Photo by: Slave Boy Julia
Please give us a little background about you. What is it that you do? How did you get in this line of work? What was your educational and professional background before this?
I’m a Dominatrix & Fetish Specialist. I specialize in Animal & Pet Play. I first got into Fetish related work in late 2012, when I was still living in New York. Previous to that, I was primarily a Professional Writer, but also a Television and Commercial Producer with my own Production & Marketing companies. Really, everything I did and my course of action were always unconventional. I always understood the importance of not only sexuality, but also intimacy. When I decided to explore what people generalize as sex work, I had been spending a lot of time with erotic entertainers and dancers. I would hire them to entertain clients, and had grown very fond of some of them. Some became friends.
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy really made things difficult for my business, which was already getting to be more work than I was willing to commit to. So, I decided to experiment with some unconventional jobs I had heard about. The first type of fetish work I did were private, focused parties. For example foot fetish or shoe fetish parties, and they would hire people like myself to entertain the guests. My experiences were so good that I decided I really wanted to do this kind of thing consistently.
I was interested in fetishes because I had met so many people who had so many different types of sexual desires, who were willing to extensively engage with me about them. I really learned a lot, and was able to understand their motivations and experiences. I felt it was important for all people to be able to explore and understand any fetishes they might have.
But it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in March of 2015 that being a Dominatrix and Fetish Specialist became a career. First, I worked for a house, but one that was not at all reputable. Then, I went completely independent after about 6 or 8 months. When I really committed to Animal Play, that’s when success started coming. Not only was I comfortable and in my element because I was doing what I loved, but also I was doing something that’s incredibly fun, and incredibly under appreciated.
What is your definition of a Fetish Specialist? What is your definition of an Animal Play Monarch?
I went with the title of Fetish Specialist because I specialize in working out people’s fetishes with them. My work involves me focusing on my client’s fetishes, not necessarily their sex, but rather focusing on their relationship with an aspect of themselves. A Fetish Specialist is someone who is knowledgeable in fetishes and who uses that knowledge to help people explore and navigate their fetishes. That can mean anything from just simply learning and understanding, all the way to experimenting indefinitely.
I got the title Animal Play Monarch because I really got into Animal Play. I create complex backgrounds, have unique, glorious pets, make custom costumes, and tell really intricate stories. Someone called me a Monarch and that was that.
What does your usual day at work look like?
Believe it or not, most days aren’t spent in Appointments. Most days, I spend my time engaging with people, advertising, maintaining a presence, and contributing to my community.
In terms of sessions, if somebody’s doing what I do and they have three regulars, that’s plenty to keep somebody comfortable. Most of the time, I try to use my platform to contribute to the community. For example, I host Tech Tea Parties, where (usually) women in the community get together, and work on whatever technical work they need to get done. At these parties, we exchange information, learn from one another, and empower the community and each other.
So, being able to spend most of my work time behind the computer at home allows me the time to engage with people at a much better level, in a much more effective manner. Because of my limited time spent in sessions, I can focus on issues that the community is currently facing and I can focus on kink-related education.
What do you love most about your job?
Just seeing people relax and be themselves. It’s just absolutely beautiful to see someone who feels they have to hide who they are, just let loose and be themselves without having to defend or explain their existence. That’s really something that makes all the hard work worth it.
I get a lot of people that come to my door with shame about things that in my opinion people shouldn’t be ashamed of. It’s wonderful to be able to help people take away those layers of pain, shame, discomfort, and the fear of being judged. Being able to work through all those layers and get a person comfortable, and where they’re just really being there and behaving in a way that is authentic, and not based on what they think is expected of them.
And that’s what makes my job and being a part of this community so worth it, because I get the opportunity to fight to stop the discrimination of people’s sexuality and gender, so more people can feel safe enough to be themselves.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your job?
There’s a lot of stigma and judgments made about myself and my clients for what we do. In my opinion, no one should be judged for what they like, want, or are excited by. You can control your actions, but you can’t help what your fetishes are. So, one of my biggest challenges has been managing this judgement, ignorance, and the stigma that goes with this line of work.
