Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Mistress Matisse,

I've been reading your blog for several years now, and I always enjoy your columns. I've been curious about something: do you see transmen as clients? I know you take a hard line about not seeing women as clients, but I also know that your understanding of queers and the queer community is rather nuanced (and you were once married to a transman, no?).

Point of clarification before I go on: transman means someone who started out female and transitioned to male. I know we can get into a discussion about whether transmen were ever truly female, I’m not questioning anyone’s feelings on that. Let us say: they were assigned the female gender when they were born.

Now then...

Some letters that I get, I think “I don’t know how to answer this without sounding like a twit.”

Well, in a way I can answer this. I don’t have any female-to-male transexual clients. In fact, I’ve never had anyone who told me he was transexual even ask me for a professional session. And since I see 99% of my clients naked, yes, I’d know if one of my guys was trans. The surgery for female-to-male transexuals is not nearly as advanced as it is for male-to-female people.

So, the issue has not arisen.

I’m not sure what I would say if a transman did ask me, though. Because the situation is, as you say, nuanced.

Yes, I was queer-identified for most of my twenties. My lovers were female and I socialized in mainly queer spaces. And then I did indeed marry (and subsequently divorce) a transman. 

In my experience, a woman who is lovers with a transman occupies a very curious social space between queer and straight. But my former husband looked very, very male indeed. He used to resemble a shorter Mike Ditka, in fact. Looking the way he felt - male - was precisely what he wanted, although on occasion it complicated matters. Like the day I took him to the hospital for his scheduled hysterectomy.

He was understandably a bit anxious about having this major surgery. And it seem like when you’re waiting for surgery, every yahoo with a lab coat just wanders by at random, picks up your chart, and reads it. Picture Mike Ditka in a hospital bed. And his chart says he's having a hysterectomy. The possibility of having a gender “Who’s On First?” sort of exchange was strong.

I was not going allow that to happen. I stood at his bedside poised like a jaguar, ready to spring at the throat of any clueless medical staff who looked at him, and then looked at his chart, and then said something stupid. There were several moments when various people looked like they were trembling on the brink of a throat-tearing remark, but - they refrained. Perhaps it was the I-will-kill-you look I was giving them.

This is all my way of explaining that I am aware of the incredible complexities and challenges transmen have to deal with. *

But that’s a lot of complexities to deal with in just sixty minutes, in a dungeon. With a not-a-transexual man, I have a head-start. I can safely assume a lot about where he’s coming from, culturally, and what the some of his hot buttons and wet dreams and taboo fantasies are likely to be. I know how to do the traditional male-female dance, and I know how to twist it sideways, lube it up, and jam it into someone’s sweet pink ass.

My experience of transmen in intimate situations is that they are emotionally vulnerable in a way that I can validate and sympathize with, and they are just tremendously complex. The social/psychological dynamic is all over the map. He’s a man, which in a patriarchal world means he has social power - but he’s a transman, which means that power is actually as fragile and as permeable as a tissue.

Often he has lived for part of his life being seen as female, so he knows what that’s like. But straight transmen don’t usually want to relate to women as someone-who-used-to-be-female, they just want to be a guy. So there’s this knowingness there - but one mustn’t make too much of the fact that this guy knows exactly what menstrual cramps feel like.

Transmen’s relationships with their bodies is tricky, too. I have never had any uneasiness about interacting - in a BDSM context, or sexually - with a transman's body. I’m good with bodies. I don't care whether your body looks exactly like other men's bodies, I just want to know how you work. If I can look at you and touch you, I can figure out your body pretty quickly.

But, understandably, a lot of transmen are not super-confident about their body. They are not always comfortable being seen and being touched. Stripped naked, their vulnerability is often, to me, heart-wrenchingly intense. One can learn how each individual transman wants to be looked at and touched, and teach them to trust you, but that takes time.

And one hour simply isn’t enough, in my opinion. It's completely different from dating a transman, where you go as slow as you need to. For me as a professional – wow, I’m daunted by the idea of trying to create a scene for a transman that I’d feel really good about in that short of a time. Since I have some personal history there, I’d feel extra-frustrated by doing a scene I didn’t think was as good as it should be.

