How I, A Certifiably Die-Hard Vanilla, Learned To Love Side-Hustling As A Freelance Dominatrix

When I was about six, my mom caught me masturbating behind a tree in our backyard, and all she ever said about it was, “Don’t do that.” She said it in Spanish, so I knew she was serious. To this day, we’ve never spoken about it, not that I’m dying to bring it up, but still. It’s pretty standard kid stuff, and also one of my earliest memories: being told what I shouldn’t do, or say. That I should “listen,” “be patient,” and “shhh,” and also that public masturbation is not cool, which I’m glad I learned early lest I have a way more unfortunate and embarrassing experience later on in like, middle school or something, which would’ve sucked.

It’s just that I heard this refrain of “listen,” “be patient,” and “shhh” so often, and my parents praised me so highly for complying, for being so “grown up,” for just sitting there and absorbing their shit —and they had a lot of shit between them — that I started to feel like maybe I shouldn’t speak at all. Social anxiety made me a quiet kid anyway, but I don’t recall being asked to speak up much by anyone, ever. Over time, I got in the habit of sitting and listening, and being passive, and complacent. Boyfriends and girlfriends have always told me I’m “such a good listener,” when they really meant “thanks for letting me trample all over your psycho emotional boundaries. Please don’t tell anyone.” All a good listener really does is absorb the other person’s garbage. There’s not much to it, really, just kind of letting things happen to me, and being talked at.

Following the requisite nervous breakdowns and full-blown mental collapse that follow a quarter lifetime of mostly feeling like total trash, I don’t have a lot of what one might call “marketable skills.” I’m on a lot of medications that make me not give a shit about things like being on time or showing up or getting out of bed (on the bright side, I don’t want to die!) which makes it hard to hold down a real, like, officey type health insurance coverage type of job (i.e. I’ve gone through a lot of shitty side jobs and I’m broke as shit). I was in an extra bad financial spot when a friend told me about the time she worked at a BDSM dungeon on the west side of L.A. I consider myself to be kink-positive, as in, I support kinky individuals doing what they do, and I’ve always personally identified as a super queerdo but also super basic sexually. I like to do it, like, regular style, and that’s always been good enough for me.

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The super liberating thing about not having money is that I have no values or personal comfort boundaries to cling to and will sell my soul for one single fucking Dorito. I exchanged a few emails with the headmistress of the dungeon where my friend used to work. When I interviewed, she asked to bend over so one of the switches could spank me and gage my pain tolerance. Turns out I’m a weak ass bitch who DOES NOT LIKE PAIN, but apparently there’s a market for that. They hired me as a submissive.

In a lot of ways, working at the dungeon was like any regular job. Arrive on time, follow the dress code, don’t leave food out in the break room. There was a hierarchy with submissives at the bottom. The idea being, I suppose, that you have to be able to tolerate pain before you inflict it on others. These “others” were the mostly straight, white male clientele, like the guy I had my first session with who was all of these things, plus super, super, super fucking old as shit. Everyone called him Tickle Bob, because unlike most other clients who sought out submissives who could take a hard paddling, Tickle Bob wasn’t a spanker, or a flogger, or a paddler. Tickle Bob just liked to tickle girls in their underwear. It was never sexual. Sex is strictly prohibited in the dungeon, and therefore everything is legal. But it is sexy. Or at least, I imagine it’s sexy, for Tickle Bob. He smelled like old. I was constantly afraid he would keel over.

Unfortunately, aside from a few loyal clients like Tickle Bob, there wasn’t much work at the dungeon for submissives, especially not for me as a low-impact sub. In order for someone to drop anywhere between $150 and $300 on an hour in a fetish dungeon on a Saturday afternoon, they’ve got to be really, really into whatever it is they want to do there, and most of the clients, again, predominantly straight male, aren’t willing to pay to treat some woman like shit for a half hour when they think they can do it for free on their own time. So I left. The women who worked there, I realized, weren’t there for the money. One was a professional submissive and indie porn producer famous around kinky internet circles for filming a scene in which a man nailed her boobs to a wooden board. Nails. Through the boobs. Through. The. Fucking. Tittays. Fetishes are called “fetishes” because they’re something you must have and cannot live without. These women were there because they needed to be, because they live, sleep, and breathe the lifestyle, because they felt most alive, most like themselves, when they were feeling pain, or inflicting it. It felt disrespectful of me to intrude on their safe space.

Tickle Bob took quite a liking to me though, and called me a few weeks after I officially quit the dungeon to see if I’d meet with him for a session at his house. Only this time, he wanted to be the submissive. Actually, he wants me to step on his balls. He asks me to bring my highest, sharpest stilettos and says he’ll give me flogger as a gift, which is sweet I guess and like, I get it, but it’s not like I’m ever going to use it in my personal life so I briefly think about asking for just cash or a new pack of underwear or something I can actually use, but don’t want to be rude. I’m already going to be stepping on the guy’s balls, so. Better not overdo it. I sent my friend Tickle Bob’s address in case I get murdered, which I worry about for a second, but then I remember that I’m taller than Tickle Bob and weigh probably twice as much as he does. If anyone’s getting strangled and suffocated, it’s probably him.

Luckily, Tickle Bob was able to walk me through the mechanics of proper ball-trampling without actually killing him — the sights of his saggy fucking balls burned into my brain forever. He asked me if I wanted to pee on him, and I politely declined. It was weird, and scary, and uncomfortable, but then again, Tickle Bob is paying me, and I’m not doing anything I don’t want to. It’s not like I care if Tickle Bob is going to call me back ever. I am the one in control. I don’t care if he likes it or not. I still see Tickle Bob now and then. He calls me from his fucking flip phone from 2006 and has a Yahoo account. I have to talk really loud over the phone so he can hear me. Because he’s old.

As weird and maybe even as humiliating as it was to actually step on the guy’s nuts, I’m face-to-face with what scares me most, besides this guy’s nuts: being in control, and the realization that my boundaries and my limits are important. That they matter, that I matter, and that men, who I’ve always been afraid of because the men in my family and my life so far have been terrifying and abusive and so cold-hearted, aren’t as scary when their balls are under the pointy heels of your stilettos. I’m able to regain control over my fear and my triggers in a safe space. To advocate for myself, and to not allow myself to be trampled on. I am the trampler. I am the trampler of your balls.

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