Taking Power: An Interview with Bianca

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An Interview with Bianca
Copyright © 1992 David Steinberg

[Bianca works as a professional dominant in New York City.]

DAVID: What do you try to do when you run a scene?

BIANCA: I try to find out where the other person is at, what level they're at. People have all sorts of different kinds of things that they want, and they don't always know what it is they really want at all. Sometimes they say, "I want a really heavy session; I can take a lot," but they really just want your full attention, not necessarily to be whipped or spanked a lot. That's what they mean, but you might not know that from what they say. You might think they want to be humiliated. So the first thing is to be able to read them, to find out what they want, and then to just hang out with them on whatever level they're at. When you really start connecting, when you get a sense of the other person, you feel like you're right there with them, and that feels really wonderful. On the other hand, there are times when I just can't be with a particular person in that way, when I can't really connect with them. Then I just try to get through the session, that's all I can do.

DAVID: Does that have to do with who the person is, or is it a question of your frame of mind?

BIANCA: Usually it has to do with something about the person that's disturbing m they want me to be. For me doing a session is mostly a fantasy, the fantasy that I can be what they want. If I can't then maybe they need to try somebody else.

DAVID: What is it about another person that might be disturbing to you?

BIANCA: If I think they have a hatred for women. Or that they do things in their real life that are aggressive or abusive to women and so they've come to see a mistress for punishment. Or if they have been heavily abused as children and this is the only way they know how to feel anything. Sometimes I feel that, and then I want to show them a different way, a different way to work through the pain, to show them that they don't have to repeat the pain over and over again in order to feel something. But it's not my place to do that; I'm not a therapist. I might say to them, "You might want to look at this," and they could either do that or not.

DAVID: Do you actually say that to people?

BIANCA: If I feel they're open to it. Some people are so defensive. Their attitude is that they're doing fine without your advice. So it depends. It's like any person that you run into: you don't always tell them what you're thinking. But if I feel they would be open to it, I will.

DAVID: Do you feel that s/m sessions are therapeutic?

BIANCA: No, I feel they're just fun, something that they're giving to themselves. Maybe they can't do this anywhere else, so it's like a gift they can give themselves.

DAVID: Is there something you're trying to accomplish in a session? What makes a good session good?

BIANCA: When I feel like I really connect. When they let me in to some place that's vulnerable, vulnerable and private. Most of the time they can't do this at home with their wives or girlfriends. I get the feeling that for most people this is the only time they get to do S&M. So there's something really special about that. There are not very many times in my life when I feel really connected with somebody, and if they let me in to a really special place that they don't let very many people go, and that I don't go that often, then it's all that much more... sacred.

DAVID: Do you have to push to get into those places with people? How do you do that?

BIANCA: Yes, I do push to get in there. I just don't give up until I find out where it is they're taking me. They take me there.

I do a lot of it through touch. It depends on the person. People communicate differently. Some people are visual -- they can describe something to you by telling you what they're seeing. Sometimes you know a person is a visual person just by the way they looking at you. Other people are more verbal -- they talk, they talk a lot, and you can tell they're going to keep on talking. Or there are touch people -- people you can know by the way they touch you, or the sounds they make when you touch them. Some people are all three.

DAVID: Is it a resistance that you push through?

BIANCA: It's not so much a resistance. The word that comes to my mind is fear. A lot of people are self-conscious or fearful or unsure. They don't feel safe at first. They know they want to do this, but they don't know if they can trust you. They don't know if you're going to do something strange. Maybe they're thinking I might hurt them. So sometimes it's hard for them to let their guard down, to get vulnerable. But the only way they're going to enjoy the session is if they open up. They're not going to enjoy it if they're afraid of getting vulnerable. That's where you have to be persistent -- just stay there with them, don't back off. Just keep trying to get in. I let them know that I'm not going to go away, I'm going to stay right there with them until they open up. Part of it is letting them know that this time is just for them, and that it will be good for them if they let it happen.

