Bad Date Chronicles: The Dominatrix

October 16, 2014 • Love & Sex

Last February, I talked to my friend Amanda about making an archive of bad dates. I’m finally getting around to it.

I start collecting an archive of bad dates. It might be performed somehow, some day. TBD.

I make a date with each person at a local cafe in his or her neighborhood.

I have friends and know of various people in sex work, mostly trying to make ends meet and pay for grad school. Or, for other reasons. I ask my friend Susanna if she’d be my first bad date interview.

10.10.14 Kávé, Bushwick

A: Ever since I’ve known you I’ve known that you do sex work, but we’ve never actually sat down and talked about it. As I mentioned, I’m starting an archive of bad dates. What would a bad date be in this kind of encounter?

S: One thing I want to point out about the term “bad date” and sex work is that one of the ways that sex workers watch out for their own safety is bad date lists. Bad date is like a colloquial term for a client. You can essentially check these bad date lists that are posted around through informal to formalized various types of communities. The idea is that if someone is a rapist or a murder or an abuser, or gives you fake bills, you can check that list. Sometimes they’re online, sometimes they’re posted around town. There are different sex workers organizations that do different things.

I’m not a street worker. I do dominatrix and massage stuff. So, that type of vulnerability has never been my experience, and it isn’t for most people who do indoor types of sex work or have more education, but I just wanted to point that out.

A: Yeah, I had no idea. Have you ever used these lists? Have you ever needed to?

S: I’ve never needed to. There’s one place I work out of most of the time, which is mostly massage-dom stuff. That place has been around for 13 years. They have a little system. When somebody calls, you can look up his phone number and every appointment he’s ever had that’s listed and details about it. So you know more or less what you’re walking into unless he’s very new.

There are different levels of clients, like this guy was so easy, he respected your boundaries, maybe he was cute, or you got along, or you had actual chemistry with him. That’s definitely part of being a good date. Bad dates can range anywhere from someone who asks a lot of questions or has a creepy vibe, you know, where you’re like, “Dude, that guys was such a creep.”

A: [laughs] What qualifies as a creep?

S: I don’t know, there’s just sometimes—it’s usually an energy. Sometimes it’s like a question. I feel like good dates are usually casual. They’re usually complimentary as soon as they get in the door. So, you know they’re into it. They tip, anywhere between $40 – $100. Not everyone tips all the time. Sometimes they just say, “Oh, here’s, you know, the rate,” and they’re on their merry way. Good dates ask before they touch, basically, and respect when you say “no.”

The boundaries at my place are pretty strict. You never take your underwear off. The furthest it goes is a hand job. No penetration, other than, I do do strap-on work. It’s one of my specialities. I do a lot of pegging kind of fantasies: fantasies of you being fucked by a girl with a dildo. That’s extra, like $60 extra. Well, $60-100 extra depending on how much money they have because everything varies. The base rate industry-wide is $220 for an hour. No mutual touching really. They get a hand job or a massage, or they get a fetish session and a hand job. Various things cost more money. Like a foot job is a little bit more. Like if they want to watch you masturbate, that’s more. There are all these add-ons and tipping games.

Okay, but, back to the question of a bad date—there’s like dudes who come in drunk, dudes who come in with coke dick, which is also like, “You’re never going to get off because you did a bunch of coke already.”

A: Oh, god, what do you do with that?

S: Well, I mean, eventually you have to just be like, “Dude, this isn’t going to happen. You either have to pay more or leave.” People who have weird requests are usually looked down upon. Not in terms of fetishes for me, because I think that’s the fun part of my job, but it’s like any kind of service work; it’s anyone that has weird unusual demands of you, like, wardrobe outfits, being picky about the lights being on or off, or the music that you’re playing. Anything like that. Asking you personal questions and not understanding why you wouldn’t respond. Dudes who don’t like it when you break their fantasy, or maybe feel like there’s too much intimacy going on. Some people come and they’re very much like, “This is a business transaction and I’m going to enjoy my time,” in the same way you might act with a bartender, which is totally fine and great. And then there are some dudes who are like, “Oh, can I have your number after? Do you want to meet up?” And you’re just like, “No, we did a thing. It’s over. Please leave.”

