Friday, September 24, 2004

Yesterday I mentioned a piece I'd written about what it means to be my personal submissive, and the ever-resourceful Max turned up a copy of this on the laptop. So this is the letter that I gave to people when I accepted then as my personal submissive. (Again - this does not apply to people who have a professional relationship with me. While we enjoy each other greatly, that's a different dynamic.)

Letter to a Submissive...

These instructions will inform you about your attitude and manners, both in public and private, and etiquette for both scenes and SM- related social occasions.
The most important part of SM is not what you do but your relationship with me, your top. I have put together some guidelines about what I expect from a bottom. Some of it will cover areas we have spoken of or will speak of, but they are areas that cannot be overstated.

I am a dominant top. I do not merely want your available body as a playground; I want your mind as well. That means when you bottom to me, you must be willing to submit yourself consciously to me, in your manner, your words and actions, and even your thoughts. It must be your foremost desire to please me and serve me. Being truly submissive means cultivating an attitude of selflessness. You must submerge your personal will to your top. Doing so means placing your trust in your top to protect you, care for you, and hold your interests at heart, even in times when it seems as if she is not.This attitude is demonstrated in a variety of ways. There are some widespread behaviors and attitudes, but every top is different. I have certain behaviors that I insist upon.

· You will always address me as Mistress, or Ma'am. The only exception to this is circumstances in which it would clearly be indiscreet or inappropriate to address me so, and on those occasions you will address me by my name.

· You will always display the utmost courtesy and submissiveness towards me in terms of language. In ordinary conversations, this means punctilious use of words like please, thank you, may I? - Et cetera. In conversations during a scene, this means prefacing unsolicited speech with " Please, Ma'am (or Mistress) may I speak?" Once permission has been given, you must begin requests with “If it pleases you, Ma'am, may I..?" Variations might be "Please, Mistress, may I go to the bathroom?" “If I may, Mistress, your drink is about to tip over." “Forgive me Mistress, but I cannot find the whip you asked me to bring you." In situations of emergency, the request to speak is understood- one does not endanger oneself or others for courtesy.

· You will always think of my ease, comfort, pleasure, entertainment and satisfaction before your own. Performing manual tasks and practical duties for your Mistress is what we in the SM community call service. Service duties that should be done without prompting include things like opening doors and carrying bags. At a social function, a bottom should see to it that her Mistress's coat is taken, that she has a drink, and that she has a seat if she wants it. It goes without saying that if there is one seat, she takes it and you stand. Other types of service might include cooking and/or serving a meal to your Mistress, running an errand for her, or doing a household chore. It is my belief that certain types of service go with certain degrees of intimacy in an SM relationship. I will communicate with you about what my expectations are as the relationship progresses.

· You will maintain discretion about the intimate facts of your Mistress's life that you become privy to. Failure to do so is quite likely to result in your being released from her service.

· You will behave towards acquaintances and friends of the Mistress in a way that reflects well on her. You are no one's bottom except hers, so you need not be submissive to them, but a pleasant manner and common courtesy is required. As my bottom, many people will view you as an example of my training and methods- see to it that you are a well-schooled student.

· As my bottom, you are under my protection at all times. Any difficulty, any confusion when dealing with another person in an SM context, or about SM in general, should be reported to me at once. It is part of our contract that you will make yourself vulnerable to me, and part of what I do for you is protect that vulnerability from others.

· You will strive to communicate clearly and honestly with me about your feelings at all times.

· You will work to further educate yourself about all aspects of SM - the practical, the theoretical, the emotional, and the cultural. You will examine yourself to discover what these things mean to you.

· You will strive to make yourself aware of your Mistress's likes and dislikes in small things, so that you may more effectively serve her. As time goes by, you should be aware that she drinks mochas, not lattes; that she prefers diet Pepsi to diet Coke; that she gets cold easily; and that she dislikes very bright lights. Small facts such as these will assist you when, in her absence, you must make a choice that affects her.

Now that I have discussed what I expect from you, let me tell you a little about what you may expect from me when you are my bottom.