DAVID: How do you decide, specifically, what to do?

BIANCA: It's about 90% intuitive. I mean, I have certain things that I can always do, but this work is the most spontaneous thing I've ever done. You can't know ahead of time. I might have an idea when I meet somebody as to what they might like or not like. But they're really in control, not me, so I can't really have an agenda. If I just do what I want to do, we're not going to be connected and it's not going to affect them in any meaningful way.

DAVID: So the skill is being able to read what they want.

BIANCA: I try to get them to tell me. If they can just tell me, we can go many places right away. But most people can't tell you because they're not sure themselves, or they're embarrassed. There's so much shame and taboo about S&M -- people wondering, "Am I weird?" or "Is she going to think this is really strange or that there's something wrong with me?" You have to find a way to break through all that. They may still feel unsure or embarrassed, but they also start to feel ok, once they see that I'm not there to judge them. I don't judge them at all; I'm just being there with them.

DAVID: Where do you begin?

BIANCA: Usually I'll just do something and I'll say, "Do you like that?" Lots of times you can tell whether they like it or not without asking. So some of it's verbal and some of it's just an understanding, body language.

DAVID: Will they say specifically what they want -- I want to be tied up, I want pain, I want to be whipped, I want to be humiliated...

BIANCA: A lot of people will say something, but often it's not what they really want. You'll realize about a third of the way into the session that something is off; it's just not happening. That's when you have to look for other clues about what they really want, maybe in the way they respond to something you do. So you take that clue and start going in that direction, doing more of what they respond to, maybe talking more.

DAVID: So a session might end up being quite different from what the person walks in thinking they want.

BIANCA: It depends on who you're dealing with. If it's somebody who's had a lot of experience, they'll pretty much know what they want. But a lot of my experience has been with people who haven't had a lot of experience. I don't know exactly why that is. When I was working in New York, we would go in one at a time and introduce ourselves, and the clients would pick who they wanted. And most of the men who picked me, it was the first or second time they had ever been with a mistress, with a dominant. I seem to get a lot of novices, people who don't really know what they want.

I had a few people who knew exactly what they wanted, but those sessions were really boring because they seemed to be doing everything by habit. It didn't matter that it was me who was there; it could have been anyone. They would bring all their stuff. I remember one guy who brought all his fiancée's clothes. He wanted to be tied up with her clothes on, and then he had her shoe and he wanted -- he had it down to a tee -- he wanted masking tape around his wrist and on his mouth, he wanted to be completely sensory deprived. And the last thing was her shoe, taped over his mouth. And then he wanted me to whip him. It was all so routine, like he'd done it a million times. I asked him, "Why did you pick me?" because I didn't feel like I had done much at all, although he seemed thoroughly satisfied. And he said, "Oh, because you're pretty," and that was it.

DAVID: How would you introduce yourself to clients? Would you just say your name, or talk about what you do, or what?

BIANCA: Usually I'd walk in, say my name, and start by asking what their fantasy was. Sort of get a feeling for them, which is what they were doing with me too.

DAVID: Can you think of an example of a client who thought he wanted one thing when he really wanted something else?

BIANCA: Well, I remember one guy who kept saying he wanted it really heavy. He kept saying, "I can take it really heavy, I want a really heavy session, I want it really hard." He wanted to be suspended; he picked out the whip he wanted me to use. But when I started hitting him, he kept tensing up and I knew that he wasn't enjoying it. I could tell from his sounds and from the way he kept getting more and more tense. So I started tickling him and doing other things with touch, and he started to relax. Then I took him down from the suspension because I realized that was only making him uncomfortable, hanging like that. So I tied him up to the bed instead -- not really a bed, kind of a couch -- and I just did a lot of touching. I tickled him with the whip, using just the end, and I teased him until he was really hard. Then I brought in another mistress -- he was all tied up so he couldn't move at all -- and she and I had sex with each other in front of him. He came, just watching, while we were still teasing him.

