Macha Femmes

vivian da silva macho femme bravado

vivian da silva macho femme bravado

[slideshow]She teetered on five inch heels, drunk on whiskey and macho femme bravado. The cement floor of the bar’s basement was cold and my knees began to ache. The quickness of my breath and the urgency of my hearts beat made the dull pain in my knees seem distant. She pulled my hair tightly bringing my face closer to her painted mouth. I smelled the sweat of her neck and the soft perfume of her hair. My pussy ached in response as warmth spread through the wet folds of my lips. The overwhelming waves of desire made me think of the good whiskey she poured from her tiny gold flask.

“Are you sure you’re not going to fall?” I whispered, trying carefully to form the words around the blade in my mouth. She pulled my hair more tightly and I could see the glint of the silver blade reflected in her dark eyes. She slipped the cool blade deeper into my throat and I wondered if the metallic taste in my mouth was my own blood — this too seemed unimportant.

“I can wield a switch blade any old time. Drunk or sober,” she snarled. I believed her, closed my eyes and did my best not to gag.


2012 Folsom Street Fair

2012 Folsom Street Fair

The Folsom Street Fair is no soft-core 50 Shades of Grey: the goings on at this celebration of sadomasochistic hedonism would put even Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights to shame! Each year thousands of kinksters flock to San Francisco and fly their freak flag high for one fantastically  indulgent weekend of kink and sexual revelry.

One can expect to see nudity, fisting, creative public humiliation, whipping, human pony’s pulling carts, people suspended in intricate rope bondage, sissy maids, Master’s and Mistress’s proudly displaying their slaves  and every other cardinal sin imaginable. And it’s not just for the gay boys either. There are kinky dominants, submissives, slaves, switches and fetishists of every  gender and orientation.

Veteran Folsom attendee, writer and San Francisco kink scenester Davina Darling offers this survival guide for first time Folsom attendees.


1. If you are wearing latex BRING A BACKUP OUTFIT!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ripped latex. One Folsom I had to walk home naked as a jay bird, bits out for the world to see holding my ripped latex in my hand like last nights prom date.


2. If you are wearing latex BRING LUBE. Wiggling into un lubbed latex is by one of the hardest and most uncomfortable things I’ve ever had to do. Plus, no one likes a dull outfit.

3. If you are planning on drinking, bring your own booze in. It’s surprisingly easy to sneak in a flask or camel back and that way you don’t have to wait in the god awful lines for a watered down cocktail.

4.  If you are driving in bring a cozy outfit for the car ride home!! It feels amazing after a day of sun and kink to slip into a sweatshirt.

Little Miss Little And Little Mister Little Pageant At Dark Odyssey (Davina Darling pictured kneeling)

Little Miss Little And Little Mister Little Pageant At Dark Odyssey (Davina Darling pictured kneeling)

5. Wear comfy shoes! Trust me I don’t care how fierce they make your outfit look NO ONE is going to appreciate them as you herd through the crowd like cows to slaughter. Your feet will thank you.

6. Bring a purse! Or some small bag to carry your shit in. You will need your cell phone (to find lost drunk friends) a extra lip gloss and a mirror, trust me.

7. Meet a friend who lives in walking distance. Cultivate a friendship for the months leading up to folsom so you will have a nice flushing toilet to visit and maybe a couch to fall on for a minute in between the crowds.

8. Wear sunscreen! Every year without a doubt I am always marked with an awful tan in the shape of fetish wear. It’s not cute, I don’t care who you are.

9. Leave cute accessories at home. No ones going to stop and admire your crazy gloves or parasol and you will end up carrying them around like dead weight. Not worth the effort.

10. Have another way to get home. Every year you see the same sad people wandering the street because they got separated from their ride. Bring extra taxi/bus money (that you will not spend on booze) just in case.

11. Negotiate! It’s so easy to get swept up in wanting to preform for crowds. Ive seen People’s boundaries get pushed far too often for the sake of drawing a crowd. Be respectful while playing!

12. Drink water!!!! Your out playing around In the sun all day in some ridiculous outfit not made for sunshine. It’s just common sense.

