Interview with Mistress Sybil Holiday

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Interview by Layne Winklebleck

Originally published in Spectator, 1996


LW: We go back a long way together.

Mst. Sybil: We certainly do. The first time I started to get to know you was in the Dominant Womenís Workshop that you and Kat gave in 1983. Thatís when I started to work as a professional dominant, and I thought Iíd better get every bit of information I could. Actually, I went to work as a mistress in training. I belong to the Old School, which states that the best Tops start at the bottom.

LW: You trained with Carmen?

Mst. Sybil: Yes. For a year and a half I was submissive to her and, under her instruction, dominant over the male clients. In other words, I was a "middle."

LW: She was a good teacher.

Mst. Sybil: She was a very good teacher. She taught me something Iíve never heard anybody else say, which was that she would not teach me how to use a whip or a pair of nipple clamps or any other tool until I learned how to use my mind, my voice, and my hands. She gave me three months. She said, "If in three months you can learn how to use those three tools, Iíll teach you how to use others." I was very fortunate in that at the same time I was also working as a dominant in the phone sex industry. You donít have any tools there except your mind and your voice. And of course your imagination. I got plenty of practice!

LW: Now what are the tools you find most important?

Mst. Sybil:[laughing] My mind and my voice and my hands. I think thatís very true, itís very, very true. If you want to know who Mistress Cybelle is you have to look at the entire person and you have to take into account the concept of personas. Iím a woman of many parts. Iím not just a sexually dominant woman. First, Iím a human being. Then Iím a woman. Then Iím a Priestess. Then Iím a sex educator. Then Iím a sex worker. Iím also a person who has an aged Siamese cat, loves stained glass windows, and is looking for the perfect low-fat basil pesto. [laughter] I have a lot of interests. But sexually I am a dominant woman: that hasnít changed since I started having sex. Itís matured of course but it hasnít changed. I just didnít know what it was called then.

LW: How did it show itself?

Mst. Sybil: I was a prick tease. [laughing] I was into tease and denial. And I was a stripper from age eighteen to age thirty. What a perfect venue for a prick tease! Then in the late í70s I met someone who became my roommate and who was very interested in S/M at that time. I knew nothing about S/M. I thought it was abusive behavior, and that the urge to do it came from growing up in a dysfunctional family. I believed many of the myths and stereotypes that a lot of people have before they learn about S/M and DS. When I went to my first Janus meeting [The Society of Janus, San Franciscoís pansexual BDSM support group, on the web at – WAH], I realized that the world of S/M is not full of ax murderers and sickos. I found nice people above average in intelligence and creativity, who were talking about very complex and forbidden subjects that Iíd never heard anybody else talk about anywhere. I joined this organization and here we are today. If you want to know more about how I got into the scene you can read about it in my new book!

LW: What's it called?

Mst. Sybil: Consensual Sadomasochism: How To Talk About It And How To Do It Safely. William Henkin and I (as Sybil Holiday) wrote it together as a companion volume to any of the number of instruction manuals out today. They tell you what to do; our emphasis is more on what not to do. It contains an extensive and thoroughly researched safety guide, plus a glossary, an annotated bibliography, chapters on communication, spirituality, and personas, and more! Itís being published by Daedalus Publishing Company, coming out in September and there will be a book signing at Good Vibrations in October. [Published 1996 – WAH]

You know, how I got into S/M is intriguing, but why I stayed is actually more interesting to me. I stayed because of the power, and because of the energy. See, Iíve been exploring and playing with power, energy and spirituality since I was a small child. And when I became sexual in my late teens, all four of them came together for me. Actually I was not into S/M in my teens but I was into power and control.

LW: Describe for me what form that power took when you were young.

Mst. Sybil: I gave my first spanking when I was five. She was four and a half. [laughing] It wasnít about the pain, it was about the fact that she was a brat and I wanted to control her. My second exploration of power was intellectual power. I was not a beautiful child. I was not Brooke Shields. When I was twelve years old, I was 5 foot 8. I had the full figured body of a woman. I had a rash. I had braces. I had curly hair when Cherís straight hair was in style. I wore glasses. My mother dressed me funny. The power that I had was intellectual power. I was smart. I went to Girlsí Latin, which is a college prep high school in Boston; I went to college, and I used my brain for control. Then, when I was 18, I went to New York, to the Lower East Side, and hung out with the East Coast Hells Angels.