He just wanted to be deprived. He wanted to feel like he was completely out of control, like there was nothing he could do. He was restrained, he was being teased, he couldn't assert his masculinity in any way. He was helpless. And then he had to watch us, and he came. I think I untied one hand and let him masturbate, but that was it -- he couldn't touch us. If he tried to touch us we would tie him up again, so after a while he stopped trying. And I remember him saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," and he came back to see me a few times and we did other stuff.

I could tell that he was a top in his personal life -- with his wife or his fiancée or whoever his partner was -- because it was hard for him to give up control. It wasn't really that he wanted to be in control; it was like he felt he had to be, like he had some idea that that was who he was supposed to be. But I could tell that he didn't want to just be hit over and over again. I think that felt like punishment to him. I never really asked him about that, but I could just tell he wasn't enjoying it. But once he was all tied up and couldn't do anything, he started to relax. I mean, he couldn't do anything, even if he had wanted to, so with that pressure gone it was like he could say, "Well, I can't do anything so I might as well just lie here." Then he could just relax and start responding to what I was doing.

DAVID: Were you thinking, specifically, that this guy needs to be put in a situation where he's no longer in control?

BIANCA: I had no way of knowing that from what he said at the beginning, but I became more aware of that as the session went on. It was when I was doing exactly what he had said he wanted and I could see that he wasn't responding or enjoying it. He kept saying, "Ow! Don't hit me so hard," and I wasn't hitting him all that hard anyway. So he really gave me lots of clues.

DAVID: Could you say something about your training, about how you were taught to be a dominant?

BIANCA: Well, the way I was trained was to sit in on a lot of sessions run by mistresses who had worked for a long time. I guess the most significant thing about the training was that I realized that everybody worked differently. Everyone had a different style, and it had to do with who you were, the essence of who you were. There's a stereotype of what a dominatrix is, but I got to see was that everyone was different.

Some people were really harsh. They were into humiliation and no matter what a client said, humiliation was what they were going to do. Some clients wanted that, no matter what they said they wanted. They needed someone who wouldn't have compassion or empathy for them. They needed someone who would say, "You want this, you know you want this, and you will get this!" And that was fine; those mistresses had throngs of clients who would come to see them because they knew they were that way.

Others were different. There was one mistress who had a whole psycho trip she would lay on people, like she was going to kill them or something. A session with her was this whole wild adventure. She would say, "No one will know if something happens to you. Nobody knows you're here now, do they?" She would tell them how their wives didn't know where they were and how they were going to find them there. And the clients would be so scared! She had a knife she would wave around. Even I started to believe her -- like, oh my god, she's goi ng to slit his throat! But it was just part of the game, and then she'd laugh.

DAVID: How long was your training?

BIANCA: Not that long, maybe a couple of weeks. They kept asking me if I felt comfortable, if I was ready for them to start mentioning me on the phone when clients would call, if I was ready to begin introducing myself to clients who came in. And I got to say yes or no.

I remember everybody being really excited for me my first time. They were all waiting outside the door. I think it was the guy with the shoe because I remember walking out and everybody saying, "How's it going?" and saying, "Great." Everybody was encouraging me, saying, "He's really easy, he knows exactly what he wants so don't worry about it."

I was afraid, the first few times, that the men would turn the session around, turn me into a submissive. That was my biggest fear. I remember wondering if they could do that, and thinking "what if they tie me up instead?" I really had to start trusting myself -- that I'm powerful, that I know what I'm doing, that no one can dominate me, no one. I knew that if there was a dangerous situation -- some psycho or something -- I had plenty of power to deal with it, that I wasn't there alone. But the power issue is much more subtle than that, how someone can turn the tables, and that's what I was afraid of. And it did start to happen a few times. The guy would say, "You don't seem like you're very dominant," or something like that. Maybe it was because I wasn't like the mistress who was so tough. I wasn't real forceful. I was a lot more sensual than most of the other women there, a lot more benevolent actually, but no less powerful and no less dominant.

