Book being printed in Singapore October 19 2013
BY ANNE O NOMIS
After quite a journey, and four years of research, my book is finally all coming together and currently being printed in Singapore. I want to thank everyone who has aided me with their help, both directly and holistically.
I have to say it was quite a mission tracing down the Dominatrix, and the women who practice one of the most discreet (and taboo) of occupations in the world.
It was a journey that led me back to artifacts and Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets documenting Dominatrix rituals, which seem to have been written or edited by the historical figure of Enheduanna (a high En-priestess and daughter of King Sargon). She is believed by most scholars to be the world’s first recorded author: a woman, a priestess, a poet. The hymns were written in honour of the Goddess Inanna (or Ishtar as she was known in Akkadian). Remarkably, we have a lunar stone disc of the en-priestess Enheduanna, with her image and and inscription on its reverse, excavated by archaeologists in the ancient city of Ur. The hymns she is believed to have written uphold the Dominatrix powers of the Goddess, and rituals involving gender transformation, pain, punishment and ecstasy. (There's even talk of a suspended net, entrapping those who do not show her suitable respect!)
Left: Lunar Disc of the High En-Priestess, Enheduanna, excavated from the ancient city of Ur
No less interesting was reading about the 17th – 19th Century Dominatrices, when they were known by other titles. The ‘Whipstress’, the Venus ‘School Mistress’, the ‘Governess’, and of course the female flagellant. These women counted aristocracy and even royalty amongst their clients, and invented ingenious methods and equipment to whip them. The wonderful ‘Berkley Horse’ device designed by Theresa Berkley is illustrated in the book, from Ashbee’s ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum’, which enabled pain and punishment to be administered at the same time from either side...! Birches and whips of all kinds, a double height suspension rig, amongst the treatments given out.
Just how discreet these women were is evidenced by how hard the battle was to trace them down. It was only by pursuing 'forbidden books' in the British Library Rare Books collection that I was able to discover their names and stories, aided by flagellation prints in the British Museum and Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Left: Flagellation print from the Library of Congress, Washington DC
Into the 20th Century, the archival evidence to show their existence came in the form of rare and often dog-eared black-and-white and sepia images, early colour and polaroid photographs, and the second-hand stories passed on by their clients and acquaintances to fetish magazine editors. Were it not for their efforts in saving their images and stories, the history of the mid-20th Century Dominatrix would have disappeared, her stiletto footsteps lost in the sands of time. In London's underground, they had custom ‘bizarre’ outfits from John Sutcliffe (of ‘AtomAge’ fame), and would send in their well-to-do clients in for compulsory bizarre outfits and maid's costumes to serve them.
Left: London Dominatrix Miss Doreen, courtesy of David Jackson of DDI
In New York, the Mistresses succeeded in keeping a very low profile – except when dramatically raided by police acting with postal 'obscenity' officers and finding themselves splashed across the front pages of newspapers, as was the case with Monique Von Cleef in Newark New Jersey.
If walls could talk, we can only imagine the tales that the walls of The Hague's 'House of Pain' could tell, with all the politicians and ambassadors visiting in the capital of domination. While on the window displays of the Herbertstrasse, the alpha women dominated the strip and the men who took in their stare and the dare to enter their premises.
Lastly I had to consider what it was exactly that Dominatrices did…? Outside of the fold-all term of ‘BDSM’. After much consideration and thought, I have come up with her ‘Seven Realm Arts’; a theoretical framework of what it is a Dominatrix does, taking over the bodies and minds of her willing submissives, and leading them on a journey into depths many could not have imagined.
Left: Dominatrix Mistress Morrigan, in her London dungeon by artist Phil Miller
The book was a big ask, with nothing having ever been written before on the topic, and starting from zero. While it may be an imperfect record, and biases the Anglo-Saxon record (there is much to be done on the foreign language stories of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and so on), I hope it will provide a valuable and worthy contribution to people’s understanding of the Dominatrix and her unique occupation and craft. It’s a book for the underground and for the libraries. So as such I’ve naturally ensured a beautiful format to please book fetishists and make for an enduring publication. It wasn’t easy getting permission from the world’s top museums to include all these photographs – from the British Museum, Iraq Museum, Penn Museum, Oriental Institute of Chicago, Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge, Library of Congress in the USA, British Library, Yale Center for British Art, National Portrait Gallery of London. I have big thanks to David Jackson of DDI Magazine and Bert Wibo of Massad for the rare vintage photographs of 20th Century Dominatrices, and to Mr J.B Rund for the rare John Willie image. To contemporary artists Natasha Gornik in Brooklyn New York, and to Kate Peters, Stuart Pearson Wright, Phil Miller, Nuit d’Or and Nathaniel Lucina, for the images of contemporary Dominatrices and their craft. The result features 86 beautiful and rare photographs, documenting the Dominatrix's history from her ancient roots, through the 17th - 19th era of the female flagellant Governesses, through to the 20th Century bizarre underground ladies, and the contemporary Dominatrix of the 21st Century.
Printed to the highest standards, it features a gold-embossed Phoenician purple cover, a quarter-bound fabric spine, with a red ribbon marker - making it an ideal gift. The first edition is limited to 2000 copies worldwide, individually numbered. Enjoy!