwave and temperatures that day reaching 44 degrees Celcius and power outages around the city. Nonetheless the power was restored and our call was able to go ahead, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I was able to help her as I'd hoped; her journey successfully begun in my view by exercises to tap into her authentic dominant self, interests and style - rather than a cliche image of a Dominatrix that she'd found off-putting and no connection to.
I won't post any more on her journey, other than the generic information mentioned, as I protect each person's confidence and privacy. But her journey will be interesting, and I feel privileged to be able to share my knowledge and act as a kind of torch-bearer to illuminate a path for her.
I look forward to connecting with and helping others too. Whether that's aspiring Mistresses, practising pro-Dommes and subs wanting to be their best.
I feel I have this wide-ranging erotic wisdom from the Dominatrix realm, an open-minded and empathetic understanding of different psychologies, and a depth of knowledge informed by archaeology and history from my research. And it's lovely that I can use all this knowledge sitting around in my brain to aid, assist and empower my students.
For those of you reading this who are interested in private tuition, I've put together a page on my website here: https://historyofthedominatrix.com/pages/private-tuition with pricing.
There is also a live calendar in "Beta testing" currently, which is tracking my availability and enabling people to live-book a time slot, which should (fingers crossed) show the times on their local timezone. It is here: https://historyofthedominatrix.com/apps/book-an-appointment/appointments/new
I begin teaching a new Seven Realm Arts class next week in Melbourne, which was fully booked out weeks in advance; and further classes scheduled for later this year. And when I'm not teaching by private lesson or class, I will be finishing my new book and seeing to its release into the world.
It's lovely to feel so calm, confident, peaceful and "on (life's) purpose", following my true calling in doing this work. Thank you to all my students who've been so supportive of my work and classes, and sent all their friends on recommendation, which has enabled me to dedicate myself wholly to it.
I wish you all a happy and abundant 2019.
x Anne O Nomis
The "vulva petition" - asking the House of Representatives to review its Guidelines under Australian Classification laws is finally through the Petitions Committee - is now up online.
I am hoping it will attract 1000 signatures within the timeframe - which ends on 17th October 2018.
Update: The petition exceeded 1000 signatures, and was presented to the House of Representatives. The relevant ministers have three months to address and reply to the petition.
Thank you so much everyone who signed the petition, tweeted and shared with their friends. I'm so appreciative of all your support for this important cause.
Top image photo credits: Photographer Lucky from Hustle & Bunk. Parliament House Wikicommons image by Con Tassios.
I was recently interviewed by Passionfruit Shop, where as an historian and author - I give talks and teach on sex history, and most particularly on the Dominatrix's history and arts.
Interview with Anne O Nomis - Our Resident Educator of Dominatrix Arts
1. Has your experience of the Dominatrix given you confidence in other areas of your life?
Absolutely - yes. Dominatrices are often among the first to challenge male authority and ridiculous and prejudiced laws and views around sexuality. Mistress Absolute in the UK has taken on porn laws around face-sitting, with her protest outside parliament face-sitting her partner in tweeds, drinking English tea and singing Monty Python's "Sit on My Face". I found her protest absolutely inspiring.
Other Dominatrices around the world have such as Terri-Jean Bedford in Canada have successfully challenged sex work laws.
"I want to become more activist this next year and join forces to defend the sacred vulva and labia, and take on the ridiculous Australian laws which are causing magazine editors to have to airbrush the external labia of their models in order to comply with classification and censorship laws in Australia." Anne O Nomis
This is leading to a documented rise in labioplasty procedures, and the rise in women feeling insecure about the appearance of their vulva and labias because magazines do not display prominent labia due to Classification law. I'm sure many other women feel outraged also, but perhaps don't feel they can publicly campaign.
As an archaeologist, historian, BDSM and sexuality educator, and as mother to my young daughter, I can't stand for these laws anymore and I plan to take them on. I plan to launch a 'Sacred vulvas' campaign against the laws banning visible female air-brushing on September 1st this year.
For publications, the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications in their 'Unrestricted' section has that: In practice
“Realistic depictions may contain discreet genital detail but there should be no genital emphasis.”
Genitals which are "indiscreet" are restricted under law. That is, vulvas which appear conspicuous, discernible, clear, flagrant, striking, eye-catching, glaring, apparent, visible, noisy, loud, prominent - to take the various words which are antonyms - the opposite - of "discreet".
In practice, the Classification Board is applying this law to visible prominent protruding labia, so that all soft-porn has labia airbrushed in order to pass cenorship.
Vulvas were sacred in much of the ancient world. The earliest so-called Venus figurine in the world, the Venus of Hohlefels, has prominent breasts and an explicit indiscreet vulva.
Ancient Goddess literature on the Goddess Inanna of Mesopotamia, cited in my book 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', reads: "her vulva was remarkable. She praised herself full of delight at her vulva."
While artwork and figurines of the naked Goddess across Mesopotamia, Levant and Cyprus featured prominent vulva and darkened pubic hair triangle emphasized.
Women and girls should have body confidence around their vulva, not be shamed by its "indiscreetness", by its explicit visible features of labia. They should not feel they need to minimise their vulva, its protruding lips, its pronounced features out of a warped view of what they think is normal from only seeing airbrushed images. Their vulvas in all their visual visible features are sacred and should be viewed as beautiful and with confidence.