DAVID: Did you feel benevolent toward the clients?

BIANCA: Yeah, I loved them. I loved what I did. I wasn't personally involved with every client, but once you get that close to somebody -- once somebody lets you in and lets you see what's going on with them, once they take you to some place you know they don't take anyone else -- you start to feel empathetic with them. You feel like you understand them. I trusted them and they trusted me, so it was a special relationship in that way. And I knew they were coming back to see me, and they would bring me presents -- they were really appreciative. They not only paid me well for what I did but they would bring me extra presents and just let me know how much they liked what I did with them.

DAVID: So it's a real relationship, in a way.

BIANCA: Yes, in a way it is. I mean it's a professional relationship and it never went beyond that, but it was a relationship. So that also affected me in my personal life. I had never let people get to me like that, especially men. I was always the person who took care of my boyfriends, financially. I would pick up these guys I felt sorry for. Well, it wasn't that I felt sorry for them, it was that I didn't feel worth it, to have someone giving me attention, or paying for my dinner. It was subtle. You wouldn't look at me and say, "Oh there's a girl with no confidence." I looked like someone who should have confidence. I'm tall, attractive, but I didn't feel it and that showed. I even walked slumped over a little and my voice was almost a monotone. I sounded like I was asleep.

All of that started changing when I started doing this work. I broke up with my boyfriend. Eventually I moved out here and got completely away from the whole oppressive life I was living. And I know that starting to work as a dominant was a watershed for me. Because if you can do something, even in fantasy, you can translate that to reality. It was a visualization of being powerful that I acted out, over and over and over again, and I got rewarded for it. So I slowly started to feel that I deserved more. When I was in the dominant role I drew on a part of me that I never knew was there -- dominant, powerful, in control, assertive, aggressive, not afraid to be sexually uninhibited, not afraid to let a man worship my body, kiss my feet, lick my boots.

Even the costuming was powerful for me. I was fascinated with that before anything else about S&M -- the way the women dress. It's a combination of Catwoman and Batwoman and Elvira. It conjures up images of women who are dark, powerful, mysterious, exotic, beautiful, and very much in control -- women who deserve, who have power, who are very much able to stand on their own, by themselves. And that's something that I didn't have when I was working as a waitress. Then I was really a subservient person in every way. Being a dominatrix you're still subservient in a way, but it's about true giving and serving, not making yourself less than someone else or being disrespected.

So I evolved right along with the sessions. I started to tap into something that had been there all along but that was dormant in me, something I didn't know existed. The first session I did that was successful surprised me more than anything. I was so happy. I felt so alive, so clear that this was something I had been missing, something I had wanted for a long time: to be in control of what was happening, to know that I could do that. I had always been ready for someone else to lead me, to show me. Now I was showing other people what was possible, and they trusted me enough to let me do it. I was taking the lead, and that made all the difference.

DAVID: So it was empowering to you to be doing this work?

BIANCA: Yes. I never had the stereotypical notion that S&M is violent, that S&M is weird or sick. I run into those stereotypes now, in other people. If I tell them I do S&M they go, "Oh, really?" like it's something awful, and I have a hard time explaining to them what S&M really is. Unless you're in it -- unless you're doing it, experiencing it -- it's like... Well, you know, the stained glass windows in a church -- from the outside they don't look the same, but once you're inside, you look out and they're beautiful. But you can't know that unless you go in. So it's hard for me to explain to someone on the outside what I really do. Of course it's not violent, but all they see is someone being whipped and it's hard to explain that it's pain and pleasure both, that it's transcendent, that you don't just stay there with the pain, that you go beyond it at some point. I still get hung up trying to explain to people, because it looks so different from the outside from what it is.

DAVID: What would you say s/m really is about?