13. I don’t care how naked and inviting someone looks ASK BEFORE TOUCHING!!! Even if it’s your thing, being constantly groped by unfamiliar hands get old after a while.

Read more of Davina Darling’s work here:

Understanding The World Of Professional Kink

History and terminology

Sexual play involving pain and power dynamics have been documented since the third and fourth centuries and the practice has many names including bondage and discipline and sadism and masochism (BDSM), domination and submission (D/s), sadism and masochism (SM), fetish or kink. BDSM and fetish professionals may play the role of a dominant, submissive or switch (a person who plays both roles). Both men and women (including transgender men and women) may work as professional dominants, submissives or switches. Within the industry professional dominants are often referred to as “pro doms” which can include men (Masters) or women (Mistresses). Respectively, professional submissives and switches are referred to as either “pro subs” or “pro switches”.

Professional domination and submission are often said to have come out of the sex games played in brothels. One professional dominant, Theresa Berkley is among the first noted for running a house of “discipline and flagellation”. Historical evidence suggests that her establishment was especially popular with male and female aristocrats of the 19th century.

The work

Many professional dominants, submissives and switches begin their career by working in a “house of domination” similar to a brothel in structure and often referred to by industry professionals as a “house”. A house is typically owned and operated by one person, usually a dominatrix, called a “Head Mistress”. A house is often equipped with a number of themed rooms which can include a main room resembling a medieval dungeon equipped with cages and a flagellation station called a Saint Andrew’s cross, a classroom and a medical examination room. The Head Mistress is typically in charge of hiring, training and mentoring a stable of fetish professionals, managing online and print marketing and advertising, ensuring proper safety protocols are followed, booking appointments and generally maintaining the work space and business. Kink professionals refer to the fantasy play appointment with their clients as “sessions”.

Professional BDSM workers need to learn basic safety including how to safely perform “bondage” (tying a person with ropes or leather restraints for the purpose of immobilization), how to correctly use many of the tools of the trade (i.e., whips, cane) in a way that excites the masochist and satisfies they’re desire for erotic pain but does not cause permanent damage or serious injury. Many of the activities offered by professional dominants are inherently risky and most BDSM professionals are trained in basic first aid and CPR.

Another type of play that is common is known as “sensual domination”. This kind of play has less emphasis on corporal punishment and discipline and is more about sensory deprivation and over stimulation and may be referred to as “sensation play”. A professional dominant or switch might put a client into a comfortable bondage situation and then provide a number of sensations like rubbing their skin with a fur mitt, pouring warm oil or foods onto their body or flogging lightly (flagellation) with a soft implement like a deer skin flogger which many people describe as “feeling similar to a massage”. Another common type of sensual domination is a type of play referred to as “tease and denial”. This type of play is centered on teasing the submissive person with the possibility of sex or sexual release and then denying them the opportunity to have an orgasm. Another type of sensual domination is what is referred to as “body worship”. In a body worship scene the submissive person may kiss, lick and “adore” one part of the dominant’s body. Popular body parts for “body worship” include feet, legs, armpits and butts.

Another type of play that is very common is “strap on play”. Many men and women (including straight people) enjoy anal play and may have difficulty asking their partners to penetrate them anally. Many professional submissives and dominants are experienced and knowledgeable in anal play and penetration and can provide an experience for their client that is safe and is not painful. Many kink professionals will “top” clients anally (penetrate their clients with gloved hands or sex toys) but will not bottom (allow themselves to be penetrated or stimulated) to their clients.

In addition to domination and submission role play BDSM professionals may also cater to clients with specific sexual fetishes. Common sexual fetishes include foot, high heel and boot fetishes and big butt fetishes. Most fetish workers do not offer “traditional” sexual services like penetration, oral sex or manual stimulation (i.e. hand jobs) although most fetish and BDSM providers will allow their clients to masturbate themselves.

A client who plays the dominant role and pays to see a professional submissive is likely to have less experience, practice and training than a professional BDSM provider. Although a professional submissive may not use rope bondage or implements like canes or crops on their clients they must be knowledgeable about how to use the tools correctly and safely so that they are able to advocate for their own safety. They may also provide instruction and guidance to their client including safe techniques for bondage and tool usage. BDSM and fetish providers must also be experts at communicating and what is called “negotiation”. Negotiation refers to the conversation that occurs before a BDSM “session” or “scene” and details each player’s personal limitations and expectations of one another.

