Control Tower

What Do Kinky Authors Owe Us?


Febos proves herself to be somewhat vapid, vacillating, and cowardly. I winced at her platitudes during the previous T. Gross interview - (and yes, I listened to it in its entirety, Ms. Febos) - and she digs herself yet a deeper hole during this dialogue.

Thank you, Matisse, for providing this forum for her to near-conclusively 'hang' herself as a clueless, narcissistic new author thrilling at, yet also seemingly intimidated by, her five minutes of social acknowledgement.

Her admission of cluelessness and lack of empathy [with past clients] hints at her irresponsibility at the heart of things - thank goodness she's no longer taking people's vulnerable bodies into her sphere of influence. Although not likely a worthwhile investment, largely restricting herself to the realm of words is a /much/ less mortally perilous arrangement for the rest of us than, for instance, her past perilous follies in drug-addled breath play.

Also tasteless is her sense of requirement in patronize readers through stripping nuance from her language and ideas in order to reach literary audiences. There are consequences for doing so (as you clearly pointed out, Matisse), and that, as a 'trained' writer, Ms. Febos would purport not to understand this, makes her successful publication of this memoir material seem more of a ill-considered and self-indulgent stint of late-night-journal-copying than anything thoughtful or worthwhile.

Oh well.
@Biblio - I agree with your thoughts. Being a writer and being self-indulgent are not mutually exclusive by any means, but if you purport to show a realistic experience... be prepared to be criticised. The audience does not like the James Freys of this world for the same critical point as Matisse notes - one almost has a responsibility to "(hold oneself) to the highest possible standard of literary ethics". You cannot hold a fanciful mirror to life without some understanding on both sides that it is a slightly elaborated version of a truth. It is more an art to acknowledge this than it is to simply offer it as the unvarnished truth.
This links to a discussion that's been going on, on and off, in my Twitter circle lately.

Does this apply to fiction as much as nonfiction?
I really recommend that anyone who is remotely interested should listen to the entire interview and also read Matisse's blog post about it, which contains additional thorough, detailed insights about the interview and Matisse's reasons for criticizing some of Ms. Febos' choices in writing and publishing the book.…
give it up already!
You've got plenty of time until writing a dominatrix memoir, but a "how NOT to be a dominatrix" guide would be brilliant. Or at least funny. To me.
I haven't read the book or listened to the Terry Gross interview. But I did listen to Matisse's interview with her (and read her blogs/articles about it).

My impression: she wants to be a writer, always has, and just and an actor tries to experience a great deal to have material to pull from on stage as a method actor, this gal did the same in her years as a "Dom." Handy that it makes a good controversial book topic.

She very clearly separates herself and wants to be "different" that most/other people who choose to take the same path she did in the sex work world. But I would guess she approaches 95% of her life in the same way. She feels different, she feels exceptional, and she needs to be humbled as a life experience.

I LOVED hearing the pregnant pauses in Matisse's interview. You can almost hear what she really wants to say, but she is being professional and tolerant, which is admirable.
As often as I disagree with Matisse on a wide variety of things, I do think she has nailed Ms. Febos and her writing to a T. Everyone should really at least read Matisse's latest blog post on this as it's really more informative and more detailed than this column. I don't really see Ms. Febos's writing and commentary on BDSM matters improving as, frankly, she doesn't appear to be very smart. Matisse's point about listening to people SMARTER than you is an often ignored starting point for beginner's in ANY field.
I have to say I'm surprised at how calmed the answers to this post are after listening to such an offensive interview.
First of all the "writer" part time teacher doesnt strike much as an educated person when she doesnt allow the interviewer to finish up a single question and then whines about how all the questions thrown at her are stereotypical to the point she had considered writing a FAQ to carry around but she doesnt stop for a second to consider the questions MM is asking her.
Its obvious this Febos person is leeching on the BDSM scene to promote herself and is actually clueless about what she claims to have being a lifechanging experience, and a positive experience that drove her to break free from her drug addiction.
The sad part of this story is the book might end up selling jumping on the sex positive books bandwagon when its closer to a fiction cheap booklet. Not only this Febos person does no favor to open minded people but portraits a whole community while claiming she hovers above it in her higher morale cloud-brainfart. The problem is not that someone poorly informed wrote a not so interesting biography that she tried to spice up and sell on a kinky wrap but that she comes up clear as water as a poser and an uneducated one for that matter. Looking forward for the day when someone like MM writes a real biography not about BDSM but a strong smart woman with things to say who happens to be a Dom.
Bravo to Mistress Matisse for her critique of Ms. Febos' writing. On the subject of Ms. Febos' ethics, or lack thereof: another level on which Ms. Febos' book fails ethically is that she actually used a number of clients' real first names in her book, without their consent. She made no attempt to protect their anonymity in her physical descriptions of them, either. I know this because I am a prodomme in NYC and know some of the clients she discusses.
Re: comment no. 10 by NYCpro - Egad. How horribly tacky. I
I was delighted to hear that Matisse was going to interview Febos... I thought Terry Gross didn't really give her a fair shake, and was pushing her into saying negative things. But I trust Matisse to be fair with her, open minded... give her a chance.

As far as whether Ms. Febos should have targeted her book towards a sex-positive community... the fact is that that market is much smaller than the market of people who want to be titillated by something they find dirty. It's a sad commentary on society, but something we'll be working our whole lives to progress agsinst.

The solution to having more balanced representations of BDSM in the pubic eye is for real BDSM people to be willing to be effective public spokespeople. This takes a lot of guts... you have to be pretty out. And you need to be intelligent, literate, well-spoken.

Notice that I said "balanced" instead of "positive"... I don't think the community is served by being polly-anna-ish... By claiming that kink or poly are "having your cake and eating it too." There's nothing wrong with talking about the special challenges that kink can bring to life. It makes us more credible and believable when we present a balanced view.

Folks like Matisse are already doing that. Full length books are great, and I'm sure Matisse will write some great ones later... but so much of modern information is in new media, books are becoming less relevant.

Kudos to Matisse for giving Febos a fair shake.
Are you kidding? It's not anyone's story, but her own. She has NO responsibility to telling or showing anyone's story but her own. Are you saying that her story is not valid or a common one? Seems fairly strange and insane that "her" story could rock you or our community so strongly. I've heard this story 100 times, not one of those times did I think "poor client". When I go to a play party, I expect there to be people who are not under the influence, because that's who I play with. At any point, I can walk away. We are also not talking about the clients who came into that NY dungeon who were on drugs or drinking as well, why not? As a ex sex worker, I found this story very freeing, truthful and really compassionate. She finds herself at the end ID ing with her clients, but we don't seem to be talking about that. Lame. Here is the thing. There is lifestyle and there is sex work as a job, and there is life style sex work. This chick had a job, and as it's pointed out, after one stand in with another Dome, she works her first shift. Now is that HER being a asshole? Or is that some BOSS man making money off her? She doesn't make herself out to be a victim of experienced life style BDSM folks, why are we making her out to be some villain? Seems the bottom line is that a 21 year old sex worker, addict, worked in a dungeon. Do you think this is rare? Experienced BDSM men paying and asking for "pro" 21 year old Domes to fist their ass, doesn't invoke anything but gross feelings about those men. Come on. As a final point, Febos tells her own story of getting clean while there, and moving on. I think there are a ton of young sex workers (who may love their job now) who could use to read this story. I say thanks Febos. As for the offended community? Write your own story. Really.