BIANCA: For me it's about fantasy, and it's about transcending just having sex. It's about sex, but it's not about sex as intercourse. I would never ever have sex with a client in a session. A lot of men wanted to have sex. They would come in thinking that the only way they were going to satisfy themselves was if they could fuck me. And that's not what it's all about. If they can let themselves transcend that penis consciousness or whatever it is, they can really have a good time. They can find out about other parts of themselves. If they have to, they can masturbate. Sometimes they would start saying, "Please, please let me, please just let me," and then, "Well, at least let me masturbate." And I would let them because I guess it's important to some of them that they get that kind of release, and also because it's one earmark of when a session is over. Ok, you came, see you next week.

DAVID: Isn't a session sexual in some way?

BIANCA: I think it is sexual, but not sexual in the way most people think. It's a different dimension of sex. It's like S&M takes 100% of your mind and maybe 5% of your dick. If you open yourself up to it, it will take you someplace. Where you go is a personal thing, whereas straight intercourse... well, that's a personal thing too, but not as much as S&M.

DAVID: Has doing this work affected your attitude about sex in general?

BIANCA: Oh yeah. What I settled for before, as sex, is nowhere near what I want now. Before, sex was fun because it felt good, but there wasn't much imagination involved, for me. And I was so inhibited that I wouldn't really let myself go. I was so worried about how I looked, I didn't want to make a lot of noise, and it was mostly for his pleasure, not mine. I was really shut down. I didn't even start masturbating until maybe three years ago. So when I started realizing that there are all these other dimensions, that there are my fantasies and his fantasies, and there's being with clothes and without clothes, and there's what is he like, what is he thinking about? -- to me it was just a whole new world.

Being a dominant changed everything. It opened me up. A lot of it was that I had been really shut down and inhibited because I didn't know myself. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know what I liked and what I didn't like. Nobody had ever really asked me. Once I started doing that work on a daily basis, that's what I was thinking about, for my clients. What do they want? What do they like? What sorts of fantasies do they have?

So I started asking myself those questions. Before this, I had never realized that I had my own fantasies. I was living with a guy who was 6-2 or 6-3, not fat but a really big guy -- Harley Davidson, long hair -- and I started dominating him, just like that. He didn't know what to do with me. I made him crawl through the bedroom door with money in his mouth, just because I knew he really needed to feel grateful for what he was about to get. He didn't know what was going on, but he liked it.

DAVID: You just started topping him?

BIANCA: Yeah, I just started doing it. I started being the way I was at work when I was home. He was very against me doing the work in the first place. That was a big hurdle for me to get over -- that I was going to do it anyway. I knew it was going to cause a lot of problems for us. But once I started doing it and liking it, what was he going to do? He could throw me out, he could tell me he didn't want to be with me, but I knew that he wanted me to be happy. I knew that it bothered him, but I also knew that he saw how much it was something I needed to do.

I never thought I could dominate him, ever. He was so dominant with me. But I had him tied up so fast! I just took over. It started with just saying no: No; no is a complete sentence; no, period. It was me saying no and then me just being more assertive in general. Like I said, I'm 5 foot 11 but I had the presence of a person who was very small. I kept my needs very small, everything. Then I just started expanding, feeling more solid in my body, not so malleable. And people responded to that. They responded to it in the sessions quite well. And I could see that people were also responding to me differently in everyday life. I started trusting the world more. I didn't have so much fear. There was a direct link between that and S&M. S&M was an arena in which I could become my personal fantasy, where I saw how powerful I could be. And then I saw that I could be like that in my real life, too -- it didn't have to be for just an hour at a time. I realized that I could take care of myself, that it was in fact a lot more pleasurable to be able to take care of myself.

DAVID: Was all your work with men?

BIANCA: That's the way it worked out, except for the times when I would work with another mistress. I've never dominated a woman. I was kind of disappointed, but there weren't that many women that came in, and I just didn't had the opportunity to play with any of them. I'd still like to do that sometime.

DAVID: What would you say you've learned about men and their sexuality from doing this work?

