It’s mid-morning in Sydney’s leafy Darlinghurst, and I’m dodging cashed-up espresso-drinking hipsters littering the footpaths because I’m on a mission to interview three professional Dominatrices at Australia’s largest BDSM house – Temple 22.
Unless you’re in the know, it’s impossible to grasp the depth of exactly what lies behind Temple 22’s front door. No signage adorns the black exterior of the double-storey terrace house. The only clue that you’re in the right place is the subtle security camera and buzzer on the front door.
I ring the doorbell and am quickly ushered inside by the receptionist. Before we can exchange pleasantries (are pleasantries even exchanged in a dungeon?), she ushers me into a room and quickly shuts the door because there’s a client behind the curtain in the waiting room. I can’t help but wonder what he’s up for on a Thursday morning. I’m a bit jealous, to tell the truth.
The room I’ve been corralled into is called “Pussy Galore”. I quickly figure out the luxurious boudoir is a playroom for crossdressers. It’s low lit with floor to ceiling mirrors on two sides of the room and I’m equally surrounded by wigs and high heels big enough to fit a size 14 foot as I am by crops and rope.
Pretty soon, I’m joined in Pussy Galore by three of Temple 22’s young Dominatrices – Mistress Alison, Mistress Adara and Mistress Andrie.
How long have you been working as a Mistress at Temple 22?
Alison: As a Mistress, it’s been about a year and a half. At Temple 22, it’s been just over a year.
Adara: Just under a year.
Andrie: About four months.
How did you get started?
Alison: I was doing phone sex to start. When you do phone sex you have like five different personas you’re supposed to use. I found that my dominatrix clients were the most regular, wanted to have the longest sessions with me and were my best kind of clients. So that’s what made me want to pursue professional domination in real life. I looked at Temple 22 and a few other places, but they didn’t have the vibe that I wanted. I probably would have stuck with phone sex if Temple 22 didn’t exist.
Andrie: I started off in sex work doing webcam shows. A lot of viewers picked up that I was kinky. I used sounds and canes in my shows so it was pretty obvious! I quickly developed a niche brand online. When you’re working in a cam sense, a lot of it is vanilla sex, masturbation, dildos and anal. There aren't many people doing fetish. I steered my brand towards BDSM. There’s definitely a big gap between doing full contact sessions and cam sessions. If a place like Temple 22 didn’t exist, I don’t think I would have gotten into it. It was definitely a big step applying for a job in a place like this and then falling into it… and then settling into it. It’s been such a great process.
Adara: I wasn’t in the sex industry before this. I was working in hospitality. I got really burnt out and my sister said she had two friends working here and even though she didn’t really know what it involved, she said, “You’d make a great dominatrix.” I was feeling burnt out and couldn’t imagine working in hospitality again or getting an office job in the state that I was in, so I came here and got a job and stayed.
What’s the biggest learning curve you’ve had since starting here?
Alison: Golden showers! How popular they are and how popular anal is. I think in sex work in general, the thing that kind of surprised me most was how starved men are of intimacy. But they starve themselves of it! Discovering the irony that some of these men only felt comfortable being honest about themselves and their desires with someone that they saw as a whore. Being a Dominatrix has been a really wonderful insight into men. Men lie all the time, but in this job, I’m able to connect with men and have real and honest conversations with them. I am really fascinated by understanding men’s insecurities and vulnerabilities and how they deal with them. I think in this job, humiliation is such a huge fetish – especially small penis humiliation or cuckolding humiliation – because men have so much fear and insecurity but don’t know how to diffuse it, so they turn it into something erotic. So then they can orgasm from it and feel powerful about the things they’re most insecure about. I think that’s very interesting. It’s very humbling to be a part of people’s most vulnerable secrets.
Andrie: I’ve learnt a lot about men. There’s a lot about the mind of men that’s very interesting. A lot of people that come to see a trans woman dominatrix are pretty interesting people. It can be difficult juggling trans fetishists, who in a way are my lifeblood and are a large clientele base. They could just see a straight worker for that kind of stuff but they come to see a professional Dominatrix. That was an interesting thing to discover.
