Caller: Ah-yeah, is this Mat-iz-ee?
Some days I think old Henri really needed a better publicity agent, because there are way too many people in the world who don't know how to pronounce my name. I comfort myself with the thought that if I'd called myself after my other favorite artist, people would be calling up asking for "Mistress Ren-oy-er."
Even aside from that, this caller's broad country accent does not make me think he's a good candidate for me. I tend to gravitate more to urban men. But we'll give him a minute to change my mind.
Me: This is Mistress Matisse, yes.
Caller: Well, I found your phone number online.
He says this in a manner that suggests my phone number was a lost puppy that he wants to return. But the fact that my phone number is online is actually not news to me, so I wait for him to ask me a question, or tell me something I don't already know. There's silence. I count to three and then say:
Me: And did you want to ask me about my professional services?
Caller: Professional? Yep, I guess so.
This answer does not fill my heart with confidence. However, I am too polite to simply hang up. Besides, he'd just call right back. So I give him the standard rap about my rates, my hours, and how I make appointments. Then I ask:
Me: Have you seen a professional dominatrix before?
Caller: Now, the phone number I saw said "mistress." I know what a mistress is, but what's this dommy thing you're talking about?
I was afraid of this. It seems some guys, especially less-sophisticated men, still associate the word "mistress" with "girlfriend of a married man." I can't say I've ever seen a woman use it as a title of address, but that doesn't stop them from hoping, apparently.
Me: I'm a dominatrix. That means I do BDSM. Is that what you're looking for?
Caller: Oh. So you like to fool around with what, that kinda role-playing thing? That must be why you're wearing that funny outfit in the picture, huh?
It's a corset, for the record—not exactly a new innovation in women's fashion. I believe it dates back to an era when women merely had to put up with dismissive and patronizing attitudes about their stated sexual preferences. However, times have changed.
Me: Look, I don't "fool around" with it. It's what I do. So if you're not looking for a BDSM experience, then we should hang up right now.
Caller: Wait, wait, what about the mistress part?
Me: In this context, "mistress" and "dominatrix" mean the same thing.
Caller: Damn! You mean all the time when people say a woman is someone's mistress they means she's doing that weird stuff to them?
Good lord, how did I get into this conversation? I pause and briefly consider trying to explain to this man the difference between a BDSM mistress and someone like the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, or Anne Pingeot, the mistress of the late French President François Mitterrand. And then I recall that this is a man who didn't know how to pronounce "Matisse," so any examples using foreign politicians are unlikely to go well. (Besides, I have always suspected that Charles and Camilla have a dominant/submissive relationship.)
Me: Look, forget the word "mistress." I'm a dominatrix. Since that's not what you're looking for, you need to try someone else.
Caller: (In what he clearly thinks is a sexy voice) Well, how nasty does a dommy whatever get?
Gee, I guess I'll have to get out the calipers and check... Oh, wait, I forgot! The National Conference on Weights and Measures somehow neglected to establish a scale for "nastiness." What a foolish oversight on their part, and how deeply regretful I am that it renders me not only unable to address this trite question, but unable to continue this conversation at all.
THURSDAY 9/28THE BEDROOM CLUB
Burning Hearts Burlesque presents The Bedroom Club, an adult-themed variety show, at its new Capitol Hill location. Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike St, 898-9067, www.bedroomclublive.com, 10 pm, $10, $15 for couples, 21+.
FRIDAY 9/29CROATIA FEST
Croatia is the homeland of the world's most popular bondage device—the necktie, also known as the cravat, from the French cravate, a corruption of hvrat (the Croatian word for Croat). During the 17th century, Croatian mercenaries, who favored colorful scarves, fought for Cardinal Richelieu. The French thought they were hot, which is why we wear them today. Seattle Center House, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St, 684-7200, 9 am—9 pm, free.
SATURDAY 9/30LITTLE RED LOUNGE
Little Red Lounge offers less staged entertainment and more time for dancing, relaxing, and just hanging out, with hors d'oeuvres, dessert, and hot tubbing. Hengst Studio, 1506 Franklin Ave E, 328-4758, www.littleredstudioseattle.com, 9 pm—1 am $20, BYOB.CASCADE HANDBALLERS
This gay male fist-fucking organization meets at a private location in Seattle. Trim your nails. $10 donation between 6—8 pm, $15 after 8 pm. RSVP for location: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUNDAY 10/1THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE POLY
Allena Gabosch discusses the rewards, the pitfalls, and the potential disasters of polyamory in all its forms, based on her 30 years of experience. Wild at Heart, 1111 NW Leary Ave, 782-5538, www.wildatheartxxx.com, 5:30—7:30 pm, $20.ROPE BONDAGE FOR BEGINNERS
My partner Max teaches rope bondage classes every month in conjunction with Wet Spot's "Bondage Is the Point" party. This month: Fundamentals of Rope Bondage. Wet Spot, 270-9746, www.bondagelessons.com, 2:30 pm, $30/$35, nonmembers welcome at workshop, members only at party that follows.
TUESDAY 10/3'SEXLIFE LIVE' TAPING
Host Dane Ballard takes an offbeat, positive look at sex and sexuality. Hengst Studio, 328-4758, 8:30 pm, $7 adv/$10 DOS, 18+.