BIANCA: I guess the main thing that strikes me is how lonely people are. I see these men come in and they're obviously coming from work -- they still have their suits on and their ties and their briefcases. I used to think that people who looked like that were people who had it all together, who had beautiful homes, beautiful wives and kids, who drove around in their BMW's and were happy all the time. And, god, they were so lonely. They had nobody to talk to, it seemed. They would say that: "I don't have anybody I can talk to about this." Lots of times they'd think there was something terribly wrong with them. They'd say, "You probably think I'm really strange." And I'd say, "No, you'd probably be surprised to know how many other people say exactly what you're saying."

DAVID: You would tell them that?

BIANCA: Yeah, but sometimes they didn't want to hear that either because they wanted to feel special. I could tell that they were thinking, "Don't put me in with all those other guys." So I'd have to be careful about the way I'd let them know that they weren't strange or unusual. I was struck by how many people had everything that you thought would make them happy, but they're not. And how many people married women who are so shut down that the men can't talk to them, at least about their sexuality and their fantasies -- maybe about other things as well. Maybe they just married these women because they looked like part of the life picture they wanted to create. It didn't seem that they had much in common.

DAVID: Do you think these men had good sex with their wives, except for the S/M fantasies that they couldn't do with them? Or were their sex lives unsatisfying altogether?

BIANCA: I think they have sex lives that are habitual sex, that they do the same things all the time. And they think, "If I start telling her about this other stuff, she'd probably divorce me, or she wouldn't let me be around the kids." They were really afraid of what was inside of them. I'm sure that if they could just talk about it, it would be fine, it would make their lives a lot happier. I don't know why they couldn't talk about it. Maybe it made it more exciting to keep it as their secret, that they came to somebody else. Plus there was no emotional attachment. They paid me and that was it. They didn't need to feel responsible for my feelings, like they would with their wives. I think that made it easier for them, that there wasn't any responsibility. This was time just for them. We could talk about whatever they wanted. Most of the men I saw had really high-pressure jobs, and here they could just chatter if they wanted.

DAVID: Would they talk about their lives?

BIANCA: I'd usually ask them about their lives because I was curious, and then they would. They'd talk about their wives like, "She's a really good woman." They'd always say that. "Pam, she's so good, you wouldn't believe it. I have no problem with her. I have no complaint about Pam. She's fine. She's perfect. It's me. I don't know what it is. I'm terrible." And the children were even better than the wife. They were beyond perfection, probably saints by now. It was very obvious that they were feeling really guilty about what they were doing, but they weren't going to stop doing it just because of that. Maybe that made it more exciting. I always expected them to complain, to say, "My wife she just won't _________," but they would never say that. They'd say, "I'm so weird. I just wish I didn't have to have this part of me. I wish I could just be happy, but I can't, and you're so nice...." They'd always say, "You're so nice."

So I would try to make them feel better about what they were doing. I'd say, "Wouldn't it be nice if you could do this at home," or "Did you ever try asking your wife if she would do this?" Most of the time they weren't interested in that. They would rather keep it between us in these nice little segments of time, and then go back to their lives on Long Island and deal with what they were comfortable with.

I had to accept that I wasn't going to change these people. I had to realize that this wasn't therapy. there was one guy who I got to go to therapy with his wife, and that felt really good because he was starting to become very attached to me, almost using me as a therapist. In retrospect, I realize he was probably going through midlife crisis, which is another thing: A lot of the men are at that age where they're feeling that they haven't done anything with their lives. They feel like they've worked really hard and never given themselves anything, that they're getting older and they're missing something.

There's a lot of that at the theatre. A lot of times they just want to sit and talk to you and kind of rub your arm and stuff. They say, "This feels like high school." There's a certain innocence. I might be rubbing around on their laps, making them hard, but we're not having sex "per se" and that probably makes a big difference to them. It's like making out and watching the girls. I think it brings them back to a time in their lives when more things were possible. Now they're so rooted with families and responsibilities. They could up and leave their wives but they're not ready for that. They still want to be able to go back home.