Adara: Seeing the psychology behind why men visit professional Dommes. Learning about what men fear. A lot of men come in; they’re married; they’re wanting to try all these things and they’re afraid to share it with their partner. Doing it with a professional Dominatrix makes them feel safe because there’s no judgement. Nothing to lose. That’s great but in the overall scheme of things, it’s pretty disappointing that they can't be that vulnerable with their partner, or feel like society can’t allow them to be their true selves. People just aren’t open-minded enough at this point. I think it’s great there’s a place like Temple 22 for men to come to feel safe and explore comfortably and safely.
Andrie: I find the separation between people wanting to fucked by a woman with a strap on versus a woman with a real dick. People will come in for anal sessions and strap-on sessions but not want to see the trans Mistress who has the dick and the capabilities of doing that. Like, I could use a strap on if they want. I don’t need to use my real dick! But they have it in their head that they’re so scared of being seen as gay because I have a dick.
Alison: I think men are just very anxious and insecure but very anxious about feeling anxious and insecure. It doesn’t help that whenever they are vulnerable, they shut down. That happens from when men are boys. They just shut down. We’re the nice healers of the patriarchy. We’ll whip it out of you, boy!
What does an average day at Temple 22 look like for you?
Alison: One of the best parts about working in a dungeon, is there isn’t such a thing as an average day. Sometimes you walk in and there’s a castration session or an intense anal session waiting for you. It really depends on the people that walk in on that day. Generally, guys don’t think ahead – they think with their dick, so they just turn up to Temple 22 when they’re horny. It just really depends on who shows up.
Adara: I’d say that the one thing you know for sure, is you know you’re going to get to hang out with a bunch of cool people. Regardless of what sessions you’re going to be doing, all the Mistresses that work here are absolutely fabulous.
"you get a new sense of normal working at temple 22" – mistress alison
What do you think the biggest misconception about working in a dungeon?
Alison: That the people who come here are freaks and that it’s a completely out of this world place. The reality is that our clients are just normal people. We see teachers, lawyers, businessmen and couples who are parents wanting to explore something different. It’s really just a huge cross-section of all of society. Everyone has fantasies and we’re the professional people who are there to help you explore those fantasies. I think as well, as a lot of people have the misconception that it’s more like a brothel.
Adara: Or a massage parlour.
Alison: The sexual services that occur here are negotiated between the people but it’s an expensive place to come for a hand job! Or for just straight sex. Those kinds of misconceptions exist – that we’re just kinky escorts. There’s nothing wrong with that but we’re focused on exploring different aspects of sexuality and fantasy, rather than just straight sex.
BDSM in general tends to have a strong element of power play and hierarchy to it. Is there a hierarchy within the fetish providers at the establishment?
Andrie: I’m new, and I find the environment much more welcoming than I’d expect a dungeon to be. You think of a dungeon and you think, everyone’s going to be dominant and walk all over you because you're new. It’s not like that at all. It’s about going into a session, coming out and then turning off the Dominatrix and just being a normal, friendly person again. There’s a separation.
Alison: There’s always going to be respect for more established Mistresses. If you want respect, you have to respect the people who have been doing this for longer. Our boss and the owner of this place – Mistress Ruben – has been a Mistress for over 30 years, so that’s an obvious hierarchy. In general, among the staff and with the receptionists, I’d say that everyone is very respectful. I think it comes across as submissive or insecure if you’re always trying to posture to be seen as dominant. For me, dominance is something I give to someone who has offered me the gift of submission. So trying to dominate people in regular life, it’s not really the point for me. We have more of an environment of bringing each other up and supporting each other, understanding it’s Temple 22, it’s a brand, so we can all pull each other up. I understand there are other businesses that have more competition and feel the need to “out Domme” each other, but I think ours is much more cooperative.
Adara: If someone has more experience than others, they’re not afraid to actually teach anyone here. It’s very free-flowing and helpful.
Mistress Alison / Image Credit: Jon Ovington
What do you think the benefit of working in a BDSM house over working independently offers for you?
