Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 33 / 17 August 2017
 

Dungeon mistress

Books


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The Scarlett Letters by Jenny Nordbak; St. Martin's Press, $25.99

Aside from the usual perks of being called Madam, savoring devilish mind games, and getting to call all the shots in the sack, being a Hollywood dominatrix requires work, dedication, and extreme focus and patience. Jenny Nordbak, author of the recently-published tell-all about dungeon life on the BDSM circuit in Los Angeles "The Scarlett Letters," knows all about that, and happily spills the beans.

Raised in small villages in Scotland and France, the author's personal history isn't one of abuse, but of familial unrest. Divorces and step-parents made her restless as a young woman, which led to a particular appreciation for playing the villain in theater productions. College at USC brought the freedom to fully explore her own wants and needs apart from those of her boyfriend, who left her unfulfilled and neglected. On a personal dare, she applied for a job at the Dungeon, where a no-experience-necessary advertisement seemed perfect, aside from the venue's location in an "unassuming house in a mostly residential neighborhood."

It was there where Nordbak's alter-ego Scarlett was born amidst the Dungeon's ranks of "subs, Switches, and Dommes." She learns fast, though her initial reactions to certain clientele are as hilarious as they are embarrassing, as when finishing with an older man with a tickling fetish. "That was so creepy! I mean, he's old enough to be my grandpa and he's pretending I'm super young. And tickling? Really? Who gets off on that?" Needless to say, her initiation into the group wasn't without its speed bumps.

The author writes of living a secret double-life for years; her day job on construction sites as a "bimbo secretary" eventually took a backseat to the massive sexual education she received at the Dungeon.

From this point, the book blossoms into a delicious voyeuristic expose of dominance and submission, push and pull, strong will and gracious surrender. A vivid parade of fascinating kinksters marches through the book and into the hallowed sanctuary of Scarlett, where she plays dress-up ("Sissy Harry"), gets spanked ("Harvey"), appropriates hot wax and clothespins ("Slave Wes"), and walks around barefoot in dirt and smelly sandals to appease a foot fetishist named Randall.

It's all described in explicit detail, and the types of clientele she encounters are all searching for release of one sort or another via every deviant kink under the sun. For her part, it's a careful dance hinging on satisfaction, respect, and boundaries. "It's all about nuances," she admits. Her clients are mostly men, some famous in Hollywood, who have fetishized a particular act or circumstance from their childhood, and wish to will that erotic charge back to life as an adult. Or they're just into getting off on having their balls punched and bruised, or their heads waterboarded (in one of the book's heavier scenes).

The book is fascinating and the author's clientele diverse. The fetishes and situations that Scarlett is expected to navigate make her a true professional in satisfying her customers sexually, experimentally, and psychologically.

In sartorial terms, the sky's the limit. Ambiguous clients who haven't stated a particular fetish or play preference when booking a session receive Scarlett's catch-all "go-to power suit," which consists of "sky-high platform heels, a black leather dress, and a corset that cinched my waist into an impossibly tiny 21 inches." Formidable and sexually indestructible, she becomes "a bitch with whom you do not fuck, ready for war."

Despite its excitement, all this commissioned debauchery concludes on a swooning fairy-tale note far removed from Mistress Scarlett with her riding crop and flogger clomping their way off to more sizzling adventures, as readers would expect. Nordbak flirts with construction job co-worker "Kris" and experiences the kind of mind-blowing, unfettered physical and mental connection that "stripped away all the bullshit and left me wondering how I could have existed without him to complete me." Their elopement in 2013 spelled the end of her days in the dungeon. But as a new wife and mother, a condition that has "softened my hard edges," Nordbak has come full circle and ended up on top yet again.






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