Domina Phoenix Engracia, a BDSM sex worker who is identified by her professional name, is vocal about her work and what she does for a living.
According to Very Well Mind, BDSM is a sexual practice that involves bondage, dominance, submission and sadomasochism. BDSM practices also include spanking, whipping, role playing, wax playing and/or pain playing. It heavily depends on pain and humiliation or role-playing scenarios characterized by dominance and submission.
Engracia’s Head Start
Engracia, now 30, started her job as a dominatrix at 22 years old. She moved from Pennsylvania to Oakland, California after dropping out of Pennsylvania State University.
Back then, she worked as a bartender, which did not pay her much. So she decided to switch to the sex work industry.
“I wanted to make good money,” Engracia said. “I wanted to play the dominant roles in sexy, kinky scenarios, become a part of the dominatrix community.”
She now works as a full-time dominatrix where she earns $350 to $450 per hour.
An Ancient Industry
Although she believes her role celebrates female supremacy, she recognizes the stigma that comes with jobs like hers.
“There is so much stigma already against sex workers — sex workers are trash,” Engracia explained.
“There is a common expression among sex workers activist which is, “sex work is real work.”” she said. “There is this assumption that when you’re doing sex work, you’re doing it because you were sexually abused and you are desperate and you’re broken, you can figure out how to fix your life so you’re selling your body — so that’s the lowest thing you can do professionally.”
But sex workers have offered this service for centuries. “It’s arguably the oldest industry in the history of humanity,” she explained. “That deserves respect.”
In fact, according to ProCon — a nonpartisan information source operated by the Encyclopedia Britannica — sex work has been recorded as far back to the 2400BC.
The Stigmas Around Sex Work
Phoenix Engracia considers professional domination to be under the umbrella of sex work. But, in the state of California, where she is currently based, sex work is still illegal.
Engracia advocates for the decriminalization of sex work because she believes it is the first step toward humanizing sex workers.
“The decriminalization of sex work would legitimize the industry and the workers, and perhaps lead to a shift stigma over time,” she said.
“Again, sex work is an old, ancient industry, so the stigmas are just as old. Due to Christianity and other widespread systems of spiritual practice that reward modesty and suppress sexual desires, stigmas have formed in order for people to feel “pure” and “innocent” in comparison to sexually liberated folks,” Engarcia explained.
“We’ve made a choice to monetize our sexual proclivities,” she said. “I honestly don’t see why that choice should be questioned. I am an adult and I’m the only person who has a right to do what I want with my body. My body, my rules!”
Phoenix Engracia’s Clientele
Engracia’s clientele includes couples, people of color, and women. On average, each session typically lasts from one to three hours. However, she explained, some clients like to spend the whole day with her.
As for Engracia, the process of seeing a new client involves filling out a session enquiry form.
“When they feel out the session enquiry form they let me know who their references are — which are other providers, other sex workers that they’ve seen,” she said. “And what I do is I take these email addresses and email these women and I ask them how it was seeing Joe; “Did you enjoy spending time with him? Would you see him again? Is there anything about him I should know before I meet up with this person?””
Ultimately, she will decide whether or not she will proceed seeing them and only meets about 15% of the people who send inquiries.
“I also do a phone interview — which is probably the most important element of the whole process,” she said. “There’s nothing to sign, there’s no contract or anything like that.”
But, there are rules to BDSM, Engracia explained.
Always have honest communication, she said. “Keep it safe, sane, and consensual! Discuss boundaries in advance. Use a safe word.”
As a professional ‘Domme,’ she urged people to “learn how to do things before you do them to someone.” She explained that the SM101 book is a perfect source for dominatrixes.
Misconceptions and BDSM Safety Measures
When asked how workers create boundaries between abuse and BDSM, she answered, “conflating abuse and BDSM is yet another unfortunate assumption that many people make.”
“People also assume that I have sex with my clients, which is not true. Although I do engage in many things that I consider very sexual such as whipping, bondage, power exchange, and golden showers,” Engracia indicated.
“BDSM is what happens when people consent to meaningful, kinky engagement for pleasure and fulfillment. Abuse is what happens when non-consensual violence is used to control and mistreat someone,” Engracia explained.
In regards to safety, Engracia always takes as many safety precautions as she can during the session.
For instance, she indicated that there are certain places that workers do not hit on the client’s body to avoid internal harm. There are also certain ways to tie clients up without hurting them. Additionally, Engracia does not drink or take drugs during sessions.
“I have a lot of experience and training; I’ve done a lot of research to get where I am today in my practice of BDSM,” Engracia said. “For my personal safety, I thoroughly vet people and check references before offering them an appointment.”
Engracia considers BDSM as a “healing art,” she added. “It’s extremely gratifying to facilitate a transcendent session with those who trust and respect me.,” she said.
All-in-all, when people ask Engracia why she does what she does, her response will always be the same — the tremendous interest she has in being a dominatrix.
“I’ve always been interested in the dominatrix as an archetype, just like Greek goddesses and tarot characters,” she said. “All of us are different and have unique kinks and specialties.”
Written by J. Laura