Home Fetish Things I’ve Learned During My First Year Pro-Subbing

Things I’ve Learned During My First Year Pro-Subbing

(Photo by Scott Beale via Flickr)
(Photo by Scott Beale via Flickr)

I’ve been pro-subbing for less than a year. I tiptoed into it slowly, unsure of how to advertise or snag clients. When I started providing, I advertised light domme services, but I usually just ended up massaging guys or slapping them around a bit. I soon realized that, in both my professional and personal life, I just don’t have it in me to be a mean domme.

But I could sub. I knew how to test restraints, how to lay over someone’s knee and be comfortable, how to tell if a gag wouldn’t work for me. I knew how to play bratty, sweet, acquiescent. Maybe I could do that.

I quickly found that while I had been able to research stripping and providing before starting, subbing would involve largely going in on my own.

Nearing my year mark for both subbing and providing, I’ve learned several things.

aropemarks1) There’s no info on it

While you can find many posts detailing the different types of dominants for hire and memoirs about life in pro-domme dungeons and working independently as a dominatrix, it is near impossible to find resources on how to be a pro-sub. When I started writing this article, I put out a call on Tumblr for subs and switches, specifying that I was looking for pros. All but one of my responses were from lifestyle kinksters who thought I was looking for beginner’s help and hadn’t heard of Fetlife.

I ended up speaking to a kinky cam girl and also a pro-switch from a dungeon in a major city. The cam girl spoke to me about how she navigates her submission through a screen. This was useful, but it was something I already had experience with myself and not quite the same thing as meeting up with someone in person.The switch gave me a tour of her work space and an idea of how things are run in a group environment, but she did mention that despite being a switch she is primarily asked to top people.

2) Guys want to fuck their subs, and usually don’t want to pay extra for it

This made sense once I thought about it. In femme domme porn the most sex you ever see is a woman sitting on a guy’s face. I have never seen a female submissive on screen who did not wind up giving a blow job to or having intercourse with her costar.

During my short stint as a switch I had guys who were fine with just being hit and called names. But as a sub, I have had only one client who didn’t assume sex was on the menu or ask outright for it. And that guy wanted to give me an enema, so it’s not as though he was foregoing all intimate contact.

I tried offering fetish only sessions. These were about half the price of my full service sessions, which meant I ended up having guys show up to sessions asking for an hour, saying “yeah, I want the fetish one.” I would ask what their fetish was, since they hadn’t mentioned it over email, and they would usually tell me it was performing oral on a woman.

(I didn’t usually go into how reciprocal oral sex isn’t a fetish, it’s common courtesy.)

Or I would have guys go for the fetish only session if they wanted me to top them. If they did want me to bottom for them and I told them ‘no, you can’t fuck me or touch my genitals’ (in more coded terms, obviously), they would suddenly lose interest, ask me if they could at least get a blowjob, or tell me that my rates for a session where they could tie me up, slap me across the face, and then also have sex with me were too much. Even now I have clients who are otherwise great guys who feel the need to mention at least once that they find me a bit pricey and that I should consider lowering my rates.

Considering the amount of work I have to put in and the safety measures I need to take, this is frankly insulting. I’m not bad mouthing dommes and their pricing or saying they never have to deal with hagglers. This is about clients and their mentality of seeing a sub as less than, and the way they display that through an inability to accept the rates I give them.

I offer a service where I have to put more trust in my clients. Even if it is within negotiated boundaries, I am allowing them to physically harm me, restrain me, and put me in incredibly awkward positions. Throughout all this, I have to play the submissive role while also still maintaining control of the session, doing things like craning my neck to see that the dude actually puts on a condom and doesn’t touch me with the hand he was just using to jerk off.

(Photo by Tabitha Kitten via Flickr)
(Photo by Tabitha Kitten via Flickr)

3) It’s easier

And I don’t mean it’s easy for everyone. I mean that when I tried being a domme, something which was not really me, it was harder. I felt unsure, unprepared, and generally sub par.

With subbing, it’s the opposite. I know my boundaries. I know my skills. If I haven’t tried something, I feel comfortable saying “Hey, this is new and that’s exciting, but can we have a backup for if it doesn’t work?”

Just because you’re good at one form of sex work doesn’t mean you are good at every form. Nearly every tutorial or checklist online will tell you to focus on being yourself and finding your niche, and I have really come to understand that through subbing. My strengths shine here and my weaknesses are more minimal than they were in other areas. Despite what I just said above about all the work that goes into this part of the industry, I have to say that this is the work I have felt most equipped for. I have a theater background, so actually, putting together a literal scene is something I’ve been to school for.

Oftentimes, when I talk to people who just want to be “a sex worker,” I’ll ask them, “what kind?” They usually have no idea what this question means. While different forms of sex work do require a lot of the same skills, there is a huge difference between what it takes to be a great stripper vs being a great escort/cam person/fetish worker.

