By Headmistress Shahrazad

When you’ve been in the industry as long as I have, it is not uncommon to get contacted frequently by individuals hoping to get started as Professional Dominants who want advice, mentorship, or employment. The career holds a certain amount of glamour and mystique and there are no formal schools where one can learn the art of BDSM, so the inquiries are understandable. But I will tell you a little secret – there are good reasons to become a Pro and there are bad reasons to become a Pro. Start off on the right foot, and you can have a career that spans decades. Start off on the other, and, well…let’s just say that the realities of the industry are going to bite you in the ass. Hard.

In light of this, I offer you…the top nine worst reasons to become a Professional Dominant:

9. I love tying my boyfriend up and spanking him.

REALITY CHECK: Enjoying BDSM in your personal life is actually a good thing. It means that you have an authentic personal connection to power exchange play which bodes very well for your career as a Pro. But playing with someone you are attracted to/have chemistry with/are in a relationship with is very different from playing with random members of the general public. If the thought of doing the kinky stuff you do with your boyfriend with the person you are least attracted to on the subway turns you off, then this doesn’t cut it as a reason to go Pro.

8. I love to wear fetish clothing.

REALITY CHECK: Again, in and of itself there is nothing wrong with this. Like wearing latex catsuits? All the power to you. But there is a massive difference between “looking like” a Dominatrix and having the skill to safely facilitate BDSM sessions that can involve a wide variety of physically and psychologically risky activities. Often, unsuspecting clients will choose to see a person who posts hot pictures of themselves in fetish gear because they “look” like a stereotypical Dominant, without checking to see how reputable or skilled they are when it comes to facilitating their fetish or kink. If you accept these clients regardless, you risk permanently injuring them. If this is your only reason to go Pro, you will be much happier as a Fetish Model.

7. I watched 50 Shades of Grey and thought it was cool.

REALITY CHECK: I am all for more representation of BDSM in mainstream media provided that the depictions are accurate and reflect the reality and diversity of risk-aware, consensual kink. However, if your only exposure to kink was through this movie, please seek out other resources before you decide BDSM is your bag. The only thing this movie depicted well is an abusive relationship, which BDSM is not. Furthermore, while it is possible to improve your skills on the job, using your paying clients as guinea pigs with absolutely no prior experience in BDSM is unethical and dangerous. People pay professionals to have mastery in their field. You wouldn’t go see a doctor who said “I don’t have any experience in medicine but I watch General Hospital once a week and think being a doctor is really cool”. This is the same thing.

6. I need a lot of money quick.

REALITY CHECK: Professional Dominance is most definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. Before you even get started, there is outlay of money in terms of clothing, website, toys, equipment, personal grooming, training, photography, and advertising. Once you do start working, you can add dungeon rental fees to that list. It takes at least a year to really get rolling, and even then, the only thing you can rely on is the inconsistency of the work. To give you an idea, it took me ten years to amass enough regular clients to be able to work full-time, and most Pros quit the industry long before that. Those that make decent money in this industry are in it for the long game.

5. I hate men and want to humiliate them.

REALITY CHECK: One of the most damaging and heartbreaking stereotypes about Femdoms and male subs is that Female Dominance is all about belittling and humiliating men. BDSM, regardless of the gender of the practitioners, is about a sacred trust bond between two equals, one of which has consented to surrender power, and the other to take it. While some individuals do have a fetish for humiliation, this must be negotiated and consented to. It is not simply the “de facto” manner in which all submissives should be treated. Consensual BDSM is about mutual respect. It is about play, and pleasure, and power and fun. Hating men does not factor into that equation, and quite frankly, if it does for you, you will find that having to facilitate sessions with men day in and day out to be a miserable experience. Go find employment doing something you actually like.

4. I feel angry a lot and think this would be a good way to get some of that aggression out.

REALITY CHECK: The first person a Dominant needs to have mastery over is themselves. When they go to play with a submissive or bottom, the underlying intention carried within the scene should be benevolence and neutrality (even if part of the role you are consensually playing is one of harshness or cruelty). Under no circumstances should a Dominant do anything to a sub out of genuine anger – that is abuse not BDSM. If you have unresolved anger issues, a visit to a qualified therapeutic professional would be a more appropriate outlet than picking up a career as a Pro Dominant.

3. My boyfriend told me I was bitchy enough to be a dominatrix.

REALITY CHECK: While bitchiness is certainly a trait assigned by the mainstream to the fantasy stereotype of the dominatrix, being bitchy or arrogant or egotistical is not a qualification for being an actual real-life Professional Dominant (at least not in my dungeon). Compassion, empathy, confidence, assertiveness, intelligence, creativity and a sense of humor are.

2. I’m a very controlling person who needs things to go my way all the time.

REALITY CHECK: People who tell me they would make good Pro Dominants because they are controlling, just like ones who think they are qualified due to their bitchiness, are sadly mistaken. There is a difference between fantasy and reality, and many people get the two confused. While the Dominant may control and run things their way during the consensual fantasy scene, the reality is that there are a lot of things about Pro work that are out of your control. Clients don’t show up for booked appointments, equipment you wanted to use on a person doesn’t fit their anatomy, clients have meltdowns and get triggered or need more handholding than you bargained on, there could be less demand for your services than you hoped there would be…and that’s only some of the variables. Technically, you can’t even have it all your way DURING a fantasy scene as you are playing within the submissive’s interests and limits. Pro Dominance requires flexibility and adaptability to a lot of potential unknowns. If the prospect of not being in control of some aspects of how this business works makes you uncomfortable then this is not the job for you.

1. I want to get paid to sit on a throne and do nothing.   

REALITY CHECK: Might I suggest reincarnating into the Royal Family in your next life? I know many, many Pro Dominants and NONE of them sit on thrones all day doing nothing. Pros are entrepreneurs. We are each our own product, marketing department, administrative staff, creative director, copywriter, and social media manager. That is in addition to seeing clients. Pros are some of the fiercest hustlers and business people I have ever met. Want to get paid to do nothing? You won’t make it amongst our ranks.

The Ritual Chamber