Grande Mistress Carla, Broward's Pioneering Dominatrix, Remembers Her Fight for Fetish Rights

Grande Mistress Carla, Broward's Pioneering Dominatrix, Remembers Her Fight for Fetish Rights
Dr. Grenci

Thanks to a little literary chart-topper called Fifty Shades of Grey, the BDSM corner of the fetish universe is no longer off-limits in the mainstream. Average Joes and Janes don't have to keep their leather-riding crops and cuffs hidden in the closet anymore.

But back in the '80s, when Dr. Charlayne Grenci slipped into the role of Mistress Carla, at the time South Florida's most in-demand dominatrix, folks were less understanding. In fact, Grenci's pioneering dungeon moves landed her in a legal battle with Broward authorities.

"It really became a witch-hunt because it was so controversial at the time," Grenci says today of her court tussles, which are covered in her recently released memoir, Queen of Domination, for sale on Amazon or drgrenciphd.com. "The subject matter was so underground and taboo, it became sensationalized to the point where it got totally out-of-hand."

Grenci was born and raised in an upper-middle-class family from Maine. But she didn't find out about the domination world until the late '70s, when she was living in South Florida. "A friend of mine told me about the existence of this underground scene," she explains. "It was beyond taboo to me. I was extremely vanilla."

The same friend owned a call girl service and employed a dominatrix. But when the domall girl retired, the friend asked Grenci to stand in. Grenci's flamboyant and strong personality made her a natural. Although she had no attraction to the fetish herself, she agreed to play the role. Before long, she transformed the garage of her Pompano Beach house into a dungeon and began advertising the services of Mistress Carla in international BDSM magazines.

Grenci says she just recognized the need for the fetish. "Why would prominent and successful CEOs and lawyers and doctors be interested in doing it? There's a basic need in our society for this."

Between 1980 and 1983, Grenci had about 500 customers come through her dungeon, she says. Before every session, her assistant would interview the customer about his likes and dislikes. Afterward, Grenci would talk with her callers and ask them for feedback. In addition to the sex play, they would dive into the origins of their need for domination -- whether they were spanked as a kid, carried Catholic guilt, whatever. Later, Grenci scribbled detailed notes on the answers, creating a PhD-caliber study of human kink.

The brakes slammed in February 1983. Likely tipped off by nosy neighbors, the Broward Sheriff's Office banged on Grenci's door with a search warrant. She was eventually arrested and charged with a handful of charges, including keeping a house of ill fame. Altogether, she faced up to a 25-year jail sentence. Grenci, who felt this was unfair, was determined to fight the charge on the grounds that she was providing a therapeutic service. The trial ended in mistrial. Before her second scheduled trial, Grenci accepted a plea deal, eventually serving 90 days in jail and 500 hours of community service. She says she attended a school called Maimonides University and got a degree in clinical sexology in the 2000s.

Still, Grenci's case made headlines all over South Florida and was part of a larger pattern of underground lifestyles smacking against sanctimonious authority. "In the '80s, there was a lot going on everywhere," Grenci says. "Madams were getting raided up in New York City for their client lists. We had Larry Flynt fighting for the freedom of expression for Hustler magazine."

For more information on Grenci's life, or to contact her for her services as a lecturer or clinical sexologist, you can check out her web site.

Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.

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