Thursday , October 21 2021
Mistress Iris, Dominatrix

Mistress Iris, Dominatrix

“I was born in Japan and lived there until I was 13. Coy, docile women are more favored there, but I was always much more drawn to the woman in movies who’d walk into a room and command attention. Japan has a reputation for being very conservative, but also for being very pervy. That façade is even integrated into how laws about adult stuff are made, where in the public eye you’re expected to follow rigid social conventions, but behind closed doors you get to do what you want. So kink is more accessible than it is in America—like I would flip through kink and BDSM porn magazines in 7-Eleven while my mom was shopping. But at the same time, you’d find fewer people openly living alternative lifestyles.

I went to UCLA for fine arts, and a lot of the art I was making was about the power of female sexuality. I guess it was obvious that I was interested in BDSM, because one day my professor told me that my TA was actually a professional dominatrix. [Laughs] There are two ways you can be a pro dom: the first is you go work at a dungeon. They book your clients and take a cut of your money. The other option is an established dom mentors you, and you work independently. I asked my TA if I could shadow her at work, and now I’ve been an independent pro dominatrix for seven years. I stopped making art for several years after I started dominating, but when I started taking photos for promotional purposes, I got really into thinking about the conceptual side of the images and bringing fantasy into it. All of my friends and family know what I do—it would be quite the burden if I had to hide it. My Instagram also started exposing me to people outside of this secret adult world where most doms tend to stay, which is how I started gaining more high-profile clients.

Dominating is very much a passion of mine, and I think I face similar challenges as any person who makes their passion into a career.

CAREER
A lot of my colleagues just do this job because they like the flexibility and how much money they make, so if they get a request, they do it. But dominating is very much a passion of mine, and I only take in clients that I can get excited about. Potential clients have to fill out a questionnaire, where I ask about their interests, what they do in life, their experience level, etcetera. If they half-ass it, they won’t get a reply. I think I have a lot more women subs than other doms do—generally, people who are perceived as cis-het men in the public eye are the biggest percentage. But I say ‘perceived as’ because the entire reason they seek out a dominatrix is because of the limited gender and sexual expression range for cis-het men. I would argue that if it was not for the social pressure they’re under to conform to certain standards of masculinity—where desire for submission, bisexual fantasies, and femininity instantly discredits their masculinity—they might have a more fluid identity. A few of my subs have actually transitioned since I met them. Play was their first entry into being able to explore a femininity that they didn’t have access to, presenting as a cisgender man.

My career has really shifted in the last several years. I used to be in a different city for three or four days, seeing one person after another, but now I have fewer subs who see me regularly, pay more, and spend half a day or a full day with me. A few hours of that is spent playing, but a lot of it is just hanging out. We go to dinner, we go to a show, we talk about our interests, our families, things that aren’t going well in our lives… That’s been so much more fulfilling for me. There’s still the same power dynamic, where my sub is on a journey of unpacking their sexuality and shame and I get to be that person’s mentor, but we’re not playing. I know a lot of doms have a strict difference between who they are when they’re dominating and who they are when they’re not, and I get that to an extent. Somebody is paying you, so it’s tempting to think you have to put on a persona to fulfill a certain role. For me, it’s much easier and more sustainable when I get to be silly, and goofy, and even vulnerable. I want my subs to see all of my dimensions and still look up to me as somebody who holds power over them.

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MAKEUP
I have quite a signature makeup look—winged eyeliner, red lips, and usually red nails. There are certain archetypes that people instinctively understand… It’s like wearing a power suit, you know? I use the red lips and eyeliner as tools to tap into that dangerous woman image, the femme fatale. And in that way I’m living my fantasy too! At the same time, a lot of those archetypes are totally oversimplified. Me being silly or vulnerable in front of my clients absolutely does not fit into the dominatrix stereotype, but that’s important to me—I can ignore the archetype if it’s making me feel shitty.