LW: Whoa!

Mst. Sybil:[laughing] There I learned a lot about physical power. I learned how to beat up other girls. I learned to wear a bra so Iíd have a place to carry my switchblade. And I did get pretty carried away with it.

LW: Was it erotic, some of these things that you did?

Mst. Sybil: Not really, but it was satisfying. It held a sense of raw power and a sense of exhilaration. It wasnít genitally erotic but it was full-body eroticism, like some S/M, like the exhilarating high one can get from being whipped or whipping somebody. Your genitals arenít necessarily turned on but youíre turned on all over.

LW: The reason I ask is because, as you know from some conversations that weíve had together, Iím fascinated with nonconsensual, dark fantasies and real life power. I often wonder what would have happened to serial killer Ted Bundy and other such people if they had had an outlet like the S/M community?

Mst. Sybil: I think Ted Bundy was too crazy. I do know some people who have been able to channel some very severe tendencies into the S/M community and found healing there, but they are few and far between.

LW: But maybe Iíve sidetracked us. What Iím wondering specifically is how you would compare some of your experiences as a biker with your S/M experiences.

Mst. Sybil: Oh, well, I can very easily tell you. When my roommate told me she was into S/M, immediately what I thought about was my experiences on the East Coast with the black leather jackets. First I was kidnapped, and then I was sold for ten hits of acid and ten dollars, okay? But this was no play-party auction, no pre-negotiated scene. That world wasnít and isnít conscious of its power dynamics, and there was definitely no safeword, except to leave.

LW: How did you feel about it at the time?

Mst. Sybil: I had mixed feelings. I didnít really like the person who kidnapped me, and I liked the person who bought me. The concept of being sold annoyed me, but I was in New York doing the biker thing, and I wanted to see it through. I was on a mission. [laughing] I was breaking away from the intellectual, reserved Boston world I grew up in. When the hippie era hit, I went from being a wallflower to queen of the hippies in about three weeks. I told you I was tall, I had glasses and curly hair, and my mother dressed me funny. But then all of a sudden having glasses, curly hair and funny clothes was in style. It was like the world caught up with me.

So moving to New York was the first step of breaking away, and getting involved in the bikers was the next step. How I felt about being kidnapped was not so important as how I felt about the exhilaration of this wild, dark, on-the-edge lifestyle. My girlfriend at the time was the girlfriend of the "mama" of the vice- president of the club. She was half American Indian and half Italian. She was stunningly beautiful and she was crazy in a beautiful way. She would do things like put a razor blade stuck in chewing gum inside the boot of her old man because she was pissed at him. And of course heíd find it or cut his foot and heíd beat her up. But later on, he would brag about it. "My old ladyís so crazy, you know what she did?"

So she and I panhandled money, and when we got up enough she bought me. I was owned by a woman, which was fine with me. And since she was the craziest person in the club, nobody was going to mess with her, therefore nobody was going to mess with me. I had instant freedom, lots of power, and I didnít have to answer to anybody. We ruled the roost until her boyfriend got scared [laughing] at the combination of the two of us and insisted that she sell me again, at which point I bought myself out of the whole situation by hitchhiking to San Francisco. It had stopped being fun.

LW: But you saw it through. Are you on the edge like that now?

Mst. Sybil: I have been throughout my entire life. But there are many different kinds of edges. I recently came off a very intense edge of six years duration. In 1989 I got very sick. I had a calcified, herniated disk that was misdiagnosed for ten months. I was in excruciating pain. I lost a lot of energy then, and therefore I lost a lot of power. Iíd been in the adult sex industry since I was seventeen, and all of a sudden in my late thirties I lose my sex drive. So I lost my identity. Who are you when you donít have energy, you donít have your sex drive, you donít have power and you donít have your identity? You talk about being on the edge? I mentioned that I am a Priestess. My life partner says I bottomed to the Goddess, and I think thatís true, because during those years I felt as if I was in an unrelenting scene with a very harsh taskmistress. In a sense I had to create a new person to be. And I did.

