Category Archives: $ Money

We made bank running an indie BDSM dungeon

Elizabeth Sanchez
Illustrator

In the latest installment of Hopes&Fears anonymous interview series, we spoke with a couple who ran a homegrown S&M operation out of their apartment. For anonymity purposes, the girlfriend will simply be known as Dominatrix and the boyfriend as Master P.

DOMINATRIX: I come from a very Catholic background. My cousin once put up photos of herself wearing a mini skirt in London and my mom assumed she was an escort. It’s like, are you serious? This is how people dress. It’s ridiculous. She’s very conservative. I still feel like in many ways I’m trapped in her past.

The squat
I got into the S&M scene before Master P. I got into it ten years ago, pretty much paying my way through college. I’d been living on my own since I was 17, and I couldn’t really hold a minimum wage job and still afford to live.

A friend and I were in Long Island City at the time, living in an illegal apartment. The landlord was absent. It was an unofficial squat but we still needed money to live. We had power and water, somehow we were on the grid, yet things weren’t official. My theory is that the people who lived there before us hooked it all up. Apparently, it was a family of vagabond gypsies. When they found out they were getting evicted, they got super spiteful and plugged up all the drains with doll heads.

One day, the place flooded really bad and we were buried in three feet of water. We realized these conditions were just too fucked up but decided to make the most of it because we couldn’t afford anything better. We decided to throw crazy parties and trash the place and to then have a slave come in and pay us to clean up after us. Then, you know, pay us for other stuff as well.

We wondered if this was possible. It turned out to be completely possible. One post on Craigslist and we were flooded with a million responses from a million guys named Mark Smith. They all used pseudonyms. Everything fell into place.

When we first started off, we didn’t have any of the equipment. We had a few corsets but we decided to make the most of what little we had. We would have them strip down completely naked and wear women’s underwear. We would have them get down on the floor and clean the entire place in a thong and take out the garbage. The neighbors eventually began watching this from their fire escape.

We made money from the parties, but not nearly as much as we were making from the dom sessions. We would charge $200 an hour. We would eventually bring it up to $300 and ask them to buy us stuff.
We quickly established rules. They weren’t allowed to make eye contact with us. They constantly had to keep their eyes to the floor. If they even looked up they would have to go to the backyard, take a twig and we would punish them.
We made bank running an indie BDSM dungeon. Изображение №2.

A dungeon versus
your apartment
After the whole squat thing, I worked at a dungeon. That was wonderful because even though you are working for someone else, you have protection. You have more at your disposal. You have all the little fantasy rooms to work with. You have a lot more control. The clientele was completely up to us and our comfort level. It’s not sketchy at all. I think it’s actually a very sterile scene to be honest. If you’re doing this in dungeons, it’s very controlled. You’re not allowed to draw blood. Full on nudity is not allowed because that would enter the realms of prostitution. When you’re doing it at home on your own, it does get crazier. I had guys who came to me with knives and wanted to get stabbed. Or they would ask me to stab them with a fucking skewer. That one was actually a professor at the college I went to. I just avoided that department from then on. I never went by the geology department or rock class after that.

MASTER P: In those situations, I would actually hang around in our bedroom and she would use the kitchen.

DOMINATRIX: And the other way around, if Master P had clients that were only into being dominated by a dude. I would just sit in the bedroom with a weapon, just in case I needed to run out. We would never be in the house alone.
Bringing in Master P
MASTER P: When we first started dating, Dominatrix had told me the stories, but it wasn’t a confessional. It was just hilarious and private. Growing up in New York City, half of my friends had worked at dungeons and related places over the years. All of the places were in Midtown. I had a friend who by the end of high school was already working at Nutcracker. She would be at my doorstep at 7 in the morning and my parents would make her coffee. She would have thousands of dollars on her and usually some Ketamine. Now she’s married with kids.
Rules

DOMINATRIX: We quickly established rules. They weren’t allowed to make eye contact with us. They constantly had to keep their eyes to the floor. If they even looked up they would have to go to the backyard, take a twig and we would punish them.

MASTER P: The most fun thing about that whole job was finding weird creative ways to hurt people. It’s a lot more fun if you improvise.

