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Sara Mason: How will she follow-up her banned “Beginner’s Guide to Bondage”?

Exactly one month ago, I posted a blog about how performer Sara Mason had lost her Leicester Comedy Festival venue next February because, after the programme had been printed, the venue owner decided he did not want her Beginner’s Guide to Bondage show to soil his floorboards.

I asked Sara this week about the effect of the blog.


SARA: It had a wonderful effect. First of all, I was interviewed in the Leicester Mercury. Then I got on BBC Radio Leicester. And then Big Difference managed to book me into Just The Tonic at The Shed for the same slot on the same night – Valentine’s Night at 9.30pm. Then another venue owner who had been ignoring all my emails rang me up and offered a venue – too late. So clearly notoriety in your blog had an effect. Meanwhile, this week, I am doing A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage at Kentish Town in London – this coming Friday and Sunday.

Sara’s show CAN be seen in Kentish Town in London on 14th and 16th December

JOHN: So people who don’t want to traipse to Leicester in February can see it in London this week.

SARA: Yes.

JOHN: Are you taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe again next August?

SARA: Yes.

JOHN: What are you doing with it between February in Leicester and August in Edinburgh?

SARA: I might do it again in Brighton in May. But I also have a new idea I would like to do.

JOHN: Oooh…

SARA: An Intermediate Guide to Bondage would be interesting, because then I could look at the oddities that people have, like mummification and the…

JOHN: Whoaa! What?

SARA: Mummification with cling film wrap. À chacun son goût.

JOHN: This is not for beginners?

SARA: Well, in A Beginner’s Guide, you would not really want to cover the more out-there fetishes. Even a Pony Boy or Pony Girl might be a bit too much.

JOHN: Whoaa! again.

SARA: A Pony Boy. You put a bridle on them and, hopefully, a butt-plug with a tail and then you ride around on them or make them pull your carriage.

JOHN: Why ‘hopefully’ a butt-plug?

SARA: Well, because not everyone wants a tail butt-plug. They have a bit in their teeth and they go Neeeiiiggghhh! Neeeiiiggghhh! You crack the whip as you ride them. Neeeiiiggghhh! Whinny! Whinny! all that sort of stuff. It’s hardcore. It’s a bit more than anything in The Beginner’s Guide to Bondage.

JOHN: If you are teaching people about bondage, should there be ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels? 

SARA: Possibly.

JOHN: Would there be a third show after A Beginner’s Guide and An Intermediate Guide?

SARA: An Advanced Guide? Well, some of these fetishes are more understandable and approachable than others. Some are more for the diehards. Mummification, I think, is quite funny. And then, of course, there are rubber fetishes.

Angelic Sara Mason at the Soho Theatre Bar

I told you about going to Torture Garden and a couple came in, both dressed up as frogmen or women. They were completely encased in rubber from head to toe. One was tall; one was short; but it was impossible to tell which was the man and which was the woman.

JOHN: With flippers?

SARA: Yes. And, after a moment, they opened a little zip in their crotch, mounted a stirrup table and began copulating. The noise was squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak like a very squeaky bed. Not very frog-like. That would have been more…

JOHN: …riveting?

SARA: Yes. But the amazing thing was I still couldn’t tell which one was a boy. After a while, they climbed off and zipped themselves up. I had to stop and just laugh. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

JOHN: Why have you got a bit of rubber on your finger? Is that a fetish?

SARA: No.I have a poorly finger. It is kinesiology tape. It has a stretch to it and is good for inflammation but I think I have arthritis, which is neither sexy nor mistressy, though luckily it is my left hand.

JOHN: A big relief for us all. In A Beginners Guide, you play the role of Mistress Venetia. Are you developing that character?

SARA: I am thinking of making her an agony aunt because, at the end of my show in Edinburgh this year, I did suggest that, if anyone wanted private lessons, I could oblige. And quite a number of girls did approach me to say they would like private lessons in domination. They wanted to learn to be a bit more ‘dom’. So that was intriguing because I had put it in as a bit of a joke but, in fact, I did have a few takers. There probably is a niche market out there for ladies who want to learn the business.

