JORDAN GOETTLING / The Bull
Sauntering up the stairs, Destinee Montgomery is not your average 21-year-old, standing roughly 5 feet, 10 inches tall in heels. She is a force to be reckoned with. Tall and lithe, the self described metalhead sports knee-high black boots, jeans and a cut-off tank top. It isn’t the multitude of tattoos or the various piercings that make her intimidating – it’s the air of confidence and dominance that surround her.
The intepretation of escape differs from person to person. For some, it’s a vacation in Bermuda, to others, it’s a trip to Bloomingdale’s. For some, it’s sex, and for a community of others, it’s BDSM. BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism but the origins of BDSM are shrouded in obscurity, much like the dungeons and play parties of today.
“Sexual masochism refers to engaging in or frequently fantasizing about being beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer, resulting in sexual satisfaction … Masochists may inflict their own pain through shocking, pricking, or choking; approximately 30 percent also participate in “sadistic behavior,” according to an article published on PsychologyToday.com
“I live a BDSM lifestyle,” states Destinee. “I’ve always been into it ever since … I was 13 years old because that’s when I became sexually active.”
As confident as she is, Destinee claims “(I) thought there was something wrong with me, but then I found out there was a whole other subculture.” Destinee has been learning the ropes of the BDSM industry since she turned 18 and has been professional since November, 2009.
BDSM is as diverse as the people who practice it, claims Dr. Gloria G. Brame, a clinical sexologist.
“You wouldn’t expect the whole world to agree on … which flavor of ice cream tastes the best,” she says. “Different people need and want different experiences in bed.”
There is no specific way to engage in BDSM activities; it is simply an exchange in power or sensation. Many people have a negative, knee-jerk reaction to the idea of BDSM, but elements of “rough” sex fall into the BDSM category, such as spanking, scratching and biting. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist and the founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, determined that roughly half the population has engaged in such activities while experimenting.
“The community believes in safe, sane and consensual,” says Cay L. Crow, licensed professional counselor and American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) certified sex therapist. “Playing within your limits prevents injuries.” Crow explains that some people new to the community like to push the limits for selfish reasons. “There is a certain protocol to get involved,” says Crow.
Destinee stresses the importance of practicing BDSM with professionals.
“An amateur knows about BDSM, but isn’t quite sure of the details of certain play techniques, in which case if you don’t know them, you shouldn’t be doing them because someone can really get hurt,” she says.
In order to gain her professional status, Destinee had to complete a mentorship under another dominant. This meant being a submissive before becoming a domme, a female dominant. She has also completed an EMT class.
“Starting from the bottom up, not only do you experience … what it’s like to be a sub,” says Destinee. “But it always gives you a better understanding of what your sub or slave might be going through. What they might think, or the fear, the trust issues. It helps you understand that.”
Some individuals misinterpret BDSM as psychological abuse but the relationships are much like normal ones, founded on mutual trust and respect. Sadomasochistic relationships are usually well planned. Before the role playing commences, the sub decides on a safe word, which notifies the dominant that they have begun to feel uncomfortable or in danger during the fantasy. As stated in Xeromag, a BDSM magazine, “the fact is, the psychology of a BDSM power exchange is vastly different from the psychology of abuse … typically, it is the submissive who says ‘this far and no farther’–which is entirely contradictory to the psychology of abuse.” Another common misconception is that dominatrices sleep with their clientele. While that may be true of some BDSM relationships, it is not characteristic of the professional industry.
“It hurts my feelings … when people imitate other lifestyles or trends — because they think it’s trendy or for quick money,” says Destinee, frustrated. “It pisses me off because then I get shit (and) it makes me look bad.”
Many submissives are influential and professionally dominant individuals. “About four or five years ago, after being dominate my whole life, I got the urge to explore my submissive side,” says 56-year-old “Cabanaboy”, a source wishing to remain anonymous.
Destinee says some of her clientele includes individuals in the law enforcement field, CEO’s and lawyers. As one dom (male dominant) who wishes to remain anonymous states, “Everyone has their own reasons for it. Some escape reality, but some live this life 24 hours a day.”
To some, BDSM is just an escape. For others, it’s a way to make money. And for some, it’s the life they live and enjoy.
There are some within the community that have polyamorous relationships, consensually involving themselves in more than one relationship.
Destinee is polyamorous. “I’ve always been that way; I had to learn it the hard way,” says Destinee. “I am a person who needs multiple different relationships, because I think I have multiple personalities.”
Destinee doesn’t need to escape, because the BDSM industry has allowed her to live the life she enjoys openly and honestly.
“I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I’ve done,” says Destinee, “because I like me.”