You don’t necessarily wake up one day with the thought: ‘I’m going to bring a bondage slave into my apartment.’
Becoming a dom isn’t something I’d ever fantasised about. BDSM, even in its more vanilla interpretations, hadn’t featured in any of my sexual relationships.
But I was at an uncomfortable crossroads in another part of my life. Living abroad, my boyfriend - who I’d met there, shared a house with for a year and a half and loved intensely – had suddenly moved back to rural America and I was trying to make the tough decision whether to follow him and risk ending my career, or dive back into the London fray, chase jobs and surrender that relationship.
I wasn’t looking for punishment, nor to vent my frustration through sadism. At least not consciously. But it’s probably true that the aura of uncertainty hanging in the air made me more open to risk-taking and wild conduct. Moments of escapism that allowed me to distract myself or snatch at control. I moved in with a lady DJ with a reputation for deliciously uncivilised behaviour. I adapted myself to her topsy turvy body clock, despite my 9 to 5, so that I could hang out at her parties and never have any alone time. And when she received a DM with the most indecent of proposals from a self-titled ‘gimp’ in search of a couple of ‘goddesses’ to torment him on the regular, I didn’t dismiss it out of hand.
Giggling and swigging from a bottle of Patrón, we negotiated terms and rates. He was to pay us handsomely for the privilege of our ‘abuse’, so technically we were to be in his employment and, pending a trial run, he would come to our house three days a week and do anything we told him to. I felt thrillingly unnerved; this isn’t something I would ever have considered on my own, but fuelled by curiosity and camaraderie (and tequila), I was game to venture down the rabbit hole. At least it would make a good story.
I’m not sure it actually sank in until he turned up. An investment banker and family man by day, he was looking for a precious few hours a week to subvert his routine and live out a totally different fantasy. He arrived at our door in chinos and a striped shirt, excused himself to the bathroom to get changed, and re-emerged in just a small pair of black pants and a leather mask. I gawped at his dad bod, while my more termagant flatmate commanded him to his knees, smacked him around the face and demanded he kiss her feet.
And so it began. The DJ took to it like a duck to water, which I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by. Previously having worked in a feminist sex shop, she had a Mary Poppins bag that endlessly yielded toys, leathers and latex, which we delighted in trying on. She brandished a real cat o’ nine tails, where I preferred the poking properties of a plastic, retractable light sabre, aware that I was the stooge to her vixen. It was weirdly liberating for a thing that involved manacles and duress.
There was no sexual gratification on our part but we gave him lots to bank for his. Plus, there was plenty in it for the two of us. We got to boss him about; we spoke to him like he was a dog. He did the dishes and the laundry. I once poured an entire McDonald’s milkshake on the floor and made him lick it back up. Eventually we fired our cleaner as there was so little left for her to do.
It started with gentle berating. ‘B**ch Boy’ was the appellation of choice for a while. And one that I was comfortable enough to use, seeing it more through the lens of comedy than degradation. The DJ began taking things from ‘worthless worm’ through to more mortifying humiliations. Gentle slaps turned into high heels all-but piercing his cheek as she had him supine on the living room floor. I winced, wondering what might have gone on in his life to make him crave this kind of treatment, aware that this isn’t necessarily how BDSM works, but unable to push the thought from my head.
We eventually began scoping out the particular leanings of his appetite, and discovered a few of his limits. Remarkably, he was happiest doing the housework, subservience being his bent. He enjoyed the name calling and the gentler smacks and hair pulling, but he didn’t harbour a taste for the most violent of my housemate’s physical assaults. She once pulled out a paintball gun (who knows where from) and he broke character to tell her, definitively, ‘no.’
A trial turned into weeks and the weeks into months. And as it did, the dynamic continued to shift. Keeping the gimp a secret didn’t bother me, in fact that was part of the thrill, but I could feel myself pulling back from the activities themselves. It was tiring to continue role playing without particular pleasure and I began to resent the strange character in my house, acting like he needed me desperately. He became another burdensome choice I had to make.
But my flatmate continued to love it. She revelled in the power. I once came home to find her riding him around the living room like a toy horse, geeing him on with her stilettos while barking at him to pick up her strategically strewn underwear with his teeth. I think that was probably the moment I realised I was no longer required in this scenario. I’d likely been a third wheel from the start.
Eventually, I’ve come to realise that I am ready to bite the bullet and move back to London, bid farewell to the boyfriend, burning the candle at both ends and bondage slaves, in one fell swoop.
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