Q&A With Mistress Lorelei Powers On Becoming A Dominant Woman
ConquerHim: Let’s start with the basics. Who you are you?
Mistress Lorelei: Like the old A/S/L? Does anybody still use that? I’m Lorelei Powers. I’m in my 50s, and I’m lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Professionally, I’m a freelance writer and editor; I also create and maintain some web sites. Oh, and I do some consulting for people who want to learn about BDSM. Educating people is definitely part of my mission.
ConquerHim: What was one of the defining moments in your career thus far?
Mistress Lorelei: Writing The Mistress Manual. In 1994, when it was published, there were very few guides to kinky play of any kind. Now it has been in print for 20 years, and I still get fan mail. Many women have told me how it revolutionized their sex life, allowed them to find and express their inner Domme. I also hear from guy subs deeply grateful for the way it helped their partners. One letter was from a couple who had been married more than fifty years but had never managed a successful scene until the wife read The Mistress Manual. I cherish that.
I’m working on a follow-up book now that will cover more topics. Play parties, for example, and playing with women.
ConquerHim: What kind of background did you come from? Did your birth family encourage your dominance?
Mistress Lorelei: In some ways yes, in some ways no. One vital factor was that I grew up in a family where women mattered. Most of my time my father wasn’t around and I didn’t have brothers. So my sisters and I grew up like Amazons, assuming that women could and would do anything. We never learned that we were less important than boys, and we were expected to be independent and strong. Although many of my maternal relatives were fundamentalists, my mother was always rebellious and independent. She was the breadwinner, too. That was much less common in the 1960s, especially in rural Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, we got into a fundamentalist church when I was 10 or 12, and they hammered us over the head with the message that Women Must Submit. But by then I was armored against that doctrine. I’d read too many books, and I was a flaming feminist. I also knew already I was bisexual. I took a copy of Radclyffe Hall’s novel about lesbians, The Well of Loneliness, to church camp one summer.
ConquerHim: Were you dominant when you were a little girl?
Mistress Lorelei: I had kinky fantasies from early childhood on, as well as a powerful sex drive. But I’m not sure anyone would have looked at me when I was a kid and said, “There goes a future dominatrix.” I was second of four girls, all very close in age, so what I learned as a child was the art of negotiating—a very useful skill for anyone involved in BDSM! But I always went my own way. That deep independence was probably the first sign.
I’m not sure anyone would have looked at me when I was a kid and said, “There goes a future dominatrix.”
ConquerHim: As a young adult how did you begin to recognize and accept your dominant nature? How did men react to your personality?
Mistress Lorelei: When I was 16, I was engaged to someone who was 27. The marriage didn’t happen, for which I am profoundly grateful. One day we were visiting my mother’s parents, and I amused myself by giving my fiancé orders to sit up and beg, lie down, roll over—just like he was a dog. My grandfather saw this and was very angry with me. That experience taught me it was dangerous to let anyone see my dominance. Well, except for intellectual dominance: things like being visibly smart, expecting to have my opinions heard, debating with people—and winning. Those were revolutionary in the culture that produced me.
As for how men reacted, many of them saw my dominance even when I was trying to be a good little Baptist girl. When I was a college freshman, a male friend actually asked to submit to me—and this was in the mid-1970s! I turned him down, since I was in a monogamous relationship at the time. By the time I was 19 I was playing with various lovers. I always seemed to attract the kinky ones. Of course, that’s partly because I was so sexually aggressive. A man who wanted a submissive woman was not likely to get involved with me. I was all too clearly not submissive in any way, shape, or form.
ConquerHim: Tell me about your first relationship where you were sure you were the dominant force?
Mistress Lorelei: Looking back, I was always the dominant force but that went unacknowledged in most of my early relationships. At least one of my romances ended partly because we were both kinky but not able to acknowledge or discuss it. That poor guy. He and I got together when I was 17 and he was 22. He told me I was his last chance for a normal relationship.
I really faced facts when I became involved with my husband. We negotiated by actually talking about BDSM—a quantum leap ahead of my previous relationships. At first we did scene-based female dominance, but we had a lot of female supremacy just in the way we related. I always handled the money, for example. Right from the beginning.
ConquerHim: How did you learn how to define female supremacy and female domination and relate it to your relationship?
Mistress Lorelei: It was a gradual process. For years I just thought of myself as a sexual explorer. When I met my husband—I was 24—we discussed BDSM very early. We had kinky sex before we had vanilla sex. Although I was happy playing on the top side, I had a hard time identifying myself as primarily a Domme. In fact, it took some therapy to get me to admit it. I had learned very thoroughly that such things were dangerous. It was a few more years before I admitted that I was a sadist.
ConquerHim: How did you react when you first met another Domme?
Mistress Lorelei: Oh, it was like coming home! I felt like I’d found my own people at last. I wasn’t alone any more.
ConquerHim: Do you believe a woman can be trained to be dominant?
