We received a note from an escort in Seattle who wrote, “I was reading your article about the girl in Washington DC who runs her ultra-discreet escorting business under the guise of a life coaching business. I thought that was pretty smart because I do much the same thing but with a fetish twist.”
Of course we wanted to know more and we arranged a Skype call with “Miss Fiona Arpel”. Miss Arpel is in her early thirties and when we video conferenced she was in a lovely, fitted, vintage suit sitting in what looked like a book lined study.
“Nicely headmistress don’t you think?” she said with a smile and we dove into our interview.
by Hannah Jay
“Seattle is a very strange place.” said Miss Arpel, “Thirty years ago it was all about Boeing and forestry companies. Then Microsoft and the first wave of Microsoft millionaires. And then Amazon and a hundred other high tech companies you probably have heard of but which I forget. All of a sudden there was a lot of money sloshing around in the rain.”
“I came up here from San Francisco with a boyfriend who spent his days coding and his evenings playing in the underground BDSM scene. We had a complicated relationship because he was convinced that he was a dominant and I, therefore, must be submissive. Like most men he managed to get that exactly backward. Eventually he was coding all day and almost all night and I had enough. I don’t think he even noticed I was gone.”
“I had a bit of money I’d saved and a collection of vintage clothes I’d bought all over. And a rather nasty whip and a few leather cuffs.”
“I had always been attracted to the fetish world but broadly defined. I could not imagine being a straight domme escort. Too boring. The problem is that most of the submissive men out there, even if they are willing to pay, have a particular “date” in mind where they get ordered around, tied up and – lightly – whipped. I know because one of my “scene” friends is a successful dominatrix in downtown Seattle and, while I was looking for something to do, I did a few sessions with her. The money was great but just not quite what I was looking for.”
“I’d done a BA in psychology in college and when I was with my boyfriend I’d been looking at getting a Masters so I could do counselling. While I was looking at that I took a “life coach” course. I was really doing the course to fill the time but I got interested and my teacher thought I was pretty good at it.”
“Without going into a lot of detail, life coaching done right, is about helping people remove the obstacles they put in the way of their own success. Some of it is psychology, some of it is motivation and some of it is pure counselling which really means listening closely. Of course, the problem with life coaching is that it is all carrots and no stick.”
“So, I wondered to myself, I wonder if a rather stricter life coach might not be what these Microsoft millionaires and their lawyers really needed. Well, why not? I had quite a nice, private, space in a building not far from downtown and just a turn off I-5. I had some very tailored suits, more girdles and stockings than I knew what to do with. A couple of stunning hats with veils and some really red lipstick and nail polish. And my trusty whip.”
“I got a “business” smart phone and set up the most basic WordPress-driven website around the theme of “Miss Fiona Arpel, Life Coaching with a Difference”. There was a graphic of me in one of my veiled hats holding the whip.
In my ads I had the same “Miss Fiona Arpel, Life Coaching with a Difference” headline and then a set of negative traits – procrastination, lateness, lack of focus, over indulgence, promiscuity – as bullet points. Finally, a line which I have been working on for years: “Punishment and Reward: A dominant woman modifies your behavior.” is where it has ended up.
On my escorting – life coaching website I am a little more explicit. “Many high powered men are unhappy, unfulfilled or even deeply worried because, somehow, they feel they are “getting away with it”. This is sometimes called the “imposter syndrome” by psychologists and it can be crippling. At the same time, many men also use sexuality, drugs, alcohol to displace their anxiety. All of which, along with various other bad habits, get in the way of the life you want and deserve.”
“My life coaching sessions go right to the heart of the issues which you bring to the table: chastity, abstinence, reward and, of course, punishment are all tools I use to create the change my clients need and desire.”
“Not your typical escort ad is it? Nor is it the whips and chains, let’s go to the dungeon, dominatrix ad either. I had no idea if that sort of advertising for that sort of quasi escort service would be appealing. I have to say that I was very grounded in my approach. I gave my ad two weeks and during those two weeks I kept track of the calls and emails.”
