Chess with Fortinbras (or, Don’t Be a Chump)

Update June 12  10 AM:  Many thanks to all who wrote in.  I believe we have agreed upon a sum that I find acceptably lucrative and Fortinbras probably finds either flattering or intriguingly ambiguous.  I’d like to keep him hooked, of course, but even if he never sees me again after this, he’s paying good money for a thrill and a fantasy, and I am going to do my best to give it to him.

Details to follow.

                *                   *                  *                  * 
I have a very tricky situation with a client, and I would very much appreciate anyone’s advice on how to handle it.

     Fortinbras has stayed in contact with me via email.  His letters are clear, concise, and charming–flirtatious, but the tone is appropriate.  

      He wants to have an extended appointment with me which involves a trip to an art gallery and a home-made dinner (he intends to do the cooking).  Eight hours.  Eight hours! He politely inquired about what I would charge for such an event.  

      GOOD QUESTION!  Gosh, I wish the Department of Labor kept stats on wages for my secret job, but it doesn’t.  

       It is common in the business to reduce one’s usual hourly rate for extended appointments–say, if one was charging $200/hour for an hour, it might be $350 for two hours, etc.  But, not everyone does that.  And professionals in other industries sure as hell don’t do that. If I asked my old lawyer for a discounted rate because I was throwing so much work his way, he’d laugh in my face.  When I edit manuscripts freelance I always charge by the page.  My domme friend C. at the Studio probably charges more for additional hours–I can hear her now: “I need to be compensated for having to look at you for so long!”

      I do not have a set policy.  I give clients whose company I truly enjoy a break all the time.  Others, I never do.  The ability to make my own rules is one of the luxuries of being self-employed…but it also means that I am at the mercy of my own business sense.  And when it comes to business, I am epically retarded

       Let’s pretend that my fee is $200/hour.  Now, it does not seem fair to me to charge someone $200/hour to eat dinner with him.  I’ll definitely still be working at dinner, because I’ll be in Professional Charming Company mode.  I won’t be regular Margo.  But to my mind, this labor is not comparable to locking a dude in a cage and covering him in ants for an hour.  It’s just not. 

      On the other hand, it is reasonable to say that my fee is my fee, and the client is hiring me for my time, and he can spend that time as he chooses.  We can watch The Price is Right together or I can wash his mouth out with soap and give him a swirly, whatever.

       (And why am I even asking myself if it matters whether or not my fee is “fair?” This is my academic idiocy at work.  “Is the price fair?” like I was John Rawls or Adam Smith or someone. FFS.  PATHETIC!)

       With this case with Fortinbras, though, I feel like I’m playing chess.  He is attracted to me.  He is going to try to have sex with me.  I need to expect that and be prepared for it.

         I like him a lot (which is extremely inconvenient), but I don’t know him, so it is imperative that I not trust him and keep my boundaries up.  For all I know, this is a big sport to him, like a game.  A conquest and seduction game, where he is thinking: How much can I get her to do?  Can she be taken advantage of?  He gets what he wants, and I never see him again–he’ll move on to the next one.

          I think that I handle men well, but after the Mathematician I no longer have faith that I cannot be manipulated.  That calculating asshole played me like a fiddle. Fortinbras is more intelligent that I am and he’s been running around Spaceship Earth more than twice as long as I have.  I am outgunned and I forget that at my peril. 

         My priority needs to be that I get what I want out of this business relationship. 

        1) I want to maintain his respect for me–or, at minimum, make him feel that he can’t take advantage of me.

        2) I want to keep him around as a client.  He’s good business.

       That means keeping him interested.

        And finally, if I blow it or this 8-hour appointment goes wrong and ends up being a one-shot deal and I never see him again, I want to get the most out of it that I can.  This is a huge business deal for me.  Like, “earn enough money to pay off the last of your student debt” huge. 

         If I don’t handle this guy right and screw myself over, C will fucking break my hand with a hammer.  “You let him do what, Red?  You only charged him what?  Do you know what you could have gotten?  Do you think he didn’t know that?  YOU CHUMP!!!”

         Any advice?  Ideas?  You can leave them in comments or email me at

        Help me not be a chump.  I can’t grade papers with a broken hand. 

5 thoughts on “Chess with Fortinbras (or, Don’t Be a Chump)”

  1. Here’s my opinion: Your rate for being a sub should be at least $300, but $350 is probably more like it. Pro subs are rare, I think, especially good looking ones that can take a lot and who allow sex. (I’m not sure you allow sex though. I’m unclear on that.) A pro sub could also charge $400 or even $500, but volume might fall off, I don’t really know.

    A client pays for you time. Period. They can do with it what they like. You are not able to do other things that you would prefer to do. They get to hang with a beautiful, interesting woman.

    My advice? $300 times 8 hours is $2400. Somewhere between $2000 to $2400 sounds more than fair to me. Possibly light even.

  2. Never commented before but I wanted to try to help (if it’s still needed).

    I work in the design business, where it’s not uncommon to offer package deals to clients who are investing a lot of money. The idea is to encourage customer loyalty. What’s also important is that you don’t shaft yourself in the process, so this is always done with the client’s budget in mind. Big corporate clients get priced in full. It all comes down to how much the client can bear.

    From what I’ve gleaned from your posts, price isn’t much of an issue for Fortinbras? In the past, he’s actually been the one who insisted on paying you more when you offered a lower rate.

    So, my humble and tentative opinion is that unless you think quoting him your full rate would send him running, charge full-rate. You’re charging for your company and time, it doesn’t matter if that takes the form of pleasant conversation or covering someone in insects. 🙂


  3. Thousands. Plural. Charge him as if you’re having sex, and if you do, then Margo is not a chump.

    And if you don’t? then Margo has lots of bank, and the chase continues for Fortinbras.

    And this way, with sex pre-figured into the price, there will be no self esteem issues if it happens. If, and only if, you feel like “what the hell, getting it on with Fortinbras wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world”, you won’t be kicking yourself around in the morning.

    Just my thoughts, do with them what you will, but I say thousands. I’d open the bidding at $2500.

  4. Hi M!

    Thanks for the input. Yes, I definitely needed all the help I could get with this one, because I have never negotiated a fee for a session of this length.

    I’ve received a few emails and comments about it and the general consensus is that I do not lowball myself.

    Thanks for reading! Please come back any time.


  5. Thanks DrugMonkey! I know you are busy with your new store, so I appreciate that you took the time to weigh in.

    Yup, I’m going to aim high, though I am paranoid that when I open his response email it is simply going to read “HAHAHAHAHAHA!” But, I think that it is better that Fortinbras thinks I have an overinflated sense of self-worth than if I ask for a more modest sum and he thinks “this chick is a sucker!”

    Thanks DM. I will let you know next time I go to the Bronx for antibiotics, ha ha


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