It also has become more dangerous to be in my line of work. Sex workers are being forced to cut corners. You can’t accept credit cards, so you have to accept cash. There are less ways to screen people on the internet, if you can’t communicate about these things, now you have to screen people yourself.
It’s also dangerous for my clients because they have jobs, and if their bosses found out they were into any aspect of BDSM, the bosses might say, “Oh, that means you’re violent and you’re fired.”
People have lost their kids because of their BDSM practices.
People’s lives are being destroyed unnecessarily because of ignorance. Ignorance is definitely the biggest challenge.
Can you elaborate on how you train your pets?
Every pet is a little different because every person requires something different. Each animal represents a different aspect of a client’s personality. When it comes to animal play, how I train them really comes down to number one what the human needs, and number two the behaviors of the actual animal. I try to be true to whatever species we are playing out. For example, a reward for my monkey might be bananas. Of course, I first make sure the human likes bananas. But, basically the the reward is what the animal would eat, and the tasks are what that animal would do.
I always take into account people’s goals and where they are mentally as well. For example, if someone is trying to lose weight, I wouldn’t have them be a pig because that animal is usually degraded for their weight. Instead, I might ask this person to be a big horned sheep to show them they are strong and powerful.
I want to try to bring out the positives aspects of the person, and I want them to try to manifest those positive feelings and positive reinforcements through their behavior as a animal.
I use animal play as a means for my client’s to earn praise and affection through tasks that would be easy for a human, but impressive for whatever animal they are. If my pet is struggling with something in their personal life, I’ll work that into our scenes. I do this so that the reward for facing and overcoming whatever it is they are struggling with is something really worth striving for.
How many different kinds of pets do you have?
I’m constantly updating my Pets Count on my website, MadameMargherite.com, but currently, I have about 30.
How does one go about choosing what type of pet they are?
I usually help them with that. At the start of a scene, I’ll ask a series of questions, and based on the answers to those questions, combined with my knowledge of animals, I will find a match that represents the person on a very personal level. All animals have magnificent characteristics, so when my pets are coming out of pet-space, I remind them that all those wonderful, glorious things about their pet persona, are actually wonderful, glorious things about them.
In short, I try to learn information about the client, their surroundings, and how they relate to their environment as well as what are they trying to accomplish in their everyday life. All these things shape the type of animal they are going to be. For example, if you are trying to be more social, I might assign you a social animal like a primate or a meerkat. I always try to match the animal and person based on what the human is trying to achieve.
To help people out with identifying their inner animal, I actually designed a formula called the Petsy-Madaminal Scale. There’s a free version that people can do themselves and there’s a paid version. Feel free to check it out! https://madamemargherite.
Can you give us more details about the costume making process? What makes for a great pet costume?
In my opinion, what really makes a difference regarding costumes are the types of things that the pets can see and identify with that match the animal that they’re trying to portray. The purpose of a costume is to help people get into head space, stay in head space, and feel more like that animal. You’re almost tricking your brain by looking at yourself wearing fur, wearing a tail, and things like that.
I think that the more important parts of the costume are things like paws and feet and the tail that the person can see. Visuals are very important when getting people into role playing experiences. But also masks and ears are important because someone can feel them.
What are some key attributes of a good pet?
When I play, it’s not about being good or bad, it’s about finding the good and bringing it out.
How is animal training like having a real pet? How does it differ?
Well for one, there are still boundaries that the human being as the animal must adhere to no matter how deep into sub or pet-space a person gets. It’s so important to maintain boundaries and respect limits. These things really should be outlined prior to play. I have heard people make excuses for their behavior while they were in pet space, but there is no excuse for crossing a boundary or hard limit while in this type of space. Being a pet doesn’t give you permission to defecate, urinate, or hump people if these behaviors have not been consented to. Everything that you are going to do/want to do needs to be addressed, consented to, and negotiated prior to pet play or any other type of play.
On the contrary, pet play is a lot like having a real pet because as a Domme it’s my responsibility to take care of my pets. They are depending and relying on me to keep them safe when they are pretending to be an animal.