Venus from Hohlefels, carved from mammoth ivory, c 35,000 - 40,000 BCE. Wikicommons image, by Thilo Parg.
Aphrodite figurines with pronounced pubic triangle from island of Cyprus. Photograph by Anne O Nomis.
I am also putting together a new book on ancient sex Goddesses in archaeology, their literature which emphasizes the vulva and the active sexual desire of the Goddess. There are beautiful ancient songs as texts with explicit erotic content about the Goddess, which are not in the easily accessible public domain, due to their subject matter. So I am busy putting together the ancient art work, rituals and songs - which were played to the lyre, for my new work which will be titled 'Flight of the Goddess'. I think the bravery of writing that book with explicit sex songs has also been emboldened by my work on the Dominatrix. I intend to teach the ancient sex rituals and sex songs also. I'm currently learning the ancient lyre harp instrument to sing the sex songs.
2) You give talks on the history of the Dominatrix and teach on the secretive Dominatrix arts here at Passionfruit. What changes do you see in your students?
I think my students have their views around sexuality expanded through the course, and become more open-minded, and conscious of the wide range of activities that form different areas of exploration of human sexuality. The course challenges ideas of the narrow definition of normative sexuality. Students learn about sexual power-play games and dynamics, the appeal of bondage, the huge variety of fetishes, subversion of binary gender roles, transformation and ecstasy.
Students often tell me they've gained much greater confidence as a by-product of being on my course, and sometimes that causes dramatic life changes as a result of feeling more empowered.
3) Historically, Dominatrixes have been a closed society. What led you to reveal the Art through your book and teachings?
The Dominatrix was a taboo of a taboo (of a taboo), as I wrote in my book. Because women under the major patriarchal religions were meant to be submissive and obedient to their husbands. As such, the Dominatrix as a figure challenges and overturns that underlying societal structure. She was also a figure of the underground sex world, of repressed sexualities, non-conforming sexualities.
When I was researching and writing my book, 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix', very little had ever been published on the topic of the Dominatrix. I wanted to gather her story, her history, and tell it for the first time, gathering together all the rare primary source material and images from museums and galleries and libraries around the world. It was a hard project, but that's what I accomplished.
The arts of the Dominatrix have been secretive because the activities themselves were stigmatised by society, and people carried a lot of shame around their desires. Their desire to submit to a powerful woman. Their desire to be put into bondage. Or their desire to cross-dress. And so on.
The arts are also quite complicated to explain. I've had a lot of Dominatrices tell me that they're grateful for my book, because they find it hard themselves to explain what they do to others. They're pleased to have a book with their sacred history and arts recorded, and in academic libraries, and available to pass to someone to explain what they do.
I feel like it's been an important part of female erotic wisdom, practiced by these women who are playing this complex role which is kind of part-psychologist, part-actress, part-healer, part-sex worker, and so on. I feel a calling to uncover this important history which has been buried within underground texts and museum vaults, and share that story of the women themselves, and something of the sacred erotic wisdom they carry and practice.
4) What makes a good Dominatrix?
Hmmm... I think someone who manifests sexual power and confidence, is open-minded, in command, is intuitive in reading a person's mind and desires, has the ability and knowledge to play with those desires, and has deep empathy and understanding, and is merciful. The latter often surprises people when I say it. But of course, the Dominatrix grants mercy. From the ancient world rituals to the modern-day, the submissive makes their plea for mercy which is granted by the Goddess and by the Dominatrix. And I can't tell you how higher a percentage of Dominatrices are vegetarian due to their concern for animal cruelty, but it's very high and famously complicates catering at any Dominatrix event.
Link to original blog post: https://www.passionfruitshop.com.au/blogs/news/interview-with-anne-o-nomis-our-resident-dominatrix
I have been featured in Archer Magazine's History Issue, with an article 'Mistress of the Underground' on writing my book on the Dominatrix across time.
Archer Magazine focuses on Sex, Gender and Identity, and it has been a pleasure working with the team including Adolfo Aranjuez (Editor-in-chief, Archer).
For more information or to purchase Archer Magazine, go to: https://archermagazine.bigcartel.com
I have just arrived back this week from teaching a week at Villa Domme in Tuscany. The course was The Mysteries of Female Domination™ diploma course.
Attendees came from the Netherlands, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Australia, and we had an absolute blast. While I teach a number of courses in Australia, this was the first-time I've ever run an intensive week-long course and in such a spectacular location.
One of the ways this course differed from others I've taught, as well as the length, is that I aimed holistically to get transmit the essence of Female Domination from ancient sources, ritual, history, lifestyle D/s, the professional craft, and to attune the different psychologies of subjects who present to the Female Dominant. To encourage open conversations about interests and blocks to stepping into Dominance. I also had opportunity to share my new research on the ancient Goddess sex ritual for the second time ever, and developed further on when I first presented on it.
You'll see some of the attendees posted on Twitter during the course:
The course submissives were playfully (and sometimes more sternly) bossed around and punished, and used for practice. I ate my breakfast to the spectacular view of two Mistresses in fetish attire brandishing a single tail whip in front of the rose bushes. On the final day, all kinds of activities took place also outdoors, in this very unique setting, the nature of which I'm unable to go into - but trust me it was quite something.