LW: Tell me about the new person.

Mst. Sybil: The new person is still interested in the things that I was interested in before, because my energy and sex drive returned. But when those powers Iíd always taken for granted were temporarily taken away from me, I became more interested in my psychic abilities. And I became more involved in tantra; not just tantric sex, but the whole world of tantra, which is about energy, breath and the life force.

LW: Talk about tantric energy and S/M.

Mst. Sybil: When I used to play S/M, I didnít focus on my breath or your breath or on my energy or your energy. I focused on how intensely my hand or implement impacted your skin: it was all about sensation, from light to very heavy. Well, I think thatís just the tip of the iceberg. I think that what makes me a good whip mistress is that I teach people something about breathing and I teach people how to use their energy. I teach people how to ground, and I do it while weíre playing. Iíve often taken people farther in S/M than they had ever gone, and they sometimes ask me how I did that. Itís simple. I taught them something about how to breathe.

LW: Readers are going to roll their eyes at this, you know. "How to breathe" sounds pretty New Agey.

Mst. Sybil: When people who havenít learned about breathing techniques are in pain they hold their breath. When you stub your toe, you grab your toe, you tighten up, and you hold your breath.

LW: Okay, go on.

Mst. Sybil: This is like a fight or flight response.

LW: Physical tension.

Mst. Sybil: Exactly. But if you breathe deeply when you stub your toe or experience any other kind of pain, you can relax and the pain is dispersed. By breathing deeply I mean filling up your lungs and pushing out your belly on the inner breath, and on the exhale, pulling your belly in towards your spine and exhaling fully. In on a count of four, out on a count of eight. This is one of many ways. In S/M, this allows you to go farther, get higher on endorphins, and go deeper into submission.

LW: When I am teaching a submissive everything is about relaxation. But I donít think of it in terms of breathing. I want to see that the submissiveís body is relaxed. If her body tenses up, I just do something to get her...

Mst. Sybil: ... relaxed again. Exactly.

LW: So thatís all breathing is, a relaxation technique.

Mst. Sybil: Thatís not all it is, but it is a relaxation technique, yes. Thereís really nothing hokey or airy-fairy about it. Itís very practical. I wouldnít do it if it wasnít practical.

LW: Relaxation is the path to the trance.

Mst. Sybil: One path, yes.

LW: And the path to the ecstasy.

Mst. Sybil: Yes. Which is what I love. Thatís what kept me and continues to keep me involved in S/M. Initially, the quality of the people kept me there. But I didnít have S/M fantasies. I didnít have dominant fantasies. I didnít know where I fit into. It took me about two years to figure out I was a top. I could figure that out because I knew I liked to run the show. But I didnít know what I wanted to do. Janus was the only thing that was happening back then so I started going to every Janus meeting. I still couldnít really relate to S/M until I went to a party where I was supposed to meet someone, and he chickened out. I found myself without a date. I was talking with this man Iíd been watching whip other people – and it was very sexy – and much to my surprise I found myself saying, "Well, if youíd like to whip me, you could."

LW: Who was this?

Mst. Sybil: David Lourea. Heís no longer with us. And he said okay. Now you have to understand I was in full Mistress regalia wearing a corset and I really had no intention of getting undressed. And all of a sudden I had to get undressed. I started to undo my clothing, and he said, "Ah! No, no, you donít do anything." I said, "But you donít know how this is all put together." He said, "Do you think Iím so stupid Iíve never seen a corset before?" And I shut up. And he got me nude and put a blindfold on me, and restrained me on a table, and began whipping me. This was the first time I had ever been whipped.

But this is about more than being whipped. This is about tantra and why I stayed in the scene. I didnít know anything about chakras or running energy or anything like that at the time, in the early í80s. Iíd heard the word chakra, but I didnít know what it meant. But as he was whipping me – and he was very sensuous and did a beautiful warm-up – there was a point where it started to get more intense. As he whipped me, I started to see something like a drawbridge in my mindís eye. I knew that if I took a deep breath, lowered my voice, breathed deeply and pushed my awareness down, the drawbridge would open, and I could allow the pain. I donít know how I knew this, but I did know it. And I did that, each time weíd come to another level. It would get really intense, and whoosh, Iíd go down through the drawbridge. I kept doing that until all of a sudden, with the last drawbridge – I donít know how to say it – my personality disappeared. I stopped thinking, and there was this enormous energy rushing up through me.

