Modern Mating

When Technology and the Sexes Collide

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Women who bring men to their knees

If it seems like men always have the upper-hand sexually on the Internet, peruse some of the female domination sites and you’ll realize that there are many guys who are desperate to submit. For those whose sexual proclivities gravitate towards leather clad dominatrixes wielding whips, there is a substantial industry devoted to addressing their fetishes. For a fee varying from between $100 and $500/hour, you can be spanked, whipped, tied up, dressed down, or have any number of other fantasies fulfilled.

Though it sounds implausible that there is a market for such services, there is. Yesterday for instance, Abraham Alexander an accountant in New York City, admitted that he stole almost a quarter of a million dollars from his employer. Some $30,000 of that money was spent paying for sessions with an Ohio dominatrix named Lady Sage.

When I asked Veronica, a girlfriend of mine who is a sex worker, about some of the unusual requests she gets from her clients, she just laughs. She believes that she is performing an essential service on behalf of wives who find their husbands’ proclivities distasteful. “Why do these things if you don’t want to and don’t have to?” Why not outsource some of the more technical and challenging forms of erotic labor – like S&M - to the experts?

The most comprehensive online directory of professional dominants - - has links to and takes advertising from over 1,200 S&M services in the U.S and shows that there is a substantial interest in whips and chains. These operations run the gamut - from simple, one woman undertakings run out of a spare bedroom, to sophisticated enterprises featuring equipment that would make the Marquis de Sade salivate and an array of provocatively attired women.

In past, S&M was an underground activity. To self-identify as a sexual submissive or as a fetishist was a significant hurdle, but to find someone able to meet those needs was even more challenging. “When I first started as a submissive”, remembers Daniel, a long time enthusiast of professional dominatrixes, “there were only one or two places where the ladies advertised, the ads were very vague, and you had to write them a letter of introduction. Then you had to wait to see if they’d respond. It was very underground, not like it is today with websites and houses, where all you have to do is write an email or make a call.”

The proliferation of websites devoted to the many different fetishes and edgy enthusiasms, as well as a greater social tolerance for sexual diversity has made it easier for prospective clients to find a professional dominatrix. However, the equipment and expertise necessary to have a domination practice insures that the selection and availability remains quite scarce. Correspondingly, professional fees are high, and booking a session can be difficult. It is quite common for a dominatrix to require a deposit and several days advance notice. When PayPal, which enabled its users to transfer funds electronically with only a click of a button, cracked down on its use by adult businesses, professional dominatrixes had to find other ways of getting money in advance. While there have been PayPal like services oriented towards the adult sector, their use has not taken off. Instead, sex workers who want a deposit have now reverted to getting payment by mail – cash or money orders are preferred.

The business has progressed to the point where there are several well known dominatrixes in most cities, and elaborate houses of domination (the S&M answer to a brothel) in the largest cities. This is one of the fastest growing areas in the sex industry, and with this growth comes unscrupulous and untrained operators.

Fortunately, fetishists are an eager bunch, and the risks don't scare them away from the S&M demi-monde. In fact, the risks may draw them in, with professional S&M being a way to experience the "extreme sport" of sexual exploration. The anonymity of Internet surfing has enabled many fetishists to explore their latent interests in S&M. It has often led to them wanting more, causing an explosion in both the client base and in the number of women who would cater to their interests. This migration from fantasy to flesh can make the business more dangerous for all concerned.

As a consequence, the message boards at MaxFisch have taken on an important role in helping prospective clients ensure that the dominatrix he wants to hire for some torture is a competent, careful individual, while simultaneously being unpredictable and outrageous enough to deliver the thrills desired.

The participants will solicit input from others about who gives the best spankings in Ohio or Paris, or whether a particular dominatrix is “safe and sane”. Some of the men will share details of their visits with a dominatrix, describing her approach and technique, such as:

  • “Goddess Heather is a very hands-on domina and she used those delicate hands to constantly squeeze my balls and cock. On numerous occasions, she would pull my tongue out and pinch the tip as hard as she could with her fingers and very strong toes. She used various instruments to attack my balls and cock, including a slapper, a crop and a strap. Fuck it hurt, but when she creeps up beside your ear and whispers a directive in that sexy British accent, you are simply putty in her hands and all you want to do is beg to submit and get beaten.”
  • “Mistress Sabrina met me at the door wearing PVC and boots, great long legs and brunette weakness. Our session was spent on a Cross and on my knees, but it was time well spent.”
  • “This week, I had the pleasure of sessioning with Goddess Venus Divine for the first time. She was absolutely great and very skillfully led me though a scene. I would highly recommend Her if you have the opportunity to session with Her. She is fabulous!!”
  • "Mistress Oliva “Is the hottest, sexiest most beautiful erotic domme I have ever seen, felt and smelled!!! She knocked my sock right off (as well as a few other items of clothes...).. I recommend her highly to anyone ... From the beginner to the expert she will satisfy your every desire and fantasy”
  • “With a very experienced, very skillful, incredibly well equipped and calculating Domina like the Sadistic Humiliatrix Mz. Fawn, one does not dictate what will occur in training sessions. One simply shows up and hopes her mood and agenda for the day will not be too stringent or exacting. And these hopes will inevitably be dashed one way or the other. Whether you find yourself with a dildo or a piss funnel strapped to your face, just know you will be put in your humble place. Whether your ass is striped with the cane, or her glorious ass is bathed with servile kisses, know the most appropriate femdom dynamics will always be strictly enforced.”