The prep work: Although a fetish worker may spend hours planning a session or scene and choosing outfits, shopping for props, planning and executing a play scene, this is only a small percentage of the time they spend working. In addition to planning the session a kink professional must spend time waxing and shaving, applying makeup, maintaining manicured and pedicured hands and feet, working out, screening clients, answering phone and email inquiries, managing their online web presence, marketing, planning and executing professional photo shoots for marketing materials. It typically takes at least two hours for a kink professional to prepare their body and space for a session. It may take another fifteen minutes to forty five minutes cleaning the room and disinfecting the space and the implements used after a session.

Fetish clothing which may include latex, leather and corsetry are very expensive and the start up costs (web sites, advertising, space rental, clothing and equipment) for becoming a dominatrix are great so another advantage of working for a house is that you are permitted to use their equipment (usually not clothing) like rope and other implements.

Other times a dominatrix may choose to work as an “independent” which means that they provide their own space to work in; they may rent a space from a “house” for an hourly fee, work out of a converted space in their home, hotel room or even visit their client’s home. An independent dominatrix typically runs her own web site, screens her clients, books her appointments, does her own online and print marketing and may or may not employee a driver or security guard. An independent dominatrix may also supplement her income by producing short videos or “clips” to be sold on the internet, providing long distance “training sessions” via telephone, email or web camera. Many professional dominants find that some markets in major cities are over-saturated with professional dominants, other city’s economies may be more favorable or because some women of certain niches do better in different geographic locations many independent professional fetish workers go “on tour” traveling to different cities domestically and internationally.

Professional dominants cater to many fetishes, which are often considered strange or unusual by sex workers who are unfamiliar with BDSM and fetish culture. Some people may for example have a fetish for tickling/being tickled, urinating/being urinated on, adoring pretty feet/having their feet adored, popping balloons or being treated as a child/treating an adult as a child. Often the common theme in many role playing fantasies include playing with power dynamics that are rarely acknowledged or discussed in every day life such as child/parent, employee/employer, student/teacher and the like. Other clients are often the sexual aggressors in their day-to-day relationships and seek a dynamic where they are permitted to give up control and responsibility.

Because most fetish workers offer erotic services that do not typically include traditional sex the majority are often reluctant to identity as “sex workers”. There is an internal hierarchy within the sex industry and professional dominants seem to have found their place squarely at the top. Given the mystique and glamorized images of “high class” professional dominants and the stigmatization of prostitution it should come as no surprise that kink professionals wish to distance themselves from escorts. It is unfortunate as individuals in both professions share many of the same legal and safety concerns.

Labor, legal, and other issues

While there is safety in numbers and dungeons often provide security and training there are clear disadvantages to working for a house as well. The most notable is the fact that the house or head mistress typically collects half of the professional dominants earnings. Another disadvantage is that fetish workers do not earn an hourly wage and are only paid for the clients they see. Some new BDSM workers can show up to the house diligently for months and never earn a penny. They are still contract workers with no health benefits and because the work is often considered illegal they have no legal protection from potential abuse from clients or employers. Another disadvantage for some professional dominants is that many houses require that you begin as a professional submissive and quite literally “work your way to the top”. So someone who is not a masochist or sexually submissive may have to begin working as a professional submissive before they are “promoted” to the role of professional dominant or switch. Professional submissives and switches often earn more money for submissive sessions as they often include physically demanding work such as holding strenuous positions for long periods of time, being bound or being struck. It is inherently more dangerous to fill the submissive role as it is often impossible to gauge the skill level or trustworthiness of a dominant client.

The criminalization of prostitution in many cities makes working as a fetish worker risky. Laws vary from county to county but in some counties soliciting money for any kind of touching that elicits sexual gratification (including spanking) is enough to get someone prosecuted for solicitation or prostitution. When charges are brought against professional dominants it is often for offering, “strap on play”. For this reason many kink professionals do not offer anal play or if they do will not discuss it on the telephone for fear of entrapment by law enforcement.