LW: What I was calling a trance.

Mst. Sybil: Very much a trance. Reichian body workers would say that I was "streaming." I felt like I was flying. A lot of people talk about flying when theyíre getting whipped and that was exactly my experience. Yes, being whipped still hurt. However, I was also laughing. I was very high from the endorphins, but more than that: my mind had stopped chattering. There was this enormous energy running through me, and I just wanted to keep this ongoing forever and ever and ever. I was so happy I started screaming, "Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!" I couldnít see, but I heard all the noise in the room stop for about [finger snap] that long, about two heartbeats, and then start up again. Later on he told me that everybody in the room turned around to look at me because I had yelled so loud, they heard me over the music! I wanted more of that. I wanted to know how to do that, to take others there as well. I didnít realize that it was about energy and about chakras. Nobody had told me, and there wasnít any conversation about that at that time.

LW: Talk about chakras.

Mst. Sybil: Chakra means "wheel" in Sanskrit and they are usually described as disks or vortexes of energy that can open and close. Chakras exist in the metaphysical body, so although I speak about them as they correspond to parts of the physical body, they do not exist there in any sense. There are many systems. This one of 11 Chakras works best for my purposes. All 11 Chakras are connected to an energy channel which runs behind and parallel with the spine. There are seven principal and four secondary chakras. These chakras can be opened or closed at will.

The first is located at the base of the spine in men, between the ovaries in women, and is the only chakra whose location is sex-differentiated. Itís called the "root" chakra, is about survival, and is also where the earthís energy can enter the body.

The second one is located above the genital area, below the navel. Its focus is sex, emotions, and where we connect to society.

The third, located above the navel near the solar plexus, is the chakra of divine personal power. Itís also the chakra of divine power and although higher than the navel, is the chakra you focus on when "contemplating your navel."

The fourth, located between the nipples is the "heart" chakra. Itís about compassion, affinity, and love. All kinds of love: unconditional love, true self-love, love for another, family, earth, pets, or love for all and everything.

The fifth chakra, located at the base of the throat is the chakra of communication, both intra- and interpersonal communication.

The sixth, located in the center of the forehead, is the "third eye," and is the chakra of psychic ability.

The seventh or "crown" chakra is located at the top of the head. It concerns "knowingness," or pure intuition. Itís also the chakra of teaching, learning, and access to oneís higher power, and where cosmic energy can enter the body.

Then there are the four secondary chakras. Two are located in the palms of the hands. They come into play whenever we make or do something, and they concern creativity and hands-on healing. The two feet chakras are located in the arches of the feet, and help maintain a personís connection with the Earth, and help a person be grounded and move forward in life.

LW: All right. What do they have to do with the drawbridge?

Mst. Sybil: Although I didnít know it at the time, when I visualized each drawbridge, I was going down through each chakra. Now when I get whipped Ö I should say that I enjoy getting whipped. Itís not about punishment. Just because Iím dominant doesnít mean Iím going to deny myself luscious sensation. Please. So now when I get whipped, I still visualize that drawbridge. But now I know what Iím doing. At each stage I go farther down to a deeper level, into a deeper trance. And at the bottom one, all energies are clear, all blocks are gone. Free energy, soaring through me, for me to release or direct.

Now, as an erotic Priestess I facilitate raising energy: Chi, prana, libido, Life Force Energy; your energy, my energy, our energy, energy. I enjoy raising my own energy by using nipple clamps on myself. Itís not about dominance and submission, itís about energy and intensity. Building it, storing it, directing it. And when itís released, I guide people to be conscious about where itís going – helping them act with knowledge and purpose. Is the energy for sexual union and joy? Healing? World Peace? Whatís it for? [laughter] You know, you and Kat talked about something like this in your workshop, only you called it telepathy. Do you remember that?

LW: Yes, of course I do.