The site also has a board where personal issues are discussed by the dominatrixes and their admirers. Topics like whether to tell your therapist about your kinks (you should), whether to tell your wife about your kinks (you should think hard about whether to do so or not), whether clients can have relationships with their dominatrixes (the men think so, and the women don’t disillusion them) and so on. It’s a supportive environment where people can have intelligent conversations and learn more about their fetishes and what to expect before, during and after a dungeon visit.

If you consider that there are over 1,200 female professionals who specialize in satisfying the domination and submission desires of the American populace (there are a handful of “Masters” whose clients are overwhelmingly male). If each Mistress, Goddess, Lady, Princess or Domina spanks, whips, ties, torments or teases only 5 clients per week, charging each $200 for the hour, the market for professional S&M exceeds $60 Million. If you include the prostitutes who dabble, the market exceeds $100 Million. However, if you consider that this sector of the sex industry was virtually invisible only ten years ago, it's easy to see how the Internet has brought an outré activity to the masses. Pretty soon, a leather clad vixen will be plying her trade in your neighborhood. That is, if she isn't already.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Nuisances with lawyers

The internet dating industry is growing up. Its growth is stabilizing. It's attracting a more mature clientele . And now it's the subject of nuisance lawsuits!

Last fall, Soheil Davood sued JDate. He alleges that a woman on the site (or at least someone purporting to be a woman) first engaged him in a flirtatious conversation online where she boasted about working for a lingerie manufacturer. After she badgered him to call her, he finally gave in and phoned her, only to receive "a taunting message telling him that he was rejected." Soheil felt that JDate promised an efficient way of finding high-quality Jewish women to date. He has sued JDate as he believes the site is "defective" and inadequately monitored as encounters like the one he experienced expose the users to a risk of "psychological harm." and Yahoo!Personals are also the subject of similarly frivolous lawsuits. In November, Matthew Evans filed suit against Match. Evans contends that has employees who serve as "date bait", i.e., who target people just as their subscriptions are about to expire, by winking, flirting, and even going out to dinner with them. Evans believes that the company was so eager to retain his subscription fees, that they sent an attractive woman out on a date with him. quickly fired back with a sworn statement from the woman, asserting that she had "never been an employee of, nor was she ever paid to go on dates with any members or subscribers." Evans and his lawyers were trying to muster a class-action suit in a clear effort at corporate shake-down.

In October, Robert Anthony filed suit against Yahoo. Anthony believes that as his subscription was up for renewal, he received notice of many new matches to his profile. None of the matches turned into dates, and instead of cancelling his subscription, Anthony contacted a lawyer. Yahoo has sought to dismiss the lawsuit. Earlier this week, a judge ruled in Anthony's favor, saying that there was adequate evidence to allow his fraud claim to go forward.

One of the most absurd suits is from John Claassen, a California lawyer. Claassen tried to join eHarmony while in the process of getting divorced. eHarmony has a policy to match only people who are "free of relationship commitments" (i.e., unmarried), and as a consequence, Claassen - though separated - was ineligible to use their services. When Claassen contacted eHarmony to complain, he was told he'd be welcome to join once his divorce was final. While he could always join, for instance, which permits separated people to have memberships, for whatever reason he is intent on joining eHarmony, where customer surveys indicate a strong preference by its users for matches who are divorced, widowed or never married . Despite the fact that he would be unwelcome by most eHarmony's users, Claassen was intent to join. Channeling his legal expertise and a rabid desire to date, Claassen believes that this policy violates California state laws because it discriminates against him on the basis on his marital status. He is seeking civil penalties of $12,000.

While some of the small dating sites undoubtedly play tricks on customers as a means of generating more revenues, the large sites like Match and Yahoo are not going to go to the trouble of assigning employees to flirt with customers whose monthly memberships are about to expire. The economics of it simply do not make sense. Matthew Evans allegations of "date bait" are absurd. Evans was paying $25/month for his membership, and a typical term of renewal is 3 months (which are typically discounted). Therefore an incremental subscription from him would represent between $60 and $75. For to hire an attractive girl for him to have a meal with would cost at least $20 to $40. The economics of this fantasy simply do not work out.