· I will protect you from outside forces when you are with me. When you agree to let down your protective barriers and submit yourself to me, you are making yourself vulnerable, you are relinquishing control. It is my duty and my pleasure to see to it that you are safe both physically and emotionally during the scene. (You may not think you are safe, but that's part of my pleasure.) I will never command you to act in a way that is inappropriate to our surroundings and I will never expose you to danger that is beyond my control.

· I will act as a mentor and a guide for you in the SM culture, and I am willing to give you help and support in your day-to-day life as well. It’s quite likely that you'll want it - the power you give me is not an easy thing to compartmentalize. I predict that you will find that you want advice, approval and validation from me about many non-SM things. I will make myself available for that, and I will give you support without taking control of things that we did not negotiate and agree to have me control.

· It is my wish not to make you less than you are, but more. My dominance over you does not depend on my keeping you disempowered. I want you to be powerful, as a bottom and as a person. Powerful, confident, more centered and focused in your body and mind. To that end, I will take your body and mind on very powerful trips, but I will always - always - return you, whole, to a place of physical and emotional safety afterwards.

· I will not intentionally injure you or harm you in any long-lasting way. SM is not a risk-free activity. I am an experienced player and I know a great deal about how to do SM safely. I have never had a serious accident happen in one of my scenes; however, they can occur, even to careful players. I will not attempt to do things that are beyond my experience in my play with you, and should any accident ever occur, I will be responsible for getting you any medical treatment you might need and being as supportive as possible.

· I will not abuse the trust you place in me by doing anything to you that you have said you did not want to happen, or that I might reasonably suppose you did not want to happen. I will always be responsive to your use of your safeword.

· I will be conscious of your emotional needs as a bottom and facilitate your emotional processes in and about that space. I will make myself available for emotional support before, during and after scenes, even between times, as you need me.

· I will be mindful of the gift you bestow upon me when you give yourself into my control. A good bottom is a precious treasure.

Copyright Mistress Matisse 1999

Thursday, September 23, 2004

So, I’m safely here in New York, having survived a nicely uneventful plane trip, and then a truly hellish drive through New Jersey. (We flew into Newark. The things you have to do when you’re using your miles instead of money…)

Now, I don’t want this blog to turn into one big kinky Q and A. However, since I am on the road and my time to write is limited, instead of coming up with brilliantly inspired essays of my own, I think I’ll just answer some questions I’ve gotten in the mail lately. So if you wanna ask me something, shoot it off in the next six days and maybe I’ll put it up here…
A woman writes…

I've read a little bit about Jae in your blog, and as a vanilla-sex kind of person, I'm curious: what, exactly, does being (or having) a personal submissive entail? Would you mind talking about how your relationship with your submissive was different from relationships with lovers who tend to be submissive in the bedroom?

First, let me explain that I have fallen into the habit of using the phrase “personal submissive” in order to differentiate people like Jae from my clients. It’s kind of a “pro domme” habit, and I personally find the phrase rather clunky, but, what can one do?

The difference between lovers and submissives? Well, one major difference leaps to mind – I don’t usually have sex a lot with my personal submissives. For example, I had Jae for about two and a half years, and I think we had anything resembling sex about four times. Thats about par for me. Sex has just not been part of the job description for my submissives. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t in the future, you understand, but thus far, it hasn’t been something I either desired or felt was appropriate.
Not to say that there wasn’t (and isn’t still) a very sexual vibe between Jae and I. And not every top feels this way - Max has sex with Maura, for example. So it’s a situation where one’s mileage will definitely vary.
Aside from sex - being my personal submissive means: that’s your role, all the time. When there's a choice to be made, it’s my choice. I’ll tell what I want you to do, and you do it. When you’re my submissive, you look after my ease, comfort, entertainment and overall happiness before your own. If I call you at 11:30 at night and say, “I’m out of diet Mountain Dew”, you go get me some, bring it to me, and then go home again. You serve my needs and desires.
In return for this, you receive my attention, my guidance, my instruction, my support and my deep affection. I am a mentor, a teacher, an almost parental figure to my submissives. I have a great deal of power over them, but, like one of those comic-book heroines, I am sworn to use it only for good. I’ve written a whole piece about this, which I unfortunately don’t have on this computer, but I’ll post it when I get home. However, its main thrust is: I want my submissives to be (and to become) not less than what they are, but rather, more. In some ways, I’m like a really kinky drill sergeant: I will break you down, and the process of that may look a little daunting, but at the end of it, you’ll be something better than you were.