Alison: For me, it’s about the camaraderie and the chance to learn from unique different people. Also, the doubles and triples sessions that you can get and the energy you can create here. I think working independently would be a lot lonelier. People talk about sub drop but you also get Domme drop as well because you explore really intense and emotional things and you put a lot of energy and psychic energy into these sessions. Yelling and being really mean to someone has to come from somewhere. How do you feel about yourself after you’ve done that to someone? I think having these other people around you who have experienced what you have experienced, is very helpful. A lot of people are interested in BDSM, but it’s not spoken about in wider society, it’s more secretive. Especially also with being a Dominatrix, it’s very isolating. Plus being able to have people around to help you navigate the more tricky aspects of the industry and the trickier aspects of the job is very helpful. Having people to help you do things like find a good doctor, or give you advice on getting an apartment – all of those sort of things that come with working in an industry that’s still a bit more underground. Having that support system at work is ace.
Adara: It’s also about practicality. Having a receptionist to screen phone calls and clients. Unfortunately, in this industry, there is a lot of time wasters. Lots of people who want to just talk and send countless emails back and forward: to not have to deal with that.
Alison: It saves all of our energy for actual domination.
When a client comes to the door, what happens next?
Alison: The receptionist will greet them, seat them, ask if they’d like anything to drink. She will ask any session specifics that they have, anything that was important to them to explore. Then the receptionist will get the Mistresses to come and meet the client one by one. The Mistresses will discuss the session content with the client. Then the client will decide which practitioner he would like to see. Then he will get taken to have a shower and when he goes back in the room, the Mistress will meet him and the session will start.
What types of sessions do you personally enjoy?
Alison: For me, I’m very sensual. I like to really tease clients a lot. I like to go between being very nice and being very mean. I tell clients a lot: if I’m being nice to you, just be ready because I’m going to be extra mean to you. I really love heavy impact play. Intense teasing and intense pain. Those are my two favourite things.
Adara: I like to really play with them psychologically too. I’ll be really nice and then inflict some pain on them while I’m smiling. I really play with their heads so they don’t know what’s going on and don’t know what’s coming next. I am a bit of a sadist, so I do like to play on the more painful side, but I can also be very soft and sensual as well.
Andrie: I’m a bit sadistic. I love cock and ball torture and a lot of discipline. I love Shibari. I love turning them into ponies and puppies and riding them around the dungeon – that kind of stuff.
Alison: I also really love anal training. From anal rape in a really sadistic session to romantic anal. Your first time anal should be special! The best thing about the diversity of Dommes at Temple 22, is that everyone has their strengths and things they like to do. It’s great to be able to learn from them and hone parts of your own style through watching other people in their expertise.
"I’m a bit sadistic. I love cock and ball torture and a lot of discipline" – Mistress andrie
What’s your most memorable session?
Alison: *laughs* You get a new sense of normal working here. I was surprised that tickling was such a big fetish. Oh! And the other week, I tied my slave up outside and blindfolded him and just pelted him with water balloons and silly string until he was completely covered. Since he was blindfolded, he had no idea what was going on. He could just hear the can shaking. He was terrified that I was spray painting him. While I was doing this, little Elsie, my chihuahua, was barking at him. That was really fun… getting paid to dominate someone by pelting them with water balloons for 20 minutes.
Andrie: I had a session recently which was really fun. I did a lot of nice rope work, put some nipple clamps on him, made reins out of it and then tied ropes around his balls so I could pull either one. Then I sat on his back and made him neigh like a horse and then I rode him around the dungeon upstairs and gave him a heavy caning and sounding. It was so much fun.
Alison: I love tying men up by their balls and making them walk around like a dog!
Adara: Riding someone around the room is a lot of fun. It’s actually quite amazing. The first time I did it, I was so proud of myself because I thought I’d invented it. I said to all the girls, “I rode him around the room!” and they were like… yeah I’ve done that before. Oh. Damn.