Many on the course made life-long friendships, and have expressed a desire to come back again next year. The women, in case you're interested, came from diverse backgrounds and included one of New York's top Dominatrices, women involved in advanced sexuality education and practices, lifestyle Mistresses, and those keen to step into their dominance.
I have received emails from many of those who came, Mistresses and subs, reporting positive feedback and ways in which it's affected them.
All-in-all it was a delicious experience, and I must admit I am suffering Domme-drop from returning home after such an amazing time at Villa Domme in Tuscany.
Thank you to all those who were a part of the trip and made it so magical.
x Anne O Nomis
PS Yes I plan to run a course again next year in June 2019.
It will be limited to 16 people, as I feel that's the right amount for me to manage well and teach at such an event.
Last year in 2017, I wrote about the passing of slave david stein (spelt in lowercase, as he liked to be known), who co-developed the ethical framework acronym of SSC or Safe Sane Consensual, in 1983 in New York.
David was the last living member of the three member New York Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) committee; Martin Berkenwald, Bob Gillespie and david stein - who published a committee report with the phrasing of Safe, Sane, Consensual. The members would have little idea at how influential those words would be come. As Stein would later reflect:
"Tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of kinky men and women all over North America and around the world, many of whom have no idea what “GMSMA” stands for, know “Safe Sane Consensual” (SSC)."
Given the significance of the SSC (Safe Sane Consensual) code to BDSM, and the later challenge of RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink), I thought I would devote a blog post to discussing these.
I'm writing more on this in my new book (Mistressery) in progress, but the need for this material seems required in the very "NOW", so I'm putting some of the resources online straight away.
I hope this may prove helpful...
Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'
SSC (Safe, Sane & Consensual)
Challenging pathology and abuse;
A Framework of Fireworks !
Safe, Sane and Consensual grew out of small gay S/M groups involved in education and activism, in 1980s Chicago and New York.
Gay S/M clubs experienced a small number of predatory so-called "Dominants", who might prey on the younger and/or new-to-the-scene attendees and push them into activities without the individual's full awareness of or agreeement to the activity or risks; without in other words informed consent. There were also people who had good ethics and concern for others, but their level of technical know-how in activities such as bondage and whipping may not match their level enthusiasm. At the same time, S/M play would often throw up emotionally complex responses which were aided by good communication and discussion.
The S/M community met these concerns with education, advocacy and discussion of ethics. Their members were also concerned with the image of gay S/M to the wider public, and the perception of S/M as being as psycho-pathological destructive or neurotically self-abusive behaviour.
In today's arguably more kink-friendly world, we may also forget that the term S/M had its roots in the German psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis" in 1890. For much of 20th Century history, people who were into BDSM and kink activities were at risk of being viewed as pathological, psychologically damaged or as sexually deviant.
Above: Psychopathia Sexualis by Kraft-Ebing with portrait of author.
The legacy of psychiatric pathology tradition prevented S/M being seen for its erotic lifestyle potential - as activities and interaction towards pleasure, experimentation, excitement, fun and fulfilment between consenting adults.
The response of the gay S/M groups was to seek to build a community which would help advocate for education, communication between people, consent, and safe and sane play.
For the historical record, and because my blog seems to get found by a lot of scholars and journalists, I'm reproducing the original 1983 GMSMA newsletter wording as a historical resource:
"GMSMA is a not-for-profit organization of gay males in the New York City area who are seriously interested in safe, sane, and consensual S/M. Our purpose is to help create a more supportive S/M community for gay males, whether they desire a total lifestyle or an occasional adventure, whether they are just coming out into S/M or are long experienced.
Our regular meetings and other activities attempt to build a sense of community by exploring common feelings and concerns. We aim to raise awareness about issues of safety and responsibility, to recover elements of our tradition, and to disseminate the best available medical and technical information about S/M practices. We seek to establish a recognized political presence in the wider gay community in order to combat the prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions about S/M while working with others for the common goals of gay liberation."
Source: Emphasis my own. August 1983 report of that Gay Male S/M Activists committee; reproduced in david stein Safe, Sane and Consensual: The Making of a Shibboleth
Above: Gay Male S/M Activisits publication and logo on T-shirt
The original wording of the New York Gay S/M Committee newsletter is telling of the spirit in which the Safe, Sane, Consensual code came about.
The committee's chosen wording is very likely influenced by the familiar American exhortation around Independence Day fireworks; “Have a safe and sane Fourth of July.” Indeed david stein acknowledged this relationship in his own writing on how Safe, Sane and Consensual came about:
"Every year while i was growing up, i heard that phrase ("Have a safe and sane Fourth of July") on TV, or saw it in the newspapers and on billboards, and it stuck."
Left: Vintage Pin 'A Safe and Sane Fourth"; Right: Seal of State of California State Fire Marshall for Fireworks with "Safe and Sane" at its top.
Over in Chicago, the infamous Hellfire Club produced its statement of purpose for their club using "safe and sane" in 1980, predating New York's GMSMA committee newsletter.