DOMINATRIX: We acted very quaint. I felt that was part of our charm, sort of like the aunt next door that abuses you.

It was easy to weed sketchy guys out through email. At first, it was the guys that sent the dick pics that immediatly raised red flags. But eventually, you learn to pick up things just from the tone of their email. The truly submissive, those who are truly into the S&M thing, will approach you with a sense of respect. And there would never be a paper trail.

MASTER P: This one guy would write me a check for $400, but he’d write the check out to “Cash.”

DOMINATRIX: I would have them all pay up front. We wouldn’t call it a payment though, we would call it a donation to the goddesses or a tribute.

Clientele
DOMINATRIX: A lot of these guys are just really lonely and this was sort of a way of making a connection. We wouldn’t hear from some of them for months after a session but would later get a message asking, “Maybe we can meet up for coffee or sometime?” It’s clearly coming out of loneliness.

MASTER P: We never had a woman.

DOMINATRIX: We almost did once, but I don’t think she was willing to pay. There were a lot of hasidic men.

MASTER P: Nearly half of our clients were hasidic. Contractors.

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Gifts
MASTER P: We would advertise for ATM slaves which would mean literally their job was to go with us to an ATM and take all your money out. Those people exist. It’s like, if you find that unicorn, you ride that unicorn. We found people that had a lot of money. They literally got us through school.

DOMINATRIX: Master P was especially good at getting people to buy us stuff.

MASTER P: I decided I wanted some nice electronics. He was a middle aged social worker. The subject matter was heavy for him, so the S&M was a way to get out of it. I’ve never been really about tech but I told him to get me a Blackberry, an iPod touch, and a Macbook. The guy showed up two days later at my door with all three. The only thing this guy wanted to do was massage my feet and talk about literature. It wasn’t bad at all. I would smoke a joint and maybe listen to NPR.

Eventually, we actually had to cut him off because I felt like he was falling in love with me. I think a lot of people have their own sort of Pretty Woman fantasy.
We made bank running an indie BDSM dungeon. Изображение №4.
Cast
DOMINATRIX: I had this one guy who pretty much paid me to break his leg. I couldn’t do it. It’s really difficult to shatter a leg with a mallet. He was a high end lawyer so I went to his condo with a mallet in my bag. His whole thing was to get put in a cast. That was what he got off on. I never ended up shattering his leg. I was going into a frenzy trying to shatter a fucking bone. After an hour, it just ended up being super bruised and swollen, but he casted himself up anyway because that was kind of the whole point.

Psychology
DOMINATRIX: We did have this one dude that wanted to take it to this crazy psychological realm where he wanted us to dress all in black, like nuns.

MASTER P: He also wanted one of us in a military hat.

DOMINATRIX: A lot of them would tell me stories about their fucked up childhoods. This one dude was into being kidnapped. So he would come over as a delivery boy with lunch or whatever. We would take the lunch from him, trip him, kidnap him, tie him up. It got weird once they decided to share their lives with us, why he thinks he’s into this. This guy said friends would kidnap him as a child and dress him in women’s clothing and parade him around the neighborhood.

MASTER P: We’d hear a lot of fucked up stuff.

DOMINATRIX: In their personal or professional lives, a lot of these men are very dominant because a lot of them happen to be very wealthy. Since they are in positions of power, the S&M may be a balancing act for them. They need to exercise both sides, that’s important especially when you have the money.

There are a lot of people that are into the controlling parent situation, especially that one guy who was really into the whole military uniform thing. He was into one of us tormenting him while the other comforted him and told him that everything’s okay. It gets into this weird sort of very classic Eastern European childhood scenario. One parent torments you while the other one tells you you’re not allowed to go anywhere because everything will be fine. There’s an afterlife, there’s no need to flee.

These sessions would usually last from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. The guy who was into getting kidnapped, I would tie him up and leave him in the bathroom for hours. You know, go outside, come back, live my life, do my homework.

