Occasionally I’ll find articles on this lifestyle that have some reflection on our lives. This is one of the best.
I did NOT write this article.
From posh private school student to dominatrix
New Yorker Alexis Lass went from a second-grade school uniform at Spence, complete with Mary Janes (left), to donning spike heels and leather for her job as a dominatrix. Photo: Tony Notarberardino (right)
As a little girl, Alexis Lass, 36, went to school with Gwyneth Paltrow and Kerry Washington at the prestigious all-girl’s institution Spence, where she learned to be “a proper lady.” As an adult, disenchanted with her stuffy, elite upbringing, Lass became a dominatrix for two years, commanding up to $300 an hour. Her book, “The Posh Girl’s Guide To Play” (Seal Press) is out now, revealing the secrets she learned on the job. Here, she tells The Post her story.
Every day at Spence, the elite private school on the Upper East Side, we had to curtsy to the lower headmistress when we left for the day. I didn’t know it was uptight back then. I was in kindergarten and thought it was like a fairy-princess thing.
When I was in sixth grade, Gwyneth Paltrow was a senior. She was always very cool in her leather jacket and cowboy boots. Kerry Washington was a year above me.
From kindergarten to fifth grade, we dined in a room that had chandeliers and really expensive murals from the 1800s. The dishwasher broke down one day.
“Well, we’ll use plastic utensils,” we thought. But the headmistress had other plans. “My girls aren’t eating off of plastic utensils,” she said. Apparently, it was a big crisis. I think they had to rent silverware.
My parents are artists and bohemians — my mother is a copy editor for an advertising firm, and my father’s an abstract expressionist painter — not exactly the norm for Spence parents, who were usually from New York’s 1 percent. I certainly wasn’t rich. I got partial scholarships to pay for the last few years. Until I was 9 years old, I thought that all normal people had doormen apartments and most people had drivers, and I thought I was weird. But I had no rules, and the richest girls in my class had no rules either, so I became friends with them.
I was the school’s artistic black sheep. I always found myself a little too wildly imaginative for my fellow classmates. In sixth-grade art class, we were making little clay head sculptures, and I made mine with breasts. All the girls thought that was really weird.
A demure Alexis Lass, author of “The Posh Girl’s Guide to Play.”
At Spence, boys were not allowed past the lobby. It was even more rigid and puritanical when I went on to Kent boarding school in Connecticut for ninth grade, and if we got caught smoking, we would have to do 30 hours of manual labor. It was 60 hours of manual labor if you got caught having sex. Still, everybody screwed around, everybody smoked, everybody smoked pot and dropped acid. I lost my virginity when I was 15 to a 17-year-old surfer from Palm Beach. Then I left boarding school and ended up graduating from Rhodes in Midtown with Fiona Apple and other girls who just wanted to get the hell out of high school.
I briefly went to Bard College, then moved on to acting school in New York when I was 19 or 20. I was auditioning, and I bartended a bit. At Lit Lounge, there was a group of bartenders talking about Paris Hilton’s sex tape.
“Oh my God, she just laid there!” they said.
And I was thinking, “That’s what I do. What are you supposed to do?’ ”
When I was 20, I went to an art opening with the agent to H.R. Giger — the artist who created the aliens in the movie “Alien.” I remember seeing one woman — she was 6-foot-5 with a fur coat and hair down her rear. She looked very tough and cool. Her name was Goddess Severa.
“What does she do?” I asked.
“Oh, she’s a dominatrix. She’s working her way through law school,” the agent replied.
At first, I thought the whole idea was kind of trashy.
I never thought of the S&M scene again until I was 27, going out with a hard-core punk-rock guy. He was 6-foot-3, German-American, blond, blue-eyed. His body was like an Olympic swimmer’s. And he was a lead singer in a band.
We had been dating for a year when he was like, “Why don’t you try domination work?” He had an ex-girlfriend who had done it, and he said that she loved it.
His ex recommended a dungeon called the Nutcracker Suite in the West 20s. It was in a bit of a scuzzy area, but I walked in, and it was fabulous. It was like a movie set. One room was dressed up like Marquis de Sade’s quarters. Another was an elaborate Egyptian room, yet another was an Asian empress room. I saw girls walking guys on their knees in leashes. I saw men catwalking and prancing around in full-on lingerie and high heels with dominatrixes yelling at them. I saw them slapping their clients in their face and calling them “a little worm” or worse. I was in shock.