I use the By Terry Moisturizing CC Cream in two shades, Natural and Beige, as my foundation. In the winter Natural is perfect by itself, but in the summer I’ll mix a few pumps of Natural with one pump of Beige. After that I use the Rodial Diamond Liquid Concealer in shade 20. I had been cycling through a few different concealers—some were too light and I could see my under eye darkness after an hour, and others were too cakey, especially on my under eye creases when I’d smile. This has this perfect balance of coverage without crinkling. Most of my makeup is small because I’m traveling all the time—an eyeshadow palette adds so much weight, and I’m probably only going to use one or two colors from it anyway. So I buy these Sephora eyeshadow singles instead. I have very puffy eyelids, so in order to draw them back I use matte shadows a little darker than my skin tone. For my signature cat eye, I always use black Sephora waterproof eyeliner. It’s perfect. I buy it in bulk and I go through it quite quickly. Eyeliner pens dry up after a few weeks, but this one never dries up and I can use it to the last drop. Plus the brush is not too flexible so I can have control, and it stays on. I make the wing first, and then make a line from my inner corners to connect to it. My red lipstick is the Tom Ford lipstick in Jasmin Rouge. It’s the right color, and the tube is sexy. But on a day-to-day basis red is such an inconvenience—it gets everywhere! [Laughs] For a daytime look I use the Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Dolce Vita.

I use the red lips and eyeliner as tools to tap into that dangerous woman image, the femme fatale.

I do my eyebrows with a Japanese drugstore pencil, the Kanebo Media Stylish Auto Rotation. It’s a dark brown that’s not too warm, so it almost looks like a shadow—my brows look fuller, but I’m not drawing on hairs. Then I use the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter. I always put a little bit on my cheekbones, but if I have a photoshoot, or work, or a night out, I might put a little above my lips, on the top of my chin, and on my nose. I bought the MAC Powder Blush in Melba years ago, and it’s a perfect color for my skin tone so I haven’t changed it up. If I’m dominating, I’m sweating, and my makeup has to not budge the whole day. I use a little bit of powder, which is also a Japanese drugstore product called Country & Stream UV Face Powder. I like it because it’s so small, and it’s a pressed powder—I don’t like feeling like I’ve been dusted with powdered sugar. I use a Panasonic heated lash curler from Japan that I’ve probably had for 10 years. It’s battery operated, and works just as good as day one when I switch the battery. I have very Japanese lashes, meaning they’re short and they point down. I really have to force them up with the curler. At the very end, I use Glossier Lash Slick. It really extends my lashes, but it’s not clumpy and it doesn’t flake off and get into my eyes.

NAILS + BODY
Right now I don’t have red nails, which is very unusual. My nail artist at Maria Nails knows the color red I like—I don’t have to ask for it, they just call it the Mistress Iris Red. [Laughs] I’ve been going to the same nail salon for 10 years, and my life is almost like a TV show they’re following. They’re all Japanese ladies, and every time I come they’re like ‘Who did you meet today?’ ‘What kind of stuff did you do to them?’ I’ll tell them little, juicy stories about my domination and it’s super cute… they get to live vicariously through me.

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California is bad for your skin. It’s so dry here! Once I got into oil cleansing I bought the Bioderma Atoderm cleansing oil for body, which keeps my skin soft. I also use an exfoliating towel from Japan. Every time my skin touches water I put moisturizer on, and on days I feel really dry I use the Lipikar AP+ body cream from La Roche-Posay. I personally like being hairless, but I hate shaving and waxing and all of the ingrown hairs that come from that, so I did laser hair removal. The first place I went to, years ago, left me with burns. Later on I had a friend who started going to the Prolase Laser Clinic in LA and recommended them, and that’s been very reliable. I like beauty treatments that let me go a long period of time without worrying about things. I don’t know if this is too much info, but now I just have a little triangle patch of pubic hair and pretty much nothing else.

