Disgusted and offended
I am disgusted and offended by your article "Top to bottom" in the March 23rd issue. I am a member of Seattle's leather community, and I am also a professional dominatrix. While this article may be the experiences of the writer, it is not by any means a representative experience of either the leather community in general or professional dominance in particular.
In running this story, the Weekly pandered to the worst possible instincts of people who are unfamiliar with the leather community. You had a staff photographer take lots of sexy, provocative photos of a leather-clad, whip-holding model to titillate the reader. Then you presented them with a story, replete with juicy details, to make them feel simultaneously aroused and yet superior to the one-dimensional "pervs and weirdoes" in the story and its narrator, who presents herself as a victim.
There was no attempt to show another viewpoint, either about the leather community or about professional domination. Cherry Wong's sidebar ["Sex, lies, and print," 3/23] about how she isn't going to be a sex columnist anymore simply echoed the theme that stepping outside the sexual "norm"—in any context—is inherently damaging for women. I find this particularly hypocritical given that the Weekly runs ads for professional dominance—including mine—in its classified section.
I could pick apart the article line by line and point out each bad decision the author made (she trained to be a pro domme by watching porn movies?! Would she train to be a cop by watching NYPD Blue?). However, I am not interested in critiquing her individual experience—one of the things SM teaches you is that you are responsible for the choices you make. She chose to be where she was and do what she did. It wasn't the right choice for her. It is, however, the right choice for me and many other women around the world. What makes me truly angry is the fact that the Weekly presents this as "the deep dark secrets of SM"—as though it were some definitive view of SM and not the thoughts of one individual who spent a few weeks making some ill-informed choices.
And the final slap in the face to the leather community is that you actually listed this in your table of contents by saying, "In honor of Washington State Leather Pride Week, we present...." To act as if the leather community would be honored by such a one-sided, manipulative, insulting article—it's absolutely disgusting and offensive.
I have been advertising my professional dominance services in your publication for years, but I have pulled my ads—I will not be giving my money to the Weekly anymore, and I will be urging everyone I know to do the same.
I enjoyed Kiku Shuji's "Top to bottom" [3/23] for the honesty and insight. Same goes for Cherry Wong's piece ["Sex, lies, and print," 3/23]. It's important to remember that "whorehouses" and dungeons don't always go out of business and women don't always quit. There's a lot to be gained besides money from such intimate work.
These women each, from doing or talking about sex, learned a lot about themselves in regards to power, being assertive, orgasms, and the lovers they chose. They have this knowledge now. Is it an emptier life than making espresso all day? There is a big difference between dressing in leather and chains and going to the Catwalk, and being in a 24/7 with a slave or a mistress at home in the suburbs. At least she knows for herself what she wants, or doesn't want. At least it's her choice.
I am horrified to have run my ad for female domination in a paper which printed "Top to bottom" [3/23]. Next time this out-of-work numbskull wants a job let me suggest a brothel or stripping. I have nothing against sex work or stripping. It only confuses men when you combine sex work with so-called domination. I would like to point out to all who read this poorly written and misinformative garbage that this is only one ignorant chick's take on domination. The brothel/dungeon she worked out of does not even vaguely resemble authentic female domination. In my private studio no one touches or sees my breasts or divine derriere, gets to jerk off, or gets fucked with dildos. These activities are reserved for play with my collared slave and sex toy. Among other activities my clients get firm and compassionate guidance, role play, bondage, humiliation, mild electrocution, suspension, spankings, and denial, denial, and more denial. My clients are for the most part powerful men who call all the shots in their daily lives. They come to me because they so badly need a balance between constantly running the show from work to home. Their girlfriends and wives are too selfish, inept, or lazy to take their men's needs seriously. It takes years of BDSM education to get good at what I do. When it's done properly it's more akin to psychotherapy than sex work. Does your shrink let you feel her up?
Interested, in wonderment, shocked, angered
I found it very interesting that you published this article about working for a professional Dominatrix ["Top to bottom," 3/23]. I wonder about the negative feelings the author had, and how the article would have been different if it had been written from another perspective. I was shocked and angered by the part where the Mistress ignores the safe word of the client and pierces his nipples. I have a number of professional Dominatrix friends, and they concurred that some of the situations seemed eerily familiar.
The emotions were another story. I have been a sex worker and a stripper (both in my distant past), and I know that when a woman does this kind of work out of necessity, there are often accompanying feelings of shame and degradation. However, when done as a conscious job choice, I personally have found sex work to be no more demeaning than being a waitress or a secretary. I've done those, too. From the perspective of someone who is heavily involved in the BDSM lifestyle and community, I was somewhat offended by the negative tone of this article. I would be interested to see an article about some of the positive aspects: a night at the Wet Spot, the local Sex Positive Community Center, for example, or an interview with the local National Leather Association people, or even just some views on the fetish scene at the Vogue or Catwalk nightclubs. As you probably know, this is Leather Pride Week. To kick it off with such a scene-negative article is very sad. Would you consider some other views?
ALYXX S. FELTSER
At the suggestion of a friend in the leather community (some of my best friends are sadists and/or masochists), I just read the article "Top to bottom" [3/23] by Kiku Shuji. I regret that the author didn't have an opportunity to spend time with the real leather community—the scenes of prostitution that she describes at the "Royal Fortress" have as much to do with real people experiencing and experimenting with this subject as mundane prostitution has to do with real people making love.
Questioning veracity, Latin
I'm writing to question the veracity of your article "Top to bottom" [3/23]. As a professional domme, I don't recognize this kind of "dungeon" where women parade out in front of clients and are "chosen" like workers in a Nevada bordello. Most pro-dommes I know, personally and professionally, see clients one on one and work alone. Privacy is a HUGE condition for most of my clients. I don't know a single pro-domme who switches (i.e., submits and dominates). I don't know any reputable person who allows a novice to whip or paddle someone.
The only thing I can think is that your author was working with sex workers, not real dominatrixes (I should have paid closer attention in Latin class to be more certain of the plural for that word).
This kind of story makes me shudder because what we do is so feared anyway—getting it so wrong just makes it worse. You really think a professional ignores safewords? We can be arrested for assault if clients are unhappy.
Safeword on this article for accuracy—please!
The concern for young people you [Knute Berger] expressed in your March 16th column ["Generation Xterminate"] was very eloquent, but not the least convincing. You preside over a tabloid that exposes young people to the sleaziest, perverted printed sewage imaginable ["Top to bottom," 3/23?]. And you say you care about our kids' welfare! Get real, Knute.
Boy that makes me mad! I'm gonna write them a letter! Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and legal considerations. Please include name and daytime telephone number for verification. Write to Letters Editor, Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org