Under the Influence

I had lunch today with my friend Lynn, who recently made her sex-industry debut. After having been in the industry over a decade myself, I have a rather big-sisterish attitude toward new people. So I was pleased to hear that Lynn's career as a call girl is going well.

Just like I'm pleased for Natalie. And Carla. And Janelle. And Lisa. And all the other women who have come to me, over the course of our friendship, to tell me that they've decided to become sex workers. I don't know what the national average for this is, but I'm sure I'm over it. Sometimes I wonder if I should have named myself Mistress Catalyst.

I don't truly worry about being an undue influence on the choices of those women. They're all smart, together people. I'm happy to give them the support of a friend, and a little advice on fine points of strategy. But I was in a situation once where a woman--someone I didn't know well, but who seemed unsuited for the business--said something to me like, "Wow, you're a sex worker and you're really cool. I want to become a sex worker so I'll be cool like you."

Oh, shit. When the captain of the Titanic asks for career advice, how do you say, "Don't get on the boat!" I didn't want to be unkind to her. I considered something subtly discouraging, like, "You know, I'm not really that cool. Why, I've voluntarily eaten dinner at Red Lobster. And I don't even own any Manolo Blahnik shoes. So don't become a sex worker just to be like me."

Then I reminded myself that even if she says it's all about me, the truth is, she's responsible for her own decisions. It's not up to me to save her from herself. And, hey, I'm not infallible. Maybe she'll sail right past those icebergs. So I just smiled and said, "Good luck to you."

In the dungeon, people do what I tell them, and we're both happy about it. That kind of reinforcement makes it tough to rein in my Mistress-knows-best instincts in everyday life. But I've seen dominants who have plainly lost touch with the distinction between the two worlds, and it's not a pretty sight. So I work to maintain my perspective about when to get bossy and when to leave it alone. Because acting like a big sister is one thing, acting like Big Brother is quite another.

matisse@thestranger.com