Doing S&M was like that too, but those men were definitely more adventurous than the ones who come into the theatre. They had much more desire to go out to the edge. Just finding out about an S&M house in New York is not easy. There's no advertising or anything, so they had to do some work to get there. By the time they got to me I knew that they were really wanting something.

A lot of men come into the theatre with an attitude like "I'm a really horny guy. I'm a horny guy and I want to look at girls, girls, girls. And most of the time they just sit in their chairs like deer caught in the headlights. They're so scared, and all they really want is talk to someone, be touched, have attention, feel like they're ok and that they can sit with any girl they want. Although sometimes they'll have to reject you a few times, have to feel really ok with you, before they'll let you sit with them. They're not going to say, "Sit with me! Sit with me!" They've got to settle in. They don't want to look at each other. They'll barely look at me, and if it's their first time, they're probably not going to sit with anybody; they're just going to check everything out. They feel like they're doing something really wrong.

As long as our society keeps sex in that way -- dark and scary and shameful -- then places like this are always going to be around. I think it's a sign of our times, of where we are about our sexuality. I mean, what we do there is so limited and innocent. It's certainly no Amsterdam, where sex is legal and it's no big deal. And this is even more true about S&M because most people think that S&M is weird anyway, especially because the women are the ones in control. You go to some woman to have her dominate you, and then you think what the hell's wrong with you for wanting that.

DAVID: Do you think most of the people who came to see you were unhappy, were a pathetic bunch of losers?

BIANCA: No, not a pathetic bunch of losers. It's sad, because they are unhappy in a certain part of their sexuality. I don't think that these were men who were unhappy with all of their lives. But there was a lot of shame around going to an S&M house, around having this one weird thing.

DAVID: Well, anybody who has forbidden fantasies has an issue to deal with that other people don't have. It's like being gay. You know you're outside the range that's considered "normal," so it's hard to feel ok about yourself.

BIANCA: Right, because they could never tell anyone about themselves. I would ask them, "Does anybody know about this side of you?" and they'd say, "No, I can't tell anybody, just you." So they'd have to check to see if I was ok. They'd say, "You're not the kind of person I thought I'd find here. You look ok. What are you doing here? Why are you doing this?" And I knew they were asking that because they needed to know that I wasn't crazy.

DAVID: They thought they'd find some sleazy character.

BIANCA: Right. They were surprised that I wasn't sleazy. They would pick me because I wasn't sleazy. And once they got to know me they would almost make me part of their family. They'd want to include me in their life in some way to make it ok that they were doing this. A lot of the women I worked with had clients who felt the same way about them. I think the client always has to feel that you're a special person, that you're not weird. Quite a few, at least. And quite a few of the women had clients who would call if they were in trouble, if they needed money, if they needed something.

I got the feeling that these men needed to feel that I would be there, that I was a real part of their lives. I remember one of the girls needed some money because she was getting evicted and she said, "I'm just going to call Nick and he'll help me, he'll take care of it." And he did. I don't think he would do that if he thought she was some sleazy character. I guess you become almost like a girlfriend. I felt like that. Not a second wife, but more like a girlfriend. Not that they were going to invite me to spend the day with their children or anything, but they would talk about their kids going to college, that sort of thing.

DAVID: Were you comfortable being in that sort of relationship with clients?

BIANCA: I had to learn to put some distance between us because it bothered me when I felt I was getting too close to them. There's a professional boundary that I realized I had to keep, just for me to feel ok about what I was doing. It doesn't have to be strictly professional, like cold. It doesn't have to be that cut and dried. But I do have to watch it because I'm sensitive and I open up my heart, and I can only do that with clients to a certain degree. I have to be really clear about where the limit is or I start to get nervous.

DAVID: Where is that line for you? Where do you let yourself go with a client, and not let yourself go?

