Whip Smart - A Book Review | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Whip Smart - A Book Review

Whip Smart: A Memoir by Melissa Febos, Published by Picador, ISBN: 9781405040099, RRP: $34.99, Paperback

It's been a while since I read this (by a while, I mean it was quite a few books ago now!) so this isn't a fresh recollection, but my thoughts are still the same now that I've had time to process it and think about it.


Whip Smart is the story of Melissa Febos, a girl who moves to New York as a college freshman, and finds herself, two years later, juggling her studies and her life as a professional dominatrix.

What B.o.B says -
...Whip Smart is the story of Melissa's journey into a shocking double life. And she spares no one; keen observations about the motivations of her clients, her co-workers, and, most important, herself offer a rare look inside a fascinating world...But this is also the story of a young woman who learned early on that sexuality and seduction were vehicles of power and was not afraid to use this knowledge. In nuanced prose, she charts how risk-taking eventually gave way to a spiral downward, drug addiction, and a course of self-destruction.

It's an interesting story, especially considering she didn't have the 'usual up-bringing' that one would (rightly or wrongly) assume one must have had to work as a dominatrix. Don't be confused though, being a dominatrix is different to being a prostitute, in that, a lot of dominatrix don't actually have sexual intercourse with their clients. That isn't to say that it isn't of a sexual nature, it is, whoo boy is it, but it's a totally different kind.

I'd never really read anything about bondage, S&M, dominatrix, etc before I read this book, and it was quite the eye-opener. She doesn't spare any details, and there are a few acts that she describes doing that just made me feel like I really needed to take a shower, it's that dirty. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and I could have done with less detail, that's for sure.

Having read the back of the book, you know what's coming before she does. The spiral. Why she believed that she would be immune to that ineviable fall is strange, as she seems to be so self-aware. But then I suppose being self-aware doesn't stop you from making bad choices.

Febos doesn't waste time setting a scene, she just jumps straight into it, and I like that. No messing about with boring childhood anecdotes. It's an interesting look at a life I could never imagine, and also, at the lives of people who could be anyone you know, those be-suited men who visit the dungeons.

Despite the fact that the content matter was hard to swallow (pun totally intended, although please do excuse my lame  humour) it was well written and she doesn't try to defend her poor choices or blame them on others, she just states it as matter of fact. Which I enjoyed.

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