This Viral Dominatrix Is Writing BDSM-Inspired Rock Music

If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter in the past week or so, you’ve likely seen a video of Black dominatrix flogging her sub. In the now-viral clip, she can be seen commanding a white man — who is wearing a pig mask and has the words “Reparations” and “BLM” written on his back — to say “Black women are superior” over and over again. And now, the performance artist, musician and domme behind the video itself is speaking up.

BLACK WOMEN ARE SUPERIOR!
https://t.co/dapBUPrUMm https://t.co/x82SyvbUPl — Zhariah_ (@Zhariah_)1594058414.0

“It wasn’t originally supposed to be that, but in the middle of the session I was just like, ‘Fuck it, this is how I feel right now. So I’m just going to go ahead and do it,” Zhariah explained. “I was like, ‘This is me getting my anger out.'”

After all, amid continued protests for racial equity, the 22-year-old’s domme performance videos have been steadily gaining traction online. And as clips of her reminding people that they are “still [her] bitch” to sitting on a sub soundtracked to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” proves, Zhariah definitely has a knack for creating content that resonates with Twitter.

My grand entrance into domme twitter. https://t.co/HN7sxM09Ro — Zhariah_ (@Zhariah_)1594382777.0
I got the pigs in the back @LilNasX https://t.co/n8AqOGsQF4 — Zhariah_ (@Zhariah_)1593464800.0

But as she sees it, in addition to boosting her client base and domme profile, this turn of events has also proved helpful to her career as an alt-trap artist writing BDSM-inspired songs. Pointing toward songs like the recently released “Metals, Whips, and Chains” — a tough-as-nails celebration of dommeing with a video that sees her parading several subs around on leashes — the multifaceted artist said she’s excited to be integrating these facets of her career together through her elevated online platform.

“I was just saying all those things and people loved it so much. And I was like, ‘If it’s going to get me noticed for my music then let me do it,'” she explained, admitting that it’s been exciting to see how “the stuff that I was doing to make money for my music became my brand.”

Even so, virality hasn’t come without its own considerations. And this is especially true since she felt like she feels as if she’s had to balance her “raunchy domme” persona with her desire to “stand for women’s empowerment” — something that also plays into her goal of “educating people on Riot Grrrl, Black women in rock n’ roll and Black women’s empowerment.” After all, as she pointed out, this all also lends itself to a larger discussion about how an artist like Zhariah is pushing back against racist stereotyping that contributes to the pigeonholing of Black women, particularly in music.

“I think women and people are ready to see… Black women in power,” she said. “At the end of the day, I could be a stereotype because I am loud and I am dominant, and I could be screaming and people are used to that and want to see Black women in that form. But I want to make it more about being alternative and having that edge.”

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Thankfully, Zariah said that she hasn’t gotten any pushback yet for being a Black woman in rock. However, as an artist who started by performing at hip-hop shows, she has gotten “a bunch of people who don’t understand it” — though she’s not about to let the naysayers get to her.

“[When I started making music] I felt so powerful, so enlightened, and so [I was like], ‘I’m just going to see where this takes me,'” Zhariah said. “I would bring subs to shows and perform with them on a leash. And to vanilla people it was like, ‘Oh my god, this is so crazy. I can’t believe she’s doing this… Is she really beating him onstage?’ And it just became me, honestly.”

However, balancing dommeing with her music has been its own sort of journey. According to Zhariah, while she has “always wanted to be a domme,” her journey actually started after she met her dommeing mentor at a performance and was subsequently introduced to a prestigious dungeon in Philadelphia. After dropping out of Temple University and moving back home, she stopped dommeing for a moment and opted to focus on music — though after “Metal, Whips, and Chains” was completed, she felt like she had “to get back into the lifestyle again.”

“At the time, I was going through the phase of, ‘Oh my god, I dropped out of college’ and society was like, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ I was basically holding myself to societal standards of being a valuable woman. And I was like, ‘Okay, I’m a domme, but me spitting on people isn’t appropriate.'” Zhariah explained. “But at the end of the day, I sat with myself and was like, ‘But I love this. I love being dominant. I love being wild. I love the attention. I love the money. I love all of this and this is me and who the hell is everyone else to tell me I can’t [do this]?”

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As a result, she’s since joined the Black Domme Sorority, continued to make music and is determined to keep the momentum going when it comes to her popular dommeing videos. While juggling that all has proven to be a lot at times, they’re things she said that she’s not planning on stopping anytime soon, especially since they both feed into each other.

“If I stand for that as a brand, I have to be that for myself. We can be both. We can empower women, but I wanted to have my edge,” Zhariah concluded, before adding, “Because if I’m not practicing what I preach, I’m a poser. And I’m not a poser.”

Welcome to “Sex with Sandra,” a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, “Sex with Sandra” is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.

