A dominatrix says her work lends itself perfectly to social distancing — but that the pandemic is the worst possible time to start out


Victoria Domina Rage




  • Victoria Rage is a Seattle-based dominatrix who has punished her clients since she was 18. 

  • She said that with the use of fetish-style masks, hoods, gloves, pleasure denial and psychological dominance, BDSM can be adapted well to social distancing.

  • Like any service, she can't guarantee a risk-free experience. But she has upped her hygiene practices further, which are already high in the industry.

  • There has been a surge of interest in online sex work in the jobs crisis that came with the pandemic.

  • But given how much experience is needed — and good training in short supply — Rage doesn't recommend newcomers try to start BDSM work.


  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.


A Seattle-based dominatrix says that professional BDSM practices adapt well to this socially-distanced era — but that she would never advise a fledgling dominatrix to attempt to start out in the pandemic.


Victoria Rage makes her living administering punishment to willing "victims" in her dungeon.


Her clients — who she refers to as "slaves" or "pets" — delight in the plethora of ways that BDSM, or Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism can be played out.


But coronavirus lockdowns have made it harder for sex workers who ordinarily meet clients in person.


"I think on an average, most of us lost about 70% of our business overnight," said Rage, who did not give her real name for reasons of personal security.


Seattle — not far from where the first US coronavirus outbreak was recorded — went into a strict lockdown early, and Rage stopped taking in-person clients completely. 


But as those restrictions eased and "quarantine fatigue started stepping in," as she put it, she has started welcoming select numbers of clients again, spaced several days apart.


Rage, 36, explained to Insider how she adapted her BDSM practices to try to keep clients safe — and satisfied.


Victoria Rage BDSM pandemic


Digital domination "became a massive thing"


Many of the kinks played out in the BDSM community don't involve touching at all. In the case of financial domination, or findom, simply the act of giving money to a dominatrix — for no reward whatsoever — can thrill some people, Rage said. 


As Insider's Canela López and Barbara Corbellini Duarte reported, dominatrices have started moving their work to video calls and digital platforms like OnlyFans.


While this used to form around 5% of Rage's business, now she said it's around half. Here, clients are happy simply watching her on camera or being issued strict orders.


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"So for instance, I have one client that's really into puppy play. His whole thing is he wants to get dressed up like a dog," she said. She explained how she will throw a ball at the screen, and the client will also throw a ball and "fetch" it for her. 


"And then I tell him to do tricks and drink water and eat," Rage added. 


She will also perform for the camera, and for many of her clients the fact that they can't touch her enhances the experience. 


"The 'tease and denial' crowd, that is a huge one," she said. In some sessions, she'll dress up and mock the viewer for not being able to touch her. 


"Some clients will tie themselves up before the Zoom call and then I'll just wear, let's say, a rubber cat suit and basically just model it," she said. "Then I'll tell them, 'if your hands were free you could touch this' or 'if I could be bothered I would let you lick this latex.'"


"The whole not getting something you want aspect is massive for them," she said.


Some clients really miss the physical session






"There are some clients that are very into sensory interaction," said Rage. "Being able to smell my hair and feel my touch is everything."


So as lockdown eased, she began taking trusted clients who practice strict social distancing.


As with a visit to anyone outside the home, Rage can't offer complete assurance that visits are risk-free. But many of the accessories she was already using in her in-person sessions have proved useful. 


She asks all clients to come in wearing a mask. If the session doesn't involve a mask, "they're usually wearing a hood, which fits into the kink anyway," she said. 


Medical gloves — and the cleaning standards that go with them — were already part of her practice. Now, she often wears a fetish-style medical breathing mask, which has the dual function of keeping her safe from infection and, well, adding to the thrill. 


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BDSM always had hygiene practices 


Pre-pandemic, dominatrices already kept high standards. 


Gloves are the norm, Rage said. "And if you touch anyone or anything, while someone's in your studio, your hands have to be washed before you touch something else."


All non-porous surfaces are cleaned with hospital-grade sanitizers, and "everything that can be bleached does get bleached," she said, adding that this especially counts for anything a client will touch.


She fits her air purifiers with HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air filters). These previously helped catch air pollution and protect clients with allergies. (These can, in theory, filter the coronavirus, according to The New York Times, but she does not offer guarantees.)


"Now, it's the same protocols, but I've added electrostatic purification to the air," she said. She also runs the HEPA-filtered purifier on the days in between clients. 


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She has also expanded her sterilization regime to include not just things that a client has touched, but "everything within six feet" of that.


"I have to assume basically that there's some sort of contagion coming off my clients at all times," she said. 


In total, she spends at least an hour each before and after a session cleaning, and sometimes she second-guesses herself and does it all again.


"I find myself double-cleaning a lot now."


There are good reasons for newcomers not to get started now


Domination is Rage's calling. On her 18th birthday — the first day she was old enough to get a license — she turned up on her local dungeon's doorstep and asked to be trained. Only then did she realize how much there is to learn about safe and hygienic practice.


"You had to train for two years with another mistress at that dungeon before they would ever let you have a session one on one," she said.


Her "head mistress" — the woman who ran the establishment that taught her — was a former nurse, and Rage said she would never have learned the standard of cleaning without that training. 


But since lockdown, many dungeons have had to strip back their availability, and that level of training isn't easy to come by. 

"I just really would be concerned that someone couldn't keep up with that, especially now, or that they would be willing to space sessions out enough to provide a safe environment," she said. 


But it's also about the skill of administering pain. 


There are many ways an inexperienced dominatrix can injure a client


Before she trained, she had "no idea the amount of sanitation, the amount of ways that you could accidentally hurt a client, pinch nerves, cause blood clots, or impacts," she said. 


"There's so much fragility in the body — even though people are very resilient — it's just amazing how much you have to keep up on them as you're playing," she said. 


A skilled dominatrix has to be able to check in on her client's welfare, all without breaking character. A caress on the neck might actually be Rage checking her client's pulse — and the dramatic blue and red lighting she uses isn't just for show.


It's "so that I can better see changes in the skin color," she said. Learning to spot those hints of something going wrong take guidance that dominatrix can't easily get in the pandemic, she argued.


Victoria Rage dungeon


"And then I'm making sure that they move and reposition at least every 30 minutes, so that blood doesn't pool in certain parts of their body."


These measures are especially important when a client goes into what the BDSM community calls "subspace" — a mindset that comes from immersion in a submissive character. 


Many people describe it differently, but Rage said: "I've heard it described as when you just wake up from the best nap of your life, and you're still not completely coherent, but you feel amazing and euphoric a little out of your mind."


"Nothing in the immediate realm matters," she said. But that means they are extra vulnerable to taking unintended damage — and it's her responsibility to ensure they don't. 


Rage would instead suggest OnlyFans — "be brave, be creative, go for it."


"Anything where that's you on your own? Be brave, people, be creative, go for it," she said. "These digital things are amazing."


Some offer caution to that too. Sex worker Alice Little earlier told Insider's Julia Naftulin that people still need to think about the long-term implications of putting images of themselves online. "Once your naked body is on the Internet, good luck getting it off the Internet," she said.


Either way, Rage cautions against jumping into BDSM.


"Any in-person thing where you or your visitor might not wear a mask, or you're going to deal with more contact than you've gotten used to on a daily basis? I would just really caution against that right now."



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