What are some basic do’s and don’ts of animal and pet play?
Do come up with a safe gesture to replace safewords. A verbal safeword could take someone out of pet space, so gestures could be more effective.
What is the biggest benefit for you as an pet/animal trainer?
I feel a great sense of satisfaction that I’ve been so successful in bringing so much attention to animal play. When I moved to LA in 2015, people told me that as a Dominatrix it wasn’t likely that I would be successful. I heard a lot of people say that people aren’t into animal play, but I knew that all I had to do was show them how I do animal play, and they would be in.
But, the biggest benefit is that this has given me a platform that I can use to talk about important things that matter to me. Not just relating to my industry, but also things like police brutality, the school to prison pipeline, the Prison Industrial Complex, sexual assault, underage marriage laws, and of course, discrimination.
What are some core attributes that are apparent in your training style?
I challenge pets to be as creative and as specific as they want to be. For example, with dogs, I like to get down to the breed. I am also totally open to mythological and prehistoric animals. With my pets, I identify their entire world, not just their animal. I teach my pets things about their animals that make them reflect on themselves. This is where I differ from others out there because I don’t think anyone has been as creative as I have when it comes to animal play.
Do you train different types of pets in a different manner? If so, could you give us a few examples?
Yes. Some of my pets are my Elite Pets, and out of them, some are my Champions. Elite Pets are my personal Pets, who instead of serving me in scenes with payment, they serve me by performing with me, and by hosting events with me. My Elite Pets often battle each other for me, and the victors are deemed my Champions. The battles aren’t violent, of course. For example, to defeat my Monkey my Hyena might have to pull off his velcro tail while to defeat my Hyena my Monkey might have to throw pudding poo at him. In a case like that, you can understand that my different Pets need different training, and of course, different treats. Monkeys get bananas, and Hyenas might get beef jerky.
In sessions, depending on what my Pets are trying to achieve, we will do different activities. A hippopotamus might get a mud bath.
What do you feel needs to be done to bring animal and pet play more into the general public within the BDSM/Kink community?
I think everyone should do this type of play because it’s really good for your imagination. Engaging your imagination makes it easier to solve problems and see different perspectives, which is a very useful tool when it comes to relationships. Even if it’s not animal play, people nurturing their imaginations is extremely healthy and makes life vibrant.
To bring this type of play more into the general public people just need to host more events. People need to begin planning things to normalize this type of play and get the word out there about it.
Are there any therapeutic and/or practical benefits to being a pet or animal that one can experience when they are not being a pet or animal and/or not in “pet space” such as discipline, more stability etc?
Absolutely! Everything I do with my pets is so they can carry what they have achieved in session into their everyday lives. That’s what I do this for, and that’s what I base my activities and methods around. I want them to carry what they learned and/or worked on in session outside of session, so they can achieve their goals, and be the best they can be.
What is the difference between pet play and animal play? What is the difference between someone who identifies as a pet vs. someone who identifies as an animal?
Simple. All pets are animals, but not all animals are pets. All animals under my care are my pets when under my care. That’s how I operate, but that’s not how everyone does things. People who participate in animal play will sometimes get together and have a fox run, or do some other activity where they play as wild animals, and no one is anyone’s pet. Someone could also just be a lone wolf with no owner. Pets have some sort of D type, whereas animals usually do not. A pet has a Madame, Master, Trainer, or some other honorific relating to someone that offers guidance.
About Madame Margherite: Fetish Specialist & Animal Play Monarch
Los Angeles resident, Madame Margherite, began dabbling in fetish work during the fall of 2012 while still living in Brooklyn, New York. When she moved to LA in March of 2015, that’s when her career as a Dominatrix really started taking shape. Specializing in Animal Play, she earned the title Animal Play Monarch with her elaborate Queendom of exotic and glorious Pets. Madame Margherite’s background in Production & Marketing has been very advantageous for her career. As a member of the DomCon Advisory Board, her key role lies in marketing. She’s extremely active in the community and is an advocate for a number of issues including anti-discrimination and anti-police brutality. For more information visit: MadameMargherite.com