The manager, an ex-biker, introduced me to some of the dominatrixes and invited me to watch. The first one I saw was a foot-worshipping session: This guy was on the floor, licking the soles of these two dominatrixes’ boots.
“You want to try it?” he said. I nodded, yes.
In ninth grade, Lass went to Kent boarding school in Connecticut horse country.
I was totally freaked out, but I decided to push aside my inhibitions and stick with it.
The day after my interview, I told my mother about my job. I was living with my parents on the Upper East Side, sleeping in the same bedroom from my Spence days.
She’s very WASPy, and she freaked out: She was like, “Well, if you are going to do this, you are out of the house.”
“OK, well fine, then I’ll leave,” I responded. That was the first time I ever took a stand against her.
For my first day at work, I wore a sexy tuxedo jumpsuit with a black halter top, tights and high heels. The managers at the dungeon told me my 3-inch heels weren’t high enough — they needed to be 6 inches.
They gave me a whip. I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. But I thought, “OK, I’m an actress. Let’s pretend I’m Cruella de Vil and Mommie in ‘Mommie Dearest’ and just role-play.”
My first client was a Broadway playwright, about 40-ish with curly hair and blue eyes. I got a sense that he might have been a little intoxicated because I was hitting him and he wasn’t really feeling anything, and he sort of had tears in his eyes but he didn’t tell me to stop. I was like, “Jesus Christ, I’m not gonna be part of your death wish,” so I backed off, and we just started talking.
After two months, I transferred to another dungeon, Rapture. I worked three days a week from 3 to 9 p.m. Sometimes, you’d have one client, and sometimes you’d have three. Sometimes it would be just one-hour sessions, sometimes six hours. A typical session costs from $250 to $300 an hour. When you work at a dungeon, you only keep $100 an hour. Later, I worked independently and kept the full fee.
My specialty was called “corporal,” which is like physical punishment with single tail whips and canes and spanking. I loved throwing a whip. We use a singletail whip, it’s like what Indiana Jones uses, but it’s not that long. A long one actually can decapitate somebody. I had one from Australia that cost $600 and was made out of kangaroo hide. You whip the butt, or the back, or the legs. Never the kidney area. If a client shouts “Stop!” or “Mercy!” you back off, give them a break, then continue.
In my personal life, being a dominatrix started to chip away at my social conditioning. I started exploring my submissive side with my punk-rock boyfriend. Especially when girls grow up fairly “spoiled,” where everything is easy, it balances out your ego in a way. Actually, most dominatrixes have this secret — they secretly want to be submissive in bed with their boyfriends. But that’s the complexity of S&M. You can’t be one side or the other: You are always a little bit of both, or a lot of both.
Even so, after two years, being a dominatrix became draining. It’s very psychologically intense. Most of these men, they say they can’t tell their wives, they can’t tell the people they work with, they can’t tell their friends, they can’t even tell their psychiatrist. We’re the only ones, so that’s why they bond with us. It’s sort of sad.
I guarantee everybody in New York City knows somebody who secretly sees a dominatrix.
One night, I went out to dinner with a new client at a high-end sushi restaurant on Spring Street. We started talking about the fetish films that are out there, and I said I wanted to do them more artistically. He asked if I wanted an investor, and he actually came through with the capital. So I left the dominatrix world at 29 and started a new career in film. After five years, I gave that up, too, to focus on my book, which offers people an S&M “how-to.”
I still go to fetish parties and play with people. And that’s fun, but it’s just casual now, once in a while. I’m currently single. I’m not against marriage, but I’m just not really attracted to anything “traditional.”
I don’t really keep in contact with most of my Spence friends, but I’ve reconnected with a few of them on Facebook. I have all my dominatrix photos up on my page, and I’m not going to hide what I did. And I’ve recently hung out with a couple of them. So, you know, they ask me about it. I don’t know if they are horrified or not. They certainly wouldn’t let me know if they were.
Overall, I have no regrets. Being a dominatrix really opens you up and makes you feel more independent. As research for my book, I went on dating sites to see how guys would react to going out with a dominatrix. I was on match.com, and I was reading some of these girls’ profiles, and they were beautiful and 35, and had jobs paying more than $150,000, yet most of them were just so desperate. “What am I doing with my life?”: “Working on being perfect for you!” Oh, God. In a dominatrix session, men serve you. And it just puts that in your head, and you don’t ever really go back to trying to please a man, or being something for a man, or being desperate for a man. For that reason, I say that every girl should be a dominatrix for a day.