Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Client A Dirty Word?

A few weeks ago I had coffee with marcj. So far I find it's always fun doing the meet and greet thing with other kinky people. It's still a very novel experience for me and I find that whatever our differences, the common ground of perviness makes the experience worthwhile. One cannot build a relationship or friendship on kink alone, but to hang out with other kinky people just feels good. I was hidden away for such a long time. It turned out that he and I had been clients of a number of the same prodommes. In addition, he also told me about a series of articles Yin had written to chronicle her experiences for "The Smith Diaries Project" and he emailed me the link.

I love reading Yin and this series was no exception. It got me thinking about being a client and my relationship to it these days. She wrote, "Client is the word that makes them squirm." I have to admit she's right. It kinda makes me squirm despite twenty five years of being one. It makes me squirm even though the best sex I've ever had has been as the client of prodommes and one of the best friends I have in the world used to be my prodomme. It made me less squirmy to read Yin's description of her clients in her diverse practice. She said her entourage was populated by the likes of a;

"classical musician, political journalist, world-renowned chef, social studies teacher, opera singer, fireman, ballet dancer, computer geek, government consultant, NASA engineer, university publisher, pro-skateboarder, hip-hop star, bartender, movie celebrity, and yes, the stock broker, lawyer, doctor, and financial dictator. Did I mention the French circus clown?"
She went on to say that she liked her clients, loved some like family and had even dated a few. She had both compartmentalized clients and lifestyle clients in her retinue and she had even been a client herself. She said she urged her young supplicants to find partners in their intimate relationships who wanted to explore bdsm. She just really made being her client sound like a perfect thing - - and I'm certain it is

The whole read left me wondering just what it is about client status that I have such a problem with these days. I don't mean that I ever think that being a client is a bad thing. It's great. It just doesn't feel right for me. I'm left feeling like someone who just quit drinking. When I first quit drinking it was just supremely hard to be around anyone who drank. I bent over backwards to avoid being at the most benign cocktail party. Now, I really have no problem and it rarely registers that people around me are drinking.

With kink, I feel a little like I'm bending over backwards to prove to myself people will like me for me. Whether it's a friendly coffee, lunch, dinner, or wild bdsm sex - - I want to make sure that my connection with the kinky people I meet is a personal one and not one influenced by commerce. In addition, the act of play has become so intimate, emotional, and romantic for me that I have a very hard time imagining sessioning or negotiating a business deal with a domme - something I used to do alot. I fear my emotional needs would infect the business deal in a very negative fashion.

I don't feel I've been exploited, led-on, used, or abused by commercial bdsm in any way. While my "born-again-kink-virginity" does leave me wondering how the hell I'll ever really get my freak on again, it does seem real and right for now. I don't feel conflicted or ambivalent at all. Sometimes, when I'm dealing with a new situation or oppurtunity, I need some time to process. But ultimately my draw to the "lifestyle" seems strong and true

Yin closes her piece entitled "The 'Dirty' Client" by saying, "When someone comes to me and wants to submit their vulnerability to me, I do not take that submission lightly. To me, “client” isn’t such a dirty word."

It's just not the right word for me these days.

Maybe I'm just a slave to love? Soooo 80's.


Mistress Crimson said...

I'm not sure where to begin in responding to this post, except to say that it made me a little sad, and a little angry.

The client = nothing more than a dollar sign to professional dommes is such a tired argument. Tired and incorrect. If you really have to question that people - including those who you have paid for sessions - want to be around you for who you are, isn't that about your issues and not on the domme, or on the industry?
And, more to the point, what does that kind of thinking say about us? That we are willing to see people who we dislike as long as they toss out the cash?

Sure, I guess there are some women in this industry who are willing to see any client who will pay. And there are some clients who are willing to see any domme who is under 20, or who is blonde, over 6ft tall, or whatever their preference is, regardless of skill. There are people on both ends of the exchange without any desire or ability to be choosey.

Then there are the rest of us - the ones who have to constantly defend that we aren't "just after the money". The ones who have to, over and over again, articulate that our income stems from a willingness to create a fantasy world to escape to with beautiful equipment and toys and, essentially, and adult Disneyland. A willingness, and ability, to absorb someone else's pain and issues and desires - all while in heels - and then step out of their life until they feel the need to see us again. We aren't paid to like or care for someone. If that were the task, I imagine the rates would be much higher.

