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Being a 20-something Dominatrix in the Bay Area

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In a society that is becoming increasingly puritanical in its laws and culture, particularly in their application to the female body, it’s kind of hard not to want to rebel against the normative paradigm. To want to flip the normative script of male-female social and monetary interactions on their mother fucking head. Enter the professional dominatrix. I sat down with Mistress Echo, a pro domme, and friend, to talk about sex, shame, power, and get down to the brass tacks and nipple clamps of her business.

How long have you been a domme?

Six years. I started when I was fresh out the gate at 18. I got out of a bad relationship, and I didn’t get into domming because I hate men. I got into it because I needed to learn how to create boundaries. It has been mastering and really healing for me…
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Tell me about how you were trained?

My very first dungeon I applied to was off Craigslist in New York City. Let’s call them NYC After Hourz. It was a one room dungeon in Wall Street. The guy looked me up and down, told me I had to change my nail color. He told me that there were only three acceptable nail polish colors for a dominatrix: pink, red, and silver. He was his own type of pervert. He said “You look like you could work out. Let’s start training tomorrow at noon. Do you like 2CB?” This guy was old as father time, a former member of a very well-known motorcycle crew. This guy had been running dungeons in New York City since the 70s, so he is a very known guy.

So, I show up and we do some 2CB and he runs me through the tools – this is a flogger, this is a crop. Very basic. The PM shift rolled around and I was still high and he said “Are you ready to work?” And yeah, I was still there. I got my first client at 4 AM and the walls were still melting. I walked out of there filthy rich with this ego high. It was so feminist and I felt so strong.

I had no idea at the time how shitty that dungeon was or how shitty the pay was, but I was just so tripped out how powerful I felt. And I knew I was hooked. Not to 2CB – to domming.

Are dungeons legal?

It’s gray area. It’s county to county. Under federal law, any institution where anyone is getting aroused is illegal. That takes out porn theaters, burlesque, strip clubs. We have not had the time to navigate its infrastructure, but we have never had a problem. Most places that close are because they aren’t making enough money or stalker issues.

How many dungeons are in the Bay Area?

Good question. I have no idea. They are largely DIY spaces that deserve and demand the same respect as other DIY spaces under scrutiny and need their privacy maintained. If you are a well-meaning fetishist looking to create a relationship with a dominatrix, there are resources available.

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What can you tell me about your dungeon?

They’ve been around for over 20 years. It is women owned and run. I came there at 20 years old when I moved to California and they really took me in. To work there you must be well read, the owner only hires smart women. She wants women who want to empower themselves and continue.

How do you folks handle safety issues?

We have panic buttons in every room and we had a training on using them and what an emergency looks like to us. Basically, if someone has an issue, we all go to the door, one person approaches and if necessary we bum rush with every weapon we have, which thankfully we are all trained to use.

Do you get a lot of clients who come in with one type of kink or is it across the board?

Across the board! I’ve seen every kind of fetish. My regulars, the folks I have been seeing for years, they see me because I do something they like and I excel at. But I’ll see anyone if it’s within my boundaries. I provide a service that allows them to safely and appropriately live out this fetish. The people who see me regularly know that I enjoy the kinetic value of what I do. I like to whip and yell and play loud music. But that’s not for everybody.

I’m not just doing this because I am a kinky girl. I’m not doing what I want all the time. I see that there are lots of people who need this and I am there to listen and be patient and help.

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Do you guys see many women?

We see a few women, and couples. We love women and couples. Bring your girlfriend, bring your wife, bring your husband. What a great date night! We will teach you how to beat each other up safely and consensually.

So, I’m a client coming in for a session, what should I expect?

You knock on the door, and I am going to open the door and let you in and take you into a room. I’m going to offer you some water and let you take a seat in a private completely not dungeon room. Then I ask “What they are you most excited about doing today?” and to prioritize what you are looking for in your session. Like are you excited to have feet rubbed in your face? Are you excited to be slapped around and told what to do? Then we talk about things that absolutely cannot happen to you. People tend to think that their hard limits are everyone’s hard limits, and they aren’t. So maybe I don’t know that no one can touch your hair. Then we talk about spit, and verbal – like I can call you fat but I can’t call you dumb.

Then we talk about what you can’t do to me. You cannot touch my pussy. It is explained on the phone, but there is no sex happening here today what so ever. Then I go through my personal do’s and don’ts as they apply to the session. Then I tell you about safe words. “Yellow” is I am starting to lose feelings in my hands, I want to switch to something else soon. “Red” is Mistress get me the fuck out of this bondage right now. These are words that belong to you and I will stop anything if you say them.

I go through all this and anything like health stuff I should be aware of and I have you sign a waiver and we are off!

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Shame and sexuality have a really fucked up correlation in our culture. How do you see this play out with your clients?

They are so close. But you’ve got to look at what you are embarrassed about in yourself and you need to figure out what’s ruling that. Is it religion? Is it legality? And if you took those things away, would they conflict with your code of morals. Do you really have a problem with someone’s nudity or what they do in the privacy of their own home? If you take away all of the internalized misogyny and roles for women what’s really left? You can’t shame me for something I am not ashamed of.

Do you think that Trump coming into power is going to affect sex work?

As the price of being a woman increases, you’re going to see a lot more sex work. It has been played out time and again in history.

I know that you are very open about being a dominatrix. Has the reception to this been largely positive or negative?

Largely positive. The only time it has ever been negative has been if I am in a fight with somebody about something else entirely and they come out with “You’re a ho” and it’s like “I know! Duh!” It’s funny some of the most conservative and pious folks are like, “Sure. Do what you want.” My folks had a hard time with it and understanding what it was. It wasn’t in their scene, but now they are fine. My mom is all “Being a dominatrix is in! It’s chic. Now everyone is one, not like two years ago when you told me!”

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*At this point, in true dominatrix fashion, Mistress Echo took control of our interview and began asking herself questions…

Mistress Echo, what do you wear in your sessions?

I’m so glad you asked me that! So, I like to channel powerful women in history when I am dressing up. I like to stay away from black. I wear a lot of white. Like virgin mistress, unfuckable. You can never fuck me! I like layers, especially for fuckers who are all “I like stripping and body worship” so I am all, “You can worship my body if you can fucking find it.” I have a leotard with chains. I have an Amelia Earhart outfit. What mistress would be without the red feather robe and matching slippies.  I channel a lot of Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé. I love dress up and that is what appeals to me about this job.

Mistress Echo! That was such a great question! How will I ask a better question? Well, you have such a unique insight into people’s sexuality and their vastly different birthdates. Do you see any correlation between people’s fetishes and their signs and their sex toys?

It’s so awesome that you asked me that and it is so related to what you do (spoiler: I write sex toy horoscopes for Broke Ass Stuart under the name The Sex Unicorn)! What a great question! I do! Over the years, I do see that mistresses are overwhelmingly Scorpios. Geminis too. I think people who can turn it off. I do see a correlation between my subs and my dommes. More dominant clients have birthdays in the winter months. I feel like you will probably do some very good research on this.

*All photos were graciously provided by Mistress Echo

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Kit Friday -Mild in the Streets

Kit Friday -Mild in the Streets

I am a writer, DJ, musician, vandal and I travel a lot.