By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
When the dominatrix was a little girl, she was constantly locking people in cupboards. In the bathtub with her brother, she would instruct her sibling to close his eyes and open his mouth.
“But you’ll put the bar of soap in it,” he’d say.
“No I won’t. I promise.”
“Aaah,” went his mouth. In went the soap.
It’s one of those classic dominatrix stories with a foregone conclusion. Hannah, or Mistress Absolute to those with whom she is on whipping terms, has a naturally domineering personality and has, in a sense, been tormenting people her entire life. “When I told my mum what I was doing for a living, she said, ‘Oh, darling, you’ve always been like that.’”
Mistress Absolute, who prefers her last name remain private, is lounging on a leather chair in the dressing room before the “Art of Restraint” class she teaches at the only U.S. branch of the elegant little sex shop from London called Coco de Mer, a gilded, luxe place on Melrose with naughty toys in Victorian cabinets where you can pick up $10,000 gold vibrators and almost-as-expensive La Perla lingerie. Mistress Absolute is herself an elegant, slinky person, with pale skin, red lips, long black hair, and a fun-loving, puckish air, without which she would be scary. She lives in London, but regularly includes Los Angeles on her teaching circuit (she returns in April), and when her flight to LAX got in, a female slave met her at the baggage carousel wearing fishnet tights, a tailcoat, a leather chauffer’s cap, a sign that said “Mistress Absolute” and a huge grin.
“There’s a school of thought that says you should start out submissive before you become dominant,” the dominatrix says as students begin to arrive. “That if you don’t know what it feels like, how can you do it to someone else? I don’t follow that thought. I don’t have a set of balls, but I torture balls.”
She is 33 years old, and found her calling at 23. She went to a fetish club for the first time on her own. She bought her first rubber dress, strapped on her first pair of boots. “Within 15 minutes I was giving somebody a caning. I was somewhere I fitted. Finally I had a name for how I am.”
These days, when people in session confess their desires, she sees a weight come off their shoulders. “It’s about being able to release a side of somebody that they kept hidden, and not judging them. They tell me about their fetish, and maybe it’s something they haven’t told their wife, they haven’t told their best friend, they aren’t even sure they should be telling me. So when they say to me ‘I just love to be spat on or kicked about. Is that normal?’ I say, ‘Well, define normal.’”
Soon, class begins. One surprising take-home lesson is the great effort that goes into making sure you don’t accidentally hurt someone when you’re intentionally hurting them. For instance, stockings are particularly diabolical and should be avoided — the more the victim struggles, the tighter the nylon gets. Better to try neckties, straitjackets or collars.
“Some of the nicest collars I have are from pet stores. Pet stores are great fun. A lot of the time, these are things you can find around the house,” Mistress says in her plummy British accent. “Well maybe not a straitjacket. Unless you’re in my household, of course.”
The world literally opens up when you start imagining the erotic potential of household items — clothes pins, shoelaces, wooden spoons, hairbrushes, rulers. She stole a pair of escargot tongs from the Rainbow Room the other day, declaring, “These are fabulous!”
The play scenarios that Mistress Absolute will entertain, as specified by her Web site, include: humiliation, degradation, sensory deprivation, trampling, rubber (including vacuum bed), tickling, foot worship, waxing, hair plucking, caging, chains, blackmail, blindfolds, needles and cling-film mummification.
Clients also come to her through referrals or through her listing in Serious Mistresses magazine, where you might spot her name among those of various Baronesses, or Mistresses Flogmores, or Madame Panthers. In other words, she doesn’t sit around in the dungeon waiting for people to call her.
Mistress Absolute is what you’d call an old-school dominatrix. “Girls on the Internet will do anything, but I’m quite prudish, ironically,” she says, flexing her long legs. She eschews adult baby — where people dress up in diapers — and sex with slaves, who are forbidden to touch her above the knee. “I am the person on the pedestal. I am the untouchable.”
Because even untouchables have chores, slaves come over to her home in London to do her ironing and scrub her bathroom floors. Otherwise, she doesn’t live and punish in the same space. In addition to a stark, white medical laboratory-themed room, she rents torture chambers in an 18th-century barn in Warwickshire. The barn is also a bed and breakfast, so if you want to get technical, it’s a bed, breakfast and dungeon.