Alison: I had a really intense ballbusting session last week which was so much fun. The guy wanted me to kick him as hard as I could five times and then let him recover. Any time he would drop to the floor, he wanted me to grab him by his balls and yank him back up off the ground and yell “get the fuck back up now!”. My leg was sore the whole next day. The best bit was, after I finished kicking him, he asked if he could lie down on the bed while I did more CBT (cock and ball torture), so I started pounding his balls and hitting them as hard as I could. I think that hurt him more because I had more precision with my fist.
Does a clients bravado ever get in the way?
Alison: Part of our job is to be very intuitive of people but we’re not mind readers. It’s very dangerous when a submissive tells me that they have no limits. Everyone has limits. You can’t say that you don't have limits.
Andrie: When a client comes in and says they have no limits, I say, “great, can I pierce the head of your cock?” and they freak out because that is clearly a limit! You need to pressure limits out of them.
Alison: A lot of guys don’t ever really think about their fantasy properly before coming in. They’ll just jerk off to whatever makes them hard. They don’t really think about what they want out of it beyond the orgasm. So they find it hard to communicate or describe what they want or what part of the act interests them. For example, a guy who is into sissification and cross-dressing, are they into the transformation side, where they’re fully transformed into someone different? Or are they interested in the degradation side of it? A lot of the time they just tell me they want sissification, so you have to dig out what that actually means to them. A lot of guys just tell me they want humiliation, so I have to figure out if they want verbal or physical humiliation. How hard do they want me to do it? Are there any particular words they want me to say? Do they want to be humiliated about having a small penis or is that their limit?
What benefits can a couple get from visiting Temple 22?
Alison: I call it kinky couples therapy. As pro-Dominatrices, we often act as facilitators to help bring together fantasies that couples haven’t been able to explore on their own. Some couples are into threesomes or the idea of having a dominant woman get involved. We can add an extra element of that to their relationship dynamic. Some women are a bit hesitant to harness their power and dominate their boyfriend, and a lot of men love that. I have a job from that. I think sessions with a pro-Dominatrix can give women an archetype to help harness that energy from within themselves and learn a new dynamic.
Adara: Sometimes it’s like seeing a therapist.
How do you deal with running into clients outside of Temple 22?
Andrie: I haven’t had to really deal with it. It does get interesting when I meet people in a BDSM lifestyle sense and they want to see me in a professional sense as a Dominatrix. Things can get tangled in terms of money. If we go out to dinner, is it now an escorting job? Or is it just a date? That stuff can get a bit complicated if you’re trying to work in both. Separation is necessary but is a hard line to walk. The house helps. If I’m inside dungeon walls, it’s a more clear-cut environment. It’s work. It’s professional. It’s business. It’s more clinical and it’s my job.
Can you ever imagine working a normal 9 to 5?
Alison: Never. I worked in hospitality and now whenever I’m in a cafe, I shudder. I’ve worked in offices before. I didn’t like it. I don’t like small talk. I can talk about anything here. Extreme stuff! It really suits me better. I always knew I wanted to work for myself – I just didn’t think that being a Dominatrix would be how I started out. Now I’m here and I’m very happy. I’m out to my family and my friends. It’s just my job. I feel very lucky I get to do what I love.
Andrie: I could work a 9 to 5 job if it was in a creative field. I’m covered in piercings and not very subtle tattoos, so it’s hardly going to be easy for me to get a normal job like that anyway. I’m also a musician and visual artist. I’m versatile.
What would you say to any beginners who’ve never done this?
Alison: Welcome! Come on in, we won’t bite… unless you ask us nicely. Even as a provider, I was anxious when I first came to Temple 22 because I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone is very polite, inviting, welcoming, hospitable and professional. You can always just come in and have a chat. There’s no pressure. Even just a chat can help clear up your mind and make you decide whether you’re up for a session or not.
Adara: One more thing, you’re not going to be damned from the minute you walk in. We won’t dominate you from when you sit in the waiting room.
Andrie: Not without being paid anyway…
Alison: Just do it! You only live once. Live your best life. It’s 2018 and everyone’s getting anal and golden showers now! What do you have to lose?
For more info and to view Mistress Alison, Andrie and Adara's profiles, visit Temple 22's website.
Book a session and be sure to tell them Penthouse sent you.