The unsigned essay by Tony DeBlase for Chicago Hellfire Club’s Inferno 10 (1981) run book sets out Hellfire Club's stated purpose:
“. . . to provide education and opportunities for participation in S&M sex among consenting adult men and to foster communication among such individuals. Responsible S&M has become more popular and less feared in the gay community and Chicago Hellfire Club continues to serve its community — striving always to educate and promote safe and sane enjoyment of men by men." [Emphasis my own]
Above: Chicago's Hellfire Club in 1970s with John Preston in centre, and Tony DeBlase on right. Source: Leather Archives & Museum
From a historical point of view, did the New York Gay S/M activitists in fact emulate / copy / borrow or appropriate Chicago Hell Fire Club's wording of "safe and sane", to which the third term "consensual" was added? Or were the two groups independently borrowing from the 4th of July fireworks slogan?
Although slave david stein narrates a version in which they both happened to come to the same wording independently, I believe they (the GMSMA committee members) may have borrowed or taken up Hellfire Club's wording - whether it having been sewn into their subconscious from reading the Chicago material or interacting with its members mentioning "safe and sane", or whether more consciously referring to Hellfire's statement when developing their own.
Certainly david stein attended Hellfire Club, and wrote about his experience there. He posed as a model for bondage there. He viewed any and all writings and reports from the SM scene with a keen interest in ideals of S/M relationships.
In his own writing he acknowledges this possibility:
"Inferno 10 was the first i attended, and it made a big impression on me, so Tony’s [Tony deBlase's] words may have suggested the application of “safe and sane” to S/M, and even the association with “consensual.” But the GMSMA statement of purpose was the first place all three terms were jointly applied to S/M."
Like a lot of inventions, the origin is not as clear-cut and traceable to one individual as one might like. Both the Chicago and New York Gay SM scene in the early 1980s can claim a role in the use of the terms, and they evoked in people's minds the association with 4th of July phrase around fireworks.
Fireworks - exciting, special, exhilarating, fun, bright and colourful, powerful, explosive, magnificent but also potentially dangerous if not supervised with some caution - was an apt metaphor for S/M.
It made the motivations of S/M players more immediately understandable also: people who sought excitement, exhilaration and enjoyment in their sexual interactions.
As stein recounted,
As a kid, what i took “Have a safe and sane Fourth” to mean was, “Have a good time, but don’t be stupid and burn the house down or blow your hand off.” More than two decades later, that seemed to fit S/M just fine. What we meant by “safe and sane S/M” in 1983 was, “Have a good time, but keep your head and understand what you’re doing so you don’t end up dead or in the hospital — or send someone else there.”
How SSC came into popular usage
The Safe, Sane and Consensual slogan was solidified into BDSM history when it was used as the slogan for marches on Washington by the Lesbian and Gay Rights and the S/M-Leather-Fetish Contingent in March 1987 and March 1993.
The pre-march planning sessions had debated various options, as well as weighing up the pros and cons of Safe, Sane and Consensual, before deciding on it as the most effective slogan. Once agreed upon, it went out on the top of all newsletters and press releases, and gradually onto T-shirts and stickers. For the 1993 march, the effect was magnified. Safe, Sane and Consensual was emblazoned onto the S/M-Leather-Fetish Contingent's 20 foot banner, which hung the day previous across the grand entrance of the government building on Constitution Avenue, that hosted our huge S/M-Leather- Fetish Conference.
"Thousands of men and women from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries saw those three words, identified with them, and took them back to their local communities." (david stein)
Above: Example of a modern day "safe sane consensual" T-shirt.
Safe Sane Consensual came to define the S/M community as its code, its ethos. With benefit of hindsight, we can now see how significant this 1980s gay S/M movement was - and is - the to the BDSM scene today.
It was these activists and educators who were helping form ethical codes for BDSM players, to look after their members. They were writing and marching against prejudice and ignorance of towards their community and practices. Their legacy to the SM-leather-kink communities was considerable.
RACK - Risk-Aware Consensual Kink
A Framework of Risk Acknowledgment
Close to the turn of the millennium, a critique of Safe, Sane and Consensual was simmering amongst BDSM writers such as Laura Antoniou, Joseph W. Bean and Phil Julian. Whilst amongst community web messaging and forum boards, alternatives were being debated.
One of the challengers was Gary Switch, who would later develop the term RACK as Risk-Aware Consensual Kink - which would become the chief alternative slogan of the BDSM community.
Gary Switch requests his account to be reproduced in the whole:
Above: Avatar of GarySwitch
During a discussion of SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) on the TES-Friends list on 11/25/99, I proposed RACK (Risk-Aware, Consensual Kink) as an alternative. Here's my motivation:
Nothing's perfectly safe. Crossing the street isn't perfectly safe. Remember that it's technically called "safer sex," not "safe sex." If we want to limit BDSM to what's safe, we can't do anything more extreme than flogging somebody with a wet noodle. Mountain climbers don't call their sport safe, for the simple reason that it isn't; risk is an essential part of the thrill. They handle it by identifying and minimizing the risk through study, training, technique, and practice. I believe that this approach will work better for us leatherfolk than claiming that what we do is safe. We want to foster the notion that we develop expertise, that to do what we do properly takes skill developed through a similar process of education, training, and practice.
Negotiation cannot be valid without foreknowledge of the possible risks involved in the activity being negotiated. "Risk-aware" means that both parties to a negotiation have studied the proposed activities, are informed about the risks involved, and agree how they intend to handle them. Hence "risk-aware" instead of "safe."