JOHN: Any other offers to audience members?

SARA: I have offered free fistings to any Brexiteers in the audience.

JOHN: So what is Mistress Venetia’s character?

Sara as “lovably dotty” Mistress Venetia

SARA: She is a ‘dotty’ dominatrix.

JOHN: How dotty?

SARA: Well, she’s lovably dotty.

JOHN: She dots the eyes and crosses the tease?

SARA: She’s a bit dotty because some of her ideas are really quite ‘out there’.

JOHN: The show is billed as comedy. Is it comedy because you put in lots of jokes or because what you are talking about is not quite as serious as the customers think?

SARA: I think what they do IS quite funny. A lot of it is very funny.

JOHN: But, in the real world, the men being dominated presumably don’t think of it as being humorous.

SARA: There can be a lot of laughter in the dungeons. If you don’t like laughing, you wouldn’t enjoy a session of domination with me.

JOHN: …if you were a real dominatrix and not a performer.

SARA: …if I were a real dominatrix and not a performer. (LAUGHS) I think you use your own personality no matter what you do. Mistress Venetia is dotty and quite funny. If you approach domination and say this is a very frightening, traumatic, torturous thing then, OK, I am not gonna wanna play with you. You are not my type of playmate. My type of playmate wants excitement, joy and doesn’t mind if I take the piss out of him.

JOHN: Sometimes literally.

SARA: Exactly. In the show, Mistress Venetia says she doesn’t mind the occasional golden shower. It can be quite refreshing. But scat is a kink too far from me. I don’t judge anybody for whatever their fetish is. Everybody has the right to whatever sexual expression they want and, certainly, if you’ve never tried something, you have no right to judge about it.

There are certain things that are not my cup of tea but good luck to the people who want to do them. Scat is not for me.

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“The only dominatrix I have ever known was head of marketing for IBM…”

Sara Mason (left) faces up to Kate Copstick at the Grouchy Club

Sara Mason (left) faces Kate Copstick at The Grouchy Club

“The only dominatrix I have ever known,” said someone in the audience, “used to be the head of marketing for IBM.”

“How much money did she make in marketing?” Martha McBrier asked.

“She was earning a really, really decent living. Her name is Jacky Donovan; she has written a book about it. She got into a relationship with a bloke at work, realised she liked it and then set up a business doing it and made a load off money.”

At next year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Sara Mason is going to perform a show titled A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage. Obviously, she has researched the subject in detail and this came up at a recent live meet-up of The Grouchy Club, which I co-host with comedy critic Kate Copstick.

The audience that evening included comics Martha McBrier and Giacinto Palmieri.

“There are all types of clients,” Sara told them. “I mean, Rubbish Boy comes in and wants to be put in a wheelie bin and covered with rubbish and moved about. He has a love of dirty things and he wants to be called Rubbish Boy. And then there’s Nose Man.”

“Nose Man?” I asked.

“Nose-aphilia. He pays money to come in and have his nose touched. You stroke his nose, then ask about his fantasies and he will talk about them. One time the girl with him got so bored sitting there for 30 minutes just playing with his nose that she lent forward and licked it.”

“What did he say?” asked Martha McBrier. “Don’t lick it, I’m not a pervert?

“No,” Sara replied. “He looked very excited. I think A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage will be a fun show. There are things like lactophilia – men who like women who are lactating. Where do you find a constant supply of pregnant women who are lactating who will breast-feed you when it’s not your wife?

“My life is so boring,” said Giacinto Palmieri.

“And then there’s CBT,” continued Sara.

“Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?” I asked.

“Cock and ball torture,” replied Sara.

“I can see,” said Copstick, “a sitcom entirely based on the notion of someone applying for CBT and it all going horribly wrong.”