“I know a couple of girls who do straight escorting and they told me they found that about half their calls were from time wasters of one sort or another and the rest real prospects. But both of them thought nothing of getting twenty or even thirty calls a day. For the first three days my phone didn’t ring at all. Then I had two calls in quick succession.
Both were from men who, when I checked them out for screening, were quite serious tech players. I had set my rates relatively reasonably and one of these men asked me why I was not charging what the other dominas in town were asking.
I explained to him that I was actually really serious about the life coaching element and that while my rates were low, the chances were that several sessions would be required to deal with whatever issues he was having. That made sense to him. “So you are more a therapist than an escort.” he said. “More a life coach than a domina.” I replied. He booked for later that day.
It turns out that I had, inadvertently, done something most escorts would like to do but can’t quite figure out how to do: I created a multi-encounter situation where my clients pretty much have to sign up for a series of sessions.
When I was taking my life coaching training and some of my clinical psychology courses I was always amused by how the instructors and my fellow students, particularly the women dressed. The students would usually be in jeans and the instructors in loose, flowing clothing. All browns and beiges and neutral tones with clunky jewelry and bad shoes. But just as funny were the professional dominas who took seriously the black leather and silver chain look with the sky high heels and over thigh boots. Neither style seemed right for what I wanted to do.
At the beginning of my sessions with a client I like to look like a librarian with a very good tailor and a serious attitude. I’ll wear a pencil skirt, a pretty little black under bust corset, a sheer blouse, stockings and reasonable heels. My longish brunette hair will be up and I have a delightful pair of “power glasses” which complete the look. The blouse is only the tiniest bit sheer but I usually catch my client sneaking a peek.
I have my space set up to look faintly like a psychologist’s office or a study. I love books and I use full book cases to divide off my working space from the rest of my space. I have thought of renting a separate apartment for my escorting – life coaching business but, realistically, that is an expense I don’t really need. Instead, I keep my private life private by confining activity to my work space.
I have that space nicely furnished with a mid-century modern desk, two comfortable chairs and, delightfully, a mid-century modern chaise. It is a bow in the direction of the psychiatrist’s couch but it is a very versatile piece of furniture – it has one raised end and, with the addition of a couple of simple straps, it converts beautifully into a punishment bench. I also keep a high wooden stool in a corner which has its uses as well.
I start every set of sessions off in the same way. I explain that we will be working on the issues my client brings to me but that we will be using my methods. Beginning with complete obedience. I explain that at all times they are to address me as “Miss” and that any failures on the obedience front will be instantly corrected. I then give them a short description of my methods. I point out that while I am certainly not an escort in any conventional sense, I deeply believe that sexual rewards can be a very effective tool in the correction of destructive behavior patterns. I then surprise them by telling them that a sexual reward is made all the more effective by chastity during and between sessions. No masturbation without my permission even between sessions.
This usually surprises my clients but it is a key element of my coaching style. It also, incidentally, makes it impossible for law enforcement to do anything at all. After all, it is hardly the escorting model for men to pay not to have sex. But that is what I do.
Most of my clients arrive with two things: a particular behavior they want to change and, more importantly, a sense of being somewhat overwhelmed. Some of them have had experience with dominas, some with life coaches or psychologists; the idea of combining the two intrigues them. I have also found that my ad and website act as very effective screens against not very intelligent men. Most of my clients are brainiacs which also means they are under a lot of stress most of the time.
I realize it sounds contradictory to say that my little studio is a “safe space” what with the whips and shackles and such like; but it is. Safe in a way that a visit to a regular domina or a vanilla escort isn’t. I make it clear from the beginning that while I am in charge, I am only going to do things which I think will help them deal with their issues and their discomfort.
I take a rather strict, school mistress approach at first. I have one of the standard life coach opening interviews but I have my client stand or kneel as I run through the questions. Then I have them strip naked and we run through the questions again. It is surprisingly effective. You obviously couldn’t do it as a licensed counsellor and life coaches are far too “supportive” to have their clients recite their faults and issues nude; but the humiliation and vulnerability create a very clear path to the core of the questions my clients want addressed.
