So you want to be a dominatrix.

Maybe it’s been in the back of your mind for a while now. Or maybe you watched Euphoria and thought, “Is it really that easy? I just get online, shake my ass, and demand money? No boss, no set hours, no mind-numbing repetitive work? I’m in!”

Sometimes, it is that easy.

Most of the time, it isn’t.

So here’s some real truth for you: I know exactly zero happy dominatrices (prodommes) who did this just because they needed money. We are, overwhelmingly, a deeply kinky bunch. That's why we do it professionally. The money is great, but unless you love kink, you’ll eventually hate this job.

Like with most sex work, though, it's hard to quit, even if you’ve started hating it. (We’ll get to that later.) It’s even harder when you're burned out on it and struggling to make rent, let alone earning enough to have other options. (We’ll get to that too.)

But if you love the work – truly, and with the core of your being - few careers compare to the possibilities and self-determination of working as a dominatrix.

In the wrong place? Want to book a session instead?

 

Why Listen to Me?

That’s a good question. Every prodomme has their own lens on exactly what the work is and how to do it well. Mine will look different than yours, which will look different than someone else’s. That’s one of the glories (and the challenges!) of an unregulated industry.

Collecting different perspectives is important in deciding what’s right for you. I encourage you to read elsewhere (more on that below) and see what other prodommes say about the work. What I’m offering is just one perspective.

That perspective is born from my professional and academic backgrounds in communication, marketing, sales, analytics, psychology, counseling, and BDSM/kink. As of writing this, I’ve been working as a prodomme full time for six years and studying and practicing BDSM for more than 20 years. I am often booked 4-5 weeks in advance, and have the luxury of turning away clients for almost any reason.

For the last six years, I have owned my own private dungeon in a high cost of living area – a dungeon which is larger than my first apartment. Oh, and nobody works there but me. I don’t rent, and I don’t need to; my business easily and reliably covers that expense.

Six years isn’t long in this industry, though; there are many more tenured pros than I. Seek them out. There are also many (many!) pros who are differently positioned than I am in terms of privilege and marginalization. Seek them out too.

Also, I’ll just be writing here about how to become a dominatrix in-person. You can do this in-person or online, or some of both. In-person is where most of my experience has been, so it’s what I can speak to most authoritatively.

So...here are some places to start:

 

Educational Resources


Follow tenured pros on Twitter.

Many of us have Twitter accounts; it's the last social media platform where sex workers are still relatively welcome. Remember, though, that what you see there is a lot of branding and marketing – where there’s smoke, there's not always fire. Be thoughtful about whose words you accept as absolute truth.


Join the SexWorkersOnly subreddit.

On Reddit, it may seem like it's mostly companions or escorts talking, but a lot of it translates between the two career paths.


If there's a local dungeon or house where pros work, talk to ones who are employed there.

Some houses are abusive/exploitative. Others are fantastic places to start. Many tenured dommes started in dungeons like that or were mentored 1:1 by experienced pros.


Attend DomCon.

Yes, it's expensive. However, in the US it’s where you will get the most networking and training opportunities with the most pros in one place, at once. DomCon also sometimes has excellent lifestyle crossover classes for people considering joining the industry.


Experiential Resources


Try Niteflirt as a domme.

It'll give you an excellent taste of what the softer side of the skillset is like. If you hate Niteflirt, you will probably dislike prodomme.

Engage with hands-on BDSM education and with your local kink community.

Participate heavily. Fetlife can be a bit of a swamp, but it's a great place to find out about upcoming classes and events, so you can start there. Doing prodomme well requires an enormous amount of skill and psychological resources, all of which you develop during kink training and practice time.

Before you start, you need a solid understanding of BDSM fundamentals, depth of experience in the specific modalities you want to practice, and you need to know something about what it is that you don't know.

Arguably most importantly, you need solid risk assessment skills. This is one place knowing about what you don’t know is helpful. In addition to kink training and medical safety training (hello, bodily fluids management!), study cognitive biases. Then study your own.

