What happens when you take a committed couple and throw them into the play pit with a professional BDSM provider? Hopefully good things! Just in case, here are some guidelines on how to pick a provider that matches your fantasy, plus tips to ward off unnecessary drama.
Dear Sweet & Low,
I might be interested in a session for my wife and me. I am into BDSM, and my wife is very new to it. She likes the idea of it, but she struggles with what to do. I am totally willing to surrender myself to her, but she needs some guidance. She bought a book but she wants "live" help. We are very religious so we are not looking to ruin our marriage, just spice it up. We are 100% committed to each other. She is leery to hire someone because she thinks sex is involved, even though I told her it is not like that.
If we were to see a professional, what should we expect? Is there anything we should ask? What will we be charged? I want something that would empower her and help me to fully worship her. She has a strap-on and uses it every now and then, on me. She said she feels silly, and she needs some additional guidance. Can you give us some guidelines?
A Couples’ Conundrum
Buckle up, cowboy and cowgirl! This is a loaded question with many moving parts. I’ll touch upon the most relevant, then tend to the fantasy behind it.
You’ve scaled the first obstacle: she’s open to play with a third party. Hurray! But hold on a sec. Just because she’s expressed interest does not mean you should scramble to set up a session before she changes her mind. If luck favors the prepared, it champions the team. The teammates that regularly practice trust-building are the ones that reach the finish line with their parts still intact. Whether it’s a classroom setting or a private meeting, entering the arena as a team with a plan of action is going to give you purpose and direction.
What Do You Want to Experience?
Both of you get to be clear about what it is you want to experience in the knowledgeable hands of a third party. Your ideal scenario may look very different than that of your wife. Having an understanding of what looks like success will go a long way in preventing unrealistic expectations from ruining the party. Take turns sharing what excites you about this idea and what you'd like to get out of it.
Don't know what you want? That's absolutely normal. How are you supposed to know if you've never done it before? Any dungeon or independent provider worth their salt is going to have an in-take questionnaire, generally comprised of getting to know your limitations and establishing consent. It will provide a list of activities and ask you pick a response of YES, NO, or MAYBE. The list is longer than my arm, so here's a small example of one of the activities and what it might entail.
___Immobilization (short term)
___Immobilization (long term)
* For an extensive list, check out this scene questionnaire from DomSubFriends
You can find lists like this all over the internet, and they get deep! The best ones offer additional questions about how you see yourself in the scene and what you’re willing to offer emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. There are two of you, so each gets to fill out the form and compare notes. This will get those wheels of imagination turning and set the stage for what is possible.
If you were to show up at a dungeon and have to fill out the form there, it can feel like going to the doctor’s office and explaining your entire history of intestinal discomfort in the span of fifteen minutes. You don’t want to waste time or lose enthusiasm, nor do you want to pen a novella on why being tied to the rafters is your ultimate dream. Unless a person is ready to look at the deeper reasons for wanting what they want, it’s enough to get the ball rolling and see if they want to go down a gentle brook or an Everest-size pinnacle. Does everyone exercise due diligence? HELL no. I wish they would, but a large part of wanting and needing to play happens in the subconscious—meaning, you don't want to think about it too hard—and the industry, while brilliant about providing stories and first-person context, is skating a thin line of respectability with the mainstream.
Ultimately, we want to educate without scaring the crap out of people with too much information. As first-timers, you know you don’t want candle wax dripped on your balls, but when in Rome, instead of saying NO, you might be inclined to say MAYBE. After all, seeing a professional means they have the experience to make something undesirable suddenly hot and exciting. Don’t get sidetracked. Listen to your gut. If your gut says, NO, you listen and obey.
Say they don’t offer a questionnaire. For instance, if someone asks for a leg scissor session, it’s not entirely necessary. A good domme will ask follow-up questions that go hand-in-hand with the scene, e.g.: are you interested in pain or is this more a sensual request, do you like smothering, and do you want to be knocked out? A lot of play activities are like peas and carrots. They complement each other, and a good domme will know how to string together a sequence of sensory events that keep the scene exciting. She will also be forthcoming on her boundaries, and if she's not, ASK. Everyone has different personal preferences. Some are comfortable being sensual; some are averse to anything that can be misconstrued as crossing into the land of prostitution. Some can't promise anything until they meet you and feel the chemistry.
For the purposes of education, I’ll assume it’s a female dominatrix you wish to see and keep the pronouns feminine. This doesn’t mean you can’t see a male domme and experience the same benefits.
Picking the Provider
This is the tricky part.
The look...the feel...of leather? Possibly the fabric of our lives.
What does the ideal domme look like? Is she the girl-next-door turned Dita Von Teese? Is she tatted up with more holes in her face than a dart board? Maybe. Tall, small, Asian, African-American, pale as a ghost... These details matter, but not as much as her attitude. Find a domme you're both comfortable with. If she's EMO with a hint of Edward Scissorhands and you both love Tim Burton films, go for it!
