(This interview was originally done for Irene Boss' Fem Dom Scene, which can be found here: http://domboss.com/messageboard/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=24&page=1)
This interview was done via email, with Ms Amanda Dwyer, premier Mistress of Sydney, Australia. She is Head Mistress and owner of Salon Kitty's, which is one of the oldest, most respected dungeons in the world. It is plain to see why, as their website is one of the most comprehensive, user-friendly, and educational I have ever visited in terms of BDSM. I am horrified of airplanes but would honestly ride the 22 or however many hours to visit them.
Her blog can be found here: http://mistressamanda.com/
The Salon Kitty website is here: http://salonkittys.com
It says on the Salon Kitty's website that you have owned the business since 1990. Could you tell us a bit about how you became a professional dominatrix, and the trajectory your career has taken?
If you know you are a dominant woman I think when the situation presents itself to be able to engage in female domination with other women who share your interest, the temptation is far too great to ignore. I was thumbing through a local magazine and came upon an advertisement calling for women who were interested in the position as an "apprentice Mistress". I applied for the position and I guess the rest is history. This was way back in February 1986, Salon Kitty's commenced in October 1985 so when I came along it had been running for just over 3 months.
The women who were there at the time came from an establishment called "Les Scenes" which had been closed down by the local authorities.
What is the scene like in Sydney? Can you tell us a bit about what it was like 25 years ago, even 10 years ago, as compared to today?
The scene has changed a great deal in the past 25 years though I was answering questions in a newspaper advice column 20 years ago and people still ask the same sort of questions. There is still a lot of curiosity about Domme/sub relationships and how sexual activity fits within a scene and although there has been a great deal of demystification it isn't always positive. Overall the scene has become more accessible to anyone interested and like all scenes you have those who are good for it and those who you would rather see not connected. What I have noticed in the last 10 years in particular is a fair bit of animosity from the amateur scene towards Pro Dommes and at times it has been quite nasty. I think this is a great pity because Pro Dommes and Pro submissives have a lot of knowledge and are often more than willing to share information.
One of the things I really like about Salon Kitty's is how progressive it is in terms of legal and social matters. You discuss everything from local laws concerning business practices to accommodating (and encouraging) disabled clients. Your website states, "During the early 1990's, Amanda was a leading figure working toward a complete rationalisation of the laws regulating our industry."
Can you tell us a bit about that?
I was spokesperson for the N.S.W. Parlour Industry Association in the early 90's. This was representing the sex industry in general throughout New South Wales, not only those involved in the BDSM scene. At the time the state had some really old and out of touch laws which only encouraged graft and corruption. As spokesperson for the Association I was advocating for an amendment to the Disorderly Houses Act of 1943 together with the Summary Offences Act 1988. This was essentially to prevent brothels from being declared "disorderly houses" just because the dwelling was a brothel and to enable anyone living off the earnings of prostitution in a brothel (for example: receptionists or cleaners as well as owners) to do so legally. We also called for making it an offense to coerce anyone into prostitution. It was a lot of hard work but the results were certainly worth it and yes I am proud of my contribution. As the owner of Salon Kitty's (defined as a BDSM brothel) it wasn't fun being called 'a criminal' during an interview on a highly rated national current affairs program, although it was technically correct before the legislative changes finally happened!
I very much love the explanation on your website about mutual consent. I am including the entire quote because it is just so wonderful:
"The essential ethic of all BDSM practice is mutual consent. To discipline without consent is assault. To carry out a sexual act without consent is rape. Salon Kitty's, in line with the entire BDSM scene does not condone any act that does not have the explicit consent of the submissive partner.
There is a perception that Bondage and Discipline will result in crimes of violence and deprivation. There is no doubt that unfortunately some criminals are depraved and sadistic and tie up their victims and inflict hideous acts on them. These individuals are a blight on any society. But this stands in the same relationship to the BDSM 'scene' as does rape to making love. The act may appear the same, but one is criminal and the other is loving. The Dominant seeks out a partner who will submit, the submissive seeks out a partner who will dominate. The criminal seeks out a victim, the victim has no say in the matter and certainly does not seek out the criminal.
Implied in consent is the responsibility of the dominant partner in any BDSM scene to monitor the well being of the submissive, to ensure that the submissive is stable and that the consent is still operative.
It is also the responsibility of a dominant to ensure that a submissive is not consenting to an act that is not in his or her best long term interest. Obviously nobody can be certain of the outcome of any act, but it is a responsibility to monitor the submissive as conscientiously as possible.
Neither partner should indulge in heavy drinking or drug taking as this can impair judgment resulting in serious accidents."