HAIR
My natural texture is almost curly-wavy, but it’s easy to manage frizz when it’s straight. It’s also quite fine, so heat styling, even with a blow dryer, makes it break so easily. When I got Brazilian straightening and stopped heat styling it my hair was able to grow so much longer. After that I tried a keratin treatment, which didn’t take out the waves as much… I’ll probably go back to a Brazilian, but I still don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect answer. After I started getting straightening treatments I was told I had to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo, so now I use the Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo and Conditioner, which I like so far. I also have lots of baby hairs, and it’s taken years to figure out how to slick my hair back. V76 by Vaughn Molding Paste really helps. I put a little bit on the surface of my hair, especially on the top around my part where it sticks out most, and really press it down. Then I use a regular comb to slick it back. That holds better than hairspray for me.

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SKINCARE
Reddit opened up my world in terms of skincare. Before that, I felt so overwhelmed—I knew that skincare companies paid people to write reviews, and I didn’t know how to navigate which claims were true and which weren’t. The r/skincareaddiction subReddit really helped me strip it all down to the proven science. Usually I wake up around 7AM. I’m a morning person—I don’t set an alarm. I wash my face with water, then use Skinceuticals CE Ferulic for my sunspots. My holy grail product is the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion. When I use creamier moisturizers I get very textured skin, but a serum is too light and not moisturizing enough. Whenever I go back to Japan, I buy this stuff in bulk. [Laughs] I also use a Japanese SPF, the Kanebo Allie Extra UV Gel. I like that one a lot. It’s light and it has a little sheen to it, but it doesn’t pill under makeup. I think there’s much more social pressure around skincare in Japan. My cousin visited me in LA when she was 28 and I was probably 22, and she had a super regimented skincare routine. When I took her to the beach she was there for 10 minutes before she started covering everything up! To me, a skincare routine has to be practical.

The first thing I changed about my routine after reading r/skincareaddiction was the way I take off my makeup. Makeup wipes have a lot of alcohol in them, and when I stopped using them my skin got less dry immediately. Now I use Bioderma instead. I do an oil cleanse two or three times a week with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, which really moisturizes my face and takes care of buildup and texture. Then I either double cleanse with the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, or skip the oil and just use that. It has a slight foam to it, and I feel like it cleanses a little more than the Cerave one. I’ve been using tretinoin for four years now, and it’s been a struggle to find the right balance with it. I’ve tried 0.025-percent, 0.05, 0.1, gel, cream, using it every other day, using it every day… I’m currently using a 0.5-percent gel every night, but that’s my very last step. Before I apply that I use Glossier’s Super Pure, because I read somewhere that niacinamide can help balance tret. The weirdest thing is that when I use it without the tret it breaks me out, but when I use it in combination with tret it doesn’t break me out and the tret doesn’t make me dry. It’s a magical little thing! I wash my face, use Super Pure, add the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion as a buffer—if I’m feeling extra dry and the Gokujyun Premium is not cutting it, I use some Biossance squalane oil. Then I’ll brush my teeth, get into pajamas, maybe read a little… I just want to make sure my face has had enough time to dry. Right before I go to bed, I put on the tret and the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask.

I love using my scent as part of power play and sexual intimacy.

LINGERIE + FRAGRANCE:
When I started out as a pro dom, you could only get leatherwear from a guy with a greasy ponytail, crafting leather out of his garage. And the pieces were always super masculine—they were meant for the gay daddy scene, you know? Now leather harnesses are just an everyday fashion item! All of these high fashion brands make them, and I can find a bunch of really elegant ones. My leather collar and strap-on harness are both from Fleet Ilya in London. I also have drawers of lingerie. I get a bunch from Agent Provocateur and La Perla, and some from smaller indie brands that are also high end like Coco de Mer, Studio Pia, and Bordelle. For latex, I like to shop from Atsuko Kudo, William Wilde, Lady Lucie, and Black Lickorish.

I stopped wearing fragrance shortly after I became a pro dom, because natural body scent is a huge part of sexual arousal. When you get close to somebody, the smell of their skin instinctually links your sexuality to a memory of that scent. So I love using my scent as part of power play and sexual intimacy. But I do wear deodorant, most of the time.”

—as told to ITG

Mistress Iris photographed by Dana Boulos on June 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.



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