Patrons of Numbers probably recognize Domina Shannon as the busty, perky bartender who's always ready with a drink and a smile. What more could you ask for? However, when she's not slinging gin, she's swinging a riding crop as part of Maison Noir, Houston's pre-eminent BDSM dungeon. And good news in this economy: They're looking to hire a couple of people who don't mind dishing out a little discipline.
"I feel that the most important thing to look for in new applicants is a true interest in BDSM," said Shannon via e-mail. "Anyone can read the books and learn the techniques, but if you lack a genuine interest in the arts, that will always come through when you play."
Shannon discovered an interest in kink during her teenage years. She and her like-minded friends would invite boys back to her home in order to experiment with bondage, or would practice on each other when no playmates were available. She heard about a local dungeon, the Imperium, that had an open slot in 1997. She was hired by the six-room establishment, but it went under only six months later. Undeterred, Shannon established herself as an independent dominatrix, and traveled extensively working in the field. She even served as a consultant for the crime drama film The Flock, starring Richard Gere and Claire Danes.
"What I love the most is when someone surrenders to me in every way, for me to use however I please," said Shannon. "There is a great deal of trust to be established for someone to surrender to you completely. That is very satisfying to me. I have to admit I also enjoy seeing the fear in someone's eyes! I love being able to create a magical scenario for both myself and my subject to delve into completely."
Eventually, she returned to Houston and has begun working with Maison Noir. It started out as a simple one-room space in the Galleria area in 2010, but now hosts a multi-room facility that serves as one of the few full-time dungeons in the city. The facility is outfitted with many pieces of bondage furniture such as a vertical steel cage, a St. Andrew's Cross, a CBT chair (That's Cock and Ball Torture, y'all), multiple spanking benches, a vertical rack and a bondage table. The chambers carry an array of floggers, whips, paddles, hoods and restraints of all kinds, as well as medical toys, which include an extensive collection of electro-stimulation devices with all appropriate attachments. Cross-dressing materials are also available.
"Being even a small part of someone's journey to self-expansion is very uplifting and empowering for the clients as well as the staff," said Shannon's colleague Mistress Friday. "Finding the right Domina you can trust to be your guide and controller in the many realms of D/S play can be daunting. That is what we offer at Maison Noir, and it is a responsibility we take very seriously."
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Working as a dominatrix is not a job for those interested in merely making a quick buck, or for people seeking a little glamor from the thrill of leather corsets and a little control. The position requires a refined ability to read the needs of a client, being comfortable in a position of authority and, most of all, having a good imagination. It's a hallmark of bad dominatrixes to come across as someone who has to dominate everyone they meet. It shows a lack of confidence and self-control.
If you think you might have the right temperament, Maison Noir currently has two openings. Experience is preferred, but not necessary. Full training will be provided for the right applicant. Interested parties should definitely read up on BDSM culture before applying if they're new to the work. Applicants can contact Maison Noir through their Web site.
"Dungeons provide an established source for fetishists and submissives seeking professional domination," said Friday. "The interests and fantasies that are pursued within our facility are evident within most of us to some degree. How else can you explain mainstream societies' ongoing love affair with fetish attire and the mysteries of a dominant/slave relationship? This lifestyle exists, and not providing places where people can indulge safely is only going to drive them to dangerous experiences and no one wants that."
After all, we wouldn't want anyone to get hurt.