The "sane" part of SSC is very subjective. Who's making the call? Person A might think fisting is insane; persons B and C might enjoy it very much. "Sane" always reminds me of Pat Paulsen's campaign slogan from the old Smothers Brothers show: "Vote for Paulsen; he's not insane!" If you go around constantly reassuring folks that you're not crazy, they'll start to wonder.
I've heard "sane" interpreted as: "able to distinguish fantasy from reality" and "not intoxicated," which are both perfectly valid, though the latter is similar to the above -- you don't go around constantly reassuring folks that you're not drunk, either.
"Consensual" is the crux, implying negotiation which implies being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, as well as dealing responsibly with risk factors. If you don't know the risk factors, if you don't know what will happen in reality, then you don't know what you're consenting to. Meaningful negotiation must always take place on the common ground of consensus reality.
The "kink" part went in to make a snappy acronym and because SSC doesn't tell you what you should be SSC about. Safe, Sane, and Consensual trout fishing? Alluding to the rack, an archetypal torture instrument, has been criticized, but to me it signifies our transformation of atrocity into ecstasy, and admits that though we may enjoy some dark fantasies, we realize them harmlessly.
RACK is admittedly more confrontational than SSC. It's defiant, the same way the GLBT community uses "queer." RACK allows us the freedom to have non-PC fantasies. Don't a lot of us enjoy non- consensual fantasies, either from the top side or the bottom side? We enjoy them in our literature; we may very well enjoy them while we play. But we act them out responsibly and consensually.
(Reference source: Gary Switch, Contributing Editor, Prometheus magazine, GarySwitch@aol.com )
Gary's account is both articulate and understandable. It promotes quite a realist attitude towards BDSM with its inherent risks, and suggests that participants focus on identifying the risks in order that they can be discussed and play their role in consent and in risk management.
For many who enjoy more extreme forms of play, referred to as "Edgeplay", with higher elements of risk of harm, RACK provided them with a framework which emboldened their right and defence - to indulge in their preferred play.
Edgeplay is a kind of subjective term for anything that has significant risks and is regarded as more extreme activities in BDSM circles; from breathplay, to fireplay, to knives and cutting, to barebacking, and so on.
In practice, and in fetish clubs, I would often hear conversations that go something like this:
"Stop nannying us" - the Edgeplayers would say to the players admonishing them about dangerous play.
"Nothing's safe. We get that our kinks can be risky or dangerous, but so is life. It's our choice. This is how we get off. We're aware of the risks. We're educated. We know what we're doing. It's our life."
If SSC Safe, Sane and Consensual had a flavour of idealistic ethical romance about it, RACK Risk-Aware Consensual Kink was about realism of risk, individual responsibility and the right to choose to take risk for our kicks or kinks.
Both these acronyms of SSC and RACK are the most common batted around within the BDSM community and by individual players. As such, I hope this blog post will provide food for thought and a place of resources to access and refer to the original work. I've listed the most accessible and recent articles below.
Bibliography / Resources
* Richard von Kraft-Ebing (1890) Neue Forschungen auf dem Gebiet der Psychopathia sexualis ; translated in English as New Research in the Area of Psychopathology of Sex.
* david stein (2002) “Safe Sane Consensual”: The Making of a Shibboleth by slave david stein under the Guardianship of Master Steve of Butchmann’s. Published in 20th Anniversary issue, September/October 2002, of VASM Scene, the newsletter of Vancouver Activists in S/M of Vancouver, British Columbia. Viewable at: http://boybear.us/ssc.pdf
NB: An early draft was also presented at Leather Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C, in April 2000: www.leatherleadership.org. Other versions published in The Sandmutopia Guardian and later reworked for the Spring 2001 issue of NewsLink, the GMSMA newsletter.
* Gary Switch (c 2009) Rack Essay and Interview posted by author as Fetlife post: https://fetlife.com/users/53355/posts/25734 (Viewable only by Fetlife members)
Villa Domme 'The Mysteries of Female Dominance - Realm Arts™ course' in Tuscany, 9 - 16 June 2018.
In June 2018, I am teaching a course in the 'Mysteries of Female Domination - Realm Arts™ course' in Tuscany in Italy. I am naturally very excited about this.
I have been teaching a Dominatrix Seven Realm Arts course in Melbourne which runs over 8 fortnightly classes, which has been very popular and run repeatedly due to demand. However it's prohibitive for people to attend from overseas, due to the way it's spread out 16 weeks with fortnightly classes, and the geographical location of Melbourne Australia being very far to fly to from the UK and Europe.
Accordingly I have put together an intensive and immersive retreat style certificate course in domination, which runs over 7 days with accommodation on site in a Tuscan villa.
Within a month of announcing and offering this course, I've received bookings from female dominant women (and in some cases submissives) people in the Netherlands, UK, USA and Australia, who will all be flying over to attend.
Villa Domme has 10 bedrooms, of which 8 are now booked and confirmed, and the course is going ahead. There is still place for a couple more people to fill up the villa and course, if anyone who reads this blog entry has the desire to attend - I suggest you contact me promptly.
The course includes teaching in all the main areas of the Dominatrix's craft, which I conceptualized in my book as the "Seven Realm Arts" (Chapter V, 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'). This framework and my book has become the curriculum used by Mistress training in various places around the world.
