Wednesday, February 02, 2005

From a recent email:

Mistress Matisse, you talk so much about where you're going and what you're doing – aren't you ever afraid that one of your clients will come and find you? What would you do if you ever ran into one of your clients in public?

This is what I call "a preconceived idea question". To do the issue justice, not only do I need to answer the question, I have to untangle the assumption that prompted it.

No, I'm not ever afraid that one of my clients will seek me out at a social event. It happens on a regular basis and I'm quite fine with it. Why shouldn't I be? I have nothing to hide. And I certainly don't mind having a few minutes of chat with a client I meet at a fetish event – if for no other reason than because it frequently means I'll get a phone call for an appointment soon after.

There have been a very few occasions when a client tried to take up a little too much of my time at a fetish party. It wasn't a malicious thing on their part – it was just a manifestation of their attraction to me and their general excitement at being there. A gentle verbal nudge has always taken care of the situation.

And I do run into my clients in non-fetish settings once in a while. It doesn't upset me. (Unless I look scruffy, in which case I'm mortified. Reason number thirty-seven never to leave the house without mascara.) Even if we're in the most vanilla of places, it's not like we have the words "Mistress" and "slave" tattooed on our foreheads. If, while we're browsing linens at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, a certain guy in a baseball cap and a polo shirt smiles and says hello to me, and I smile back at him, no one around us knows the precise nature of our acquaintance. No harm, no foul.

I once ran into a favored client while eating pizza at Piecora's on Capitol Hill. I happened to be with another woman who is an escort. He made eye contact with me and gave me a unmistakable "can I acknowledge you?" look. When I waved him over, he came and sat in our booth for ten minutes, while a table full of his basketball-buddies visibly seethed with curiosity about who the hot babes he was flirting with were. I'm told he took great pleasure in being mysterious about it.

That was entertaining. But since I do recognize that not everyone makes the same choices I do, my rule with clients is that in public – including fetish events – I will pretend not to know them, unless we've previously agreed that it's okay to do otherwise. If they want to approach me, that's fine. Based on what I'm doing at the moment, I may just give them a smile and a quick hello, or I may have time to chat a bit. But it's never a problem.

In fact, the only thing I worry about is bumping into a client when he's with his wife or girlfriend. You see, I'm told I have an expressive face, and my concern is that the significant other might be able to tell that I knew her guy. I'd hate to create a problem for one of my harem.

The thing about questions like this is that they presuppose an adversarial relationship with clients, and that's so not the case with me. I do not fear being stalked or harassed by my clients, and since everyone who knows me knows what I do, I don't fear being "exposed" by them in any way. I guess it's not the case with every woman in the industry, but my regular group of guys – well, they're just fabulous, that's all, and I'm quite happy with them.

Amusingly, the one "oh, shit" moment I can remember happened with a young woman. She'd been to a class I taught at Toys In Babeland, and then, a week or so later, I ran into her at the Broadway QFC. She looked across the produce department at me and cried out in a penetrating voice, "Hey, it's Mistress Matisse!"

Now, that's not the best plan under any circumstances. But I was extra jumpy because my mom was in town visiting me at the time. Luckily for me, she wasn't in the store with me. But it would have been a bit awkward if she had been, and so I spoke to girl and (politely, I hope) told her to please not call out my name like that.

So: discreet, but friendly – that's how I handle it...

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