Chores
MASTER P: If they are doing your laundry, it’s gonna be three hours. They would do the dishes, clean our tiles with a toothbrush. A lot of things would get cleaned with toothbrushes. But here’s the thing; a lot of these guys would do a shitty job cleaning because they want to be punished. So you really need to make sure they actually clean things properly, otherwise you have to clean after them. So you would get people who would literally leave a glass dirty while they’re doing dishes so you punish them. If I was going to be doing something for three hours, for an hour I’d put them on their hands and knees and use them as a footstool. If I needed to ash my cigarette, I’d have them put out their hand for me.

DOMINATRIX: We used to have poker nights where we would have a few slaves come over and serve us as foot stools, or pour us glasses of wine.

MASTER P: We would play violin music. You either have really powerful gay men or a lot of sad sacks. I think you had more high power people.

DOMINATRIX: No, I definitely had a nice sampling of both.

MASTER P: When you work for tips, you’re smiling at people you can’t stand. So I feel like in these kinds of situations when you’re playing a part that this person’s paying you for, they are definitely attracted to you if you’re doing a good job. You’re giving them something that no one else is, so you become very special. I found that once people start pathologizing themselves to you, they’ll never turn back. The second they try to explain themselves to you, that says that they’ve gotten to a point where they actually see you as a person who they need to justify themselves to, and the whole power dynamic is gone.

DOMINATRIX: Or they take a break for a year or two and then text you out of the blue at 2 in the morning.

MASTER P: I got a Facebook friend request from one guy a year ago. He must have searched my phone number or something. I don’t even remember him as a client.
We would advertise for ATM slaves which would mean literally their job was to go with us to an ATM and take all your money out. Those people exist. It’s like, if you find that unicorn, you ride that unicorn.

We made bank running an indie BDSM dungeon. Изображение №5.

The Hungarian
MASTER P: I had one guy who bruised his hip in our shower. He had a weird Hungarian accent. He was 70 years old, a bachelor, and every night he was into some kind of weird sex thing. When he came to our place, neither of us liked him. The next day, he sent me an email saying how he bruised his hip in our shower.

DOMINATRIX: I just didn’t know what to make of it. Are you trying to file a lawsuit or something?

MASTER P: I responded that it’s not our responsibility. He’s like, “You know the reason I’m writing is that when I went to the doctor to get it looked at, he told me it turns out that I have high cholesterol, so thank you very much.”

MASTER P: What was this man doing in my shower? I was peeing on him. It’s the easiest thing in the world, especially if you have a caffeinated existence. You don’t need to buy any equipment. You just need to shower, which most of us have. You don’t do it outside of the shower. That was a huge part of my repertoire.

DOMINATRIX: And you were really one of the few people to do it. That’s a line that a lot of people won’t cross.

London banker
MASTER P: I had this guy. He was British, a proper London banker type. He was really into shoes. He sends me an email he’s like, “First thing, listen, I know we will be able to work together if you open the door and immediately kick me in the balls.” Like, if before I’m even in your apartment, you kick me in the balls as hard as you can. And I’m like “okay.” So he gets there, opens the door, and I swiftly kick him in the balls. He says “thank you,” and comes inside and immediately assumes a force stance. I kick him in the balls for a good 30 minutes and I take him to the bathroom, tell him to strip and lie down in the shower, and I direct the cold water directly onto the balls where I had been kicking him. Then he says, “Please sir, please sir, where are your shoes?” So I take off one of my shoes and put it on his mouth and leave. When I come back five minutes later he hasn’t even moved. He asks, “Can you kick me some more?” So I kicked him for another five minutes and then I went, “I’m bored, pay me.” So he gets his wallet, pays me, assumes the position, I kick him again and he goes back to London. He took a lot of abuse in a very short amount of time. I mean, I could’ve caused him permanent damage, you know? That was towards the end, that was when I got good at that stuff. I knew what I was doing, and that kind of freaked me out, that level of sadism. I used to be a hippie, I’m not trying to be that sadistic. The cold water, I mean, I pretty much sat and smoked a cigarette.
You’re giving them something that no one else is, so you become very special. I found that once people start pathologizing themselves to you, they’ll never turn back.