I have been putting together domination literature through the ages, which elucidate the Dominatrix / Mistress in power and command, as well as the interplay with her subject - whether he be submissive, slave, servant, schoolboy, cross-dresser or other role / identity.
I will be taking the course participants on a day tour of the Uffizi in Florence taking in artwork on the theme of the "power of women" in art. This was a specific genre of Renaissance art, in which men are brought down by female allure and womanly wiles, and thus ripe for viewing and discussion.
In addition, I am keen to integrate material which has come from my new research on ancient Goddess rituals practised in the pre-Christian era. These includes preparation for the quršu - the "fucking ritual" quite literally translated from Akkadian, which included bathing and beautification rituals, setting up the bed with flowers and incense, sacred music and songs of desire, and the erotic coupling of the Goddess with the King-God, followed by a procession and revelry in which the community joined in the feasting and celebration.
These sacred rituals practised for three thousand years - offer insight into the ritual energetic of fuelling female desire and power.
I am also interested to expand on the notion of the sex Goddess as "Lady of the Largest Heart" as she was known in the literature. As a figure who attracted people of diverse sexual identities to her, with special roles offered within her cult, including for people of third gender, gender ambiguity, the cross-dressed / transformed and sex workers (or perhaps better put - sex specialists, in which the "kissing of the phallus" was one of their craft arts).
There is also evidence that the Goddess (likely played by her priestess) practised a "dance (or game) of domination" as part of her rituals. These practises appear to have been culturally transmitted to the cult of Artemis Orthia on Sparta, which although used upon the "ephebes" in a context of military training, in my view had their roots in sexuality and fertility rites. Aspects of mystery religions also included whipping, as seen in the wall fresco in the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii.
The course includes accommodation in the villa, all breakfasts and lunches and dinner on 3 nights (with the remaining nights allowing some freedom to explore local restaurants or cook at the villa, with eateries and supermarket just a few minutes walk away). It also includes equipment needed for the course, and a mobile tool-kit of items which I have personally selected. And of course the art tour.
Full information is on the website https://www.villadomme.com/
For any inquiries relating to the course, you can contact me at email@example.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I heard the sad news of the passing of David Stein. (Or, as I should write - slave david stein - in lowercase, as he would self-identify.)
As a BDSM historian I tilt my cap to david. (A leather police cap at that.) For david stein was one of the original NY gay male activists behind Safe, Sane & Consensual (SSC). I didn't know david stein personally. I was active in some of the same online groups as him, and we posted on each others' threads, including on BDSM history.
He began his interest in bondage at a young age, writing in his biography:
"Perhaps because i was granted too much freedom as a child and was largely ignored by both parents until i was of school age — i made an unconscious association between bondage (or any kind of restraint/constraint) and love. (It was only a few years ago that i realized this.) For me, to be bound is to be loved; to be confined is to be wanted."
Coming out in his late 20s, david abandoned a PhD Northwestern University in Illinois - with his thesis on the subject of truth, in order to step into his own truth. He moved to New York in 1977, worked as a volunteer for the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) and worked for Christopher Street magazine in its heydays. As well as writing on SM, he edited some of its star writers, including Edmund White.
Writing about his experience at Chicago Hellfire Club's infamous Inferno, he inadvertently ended up the bondage model illustrated on the cover of New York Native.
david stein as bondage model
In the era of Old School code of the leathermen, leather-wearing was "earned", and david sought to honour this by wearing denim when he attended Spike (bar) . When he finally did buy his first leather jacket, he succeeded in attracting a leatherman that same night, performing particular acts which he frankly discusses in his biography.
In 1980, he attended the first meeting of what became Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA). He served as Chairman of the steering committee, and held a number of positions over the years - including President and Program Chairman, editing the newsletter and publications.
As david stein would recount:
"GMSMA not only gave me opportunities to learn about s/m — it became the teaching outlet that my departure from academia had denied me, and i used every opportunity it afforded to spread information and ideas about safe, responsible bondage and s/m between consenting adults."
In 1983, the GMSMA committee which david sat on, published a report that contains the earliest use of the phrase Safe, Sane and Consensual in relation to SM activities.
Some eleven years after he began his involvement with GMSMA, he had to cut back due to a series of serious health concerns. These included arthritis in both knees, which as david noted was "a real handicap for a submissive bottom, let alone a slave", alongside a life-threatening bout of pneumonia. He ruptured two spinal discs in his neck from the coughing. The pneumonia he notes was not related to HIV. His distinction underplays the contextual events of the era, in which the gay scene was being ravaged by a then mysterious disease, which we now know as the AIDS epidemic.
Alongside writing in magazines, david began writing a story which would eventually be published as Carried Away: An S/M Romance - published in 2003 by Daedalus, as its first fiction title. He had several long-term positions as a "slave" within SM relationships.
Cover of Carried Away: An SM Romance by david stein
My understanding is that slave david stein - as he liked to be known - passed away yesterday morning, Thursday 12th October 2017, after a long battle with cancer. The news came through his leather family on Fetlife, from "slave kirk".
slave david stein will be best-remembered for his contribution to developing the BDSM code of "Safe, Sane and Consensual", and for his fictional ideal of slavery in Carried Away. However his body of writing and editing for the SM community in grassroots newsletters and magazines was considerable, and through this he had a role in influencing a whole community of people, with the ripples of the ideas he advanced still felt today.