4) I have never been better at expressing my boundaries

“I didn’t reply to you because your messages were all phrased as orders. I cannot see someone who automatically thinks they can treat me that way. Until you learn to cover preliminary negotiations as equals, I will not speak to you further.”

That’s what I said yesterday on the phone to a potential client who commanded me to be his “nasty sub” in his second message to me.

He never called back.

When stripping or escorting, I could lightly chastise men for being aggressive. As a sub, I can’t take the risk. I need to know that a guy can turn off his manly man super top persona and speak to me like an equal. It’s my requirement for seeing someone and if they refuse to do so, I tell them to stop contacting me.

But it’s not uncommon for a client’s response after I scold them to be, ‘I’m new to this and am still figuring it out. I’m sorry, I thought that was the way to go. You’re absolutely right.’

With one or two exceptions, my clients are still far and away better at initial messages than men on Fetlife. I have yet to receive any emails from potential clients demanding I call them “daddy” or telling me that I just need a thick cock to put me in my place.

This means that I feel safer expressing my boundaries rather than just writing a guy off entirely (which is what I’ve been doing on Fetlife for three years—I should just delete my account, really). When the worst a guy comes at me with is describing himself as a “gentleman,” demanding that I shower before a session and show him the utmost respect, it’s easier to be like ‘Yeah, dude, I’m a professional, that stuff is just what I do—now, let’s talk safety.’

The other two pros I spoke to expressed similar sentiments about their clients. The stakes as a sub are higher, so working as one is a quick lesson in forgoing the social conditioning which states that women shouldn’t cause a fuss. I also understand that being an indoor worker with a steady stream of clients means that I can risk losing a couple of guys over being a hardass.

Honestly, pro-subbing is rebuilding my faith in male dominants. For years I’ve written them off until they proved they were respectful, something they often failed at. I’ve gone to play parties and just ice queened every guy who approached me. But when a new guy lands in my work inbox and tells me his fantasies, gives me references right off the bat, and asks me what I need to feel safe, I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of playing with him.

Recently, I had a client who has never seen anyone before. He had no references, so he agreed to alternative screening, giving me online profiles and info about himself. He even showed me his ID when I met him.

All he wanted to do was tickle me. He’d never gotten to do that with someone and was thrilled at the prospect. This guy was 23. I couldn’t believe it: 23 and secure enough to not only voice his uncommon fetish but to go and pay for it!

Despite being inexperienced, he was a perfect client and a perfect top. He read me well, would stop so I could catch my breath or reset my body (tickling is harder work than you realize), and was so thankful at the end—without going into ‘okay I get it I’m a goddess now please leave your time is up’ territory. I was laughing with him because, duh, tickling, but I was also genuinely having fun.

Sure, there are still bad eggs. I’ve still blacklisted clients or done scenes I wasn’t into. But I am finding that guys like that 23 year old are not uncommon, and the more I build my brand and my reputation, the more guys like that approach me.

I am by no means leading a glamorous life where work is always perfect, but I am at a point where I feel comfortable with my job and like I know what the hell I’m doing. There is something to be said about not floundering in this work and having found my footing, even when I’m sometimes being dangled off the ground.

April is a variety sex worker in the Pacific Northwest. She likes to tell people she gets beat up for money but that's a small part of her work. Normally she just ends up talking to clients about activism and shows on Netflix. She has a Twitter but she never uses it.


  1. Yay!!!! I find domme-ing challenging (I am alright “Mommy Domme” but that’s about it) and I mostly do escort work but I’d LOVE to be a pro-sub. Thank you so much for your insight into this line of SW.

  2. Sorry for typos, I’m writing this on my phone. First, I enjoyed this essay and appreciate your contribution. I pro-subbed (and dommed) in nyc for a few years. I was great at it, but I had to quit it because it was too close to my personal sexuaul identity (I switch, but it’s approx 80%/20% in favor of being a submissive masochist). It started to mess with my head. One of the biggest problems for me was that, as you note, the guys are boundaries pushers who expect sex, which is FINE in and of itself, but very frustrating when I put in my ads and emails that I didn’t offer full service, and I reiterated it. Also, most expect full nudity, which dramatically increases the odds of being molested. I’m also angered at the men who think the fees for a pro-sub are “too pricy,” as you wrote. Dude, you are looking at a woman who will enthusiastically cater to your sadistic fantasy and endure (even enjoy!) Taking pain from you. I allowed some clients to beat me black and blue. You can’t put a price on a service like that. It’s a beautiful and generous thing on behalf of the woman and you should be grateful she even exists. Oh another think: male Dom clients often wanted/insisted that I have an orgasm. I faked it every time, but god, did I resent the request. I’m not your girlfriend, I met you 30 minutes ago, you aren’t entitled to that level of intimacy! Submissive clients can be jerks, but they don’t (usually) have the audacity to expect me to come! Will post again later.


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