Common myths and misconceptions

Only rich and powerful men see professional dominants.

Men, women and couples (both male/female and female/female couples) see professional dominants. The clients are rich, poor and middle class. There is no one common thread that connects them besides the fact that they the sexual need to play the submissive role or have their desire or fetishes satisfied.

People who pay to see a dominatrix don’t have the social skills to find women who will do these things to them.

Clients see professionals for a variety of reasons, they may be partnered with someone who is not interested in BDSM, they may currently be single or they may not be invested enough in satisfying their sexual desires to spend the time becoming part of the larger BDSM community or they may fear being “out” as a kinky person could cost them their job or family. In many places some consensual BDSM acts are indeed illegal and this may be the case.

Professional dominants are in this line of work because they hate men.
Most people who work as professional dominants do so because they enjoy domination and submission in their personal life and can empathize with their clients’ sexual needs and desires. It is often said that sex workers double as “alternative therapists”. The stigma and shame around having taboo sexual fetishes or the desire to either dominate or submit to another person is great and many fetish providers council their clients in overcoming this shame.

Anyone can hit someone and yell and scream and call themselves a professional dominant.
There are many hours, sometimes years of training that go into being a fetish professional. Most professionals are mentored by another seasoned fetish professional and most career dominants, submissives and switches continue to learn by going to specialized kink and fetish workshops. Many kink professionals also attend professional development conferences, which occur all over the world. Besides first aid and CPR certification professionals may take classes in rope bondage, spanking, flogging, using whips, caning , flogging and maintaining safe and clean working environments and preventing the spread of blood born pathogens. The most respected kink professionals have a lifelong commitment to learning new skills and sharing that knowledge with others.

Professional dominants and their clients are sick in the head.
Many people throughout history have engaged in consensual power exchange as well as sadism and masochism. Playing with power dynamics and acknowledging differences in power in our society is healthy. Pretending like these systems are not in place in our day-to-day lives is not.

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Class Shame vs Eco Chic and The Conundrums of Being A Hippie Dominatrix

Sustainability is very important to me; I learned a lot about living a sustainable lifestyle during the years I spent living in an environmentalist co-op. Most of the people who lived there came from white middle class backgrounds and had no problem jumping in a dumpster to forage for goodies that were headed for a landfill. But it’s a lot different if you grew up poor,  with the social stigma of poverty. Whether or not they realize it it seems most people believe people are poor because they’re lazy or because they deserve to be poor. As a child I didn’t realize I was poor because all the other people around me were poor as well. It wasn’t until I got to middle school and met kids from other parts of town who were middle class and white that my class shame began to kick in. I began to feel ashamed of being poor. Television would only reinforce these consumerist culture ideals and I yearned to be “normal” or white and middle class that is. I desperately wished that I lived in one of the track homes on the east side of town instead of the shabby apartment where I shared a bedroom with my sister  in a shitty neighborhood. I resented my mother for not being more “successful” and financially stable.  Although when I think of her now, as a disabled single mother working overtime as a night nurse through periods of intense depression and struggling with bouts of psychosis it  sounds admirable & nearly incomprehensible (how did she do it?) to me these days. I often wonder now if it is even possible to be poor and also considered “successful” by our culture? I don’t think so. Fortunately I try my best to surround myself with people who do not think this way.

When my mother, who began picking cotton at five as a migrant farm worker, came to visit me at the environmentalist cooperative housing she was appalled by what she considered to be “trashy” living conditions. To be fair most of our furniture had once been trash. She felt sorry for me because “I had to” dry my clothes out on a laundry line instead of in an electric dryer and because we didn’t have paper napkins but oily fabric cloth napkins.

Even today my mother balks when I choose to do errands on foot “You’re not poor, you have a car… You should use it” she tells me. At home I reuse everything (much to the horror of my mother): yogurt containers, plastic bags, zip lock baggies, tin foil, boxes, wrapping paper, ribbons, envelopes and even straws. I don’t use paper napkins, paper towels or paper plates at home and almost all my clothes (with the exception of fetish ware which are typically gifts) are vintage or gently used. Despite my mothers clucking tongue I feel it is my moral obligation to the planet and the rest of humankind to live as sustainably as possible.

