• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

Punishing Work: A Dominatrix Pens Memoir

Posted in:

Punishing Work: A Dominatrix Pens Memoir

Share
Sipping coffee in a Manhattan café, dressed in a proper gray turtleneck and gold pendant, Melissa Febos hardly looks like someone who once earned a living by spanking people. But when she rolls up her sleeves, flashing a riot of tattoos, you get a hint at her adventures in the underworld. While in college, Febos worked as a dominatrix—whipping, hog-tying, and humiliating the bankers, lawyers, and bigwigs who came to see her. We asked Febos, the 29-year-old author of the new book Whip Smart, about her dungeon days.

Q: What made you want to spank people?

A: I'd always been infatuated with the city's seedy underbelly, with secret lives. I don't know why. I grew up on Cape Cod; I was a good student. When I was in college—at The New School in New York City—I discovered that one of my neighbors was a dominatrix. I talked to her and was intrigued; she was a student too, so it seemed doable. I answered an ad in The Village Voice for a role-playing "sexy nurse."

Q: What did you wear to your sexy-nurse interview?

A: A little green cardigan and black pants. [laughs] I was overdressed. But it didn't seem to matter. I'd actually stumbled upon one of the fanciest places in town, in terms of commercial dungeons. It was on the fourth floor of an office building near Macy's. The place was stocked with gas masks, straitjackets, coffins, whips, paddles, cages hanging from the ceiling. The windows were blacked out, and the hallways were dark, with burning sconces, mirrors, and Oriental runner rugs—very Eyes Wide Shut. This is where the high rollers went.

Q: Who were the clients?

A: Professionals, men with a lot of power. Men who told people what to do all day and wanted someone to boss them around. We were totally booked up during the Republican convention.

Q: You got to know some of these guys pretty well, right?

A: Yes, most were regulars; they'd come in on their lunch break once a week. They'd tell me about their kids and dogs. A lot of them wanted to re-enact childhood traumas. They wanted to be yelled at for eating junk food. Or they wanted me to be the mean cheerleader and kick their books out of their hands and dunk their head in the toilet. Others had their fetishes; one guy wanted women to crush bugs. Another wanted to be dressed up in sweaters and then hog-tied. Some wanted to be put in a cage with a dog dish and left in there.

Q: Were you spanked as a kid?

A: No, I had a very loving, happy childhood—my parents are great.

Q: Did your parents know about your dungeon gig?

A: Yes, and they had reservations, needless to say. But they knew that if they told me I couldn't do something, I would just do it anyway.

Q: How did this job affect you psychologically?

A: At first, I thought, I'm playing this very powerful role. I'm bossing men around; I have all the power. After I did it for a while, I realized that I was really conforming to the fantasies of these men. Many of them would tell me what to do, tell me how to dominate them. And so it started to dawn on me that I wasn't really in control. It was my job to humiliate these men, but they were getting off on it, and I actually ended up feeling humiliated myself.

Q: Eventually you switched to a "submissive" role, letting men whip you ...

A: Yes, things got pretty intense and complicated. I started taking submissive sessions, and I had this inner conflict because this didn't fit in with who I thought I was. I was ashamed, because I'd thought of myself as a really empowered person. I didn't tell anyone I knew about these sessions. I began to feel less and less comfortable. After about a year of this, I quit.

Q: Now you teach writing at the State University of New York. What do your students think of your book?

A: I think they'll be surprised! But I don't regret a thing. I'm grateful for the experience; it made me a more compassionate, accepting person, both of others and myself.
Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $236) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $110).

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $236) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $110).

enter now
You Know You Want More
Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue