Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Whip Smart, by Melissa Febos

(hb; 2010: non-fiction)

From the inside flap:

"Melissa Febos came to New York City as a college freshman to attend the New School. And while she'd always been a bit of a non-conformist, she hadn't planned to find herself - two years later - juggling her 4.0 GPA with a job as a professional dominatrix in a Midtown dungeon.

"Whip Smart is the story of Melissa's journey into a shocking double life. And she spares no one; keen observations about the motivations of her clients, her coworkers, and, most important, herself offer a rare look inside a fascinating subculture. . ."


This is a solid, interesting read that deals with BDSM (Bondage Sadomasochism)/sex work, as well as the mindset of an intelligent, briefly self-destructive young woman, whose self-destructive traits had little or nothing to do with her job or BDSM.

Those looking for a salacious recounting are likely to be disappointed by Febos' cool, analytic (but not too analytic) style. While she describes "sessions" (BDSM scenes she dommed), as well as her personal reactions to these sessions, her writing isn't lascivious. Her recollections, written in the first person, are akin, tone-wise, to that of an anthropologist studying an alien culture - factual, with a few personal asides, perhaps, but nothing more.

Good, element-balancing work that manages to inform and entertain with its unemotional veracities: worth checking out, this.

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