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LEARNING THE ROPES: The school where a woman discovers how to be a dominatrix

Teaching dominatrices the ropes: Mistress Josephine

Teaching dominatrices the ropes: Mistress Josephine

Published: 30 August, 2012
Before Fifty Shades of Grey, most people thought BDSM was a driving school. How things have changed: now there’s even a dominatrix school. Armed with a safe word,
RICHARD OSLEY went along

THERE’S a place near here where women go, not to learn English or take driving lessons, but to get diplomas in something altogether different: being a dominatrix.

You may have walked past it today without realising.

It’s almost within sight of Regent’s Park over Baker Street way. It’s not the kind of academy that has a large sign on the door or can boast too openly about its alumni, but from this discreet basement “dungeon” more than a dozen of London’s working dominatrices have learned the correct ways to tie men up and skills such as using a cane without leaving a mark (and a few more activities best not explained in too fine a detail here).

They all learn too how to operate this whole enterprise as a business.

This is the London Mistress School, one of a kind, which its founder Mistress Josephine says is her way of “giving something back to the industry” that has treated her well for more than a decade.

“A lot of people think all you do is stand there shouting at someone and then hitting them as hard as you can,” she explains. “If anybody tries that they’ll soon be found out. The client will know and start thinking: ‘I could get hurt’. It’s more sensual than that, more in the mind and it needs to be safe.”

She let me inside the school one afternoon last week. The chat and coffee is welcoming, a cage with a dog bowl in the corner less so. The gas mask hanging on the wall is perhaps on another level still. That kind of sums up our interview – the friendliest of people talking about things that would make many of us wince as if it is as natural as gossiping about last night’s soaps.

Maybe some sceptics will find this calmness is dangerous in itself. But Mistress Josephine is ready to explain, and London has reached a stage where a book about bedroom domination, albeit the other way around, Fifty Shades Of Grey, has become Britain’s biggest-selling book of all time. “I think it was a writer who wrote a book which everybody said you had to read and it took off,” she says.

“Generally, I don’t think women like being submissive but as a book which brings it into the mainstream, I am happy.” Her world is already more mainstream than immediately obvious. “You would have found it hard to buy thigh-high boots in the past, now they are everywhere,” says Mistress Josephine. “The fashion houses are all inspired by fetish and this runs down to shops in our high streets. People might not always realise it, but the influence is there.”

It’s true too that a newspaper sting, say Max Mosley in the News of the World, may present it as unacceptable, but the same papers often print photos of models in whiplash-inspired costumes that suggest ordinary and forbidden worlds are not so divided.

Few can have thought about how this all fits together more than Josephine, who started out selling fetish clothing before learning the ropes.
“Foot worship is popular,” she says. “This is likely to go back to when men were babies crawling on the floor to the comfort of their mothers. At floor level, the first thing they see is feet and ankles. As they grow older, this develops into something else. It’s natural. What I do is like a therapy. I don’t see them as weird, it’s just something in them that they feel and I can help.

“We have a cup of tea afterwards and have a chat. It’s about trust.” She said her male clients tended to be over 30 (although not exclusively) and range from “milkmen to a film director”. “One of the problems is men don’t know when to raise it in their relationships. If they say at the start: ‘I’m into this’, they’re worried they will scare their girlfriends off,” she adds. “If they wait a while, they are worried their girlfriends will say: ‘Why are you saying this now, what’s wrong with what we do?’”

She stresses she has broken no laws and does not offer sex. “As a dominatrix I offer sensuality but being unobtainable is part of the fantasy. It’s not a question of men coming in here and me doing whatever I choose, even if it seems that way. If I did not give them what they wanted, then they wouldn’t come back,” she says. “I’m not a man hater. They wouldn’t come back if I hated men and spent my whole time thinking every one of them should be punished. Away from this, I’m not like this. I like to walk the dog in the park.”

Her time is divided between her career as a dominatrix and running the school, which is also open to curious couples. She is also linking up with Coco de Mer, the famous erotic store in Covent Garden where a mixture of seminars and workshops are set to be staged later this year.

The school meanwhile is open for new students. “It’s true, you can earn good money but the business relies on repeat clients and you won’t get that if you do not understand your skills. The hours are to suit. I wouldn’t let people into the school who I didn’t feel comfortable with. I’ve worked hard to get my business up and to open the school.”

She adds: “I hope it is a way of giving back to the industry, a way of keeping it safe.”

• For more visit www.londonmistressschool.com, or call 07557 506760. See also www.mistressjosephine.com

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