I just included it because it says it all. Please include any further comment if you wish.
Yes, I would like to add to those comments because I have been counselling more and more women in Dom/sub relationships who have been emotionally abused.
It must be stressed that everything we do in this lifestyle is consensual, if it isn't consensual it is abuse, it's really as simple as that. If something is happening without consent, and doesn't stop when requested, it is abuse.
There is no divine Dominant's right, or in some cases, submissive's right, to abuse. And the old phrases such as "You aren't a good submissive if you don't....", "You are a weak submissive if you....", "You aren't a true submissive because...." just don't apply. There is no "one right way" to be Dominant or submissive. Anyone who insists otherwise is likely inexperienced, extremely egotistical, and/or downright dangerous.
When it comes to something where one doesn't feel comfortable, something you specifically negotiated not to be part of your submission and/or something you haven't consented to it becomes abuse.
I sincerely believe submissives should be wary of Dominants who think their style is the only correct style, and especially wary of Dominants who do not think they have anything to learn from others with experience. Unfortunately abusers have a happy knack of making people feel "it is all your fault", "you are the one to blame". Everyone has the right as a human being to be treated with respect, to retain self worth and dignity.
Can you tell us a bit about the training process at Salon Kitty's? How long do Mistress's apprentice for? Does it vary from person to person? Must they first complete a course? Is it required that they serve as submissives before completing their training?
The realm of BDSM is vast in scope and can be quite daunting to a beginner. My approach is to help and encourage a woman to explore everything that interests her.
Female Domination comes in many styles. Naturally every woman wants to be a powerful, desired and appreciated Domme. However, I encourage women to ask themselves before they come along for their interview "Do I see myself as a Mistress who is a Trainer, Teacher, Teaser, Temptress, Goddess, Sadist, Seductress, Loving Control Queen, Punisher, or Mother figure?" Often at this stage women don’t really know nor have they given it a thought, but it gives them an aspect to think about. I find that whatever activities or themes which excite, energise and turn a lady on as a Domme will dictate the styles of sessions she gravitates towards and will be the one's she enjoys the most.
Training takes time, on average one year to gain basic competence. Some women learn very quickly and are 'naturals' others take longer, feel their way slowly but do well in the end. It all comes down to how much time one is willing to give at the beginning, and how versatile the lady is prepared to be. A genuine interest in BDSM is required and it also helps if you are attractive and in proportion body-wise. Women who are willing to "switch" roles normally do well for their whole BDSM career. Women at SK's are never expected to do anything they don't want to do - that is an immutable House policy.
What are your favorite types of scenes, and has that changed throughout your career? If so, how?
I definitely still enjoy one on one scenes and my personal interests are varied. A lot depends on the client themselves as to what I engage in. I see myself as an educator and guide because I like to introduce novice explorers and veteran enthusiasts alike to my personal style of Female Domination. My main aim these days is to assist individuals and couples to acquire the essential skills to make their D/s relationship come together. Counseling and assisting people to resolve sexual conflicts, as well as bringing together different fantasies in a manner that works for everyone is an area in which I specialise.
I very much agree with you that fantasy vs. reality concerning a lifestyle BDSM relationship may not always live up to expectations, and therefore requires much communication and compassion. A quote from your blog:
"I would suggest to some of you to forget about all your fantasies coming true if you wish to live the 24/7 lifestyle because nothing is ever exactly as one imagines. If it were, then what use is the imagination? It must always work beyond reality for us to move forward from one reality to the next, that is what makes life challenging and exciting. The D/s life is the same as all lives. It can be good or bad, it also can become a broken fragmented life."
I, and I'm sure many of our readers, are quite interested in knowing more about your personal opinions regarding lifestyle situations. If possible, and only if you feel compelled, could you provide us with an example of a situation in which that dynamic worked or did not work for you?
A Pro Domme is the keeper of many secrets so I don't like to divulge too many details about my personal lifestyle. However one area which has caused concern for me and many others with whom I have worked over the years is when a Master decides he wants his 'submissive' to come and work at Salon Kitty's, and even more so when she doesn't even inform me of the circumstances. Problems arise when the Dom starts to get jealous because his submissive is enjoying her work (believe it or not!), or he decides to phone constantly insisting that she report every little detail of her last session she had with a client. When a 24/7 lifestyle relationship starts to intrude in this manner it becomes uncomfortable and nearly always destructive.
Finally, please tell us a bit about your 25th anniversary. Are you having a big party? Anything special planned?
We are planning a number of functions, a cocktail party is one event but at this stage all events and dates are not finalised. My Blog and the Salon Kitty website will have dates and specific details.