One of the rooms at a New Year’s Eve party at a hotel in northern Virginia was Domina Vontana’s dungeon. A flogger dangled from her hand as she stood in a small penthouse room, bathed in orange light next to a St. Andrew’s Cross and several spanking benches.

Her dungeon was stationed next to a room bathed in deep blue lighting. Mattresses were spread across the floor, covered by soft brown blankets. Next to them stood stacks of towels and large bowls filled with condoms.

The atmosphere was thick with both intensity and acceptance. D.C. stretched bright and vulnerable outside the window, buzzing with solitary revelers experiencing the beginning effects of anticipation and celebratory wine.

A conversation with Domina Vontana revealed not only the complexities of sexuality, but of identity, fear and personal desires.

The wisdoms she revealed, including finding pleasure in being spanked, does not mean a person is progressive about sexual minorities, and that there is something indefatigable in vulnerability. The best way to educate someone else about issues you care about is to be authentic about who you are, she said.

Why experience BDSM? Vontana said the physical and mental stimulation of being dominated releases endorphins and offers a relief from everyday stress.

To be clear, the services she provides do not involve having sex with clients. Vontana’s standard rate is $250 per hour. Her minimum amount of time is 90 minutes.

Everything is individualized based on what the client is interested in and where she and the client have overlapping interests. She emphasized that she will not do anything that does not bring her pleasure as well. These services can range from fuzzy sweaters to stimulation with kitchen supplies.

Most of her regular clients found her through a Google search, and she sees them three to four times per year. Domina Vontana works in Washington, D.C., Chicago and North Carolina.

Domina Vontana at a Northern Virgina hotel, overlooking DC, where she hosted a New Year's party. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Domina Vontana at a Northern Virgina hotel, overlooking DC, where she hosted a New Year’s party. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Can you describe your typical routine for constructing a scene?

Vontana said there is no typical routine. The only standard element in this process is the six questions that she asks every customer:

“Where were you born?

“Where are you at in birth order?”
“What did you study and where?”

“What do you do for a living?”
“What are your hobbies?”

“What is your astrological sign?”

“On the surface, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with domination and submission, but in reality, that’s the information that I need to get into their head quickly.”

Vontana said these questions help break down barriers and help begin the process of getting to know a person.

What makes for a successful scene?

“Laughter, honesty, intensity and dialogue.”

Why?

“Because it’s about connection.”

What would interrupt the success of the scene would be if the client was unable to maintain the proper headspace and submit. In times like these, Vontana said they will spend time sitting and talking about what the person is going through rather than doing anything physical.

Tell me a little bit about the psychology of submission. Why is it important for them to be in the right mindset to be able to submit?

“What I think is most important is that they are dedicated to creating a space and time where they’re able to experience this … the bottom has all the power because it’s up to them really whether they submit or not because it’s a consensual relationship.”

Does their willingness to submit affect you in any way?

“Well, no because 99.5 percent of the time they’re willing to submit. They’re waiting to do it. They need to do it.”

Do you see a change come over your clients throughout the process; can you tell?

“Yes. Experiencing submission is a very physiological phenomenon, and so there’s often changes in a person that might only be perceptible to the trained eye.

“I, for example, can recognize when somebody has gone into their submissive headspace because their eyes begin to shine with a wetness that sometimes only I can recognize … It is something very available and clear to me when it happens.”

Describe your workspace.

“Some call it a studio because they use it for more than one purpose. BDSM communities may like to have social events there.” Vontana listed a few: “fundraisers for sex-positive work, classes such as rope bondage and photography or video.

“What I think is most important to know is that a studio or dungeon space is not required for you to experience BDSM. One of my favorite things to do when I’m working with couples is to show them what they already have that can be used to start making their fantasies come true right away. And so I call that the lifestyle side of the lifestyle because it’s very easy to experience dominance and submission using what you already have. An example of this would be scarves for bondage or common bedroom upholsters can be used … for example if they want a spanking, a belt can be used or a paddle … you can use a tie as a blindfold.”

However, Vontana recommends going to a BDSM party if this interests you.

“If this is something you want to explore, it would be worth getting out to a party … it does take the play to a different level. I won’t say a higher level because success in BDSM is based on connection and exchange.”

She’s spoken with the Washingtonian and the Huffington Post to spread the idea that what she does helps people and how it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Has being a dominatrix changed your view of the traditional roles of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’?

“Absolutely.  There is much more to masculinity and male sexuality than we have allowed ourselves to see, and that men are suffering from sexual suppression just as much as women are.”

Domina Vontana demonstrates with her whip in her dungeon at a Northern Virgina hotel, overlooking DC, where she hosted a New Year's party. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Domina Vontana demonstrates with her whip in her dungeon at a Northern Virgina hotel, overlooking DC, where she hosted a New Year’s party. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Why do you think your clients want to be dominated?

“My clients want to be dominated because they want to feel whole. They want to feel complete. And this is a part of themselves that for whatever reason they can’t trust anyone other than a professional. But it’s something that never goes away and it is as real to them as anything else in their life.”

Tell us about a specific service, such as edge play.

“Edge play is often thought of as psychological. To bring somebody to the psychological edge, there is often some type of physical play involved, specifically fear play.


“If somebody has a phobia, and they’re willing to be exposed to it, you’re going to bring them to the edge mentally very quickly and they’re going to involuntarily voluntarily become vulnerable.”

“Examples of this might be knife play. Knife play never involves any cutting of the skin, just the showing of the object to the person who might be scared often while they’re tied down and then a little bit of sensation play with a dull edge of the knife might be passed over the skin creating a really pleasurable sensation.”

Edge play can be very liberating. But people have to be very careful that they’re not re-creating trauma.

What are common fears that can be dealt with through edge play?

“Fear of abandonment.

Fear of having your boundaries violated.

And fear of not being good enough.”

For example, during edge play you can tie somebody up and tell them that you are going to leave them there to bring them to terms with their fear of abandonment.

What is the process for coming back from an experience like this?

“After care is a vital part of any successful BDSM scene. It’s actually one of my favorite parts.

“After anyone has had any type of intense experience, they’re going to need a moment or three to recover from that.

“The way that I like to do this is to wrap my client in the blanket that my mother made me when I was five years old and I will often hold them, or they will lay their head in my lap and I’ll gently stroke their hair while we talk about the scene or whatever else they want to discuss.

“The type of client I like to work with is one who is truly there for my pleasure, and that means we do the things that I enjoy and they enjoy me enjoying myself.”

Where does the stigma around kink come from?

Vontana listed two main stigmas she has experienced about kink.

“One is the idea that as submissive that they are weak. What we need to come to understand is that being vulnerable takes an incredible amount of courage.”


The other stigma she has experienced is as a queer person.

“As a queer person, I have encountered many heterosexual individuals that think that they are progressive just because they like to be spanked. All the while they are completely ignorant about LGBT or sexual minority issues and they often overlook the stigma that we might face. Being queer and kinky makes you a double sexual minority.”

How do you educate people on these issues?

“The best way to educate people on a personal level is just to lead the life that you want to live and to be authentic and true about who you are.”

Featured Photo Credit: Domina Vontana in her dungeon at a Northern Virgina hotel, overlooking DC, where she hosted a New Year’s party. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

WritersBloc_Headshots_22Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at rayanneweigel@gmail.com

1 comment

  1. I’d say a handjob at the conclusion of the session, which Domina Vontana has provided, definitely qualifies as a sexual act and paying for sex, just FYI.

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