So you can see why I say that’s a full time job. I don't think every top approaches it quite this way. But I look askance at any top who isn't interested in teaching their submissive to grow in some way. I think it should be part of the territory.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Well. I knew I'd get some responses to the "why I don't see female clients" post, but - lordy, lordy, people, ya'll had a lot to say here!
I considered not responding at all, because really, everything I am going to say has already been said by someone else. (You're all so damn smart!) But I like engaging in some dialogue, so, here we go…

The always-brilliant Remittance Girl summed it up so well that I'm going to put her first…

I think one of the answers might be found in the fact that, in our society and even on the fringes of it, paying for intimate services of this nature is still very taboo for women in general and much rarer than for men. It could very well be that the women who are driven to override that taboo, and pay to have an encounter of this sort are, essentially, rather strange birds.
The pseudo stalking doesn't surprise me at all. BDSM is VERY emotional for many women (and many men too) and women, as a whole, do not compartmentalize as well as men do. This is a bad thing and a good thing. The very same quality that allows women to spread their emotions over a vast macrocosm of daily life may be the same reason why they have a hard time paying for a session and then just letting the feelings that it evokes go.
Certainly, compared to men, very few women pay sex workers for services. It could just be a matter of acclimatization and practice - they don't have a lot of experience on HOW to react to it.
In a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks, RG.

Now then, in chronological order…

(Note: most comments have been edited for length. If you just got here, scroll down and read them in their original form in the comments box for the previous post. Make sure you get comfortable, it's a long read.)

Kim: Hmm. Matisse, how do you make sure your clients don't fall in love with you, in general?
Everyone falls in love with me – for an hour or two. And even with people who wish for a different sort of relationship with me - it's not the emotions themselves that are the problem. It's people thinking, wrongly, that their feelings are going to strongly influence my behavior, and who feel upset when that isn't the case.

If I think someone is genuinely falling for me, I will not see them as a client anymore. I've only had to do that a very few times, and in all cases the client involved kinda got to the same place I did with it at about the same time, so it was a fairly mutual decision.

Jackie: I would like to go see a professional female dominant for a session and hopefully if he's willing, have my partner attend. I've been dominant myself for most of my life but have always yearned to be dominated by the right person. Unfortunately, my partner doesn't know how and I would love him to learn through watching some sessions and/or being taught or guided by a professional. I think this is the only way I could introduce my partner to it as other ways have failed miserably…Any thoughts?
I do see couples, because that's proven to be safe and fun for me, and I'm an excellent teacher, so that would be fine. It's only women alone that have been problematic. Since you've been a sex worker yourself, I'm sure you have a crystal-clear understanding of how this all works, so that also makes everything much easier...

Reiter:I wonder if the last line in your "Control Tower" column may be coming back to haunt you — "And while I'm still a little wary, I may be more willing to open that door again in the future." If that's what some of these single women who contact you have been reading, they might well think, yeah, her website says she doesn't, but her column says she might, so why not give it a shot?
You're quite right, I do regret it. But the moving finger writes, and having written moves on. Dammit.

