On sex work: why I left consulting to be a dominatrix
By Hoe I Yune, Nov 16, 2019
Part two of our sex worker series explored the sex work industry from the perspective of a male client. Here’s the link in case you missed it: https://dayre.me/story/57f98b4737
In part three of our sex worker series, we wanted to explore a niche end of the sex work industry — BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism). In our search to understand what drives people to partake in it, we came across Eva Oh* on Twitter. She caught our attention when she voiced out her firm stance on not needing anyone to “save” her from sex work. In fact, she chose the profession over a lucrative career as a strategic consultant.
When she visited Singapore from Sydney, we met Eva over drinks to hear her story on what it’s like being a dominatrix, how she got into BDSM professionally, and why she hasn’t looked back ever since.
Hello, my name is Eva Oh.
The dominatrix archetype is not well represented in mass media and so I entered the world of BDSM without too many preconceived notions.
BDSM relationships often involve a dominant and submissive partner. As the dominant partner, I take on a more authoritative role, whereas my submissive partner would usually be in a position of relinquished power.
The level of intimacy and vulnerability that submissives can offer amazes me, even today. To have that degree of trust is touching and empowering, and I’m sensitive not to take it lightly. I am emotionally vulnerable from the get-go as I believe that I need to be in order to connect with others, understand their innermost needs, and create an experience that addresses their needs and mine.
To negotiate successful BDSM experiences and relationships, you need to be able to communicate what you want.
When a new submissive applies to serve me, our first meeting starts with their detailed background, desires, and limitations. They are then given a safeword, which they are encouraged to use as a part of us getting to know each other. It is useful for not only physical but emotional boundaries.
If we are compatible, I will then introduce them to a questionnaire of over 300 kinks. This tells me more about where they stand. However, as the relationship strengthens and a slave contract is negotiated, safe words no longer apply. The slave contract details our wants and expectations. After sessions, we would talk through our emotions and see if any changes need to be made.
Power dynamics are inherent to everyday life, but BDSM acknowledges them outright.
About nine years ago, I was working as a strategic consultant in the FMCG category. That was when I realised that no amount of corporate success was going to sit well with me because the values inherent to the job were incongruent with my own.
I decided to begin a new path, and opened myself to different ideas. During this process I remembered an ex-boyfriend once said he thought I would make a good dominatrix. It wasn’t to do with sexuality but more to do with my personality and communication style. I Googled “Dominatrix, Sydney” out of curiosity to see what was in my area. BDSM dungeon and fantasy house Salon Kitty’s came out on top. On their blog, they mentioned they were looking to hire. I was intrigued and called in for an interview.
Salon Kitty’s was an atmospheric space. There were dungeons, a cross-dressing room, and a medical room for playing doctor. The first time I assisted an experienced Mistress was to help wrap up a client from neck to toe in saran wrap — like a mummy.
Dipping my toes into BDSM professionally, I realised that although I didn’t yet know anything about the physical tools, I had been, on some level, practising the Dominant-submissive dynamic throughout my life.
Having grown up in a female-led household, my mother, grandmother, and aunt were the most powerful figures in our home, and their intelligence and direction always managed to supersede the male members’ in my eyes.
Others had always commented on my assertiveness and my ability to lead. However, I had perceived this as a negative in a world that doesn’t welcome female dominance, and repressed it as much as I could. But now, as Eva Oh, I can be as self-assured and demanding as I need to be.
About a month after joining Salon Kitty’s, I joined an escort agency on the side. Many of the other dominatrices were doing some straight (non-kink) sex work, and it made me curious. It was an interesting learning experience but I left it after about a year, finding it too physically taxing. I noticed that even in straight sex work, I was drawing in clients who were submissive, and that made me realise that I may be more suited to something less vanilla.
When Salon Kitty’s closed down, I decided to get serious about life as an independent sex worker. At Salon Kitty’s, the traditional role of a professional dominatrix involved facilitating an experience centred around BDSM, whether it’s an exchange of dominance and submission, or an hour that caters to a specific fetish. I don’t work like this anymore, preferring to build more long-term D/s relationships. My group of clients become my personal submissives, and I see them for days at a time. Whether we go into erotic BDSM territory is up to my mood, and how I want the submissive to develop according to my needs.
As an independent sex worker, I had to “brand” myself and decided that “luxury branding”, charging premium rates for my time and attention suits me well. I bring an intense level of attention to my submissives and the drop after this limits my overall energy levels.
My dominatrix persona is a part of who I am, although it’s packaged into something succinct so that I connect with the right people.
Creating a business that includes so many facets of myself — my personality, intellect, needs, and sexuality — has been an incredible opportunity in self-actualisation and independence. This was something the corporate world was not able to offer me.
When my Sydney clientele wasn’t hitting the price bracket I wanted, I explored more major financial centres. When it comes to localised kinks worldwide, people like to say there are differences between countries, but essentially I don’t find there are. It is about being clear on who I am and what I want from those who serve me. If submissives want to serve me but have conflicting expectations or hurdles, I simply point them out, give them a new pathway and if they follow it, we continue.
What I do isn’t so much business anymore, but involves a lot of my own emotional investment.
