Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
How long ago did you get your start in the adult entertainment biz, and what did you do for a living before that?
My interest in BDSM just came naturally.
Because I started my career at a pretty young age, there wasn't really a "before the industry" for me. I did model for a mainstream agency, played bass guitar in a band, attended college and worked part time for an opera company as an administrative assistant while living in Birmingham, Ala. I was pretty normal, I guess. I always seemed to be fascinated by all things dark and mysterious. Back then, no one talked about fetish or S&M openly, so I really had no real experience with it until the first time I stepped foot into a professional dungeon in New York. I enjoyed toying around with power exchanges when I was a teen, but I had never formally been introduced to it. The first realization that I was different from all of my friends was when I was in high school and a couple of us were watching the movie "9 ½ Weeks." All of my girlfriends seemed to associate more with Kim Basinger's character, and I wanted to be just like Mickey Rourke. Needless to say, the first time I dressed in fetish clothing and picked up a whip, I felt like a latex-clad fish in water.
What first inspired you to become a dominatrix? How did you get interested in BDSM?
My interest in BDSM just came naturally. In my teens, I was already making my boyfriends do things that would be considered S&M activities, but I didn't really get introduced to the scene until 1992. I had just moved to New York at the time, and I met a girl wearing fetish clothes and asked her where she got them. It just so happens that the girl worked as a submissive in a club and we became friends. When I told her my interests were as a dominant, she took me to a few fetish stores and clubs. I was hooked.
What are some mistakes that you've seen people make in creating and/or marketing BDSM content?
The biggest mistake I see is people doing what they aren't passionate about. You can't just create or market BDSM content because you want to fill a niche or because it will be a good business plan. You have to do it because you enjoy, appreciate and understand BDSM. If you aren't genuine, people can tell and your audience won't embrace your content. How can you market to an audience that you aren't in touch with or don't really understand? A large part of what makes GwenMedia successful is the fact that when fans buy our movies or sign up to our site, they know what they are getting is the real thing, because we are fetishists too.
Let's say I'm a person who wants to break into the BDSM market, and I have no personal experience in that area and no grounding in the BDSM community. What would you advise as my first step?
First step — get some grounding in the community, join some online discussion groups and rack up some personal experience so you can make sure you have chosen the right market to break into! When I got started, I just took it upon myself to learn as much about BDSM activities as I could. I watched fetish movies. I read fetish books. I would go to all the BDSM clubs and got to know and familiarize myself with the community. Most importantly, I would practice on boyfriends, because they were always excellent tools for experimenting. And of course, when you're a beautiful woman, there is always an abundance of volunteers. In short, get involved in your scene. Grab a paddle, get some latex and try to have fun.