Photo: Peter Henderson

The leather side of life

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By Shane Dingman

If the missionary position doesn’t make you hot anymore, it may be time for something kinkier. If you tire of cotton underwear and want something in PVC or animal hide, perhaps it’s time to go to a dungeon and let a dominant show you the wonders of S&M.

“When people think of S&M they think of danger and of fear — of going to a complete stranger’s house allowing him to tie them up and hit them with a whip,” says Dennis, the owner of the D & R House of Fantasy and a dominant for nine years. “There is some sexual pleasure involved of course, if it was all ass beating or pussy whipping it would be boring as hell.”

S&M is a different way to experience the sensations in our bodies that lead to arousal and (hopefully) orgasm. Although actual fucking is not allowed, nibbling, slurping, sucking and felching are fair game. S&M might stand for Sado-Masochism — according to some old fetish legend that nobody in the fetish business entirely agrees on — but definitions “deriving pleasure from giving pain” (sadism) and “deriving pleasure from receiving pain” (masochism) are too simplistic to describe the concept. Madam X, a dominatrix for eight years, says a sadist doesn’t really care if the person is enjoying themselves, but a professional isn’t like that. “The domina is giving a lot of herself. A lot of it is psychological. It’s therapy in a way. It’s nurturing. I fill a gap that very few people can, I understand people in such a way that many other individuals never could.”

Which means that you’re still allowed to be a masochist and enjoy someone paddling your ass purple, but a professional dominant isn’t sadistic because they don’t get off on your pain. Madam X believes it’s easier for the submissive than for the dominant which is why the subs pay the doms and not the other way around. Dominants control the situation and make sure nobody goes wandering off into that obscene zone of really nasty stuff like skat (human shit games), piercing, branding, cutting and strangling.

The key to S&M is role playing. Creating a fantasy and fulfilling it keeps the dungeon from becoming just another boring fluid swap. “Everyone has some kind of fantasy,” says Dennis, who does by at least nine aliases. “We have cops and robber interrogation scenes where we do everything to get information. Infantilism, medical examinations, bondage discipline — basically they tell us their ultimate fantasies and we’re getting inside their minds to make it real.”

Madam X doesn’t do any submissive roles and she doesn’t encourage her girls either, because it requires much more supervision to ensure safety. Dennis actually prefers to be submissive in his personal life and he gets over the safety problem by teaching all his staff ticks to escape all the devices they use.

People from all walks of life from the beaten path in order to get into the dungeons of Dennis or Madam X. Madam X pays the bills with mostly male, white-collar clients aged 30 to 40. She also has a smaller collection of regulars including one couple in their 70s who rent her facilities. Dennis has a much more diverse clientele — a truly international dungeon. Much of the $30,000 he spends in a month goes to advertising around the world. The results include one client who flew in from Rio De Janiero “on business.” He visited every day for three weeks, sometimes two or three times a day. Dennis claims a wide cross-section of clients have spent time on the business end of his whip: everybody from Elton John to CFL players, men on social assistance to a Canadian Prime Minister. Madam X thinks many of her clients are people who have difficulty delegating control, so they come to her to totally free themselves.

“S&M is also about testing peoples’ limits, their different feelings and senses,” Dennis says. “Using a whip on a person’s back can be extremely painful, but at the same time, extremely sensual if it’s done properly.”

Madam X might be right when she says, “I think S&M is very nurturing and very creative. It allows you to be expressive and in complete control of someone else.”

There is that element of power. One technique Dennis uses is called cock and ball torture. It involves wrapping a person’s nuts in leather, putting an iron hook on the end and hanging three or four pound weights on it. There’s also tapping it with a riding crop, dripping hot wax on it and clipping clothes pegs to it. Remember, people pay Dennis to do this to them within a fantasy scenario of their own choosing. “There are a few clients that I’ve had that have wanted me to go heavier [than what’s safe],” says Dennis. “I say ‘you’ve got to be kidding. You’re a human being. This is your flesh we’re talking about!’ Paddling a man’s balls until they bleed is not my idea of fun.”

Madam X complains it’s not all leather masks and cross dressing. It’s actually very tiring work. “It’s very draining prancing around in heels, bending, squatting, twisting, turning, elevating people in uncomfortable outfits and psychologically trying to be as perfect as possible.” It could be the money that attracts people to such a demanding job. A dominant working for Madam X or Dennis makes $2,000 to $3,000 a month, spending only a few hours a day actually dressing people in baby clothes and locking them in cages. Dennis has charged the same price for his services nine years running — an economical $200 an hour. Dennis’ prices are about mid-range for dungeons. Others like Madam X charge $300. Someone newer to dungeons only charges $150.

“We’ve got girls here working who actually go to Ryerson,” says Dennis. “They gotta pay their way through university. It’s a great way to make money, but they take off like a bat out of hell at the end of the semester.”

Dennis estimates he and his 14 cohorts pull in $750,000 a year, all in personal sessions.

Madam X doesn’t rely on her dungeon alone. She’s branched out into phone fetish, email and letter fetish, internet services and she hold a fetish party every month at the Limelight night club. She says she makes “more money than you could imagine.”

But it’s more than a business. “Money is secondary to this,” Dennis says. “If you’re doing it just for the money — forget it. There are better things to do with your time.”

Being a dominant is also very time consuming. They must be on call from 10 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. “There are a lot of people who are into the scene for six months and they think they are going to make oodles of cash,” says Madam X. “They think that it’s an easy job and don’t really know a thing about it. You have to have some kind of passion for it to stick it out.”

Well? What are you waiting for? I know you’re curious so you might as well just get the hell out of here and buy yourself the whipping of your life.

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