This can make it hard for me to put a price on how much my time and efforts are worth. When I first began at the dungeon, we charged everything from AUD130 for 30 minutes of foot worship (having my feet caressed or toes sucked) to AUD600 for an hour of heavy play (such as heavy bondage and medical play). My escort agency charged AUD700 an hour, and I kept to this when I went independent. Only two years ago, noticing that my calendar was constantly fully booked did I believe I could command for more and I raised my rate to USD1,000. After a trial period, I gained the confidence to raise it again, and now ask for USD20,000 or more per month from each submissive.
I have submissives from when I began who couldn’t grow with me financially. I no longer play with them but I still let them do little things such as research restaurants, make bookings, pay for drivers and other small things that make my life easier.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. A few years ago, I hit burnout. I am quite open to the opinions of people I trust, so when my primary partner — the partner whom I prioritised over everyone else — changed his mind and disapproved of my profession, it really affected me. That relationship has since ended. I’ve also learnt to be very careful with who I let into my space, and have set up a tighter screening process (including a USD1,000 tribute for an introduction), all geared towards finding my ideal submissives.
I also now have an online BDSM slave training forum and digital revenue stream. It entails learning to be in a submissive position without engaging in sex with me. Before my burnout, I was getting up to 15,000 hits daily on my website, and even with superhuman strength I wouldn’t be able to see that amount of people in a year. So I found a way to diversify beyond face-to-face interactions while expanding on my passion for slave training. My slave training site now consists of media, my thoughts and slave training courses, where I teach video lessons on how to serve me. This has helped clients better understand me and develop themselves even if we should never meet or part ways.
Right now, I have one primary partner who lives with me. He has been supportive and brainstorms with me — even on how I run my other relationships.
When we first met, he had a lot of questions and took a few weeks to think about my answers, but he came out of it with ready and open arms, and I am grateful for his support every day. I also do my best to include him in my life as much as I can — keeping in touch with him and letting him know how grateful I am for him. The clarity and communication serves us well. He lets me lead our relationship but is not into the finer aspects of BDSM. I am okay with this as long as I am in a leadership position, and he holds up his negotiated responsibilities to care for us.
Unfortunately I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that there will always be people who are condescending towards my non-conventional life choices. When I wrote my first website bio, I shared it with someone whom I thought of as a friend. He praised it but also added, “It makes me sad to read this, it shows how intelligent you are. You should be doing something else.” His comment was laced with condescension.
Last year, I finally shared with my mother that I live life as a dominatrix. I decided to tell her as I wanted to learn how to be free of the judgments of others, and I realised that this stemmed from my relationship with my mother, who I feared would judge me. I had hesitated for so long as I thought her conservative political views and role as a Bible study teacher would conflict with my choices. She was surprised at first, but came back to me with the most insightful questions, wanting to know about the motivations of my submissives and what my role did for them. I was moved by how she showed compassion rather than judgment. Telling her the truth has definitely brought us closer.
I have businesses registered as sex work companies in states where it’s legal, but even where sex work is legal, the industry doesn’t have clear guidelines or standards; and authorities also don’t often recognise us. In a sense, I am nobody to society.
You essentially have to look out for yourself, because nobody is really looking out for you. When I used to meet someone new in their hotel rooms, I would protect myself by keeping my bag close to the door, bringing no cash, leaving all identification at home, and having a driver waiting outside for me. I also regularly keep up with self-defence and first aid courses, and there’s always someone else who knows where I am.
As an extra precaution, I make sure to know the real identity of everyone I meet on the job. I have never had to use this information to defend myself, but it does make the other party realise that they can’t take advantage of me without risk to them legally. Sadly, this is not a privilege that other sex workers can easily demand, say if they are street walkers with less time to screen clients.
I do wish that sex work becomes properly accepted by governments and societies because I think even in countries where legal protection is available, there is still that societal stigma which hinders the process. It would be great for sex workers not have to think about keeping our bags by the door or looking for new ways to defend myself. It would be nice to know that I’d be protected without judgment if I went to the police station.
I have a strong-minded personality that is often a few steps ahead of others. I need intellectual stimulation and thrive on the betterment of others around me. It’s why I find that this industry has given me an outlet to express my personality and satisfy these needs. It also reinforces that my high demands and personality has a valid place, while affording me a level of financial independence that I couldn’t achieve even in the corporate world.
*Eva Oh is a moniker.
Photos provided by Eva Oh, and you can find out more about her on www.Eva-oh.com.
Writer’s note: As mentioned at the start of this series, due to the sheer breadth of issues that sex work covers, we decided to explore the subject in more than one series. This first series that we’ve published focuses on how sex work gives options — for one, financial independence; for another, personal fulfilment; for a client, it satisfies a sexual need. We don’t believe that the discussion ends here, so as a continuation to the series, we have plans to explore issues such as human trafficking and mistreatment in 2020.
If you are familiar with the sex industry and are open to speaking about it, kindly write in to us at email@example.com. We’re definitely interested in taking the discussion further and would love to hear from you.
For more on the writers’ perspectives while working on this series, check out @i_yune and @clarahow on the Dayre app.
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