Does Yahoo post fake profiles and reuse photos? It seems unlikely that they're trying to scam customers when there are so many people posting perfectly wonderful profiles every day. Do some users create multiple profiles? Absolutely. Just watch the movie "Must Love Dogs". This practice isn't fraud, it's fantasy.

Now as for the men who have been harmed by the dating sites.....First, because JDate didn't protect him from a rude member, and second, because eHarmony sought to protect its existing members from someone who didn't meet the site's criteria. These guys need to grow up.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Suicide and social networking

Though it reads like an episode of Law and Order, it's actually an item from yesterday's Associated Press:
"Six young Japanese were found dead from asphyxiation in a car Friday, charcoal stoves still smoking beside them - apparently the latest victims of a surge in suicide pacts arranged over the Internet"

The depressed and disaffected have found a home online. Beyond the usual applications of social networking -- like getting a date or making a friend -- there are people who are able to use those same tools as a reinforcement for thoughts and behaviors that are decidedly anti-social.

By networking with others who are similarly preoccupied with death, a dreadful group dynamic can arise. Mafumi Usui, a psychology professor at Niigata Seiryo University is quoted in the AP article as saying, "Many young people try to kill themselves but can't carry through. But when a group of strangers meet on an Internet suicide site, and someone suggests a specific way to die...that's the dangerous dynamic behind the recent group suicides."

The chatroom discussions of suicide serve to normalize and validate the feelings of the participants, which in turn makes it less difficult to carry out the actual suicide. In Japan in 2005, 91 people died in Internet-linked suicides, and the number of such suicides has increased year after year.

This phenomenon reminds me of the case of the German cannibal, Armin Meiwes. On March 10, 2001, Meiwes butchered Bernd Juergen Brandes, whom he had met on the Internet. The two traded many emails, and Brandes once wrote: "There's absolutely no way back for me, only forwards, through your teeth."

So that he could relive the event, Meiwes taped his encounter with Brandes. The video was lurid and gruesome, including footage of Meiwes disemboweling the body and talking to the severed head. However, it also included footage of the two men trying to eat Brandes' sauteed penis -- removed first, per Brandes' request. Brandes did not die until later in the day, after he had fallen unconscious from loss of blood from his wound. These details persuaded prosecutors that the killing was voluntary, and Meiwes was spared from a murder conviction.

Meiwes advertised for a man to slaughter and eat on the Internet, and he claimed to have received many volunteers. Amazingly, the case did not surface until much later. Meiwes was arrested in December 2002, a year and a half after butchering Brandes', when an Austrian student spotted one of Meiwes' ads, became alarmed, and contacted law enforcement.

Alas, it's not just men who indulge in this kind of self-destructive networking. The online, pro-anorexia movement is almost exclusively the domain of girls and women. These sites foster the distorted body-image of anorexics, and provide considerable support to those wanting to further their pursuit of an 80 pound body.

For the sane or slightly neurotic, social networking is an extraordinary tool. However, when it is used by the deranged and depressed, it can serve to validate thoughts and behaviors which are dangerous and destructive. Is there a solution to this problem? Probably not -- especially since these disordered thoughts are so anathema to the rest of us that they are kept hidden. The disturbed can be highly motivated and will find the information and the contacts they are seeking however they can. And their necessary tendency towards secrecy makes the Internet an ideal forum for this kind of sharing.

Obviously, the parents of young anorexics or of profoundly depressed children should think twice before letting their kids anywhere near an unsupervised Internet connection. But where adults are concerned, perhaps the libertarian ethos will prevail out of necessity. Namely, that we all have a right to put our head (or any other body part) in an oven.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Group dating for adults?

Is it so terrifying to go out on a first date? Even a blind first date? Apparently, it is. Even for adults.

For those who need moral support before, during and after their dating adventures, entrepreneurs have created an alternative to solo dating sites like Today's USA Today profiles two such businesses - and The gimmick these sites offer is that it is dating for groups. For instance, if you and your best friend are both looking for love, you can find complementary duos, trios or quartets.

The obvious downside of this approach is that you need to recruit friends to form a dating "team". Furthermore, this means that your friends will have intimate knowledge of your dating activities (and you'll have intimate knowledge of theirs, too!). It can also make for an interesting end-of-the-evening moment, when one member of the team makes a connection, and the other member(s) do not.

It can be hard enough to set up a first date when two people have busy schedules. It is exponentially more difficult, when there are four or more people involved. Of course, for the socially leery or for those looking for an orgy, this approach could be perfect.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dating sites for snobs

There are niche sites for every flavor of personal interest: from tattoo enthusiasts, to farmers, to cat fanciers. However, this tribalism isn't constrained to occupation or enthusiasm. Intellectual snobs have a dating home online as well. is for graduates and faculty from a "select group of universities". It is an eccentric list of about sixty colleges and universities in the US and Canada. The list includes Bryn Mawr, MIT, Stanford and the Rhode Island School of Design. Although a graduate of any medical school may join. Doctors, it seems, are welcome at every dating site (perhaps the AMA needs to set up a dating site -- it's bound to be a success). The dating site requires its members to provide proof of graduate or faculty status before they can join.

