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THE MAJORITY OF Mistress Shira’s family and friends do not know what she does for a living, but she doesn’t think they’d be surprised if they found out.

“If it came out to family or friends, my falling into this job, I think very few people would be shocked,” she said. “It’s not like I become dominant when I put the outfit on—I am very dominant throughout my whole life.”

Mistress Shira is a local dominatrix who makes a living out of fulfilling the submission fantasies of her male clients.

She got her start in the profession for a rather unorthodox reason.

“Believe it or not, it was the outfits that first attracted me to dominatrix work,” she said. “As soon as I get dressed I’m in the mood to work.”

Mistress Shira, as she is called by her clients—all of whom are men—describes her work as a “power exchange.”

“I take control of the person in front of me,” she said.

Mistress Shira works out of a private dungeon located in the west end of Ottawa. Her work space is equipped with potentially dangerous items, such as a suspension cage and a bondage coffin, but she’s sure to make safety her number one priority while working.

“I very closely monitor the safety aspect of anything I do,” she said. “I make sure if there’s any kind of dangerous play, I have scissors handy to cut any ropes. I ask people if they have any medical conditions beforehand.”

Mistress Shira keeps a set of bolt cutters nearby, as chains are often involved in the scene. She cleans any instruments and equipment with disinfectant and items that are inserted into the body are always covered with a condom.

For sessions involving breath play, Mistress Shira provides her clients—who are referred to as “slaves” while in the dungeon—with a squeaky toy intended for dogs.

“[The slaves’] mouths and noses are covered, so they can squeeze the toy and it makes a loud noise and that’s how I know that they’re in trouble,” she said.
Mistress Shira is also concerned about privacy—her own and that of her slaves.

“I keep my job very separate from my personal life,” she said. “I think it gives the clients more trust in me. Often they’re stepping out of their married life to live this fantasy. I never ask my clients about their personal lives, because they can’t enjoy themselves if there are any trust issues.”

Although she says there is “no such thing as a ‘typical’ session,” many of her clients seek her out for two services in particular.

“Submissives usually come with their own ideas for the session, but I’m sure a lot of them choose me over the other mistresses if they’re interested in golden showers or strap-on play,” she said. “Those are my favourites.”

Although Mistress Shira encourages her slaves to share their fantasies with her prior to the beginning of the session, there are a few requests she will not accommodate.

“I don’t do scat and blood play,” she said. “Both involve bacteria and are unsafe, as far as I’m concerned.”

Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions about the dominatrix industry is that it is sex work.

“I don’t do anything sexual,” said Mistress Shira. “I’m sure many people think using a strap-on is sexual play, but I don’t consider it to be. Strap-ons are a tool of domination.”

Although Mistress Shira makes no sexual contact with her clients, she does allow the submissive to pleasure himself at the end of a session.

“I don’t allow any sexual contact, but because the power exchange is very exciting, the submissive is often allowed release at the end of a session,” she said. “He’s allowed release, but it’s at his own hand. I certainly don’t help. There’s no nude face-sitting or anything like that, and I don’t run around nude during the session.”

Her job might be unconventional and controversial, but Mistress Shira wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love my work,” she said. “I love the total control.”

—Kristyn Filip