“It’s emotionally draining,” said Sara. “A lot of the girls crack up because they can’t deal with it. It does take a certain personality to deal with it. It’s a bit like being a psychotherapist sometimes and some of the shit people come out with is… I mean, if someone comes in and pays you a lot of money and says Can I tell you everything? and he explains how he likes to wear nappies with his girlfriend and walk round the park and piss and poo. Inside, the girl is laughing but trying not to laugh or look disgusted and hoping he will never call again.”

“But,” said Copstick, “how dare people laugh! It’s different strokes for different folks.”

“Yes,” said Sara. “but some of them you can vibe with and some of them you will find deeply offensive. People specialise in what they like.”

“I have a friend who likes to be a human toilet,” said Copstick. “I don’t understand it at all.”

“When you say a human toilet…?” asked Sara.

“He likes people to shit into his mouth,” replied Copstick. “I don’t understand it. He’s such a lovely guy… But, if people decide to live in this world, to paddle in this pool, then you can’t suddenly go Oh! I think that’s funny! or think That’s offensive!

Well,” said Sara, “they thought Rubbish Boy was very funny. They used to keep him around for hours to make them laugh. They taught him ballet and made him dance around because he was so funny. He was hilarious and he loved it. He loved the fact he might pay for an hour but he could stay there half the day because he was making them laugh.”

“You can still,” I said to Copstick, “think something is bizarre and funny and laugh at it but still accept it, provided it doesn’t adversely affect anyone else.”

Live Grouchy Club meet-ups. Free to enter. Free to leave. Free to say anything you like.

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Prime Minister enters pig and prize winning sex worker enters politics.

Yesterday's Daily Mail story online

Yesterday’s Daily Mail story online

Yesterday, the Daily Mail alleged that Prime Minister David Cameron, when at Oxford University, put his penis into a dead pig’s severed head as part of a Piers Gaveston Society initiation ceremony.

While trying to guess the source of this story, political blogger Guido Fawkes yesterday mentioned an allegation by the Cherwell student newspaper that Michael Gove (later Secretary of State for Education) participated in a “five-in-a-bed romp” while president of the Oxford Union debating society.

The connection between politicians and sex is long-established.

In June 2013, I blogged about Charlotte Rose when she had just won the Sex Worker of The Year title at the British Erotic Awards. Recently, she won another award – for Recognition to the Industry – from UKAP, the UK Adult Producers’ Network. So I Apple FaceTimed her yesterday.

“It all started last year,” Charlotte told me, “when I did the face-sitting protest. On 1st December, the government created amendments to the 2003 Communications Act so certain activities were now deemed illegal online and face-sitting was one of them. So, on 12th December, I got about 350 people outside Parliament singing Sit On My Face by Monty Python while sitting on people’s faces.”

“Fully clothed?” I asked.

“Fully clothed,” said Charlotte. “It was a cold day. And I did my William Wallace speech at the end: You can try and ban our liberties, but you can never take our sexual freedom. You can see the speeches on my YouTube channel.

We got support from lots of people. I’ve always had support from Lembit Öpik – and from Rupert Everett since I did the Channel 4 documentary Love for Sale with him.

“I did three porn protests. I did the face-sitting one in London; I did the spankathon in Manchester; and I did the whipathon in Brighton.

“I’ve got a new petition coming up which I’ve just started to allow two independent sex workers to be able to work together for safety in regards to brothel keeping. Brothel keeping is against the law. In 2010, Labour looked at allowing 3-4 sex workers to work together. 10,000 signatures would start the ball rolling. 100,000 signatures will hopefully get me a debate if I can get the right people on board with it.”

“You’ve run for Parliament in two by-elections, I said. “Did you decide to do that as a result of the face-sitting protest?”

“No. Clacton-on-Sea was in October last year. It was a great opportunity for me to really talk about sexual freedom of expression. Then, when the second by-election came up in Rochester & Strood in November, I thought Well, I may as well. I quite enjoy it. But that is when I actually realised it’s like standing on top of a mountain screaming what you know is right yet nobody is listening. Unless you’ve got a good wedge of money behind you, you’re nothing.”