Velvet Cigars
MASTER P: You know Velvet Cigars on Christopher Street? The proprietor of that place was legendary to everyone who went high school in the city. You would go there and whip your dick out and get two packs of cigarettes. We had a friend who was kind of like his casting agent, and he would just go around and be like, “Hey, if you need cigarettes, money, come to Velvet Cigars.” Also, he would give you $300 for a hug, it was pretty great. It was a gyrating hug.

We were all sitting around reading Tim Carroll’s memoirs and we were making money that way. I remember there was still one guy in the Village who walked up to me and a friend of mine—we were 14—and offered us $100 each to spit in his mouth. It just happens, you know?

I used to know a lot of crusty kids who were always selling themselves to somebody in some way. There’s a cool kind of industry. Our friend used to mail his socks to this one guy in Indiana. My friend was into the train hopping thing, and wherever he was in the country he would just mail the socks he had been wearing for a couple months to this guy and would request a couple hundred bucks.

Stopping
DOMINATRIX: I stopped after a guy wanted to be comforted after the beatings. I was not willing to hug him. Hugs are for certain types of people. It wasn’t even the fact that he wanted a hug, but, it was when he tried to reason with us. When we first said “no,” his reaction was like, “Maybe we can all sit down and talk about this, maybe we can talk about why we’re uncomfortable in the first place, I feel like that’s a very interesting path for us to go down.” And I was like “Yeah, I don’t think so, this is just to make money not for, like, delving into our souls.”

MASTER P: It can be fun but sometimes it’s just pathetic. You’re dealing with all these really sad people. Eventually, I found another job that just seemed like less trouble.

We made bank running an indie BDSM dungeon. Изображение №6.

The Payoff
It paid for a great vacation to Jamaica. We also developed a really bad cocaine habit because of how much money we were making, but eventually that got sorted out.

Most of the people who work in the professional realm have PhDs and stuff. I met a woman who works as a dominatrix who has her PhD in Women’s Studies. She has no problem saying, “I’m a dominatrix.”

You can either sell drugs and risk your livelihood or you could do this. There’s only a few things you could do for that much money while you’re still in school. It basically enabled me to do internships that I would never have been able to do otherwise. No one was giving me any subsidies. But with S&M, I got to do awesome internships with amazing organizations.

DOMINATRIX: It allowed me to paint and put together a few art shows. Imagine working an eight to nine hour day at a diner making $50 a day six days a week and not having time for anything for anything else.

Art is in many ways a luxury, especially the practice of it. You can’t do it if you’re starving. I don’t believe in starving artists. Part of being an artist is finding a way to feed yourself to survive, so that you’re not constantly seeking the basics.

DOMINATRIX: It was fun, and I just love that we got to go to Jamaica for two weeks and fuck around, smoking weed and renting jet skis.

MASTER P: What we did was very successful. What made me stop was that it was almost kind of getting too successful. Everybody knew my name. Strangers were calling me.

DOMINATRIX: I’ve suppressed a lot of these memories but not even out of shame or anything, just to move on with life. It can be a huge distraction like, “Why don’t I just keep doing this,” but yeah, it definitely helped me through my apprenticeship. Sometimes, I think about doing it occasionally or something, you know Airbnb-ing our apartment and renting a hotel for a couple of days. Or renting a cabin in the adirondacks and making it its own dungeon.
I couldn’t do it. It’s really difficult to shatter a leg with a mallet.

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Some Moron Just Paid $5K To Buy A 12-Year-Old $1,600 Judgement Against Kim Kardashian

 

kkardIt’s a common practice for businesses to sell off uncollected bills and judgements to collections agencies, but those collectors usually only pay a fraction of the face value of the debt, knowing they are taking on the risk that it may never be paid or only partially paid. But slap a sorta-celebrity’s name on that debt and you’ll apparently attract a different type of debt collector.

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports on the odd case of a $1,605.73 judgement [PDF] against Kim Kardashian from 2002 for an alleged dental bill from when the current Mrs. Kanye West was the essentially unknown daughter of OJ Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian and stepdaughter of olympic athlete Bruce Jenner.

The dentist, who was apparently never able to collect on the judgement, recently put the debt up for sale on an auction site specializing in such things. Not only was this the first time that a debt had sold for a profit on the site, it brought in the hefty sum of $5,000 — three times the original value of the debt, and $1,500 more than the total, interest-included present value of the debt.

According to the auction listing, the debt can still be collected until Oct. 2022, and Law Blog points out that this deadline could be extended for 10-year periods in order to allow the debt to keep accruing interest. So eventually the buyer may have a judgement that turns a profit (if it’s ever collected; Kim K’s lawyers deny that she ever visited this dentist).

While the debt will continue to earn interest, what remains to be seen is whether or not the public’s interest in the Kardashians will wax or wane in the next eight years… though we have a hunch which direction that arrow is pointing.

Online Retailer Will Fine You $250 If You Even Threaten To Complain About Purchase

 

The Terms of Sale on the Accessory Outlet website say you can be fined $250 or more for even threatening to complain about a purchase.

If you were put off by KlearGear.com’s ridiculous “Non-Disparagement” fee, which penalizes customers for sharing their bad shopping experiences with the public, another online retailer is apparently trying to go one further, by not only banning customers from saying bad things online, but by also forbidding them from even bringing up the threat of a complaint or a credit card chargeback.

Buried at the bottom of the Terms page for OnlineAccessoryOutlet.com, you’ll find the following insanely overreaching stipulations (bolded for emphasis):

“You agree not to file any complaint, chargeback, claim, dispute, or make any public forum post, review, Better Business Bureau complaint, social media post, or any public statementregarding the order, our website, or any issue regarding your order, for any reason, within this 90 day period, or to threaten to do so within the 90 day period, or it is a breach of the terms of sale,creating liability for damages in the amount of $250, plus any additional fees, damages – both consequential and incidental, calculated on an ongoing basis.”

The Terms also claim the customer agrees that, even after the 90 days are up, the “sole method of dispute resolution in all cases… shall be binding arbitration to take place in New York City, with all expenses paid by the respective parties.”

So if your purchase is late, lost, damaged, broken, etc., and you even make the vague statement of “I’m going to write about this on Facebook” or “I’m going to call my bank to cancel this charge,” Accessory Outlet will tag you for $250. And even if you wait the full 90 days for that period to end, the only way to resolve the issue is by traveling — at your own expense — to New York City for an arbitration hearing.

And this is apparently neither a joke nor an exaggerated policy made in the hope that someone will be too scared of the fine to complain.

One Accessory Outlet customer in Wisconsin was fined the $250 for telling the retailer that she would issue a chargeback on her credit card because the $40 iPhone case she’d ordered hadn’t arrived after 10 days. And then when she refused to pay that fine, it was sent to collections.

The customer has sued Accessory Outlet in a New York state court, arguing that the $250 “debt” she is now being hassled over is bogus. According to the complaint [PDF], the “terms are unenforceable, both because they are unconscionable as a matter of law and because [the Plaintiff] never agreed to them.”

That last claim is the most obvious and the easiest to prove. Though the Terms are on the Accessory Outlet website, at no point in the purchase process is the customer required to check a box or otherwise acknowledge that the Terms have been read. We attempted to verify the Plaintiff’s claim by going all the way through the ordering process (up until actually hitting the “complete purchase” button, of course) and could not find any place in which it was even suggested that we read the Terms before placing an order.

According to the customer, she placed her order on July 6 of this year. Four days later, she received an e-mail saying her order had shipped. The customer then checked the supposed USPS tracking number of her order and found that it had not been received by the Postal Service.

When the item had not been received by July 16, she contacted the company via its website and requested that the order be canceled. Accessory Outlet replied that it could not be canceled because it had shipped.

The customer checked the USPS tracking number again and then replied to Accessory Outlet that she would be requesting a chargeback from her credit card company because she believed the retailer was lying about whether the order had actually shipped.

This is when they told her about the $250 fine that she hadn’t agreed to.

The company told her in an e-mail that not only would she be hit for the $250 penalty but that her account would be sent to a collections agency, which would “put a negative mark on your credit for 7 years and will also result in calls to you home and/or work.”

Accessory Outlet also threatened her with the prospect of “additional fees for any correspondence with your card issuer… billed to you on an hourly basis and a flat rate $50 fee for the dispute or claim.”

