“I Worked As A Dominatrix At A Sex Dungeon—Here’s What It Was Like”
Jenny Nordbak explains how her curiosity about kink turned into a full-blown career.
BDSM is the umbrella term that covers all kinds of fetish, fantasy, dominance, and submission play. But it’s often misconstrued as the act of hurting people and portrayed as only being practiced by people who are emotionally tortured. As a former dominatrix in a Los Angeles dungeon, I can tell you that it’s actually empowering for both the submissive and the dominatrix—and it doesn’t always involve any kind of pain or punishment. I’ve found that BDSM is mostly based on open-mindedness, trust, and intimacy.
After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in archeology, I was working in an entry-level position at a construction company, and I was in a vanilla, monogamous relationship. I felt bored and alone in my dissatisfaction. I was going through the motions, assuming he was happy, but I was definitely missing something
My Interview At The Sex Dungeon
It was the pre-Fifty Shades of Grey era, and I was trying to understand some of the sexually explorative things I had been curious about but never found the confidence to try with a partner. So I started searching online for info about BDSM and kink. That’s when I spotted an ad for an L.A.-area dungeon that was hiring dominatrixes. It said, “Now hiring. No experience necessary.” It just so happened that the dungeon was close to my job, too.
I didn’t realise that you could even do something like that professionally, so I had no idea what a dungeon was. But I called to apply anyway.
After I scheduled an interview, I realised I had no idea what to wear. So I called them back for advice. They told me to, “dress the way you would dress for any other job interview.” They added, “We keep a low profile. Don’t ever wear anything weird outside of the dungeon.” Had I not called back, I would have shown up in an entirely leather outfit.
Check out these 14 fascinating facts about your O:
People have a hard time understanding why I was interested in working in a sex dungeon. But besides the fact that I was curious about BDSM, I was also 22 years old and panicking about what the next step in my career would be. On top of that, I wasn’t earning much while having to cover the cost of living in L.A. Plus, I was going to be paying off my $100,000 student loan for over 30 years at the rate I was going. I thought I could either work minimum wage or make $100 an hour doing something exciting.
The only person I told about my upcoming interview was my roommate, in case the dungeon turned out to be an actual dungeon and I didn’t come home. I didn’t tell my boyfriend at the time because I was too embarrassed. We had been together for a while, but I had never spoken up about my fantasies. It was uncomfortable thinking about whether he would judge me. So I made excuses for my lies to him at first. I thought that I might not get the job or I might try one shift and not like it. I didn’t want to risk that difficult conversation with him unless I really needed to. I was really just being immature and burying my head in the sand because it was intimidating.
At first, I tried to bluff my entire way through the interview because I had absolutely no experience in anything kinky. At that point, doggy style and blow jobs were kinky to me.
But ultimately, I had to be honest with them about my inexperience, so I said I was open-minded and excited to learn. Apparently, they saw potential in that. They hired me and placed me as a submissive, which acts as the receiving end of the client’s fantasies of being spanked, tickled, tied up, and ordered around. You need to actually know what you’re doing to become a mistress, a.k.a. a dominatrix. This was basically my side hustle in addition to my job in construction.
Experimenting With Kink
As a submissive, my first client wanted to tie me down and tickle me. Prior to that, it never occurred to me that anyone would be into that. I learned that one of the hardest things about tickling sessions is that most of the guys aren’t actually good at tickling, so I just fake shrieked and squirmed. It was kind of exhausting.
There’s this misconception that submissives are powerless, but in truth, the sub is expected to control the scene and keep it within the dungeon’s rules. You’re playing out a fantasy for the client, but you still have to maintain a level of control and manage them. I had to act submissive, but not actually be so submissive that I let them get away with anything.
I wasn’t until I’d been working in the dungeon for six weeks that I finally told my boyfriend—and ultimately, it only came out because I caught him cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend. It was clear from the text messages I found that he had been doing all kinds of kinky things with her that he had never felt comfortable sharing with me. Because he was also curious about that world, he was surprisingly excited that I was training at the dungeon. We turned our relationship into a kinky polyamorous one. Though we eventually broke up on amicable terms, it was thrilling to bring the things I learned home, because experimenting in a professional setting means it’s never getting intimate.
One thing about working in the dungeon is that there’s no exchange of bodily fluids or penetrative acts, but sessions in the dungeon were still pretty heated by most people’s standards. For example, a lot of guys I worked with liked being kicked and punched in the balls—really hard. Common requests included spanking or other types of corporal punishment, bondage, foot worship, humiliation, or different kinds of role play. Many men just want a powerful woman to control them.
Some of the more interesting requests included pretending to do dental procedures on toes, and stabbing pool floaties and getting turned on by the air leaking out of them. I also experienced elaborately scripted and costumed role-play scenes, cake-sitting fetishes (yes, sitting on a cake), food-fight fetishes, and men who wanted me to pretend I was 30-feet tall and was going to crush them. Many fetishes were all about the tiny details. For example, people were turned on by specific nail polish colours, the noise of someone sniffing, the way a ponytail swishes, the sound of high heels clicking on the ground, bare feet popping bubble wrap, or the feel of warm towels on their skin.
Though I mostly saw men, some women visited the dungeon as part of a couple and sometimes came on their own. Often, couples were looking to experiment without worrying about the emotional complications of bringing a friend into their relationship. Other times they were looking to learn things they could take home and apply in the bedroom. It’s hard to know how to begin experimenting, so visiting a professional dominatrix is a great way to get some guidance. Usually, one partner was looking to me to teach the other how to be dominant. Human sexuality is far more varied and fascinating than most people realize.
But perhaps what surprised me the most were the doms that worked in the dungeon. They were highly-educated women (my bachelor’s degree made me the least educated woman working there), most of whom were doing other things. Some were opera singers or professors at the university nearby. A few women even went on to med school after their days at the dungeon were over. And they weren’t just interesting—they were supportive. You might assume that in an environment where women are competing for clients it would be catty, but being with them felt uplifting and encouraging.
Ultimately, though, leading a double life got tiring. After a little over two years of working two jobs, and traveling a lot and getting promoted at my day job, it made sense to leave. I was tired of lying to my friends, my coworkers, and especially to my mom. I didn’t tell her I was working at the dungeon until after I’d quit. Though she would have been worried if she’d known, she is now proud of the woman I have become and that I’ve found my confidence and my voice.
My time working in the dungeon improved the way I communicate and my willingness to be vulnerable. In alternative relationships, be it polyamory, BDSM, or swinging, there’s a level of communication you build with your partner that goes beyond what most have. You have to be deeply honest with each other.
I carry that into my relationship with my husband. And, despite the fact that I’m now in a monogamous marriage, any kind of kink is fair game for us.
My husband recognises that my experiences at the dungeon are what helped me to grow into the woman he fell in love with, so he is supportive. It’s not something he would want me to do now, but he isn’t at all threatened by it. I’ve pretty much done it all, whether experimenting with kinky fantasies, threesomes, orgies, or experimenting with my gender identity and preferences. I discovered that what I have with him is better than all of that combined. That’s a powerful thing to know going into a marriage, and I don’t think many people can say that