While you don't have to train with another prodomme (though that certainly does make things easier), you do have to train - a lot. This career is not for people who just want to show up with a whip in hand and be worshipped and handed stacks of hundreds, nice as that would be.

You can do the job that way, but unless you’re literally just sitting there letting someone lick your feet, you will eventually cause significant harm - not the least of which will be to your reputation as a domme. Kink is a niche interest. The communities are small. If you want to keep having opportunities to play - professional or otherwise - guard your reputation carefully.


Political and Social Context


Study the history of sex work
in the US.

Especially investigate deplatforming, SESTA/FOSTA, the developing trajectory of facial recognition software, and the EARN IT Act. Even if you're not in the US, it affects you, and will continue to.

Unlike vanilla businesses, which can advertise in myriad ways and will likely always be able to, our means of advertising are continually narrowing and shifting.Staying visible takes a lot of work outside the dungeon. Most of this job is administrative, even if you're lucky enough to live somewhere with decriminalized sex work.


What's your backup plan?

What's next after prodomme? I know it may feel like that future is far away, but most of us can't do prodomme for the rest of our lives. Even if we can broadly market our skills and our aesthetics far into the future, it's a very physical job for most of us. Bodies quit doing those eventually.

If you've been face-out with sex work on the internet (this means you’ve shown your face), or increasingly if you’ve posted any sexy photos of any kind, a lot of other jobs won't hire you. It's not just politics or jobs with children. You never know who might Google you, image search, and decline to hire based on that. Facial recognition software is also on the rise. Other things to consider:

    • You may have trouble getting or keeping a bank account. If you think that’s hyperbole, I have multiple current and former dommes in several different countries you can talk to – not just in the US.
    • You may be denied entry to other countries. Often it’s the US which detains face-out sex workers at the border or denies them entry, but we are not the only country which does. Do your homework and plan accordingly.
    • You may have trouble finding or keeping a partner. Civilian dating as a sex worker can be really hard, regardless of which gender(s) you like. Culturally, in the US we all grow up with hangups about sex, sex work, and monogamy. They’re inevitable. This is especially evident when sex workers go to therapy with ostensibly sex-positive therapists who try to help them "get out" of sex work, despite no desire for that on the worker's part. It happens all. The. Time.


Financial Savvy


Do you have enough saved up to get by during the lean seasons?

How about a lean year? What if the economy tanks for years (as it does) and you find that as a luxury service provider, there just aren’t buyers anymore?


What do you do when you have a windfall?

Are you a saver or a spender? The income from this business can double or triple - or be reduced by half or two thirds - month over month. But as a very smart friend of mine says, you can’t eat your Birkin. If you have trouble saving during flush times, this job will eat you alive.

Being broke means working with people you don't like much, in ways you don't like, at times that don't work as well for you, and/or for less money than feels good to you. It's hard to walk into a room with dominant swagger when you're thinking about your unpaid rent. It’s even harder when you’re resenting (or fearing) a client you took against your better judgment, entirely because you needed that $200 to feed yourself this week.


Emotional Intelligence


What kind of emotional resources are available to you?

How well do you know your needs for self-care and your abilities to get them met?

All sex work is emotional labor. Domming is arguably some of the hardest, for many of us. If how to fill your own cup is at all ambiguous to you, this job will burn you out so, so fast. You’ll be constantly filling others’ from your constantly emptying one. For more on this, I suggest Lola Davina’s seminal work, Thriving in Sex Work.


Can you easily separate your own needs from the client's needs?

How about your wants? Awareness of this will allow you better choices. Without it, it’s awfully hard to work successfully in the service industry – which is what this job actually is, regardless of what we present in our marketing and our sessions.

And yes, there’s complexity around whose needs and wants get met in sessions – perhaps more so than any other job I know of. Enjoy that rabbit hole. It just gets deeper with time.


Now, after reading all of that, you might feel daunted or deterred. So I’ll end where I started: how much do you want to do prodomme in particular, instead of some other business?

There are lots of easier ways to make a living. Consider them first. And then, if the siren song of becoming a dominatrix keeps thrumming in your mind…well, you have some places to start.