When the customer replied that she had the right to contact her credit card company, the retailer replied that she now owed them “damages” and that her account would be referred to “multiple collections agencies.”

After receiving additional, similar e-mails from Accessory Outlet, the customer responded that she was getting a lawyer.

To which the retailer replied:
“Contact your lawyer, spend more time and money if you wish. You will be billed and the amount we bill you for will continue to rise with every email and every second we dedicate o correspondence of any kind pertaining to your breach of the terms of sale. Thank you.”

A subsequent e-mail from Accessory Outlet personally attacks the customer and closes on a menacing tone:
“Read the agreement or have someone competent do so for you since your emails make it clear you did not read the agreement or do not understand the clauses contained therein. You obviously do not know how to use the tracking or are ignoring it… You are playing games with the wrong people and have made a very bad mistake given the legally binding contract we have in place. One we have successfully enforced on many individuals the same we will do with you.”

The customer eventually received her order — nine days after it supposedly shipped — and claims it was defective and unusable. Her complaints to Accessory Outlet received no response.

She seeks to have her alleged debts voided because she did not actively agree to the Terms of Sale, nor was she required to view them. Additionally, the customer claims the terms are unreasonably favorable to Accessory Outlet.

“I want to go online and warn other customers about Accessory Outlet’s unfair terms and shoddy products,” said the customer in a statement. “But I’m afraid Accessory Outlet will claim I owe it more money and try to ruin my credit.”

“Accessory Outlet is using unfair terms hidden in fine print, along with threatening emails, to bully a customer into keeping quiet about her bad experience with the company,” said Scott Michelman, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “But terms that prevent a customer from speaking publicly about her transaction and from contacting her credit card company are unreasonable and unenforceable.”

Insurance Company Pays Man $21,000 With Buckets Of Loose Change

By  August 6, 2014

(CBS Los Angeles)

Money is money — but it’s a whole lot easier to receive a bunch of it with a check or even cash, than entirely in loose change. That’s how one California man said an insurance company paid him $21,000 in a legal settlement, dropping off more than 16 five-gallon buckets filled with coins.

The 73-year-old man filed a lawsuit in 2012 against an employee of the insurance company, claiming he’d been physically assaulted, reports NBC Los Angeles.

After the two parties reached a settlement, the insurance company paid up: The man’s attorney says eight employees of the insurance company showed up to his office in a van bearing five-gallon containers full of coins, and left them in the waiting room.

“There’s over 16 buckets of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. It’s going to take us at least, conservatively, one week to count that whole amount of money,” the attorney told CBS Los Angeles, with his client — who recently had a hernia operation and can’t lift much — adding, “It’s too heavy.”

“I am disappointed by the way [the insurance company] treats their customers and the elderly,” he said in a statement. “We might be poor, but we are people too.”

Insurance Company Settles Claim In $21K Of Loose Coins [CBS Los Angeles]
Insurance Company Delivers Settlement in Buckets of Loose Change [NBC Los Angeles]

Amazon Launches PayPal-Like Payment System For Consumers, Businesses


amazon payments
Amazon is quickly turning itself into an online one-stop-shop for consumers. Next up for the e-tail giant? Entering the e-commerce fold with a new payment product system that puts it in direct competition with PayPal.

Amazon Payments, which launched Monday, aims to allow consumers to use their Amazon accounts to send and receive money and shop online at a number of online sites, CNN reports.

Retailers and other businesses looking to use the service will have Amazon’s security and already plentiful user database at their disposal. In addition, consumers who already have Amazon accounts can save precious time during checkout.

The system uses the information already stored in a consumer’s Amazon account to log in and pay for their desired purchases. Consumers are also covered by the same buyer protection plan available with Amazon.com purchases.

The platform features no recurring fees for retailers, however, Amazon plans to take a standard cut of 2.9% from those businesses, as well as $0.30 for each transaction of $10 or more.

Amazon currently has 244 million active customer accounts, creating a large pool of potential users for the new service. In contrast, PayPal, which has long offered the similar services, has roughly 148 million active accounts.

Amazon launches PayPal competitor [CNN]