While there is a certain logic to Harvard grads dating Cornell grads, this site is pretty hokey and very limiting. With a mere 4,600 members, a site like lacks the critical mass of a, where there are 1.3 million members. -- Some of whom attended the same schools as the RightStuff membership.

If I were sensitive to issues of academic pedigree in my prospective dates, I'd just use the most populated sites and be subtly (or not so subtly) snooty about my own educational background and the background I'm looking for in a mate. If someone wants to date a doctor, they don't need to go to The Right Stuff, they can just search for "medical professionals" on Of course, they will also have to verify that the medical professional that they meet is an MD, and not an RN. But that's what the state licensing boards are for. Just punch in a last name into a license verification site like the one the state of Connecticut has , and you can find out if the "doctor" of your dreams is actually a nurse, an optometrist, or a genuine MD. If it sound ridiculous to verify such claims, it isn't. A family member dated a man who presented himself as a full-fledged physician, complete with specialty, when it turned out he was actually a practicing nurse. It was just a slight case of resume inflation.

Spying on the ones we love

It has never been easier to find out what a mate is doing. Spying has become democratic -- anyone with a few dollars and a suspicious mind can track their loved ones readily.

For under $1,000, it is possible to buy a global positioning system (GPS) tracker that is small enough to conceal in a car, but with enough battery life to last a couple of months. If someone suspects that their spouse is sneaking off to hotels, this tool will blow the whistle on any prolonged or suspicious parking. The SlimTrak Real Time Tracking System, for instance (available at or is about the size of a large cell phone and is touted as ideal “for covert applications” as it has a waterproof magnetic case which allows for installation under the vehicle or under hood.

When the tracker is used in conjunction with a service like, it is possible to observe on the web, a report – either historical or in real time – of where the vehicle was at various times of day. This position will be displayed against a map, or in text form which includes information on the address of the vehicle at the instant its position was taken and what the vehicle was doing (parking or driving). The subscriber gets to determine the frequency in which they’d like the position of the vehicle updated. Of course, the more updates, the more cost to the consumer. The minimum monthly charge is $7.95, which permits the user to check out the location of the tracker 50 times. For $54.95 a month, the user can check the location 500 times in a month, which means that if there’s any prolonged parking, or any other suspicious hotel or home visits, they will be revealed.

If vehicle tracking seems too expensive, cyber-snooping is a low-cost alternative. There are many software programs that operate invisibly, which enable someone to trace their partner’s Internet activities. Visit a porn site, indulge in cyber chat, and your key-strokes could be logged, or snapshots taken of your screen.

There have even been instances of a spouse going undercover in a chatroom to try and entrap her partner.

For only about $100, there are many companies online that will obtain someone’s cell phone records. An article in the New York Times by Ken Belson notes that “anyone armed with a target’s cellphone number can call the same service centers that these data brokers call and, by creating a fictional identity and a plausible excuse, persuade an agent to hand over numbers.” While lawmakers and the cell phone companies are trying to make these security breaches less likely, it is inevitable that con artists and clever data brokers will continue to figure out how to acquire such private information.

All of these tactics involve desperate invasions of privacy. The easiest -- and cheapest -- solution is to find a mate whom you trust, and forego the cloak and dagger stuff entirely.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Beyond "pimping the internet" - Paratroopers making porn

While some soldiers channel their exhibitionism towards dating sites like, where they can flex and make friends (see "Pimping the Internet"), others channel their exhibitionism to make money.

Last week, seven soldiers from the 82nd Airborne division were charged with "knowingly engaging in sex for money on a public Web site." Three of the soldiers face being court martialed, having been charged with sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money. The remaining four soldiers received nonjudicial punishments including reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and extra duty.
CNN - Feb 24, 2006

That the paratroopers were making gay porn makes this case particularly lurid. The website where their pictures were shown is based in Fayetteville, which is adjacent to Fort Bragg, where the soldiers were based, and it specifically advertised “real military men” engaging sexually with other men. AVN, the trade journal for the adult entertainment industry, speculates
that the site is

This bizarre incident goes far beyond "don't ask, don't tell." Whether it is evidence that paratroopers are underpaid, over-sexed, or far more entrepreneurial than ever imagined, we can only guess. What it does do is display the nasty confluence of sex and violence we find so intriguing. Soldier as sex-symbol is a well established archetype. That warriors might get turned on by other warriors doesn't seem like much of a stretch.