Concertina, the Life and Loves of a Dominatrix, by Susan Winemaker

By on March 21, 2011

Tessa Ditner reviews one of the few interesting books by a pro dom.

Susan Winemaker is a dominatrix. Before that, she worked as a chef. Concertina begins with her suffocating a regular, flicking his nipples with a coin, dreaming of a feta salad. This isn’t an erotic story. In fact I don’t think there was a single erotic passage in the whole book. You follow her as she welcomes clients into her dungeon and dissects their needs, based on how they look, how they act and what they ask for.

There’s nothing more satisfying than the element of surprise, so I was delighted when Susan’s biggest horror wasn’t the caning, piercing or spitting, but the arrival of a handsome masochist. Her affair with the man is beautifully written, showing that even for a trained dominatrix, human psychology can baffle and torture you.

It’s clear that Susan doesn’t experience erotic pleasure from her work. She enjoys exploring human psychology, she appreciates the art of her craft and she also gets a lot of satisfaction from providing a unique sort of release that normal society doesn’t cater to. But for someone who is so busy moulding herself into the appropriate fantasy, the biggest challenge she has to face in writing about her experience is telling her emotional journey.

Concertina does what Rabelais did in the middle ages, in his novels about the giant Gargantua. They both use food and the biological aspects of the human body to make statements about the sameness of human beings. But unlike Rabelais who lived a cloistered life as a married priest and wrote grotesque stories of giants peeing on Paris, Susan is surrounded by human orifices and therefore uses food to elevate herself out of the heaps of bodies. Food becomes the language of emotions just as it did for that rat in the movie Ratatouille. She escapes the tedium of domination by thinking of ‘watermelon with chilled tomato soup’, from conveying her unique eroticism ‘pared the nipple off each tomato and hand-fed it to the mouth of the machine’ and finally attempting to grip onto a new, self-healing place as she escapes to the countryside ‘I was shocked to discover that wild strawberries tasted of – rather, distinctively suggested – Roquefort cheese.’ Food even saves her from the man she loves as she can’t decide if he’s a misunderstood hero or a brute. The day he calls to say he’s just eaten a whole raw chicken cutlet, minus a bite, without realising it was raw, is the day she finds her answer.

There are times when I wished I’d written this book, other times I was relieved never to have become a dominatrix. It’s a stark reminder that domination isn’t just about pretty clothes and Club Pedestal-type submissives who want to massage your feet. There were also moments when you wish Susan wasn’t such a brilliant writer, particularly when she pulls on her rubber gloves. Then you get the grotesque combination of the following: an NHS nurse, Dita von Teese, a clear sandwich bag of money and the smell of entrails.

Tessa Ditner
Concertina: The Life and Loves of a Dominatrix is published by Simon & Schuster and available from Amazon and from most bookstores.

1 Comment

alessandro

April 9, 2011 @ 18:48

Good!

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