If it sounds like I am bragging in an attempt to maintain my hippie street cred, I might be, its sometimes necessary to reassure myself that the way I am living is not shameful but admirable.

Even though I am no longer poor,  living in a culture where you’re constantly being told to throw things away and buy new things it’s a lot easier to feel normal when you’re living in a big hippie commune with people that share your values then when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who are often living beyond their means to maintain the illusion of opulence and excess that adult industry workers must maintain for their peers and clientele.

"Veggie Diesel" Mercedes Emblem

"Veggie Diesel" Mercedes Emblem

A few years ago when it was time to buy a new car I began saving up for a Hybrid but the most research I did the more appealing the idea of having a vehicle that didn’t use ANY gasoline beacme to me. I certainly wasn’t new to the idea there were quite a few electric vehicles (including a ridiculous mint green station wagon with a huge solar panel mounted to the roof) being used at the old co-op I lived on. I pursued the idea and after much time and research I purchased an early 80’s Mercedes Benz. These cars are the easiest to covert and though there is also a great sense of pride that comes with living my values I often feel embarrassed by the beastly automobile that is just a year my junior. I got the car a few years ago and had it converted to run on vegetable oil. I go to local vegetarian restaurants, pick up their vats of used cooking oil, filter it at home (to be honest I have boys to do the icky jobs for me most of the time) and pour it directly into my tank. I’ve got stickers on the car that indicate that it’s a “veggie car” and while part of the reason is that I want to let others know that there is an alternative to dependence on petroleum it’s also cause I’m often embarrassed by the old ass ride my mother refers to as “the french fry mobile”.  Fortunately most of the people that I am friends have similar values and think my old ass ride and my commitment to sustainability are pretty cool.

Chic: $225 coat made from sustainable materials on

Chic: $225 coat made from sustainable materials on

The concept of sustainability (which revolves around reduction of materials used, reusing materials that are already produced and of course recycling) itself seems to me to be incongruous with the luxurious lifestyle that is ordinarily associated with and arguably expected of professional dominants. Although it can be argued that green is chic these days I find that it’s really only chic when you spend big money to “be green”.

Not Chic: Bringing Your Own Locally Sourced lunch from home in a reused Del Monte Jar

Not Chic: Bringing Your Own Locally Sourced lunch from home in a reused Del Monte Jar

After all what’s chic about reusing plastic baggies or packing your lunch in a re-purposed glass jar?

I’m often reminded about the conflict between living a sustainable lifestyle, struggling with class shame and presenting a professional image that is congruent with what is expected of a professional domina. What got me thinking about it today was the fact that it’s summer time and college kids all over the country are moving out of their dorms and abandoning loads of things most people I know  wouldn’t dream of throwing away: clothes, televisions, sound systems, couches, mini refrigerators… ( it’s okay you can laugh at mini refrigerators) Lots of my crunchy friends are jumping for joy at the opportunity to score loads of good stuff that these kids are just abandoning. To be honest I will be sending a sweet and obedient boy out with a wish list of goodies I’d like him to drag back home for me. Why aren’t I going myself?

Because as much as I deplore consumerist culture and enjoy a treasure hunt for awesome stuff , digging around in things that have been discarded by others always brings up lots of intense class shame in me. I’m fairly certain that it’s much less emotionally complicated to be a dumpster diver if you’ve never actually been poor or you’re “newly poor” or poverty is some kind of anarchist lifestyle choice. I’m sorry but being poor because you’re in grad school doesn’t really count as it doesn’t really carry any social stigma and student poverty & post graduate poverty are often romanticized.

I know I “shouldn’t” be ashamed for standing up to dominant culture and asserting my values but I’m curious to hear how others have overcome feelings of class shame after being triggered by activities like “dumpster diving”. I’m also interested to hear from folks who have learned to maintain a sustainable lifestyle within a sex industry culture that demands that we maintain an image of wealth and opulence. I can appreciate the role of the fantasy of wealth and oppulance but what do real people do to keep from losing themselves in a cultural that praises consumerism? I suppose it isn’t exclusivly a sex worker conundrum and I’d really like responses from folks as I’m still thinking about these things and these thoughts aren’t totally developed.