Inside the World of a Dominatrix

Inside the World of a Dominatrix

Written by Paula Brečak for Self Studies

Combining power dynamics and intimate desire with vulnerability and responsibility, a professional Dominatrix guides her clients and submissives through exploring the most hidden aspects of themselves. She creates a safe world where one can delve into BDSM - the realm where bondage/disciple, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism mix, match and play. To explore this art of consent and power through a perception of a Domme herself, we interviewed Donna Valentina, an Amsterdam-based full service fantasy producer.

What was your path of becoming a Domme like?

Sexuality always held a powerful charge for me. As a child I was fascinated by the idea of sex – but my enduring interest in power exchange was sparked by growing up in a community where non-consensual submission was expected of women. This question of how to create more ethical forms of consensual power – personally and collectively – lead me to the world of kink and underlies all my research. 

Moving to Amsterdam helped me to find a safe context to play with open minded people and ideas. It took conscious effort to stop walking into sex shops like a little mouse, but telling myself instead that these were spaces for me too. I started talking about my fantasies to friends, and was delighted to hear they had the same ones. I noticed that when I was vulnerable first, people felt permission to open up and be vulnerable in return. To be honest about sex felt deeply cathartic… so I kept going. 

I began to experiment in my personal life, building elaborate shared fantasies with people, shocking myself by saying horrible degrading things to men, and they ate it up. I read all the necessary reading material – Venus in Furs, The Story of O and every last Google hit for ‘BDSM Amsterdam’. But then research wasn’t enough, I needed to feel it in my body. I found a dominatrix that excited me and got the client experience, immediately recognizing my own desire to provide that same magical, grounding experience to others.  

Making the conscious choice to become a Domme forced me to take responsibility for myself. Acknowledging my family history, my own judgments, my unspoken desires and my ability to lead was transformative. Now my aspiration is to pass this energy on to others in the community – to help people discover who they are as sexual beings and realize their deepest fantasies. 

How can a usual session with a dominatrix go - how does it start, how long does it last, what’s the peak, and how does the winddown go?

This really depends on the style of the Dominatrix and wishes of the client. Sessions can range from one hour to an entire weekend, and span an almost infinite number of activities. However, there are a few pillars in every session. 

The first is the initial communication. Clients will share info about their interests, history and wishes for the session. On the day of the session there is also a conversation to check in as some things may have changed since the original agreement. Marks, emotional triggers and other boundaries should also be discussed, as well as any medical conditions or bodily injuries. Verbal and non-verbal safe words will also be established. The first act might include drinks at a hotel bar to get to know each other, or the session can start immediately, perhaps with the client undressing, and if male, being put into chastity or feminizing clothing, bondage, etc. There may be sensory deprivation, and an initial exploration of how the body responds to touch - every person’s reaction to sensation is unique, so it’s important to gauge this in the beginning.

Depending on the scene, the action may then intensify to new sensations or deeper levels of play. The climax will depend on the length of the session and what was previously negotiated, but the Dominatrix is always conscious of the sub. People deep in the space of submission may not always be able to communicate when they’ve reached their limit, and it's the role of the Dominatrix to observe and respond to body language, breathing, and other cues, either pushing a little farther or wrapping up the session.

Aftercare is also highly individual and should be discussed in advance, but may include intimacy such as holding each other and conversation, or helping to ground the body with food, drink and/or a shower. Some people may need quiet time alone. Everyone has different needs, so it’s important to think about what replenishes you. Checking in after a session can also be good aftercare, as deep emotions can arise, and it may take time to process the experience. 

Who are common clients of a dominatrix? How does one find a dominatrix and approach them?

Clients are diverse, and range from people who are new to the scene and want to discover their limits and boundaries, to couples who are excited about being dominated together, to highly experienced fetishists. There are certain stereotypes, for example a CEO responsible for leading a company who wants to let go and relax through submission, but there is really no end to the reasons people seek the services of a Dominatrix. 

If you want to work with a Dominatrix, it’s important to think about why you’d like to have this experience. What motivates you? What excites you? There are many archetypes of Dominas - The Goddess, The Sadist, The Disciplinarian… Who do you desire to serve, and how? What do you hope to feel or try in the session? 