Then, still naked, I direct my client to the couch. I have a chair I sit in out of their line of sight. All very Freudian. I usually give them a choice about which issue we will work on and off we go. Usually, after a little while, my client will accept his situation and open up a bit.
Once I have a general idea of what is troubling the client I often send him to the corner while I think about a set of work for the client to do. Again, other than standing naked in a corner, this is all very standard life coaching. Eventually I come up with a plan and I call the client back over to the couch. This time they have to lie across the raised back of the couch and I stand behind them with my whip. Usually, in a first session, I will do no more than lightly bring the whip down a couple of times for emphasis.
Their work is assigned with rewards and penalties for completion of non-completion. Everything from specific reading, exercise, mindfulness exercises and contact requirements are usually assigned. They have to agree to each item and agree to the consequences of success or failure. Sometimes, along with cracking the whip I will do a little intimate massage to suggest the rewards which may await success. That massage is the closest I come to any sort of escort activity in a first session. I like my clients nice and hard when I tell them to dress and come over to my desk.
I have a standard coaching agreement already in draft and I simply type in the particular work which is required for that client over a specific time period. I have my client sign the agreement and I sign it as well. Our session is done at that point and I show them out the door.
Probably one in five of my clients never come back. It is too strange for them. But the rest are nearly certain to show up for their next appointment. In that session, as well as reviewing their work, I also require an account of their sexual activity. If they are single that account should amount to none at all. If they are married or have a girlfriend they are required to have sex or pleasure only when she initiates the activity. It is an honour system for most clients although I have several clients who are locked in penis cages to enforce their chastity. Again, there are very few escorts who actually hold the keys to their clients’ sexual gratification. We work through one issue at a time and, to my not very great surprise, when we have covered all the issues my clients often continue to see me to maintain their progress.
I have room for twelve active clients at a time and usually another dozen clients who simply need maintenance. Financially I do a lot better than I would if I was a counselling psychologist. The dominatrix side plus the occasional reward which can only be dispensed to consenting adults and probably counts as escorting activity, means I can charge higher end escorting prices.
Amusingly, more than a few of my clients come to me on orders from their wives or girlfriends. I thought this was strange at first but now it is a very regular part of my business. Once in a while I put up an ad on one of the escort sites: “Ever thought your husband needs a good spanking? Well I’m your girl.” A lot of girls do and will call to check me out. When they hear that chastity is a very important element of the work they are often all for it. Most women who are dealing with an underperforming husband have mused quietly about taking a strict approach; but the thing is that most women really don’t know where they should start, they merely know where they would like to finish. That’s where I come in.
It can be quite a lot of fun sitting with an annoyed wife, with her husband standing naked in front of us, making up a list of the issues he needs to work on. While I think escorts can often be good for marriages it is pretty rare for a wife to actually be comfortable with the idea of contracting out some of her spouse management concerns.
As escorting and domina work become more mainstream – something which there is a huge political tug of war over – I think there are going to be more girls like me who will combine what has traditionally been escort work with another modality. In my case it is life coaching but I can see room for tutors, media coaches, personal trainers and writing mentors using the same basic techniques I am using.
Realistically, there are a lot of men out there who actually benefit from the guiding hand of a strong, dominant woman. In the old days they really had no choice but to see a dominatrix or a fetish escort who, realistically, was very much catering to the whips and chains BDSM dungeon mainstream. That was where the fetish cash was so that is where the girls played. It still is a huge part of the domina escort market but there are great niches opening up for girls who like to add other value to their dates.
I expect I will be doing this life coach escorting for years. The work is interesting and more than a little challenging. No two of my clients have exactly the same needs. All of them are safe and both generous and grateful. Yes, I am a little more expensive than an orthodox life coach but, realistically, I get better results faster.
And there is one, unexpected, bonus to the life coach escorting domina model: my clients think of me as a helping professional. They’ll take me for lunch or for a coffee or a drink just as they might any other helping professional. Plus the wives are often fantastic. They love their husbands enough to get them the help those husbands need. Most of them, once they are comfortable with me, will suggest dinner or a visit so they can show off their now more attentive, more affectionate, more focused husbands. It really is very rewarding.