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The Dominatrix Duo Demystifying Kink on Periscope

Mistress Lucy Sweetkill won’t show you her feet. Not on her Periscope broadcast, anyway, where the professional dominatrix is about to interview Katie Rex — a DJ who runs a fetish techno party called Bound and often wears collars — about her life as a consensual “slave.”

It’s not the first time Sweetkill has had to tell her audience not to bother with any untoward requests. She’s a conventionally attractive woman in sex work attempting to communicate online in a way that’s educational, not arousing. Along with fellow pro domme Domina Dia Dynasty, she co-hosts the weekly Periscope livestream as part of their brand, La Maison du Rouge — a “safe space” to discuss “kink, wellness, sexuality, spirituality and social activism.”

La Maison du Rouge began when the duo left the commercial dungeon they’d been working at and went independent. “We were always educating people of very simple things, like the fact that we don’t wake up in latex and leather,” Sweetkill says. “We decided a big part of what we wanted to do is re-educate a lot of our clients, and at the same time, help educate the public. And as we were researching, we came across Periscope.”

The Twitter-owned livestreaming service was once best known for glimpses into strangers’ fridges. Its popularity may have died down since 2015, when it documented an explosion in real-time and fostered a new crop of online micro-celebrities, but Periscope is still useful to Sweetkill and Dynasty in a way other platforms aren’t. Each week, hundreds tune in to watch them discuss alternative sexuality and lead a brief Q&A. Podcasts and YouTube videos are ”very one-sided in a lot of ways, while this is definitely a conversation,” Sweetkill explains.

There’s no actual dominating in these live, unedited videos, but the hosts do employ a certain sternness to keep things civil. On today’s particular broadcast, some commenters may be hung up on feet — user weak_4_goddess says “let us see later lol” — but most questions are constructive. One user asks for a “sample contract” (Rex, who is studying for the LSATs, prefers to write her own each time). Another asks about favorite fetishwear designers. Even weak_4_goddess returns, asking about female chastity devices: They’re not common, but other methods of orgasm control are, the hosts say — such as not being allowed to masturbate until you get a text message granting permission.

Their guests have included a male porn performer and former human rights lawyer, an herbalist sexual healer, an erotic magazine editor and even Sweetkill and Dynasty’s own slaves — like “Big Baby G,” a former coal miner who realized he was into being hogtied while watching a “cowboys and Indians” movie in the 1960s.

No matter the guest, though, they really try to get to know them: First they talk pronouns, career description and sexual proclivities. Then they ask about their guests’ first “sexual” and “nonsexual” kink experiences. They move on to likes, dislikes and boundaries. They want you to see the BDSM community “as humans rather than just still photos,” says Dynasty. “They get to actually witness this person, how they speak, how they answer questions and how thoughtful, intelligent and real they are.”

“Just because we deal with fantasy doesn’t mean we are a fantasy,” adds Sweetkill. “What’s really important [is] creating these multiple avenues to see kink and BDSM. You see this hardcore kink porn, and it seems so inaccessible.” On tube sites like Pornhub, where hordes of X-rated clips abound without context, fetish content can come off as alarming. One click can take you from a giggling schoolgirl to someone crying as their ass is flogged bright red.

It’s understandable, then, that there’s plenty the media gets wrong about kink. One of many, many things that pisses off Sweetkill and Dynasty is how celebrities co-opt fetishwear — think Kim Kardashian’s latex-clad curves or Taylor Swift’s backward bondage harness. Unlike Rex’s collars, they exist to look cool, not to let prospective partners know you’re kinky. And then there’s the controversial mega-hit Fifty Shades of Grey, which features a submission contract but (creepily) includes a NDA and is signed by someone with no prior submission experience. “There’s still a lot of stigmatization with being submissive,” Dynasty says. “It doesn’t mean you’re allowing yourself to be abused and degraded. It means you’re selectively and discriminately choosing somebody who you want to give your submission to, and it’s a place of power.”

Rex identifies publicly as a slave. Before she knew what BDSM was, she associated it with goth subculture. Her “defining moment” was a photoshoot she did as a teen with a friend’s boyfriend. “It was him holding a leash attached to a collar on me — all these cheesy things — but I was just enamored,” she says. Like in Fifty Shades, Rex prefers signing a contract of “full submission” with a master, where the only limits are that the agreement can’t affect her professionally, financially, her “long-term internal health” or her relationships with family and friends. Oh, and no scat play.

On the Periscope broadcast, when asked about her first brushes with submission, Rex says she feels like she’s in therapy. That’s no coincidence: “There’s an interesting correlation with a [BDSM] session [and] an actual therapy session,” says Dynasty. As she explains, therapy structurally mirrors a BDSM scene: Beforehand, limits and desires are discussed. In the case of kink, a safe word is established that any participant can say to put a complete stop to everything. The action then commences based on the negotiated guidelines. When it’s over, there’s “a form of ‘checking in’ or aftercare,” in which feedback may be given and participants safely ease back into everyday life.

“A lot of people see kink as just a sexual release or whatever stirs their libido, but it’s also an immensely healing experience for a lot of people,” says Dynasty. “Finding meaning and a real connection with somebody [who] you can be vulnerable with is paramount to this experience of kink.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be the internet without inappropriate comments. “[Trolls were] something we expected. We just don’t give those people any energy, and they log off,” Sweetkill says. But sometimes, a kind of miracle happens. “Every once in a while, we’ll actually get someone who listens,” says Dynasty. “It’s so great to have someone come on [and] be like, ‘What is this, let’s see some feet, get naked,’ and then, all of the sudden, they’re actually paying attention — and what we’re saying is sinking in.”