Apr 20 2017 9:30am

The Real Life of a Dominatrix in Jenny Nordbak’s The Scarlett Letters

The Scarlet Letters by Jenny Nordbak

Editor's Note: This book is a non-fiction memoir of a real-life dominatrix, and not a fictional romance novel. 

Jenny Nordbak’s debut erotic memoir is touching, funny, and fascinating. This book is heavy on graphic descriptions of life as a dominatrix in an L.A. dungeon, so beware! The kinksters and perverts among us will love the details used to describe Nordbak’s clients and their various fetishes while the author embarks on a personal journey to understand and explore her sexuality.

In the vein of 2005’s Belle de Jour: Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl, Nordbak was an “ordinary girl” until she entered the world of sex work. Although she lives an alternative lifestyle and occasionally engages in what some readers may see as self-destructive behavior (minor spoiler alert: there is recreational drug use in this book), our heroine’s adventures aren’t mere titillation. Instead, they serve the greater goal of displaying the ways in which Nordbak learns about power, compassion, and even love through her time as a dominatrix.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about this book is that it describes the author’s journey into the world of kink from the beginning. We aren’t simply plopped down in the middle with no idea how she got to the dungeon in the first place. (Maybe she got lost on the way to the grocery store?). After all, who among us hasn’t wondered how to go about becoming a professional mistress?

Another thing that became clear as I read was just how much technical skill a dominatrix must have to provide a safe, comfortable experience to clients. Even when discussing the mechanics of bondage, such as how much pain can be tolerated on different parts of the body, the writer’s voice shines through.

“We took a tour of the dungeon and as we went from room to room, she reviewed the rules and what would be expected of me. I began to notice that there was some understood flexibility between the legal rules that were posted in every room and the unspoken rules of the dungeon. Rules such as no penetration and no exchange of bodily fluids were fixed and fireable offenses. Not to mention felonies. But there was an understanding that a client was allowed to be fully nude and could orgasm as long as we didn’t assist. In other words, I can’t stop him from doing it, but I can’t be the one stimulating. Panties were never to be removed. Toplessness was at our discretion. Some of the nuances of the rules would take me months to understand, but the core of it all was to protect us from the law and from potential exposure to disease.”

It is obvious from Nordbak’s writing that she respects her former coworkers and clients, even when it is impossible not to laugh at the situations she ends up in. She doesn’t shy away from admitting her own flaws and mistakes to illustrate a point. Like most of us, her first inclination when confronted by a fetish she hadn’t previously considered (or had only thought of as a joke), she is privately judgmental. But as she gets to know her clients, she realizes that all of us have hidden depths.

“The questions were endless, but regardless of whether I was into the session or not, I recognized something that day. I was getting to see a side of another person that he doesn’t show to the world. This man walks around every day and people simply see him as a nice old guy who is probably past all the “sexual stuff.” They have no idea that he not only fantasizes about tickling young girls, but goes to a dungeon on a regular basis and pays for the privilege of doing so. It was intriguing and unsettling at the same time.

What else don’t I know about people?”

I can’t wait to see what Jenny Nordbak writes next!


Learn more about or order a copy of The Scarlett Letters by Jenny Nordbak, available now:

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