And this client/domme coin, where one person feels that they are being devalued, is certainly not one sided. I'd wager a guess that most, if not all, of my clients would want nothing to do with me if their erection weren't part of the picture. These are not people who I turn to when I'm having a bad day, or when I just want to relax and not have to get someone's crank going. Which is fine - I wouldn't expect (or even necessarily want) that from them. So why does it consistently fall on our shoulders to be the benenvolent saints who not only provide what we advertise, but do it for free to prove we are authentic?

If you aren't in a place where you want to pay for sessions, fine. It is better to know that than to drag a pro-domme through the sadism that is the "you only want my cash" struggle. But just because that situation doesn't work for you, or work for you right now, doesn't mean being a client is flawed, or cold, or base.

You, of all people, should understand and respect how nuanced these relationships are.

Her Majesty's Plaything said...

Hi Advo:

I loved this post. You said a lot of very profound things here and I applaud you for your honesty and insight. I think it's wonderful that you are getting out and about in the kink community and making friends with kinky folk, Dommes and subs alike. I think it's very healthy. I know I get a great deal out of my friendships with other submissive men. These friendships have been a revelation to me and have taught me a great deal about myself! :-)

Personally I like the word "client". While I am not one right now I could easily imagine being one again if things at home went south and I needed to get my kink on. Hey I am not perfect! I am very very human with many character flaws and defects. More importantly I have certain needs that cannot be and will not be denied. Among them is the need to have the living tar whipped out of least occasionally! That's just the way it is. I have no intention of jeopardizing my family in this pursuit so for me seeing a pro would be my best, probably my only option if I were forced to seek satisfaction outside of my marriage again.

Why do I like the word "client"? Because it helps to remind me of my true place in the relationship and the reality of my situation. Am I really a slave to someone whom I am paying to fulfill my sexual fantasies? Absolutely not! Am I her sub? Not unless the relationship also includes other things beyond seeing her in the context of a paid session or a BDSM club. There would have to be some serious time spent "off the clock" for me to qualify as her sub as far as I'm concerned.

It is important for me to remember these things because I have been through an experience where I became very confused about my feelings in the context of a relationship with a prodomme. The feelings I experienced were incredibly strong, vivid and profound. I fell completely under her spell. I cried over this person on more than one occasion. In the end the relationship was revealed to be exactly what it was; a relationship based around a commercial transaction.

As Bush once so eloquently put it; "Fool me once shame on me. Fool me't get fooled again!" If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's not a golden eagle. If I go to a visit a ProDomme I am a client. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being client as long as I can recognize and accept that is what I am!

*Whew!* Thank you my friend. It felt good to get that off my chest! :-p



advochasty said...

Crimson -

I think I'm on a roll this month in offending practically every domme I know. I really didn't mean to anger you and that I have made you even a little sad hurts me. I hope you can see the spirit in which I made this post.

I never meant to convey that client equals nothing more than dollar signs. But commerce does affect the relationship. It is an integral part of it.

This is completely my issue. Not yours, not any domme's. It is partly why I wrote the post. To explore my issue around this and try to understand it better.

I don't think for a moment you or most any ethical, caring, responsible prodomme would see someone they dislike just because the client may toss a bunch of cash at you. I don't think that at all. But the tribute affects the relationship.

You absolutely never have to defend to me that you are "just after the money". I know you aren't. I don't think I either said or implied that. Most prodommes who last in the business can't possibly be in it only for the money. I'm in business for myself but I am in no way only in it for the money. I would venture to say that I'm primarily motivated by things other than the money. And I know that to be true of most prodommes I've gotten to know. I especially know that to be true about you.

What you do is a wonderful thing. All I was trying to say was that after so many years of being a client, I'm trying to understand why it won't work for me anymore. Let me tell you it would make my life a lot easier if I could just "client-up".

I totally get how nuanced client/prodomme relationships are. I have one in my life that is the essence of nuance. At the risk of sounding a little uppity, I think you're missing the nuance I was trying to get at and feeling a tad defensive where you don't need to.