If this scares the peanut butter out of you, go for someone who looks classically chic, like a kinky librarian. There is every type imaginable, but you won't know until you read her profile and start a conversation. Some of the scariest women I've met—I mean this in the best possible way, i.e. they could teach Nurse Ratched a thing or two—turned out to be the sweetest, most understanding dommes/switches. Attitude really is everything. If the domme has a great attitude, you’re going to have a good time. She may not look or sound exactly like your fantasy mistress, and this is fine. Go with the flow. Be open. You never know who’s going to spark a reaction, and that’s part of the fun.
How is she with couples? Double the trouble, double the fun? Not necessarily. Just because a domme gets rave reviews on her solo play does not mean she’s great with multiples. If your chick gets the vibe the provider is going to make you beg and leave her out of the mix—not out of spite, but because that domme doesn’t know how to teach while entertaining—your gal is going to feel neglected and territorial. Needless to say, look for someone who likes working with couples. This is a professional who understands the subtle nuances of tending to more than one person’s needs. She must come from a confident, calm space and be able to find some kind of common ground. If she can engage both of you in dialogue AND make you relax, you’re on the right track.
The Moving Parts
Money: This is going to depend on the city, the length of the appointment, what kind of provider you’re seeking, and how complex the scene runs. On average, you’re looking at $150 to $400 per hour. Keep in mind, you’re not just paying for her time and knowledge. Quality gear and toys cost big money, and unless it's an out-call session, you're paying for the play space as well. You want to see a domme from a big city? She will charge big city prices to pay the rent. If we’re talking middle of the country, the price will reflect the cost of living.
Location: Do you want to go to her or have her come to you? For my two cents, I suggest picking neutral territory. Inviting an unknown into your sacred home space is a big step. If you live in an area that doesn't support adult activities and will be traveling for play, the hotel room will work, unless you want the atmosphere of pro-style digs. Generally, these are rented rooms decorated in gothic symbolism, red velvet, and easily sanitized decor.
Fingers crossed your first time will be in a place this decked out...but uh, don't hold your breath. Unless you're into breath play. There's a loophole for everything, isn't there?
Experience: If she’s been in the scene awhile, has built a following, and really knows her s**t, she’s going to charge more. Many of the pros hold degrees, and just as you’d suspect, they tend to be in a field of human behaviors: psychology, neurology, and sociology. Do you have to see someone who's been around a decade or more? No, but neither do you want to pick a newbie because she has more availability and a cheaper rate. The caveat is if she's being mentored by a long-standing pro. If that's the case, give it a try. You're getting the enthusiasm of the young and the wisdom of the old for the price of one.
If this sounds like a big investment, it is. It should be. If you wanted to dick around with weekend party players, you can find them on Tinder and Craigslist, but please don't do that. You might get lucky, but those of us who feel the call to educate want to make BDSM safe from the demagogues who'd like nothing better than to showcase it as criminal—and thereby gain power from those that don't understand it but want to feel right about their limited mindset. If you do go underground, don't expect or ask for the level of professionalism one applies when they have chosen kink as a career.
When contacting a provider, here are some things to consider:
1. She doesn’t respond right away.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that she doesn’t care. If she’s traveling, has a head cold, or tending to a long list of requests, processing will take 1-3 days. If she doesn’t respond within a week, it’s not meant to be. Like getting a quote for car repair, it’s advisable to seek out at least three different mechanics. Their responses, or lack thereof, will point you in the right direction.
2. Did you state your desires in a clear, respectful way?
Are you nervous? Scared of saying the wrong thing? She's used to it. Because this is a service industry, the more information you provide, the better your chances. She’s not a machine. She’s a human being, and this is her job. Compose the message like you would, hopefully, address a work referral. Include who you are, how old you are, what brought you to her site, and what you’d like to experience. If you’re tentative about sharing too much personal information, keep it simple. You want to have a play session. You’re safe, sane, and consensual. You have this scenario in mind but are open to ideas. This is your timeline. This is your first time seeing a pro. (Definitely include this. For those that love their jobs, popping cherries is a massive high. They want to give you an amazing first time and forever be enshrined in your memory.) It’s up to you if you want to ask how much she charges in round one, but my advice, wait till you get a response.
3. In her response, she seems more interested in the money than the play.
Bare with me on this. No one wants to be seen as a paycheck (unless you’re into financial domination), and no one wants to be seen as a conveyor belt of kink without feelings (unless you’re a sex doll). If her only response is “It’s $400 for two hours. I’m available at this time,” you may want to keep looking. She could be having a bad day, or she could be used to getting messages that lead nowhere from people who don’t care that this pays the bills. It is about the law of averages, and it is about separating the genuine from the bulls**t. On both sides, there must be respect, patience, and a certain amount of dialogue that builds confidence and intrigue.
The easy part is over. Time for the "other stuff" like emotions and communication. Take a deep breath. Exhale. I want to help you worship your woman NOW by explaining common fears that run amok in the minds of newbies.
Is sex involved?