He sought to live his truth, as a self-identified "slave", and to share the knowledge of S/M he had acquired with others, with generosity of exchange as well as self-introspection on consensual (voluntary) slavery.
slave david stein - thank you for your incredible contribution to the BDSM community.
you* will be remembered.
Anne O Nomis
Author of 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix' book www.historyofthedominatrix.com
*I have used lower-case in keeping with david's own preferences of address, rather than grammatical error.
Articles for further reading:
david stein biography http://boybear.us/me.htm
david stein "Carried Away: An SM Romance": https://www.amazon.com/Carried-Away-Romance-david-stein/dp/0991048334
The 'Education Salon' is nearly finished, apart from a few flourishes to be added at a later date. (Such as art prints on their way over from England).
It's a space hat has been set up above Passionfruit Shop - for teaching the Dominatrix's arts to budding students, some with a lifestyle interest in BDSM, and others with professional aspirations to learn the secretive craft practices.
Amongst the furniture is an antique Georgian cabinet - full of interesting accoutrements. There's a custom-made steel spanking bench with padded adjustable top. (Just out of the camera frame.) A throne chair owned by Passionfruit Shop's owner Michelle which was a family heirloom takes pride of place in the corner. Within arm's reach is a copper pot with handle which has lap canes and other implements kept at hand. Across the floor is an antique Persian rug from the Shiraz region.
On the right side of the salon is a custom-made Berkley Horse, crafted from the 1828 design by Victorian Governess Dominatrix, Theresa Berkley. (A photograph of the original design alongside a short biography of Theresa Berkley features in my book, 'The History & Arts of the Dominatrix'.) Also in her honour, is a China vase full of English canes and birch branches.
There is also a genuine vintage stainless steel hospital trolley, and a Dutch-made vintage medical bench, in honour of the 1960s Dutch Dominatrix - Mistress Monique Von Cleef.
There's also a wonderful spanking bench by Michelle which is out of the frame of the photos and video. Some artwork is still to go up, along with flogger hooks and a few more flourishes, but the basic format of the Education Salon is established. A new generation of initiates will gain learning in an environment which honours the Dominatrix's history and craft.
I'm meanwhile onto planning for Villa Domme in Tuscany, where I'm teaching a week-long intensive retreat course on 'The Mysteries of Female Dominance' in a 19th Century villa owned by a Countess.
This weekend I have been invited to speak at Oz Kink Fest on the topic of kidnapping. Adult kidnapping as adrenaline experience enacting fantasy, I should clarify.
It's a subject I know intimately from the Game of Gambol, a secretive live action roleplay game, which integrates in and around (and with some respect for and consideration to) their "real lives".
So why would anyone want to be kidnapped?, some might ask.
There are several elements to it. For one, it's similar to any kind of adrenaline experience that people pay money to go through, just a little less mainstream. We don't bat an eyelid from people choosing to go on roller-coasters, or sky-diving. We know the popularity of horror and thriller movies. So on one level, kidnapping is a step-up in intensity of adrenaline experience.
In London, there are various experiences such as Escape Rooms, based at London Bridge and Angel, which is based on the Japanese Tagakism. ClueQuest (which has 9 escape rooms, and can accommodate 54 people), Archimdedes Inspiration, Escape London, Enigma Escape, and many more. These games are based on the notion of being locked in a room, invoking some adrenaline and fear, you are to find clues and solve puzzles, in order to escape within a set time window of usually 1 hour. Most are designed so that you succeed in finding the clues, solving the puzzles, escaping, and experience the rush of relief in release, and victory.
However comparatively, kidnapping varies in several senses. There is much more unknown. You don't escape, but rather are "released", and experience a far higher degree of vulnerability, entrapment and posited danger. You are taken-down by your kidnapper, overpowered, tied up or otherwise restrained, and held. Held physically and psychologically. You are not in a reassuringly controlled environment, subject to reasonable expectations on how things will operate and socially acceptable bounds of behaviour. Rather you are pulled away from security, from the safe law-abiding world you inhabit. You are taken away, into the unknown, at the mercy of and reliance upon your captor.
One of the well-known psychological aspects of kidnapping is what's known as Stockholm Syndrome - in which the captive forms a close bond with their abductor. This is absolutely an aspect of the kidnapping experience, and so closely overlaps the feelings which a submissive has towards a Dominatrix from BDSM session.
One of the most famous kidnapping bloggers, appropriately self-named as 'Mr Stockholm' writes:
"When a captive experiences unexpected kindness from their captor, an emotional bond can form. The result of this can range from a feeling of empathy to outright conversion to the captor's cause, but the chemistry is clear: being kidnapped can make you fall in love with your captor. The risks are palpable. If you now throw into the mix the tantalising possibility of being kidnapped by beautiful and powerful women as part of a fantasy that you've had a hand in creating then perhaps you can finally see the allure of abduction."
Thinking through the kidnapping experience, there is the risk-taking aspect to it, or as one participant describes - the insanity of it. In the sense that your are investing - paying - to be put into a situation of ultimate risk. Your body, well-being, and in the greatest extreme - your life - is in the hands of your captor.