Once you have an idea, then you can search for professionals who share your interests and approach. When you find someone, take the time to read their entire website, including practical information, personal story, fetishes and limits. Craft a thoughtful letter describing yourself, your history and your interests for the session, and let them know what you hope to experience. Be sure to answer any specific questions they ask. The more clear and informative you are, the better they can craft the fulfilling scene of your dreams. Make sure to show up on time and according to their specific instructions for your dress, hygiene and other wishes.

What does a dominatrix provide to a client and what do they get from a client?

A Dominatrix provides the experience of being truly seen, of creating a sensual experience focused entirely on the clients needs and wishes. They create a safe space for clients to share the most intimate sides of themselves, not only accepting these things but elevating the aspects people so often hide. The act of submission can be liberating, and help clients get outside their comfort zone, outside their minds and into their bodies, rewriting experiences from the past, or discovering entirely new strengths. A Dominatrix can lead someone to achieve more than they believed they were capable of, helping to develop confidence and purpose. 

For the Dominatrix, there is a real pleasure in giving people new experiences, in receiving someone’s most intimate desires and having fun with them. The Dominatrix can always learn something new from clients, some of whom may become real and lasting connections. Through tributes to a Dominatrix, clients also help secure their time and ability to continually learn and perfect their art. 

Are there any misconceptions about your work that you’d like to debunk?

I’m happy to see increased visibility lately, but often mainstream media gets it wrong. There are so many shallow cliches that conflate abuse and consensual kink. Assuming there is informed consent between adults, there is no one true way to do BDSM. Try things, enjoy new sensations, use your imagination. That’s the beauty of kink and sex in general -- everyone has their own unique relationship to it, and they’re all equally valid. Kinky isn’t better than vanilla, it’s just different, and we all get to explore sexuality in the way that excites us. 

How does one go about becoming a Dominatrix? Are there any steps they would need to take or a particular common career path?

This type of work is extremely personal and there isn’t one set path, especially because professional domination exists in a legal gray area in many places. Many professionals begin by working in a studio or a dungeon, shadowing sessions by others until they feel ready to take on their own clients. Unfortunately, Amsterdam does not have any permitted dungeons so that form of training isn’t as readily available here, though there are studios in Utrecht and Arnhem. Fetlife is also a great resource to find workshops and events to help develop practical skills in shibari rope bondage, impact play, medical play, etc.

For inspiration, personal development and finding community, there are now several valuable online mentorship programs. I completed Mistress Class by the incredible Colette Pervette, but there are several others, such as the Evolutionary Dominatrix Academy, The Mistress Mindset and The Academy School of Power for Women. I also recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to Kink, The New Topping Book, Unbound, The Heart of Dominance and Miss Abernathy’s Guide to Erotic Slavehood (as a start!) to become grounded in the basics and theory, and begin to identify the type of dominatrix you would like to become. Emergency response training is also highly encouraged! 

What does BDSM mean to you? What is your favorite thing about it?

BDSM stands for bondage/disciple, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism; even the very acronym illustrates complexity. It can mean many things, and this elusive definition is part of its beauty. 

BDSM makes me feel alive. It’s physically and emotionally demanding, engaging all my senses in the moment. It pushes the limits of my creativity because I know there is always more to discover. It is a practice that continually deepens my understanding of who I am, and empowers me to build the reality I want to live in. I am so inspired by this community because kinksters are skilled at interrogating their desires and communicating them to others, finding ways to navigate complex situations and deep rooted emotions. In this way, BDSM offers a methodology for continually unlearning social scripts that no longer serve us. 

That, and wearing latex to work… 

What skills and personal qualities should a Domme have?

Everyone has their own personal approach, but from my perspective, presence, empathy and a curious, non-judgemental nature are essential. Those are critical qualities to creating a safe container for submissives to be vulnerable and share things that they may have never shared with anyone else. You have to act with integrity and take responsibility for the trust you are given. A playful, devious mind always helps too…

There are so many useful technical skills to master, but again this really depends on the type of Dominant and their specific interests. The foundation is establishing a strong connection with your submissive. Some great Dominatrixes can do entire sessions with only their voice. 

Since domination is a form of energetic work, it’s also important to assert boundaries clearly and practice self care to stay focused and energized following intense sessions. There is a lot of structural and social discrimination still, even in the Netherlands, so you have to be resourceful, determined and independent. 

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You can find Donna Valentina @xdonnavalentina

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