Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ring Ring!

Me: hello?
Caller: Uh, yeah, hi – is this Mistress Matisse?
Me: Yes it is…
Caller: Well, I have a question about getting some professional mentoring from you.

Hmmnn, I'm not sure what to make of this. Perhaps he means he wants me to teach him some BDSM skills, which I'd be fine with doing – at my usual rate.

Me: What exactly is it you're thinking about?
Caller: You see, my girlfriend and I are professional dominants, too. My name is (******) and she's (******). And I was wondering if you'd, like, mentor us?
Me: Mentor you?
Caller: Yeah, professionally, I mean. We're, uh, having some trouble kinda getting going. I was wondering if you'd be willing to sit down with us and talk to us about what we should be doing, business-wise.

The simplest and shortest answer here would be to say, "No, I wouldn't", and hang up. But I feel compelled to be a bit more polite about it, because…my momma raised me that way. (Dammit.)

We're going to skip right over the part about him being a professional dominant, because I'm quite sure I don't want to ask. It isn't that men can't do that - I know some male pro doms. But the vast majority of their clients are, of course, other men. So either he's seeing male clients, which is fine, but it's an area of the industry that I naturally have no experience in. Or he's just doing duos with his girlfriend. Or he's sitting around twiddling his thumbs and waiting for the phone to ring with female clients who want a male pro dom. He'll have a long wait.

No, none of that is my dog. But what never ceases to amaze me is how people will call me up and say, essentially, "Hi, we're some complete strangers and we'd like to compete with you in business, will you teach us how to do that?"

Now, understand, I have no problem with other mistresses. This is not like the Highlander movies, where "there can be only one". No, it's very good thing I'm not the only one, because there are far more guys who want to see pro dommes than I can book sessions with - even if I were compatible with all of them, which I'm not. While I don't recognize the names he gave me, I'm friendly with most of the other (reputable) pro dommes in town, and most of them are great gals. So if you tell me you want to become a pro domme, then I will smile and wish you the very best of luck.

But if you want me to tell you how you should do that, then you need a whole lot more than luck, my friend - you need a sharp rap with the clue stick. It doesn't matter what business you're in, that's just not how small business works. I myself am the child of two small business owners and I learned a lot about small business strategy and psychology just by watching my parents. Some of what I leaned is: your competitor has just as much right to be in the industry as you do, and it's nothing personal, so there's no reason not to be courteous to him when you bump into each other at the coffee shop. The two of you might even like each other and get to be buddies – you'll certainly have some things in common.

But you don't give away your secrets, and you don't spend your professional time nurturing those nascent competitors. A lot of people appear to not understand this, which sort of puzzles me since it seems so obvious. But what I have come to believe is that many people are not cut out to run their own business. Even (or perhaps, especially) a sex work business.

I'd probably be less impatient with this call if I hadn't had this exact same conversation many, many times over the years, although usually with women. I don't mind swapping small bits of advice with newer ladies – the "so, how do you handle it when X happens?" kinda thing. But it's my opinion that if you just don't know how to run the business you're in, then the most merciful thing anyone can do is let you fail quickly and decisively, rather than pulling a Terri Schiavo on you. That way, you can go on to do something you've got the skills for. (It's worth mentioning that none of the successful ladies who got started as dommes after I did have ever tried this "will you tell me how to run my business?" trick with me. They didn’t need to.)

Fortunately, I have long since constructed a graceful way out of these conversations - with the added advantage of it being perfectly true.

Me: No, I'm sorry, my attorney has advised me not to do things like that.
Caller: Oh – really? Because we're just, you know, not sure if we should stay with it or quit or what. It's not been going so well. I wanna stay with it, but my girlfriend thinks she wants to quit. I was hoping you could kinda talk to her about giving it another try.

Oh, wow, that's a whole other issue. He wants me to talk his reluctant lover into continuing to work as a pro domme? No, no, no, no, nooooo. There are oh-so many quicksand pits in that conversation, I don't even want to think about it.

Me: You know, I wish you both the best of luck in whatever you decide to do, but as I said, my attorney has advised me that I should not have those kinds of conversations. So I cannot help you, sorry.
Caller: Oh. Well, if you’re sure.
Me: Thanks, goodbye.

We hang up. Maybe when I'm retired, I'll write a book. Do you think The One-Minute Pro Domme would sell?

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