Mistress Lorelei: Yes, and for two different reasons. First, there are many, many women who have buried or stifled their natural urges toward dominance. Look at me—I was doing it for years before I allowed myself to claim my identity. Practicing dominance allows them to discover the profound joy of it. In my experience there are a lot fewer mixed marriages—one kinky, one vanilla—than people think. I was attracting male submissives all along, although I certainly didn’t identify as Domme.
Second, most of us are much more malleable than we think. If you start playing the role and getting positive responses from your partner, that makes it much more rewarding to do and you can learn to find it sexually arousing.
ConquerHim: Was there ever a time when you did not feel like the dominant person in the relationship? MUST you take the lead at all times?
Mistress Lorelei: I definitely don’t need to be the dominant person in every relationship, but all my life I have found it almost impossible to ever be submissive in any relationship. Turns out I have a problem with authority, unless I’m the authority. [Laughs] Sometimes I had trouble at work and in grad school because I’m blind to hierarchies, both implicit and explicit. I always acted as though I was everyone’s equal. This really doesn’t go over well in corporate settings, and it’s even worse in academia.
ConquerHim: Is there a myth about dominant women that you would like to debunk right now? What don’t people realize about you when they first hear that you are a dominant woman?
Mistress Lorelei: I’m so far removed from the stereotyped image of a woman in charge that some people are astonished when they meet me. I’ve had comments on three different areas: style, scope, and looks.
A lot of people assume a TrueDomme™ is the ice-cold, manipulative bitch you see in porn. I’ve known a few of those in and out of play situations, and they all so far have had feelings even if they choose not to show them to a sub. Personally, I come across as gleefully sadistic in scene, affectionately controlling in D/s situations, and warm and funny with people I’m not actively playing with. Sometimes even *with* people I’m playing with. I’ve done some wonderful scenes that involved both the sub and myself in laughter.
We have many different styles of kink, and over a lifetime most of us will explore several of them. Just to name a few, there are Mommy Dommes who nurture, sadists who gleefully torture, high-protocol Dommes who demand precisely prescribed forms of obedience, and Mistresses who expect service. It’s most important to me that I possess a submissive, soul and body. The core of my kink is: “I’m going to know you right down to the bone, and I’m going to love all of you.” For many submissives, being known that intensely is much scarier than obeying orders.
Of course, I also delight in being able to touch my subs any way I want to, any time I want to. I inflict pleasure as well as pain. I love certain kinds of service. I want control over the sub’s decisions and choices, too.
As for scope, many people assume a Domme barks out orders to everyone—and expects to be universally greeted as Mistress or Goddess or whatever. Yeah, I can be bossy in vanilla situations, but if I’m Dommeing you, it’s because we have negotiated the power exchange. And Mistress to me is an intimate title, signifying a deep relationship.
The stereotyped image of how dominant women look is as inaccurate as the idea that we’re all cold and manipulative. Don’t get me wrong: some Dommes really are young, beautiful six-foot-tall Valkyries clad in skin-tight leather fetish gear and high heels. Most of us aren’t, though, and even the young, blonde, and beautiful are subject to aging. The truth is that Dommes look like anyone else. Many of us could pass for Sunday School teachers, except when we’re actually playing.
The stereotyped image of how dominant women look is as inaccurate as the idea that we’re all cold and manipulative.”
Oh, and most of us don’t wear collars. In my particular part of the BDSM subculture, collars are for submissives. I’ve never understood why so many photo shoots emphasize a Domme wearing clothes that she can barely move in. Playing hard demands freedom of action. Corsets and high heels limit that—at least for me.
ConquerHim: Can you name a few dominant women you admire?
Mistress Lorelei: The community is full of them. My publisher at Greenery Press, Janet Hardy; she has written some wonderful books on BDSM. Elise Sutton, who writes from the point of view of Female Superiority, is someone you should probably interview. The amazing Gloria Brame, too, author of Different Loving, which was one of the first mainstream nonfiction books that treated kinksters as human beings instead of exhibits in a prurient zoo. But you know, most dominant women don’t write books. Many don’t even attend play parties. They enjoy their kinks at home. Any woman you meet could be a Domme.
ConquerHim: What do you think of submissive men?
Mistress Lorelei: I love submissive men. It takes a special kind of courage to resist society’s message that manhood equals dominance and vice versa. A submissive man gets no social support for his submissiveness; all the cultural narratives run in the other direction. I suspect that’s why so many are into female supremacy; that approach offers validation. It’s not just the individual man who is submissive; all women are naturally dominant and males are inferior. It creates a safer space for men to explore their forbidden urges and needs.
Finding a Domme isn’t just a matter of getting together with any dominant woman who comes down the pike. Kinks are not necessarily compatible, and not many Dommes respond well to the usual approach of, “You Mistress, me sub. Dominate me.” Guys, you need to show a Domme that you’re more than a black hole of need. Show her you’re an interesting human being. Show that you’re aware of her needs and desires. What can you offer her? Oh, and do not send her dick pics unless she specifically requests them!
ConquerHim: Where can people get in touch with you?
Mistress Lorelei: I’m all over the Internet.
My main website: http://www.mistressmanual.com
Where to buy my books: http://mistressmanual.com/books/