A couple or more years ago, when I was fresh off the Greyhound, I accompanied a friend to her friend's son's seventh birthday party in Glendale, a semi-suburb of LA. (Before continuing with this story, I should say that I'm sorry to those of you who want to hear about star-studded bunnyfests up at Hef's. The good news: "Inside the Playboy Mansion," is now out on DVD.) So, it was a sunny day. Lots of cake and candy and one of those inflatable castles on the yard with happy kids bouncing around inside. A delightful slice of Saturday-afternoon-in-America. Or so I thought. Then two other guests, a conservative banker husband and wife, told me that the hostess, Carol, a comely young woman you could cast as a dairy maid, was a dominatrix.
I assumed that was some banking insider term for, like, killer bond trader. "No, no, an actual dominatrix," Banker Husband assured me. Of note, he said "dominatrix" as he'd have said, "tailor" or "train conductor"--without a trace of disparagement. I found this disconcerting, if only because, outside of LA, conservative folk like these bankers--and most much everyone else for that matter--would've been covertly revealing Carol's occupation as a lead-in to: "Rance, we want you to help us get this depraved witch strung up!"
Inside the house was a photo of Carol in full work regalia. Black leather mask, whip, the whole Dominatrix nine yards. And this was no posed, costumed deal, like the pix of the starlet and Satan ballroom dancing. This is what Carol, a single mom, did, unabashedly, for a living. And, based on the house and 'hood, she made a pretty good one. "Large client base generated by the yellow pages, the internet, and, primarily, word-of-mouth," Banker Wife explained. It was news to me that dominatrixes had regular client bases. And how were referrals given? During a golf game: "Hey, Phil, I need a new dominatrix. Got a good one?"
The Meg Tilly look-alike serving birthday cake was a dominatrix by trade too. The Banker couple told me this with warmth, as if she taught their kids' kindergarten glass. A friend of theirs had a standing weekly with her, and raved.
You probably won't believe this. I didn't at the time. But, as I've come to learn, dominatrix in some LA circles is nearly as common a profession--and one held in no less esteem--as periodontist. Probably held in higher esteem. Who the hell wants a root canal? On second thought, maybe the same demographic with standing weekly beatings.
I will say this for the people of LA: they are singularly tolerant. And as I am far from being a pillar of normalcy myself, I've come to think that that part of being here is swell. You can breathe easier here, in spite of the fact that it's likely the most polluted place this side of Djakarta.
As it happens, a guy you and I mutually know ended up having an enjoyable chat with dominatrix #2, the one serving the cake, and wound up going out with her a week later. For Mexican food, not a strangulation. Still, there's a story there that'd shock even Hef. For fear of damaging his pacemaker and/or yours, let's save it for another time.