Friday, August 07, 2009

Pro Domme Advice O' The Week

I am an aspiring professional mistress and though I am working on learning techniques, etiquette, and the like, I am worried about the legal implications of this line of work. I have looked in many places, but can't seem to find a straight answer. So, I was wondering if you could tell me anything you know about the law in relation to BDSM in Washington state and the Seattle area. Also, I was wondering if you have any advice for a beginner?

Nope, I don't give legal advice. So what I can tell you about the law in this matter is that you need to pay a lawyer to explain it to you. And even after they explain it to you, it's still going to be murky. That's how the law is written - you don't get a simple Ten Commandments, you get a great big mess of codes and definitions and exceptions that's nearly impossible for a layperson to understand. That's how lawyers stay in business.

But you should indeed be concerned about the legal implications. I have met women who thought being a pro domme was a sex worker's "Get Out Of Jail Free" card, and oh, that ain't the case. Pro dommes don't arrested as much as some other kinds of sex workers, but it happens. Take New York City, for example: they had full-on, multi-room pro domme houses going there for years without any real trouble. Recently the political atmosphere changed, and boom, cops came in and shut a bunch of them down. That's how it goes.

We are like strippers, in a way. It's entirely possible to be a stripper, or a pro domme, and not do anything illegal. But it's also quite possible - and even probable - that at some point, you're going to cross a legal line. When you do, you might get arrested for that. Most of the time, you won't. But you can't completely rule it out.

And actually, that's true of a lot ordinary people, too. They break laws every day. There are so many laws about so many things, and they are so confusing and complex, there's almost no way you could not. In the first five minutes if this truly excellent video with Professor James Duane, he talks about how there are thousands upon thousands of laws about crazy things you'd never even think of - but someone did, and there's something on the books about it.

So if law enforcement feels someone needs to be arrested, they’ll find something to charge them with. Whether they get a conviction or not is a whole other issue. However, you definitely need to assume that you might get arrested, and you need to make a plan about how you're going to deal with that personally and financially. If that would ruin your life forever - you'd lose custody of children, or jeopardize a dreamed-of future career, or be disowned by your family - then don't be a pro domme.

Let me also kindly point something out, dear girl, both to you and to the many other women who write me letters just like this all the time. It's a bit naive of someone who lives in my city and plans to practice my art to ask me for general business advice. Technically, I'm your competition, and successful businesses do not stay successful by nurturing their competitors.

Now, I'm not really-really your competition, because I rarely meet new people anymore, and there's plenty of business to go around. But still - if you wanted to open a high-end restaurant with a great view, and you went to the owner of Canlis and asked him for advice, what do you think he'd say? If he were polite, he'd say something like, "Well, it takes time, and you have to work hard." That's about all, I imagine, and rightfully so.

I believe in being courteous to other mistresses, and I absolutely believe in sharing information about physical safety and mental health. But I'm not inclined to give away the hard-earned secrets of my success - I'm actually still using them, thankyouverymuch.

So watch the video. Also, read this. Go here, enter this blog's URL and search for "sex work" and read all the tons of advice I've given about that in the last five years. Then hire an attorney and tell them what you want to do, and listen to their advice. And then make your choices.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A charming man pointed me to this blog entry on a BDSM-themed blog. It's about the concept BDSM people call "topping from the bottom". That's a pejorative term applied to bottoms in a BDSM scene who are too bossy and try to control the top and run the scene.

I admit I have used the phrase in conversation myself, but I think in general it's better to avoid it. It's shorthand, and if you and whoever you're talking to have a very clear understanding of how you're using it in context, it's a useful, if lazy, term.

But it's sort of like the words "bisexual" or "kinky" - both those terms encompass all kinds of attitudes and behaviors, any of which may or may not be true, and if someone doesn't clarify exactly what they mean, a lot of mistaken impressions will result. What does it means to be topping from below? Depends on the top. I myself am not usually bothered by some suggestions, as long as they're offered in an appropriate spirit. Other tops don't want any input once the scene has started.

So it's definitely unprofitable to just bluntly inform someone, "Hey, you're topping from the bottom," as that's both a vague and an uncomplimentary phrase. I advise approaching the matter more diplomatically. "I have an idea! Open your mouth, we're going to use this gag!"

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Random Pull From The Mailbag

I reached your article from a mention of "hot-bi-babe syndrome" (which term I was not familiar with) in a Best-of-Craigslist post and an internet search. I found your article interesting and informative, but was confused by your statement that "I'm poly and bi, and there's no way I'd be in a triad relationship, mostly because I think it's an extremely difficult arrangement to sustain."

My understanding is that polyamory is usually defined as a relationship involving three or more persons. Ah, a moment, I just checked Merriam-Webster, and they have "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time". OK, I think I am able to answer my own question.

I was going to ask if a four or more person relationship didn't have some of the difficulties of triads, and that was why you made that statement. But you are saying you are open to having more than one relationship partner, but having those relationships in one multiple-partner relationship is too difficult, in your opinion, so you are interested in one or more relationships, each having its own partner, without cross-connection. Am I on the right track?

Well, I think you get it, although you're phrasing it a little oddly. I would not say a triad was one relationship. But that's mere semantics.

To say it's "too difficult" is putting it mildly. My observation is that it's extremely difficult to conduct a long-term triad. Not saying impossible, but very challenging. I have never done a quad relationship (four people), although in some ways, I think it might be a trifle easier than a triad.

And you may also say that I am considerably more than open and interested. I have never in my life been willingly monogamous. I tried, once or twice, a long time ago. It never worked, because I am not wired that way.

So I've been identifying myself as polyamorous since I was about twenty. I have used different words to talk about that, as the language and culture of polyamory grew and became more sophisticated. And it took me years and years to get good at being poly. Along the way, I made every mistake there is, and I'm sure I invented a few new ones.

Now, I have ongoing intimate relationships that are sexual and loving - and yes, kinky - with more than one person. I don't require a lifetime commitment, but I do not generally do one-night stands. I'm definitely not a swinger, and I don't usually go to bed with more than one person at a time. So yes, all of relationships are quite separate.

In closing, I must just say to you: thank you so very, very much for looking up the word polyamory. I am heartened to see someone actually use the vast array of information at their fingertips, instead of sending me an email saying, "hey whatz X-word-that-I-could-just-fucking-Google mean?" I am so sincerely pleased and happy that you did that and told me about it. Yay you.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The latest installment of the web-cast series about polyamory, Family.

I can't say I really understand where this is going, plot-wise. But it seems to be getting good press: Newsweek did a nice piece on the Seattle producers. And Dan Savage weighed in on it here. So I won't quibble on artistic grounds...