And one of the bad dates I was thinking about telling you was the worst, the worst that’s ever happened. Really. I had booked this dude who had been coming to the place for a long time, and he had a kind of erratic history, date-wise. So I booked him, and then I booked this other guy. Then this other guy showed up first. So I double booked them for the same time. I guess he got there just in time to see this guy disappear into the door because it’s a ground-level apartment. He started calling and he was like, “I had an appointment!” He was really, really angry and he was standing outside. There’s a window that looks out to the sidewalk, but all the windows are blacked-out. No one can see in. No one can really see out. He kept calling. I was ignoring his calls. I eventually picked up and he was like, “Wow, you just let any fat fuck into the apartment. I had an appointment!”

And I said, “Dude, I’m really sorry.” There’s another location run by the same woman, so I said, “You can go see my friend,” which is what we usually do when we double book people because people no-show, not super often, but fairly often. Double booking is totally a regular thing. And it also just fucking happens.

So this guy said, “I’m going to call the cops!” I could hear him raging outside, banging on the air conditioner on the wall. And this other guy was trapped in the apartment. It was 5:30 PM on a Monday.

I said, “You know, don’t worry about it. He’s just a disgruntled client. But if you want to leave, I understand.”

“Well, he’s out there— “

“Yeah, you can just wait here and if you feel like you don’t want to do this, that’s fine.”

“No, I’ll stay for the session, but can we just do the hand job first?”

Usually you do the massage and you lead up to like this teasing game to get to the hand job. I guess it was just in case.

So I said, “I guess.”

I had to give him the worst hand job ever while this fuckin’ dude raged outside.

Eventually I called the lady who owned the place and she called me back after this guy had left already, but he had stood out there a good long while. It was a good 20 minutes.

She had her goon call him to scare him. She was like, “You know, if you’re going to throw a fuckin’ tantrum ‘cause you’re not gonna get your five o’clock hand job, like fuuuuuck him.”

I got off at 6, so I just didn’t do anything else that day.

I don’t know; I felt awful. Having someone threaten to call the police on you is really a terrible thing, especially if it’s someone who’s been using these services for years and years, you know?

He could call it in as an anonymous tip. Though the thing is this place has been operating for 13 years. If the police wanted to know about it, they would. We actually have a couple different cops who come as clients, you know, which is totally regular. But it’s still a scary thing because I’m not American. This was two years ago: September 2012. It was my second year working.

And I had just gotten back into the city, and this shitty client thing happened and I’m walking around and I run into my ex. We had just broken up and we’d been dating for two years. We hadn’t spoken and we’d had this really terrible break-up over e-mail. I was going to talk to him about my really bad day, but then I started crying. I didn’t want to see him while I was crying so I went somewhere else. I was like, “Fuck you, New York.”

A: Yeah, really! I imagine energetically you were in a particular place. So many things to negotiate. Any reminder of the outside world would be jarring. Let me ask you, what do you think a bad date would be on the client’s end?

S: Well, the level of bad date is probably really different. Guys who have really high expectations would be considered bad dates by most sex workers. Guys don’t want you to be too robotic about it. They don’t want to feel like they’re in the hand job factory. They want to feel like you’re into it, or a little playful. Clients complain about other girls’ looks a lot, which is annoying. If you’re not into it, you’re not into it. That’s your own deal. Don’t tell me.

A: Switching gears for a moment, one of the things I was wondering about was where does pleasure come in for you, and whether or not that determines if it’s a productive encounter?

S: Pleasure is pretty rare. It’s basically not a sexual encounter on my end. Ever. Sometimes I think they’re more interesting than other dates, like maybe we have genuine shared interests. I had this one client who used to organize VIP parties for metal bands. I’ve never been, unfortunately. Now he’s like a baker. He makes really amazing vegan treats and he lives in Queens, and he’ll drive over at midnight after he’s been to the gym and bring me baked goods. We’ve known each other for a really long time now. And it’s just like super chill, and we get high and I’ll give him a hand job. And he gives me $200.

For the most part, I only see these people for like an hour, for once a week or a month. Or spaced out over years, or just once. So there’s only so much connection you can get done in an hour with somebody. At this point I have so many regulars that I don’t have as many bad dates. They know my style, and I know them, kind of.

A: So, what is a bad date for you outside of this work?

S: Bad dates are just like any other bad date, where it’s just like… “I don’t like you. You’re no fun.”

Susanna is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at CUNY. Susanna does go by another name and for the purposes of this article, a pseudonym has been used.

 

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