Am still too apprehensive to post the rest of the New York trip. I think it might look weird to outsiders.
In the meantime, here’s an installment of Reader Mailbag!
“Why did you decide to start working in the Biz? How did you get started?”
–Random Internet Stranger
Translation: “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Well, I decided to do it for the same reason practically everyone else goes to work: I needed the money.
I needed it badly.
And I was desperate.
My story is not unique. I have seen many women–many women–come into the Biz scared to death, on food stamps, living in temporary housing, or with a looming appointment in Housing Court, or because they were illegal or quasi-legal immigrants without the ID to get hired in industries in which they were experienced. Some had criminal records which made it hard to find a “normal” job.
In my case, I’d just left my psycho Ex, John, and moved into an apartment where my name wasn’t on any of the bills, so that he wouldn’t be able to find me. The cost of the move (first and last months’ rent, plus hiring movers) and the lawyer’s fees involved for taking him to court for stalking and harassment left me with about $300 in the bank.
It was also May. I was employed by my University as a research assistant, but the contract for my job ended with the Spring semester. I typically relied on my savings and freelance work to get me through the summer until school/work started again, but in between class and work, final exams, court, and the stress of avoiding John, I hadn’t been able to secure summer employment.
I was in trouble, and I was vulnerable. The only people I knew in the Tri-State area were associated with my school. My family was thousands of miles away and didn’t have the means to help me even if I asked them to (which I hadn’t). In fact, I had yet to terminate my relationship with my degenerate father, who was still calling me for money.
With unemployment looming, I applied to various jobs, most of them of the “fast cash” variety: restaurant industry, tutoring, pay-per-word writing gigs. I prepared myself to sell my jewelry.
And then I saw an ad in the back of The New York Press, a doomed little alternative-weekly mag. It was sandwiched between ads for Asian massage places, gay hookup chat lines, head shops, and the like (you know, the ads everyone reads furtively on the subway).
“Attractive women wanted for house of domination in Manhattan. Fetish, fantasy, and roleplay only. No sex. Experience preferred but not necessary.”
I thought about it. I cut the ad out and put it into my purse. And after a few days…I called.
“Have you ever worked in this industry before?” asked the receptionist.
“No, but I’ve done BDSM for years in my private life. I know what it is. I have gear.”
She asked me to describe myself. I started stammering my professional qualifications. My credentials. Ha! Ha!
She started laughing and then cut me off: “No, what do you look like?”
Tall, slender, blue eyes, reddish-blonde hair. Good face. Good skin. No tattoos.
She scheduled me for an interview with the boss the next day at 4 PM.
(Note: sad but true: in every dungeon I’ve ever worked, white girls get preferential treatment in hiring. Management wants to keep a few women of color on staff in order to have dommes for every fantasy…but just a few. I’ve seen gorgeous, friendly black women come in for interviews and not get hired because the dungeon already had “enough black mistresses.” It sucks. The sex industry is really, really racist.)
I rode the PATH train to Harold Square. I wore a conservative black sleeveless sheath dress, stockings, and low heels. Normally I’d wear office clothes to a job interview, but what do you wear to interview at a dungeon? Leather pants?
The dungeon was very close to the Empire State Building. I walked by the door twice, looking for it. There was no sign, of course. Just a glass door with number decals.
I pushed the button and announced myself, and then she buzzed me up.
I took the elevator up, and when the door opened, I stood in front of a huge metal door with DANGER stenciled on it, and a big BEWARE OF DOG sign. The door had a tiny window. The glass was foggy and had chicken wire through it.
The door swung open and I was greeted by the receptionist who’d spoken to me on the telephone. I can’t remember her name now, but I remember her face and her voice. African-American, mid-30s, pretty, with short hair. She was very energetic and she was funny. Later, I learned that she’d been working the phones at massage parlors and escort agencies for years, and also as a phone sex operator when phone sex lines were popular.
She asked me if I needed to use the bathroom. Then she put me in a room to wait for the manager.
It was a little room with a purple vinyl loveseat and mirrors all over two of the walls. The lighting was dim. There was a dresser with an ashtray and candles. A fake silk plant in the corner. And on the wall: a rack with paddles and cuffs and floggers.
I could hear female voices and the sound of high heels on the wooden floors.
And then: the unmistakable sound of someone getting a spanking.
Was I nervous? Yes. A little bit.
The manager came in. He was wearing jeans and a button-down denim shirt. He had long-ish, wavy sandy-brown hair and glasses. Let’s call him…Paul.
We made small talk, and then he explained what the dungeon was, what the work consisted of (more or less). He told me that he was running a legal establishment and he didn’t want any problems with the cops. He spoke easily and took notes on a yellow legal pad. He looked at me over the top of his glasses.
“Did you ever teach?” I asked him.
Academics. I always know when I’m speaking to one. Yeah, Paul was an ex-academic. Smart guy. I liked Paul. He was always straight with us, always fair, usually friendly.
The interview was pretty mundane. It lasted maybe 20 minutes. I don’t see any reason to reproduce it here.
One thing that he did tell me, though, which is relevant:
“This job will change you, and it will change your sexuality. You say you’ve done this at home. This is not like what you do at home. Sex does not look like what you think it does. This job will change you. I tell everyone that. I’m honest. I can meet the eyes of every girl I’ve hired in this place if I run into her on the street, because I’m honest.”
I had no fucking idea what he was talking about then…but now, I understand.
He hired me on the spot and told me to come back the next day. I would be trained by sitting in on sessions and watching the experienced dommes work. There was no hourly wage, no benefits. The mistresses were paid in cash at the end of the shift.
That’s enough for now.
Sex work is not easy money. It is instant money.