Mst. Sybil: Of course you do. [laughing] Thatís exactly what I think you were talking about: that intimate, erotic energy connection where something happens. You havenít said anything about chakras, all youíve done is spark someone, but thereís a spark that goes from one human being to another. According to most sources, "tantra" in Sanskrit means "union." Union with self, union with other(s). The chakras are open and the blocks to intimacy are gone. But this is not guaranteed. Energy has to be flowing before thereís that spark. Iíve played with some people when thereís not been any spark. I wonít let anybody whip me if I donít feel weíll have that connection. But as a professional I see all manner of people come through my door, and I can teach them about breathing, but some people are not open to this sort of connection. Itís just not what they want to do, and thatís their right.

LW: Well, itís perhaps not part of their belief system.

Mst. Sybil: Belief system? Oh no. I donít talk about chakras. My way is more experiential than didactic. And I have seen this work when people emphatically didnít believe in it. I have a friend whoís an atheist, who also does not believe in chakras or energy or anything else metaphysical. But when I whip him he oozes energy. He says he just has a good personality. [laughing] Okay. Whatever.

LW: I find it fascinating that as you described the drawbridge or chakras you talk about a journey down. This is the opposite direction from what the "white light" types talk about. They talk about going up through the chakras.

Mst. Sybil: Oh, it goes both ways. I like to move my energy down for one reason and up for another. When you give a massage, if you start at the feet and move to the head, youíll wake someone up. If you start at the head and move to the feet, youíll put them to sleep. So if I want to energize myself, I run my energy upward. If I want to relax, I run it down.

LW: If you think of S/M energies as being dark, animal energies then could you imagine the movement down through the chakras as a movement toward animal and away from the spiritual?

Mst. Sybil: Oh yes, but you see, I think animals are very spiritual. I think theyíre much more spiritual than human beings. Theyíre fully in touch with spirit.

LW: So down is a movement towards the spiritual as well.

Mst. Sybil: Yes. Towards Mother Earth. Besides, I donít think thereís anything bad about the dark side. I embrace the dark side. I think that when you reject the dark side, you donít ever get rid of it. You just shove it under the rug from where it comes up in the middle of the night or it appears when you least want it to and runs your life.

LW: You lose control.

Mst. Sybil: You lose control. You donít voluntarily give it up as in D/S or S/M , you lose it. You say the wrong thing at the wrong time because thereís this thing that you havenít dealt with, because you say, "Oh, thatís not me. Thatís bad. Thatís not a part of me." And you shove it over there. But if you donít ever deal with it, itíll come up and ruin your life, youíll really lose control, and youíll make an idiot of yourself. Whereas if you embrace it, you can say, "Okay, I like being a bully. Where can I find a safe, conscious, consensual place for me to be a bully?" And where I can find someone who wants to be a victim, find someone who really enjoys giving up control and power, really enjoys suffering, rather than going out and being a Ted Bundy. Thatís healthy to me. I believe that ignoring oneís dark side is very unhealthy. You probably know that I deal in "personas." And I teach about personas. The many sides of ourselves, dark and light.

LW: Teach us about personas now for a moment.

Mst. Sybil: Personas are not roles that one tries on, like a dress. Rather they are parts of ourselves. Youíve heard of the inner child John Bradshaw made so popular? If one can have an inner child, why not an inner woman if youíre a man? Why not have an inner slave? An inner victim? An inner tyrant? An inner animal?

LW: Why not have an inner prick tease?

Mst. Sybil: Why not? [laughing] The power of being a prick tease served me very well. I made a career out of that power on stage as a stripper for twelve years. But I learned that it was a fleeting power, a power I outgrew. Youth and beauty fade. And the power of being an attractive woman is enormous and thus deceptive to its user. I mean, we are visual creatures, right? Did you know that the eye heals faster than any other organ in your body? I learned this because I had eye surgery. But I thought that was very interesting. Thatís how important our eyes are. Thatís how important visual information is.

LW: Especially to men, sexually.

