Spending a night in the dungeon with Castratta Lady of Pain
Published: April 11, 2012
BDSM is in the headlines of late thanks to E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, an out-of-nowhere hit book. Book One is No. 1 on Amazon's top-sellers as of last Friday, with Books Two and Three holding the No. 6 spot and the No. 7 spot, respectively. The New York Times has covered the phenomenon with a Page 1 story and columnist Maureen Dowd's take on the front of the Sunday Review. The story of a college student swept off her feet and into submission by a billionaire entrepreneur has been widely panned as literature, but credited with touching some sort of cultural nerve. It's the most mainstream attention that whips and handcuffs have gotten since Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger played Who's the Boss? in the film 9 1/2 Weeks back in the 1980s. With the film rights to the Fifty Shades series sold off for a reported $5 million, there's big money behind the idea that this pop culture phenomenon hasn't run its course. And where both Fifty Shades — and 9 1/2 Weeks before it — featured women as subs, maybe someday there'll be a hit with a lady dom. Meanwhile, as Travis R. Wright, MT's arts and culture editor found out spending time with one dominatrix and one of her slaves, things can get far darker than what's been described as the "mommy porn" of Fifty Shades. Our dungeon reality check isn't for the faint of heart.
—W. Kim Heron, editor
At a quarter to 9 on a Wednesday night, the dominatrix Castratta Lady of Pain is at home, a couple blocks north of Detroit, awaiting one of her slaves. Snake is a guy in his mid-40s known in Detroit S&M circles as not only willing to receive fistings but unthinkably fond of them. Footings too.
The first time Pain indulged him in the latter, her foot got stuck. Involuntary muscle contractions. No matter how much he'd mentally yearned for this, his body balked. And so it stayed there, her foot, for 25 minutes as they concocted stories for the emergency room staff. They weren't even sure how they'd manage getting into the ambulance. But a trip to the ER was averted with ample time and abundant lube.
Married with kids (she knows, they don't), Snake runs a small family business. On this night, he's running late. Perhaps on purpose, surmises Pain. Checking her cell phone for a possible missed call or text, and the time, she says, "He must really want it rough tonight."
The Lady of Pain maintains a rotating cast of submissives or subs: clients, apprentices and slaves — men and women — each with a unique set of fetishes, limits and personal baggage. Mostly black leather baggage, but sometimes latex.
Clients pay for play time, and when there's money on the table, genital contact — let alone penetration — is verboten. But there are no such boundaries for ever-submissive "slaves" and for "apprentices" who aspire to become doms like Pain herself.
Clients, slaves and apprentices all dutifully follow orders to clean her house, to wash and massage her feet, to fetch her mail and submit to floggings, canings, croppings and whippings. They often dress in fetish formal: black leather masks or collars and leashes, often while restrained and contorted with ropes or cuffs and chains. (The sight of a topless, handcuffed submissive with a ball-gag stuffed in his mouth recently prompted an inquisitive visit from local police.)
Pain said that men in positions of power tend to hire her services: lawyers, doctors, judges, politicians, CEOs — men who want to relinquish control, to become nothing. If they achieve nothingness, even for an hour or two, they feel freed from the great weight of the responsibilities attendant upon their professional and public lives.
With such a high-profile clientele, it's a potentially lucrative business. "I get paid more per hour than my attorney does," Pain says.
Apprentices, she says, are drawn into the lifestyle by the bankroll more so than the bondage. She was. Not that she doesn't say her work is fulfilling. There are both physical (tying knots, where and how to use a flogger) and theatrical (what words and roles work best with specific types of submissives) techniques that must be acquired to successfully administer professional domination.
As for Pain's slaves, some are students and others are successful business people and political types. This relationship hinges on hitting it off with Pain, and sometimes their ability to perform live at fetish events and erotic art shows like the Dirty Show.
Beyond the ultimate shedding of responsibilities, there's something else that the submissives seek, Pain explains. They're after a sensation referred to as subspace, also known as headspace, floating or flying.
Subspace is thought to be caused by the release of adrenaline, endorphins and enkephalins (chemicals that block pain receptors). Whatever the biochemistry, it's what keeps some submissives coming back for more.
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