Teddy:I think it’s a fair guess that there are many perfectly sane and normal women in your community who would like to experience BDSM but don’t get it in their regular lives, many of whom favor a female dominant, or who would be afraid of seeing a male in this capacity, or who simply can’t find a male pro-dom who sees single women (a rare gem!). So there’s a pool of women out there dying to see you professionally and experience the joys you can provide –
No, I think you're wrong there. If that were true, I'd be getting a lot more calls and email about it. I've been in the sex industry for well over ten years, and there simply are not many women who patronize sex workers of any variety.
- but you don’t want to see them. How cruel! You ARE the nasty sadist you claim to be!
I assume you're being facestious here, but just in case: No, my having a personal preference that doesn't tab with the desires of these hypothetical women doesn't make me cruel. I have no ethical obligation to satisfy their needs.
I think that it is not so much fear of being stalked or fear that women will fall in love with you that makes you not want to see these BSDM-craving single women. I think these are minor risks that you could handle just fine, and surely do handle just fine with male clients.
You're wrong – it's exactly the reason I don't see them. Being stalked is not a "minor risk". It's a major intrusion into my private life, and I've never had it happen with a male client.
…most women don’t play the role of supplicant/sychophant to another woman as well as your boys do.
You have it backwards – the main problem is that some women clients I've dealt wouldn't stop "playing the role".
Matisse, I would respectfully ask you what makes you feel entitled not to be questioned?
The fact that I'm a free person who makes my own decisions and isn't answerable to anyone unless I choose to be. Since I am not an elected official, I am not obligated to offer "a compelling explanation" of anything I do to anyone, and I'll invoke my right to privacy early and often. Those who don't approve of that are welcome to go elsewhere.

Trinity: Well said, sweetheart, thanks. And you are a nice girl. In a delightfully nasty sort of way.

Van: Thank you!

Lily: Another well-said comment. It's so nice to have such smart readers!

Teddy: I have spoken to other pro doms about this, but I'm not comfortable representing their opinions here.

Poohbear: You're so sweet. And yeah – Lydia is a total babe, isn't she? The kicker is she's also smart as hell. For her to look that good, and be brainy, too – well, God shortchanged somebody somewhere.

Reiter: Right again, Reiter.

Malixe: Another smart guy. No wonder I like you.

Teddy:… Please do ignore it if it is not helpful.
Well, Teddy, I don't think you're an evil person or anything, but – yep, it's not helpful, so I am going to ignore it.

Lenora: Glad to see you, darling…

Lilith: I've gotten this response from a lot of people when I ask them "why" about something, and so I often try to clarify in advance that I ask "why" because I am genuinely curious (wanting to know for the sake of knowing/learning), not because I am challenging them, arguing with them, or trying to dissuade them.
You know, if someone is this clear with me, I don't mind talking about stuff at all. But a face-to-face chat with a friend – or even a cocktail party acquaintance – is different from one-line emails from strangers demanding you explain yourself.

paul_tex: How nice! Thank you.

Patrick H.:Good posts, both of them, thank you.

Lovely Gal: You might enjoy reading this…

00Goddess: Unfair or not, I'll be blunt: the majority of women that I have encountered who identify as submissives, slaves, or bottoms were/are emotionally unstable. Does this mean that all women who identify as subs, slaves, or bottoms are emotionally unstable? No. But my sample is drawn from my local community and the online community I've interacted with, and with very very few exceptions (say, three), the women who sub have had serious problems with self-esteem, personal boundaries, and other issues.
Yeah…There's a column being written in my head on this topic, except I'm afraid of being stoned to death if I actually publish it. But I've noticed the problem as well. Perhaps I'll buy a suit of armor and write more about it.

dave: Nicely said – thank you. (I’m wondering if this is a "dave" I know or not…?)

Sherry: this is just speculation, but maybe the stalkers were already smitten with matisse before they ever asked to become clients. they were using the professional scene as a venue to meet her in person, hoping that matisse likewise would fall for them. so, she’s not seeing a random selection of submissive women as clients, she’s seeing all the ones that don’t have that little reality switch turned on! hence she sees a disproportionate number of the unbalanced…
I think that's an excellent point, Sherry, and I think you're probably right about at least some of them. Good call.
what i would like to ask matisse, is if this is also why you choose not to have female secondarys? are they generally too emotionally draining/needy/possessive for a polyamory relationship?
I have had two female secondaries – Jae was one, and the other was a wonderful butch boi (meaning: female body, masculine-leaning gender/sexual identity) who I'll call T. But while both Jae and T were de facto secondary partners, they were very much my submissives. Right now, I don’t have a personal submissive, and that's because having one is a full-time job. (At least the way I do it, it is.) Whatever I do with Jake and Roman in my bedroom or my dungeon – and there have been some really nasty and wonderful things – when we emerge from that space, we are equals, and they are my lovers.
I admit that when I was shopping for a new secondary I was looking more at men. But the right woman could have turned my head, too. I'm sure one will in the future. When I'll feel that I can take on another full-time personal submissive, God only knows.