You're entitled. What you do is a wonderful thing. I never meant to disparage it in any way.

advochasty said...


Perhaps for me my reflections on being a client are partly about what I've never had and partly about all my years of secresy. Over the past year I've opened the dark freezer doors and my kink has thawed out and seeped everywhere. It's a part of everything I do - sometimes a big part, sometimes a subtle part - but it's always there.

I guess I long for a woman to share that with. Someone who, to paraphrase Crimson, will turn to me when she's having a bad day, but still wants to turn my crank because turning my crank turns hers too. I long for mutual crank turning.

I know that can take place in the commercial dungeon too. But the relationship is often circumscribed as you and Crimson so eloquently describe.

Because I've only ever had "my true place" - client - in a sexual bdsm relationship, maybe I'm longing for the additional closeness I've never had.

I certainly never meant to demean either the domme side of the coin or the client side.

I suffer some of the personality traits of incest survivors and the secret sex treasure hunt of seeing prodommes was it's own addiction for me. I also felt really ashamed of myself for having such dirty perverted desires. I can't tell you how many great bdsm porn collections I tossed out vowing to reform.

I don't think there is anything wrong with "client". I think it's great. For me and me only it has a legacy that my blog and posting try to get at, understand and position in my life.

Aarkey said something on one of your posts about passing on to a stage where we can be comfortable with the client role and appreciate for what it is. Lots of guys can do that.

Being client is just not where I'm at these days. Because I'm not there, doesn't mean I devalue that place, demean it or think less of it. Nor do I think less of the prodommes who provide services to clients.

Hmmm ... is my writing taking on the qualities of a submission to a Senate Sub-Committee?

As always thanks for dropping by!!

Her Majesty's Plaything said...

Hey Advo:

"I long for mutual crank turning." is another classic advoism in the same league as "round kink pegs in square kink holes" Awesome! :-)

"I know that can take place in the commercial dungeon too. But the relationship is often circumscribed as you and Crimson so eloquently describe." A submissive friend of mine once expressed the thought that; "The money issue just gets in the way and clouds the relationship." I think that's true.

"Aarkey said something on one of your posts about passing on to a stage where we can be comfortable with the client role and appreciate for what it is. Lots of guys can do that." I think this is very true. I would like to think that if I were destined to "client up" again I would be in that state of mind for round two. I like prodommes very much. I really do. My last experience did not sour me on professional domination though it had it's painful aspects. I know I could still make a good client. Hopefully next time around I would not allow myself to become overly emotionally invested.

"I certainly never meant to demean either the domme side of the coin or the client side." Of course you didn't. It's very tough to talk about stuff like this without offending someone on one side of the fence or the other. I think you made it quite clear that you were only speaking for yourself and attempting to sort through your own feelings on the subject.

How cool is it that your word verification for me was "strat?"
My strat is vintage 1965! ;-)

O.K. gotta go. I am supposed to be studying for an upcoming exam! I would much rather talk to you! :-p



advochasty said...

"The money issue just gets in the way and clouds the relationship." I think that's true.

Sometimes I think that's true and sometimes the money issue actually helped me know I was a client who could ask and, if my domme was into it, have my dream come true. That's a wonderful thing.

In my relationship with "She-Who-Visits" we have a mutual money thing that is hot. She wants it and I want to spend it on her. From precious gems to her stealing my Starbucks card, it's part of our relationship. I love that it's part of our relationship.

I'm not suggesting the money issue or its absence as a litmus test of do ya like me. The best sexual experiences I've ever had were with a great prodomme who never did anything off the clock. I knew she totally liked me and we are still in touch.

Given where I am these days I'd be a lousy client. I'd get all emotionally whiney and needy on my domme. As Crimson so perfectly warns, "[i]t is better to know that than to drag a pro-domme through the sadism..." of whatever inappropriate expectation I'd bring with me to the dungeon.

'65 Strat, baby!! I almost used an old Animals clip of "House of the Rising Sun" for the song. Eric looked soooo cool! But I thought the lyrics were way negative for where I'm at.

Good luck on the exam. I'm reading up for an argument!

