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This morning I came across a topic that I, as a professional, haven’t encountered in years.
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For many just entering the BDSM scene, it’s still a very near and present reality: Why is BDSM so expensive?
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This question came to me by means of someone who seemed a bit disheartened by the world of pay for play kink.  With a heart longing to serve, he made several references to how he simply hasn’t had a chance to properly explore BDSM because he didn’t have the desire to pay the asking price for a Mistress’ time.
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I can totally understand how this would be disheartening to someone just getting started. You want to play with someone experienced, who has all the dungeon toys and trinkets, the outfits and the desire – a professional seems like an obvious place to start. With many pros also taking slaves into their personal lives, it can be frustrating to be on the outside looking in; often leading to the cringe worthy question – is it all about money to professional Dominants?
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Obviously, a question like that comes from frustration and a bit of inexperience. While I may always feel a slight bit insulted to hear it, the obvious and resounding answer is No – no it’s not all about the money. While the rates for a Pro Domme might be higher then many would want to pay, there’s a reason behind it. But really, the world of BDSM is so vast, that it’d be like going to a mega mall and entering through Neiman Marcus. Sure everything there is expensive, and if you don’t venture beyond the store – you’ll easily feel like the amount of fun you can have is immediately limited to the size of your pocketbook – the trick is going out and exploring other stores. There’s a whole lifestyle scene out there, Seattle is massive, even boasting its own kink themed club The CSPC, and that’s before we mention the big online connective communities (fetlife.com and collarme.com)
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But back to the question, why is professional BDSM so expensive?
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The thing about a Pro Domme or Dungeon is that there are clear and defined expectations one has when visiting someone like us, namely a nice place, with all the equipment to fulfill a variety of scenes, the clothes to match, the skill to wield implements, a creative mind, the time to plan things out and the products necessary to keep things sanitary. Sure, it sounds like a lot, but does that really justify the price?
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Just for fun and the sake of science, I broke down what REALLY goes in to a dungeon, so if you ever wonder why a Mistress/Master charges upwards of $200/hr, you’ll know that only a fraction of that is going towards their actual bank account.
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Personally, the mortgage to my play space is roughly $1300/mth + $250 utilities, before I bought my home, I was paying an extra $500 a month to rent. Then we have equipment, toys and tools – expect between $5k-$150k+.  Replacing items that break (varied), medical grade cleaning supplies ($75/mth), advertisements ($0-$800/mth), make up and beauty treatments to maintain a polished appearance ($350 mth), a separate phone line ($150/mth), a constant rotation of new music ($50/mth), photo shoots ($200-$1000each) a separate phone, computer and iPod just for the dungeon ($2k total). This is just for starters, I have not even begun to factor in the cost of traveling to conventions, seminars and kink classes; a business license ($200/yr + quarterly state tax), related insurances, lawyer on retainer ($2000), an accountant/bookkeeper ($500-$1500/yr) and federal taxes (20%).
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All of that is before we’ve carved out a single penny on income for ourselves or put away a dime for retirement (none of us do this until we’re 65) or a rainy day.
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I share that that not shock anyone, but to shed light on the misconception that your entire tribute goes to the back pocket of whatever Mistress you’re seeing or that for any of us, it’s ‘all about the money’. If you want to make a quick buck, BDSM is not a good place to start. This is one profession where you have to make a massive investment before you can take your first client – there’s also no guarantee of steady pay, your entire income is dependent on the whims of the people who see you.
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You have to be pretty passionate about things if you want this to be your path in life, but for all of those scary uncertainties, most of us wouldn’t trade our profession for anything in the world, myself included.
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If you want the Professional Dominatrix experience, you simply have to accept the fact that her rate corresponds to what she’s offering in her unique set up and level of experience – it just goes with the territory.
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That aside, there’s hope!
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Like I mentioned, starting with the professional side of things and letting yourself imagine that ALL bdsm is just for people who have 6 figure incomes, really sells the community as a whole a bit short. In every major city, there’s a local community – Seattle has Strict Machine (at The Mercury) and The CSPC. There’s also a world of online forums, the biggest of which is fetlife.com and plenty of online chat rooms, social groups, munchies, parties and just about everything under the sun. Kink is popular, you just have to dig a bit.
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When you look at a blank map wondering were all the kinky people are, just remember that only professionals advertise. The rest you have to look for 😉