Charlotte on FaeTime yesterday with her latest award

Charlotte seen via FaceTime yesterday with her latest award

“Did you meet Nigel Farage of UKIP?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“What’s he like?”

“He’s just like a guy you’d get pissed-up with in a pub. There aren’t many people where I find there’s something I dislike, but he just has such a smarmy way about him. You don’t know if he IS coming across genuine or if he’s just a people-pleaser. I think it’s his mouth. His mouth doesn’t portray honesty. You know how some people have a wiggling corner of their mouth sometimes when they lie? It’s like horses.

“I don’t like horses because their eyes have no iris, so you can’t see where they’re looking. I’m just so wary of a horse – it’s probably one of the only animals where you would never know if it’s going to turn on you. Because it’s got no iris, you can’t read it.”

“Nigel Farage,” I said, “comes across as the man next door, but he was a commodity broker, wasn’t he?”

“Then he’d make a perfect hotelier,” said Charlotte, “because normally anyone who has stocks or assets or is an accountant goes into hotels but they lack the charisma. They probably have the same level of charisma as a caterpillar.”

“Perhaps,” I suggested, “Nigel Farage could become the new Basil Fawlty.”

“Mmmm…” said Charlotte.

“How did you do in the elections?” I asked.

Charlotte made a promotional reel for her Rochester election bid.

“At Rochester & Strood,” Charlotte told me, “Britain First got 13 votes more than me. I can understand that Britain First has got some very patriotic points of view, but the majority of it was a racist, damaging stab and I thought: People would rather vote for racism than the choice of sexual expression.

“Whereas I believe, if people were having more sex, the serotonin levels in their body would be fantastic and everybody would be happy. We wouldn’t have time to be vindictive or have hatred towards people. We would be smiling more.

“Did you read that story about judges in the court system who got sacked for watching pornography at work? I would rather have my court judge watch pornography before my court case. If he’s just had a wank, I know he’s going to be level-headed, very happy and I’m not going to have a problem. I think I would specifically ask that, if I was up in court for anything, I want my judge to go and have a wank before he listens to my case.”

“Now there’s a project for you,” I said.

Charlotte & Erotic Award as Sex Worker of the Year

Charlotte with her 2013 Sex Worker of the Year award

“I’ve got a new project,” replied Charlotte, “called The Sex Avengers. That’s up-and-coming for January. I want to build an army of support – not a hierarchy – activists, then industry, then the public. A huge directory: a one-stop shop that people can go to.”

“If you are an Avenger,” I asked, “what’s your super-power?”

“I think to deliver strength and positivity in my speech. I’ve done a lot of speeches now and I love sharing what’s happening. But, rather than being a speech that moans, I build positivity, I build energy, I build unity. I think that’s my strength: to be able to share energy and build on positivity.”

“You have moved to London recently,” I said. “Why?”

“Well, I was already involved in The Sex Workers’ Opera and the travel time from the West Country…”

“Opera?” I interrupted.

“Yes,” said Charlotte. “The Sex Workers’ Opera. It’s an award-winning show. We’ve been running it since 2013. We put it on at the Arcola in Dalston last year and won the Pioneer Award at the Sexual Freedom Awards which used to be called the Erotic Awards. We are hopefully doing a documentary for Channel 4.”

“Do you perform in it?” I asked.

“Yes. You can see a video of me performing The Dom Song on YouTube. That was in the first ever production.”

“It’s a proper classical opera?” I asked.

“No. It’s more like a hip-hopera. It’s a bit more funky. Two hours. We’ve got scenes about prohibitionists, the Soho raids, the porn laws. It’s 50% sex workers and 50% allies.”

“Sex and music?” I asked.

“I’m also going to be putting on events to promote the Sex Avengers. Ben Dover is a good friend of mine and he plays the drums for a tribute band called Guns 2 Roses. It would be absolutely fantastic if I could find people in the sex industry who play an instrument and we actually form a rock band and go round all these events promoting sexual freedom through music. That would be great.”