Mst. Sybil: I would say that sexually most men donít care about words. Give them images and theyíll be happy. This is a generalization, of course, but does that mean a woman must be beautiful to have sexual power? Does that mean that every woman who isnít beautiful has no power? I canít buy that. Does that mean that a woman in a wheelchair has no power? Or that an older woman has no sexual power? Does that mean that an average-looking woman who isnít a sex worker has no power? No, she has power.

LW: Her power can be fully recognized in the S/M community where there is a different awareness of the nature of erotic energy and power.

Mst. Sybil: We do know something about that. When I went into the S/M community I was amazed to see that there were a number of women who did not look like Sharon Stone and they had lots of play partners. I was very intrigued. I had learned something when I started work as a phone dominant. The power of the voice. The power of the mind. And here I was seeing this power in many woman!

LW: You were talking about personas.

Mst. Sybil: This concerns personas because the process of discovering and developing a persona is something Iíve experienced first hand. As a stripper my name was Holiday OíHara. Holiday had the power of a prick-tease down pat, but she wasnít comfortable with S/M, with deliberately administering pain. I did some soul searching and realized my developing sexually dominant self needed a new name, a new persona. I kept Holiday as my last name (I wasnít about to get rid of her power) and chose Sybil as my first name, after the Greek Sibyls, the woman Sybil with sixteen different personalities, and the witch/priestess Sybil Leek. She is who now plays, writes, and teaches in the S/M community and elsewhere. As a professional dominant I decided on the name Cybelle for two reasons. One, it has a similar sound to Sybil, and two, it acknowledges the ancient Magna Mater Hittite Goddess Cybele, whose priests wore female clothing and castrated themselves in her honor. She seemed a fitting role model if I was going to create a Temple for Female Domination.

But, believe it or not, I'm not one of those dominants that likes to terrorize you. Currently, part of the work I do is to make it safe for you. to bring out the secret, hidden part of you. What is sexy for me, is to make you feel so safe that youíre willing to do something that scares you. That I like. For example, if you have a fear of being pierced, but you trust me and you want to surrender to me so much that youíre willing to let me pierce you, thatís sexy. Thatís intimate. And thatís power. But itís about trust. I think thereís an enormous amount of power in being so safe that somebody will trust you to do something theyíre scared shitless of. This also has to do with personas, in that the task for one of my personas is to make you feel that safe. Thereís part of me that really does tap into mother energy, not just mommy energy like with adult babies, but with the great mother energy that makes it so safe for you to do whatever it is you want to do. To bring out the dark side, to bring out the victim, for example.

LW: The mommy and the babies, infantilism, has been a part of your practice as well. Could you talk about that for a minute?

Mst. Sybil: I enjoy playing along the entire continuum of Age Play, from adult babies to naughty school boys. But infantilism is a specialty all its own. Before I explored phone domination I didnít know that I had an interest in infantilism. Iím the woman who does not fantasize. I donít have any sexual fantasies, I never did. When I have sex or masturbate, itís about sensation and whatís happening between me and my partner, or me and me. If I fantasize, it takes me away from that experience, and I lose it. So Iíd never had a fantasy about being a mommy. But when I was doing phone sex in the early í80s, somebody asked me to be a mommy and I was enormously turned on. I thought, "I can do this. This is easy for me and this is fun." Iíve never had a child and yet I have all this nurturing energy. I used to be very sad when I went to baby department stores, because it was hard for me to see the babies. Then all of a sudden I had an outlet for all this nurturing energy. Thereís also something really wild about taking an adult, putting him in diapers and telling him to wet and mess. Itís also a safe way to play with all those fluids that youíre not supposed to play with. All those icky body fluids are not icky to me. I grew up partly on a farm so Iím shit positive. [laughing] All those cow plops.

Most of the babies are very sweet but they are not that submissive, of course, any more than real babies are submissive. They may be passive, they may be vulnerable, but theyíre not that submissive. Theyíre do-me queens. Thereís nothing wrong with that, but itís important for us to have a clear understanding. Sometimes I have to teach babies that Iím not a submissive mommy! And they learn. What I like best about working with infantilists is that it is a place for nurturing. There are times, I kid you not, when Iím holding and nurturing an adult and we enter into a nurturing trance, where we are both nurtured. I become a channel for unconditional love. Itís a very gentle, heartfelt place where the two of us are blissed out. What is also interesting and very different is when itís not so pure; when a baby wants me to be a Nazi mommy. That pushes a lot of buttons. Tie me up, nurture me, and torture me at the same time.