The anticipation is enormous. The what, when, how...? There are various types of consensual kidnapping. In some, you go to a particular location at a particular time, where you are to be kidnapped from, but you don't know the how. In some, you know the broad timeframe and day, but not the exact location or time. At the most extreme end, is a kidnap in which you don't know when or where you will be kidnapped, having given all choice over to your kidnapper (who may for example have been given access to your diary and understand limitations around your work and family and so forth). Mr Stockholm describes these as static, semi-static and fluid kidnaps.
Alongside the enjoyment of fear, danger and thrill, there is something else, dangling at its depths. I was pondering this today, thinking more of the psychologies of the people who have come to me - seeking out such experiences.
I don't know that I have got it entirely succinct, but it is the pleasure of escape from one's "real" life. The purported force provides the excuse, the alibi. "I was kidnapped. This was done to me."
The kidnapping opens up a kind of parallel universe, one in which the victim is taken away from their life of responsibilities, their work pressures, their family life, the person they have to be - provider, professional role, family man - by obligation and expectation to everyone else. To be "taken away" is to be removed from all that responsibility, from the mundane everyday role.
There is too an aspect of being chosen, as select prey. In being wanted by the kidnapper, being subject to the beam of their gaze, their study and attentions. In order to kidnap you and hold you, your abductor inevitably inspects you, explores your sensitivities and psyche, your reactions.
The huntress plays with her prey, as a cat with her caught mouse.
Assuming the abductor is also a Dominatrix, skilled in the psychosexual realm, there is also an erotic frisson to the fear. She has the skills to adeptly torture, torment, tease, toy with her victim. To penetrate your mind - or indeed your body, by peg or point, to violate your normal boundaries of self in the context of a (consensual) adult kidnapping.
It is no surprise to me that alien kidnappings so often involve stories of being taken, up into a spaceship that represents a different (alien) world, and experiments which often involve anal probing or other such activities (which belong commonly in a Dominatrix's realm).
Forbidden pleasures (such as anal probing) are given excuse and raison d'etre (reason for being) by the kidnapping scenario. You were probed at the will of another.
And interestingly, it's also under the spell of another. For the psychology of subject and victim has them often go along with the will of their abductor as if in a magical spell, or a stupor of submission.
In consensual adult BDSM kidnappings, the abductee is given reason, excuse, to go along with will of his kidnapper. He experiences a break from his "real life" with erotic possibilities mingled with fear of the painful possibilities also. Can he withstand her treatment? What will she do with him? The experience is also very much one of psychological play and exchange, for in and through the experience, he learns more about himself, observed and tested and reflected through the eyes of another, whose attention and concentration is on him. The abductee also learns about his kidnapper, through her methodology of capture and treatment, the flavour of any questioning and interrogation, the activities they lead - which expose something of their motivations, give insight into her ideas and ideals. The kidnapper reveals part of themselves through their words and will. And the abductee studies these closely, for the risk posed to them, their safety and wellbeing are in the hands of their abductor. Understanding their kidnapper is the best shot they have at aiding their own security and being able to affect somehow their treatment and release. Kidnapping is in this way an intimate experience.
After the initial fear, anticipation and adrenaline rush, there is typically a reassuring safety in being held, by one who the consensual abductee has put his life over to in trust. This is I think one of the key differentiations of fantasy consensual abduction, is that the captor has wanted to be captured, to be taken away. He knows the stay will come to an end at some point, and he will return to his everyday life. But in the meantime he enjoys being held by her.
There is indeed something romantic about the scenario. As an archaeology major, I think of the story of Odysseus and Circe. She as a goddess, sorceress and enchantress. Living on an island - Aiolos - in a large house in a clearing of dense wood. The location is away from, separate and distant from the captive crew's home and their everyday lives. Her role is different from everyday women; she is magical, can make fierce animals docile, and turn men into swine through her sorcery. On the other hand, she is a weaver and a nurturer. Odysseus and crew are set free once she falls in love with Odysseus, but stay on her island for a year, feasting and drinking wine. She gives sound advice for the next part of his journey, which will end with him returning home, to his faithful wife.
Émile Lévy Circé (1889)
The role is in many ways akin to the Dominatrix, who herself is a kind of sorceress of the psycho-sexual realm. Arranging a kidnapping with a Dominatrix combines elements of fear, the unknown, of putting oneself in the hands of a powerful attractive woman, being held for a period by her, but ultimately being released and freed to return home. The period of take-down and captivity lingers on in the mind, is replayed and revisited in fantasy, and remains a ripe parallel universe. A portal in which one could have stayed, continued living with their captor, and maybe they even long for that on some level.
However the experience is something like the experience of a new place on holiday, and the come-down after as the person returns to earth with something of a thud.
Through the kidnapping experience the abductee briefly and for a period lives out a new identity, away from their everyday life. They are studied with intensity and probed by new eyes, seeing themselves in a new way, and gaining the intimacy of a new bond and relationship with their attractive captor - who has explored the responses of their body and mind, and knows them in some ways better than those closest to them.
The kidnappping experience is a victory of escape not from the claustrophobic locked room of Escape Room scenarios, but rather the claustrophobic room of real-life - that has felt locked and inescapable.
"Take me away, forcibly", is the request of the consensual abductee.
"With pleasure", is the answer of the Dominatrix abductor.
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 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.
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.