BIANCA: Some of them wanted to see me outside of work, outside of the dungeon, to take me out to dinner and stuff. Being in the outside world with them felt different to me, and I didn't like it. It was letting them into my personal life too much. Ideally I like to be a fantasy person for them. I can become whoever they want me to be, so it's sort of impersonal. I don't tell them a lot about me. They can tell me about themselves, and we have fun for the time we're together, and then they leave. That way I don't feel that I've given more than I want, and I don't feel that they've taken anything from me.

DAVID: Can you say something about you got into being a dominant?

BIANCA: Well, my boyfriend was the doorman at The Vault [a public S/M club in New York], so I started going there and eventually I started to meet people that worked there. I was curious about the club -- I would go downstairs and hang out. They have a juice bar and since I don't drink, I felt really comfortable there. It wasn't a place for people to get drunk; it was a place for people to act out their fantasies.

There were all these characters there. There was one guy who had made handcuffs out of tuna fish cans and a burlap bag. He would chain himself to a bar stool and want everybody who walked by to kick him. He would come in wearing really expensive clothes, and he would check all his clothes with the coat check person and pull out those burlap bags. So you'd walk by and kick him and he would yell, make a lot of noise. Some people really kicked him hard. I'd get mad at the people who did that but then I realized that he liked it. The harder you kicked him, the more you stepped on him, the more he liked it. And he was there every week.

There were tons and tons of transvestites who were doing S&M to make money for their operations. And there were the professional mistresses who had five or sex slaves, and they'd be doing them all at the same time. I mean, think about it. They were really quite amazing. They'd have them all on leashes, these dedicated slaves. I have a lot of respect for those women. They were usually older and had been doing S&M for a long time. They knew how to do several people at one time. They knew exactly what to do. And it's hard, giving that much attention, divided up like that.

I was working as a cocktail waitress, working at the Marriott in Times Square. I'd have to wear really high-heeled shoes and the floors were marble. Talk about sadistic! That was awful. And I had to carry around these trays and wear this horrible gown outfit with a big slit up the thigh, and I'd have guys looking at me all night and touching me, being really gross. And then I'd get to The Vault and there would be all these men that would just want to massage my feet. I was in heaven. It would start like that and then, while they were massaging my feet, all these other men would just want to watch. There were all kinds of things going on. It was like being in an amusement park. It was really fun.

So I got to know all the people. I got to know the guy who made all the leather bondage equipment. He'd sell his stuff there. He would dream up all these inventions and make them. I knew a little about making leather stuff, but not as much as this guy, so he let me apprentice with him.

He knew a lot of people in the scene and he started encouraging me to become a dominant. Guys started asking me if I was a mistress, and I would say, "Well no," and they'd say, "Well, if you're ever interested...." They'd give me their cards, like "Slave, here to please!" So this guy told me about places around town, and he introduced me to Belle de Jour, and that's where I started working.

DAVID: Was it a difficult step to take?

BIANCA: Yeah. I knew I was stepping into something big. I remember that it took me a long time to call her. I was sick of my life and I wanted a change, but I didn't know it was going to have the impact on me that it had. Sometimes you feel a strange attraction to something, and you trust that feeling even though everything else is telling you not to. You just do it. That's kind of the way it was. I trusted the feeling that if I called her and started working there, it would be ok. So I quite my job and started doing what I really wanted to do. And my life just changed for the better. I became part of a group of people that, on the one hand, were outcasts, but on the other hand were so much happier because they were free in a way that most people aren't.

[The interview was originally published in Spectator Magazine (see www.spectator.net). Three books by David Steinberg -- "Photo Sex," "Erotic by Nature: A Celebration of Life, of Love, and of Our Wonderful Bodies," and "The Erotic Impulse: Honoring the Sensual Self," are available from David by mail order at eronat@aol.com. If you would like to receive Comes Naturally columns, and other writing by David Steinberg, regularly via email, send your name and email address to David at eronat@aol.com. Columns are sent as blind carbon copies, meaning that no one will have access to your name or email address.]

David Steinberg
P.O. Box 2992
Santa Cruz, CA 95063
(831) 426-7082
(831) 425-8825 (FAX)

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