Friday, November 03, 2006

As I said yesterday, I have gotten a lot of letters from people wanting sex-work advice lately. Some of them are good letters, and some of them are...not so good.

Here we go...

Hi Mistress Matisse.

I have decided to clear my VISA bill through the adult want ads in craiglist. I have a few questions. As a pretty twenty year old chick that loves licking pussy,
1) what should I be expecting in terms of compensation for photos and video work? I was quoted by one photographer that I should expect 100 dollars an hour if I only do girl-girl.
2) do you recommend any safety tips in answering these kinds of ads? Do you run into dangerous people in your line of work? If you do, how do you deal with those situations?
Thanks!


This is a good letter – it’s not my area of expertise, but still, they’re simple, short-answer questions, and I appreciate that.

My reply: Well, I’ve done some modeling, but not that much. I’d say ask for as much as you can get, and be willing to be flexible. A hundred an hour for girl/girl seems reasonable. Since that means there’ll be another girl there with you, when you do the gig, ask her what she gets paid, and adjust your future expectations accordingly.

The safety thing? Well, it’s an issue, yeah, but not a huge one. Ask the photographer for a reference from another model and check it. If you go through one of the sites like OneModelPlace.com, there are often links on the photographer's pages to models they’ve worked with, so that helps with a ref check. Or take a friend with you. It’s not necessary that it be a big man, even another woman is helpful. But generally, if the guy is a pro who’s obviously been around for a while, you’ll be fine. If you want a modeling adventure, look up my pal Jeff Gord at HouseOfGord.com. No sex required to model for him – hell, half the time you don’t even get naked. But it’s never a dull moment, I promise you.

And read this book. It’s got a lot of good info about how to spot bad people. Good luck getting that Visa bill down, that’s a very worthy goal.

***

I have a question: is pure domination for money legal? I am a kinky person,
so in my personal life I do quite a bit of role-play and domination, dress-up etc. I have recently been asked by an acquaintance to do this for pay. Specifically, he wants to pay me $300 an hour to clean my house while I talk to him. I told him that I would need to have him interviewed by a panel of my friends and go through a WA state patrol background check first, which he has agreed to, and he has also given me references to check…My question is: if he pays me to clean my house while I talk mean to him, is that illegal? He also said he might want to rub my feet, feed me grapes, or cook dinner for me and some lady friends. Does him touching me, even my feet, equal illegal touching? (Like for the strippers in town with the new laws). I really enjoy teaching men how to serve the goddess in ways which are positive and enjoyable, so as long as he is not asking me to actually have physical of sex with him or to physically harm him, I will be OK with this.
I am just wondering if I can declare this and income for my small business and then write off expenses (costumes, etc),or is this sort of work only to be paid in cash, under-the-table and not reported? And where would I find a kink-friendly accountant?

This is a good letter in the sense that it’s clear and specific. I like that. However, she’s asking me questions that it’s hard for me to answer. I get this kind of “is-such-and-such-legal?” question all the time, but I’m not a lawyer, so I don't give legal advice. My understanding of the law is that it’s a vague and flexible instrument, and it’s written that way on purpose. (For one thing, if ordinary people could understand the law clearly, we wouldn’t need lawyers. So lawyers make sure it’s complicated.)

My point of view is that if law enforcement wants to arrest you, they’ll find something to charge you with. Whether they get a conviction or not is a whole other issue. However, if you don’t advertise your services and just do sessions with this one guy, I would say your odds of attracting enough attention to get arrested are vanishingly small. If you want to expand and go public, as it were, then that changes things and you need to retain a lawyer to advise you.

And, yes, traditionally these transaction are done in cash. Naturally I am not advising you to cheat on your taxes. (I certainly pay mine, ow.) But there are a lot of places in the world to spend cash.

A kinky accountant? I don’t know anyone whose name I can give out, sorry. That seems premature anyway. Even if this guy gets a session from you every month, that’s not so much money that you’d need an accountant to handle it. And even if you wind up making more, if you already have a small business tax model in place, why would you need to tell an accountant what you did to get that money?

***

Dear Mistress,

My ex roommate and I used to do Dom in Seattle, but it was her set-up and the only things that I did was assist. I would like to have my own Dungeon , but (as embarrassing as it is to admit) I have no idea where to start. Can you give a novice some advice on getting going? Please Mistress?

Okay, before I begin, let me just say this: this letter is no worse than many, many other emails almost exactly like it that I get every week. I’m using this one as an example. Unfortunately for this writer, she's a bad example. But this writer is just one member of a big club, and I am speaking not only to her but to everyone who’s ever written me an email just like this one.

I had a certain nun as a teacher when I was a kid – Sister Mary David. And one of Sister Mary David’s things was intellectual laziness. She was against it, to put it mildly. Woe betide the kid who asked Sister how to spell a word, or whether a platypus was a mammal or a amphibian, or what the capitol of Maine was. “Look it up!” she’d say, slapping her hand on the lectern. “Don’t ask me to do your schoolwork for you. That’s intellectual laziness.” She’d draw out the “a” in lazy, and then sort of hiss out the final sibilants like a snake.

The Jesuits say if you give them a child until he is six, he is theirs forever. I had nuns just like Sister Mary David until I was 17, and they definitely left an impression on me. I have a horror of intellectual laziness. If I want to know something, my first instinct: look it up. Growing up I was convinced that everything worth knowing was in a book somewhere, one just had to find it. And now with the web, well, there’s no excuse for not knowing anything about whatever it is you’re interested in. Max often refers to me as The Research Department, and he’s not really kidding. If I cannot find what I need, then I will certainly ask for help. But I do not do that until I have exhausted my own resources. Asking other people to think for me so I don’t have to is intellectual laziness.

This writer is being intellectually lazy. As far as I can see, she’s made no effort to find out for herself what she wants to know. Hell, I myself am not really clear on exactly what it is she’s asking for, since her question is extremely broad. Some advice on getting going? Sure, I’ve got some advice: Don’t take any wooden nickels. If you want a better answer, then you need to work harder on phrasing a better question.

Sending me this kind of email tells me that the sender has not done any home work on me and my writing, or else she would have seen the various other rants I have published, both here and in the Stranger, about exactly this kind of thing. Before you ask me a question, go and ask Mistress Google if I’ve answered it before. Even a basic search on how to become a professional dominatrix yields some leads. There are books to read, too.

I’m hoping this writer doesn’t really need me to take her by the hand and say, “Okay, honey, well, first you’d need to decide where you’re going to see your clients, and then you’d need to get your equipment, and then you’d need to advertise somewhere….” Because if you need someone to take you through even the most basic of steps, you are so not ready to run your own business. Not now, and maybe not ever.

But hey, I’m willing to accept that maybe she’s already got all that stuff worked out, and she means something else. But I don’t know, because she hasn’t told me what she's done to solve this problem. That’s another thing Sister Mary David used to say: show your work. Show me you’ve made an effort to find out the answer to your question before you ask me to answer it for you.

Do I sound harsh? I don’t think that this writer is a bad person, and I’m not trying to make her feel bad about herself. But you don’t know the volume of emails I get that look just like this. It makes me cringe for the state of the American educational system. And the nuns, at least, were employed to teach children. I myself don’t get paid to answer emails like this. I just do it as a favor to the sender, because I’m nice and I’m happy to be helpful if I can. But it’s unrealistic to expect me to take time away from my very busy life to spoonfeed a total stranger who shows me no evidence of trying to help themselves.

I could just ignore emails like this – I usually do, in fact. However, my point is that I’m not averse to sharing my knowledge, but you must show me your own effort first, and you must make it easy for me to help you.

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