Aarkey said...

I don't have time to read the replies and remarks in the detail that they deserve - but I wanted to simply add this.

Maybe being a client isn't for you. I suspect you aren't interested in being a French Circus clown either. It might be perfect for someone, and just because it's not for you does not mean that there is anything wrong with it (nor do I think you implied that there is.)

For me, I found it more limiting in the way I want to define myself than I liked. Does that mean that the term is wrong? By no means. Does that mean that when I went and paid for a session last month that I wasn't "a client" - by no means.

But if someone considered me "just a client" I wouldn't feel my connection the way I want it - and I would seek someone else to play with.

Everyone is different, and there is no right or wrong.

Mistresses such as Yin and Crimson may well be far from the "men as dollar signs" type of professionals, (and as I have met Yin I can assure you there is infinitely more depth to her than that) - but that doesn't mean that there are not Mistresses who treat clients like wallets.

And there are men who treat Mistresses like objects, and think because they can afford whatever the hourly rate is that they somehow "own" a Mistress.

But not all men are like that either.

One big plus I've found, getting to know professionals, and play as "friends" works well for me. Even if I'm paying. But that isn't something that happens just because I want it to.

advochasty said...

I dunno, if Cirque de Soleil is hiring I think circus clown might be just the ticket! ;-P Have to dust off the high school French though.

This thing I have about "client" is all about me and my thing. I think the newness of my "outness" has something to do with it. There's this little tyrannical voice in my head saying, "Oh no, you can't do that, it's waaaay too "clienty"." My issue, my loss, my process.

I really love your "session as friends" thing. While one can't check off the menu list for "friends" like you can for "corporal", "electrics", or "rope bondage", it certainly could be something one looks for in a relationship with a prodomme. Money can't "make" that happen, nor can ya ask in the pre-session chat - "will you be my friend". But it could be something ya want.

Okay, I'm off to work on my juggling now ...

Aarkey said...

Well, if you try out for Cirque, you had better have the body for it!


And wouldn't it be nice if we could just check off "as friends" in lots of areas in our lives?

advochasty said...

Naaah! I just need "the right outfit"

advochasty said...

Pssst...Aarkey...I figured out that html link to my perfect Cirque outfit myself. Whoa dude!!

Mistress Crimson said...

My issue with this post stemmed from these sentences:

"With kink, I feel a little like I'm bending over backwards to prove to myself people will like me for me. Whether it's a friendly coffee, lunch, dinner, or wild bdsm sex - - I want to make sure that my connection with the kinky people I meet is a personal one and not one influenced by commerce."

You spend the majority of the post saying that while being a client is fine for others, it is not fine for you. Being a client, it seems, is not a personal relationship but one dependent on commerce or a business negotiation. And therein lies my beef with the original post, and with the responses: you are saying that for a client/domme relationship to be authentic - to be personal - the tribute needs to be eliminated. That the tribute aspect creates a less genunine connection. That is the point I disagree with, and am tired of hearing from men in the scene. And even though you say that you don't have a problem with the idea of a client/domme relationship, that it just isn't for you, that isn't the message I am getting from your post (and, I think, in another post on here you've used "clienty" as a pejorative).

To clarify, I never thought you were attacking me personally, particularly because you don't know me in a professional context so it would be nearly impossible for you to comment on that, anyway.

advochasty said...

I think a client/prodomme relationship can be deeply personal. I see the personal aspect not at all dependant upon commerce but limited by it. Not less genuine - just situationally circumscribed.

As always, you give me food for thought. I think I see a large part of my own client history as one shrouded in secresy and shame - hence the pejorative nature of my relationship to the term.

I got a lovely email from Tara Sterling who urged me to just have an open heart. I think that's what you're in essence saying too.

Touché on the rebuttal! Such a good friend!!

Anonymous said...

I think that often when clients talk about how limiting tribute is in forming a personal connection with a prodomme what they're doing is maintaining their fantasy that the trouble they're having forming their desired connection stems from something so simple as money....and not the client's wife, his kids, his age, his health issues, the lack of substantial common interests other than kink, his refusal to share even basic details of himself like his real name, his lack of time for relationship/friendship, etc.