At the front door of La Maison du Rouge, ‘J’ stands with his mouth open. I know he wants to say something–to protest, to plead, to beg–but he stops himself.
Underneath the thin fabric of his dress slacks I can just make out the frame of his chastity cageChastity Cage: A locking device designed to prevent sexual intercourse or masturbation. and, as he notices me noticing him, he shifts uncomfortably from side to side. My lips spread into a smile.
“Let’s just see how the weekend goes,” I tell him.
‘J’ nods–pitifully–and then shuffles off to face the rest of his day. I begin to tidy up: ropes are coiled, gags are washed, and canes are put away in their proper order. I think about how for weeks now I’ve been meaning to add a little something to our collection.
Something old school.
Most of all, I want a feather duster. Not one of those dainty little things that French Maids tote around (although I do have a few Sissy Maids who would look good with one), but the nasty Asian variety with their long necks and wooden handles. I’d take a rug beater too, or even a stirring chopstick. They all make excellent correctional tools.
Trust me, I know.
Back when I grew up in pre-tech, pre-gentrified San Francisco, my sister and I endured such improvised beatings on a regular basis. Talking back? That’s a beating. Bad grades? That’s a beating. Try to resist a beating?
You guessed it, that’s a beating.
The only time it wasn’t a beating was when we were quỳ-ing, a Vietnamese form of punishment where you kneel facing a wall with your hands folded in front of you and if you dare try to sit back on your feet…
And should you ever find yourself thinking “That’s not so bad!”, feel free to come on down to La Maison du Rouge where I will be happy to change your mind.
Not that I blame my mother for any of this, by the way: single mom, two kids, twelve moves in twelve years. She had to keep the peace somehow. Though as hard as she disciplined me I made it a point to never give in–no crying, no whimpering. That’s just the kind of kid I was.
Of course this made her go even harder on me, but as a self-respecting Tiger MomTiger Mom: A strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to high levels of academic achievement, using severe social, physical, psychological, and emotional methods. that’s just who she was. We were yin and yang, the beater and the beaten.
I know what you’re thinking.
“So THAT’S why you became a Dominatrix!”
No, no it isn’t–it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Sure, that’s how I learned to take a savage beating and yes, with all the moving around I also learned to read people and adapt to them, but there’s much more to it than that.
I remember being with my first love at the tender age of fifteen when I cupped his balls in my hand and said: “Tell me when it starts to hurt.” I squeezed, my fingers clenching into a tight fist. He yelped for mercy and I continued just a little bit more before relenting.
Why did I do that?
Well, I wasn’t trying to be cruel–I promise. We were simply two people so comfortable and open with each other that we could freely explore ourselves without shame or judgment. And we did! Our shared curiosity lead us to many firsts in life, each of them a loving, healthy, and most importantly fun experience.
Meanwhile, the rest of my life was also slowly becoming speckled with kink without me even realizing it. Trips to the Folsom Street FairFolsom Street Fair: An annual BDSM and leather subculture street fair held in September, that caps San Francisco’s “Leather Pride Week”. were second nature to me, and I didn’t think twice about spending my twenty-first birthday on a stripper pole at AsiaSFAsiaSF: A lively spot for drinks, Asian fusion fare, and shows performed by world renowned transgender performers., wrapped in a hot pink boa and surrounded by the most gorgeous transvestites you’ve ever seen. Nor was there anything strange about indulging an early Craigslister in his used panty fetishPanty Fetish: A fetish in which someone gains sexual excitement from handling (among other things) used underwear. or putting my fledgling makeup artist skills to work on a group of crossdressers who went out partying each month.
These were all just everyday experiences for me and had you asked me then if I identified as a deviant I would’ve burst out into laughter.
Things were different when I moved to New York.
Unlike San Francisco, New York’s a city about pressure and release. People work long hours, they rush everywhere, and when they finally get the chance to blow off some steam they go hard.
However, even in this new land kink began creeping back into my life. It started with my fellow fashionista coworkers calling me a Dragon LadyDragon Lady: An Asian woman who is seen to be strong and domineering., an unintended nod to my mother’s domineering ways. Then people began to confide me that they thought I’d make an excellent–actual!–Dominatrix.
The thought had never even crossed my mind!
But I suppose people saw something in me. Then, one night, I found myself in a stereotypical New York dive. You know the type:
Wines ranging from red to white.
A woman approached me and revealed herself to be a Dominatrix. She was elegant and poised, a Renaissance sculpture standing tall in a sea of motion and chaos. We chatted for a bit before she told me she thought I’d be good for the job. She said she’d even be willing to teach me.
“Why?” I asked her.
The woman explained it to me like it was the most obvious thing in the world:
Here I was in this crowded bar all dressed up and all by myself, without showing even the slightest drop of anxiety or hesitation. That’s what it takes, she said.
Of course I was flattered. And it was an intriguing prospect, for sure. But I told her I already had a full time job and was busy enough with that. She didn’t press the issue and before long we were both on our way.
But the idea stayed in the back of my mind, mingling with all those other suggestions and experiences I’d had. Maybe she’s right, I thought.
Just a few weeks later I found out my current partner had an obscene amount of BDSM porn on his computer. We’re talking digital archives levels here, covering a huge swath of the fetish spectrum. I made him show me video after video and as I watched transfixed and fascinated, I knew I wanted to explore this world even further.
My first professional experience was with a houseHouse: A group of Mistresses pursuing some common purpose and wishing to establish some form of identity together in downtown New York, and my first client was a man we called Baby Arm (I’ll let you figure out why). Do you know what surprised me the most about the whole thing? How much laughing there was–it reminded me of being in bed with my first love all those years ago, indulging each other’s curiosity.
It was such good, clean, kinky fun. I loved it.
During my first few months at this house I learned the ins and outs of what it meant to dominate someone, from proper bondage rope work to the way different materials impactImpact Play: A practice in which one person (the bottom) is struck (usually repeatedly) by another person (the top) for the gratification of either or both parties. the body to how each Domina has to find her own personal style. What started as a part time gig quickly became a full time one and soon enough I was the one training new Dominas (which I also absolutely adored doing). This was me in a way I’d never known before, the culmination of all my self-exploration.
I had found my calling.
And, as with all callings, there comes a time when you have to trade in comfort for growth. For me this meant creating something that was truly my own and so, after five wonderful years as part of this house, I left to create La Maison du Rouge alongside the inimitable Domina Dia Dynasty. Together we set out to find a space where our vision could take root.
La Maison du Rouge has come a long way since that day. If you want to know exactly how, well, you’ll just have to drop by sometime to see for yourself. Maybe by then I’ll have gotten my long-necked feather duster or my rug beater or my stirring chopstick (or maybe all three!) and it will be you who I test them out on.
Who knows, maybe it will be you bringing them to me, begging me to do just that.