L.A. Archetype: Dominatrix

When it comes to her career, Mistress Justine Cross takes orders from no one
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➻ “I get some outlandish requests. I had a client who preferred to kneel on sandpaper during our session. Another client had a towel fetish—he wanted to be wrapped up in and talk about towels.”

➻ Cross, 30, who is known to her clients as Mistress Justine, started out as a part-time dominatrix in a commercial dungeon before going independent with her own private space, Dungeon West.

➻ Dominatrices are defined as women who control and abuse their partners, known as “submissives,” in order to give them sexual pleasure. That said, most professionals in the BDSM world—the acronym covers multiple practices and stands for “bondage and discipline,” “dominance and submission,” and “sadism and masochism”—abstain from nudity and sexual intercourse.

➻ According to the Sexual Recovery Institute, which treats various forms of sexual addiction, members of the BDSM community follow a code of conduct with slogans that include “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” and “Risk Aware Consensual Kink.”

➻ “My clients are predominantly white middle-aged men. They have a disposable income or can easily hide their money.”

➻ Mistress Justine charges by the hour, starting at $300. Her clients’ fetishes include foot worship, corporal punishment, and cross-dressing.

➻ The most notorious practitioner of sexual gratification through pain was the Marquis de Sade, the 18th-century French nobleman who wrote extensively about the acts of sexual cruelty that he performed. The words sadist and sadism are derived from his name.

➻ “One of my clients is very ‘Texas,’ with a weathered face and cowboy boots. He told me to dress him up in a maid’s outfit and put makeup on him. I even made him tidy up my hotel room and spanked him when he didn’t do a good job. You would never expect it from this guy.”

➻ E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, in which a BDSM-loving billionaire falls for a virginal collegian, has sold more than 100 million copies. (The movie opens on Valentine’s Day.) The Sexual Recovery Institute, however, claims the books’ protagonist “doesn’t accurately portray a lifestyle.”’

➻ “People come into the dungeon and say, ‘Am I normal? Is this OK?’ And I’m like, ‘Please. I’ve seen everything. All of it.'”

➻ The Syren boutique in Silver Lake offers a Bondage 101 Kit that features a nylon rope, blindfold, wrist and ankle cuffs, feather rose, and equestrian crop for $125.

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