An interview with queer dominatrix and dungeon owner Mistress Justine Cross.
BY ROXIE PERKINS
Mistress Justine Cross is a queer professional and lifestyle dominatrix who also owns, runs, and operates Dungeon East and Dungeon West.
As a BDSM educator Cross hosts speaking events and educational performances at college campuses including at UCLA’s “BDSM 101” workshop held at their LGBT Resource Center.
In an interview with THE FIGHT Cross talks about navigating between her personal and professional life, gender bending and 50 Shades of Grey.
What is the difference between lifestyle and professional dominatrix?
Professional means I do this for a living. This is my career and company and I’m getting paid to do BDSM. And personal means I also enjoy this in my private life.
How would you define the job of a professional dominatrix?
It varies because there’s so much variety within BDSM but generally a dominatrix would be a professional dominant doing various things under the BDSM umbrella. Things like corporal punishment, different kinds of fetishes, leather, latex, gender bending, role playing—things of that nature.
As a queer woman do you define your dominatrix work as particularly queer or does your queerness not come into play with your work?
My queerness is more in my personal life, even though it’s something I’m out about. Over the past few years I’ve been involved with more events in the queer community which has been definitely more fun because I’m getting to do what I love to do with friends and in my community—versus, you know, doing what I do for a private audience of one—generally a middle aged, male, client…
Is your average client really the stereotypical middle aged, white, straight, man?
More or less… Most of my clients are middle aged, white, male, heterosexual for the most part. I think that has a lot to do with who has disposable incomes… Because—you know—everyone’s into this! It’s not just middle aged, white men!
Do you find that nowadays the average person is more educated about BDSM due to mainstream films like 50 Shades of Grey or do you find that nowadays people tend to think of BDSM as more of a subculture?
I think BDSM is definitely getting out there more in terms of shows and podcasts and it’s certainly much more accessible now because of the internet—but also because of the integration of it into so many different kinds of events. [Nowadays] I’m getting hired to do parties and events that, you know, are definitely for crowds where no one’s ever hired a Dominatrix before. So definitely there is a lot more exposure and people are getting into it more… I also go to college campuses every once in awhile to give talks and performances and you’d think that all these kids would have the pulse and would know all about dungeons or BDSM stuff—nope! Ha. But I think it’s like—if you’re into it, you’re finding out about it. […] I mean just the fact that I’m participating in a thing called “BDSM 101” at UCLA’s LGBT Center where it’s a lot of bigger promoters talking about safe sex and they hired me to talk about BDSM, and consent, and dungeons—that’s huge! So there’s definitely more exposure.
What drew you to this line of work?
I moved out to Los Angeles after college. You know, I’d done [BDSM] in my personal life and I knew a couple of pro dommes but it wasn’t really the right time for me to get involved with it. So I moved out here and I had a regular job, nothing particularly special. But I guess I just thought, well, I’ll just google “Los Angeles” and “dungeon” and see what’s around town. So I found a space and I started working there for about a year. It was a commercial dungeon which is very different than the kind of space that I run. At a commercial dungeon there’s a staff of people working there which generally includes professional dommes, switches, and subs. […] There are very specific rules there about what you can and can’t do. Your rates are set for you by the person who’s running the space and things like that.
So I was there for about a year and I wanted to move on and become an independent domme and set my own rates and have my own clientele. So I did that and I was renting from other spaces. And then I realized that I was renting from other spaces so much that I was paying their mortgage! That was when I realized I needed to have my own dungeon. So I got my own dungeon and realized that I didn’t wanna pay rent—so I started renting the space out to other people and then that went so well that I ended up needing another space. So then I got another space and now I have these two dungeons and still book my own sessions and my own time… it turned into a really an entirely other business that I wasn’t really expecting it to when I first started doing it. But as it turned out I was really good at business and marketing. I have degrees in literature and psychology so that was not totally expected. But here I am!
More information on Mistress Justine Cross can be found at www.losangelesdominatrix.com.