Lillian is a performance artist, writer, and Professional Dominatrix based in San Francisco, CA
Taking the stage as a Drag Queen is ultimately what influenced me to dominate in the dungeon. Transformation, among many other facets, is what connects the two, however, I can positively say that I do not change as a person when I embody either archetype; I simply reveal parts of myself that are not always accessible. In day to day life, I tend to resonate as an introvert but when it comes to expression through art, I have little restraint. I love to personify emotions, ideas, and characteristics through creativity and working as an artist and Dominatrix has allowed me to do just that. Despite the fact that I've been making art way longer than I've been dominating, I wouldn't have been able to reveal either were it not for being curious and willing to take risks. Sometimes we don't know that parts of ourself are meant to merge until we've experienced both aspects individually. And sometimes we have to leave one in order to discover the other, only to return back to where we started. The evolution of the self is a constant wave of discovery, reflection, and gratitude that all begins with a story. So here's my tale of how I became a Drag Queen Dominatrix.
"My Domination began with leather, lashes, and a bar stage."
I've been a dancer since the age of three. So, being on stage is not new to me, in fact it's always been a kind of home; A place where I feel completely content and grounded in expression. Before I did drag, most of my artistry lived in the traditional sense of what dance is: conveying an idea through the body and emoting that language to an audience in a theater. And while there is nothing wrong with that, I came to a point in my dance career where I wanted to step out of that box and explore what was beyond. Moving to San Francisco opened up my artistic landscape and within a couple years, I became more integrated into Queer culture, nightlife, and the leather scene, just to name a few. Entrance into all of these doorways gave me permission to traverse worlds I never imagined possible and it certainly placed me on a path I've never turned back on.
In 2014 my house mate at the time, Grace Towers, started hosting a drag show called Dick@Nite, every Wednesday at Moby Dick's bar in the Castro, and it was here that I performed for the first time. I took the stage as a drag queen, which to some, was peculiar because it went against the normal image of who a drag queen was (ie: a man who dresses as a woman.) I however, did not want to completely change who I was, I simply wanted to accentuate my proclaimed gender; to amplify my presence, my look, and my power through the feminine. For me, drag isn't only about changing genders, it's about becoming whatever you want to be through a physical transformation, which can look a million different ways. Regardless of the kind of drag one does, it takes a lot of vulnerability to share your art with others, especially if you're by yourself, on stage, in front of an audience. But for me, it was precisely there that I found the least amount of judgement and the greatest amount of acceptance from others. The first song I performed to was 'Falling in Love,' by Phantogram and it was truly a foreshadowing of what was to come, as I gained more self confidence and fell deeper in love with the drag community of San Francisco.
Around the same time, amongst the glitz and glamour of drag, I was also introduced to the beauty and sensuality of BDSM. Grace was a host at one of the main stages at Folsom Street Fair and invited me to check it out. So, I put on some leather and lace and decided to go for a solo adventure. For hours, I wandered up and down the streets, observing and drinking in the beautiful, bizarre, and provocative.
It was an incredible experience and something inside me awoke that day with a fierce heart, clear knowing, and let's just admit it....a perverted mind.
When I went home to share the excitement of this new found curiosity to my partner, he informed me that he was breaking up with me and moving back to San Diego. My twittering heart was devastated and I quickly sank into a depression that closed me off from what was just beginning to unfold. I continued to perform here and there but it wasn't until I was asked to be part of a promotional video for the following Folsom Street Fair that I revisited the realm of kink. A week after filming, I was performing and as my lips continued to move to the lyrics and the choreography flowed without thinking, I felt this sublime recognition of power. I looked out to the crowd, and there was a calm clarity that I belonged.
That evening, I lay awake buzzing from the show, unable to sleep. I wondered, how could I access that feeling more often? How could I let that persona integrate more into my everyday life, instead of just during a performance? How could I translate the power I felt on stage and perhaps make a full time living out of it? I remembered the significance of that first time to Folsom Street Fair alongside the amazing experience of being at The Armory filming the video and it just clicked; maybe it wasn't that I wanted to be a drag queen all of the time but that perhaps the actual change I craved revolved around power dynamics and the desire to be more Dominant.
The next day, I reached out to a friend who had worked as a Dominatrix and she referred me to a house of Domination. A few days later, I had an interview and a few days after that, I began training. It all happened so quickly but I never felt more aligned, as if my entire system knew that this was the right direction to take.
I trusted it whole heartedly.
Overall, it was a fairly easy and even familiar experience to undergo the process to becoming a Dominatrix. I chose a name and developed my own sense of style. I took it upon myself to learn various techniques and to become proficient in the skills needed to play confidently and safely. I delved into the fantasy and reality of people's kinks, acting as a guide and learning more about myself along the way. It was and continues to be a learning experience, which is what makes the work so satisfying. The realms of drag and BDSM hold endless potential and have guided me towards living a life of liberation rather than confining myself to what's considered mainstream. I have nothing but appreciation for those people and experiences that helped me along the way; showing me that not everything has to be placed into separate boxes, especially when it comes to the self. Sometimes those bits and pieces are better when they can collaborate and influence one another.
So much of how I approach drag is similar to how I step into my role as a Dominatrix. The ritual of getting ready, for example is more or less the same. I usually pour myself some tea (or a cocktail) depending on the hour and sit down to do my makeup. For a full drag transformation, it can take up to two hours, at least, but the process is the same. I decide what kind of makeup would compliment the aesthetic I'm going for and I go from there. Obviously for drag, a lot of this depends on the song I'm performing to. For a session however, this can vary depending on how I'm feeling and what the session entails. Sometimes, I go for the traditional look of a Dominatrix with the defined black cat eye liner to go alongside my leather. Other times, I'm more of a Goddess with soft makeup and flowing robes. Whatever direction I take, it represents not only how I feel, but how I wish to be seen.
Another similarity is the energetic exchange. I love the energy that occurs between audience and performer. The host of the show will usually say, the more you (the audience) put out, the more we (the performers) reciprocate. Now, I don't force the audience to submit to me, but I do enjoy capturing people's attention and offering my art through entertainment. In the same sense, I appreciate the trade off that occurs during a BDSM session, where I get to engage in a relationship built from trust and consent in order to play with fantasy and fetish. I would not be a Dominatrix were it not for my submissives and while I could perform without an audience, I'll admit, it's just not as fun.
Lastly, there is the impermanence that shows up in both art and domination. Even if I duplicate the type of play in a session or repeat the same song for a show, it can never be replicated in exactly the same way. It truly teaches me to embrace the present moment; to celebrate the feelings that arise out of discovery and to appreciate the value of being vulnerable . I learn from every show much in the way I learn from every person I play with and I feel extremely grateful to be able to share my art in an unfettered way. My story really began when I was able to fully embrace who I was. And when I accepted that, I became who I wanted to be, only to discover that I am a Queen... either way.
#dominatrix #dragqueen #aqueeneitherway
Photography by: Devlin Shand, Sloane Kanter, and Aaron Levy-Wolins
© 2020 Lillian Bastet