Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm off to Atlanta today on a family visit. I'm flying home next Weds, so between now and then, I'll get to email as best I can - but don't expect lighting-fast replies.

Meanwhile: the new Stranger column.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whenever I have no writing inspiration, it is a comfort to me that I can reach in the mail file and find something to talk about...

I got a letter from a reader who said nice things and observed all the I-know-you're-really-busy amenities, and because she did that, I will answer for her some questions that she might have been able to answer for herself, if she'd done a bit more searching of the archives. This blog needs a design overhaul anyway, and one of things it needs is the Top Ten Most Asked Questions List. "How To Be A Pro Domme" would be high on that list.

What's a fair range of prices to ask for an hour long session? How do you determine what your time's worth, how much to ad for extras outside my norm(if I decide to do so). Do you have any tips for how I could determine that of my time? And last but far from least, when you were just starting, how did you protect yourself? I'm well read, fairly involved in my (sparse) local scene and I broke my teeth in on the larger London clubs and parties like Torture Garden, but nowhere I've looked has helped me figure out how to price or organize this.

Okay, here's my standard advice: First, go here, enter this blog's URL and search for "sex work" and "pro domme" and read all the tons of advice I've given about that in the last five years. Some of it will apply directly to you and some won't, but it's all information worth having.

Read this. And then read this book, in it's entirety.

Then read this one, too. ("But I'm not going to be an escort, I'm going to be a pro domme!" For the vast majority of your purposes, the difference is immaterial. Read it. Information is never a waste.)

Because the writer mentions London, I suspect she might be in the UK. Or maybe not, I don't know. But if she is, I am badly positioned to give her much more advice, because both the legal and the social system around sex work is entirely different there. She'd need to talk to a pro domme in the same country.

But perhaps she's in the US. Even if she isn't, someone else will want to know the answers to those questions anyway. So let me just step all of you through this as simply as I can.

Say we want to sell something - something we know is of value. In this case, it's our time and attention, but it could be anything at all. How do we determine it's value? We go and find other people who are selling the same thing and see what they are charging! Aside from a few stints waitressing, I have never had a job that didn't involve someone getting naked. But surely this is how you non-sex-workers determine what's a fair wage for your labor, or a fair price for your product? It's no different for us.

It is my policy that I do not tell other people how much money they should charge for their time. And since this reader didn't tell me where she lived, I can't do her Googling for her. But she - and anyone else - can type mistress, pro domme, dominatrix + the name of her city, and Bob's your uncle. Look at the sites, see what the existing ladies are charging, charge the same.

One point: I don't recommend having a menu of fees. Decide what you will and won't do, set an hourly rate for your time that assumes all those activities, and that's it. I think it's unseemly to mess around with the nickel-and-dime add-ons. Per-activity rates also suggest that you could be wheedled down in price. "How much if I just want a spanking, with no nipple clamps?"

Also, in the US, extra fees are legally risky. Ask a lawyer why.

Protection: This kind of question about protection always makes me roll my eyes a bit. The myth that sex workers live in a state of constant peril was created by people who want to control what we do with our bodies. Certainly some sex workers get assaulted. Women get assaulted by their husbands and boyfriends, too - and by their friends, their co-workers, members of their family, and total strangers. That seemingly common-sense notion that nice girls aren't assaulted as often as bad girls is just a tool to keep you nice girls scared and in line. The idea that there's a way that sex workers have to make themselves safe that other women don't is fallacious.

So, how have you protected yourself in your life so far? Whatever you've done, ask yourself: has my way of doing that worked out well? Or do I need to get better at it?

There's a lot of stuff about safety in the archived entries here about sex work, so read them. And read The Gift Of Fear, too, it's the best handbook I know on assessing and dealing with dangerous people.

But I can't say, "Okay, here's the ONE rule that will always prevent you from assault." There are a hundred thousand rules. Some of them you'll need and some you won't, and just based on this letter, I can't tell you what you need to feel safe.

You will have to decide. Remove the money aspect from it and think: what would I do if I was just meeting a guy for fun? How would I protect myself in that situation? And do that.

Certain kinds of sex work questions there are right/wrong answers to. But if you want to operate your own business - any business - you need to be able to look at a problem, reason it out, and make a judgment call by yourself. The best advice I can give you is: Get used to thinking like that.