In your classic domme/sub play date, the answer is usually no. If you’re seeing a mistress, it’s about power exchange, denial, pain, intensity, and release, just to name a few. Rarely is it about intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or any of the other slapdash definitions one would hear in a court of law. If sex is involved, it happens between consenting adults who are invested in more than a provider/client relationship. I’d say the majority of those that see pros can already get the sex (even if it's not pressing the right buttons), but they can’t get the emotional understanding and subsequent release.
Is it about sexuality, sensuality, and fantasy?
YES. Understanding the differences will help your wife understand herself and the hard line programmed around sex. Without going too deep, a good mistress knows that as soon as she f**ks her client, she’s lost the power that enables her to make her submissive see her as The Boss. This isn’t a judgement call. It’s nature. We want most what we cannot have, especially in the male brain, where the fun is in the chase. Once the goal has been attained, attention and desire will slowly wane. That’s not what he wants. He wants to stay in the land of arousal, virility, and mindf**k.
A play session is special because it’s not about sex. Too often, we are on the prowl to obtain and keep a mate. It’s cut-and-dry Disney disillusionment. That doesn’t leave space to explore all the other fantasies that don’t revolve around doing the nasty. By having sex with a client, it’s actually doing them a grave disservice.
Once we go kink, can we go back?
No. No, you can't. Seeing a pro is the gateway drug, man! Nothing's ever going to be the same. Next you'll be looking for a donkey show and excavating your basement to fit a St. Andrews Cross. I'm kidding! The best thing about seeing a pro: it can be like a dream. One minute you are The Cleavers, the next you're Mr. and Mrs. Smith. What happens in the dungeon, happens in the dungeon, and it ain't something to put on a billboard. Your old patterns of behavior and belief—especially coming from a religious background—are WAY stronger than the intrigue of kink. Speaking of which, there's interesting correlations and coincidence between BDSM and religions, but this article is already too damn long for me to get into that. Let's just say, it's not going to be that far of an emotional departure.
What if we don't like it?
If you don't like it, but the urge remains, try again. And again. Write your own book. It's an on-going process of discovery, not a one-stop shop on the bucket list. Unless it is. If it is, you are among the rare; congratulate yourself. You did something about it. You didn't shove it into a corner and let other types of drama inspire you to feel alive.
If you really, really don't like it, there's the possibility it has nothing to do with a provider, a dungeon, or a play scenario.
For those that avoid challenges that reveal ugly or unwanted aspects about their partners, this seems to be the hardest part to overcome. As soon as they get a glimpse that their mate might like or want something foreign to their understanding, the defenses go up like a submarine opening the torpedo doors. The finger hovers over the red button. Let it hover. Let it fall. It's better than not knowing and regretting what could have been. If you're strong enough to get down with a strap-on, you're strong enough to take what you want from a play session and ditch everything else. It's going to be whatever you choose to make it.
Your woman got a book? Wooooohoooo. Now get her another one. Better yet, take her to the sex store and see what they have in stock. Because of the nature of the content, some of the best books about learning how to embrace BDSM won't be in the local Barnes & Noble. Get a variety. For a well-rounded reference, SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman is a good place to start. Then grab something about couples living the lifestyle before skipping to the erotica section. Take your time and skim those bad boys. If y'all aren't into the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, pick an anthology from a variety of authors. Master/Slave: 30 Spanking Tales from the Top & 30 Stinging Tales from the Bottom was hit or miss for me, but I found one of my favorite erotic writers therein. I'll agree that nothing is better than "live" play, but this is about getting familiar with the territory and finding stories that resonate enough to leave you grateful someone had the gumption to pen a version of your fantasy.
Better yet, take her to a workshop. There's power in numbers. Many dungeons offer courses for the new and experienced alike. CBT, Bondage 101, Tease and Denial, they all provide a community of people just like you who want to learn in a space where it's okay to feel silly and awkward. This is the best environment to ask questions and get referrals for dommes. It's a small world, and instructors love their craft. They want to share their knowledge.
She says she wants guidance? Bless her heart, she's a special lady. It takes courage to peel back the layers of a relationship. Deep down, there's a part of her that has already said, "Yep, I can do this." All she needs is practice and the desire to keep learning. I've been playing personally and professionally for over ten years, and ALL of those experiments held a batch of fear and discomfort. You get used to it. Eventually, you learn to love it. Fear and insecurity aren't bad things. They remind us to keep moving forward. We might freeze, we might falter, we might f**k it up, but we keep moving because we want to be the person in our fantasy that can say and do and feel with confidence and grace. To deny any of those aspects is to give power to the insecurity, and that's going to do more damage in the long run than any third-party experience.
If you never step foot into a dungeon, it's not going to matter. By going through the motions, you're declaring your desires are important, and your partner wants you to experience all the benefits of emotional flexibility. That's a beautiful thing—one that gets to be acknowledged and congratulated. The rest I'll leave in the hands of The Supremes. Because you can't hurry love, or an act of love. If you have to wait, it's not a big deal. It will happen when you let it happen. It is definitely a game of give and take.