By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Over the course of her career, Joan Kelly (submarnie.com) has been strung up and splashed with freezing water, had her labia sewn shut, gotten caned, and taken countless bare-bottomed spankingsand has loved almost every minute of it. As "Marnie," the Los Angelesbased kinky gal works as an independent professional submissive. For $260 an hour (to start), you can hire her to lie across your lap and get whacked good and hard (her favorite) or, for several thousand dollars, go deeper into your dominant fantasies. She'll even come right to your hotel room, or you can use a local dungeon.
It's clear from Kelly's The Pleasure's All Mine: The Memoir of a Professional Submissive (Carroll & Graf, 2005) that this job's about much more than money. Her excitement is evident over the phone, as she reveals that she's been single until recently, getting her pain fix on the job. "When I started, I had that Pretty Woman fantasy, thinking I'd meet Mr. Kinky Right. If that had ever happened, I would've quit in a heartbeat," she confesses. "If I don't have someone in my personal life [to be kinky with], I'm physically compelled to do sessions. I've tried to quit a few times, but I couldn'tI have to have this in my life." Kelly's current paramour, whom she met online, is "getting kinkier by the minute," responding to her cues.
Local pro sub Submissive Ophelia (submissiveophelia.com), who claims she's "New York City's most hardcore masochist," also got into the work after a failed relationship. Her first boyfriend made her his captive, and after that, "I had a difficult time meeting men who enjoyed dominating me. My submissive urges kept growing, and I decided being a pro would get me more playtime and fulfill my desires."
Her favorite part of the job is the physical high, while the biggest drawback is tending to bruises several times a day after a heavy corporal scene. "I surprise myself at how far my pain tolerance has evolved. For example, I had a client sew my vaginal lips shut, and I didn't make a peep," Ophelia boasts via e-mail. "I had another client who took 18-gauge needles, heated them until they were red-hot, and used them to pierce the insides of my butt cheeks. I could hear my skin sizzling as the needles penetrated me."
Byron Mayo, co-owner of the BDSM advertising hot spot Eros-Guide.com and former owner of a commercial San Francisco dungeon, has nothing but praise for the skills pro subs bring to their trade. "You can touch places in a really good sub session that most marriages don't get to in years. The result is a sense of psychological intimacy most of us crave but rarely get," he says. "In a world of political correctness, confusing role models, and enforced 'equality,' the ability to tell a beautiful, intelligent, and demure woman to get on her knees and do what you say is a fantasy come true."
A woman after my own heart, Kelly's favorite type of scene involves over-the-knee hand spanking and role-playing. "The hottest thing for me is if they're 'punishing' me for something. I could do back-to-back spanking sessions all day, every day," she enthuses, then clarifies"but not if it were eight hours of super hard spanking." She has done five hours in a row, but she enjoys the challenge. "I'm tired at the end of a day like that, but mostly from the emotional energy of plugging in with one person after another."
Being a sub is decidedly more risky than wielding a whip, which is why pro subs make more than your average dominatrix. Kelly explains that in L.A., dungeons often start women as subs who can work their way up to being doms. They may go through the motions, but for Kelly, it's all real. "Virtually any pro sub will do spanking, but if it's not their fetish, they're not gonna have the kind of response that turns a fellow fetishist on. Spanking pushes an instant arousal button in me. That's not common in the professional s/m scene." Mayo praises such dedication. "I've seen pro subs come out of sessions glowing like they've just spent a week on an island vacation with a fantasy lover. Others emerge needing to curl up and be held because they exposed so much raw emotion. They have to do it because they love it, or it will quickly go sour."
Novice clients, be forewarned: Cash alone will not buy your way to smacking Kelly's ass. This proud "spanking fetishist, selective and submissively responsive bottom, and excitable pervert" (according to her website) insists that although she enjoys herself immensely during sessions, she's no one's plaything or naughty little girl. Don't call her and expect instant obedience; you not only have to pay for that, you have to earn it. "Clients have to respect me as an equal person. I get to say how hard things will get, I get to say what I need," she explains. "Guys will call up and while I'm trying to interview them as a potential client, ask, 'Are you kneeling?' It's embarrassing for the guy." Her advice? "Never assume anything about a woman you approach for a pro sessionwe're all different. Some subs won't take off their G-strings but will let you cane the shit out of them. There are women like me who'll get naked and jerk off in front of you, but you better not start caning the hell out of me unless it's my idea."