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Film star Burt Lancaster’s sexual attack on comic Sara Mason when she was 11

Photo of Sara by Nathalie Kerrio

Sara Mason. (Photo by Nathalie Kerrio)

Sara Mason’s first full-length Edinburgh Fringe show is billed as comedy and is titled Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11).

This is not hyperbole. It is true – with all that the title implies.

Last night, I told Sara that her show may not get as many laughs as she may have hoped for, because it is very difficult to laugh when your mouth is almost continually wide open and your jaw is repeatedly hitting the floor.

“That,” I said to her, “was not your original title for the show, was it?”

“No,” she said. “It was originally going to be called From Hollywood To Homeless – but I will save that story for another year.”

Sara Mason - Burt Lancaster poster

Sara’s story will last from here to eternity

“And,” I asked, the title Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11) was suggested by Tinky Winky from Teletubbies?”

Sara’s show is directed by the multi-talented Dave Thompson who played the above mentioned part on children’s television but was replaced because his “interpretation of the role was not acceptable”.

“I was dubious about the Burt Lancaster title,” Sara told me. “I was dubious about even doing the story.”

“Even last year,” I said, “you were dubious about telling the story as part of a show.”

During last year’s Fringe, Sara and I shared a flat in Edinburgh.

“Well you,” Sara said to me, “must have been the second person I ever told that story to, the first person being my ex-husband.”

“How did he react?”

“He tried to sell the story to the newspapers.”

“With your knowledge.”

“Oh yes.”

“Why didn’t they pick it up?”

Sara performing the show last night

Sara previewing the show in London last night

“Because (she named another victim who was sexually attacked by Burt Lancaster) was alive at that time and he didn’t want it printed. He said: This is my life; I don’t want it discussed. He was so violent and vehement about it, so we dropped it.”

“One reason the show is so powerful,” I said, “is because the audience thinks it knows the worst from the title but, in fact you are very graphic about what actually happened – and then there is this extra unexpected thing they get hit with.”

“What inspired me and encouraged me to do it on stage,” explained Sara, “was seeing Chris Dangerfield’s show Sex With Children last year, because I thought Wow! I’ve got an anecdote quite similar to his and mine involves a famous film star.”

“So why were you so worried about telling the story in a show?”

Burt Lancaster (left) & Nick Cravat - billed as Lang and Cravat - in Federal Theatre Project Circus (1935–1938)

Burt Lancaster (left) & Nick Cravat – billed as Lang and Cravat – in Federal Theatre Project Circus (1935–1938)

“I was worried about my daughter, apart from anything else.”

“I always,” I said, “thought Burt Lancaster was gay, because there were rumours about him and his circus partner Nick Cravat.”

“Bisexual,” said Sara. “He had five children and three wives. But he was a paedophile. That’s clear.”

Sara was brought up in Hollywood.

“Some of the child actors,” she said, “have come out now about Hollywood being a hotbed of paedophiles.”

“So this year,” I said, “your show is entirely truthfully called Burt Lancaster pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11). What’s next year?”

The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage,” Sara told me. “I already have a set all worked out.”

“Why,” I asked, “is it called The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage?”

“Because I’m going to have a cross and I’m going to give a demonstration.”

“Why you?” I asked.

“Why me?” Sara laughed. “Ohhhh! that would be telling! But we all have to have a day job, don’t we?”

Sara Mason last night - much more to come

Sara Mason last night – much more to come

Having shared a flat with her last year, I know the Burt Lancaster and Bondage shows are only the tips of a flotilla of icebergs. As I left her last night, she said: “My father was a psychiatrist in Hollywood. He wasn’t allowed by his professional ethics to discuss the stars’ problems with outsiders. But I was his daughter. He told me the stories.”

Sara is by no means a one-shock storyteller. To adapt the most famous quote from All About Eve… Fasten your seatbelts, it’s likely to be a bumpy few years.

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