LW: Thereís where S/M and infantilism come together?

Mst. Sybil: Well, spanking is one thing, real torture is another. This is not that common but it does occur. I donít spank babies because they mess their diapers, by the way, because I think babies are supposed to mess their diapers. I spank them when they donít mess them when I want them to. [laughter] Iím not about to reinforce shame for your trip! I do enjoy golden showers, so itís fun to pee on baby sometimes. Or pee in their diapers before putting them on the baby [laughing]. This is really about bringing up to the surface the "other," the taboo. Men especially are told donít cry, donít be weak, donít be vulnerable. It is forbidden for an adult to seem to be fragile. Itís like working with male cross-dressers. A man is not supposed to enjoy wearing a pink frilly dress.

LW: You work with cross-dressers also?

Mst. Sybil: And again it can be bringing out another persona, the inner woman. Some crossdressers are only interested in panties or being a decorated sex object while others enjoy a full transformation. I like to find out what kind of woman you are. Are you the girl next door? Are you a teenager? Are you a virgin? Are you a slut? Are you a teenage virgin slut? Sometimes I get PTA matrons, too, very ladylike. What does this woman or girl want to express? I rarely give them a feminine name. If they donít know what their feminine name is I ask them to look to literature, to history, to entertainment, to movies and TV, to mythology and to see what kind of women appeal to them so they can find their own name. For example, I know one cross-dresser who decided to be called Athena after the Goddess because he believed that his inner woman was very wise, and she knew more about him than he did. I know one person who chose the name Diane, because he felt that Diane Sawyer was beautiful and strong. And I know one person who wanted to be Cindy, for Cindy Crawford. [laughter]We get a lot of Cindys and Christys. But thatís all right. Cindy Crawfordís not bad.

LW: You could do a lot worse.

Mst. Sybil: Quite often what is readily identifiable is not the name but the image: high-fashion model, little girl, fetish slut, etc. Iíve many costumes, from fashion to fantasy to fetish, plus heels, wigs, make-up and accessories. When we can see who we are on the outside we can then begin to see who we are on the inside.

LW: Clothes make the woman?

Mst. Sybil: No, but if sheís there they can help bring her out.

LW: You mentioned earlier that youíve been teaching and counseling more.

Mst. Sybil: Yes. I have been a California Certified Safe Sex Educator since 1988, and a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist since 1997. As a sexuality educator my specialty is teaching about various kinds of alternative/radical sexuality. I offer consultations, demonstrations, private lessons, presentations, and playshops in SM, D/s, relationship, gender exploration, Tantra & Energy Exchange, age play, and using trance and hypnosis in scenes. Iím available to individuals, couples, and small groups of all orientations, genders, and levels of experience.

Hands-on SM technique instruction sessions are available without a play partner, as well as for couples who wish to learn on someone else. Alone in my dungeon, or with one of my trained male or female submissives/switches, I teach spanking, whipping, and other flagellation skills, the use of clips and clamps, and bondage methods. I do slave training including teaching Tops how to give orders and what to do when those orders are not carried out – a spanking is not always the most productive response!

I offer male cross-dressers a full curriculum regarding femininity through Sybil Holidayís FemAcademy: Training in the Feminine Arts. These classes are one-on-one, non-sexual, and concern make-up and appearance, wardrobe selection, wigs, hair, nail, and skin care, appearance, movement and mannerisms, female etiquette, female sexuality, female politics, and female spirituality. Here I see myself as a cross between a big sister and a theatre coach. I also offer hypnosis to develop the inner woman, self-esteem, and self-image.

