I was flipping through an old copy of Different Loving looking for an interview with a dominatrix, and found the best possible example I could have hoped for. I have had this book since I was 14, and did not recognize her name back then simply because it was before the internet and well, I was pretty young. I would have loved if she had written her own book, as I feel she would have been able to articulate many of the complexities of BDSM and professional domination that we all complain have not yet been properly addressed. Alas, we are left with whatever we can find.
Working in the days before the internet, men would have had to come see her based on her print ad and perhaps a phone call. Here is how she perceived the interaction:
"Let's say a person first submits to the clothes and to the persona he imagines within these clothes: I feel that as the session progresses, he will feel my personality, the strength of my soul, of my being, of my intellect, and will submit to that. I assert my personality over his image of me. The image of the clothes will always be there. It will always fascinate him, but at the same time, as I reveal myself, especially as a real being, I tend to stand away from the cliches of dominance. I tend to avoid having a submissive say, 'Yes, Mistress, thank you, Mistress.' I cannot stand those typical phrases. I want different kinds of responses. I look for things to say that are different from the standard; it must be something that appeals to me, so I don't feel that I'm just a tape recorder repeating certain monotone phrases that were scripted for mistresses."
Much of the interview is focused around what she wears, however, she also discusses her insistence that her work be seen as art. She was so committed to thinking this way, that she said she would become distraught whenever a client would simply say to her afterward, "What wonderful stress relief!"
I find her fascinating in that she was far ahead of her time in terms of understanding and communicating the delicate psychology of BDSM. For instance, what impetuses are behind certain fetishes, the need to feel pain, and the taboo associated with all of it.
There is a documentary about her, however, I prefer watching this (very frustrating yet illuminating) episode of The Morton Downey Jr. Show. He is a tyrant, as should be expected, but Ava remains steadfast and articulates her points quite well regardless of his many interruptions and accusations. Alan Goldstein (the owner of SCREW Magazine) is also on the show, and is surprisingly astute.