What’s also true is that my professional time is not cheap, and most of the transmen I have met were not rich. I suppose if I met a transman who was wealthy, and he wanted to see me a lot and develop that type of BDSM relationship with me, and I felt we were well-suited as play-partners – well, I’d do that.

I would bet that’s a decision I will not have to make, though.

*Of course, everything I say is a broad generalization that only reflects my view from the outside. Every transexual person has his/her/hir own different and utterly valid experience.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I wasn’t going to upload this last podcast. But Monk says I’m being silly. And lord knows, I need the blog-content, I've been way too busy to write much lately.

So, I am ignoring a voice in the back of my head that says it is slightly undignified. Unladylike, in fact.

Yes, I know – I don’t feel the slightest qualm about posting photos of myself sticking needles in people. That's perfectly dignified. It's kinky, but it's not undignified.

But I do feel that it is a trifle undignified to post slightly-tipsy rants about one of my pet topics: Crazy People And Sex Work.

Just to be clear – thank you, President Obama – I am not disclaiming the basic opinions I express here. I just wish I had voiced them a little less profanely and a little less… stridently. Whoops.

There's also a whole side conversation about fisting, in which I make an ill-advised personal disclosure.

Thus, I bring to a close the era of cocktails while podcasting. So enjoy us in all our ranty, TMI glory, the next round will be far more calm, sober and public-radio-esque. (Well, I will be, at least. I cannot speak for Monk.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes From A Party

I was at a lovely party over the weekend, with a lot of my usual kinky friends and also, a bunch of people I am not so acquainted with. Many interesting things happened.

At one point in the evening, I was standing in a hallway, talking to various people. If I looked to the left, I could see some strangers fucking in a dimly-lit bedroom. If I looked right, I could see Monk doing a suspension-bondage scene in the living room. It was a nice location.

Observation connected to that experience and a lot of others just like it: if you mix swingers and kinky people at a party, the swingers will eventually go find a bedroom (or someplace) to have sex in. The kinky people, on the other hand, will start doing BDSM – although not sex – right in the living room.


I am fortunate enough to have some very attractive friends who really like to run around naked. It’s a charming trait.


A man I did not know walked by me and accidentally stepped on my toes. Such things do happen, and he apologized instantly, and there was certainly no permanent injury. But I wasn’t able to arrange my facial expression into anything that resembled understanding forgiveness – at least, not quickly enough. After he’d moved away, I felt a little bad about the frosty glare I’d given him, as it was a bit disproportionate to the crime.

Coda: the next day, my hostess told me that he was mortified by the incident, and apparently jokes were made about him dying his hair and changing his name before the next party. To which I say: dear man, your party foul was a trifling one. I was just having a bitchy moment, it’s an occupational hazard. All is forgiven and forgotten.


Other Opportunities For Mortification: Occasionally I’ll be standing alone, watching a BDSM scene, and someone will walk up, stand next to me and watch with me, and strike up a conversation. That’s fine, but sometimes – perhaps because I’m not wearing a leather dress or carrying a flogger – they will assume I don’t know anything about BDSM. And they start explaining the scene to me. That is highly, but highly, amusing to me. Especially when they get it completely wrong. Especially when one of the people in the scene is Max or Monk.

When I am feeling kind, I will politely clue them in right away. When I am not, I’ll let them go on for a while before I casually mention that yeah, I'm a pro domme, and that guy is actually my boyfriend.


Speaking of Stepping: in spite of the fact that I had arrived with no intention of playing, Jae succeeded in goading me into standing on her chest. I did some pushups with my elbows planted in her pectoral muscles, too. And then Puck and I then determined that with pressure, Jae’s legs would almost, but not quite, rotate enough for us to form a perfect T-shape with her body. Jae’s remark: “Jesus, I feel like a cross between a sex doll and a Gumby!”


My slightly-awkward moment for the evening? When I wanted my purse, which I had carefully stashed in the bedroom - where people were now fucking. I certainly don't have any problem with that, it's just... "Oh, sorry, don't mind me, I just need to grab my lipstick, here. No no, it's fine, don't stop. I have a girl in the living room I should be beating up, gotta get back to that. Carry on, please."