As a hypnotherapist I specialize in four areas: Sexuality, Inner Family Process, Behavior Management, and Spiritual Counseling. I work with sexual concerns such as orgasm control, performance anxiety, and issues of abuse. The Inner Family process is similar to getting to know your inner child, except weíve found that there can be many more "inner personas" than just the child, and they can be any age or gender. The inner guide, critic, saboteur, and protector are just a few of the personas people have discovered. Identifying and getting to know them can be a treasure trove of information and healing. Behavior management is just what it sounds like: learning to manage an unwanted behavior, whether that be smoking or a phobia. Spiritual counseling can take the form of a conversation about lifeís process regarding grief, loss, death and dying, or life and living. Or it might be an exploration of a past or future life, a shamanic journey, or an inquiry into your soul or lifeís purpose.

Although Iíve trained quite a few professional dominant women, many of my female clients are interested in exploring D/s and SM only in their private lives. They wish to learn how to be real sexually dominant women, not women who just act dominant in order to fulfill their partnersí fantasies. They have found that pretending to be dominant – acting dominant instead of being dominant – can be frustrating and unfulfilling for both people. As a sadistic dominant – not the other way around – I love slave training and teaching couples how to make it work: how to turn the fantasy of a 24/7 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) Mistress/slave relationship into reality; how to have a full life with children, two jobs, parents, and the rest, and still be a slave or a Mistress/Master; how to be "in role" and still go to the PTA meeting, for example [laughing]. In other words, I teach how to maintain erotic control in the face of "real life."

LW: Tell me about erotic control. Paint a picture.

Mst. Sybil: When my slave, my lifeís partner, initially stayed over at my house for a weekend we played erotically throughout the first entire day. I was dressed, he was nude most of the time, and of course he had a hard-on that came and went throughout the day and evening. When it came time to go to bed that night he knew what was going to happen: When a man and woman go to bed at the end of a day they have sex, and he was going to cooome! And he was wrooong! [laughter] We had sex. I did some CBT (cock and ball torture). He ate my pussy. [laughter] I came several times, put him in chains, and said, "Good niiight." And the next day we cleaned house. [laughter] We had a great time. Thatís the Royal We.

LW: The Royal We!

Mst. Sybil: Well, Iím somewhat of a Queen Mother, you see. And "we" did clean house. He cleaned, and I told him what to do. [laughter] And then the next night, he thought he would come for sure. Well, I teased and tormented him, he ate my pussy, and Ö good night. That happened the third night, too, and then I sent him home with a hard-on. He learned that just because he had done housework for me he wasnít automatically entitled to come. Now, I wasnít doing this to be capricious or mean. He said at the end of three days he would have done anything for me, and he was certainly very attentive and solicitous. He was also enjoying being in a highly aroused state all the time, as when you donít come as often as the body wants, one of the results can be that you wind up being horny all the time in this very delicious erotic trance. People donít really need to come as often as the body wants. Itís not a biological necessity – you wonít die or explode, I promise! I also donít come as often as my body wants, because I like to store my energy that way, too. I mean, there were many times during that day when he and I were doing housework when I could have come. And as I have learned to orgasm without touching myself – a tantric technique – it is very easy for me to do so any time, any place. But I find it much more satisfying to direct my energy in any of a number of different ways for various purposes. These are only two of the many excellent tools a sexually dominant woman can use to consensually control her man.

There is much to explore in the world of sexuality that we are now just learning or rediscovering: multiple male orgasms, tantric sex, personas, gender play, age play, D/s and SM are just for starters. If society had its way, weíd all be John Wayne and Doris Day – how boring! But weíre not, and it can be hard on us when we pretend we are. We all have sexual secrets. When I worked in nightclubs as a stripper, I used to sit with the men in the audience after my sets and talk with them. They all had their secrets. Sometimes they were very simple secrets, like "I want oral sex" or "I want to have sex with two women at once," but there was always something hidden. Now the secrets I hear are more forbidden and more complex but it is all the same. What I really liked doing back then, and like doing now even more, is providing a safe, knowledgeable place for people to experience and express all of their sexual selves and secrets. Simply giving them permission can be very healing and lots of fun! Thatís what Iím about.

You asked me earlier what tools I now find most important. Iíd like to amend my answer. The tools I now find most important are my mind, my voice, my hands ... and my heart.


Sybil Holiday, aka M. Cybelle, can be reached at (415) 558-9531 for sessions and (415) 863-7326 for counseling, TV transformations, and education. Phone consultations are available as well as consultations in person. She is on the web at and at

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