Van: It's taken me a couple of days to realize that I feel a distinct element of, well, consternation over being labeled a cultist…
Yeah, I hear you on that…. But one has to just let it go, as I'm sure you have. It's the internet, such things abound.

Trinity: thank goodness i'm wearing a crotch rope while writing this…

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question

Someone sent me another one of those "How come you won't see female clients?" emails the other day. I'm averaging about one of those a week, and to tell you the truth, I'm getting rather touchy about the whole subject. So I think I better address the issue, before I absolutely go off on some poor girl just because she's the ten thousand, four hundred and thirty-third person to ask me that.

Now, people who know me personally can correct me if I'm wrong...but I think I try to be patient with people who honestly don't realize they're getting on my nerves. However, I have my weaknesses, and one of them is that I have a pretty short fuse when I think someone is questioning my limits. That's because, in my experience, it's usually not just intellectual curiosity - if someone's questioning me, it's because they think I should change my boundary to suit them, and that's not something I do. So the temptation to snap "Because I don't fucking want to," at the questioners is quite strong. And while I don't really wish to bite anyone's head off, I'm clear on the fact that,"I don't want to," is a perfectly valid reason, and I think those of you who questioned me should ask yourselves why you felt entitled to do that.

Still, in a spirit of good communication, I'll flesh out my reasoning a little for you.

My experiences with female clients have been almost uniformly bad - in some cases, really bad. I wrote a Control Tower column about it, and frankly, I'm being extremely diplomatic in that column. Out of about twenty, I have had exactly one female client who was cool. The rest of 'em? Psychos. Absolute psychos. The female client that was the subject of that CT article? I saw her only because she was a referral from a friend, and I found out later that after the session, she'd gone back to her social circle and announced that I wasn't a "real domme" because I didn't do X, Y, and Z, and she couldn't understand why anyone thought I was anything special, et cetera, et cetera. She also said she'd only come to see me to make her ex-bf jealous.

Nice. Real nice. It's not like I lost any sleep over it, but that's negative energy I don't need in my life.

So there were the stalkers and the bad-mouther. The others? Well, they didn't do anything terrible. They were just torturously difficult to play with – and I'm past the point in my career where I have to do sessions that are completely not-fun for me. I recall one woman in particular – a nice enough woman, but she got totally non-verbal and non-communicative when we played. I mean, she wouldn't talk, she kept her eyes closed tightly the entire time, she never had a facial expression or a body response that I could interpret as either pleasure or pain. It was like playing with a wind-up doll. Or an ambulatory dead person, and that's just not a fetish of mine. Call me demanding, but I like a teensy bit more feedback than that.
When I tried to talk to her about her desires for the session, what was working for her and what wasn't, she would just say, "Everything's fine. It's all really fine."
Oh, that's sexy. No: "Yes, I liked the spanking," or, "The nipple clamps were a little too strong". Instead: "Everything's fine," What a cop-out!

I suppose you'd have to understand how my male clients adore me for this to really make sense. I have fabulous clients. I think I'm the world's luckiest sex worker, to have the guys I have. It's amazing, and I frequently thank the goddess of sex work for sending me such great boys.

And my experiences with female clients do not in any way tab with my experiences playing with women non-professionally. I suppose it's because I pick the women I play with, rather than them coming to me. Thus, it's easier to sort for little things like erotomania, or a pathological inability to communicate.

So that's my rant about my experiences with female clients. I'm fully expecting some of the women who've written to me protesting this boundary of mine to write me again in the wake of this post and say, "But I wouldn't be like that!" Yes, it is a bit unfair that other people have poisoned the well for you. But there it is, so please don't force me to be ungracious to you by trying to insist that you're different and that an exception should be made for you. I wish you well, but my mind is made up. If you're truly yearning for an experience with a pro domme, my friend Lady Lydia sees women, and she's a great top. She's beautiful, too. I'm going to stick with what's working for me – boys.