Photos courtesy of Zhariah

The Financial Dominatrix Making Space for Black Sex Workers

Financial domination, an erotic form of humiliation that involves a subordinate losing control of their wallet to the dominant, has been getting a lot of airtime in the past few years. However, despite findom’s empowered rhetoric and glamorous reputation, it can also be a somewhat difficult subset of sex work to break into — and that’s what Mistress Marley is trying to fix.

An NYC-based dominatrix with a client roster that includes “a 19-year-old kid in college who can only tribute $50 a month to a wealthy guy on Wall Street who can contribute a $1000,” Marley has subs across the board that do everything from pay her bills to send her gifts — which, on paper, can only be described as a dream job. That said, as a Black woman who started off without any guidance, she says getting to this point was a trying journey in and of itself.

After losing her job in 2017, Marley began looking into ways to “make money as a woman online using your sexuality.” Because while she had been a stripper before, this time around she was looking to control her work hours from the comfort of her own home — something that eventually led her to Twitter’s findom community.

“The biggest difference between findomming and other forms of sex work is that you don’t have to really be in physical contact with anyone,” she says. “Doing that in the safety of your home, branding and marketing it, being able to do your safety screening on your own. This form of sex work gives you more control.”

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However, Marley adds that breaking into this particular line of work proved to be somewhat of a challenge. Starting without a mentor, Marley researched and studied what others were doing for almost half a year before even deciding to make a Twitter for herself — though the initial pushback she received from other findommes was, at times, discouraging.

“There were times when I’d go into other dommes’ inboxes, and they’d give me the cold shoulder, ignore me, or be rude,” she says. “They were like, I had to figure it out myself, because they figured it out themselves.”

Partially inspired by her own experience, Marley decided to create the Black Domme Sorority this past July. A “safe space for Black and Afro-Latina women to come together,” the 1,000 member strong organization allows newbies and veterans alike the ability to chat with each other and attend classes taught by Marley across the country. After all, as Marley says, within a space where many of the most visible players are white women, the importance of helping other women of color — who often “have to work harder, especially in terms of content and marketing and branding ourselves” — can’t be understated.

“There are a lot of Black women out there that can find complete financial freedom doing kinks like this, and there’s a market for it,” Marley says. She emphasizes the benefits of visibility, especially when talking about introducing other women to the subset of findom that revolves around reparations, Black female supremacy, and power-reversal play that sees white subs “living to serve us.” However, as she points out, given that even “talking about kink and fetish is still very taboo within the Black community,” she wanted the Black Domme Sorority to exist as a way of educating aspiring Black and Afro-Latina dommes.

“We don’t have that help,” she says. “But once people see someone who looks like them doing it, they’re more motivated to try.”

Above all though, she says the organization is meant to act as a support network for its members, whether that comes in the form of providing job opportunities for each other, creating emergency funds for sisters in need, or sharing essential industry-specific information — especially in a post-FOSTA/SESTA landscape. From teaching women about protecting their social media accounts from deletion to tips about dealing with banking institutions, the educational scope of the sorority is far-reaching, especially as findom has become much more visible.

While there’s something to be said about its increasing pop cultural presence, Marley admits that there are a lot of fundamental misunderstandings about findom still floating around. Reiterating that findommes don’t necessarily need to meet up or ever touch a client, she goes on to detail her annoyance with the idea that findomming as a concept is exploitative — even though pro findommes will never ask their subs for money.

“With the findom community, it is a bragging game,” she says, explaining that many findommes post their tributes as it encourages other subs to donate. “But when some people see all these big tributes coming in, they’re like, ‘Oh, you guys are just taking someone’s money. They’re not going to have any money for themselves.’ That’s not true.”

As Marley points out, most of the subs coming into the scene know that they won’t get anything, even something as small as a picture, in return. “But that’s part of their kink and why they like it,” she says, calling it a power-reversal “fantasy.” But it’s up to the sub themselves to know their financial limits when it comes to their tributes.

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“If you have a sub that’s like, ‘Oh my God, Goddess, I don’t have any money, you’re taking all my money, that’s just part of the fantasy,” she continues. “The misconception that we are taking people’s money and being completely selfish and not caring if they have anything to spend is just wrong.”

Despite the negativity, Marley is still enamored with her job, as it allows her to “connect with so many different people and help them fulfill a fantasy, all while getting paid and feeling safe.” In fact, she sees findomming — as well as her advocation and education of other Black findommes — as a long-lasting career move.

“My goal is to open up a BDSM dungeon for Black and Afro-Latina women,” Marley says. “We do have dungeons [in NYC], but they’re very white-centric, so my goal is to have a safe space for us. And if that safe space can be funded by my findomming, well, that would just be amazing.”

Welcome to “Sex with Sandra,” a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, “Sex with Sandra” is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.

Photography: Lanee Bird