The elevator doors part, and Mikayla Miles joins a trio of clean-cut executives on the way up to the ninth floor. It's 8 p.m., and the businessmen, still in their suits, cease chatting to stare at the dimpled, green-eyed blond. A muscular 220 pounds, she towers over them at six feet, four inches tall. The top of her head nearly grazes the elevator entrance.
A stocky gentleman with a blue striped tie and a Jay Leno chin scans her from top to bottom. Then he flashes a younger colleague a wide-eyed look and mouths the word wow.
Mikayla doesn't notice. She steps off the elevator and heads to room number 908 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Hollywood Beach. With a huge hand, she knocks twice. The door opens slowly to reveal a pale, diminutive fellow on all fours, wearing only kneepads, a black leather collar, and a pair of Fruit of the Loom tighty-whities. His eyes are fixed toward the floor, like a dog that has just been scolded.
"Turn the air conditioner up, you little shithead," she snaps. Then she heads into the bathroom.
He obeys. "Yes, goddess."
When she emerges, she's dressed in a candy-red corset and seven-inch-high, size-16, platinum-leather boots. In heels, she's just shy of seven feet. She puts her hands on her hips and orders him to lie on the floor.
He's a grown man with a furry back, love handles, and the first signs of a bald spot, but he's squirming like a kid in anticipation. On a bedside clock radio, an upbeat oldies station softly plays Petula Clark's "Downtown."
When you're alone and life is making you lonely,
You can always go
When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know
Mikayla lifts a praying-mantis leg into the air and puts one boot on top of him. It stretches across his entire chest. She steps onto him with both feet and looks down at his puny body.
His face turns bubblegum pink, and a wormlike vein pops out from his neck. He lets out a grunt that sounds like he's simultaneously lifting a refrigerator and tasting delicious food. Then it's just heavy breathing.
"You like that?" she says, more as statement than question. Before he can respond, she places the bottom of her right boot on his face.
"I could crush you right now — snap you like a twig. Should I?" she wonders.
"Yes, goddess. If it pleases you."
For a second, she seems to consider it. He pants harder. His erection presses against the thin briefs. There's a pause.
Downtown, where all the lights are bright
"No," she says. "I think I'll spare you. This time."
For Mikayla Miles, a day of work is just beginning. The 33-year-old former second-grade teacher is among a tight-knit tribe of South Florida Amazon women — giant ladies who cater to men's desire to feel small.
Four local Amazons range from six feet to six feet, nine inches and 210 to 380 pounds. They hold private fetish sessions for up to $500 an hour. They work both independently and collaboratively, and most are avid bodybuilders, strong enough to lift a midsized man above their heads. Usually, clients request the same things: trampling ("crush me like a cigarette"), overhead pressing ("press me like a barbell"), lifting and carrying ("cradle me like a baby"), and/or wrestling ("just generally beat the shit out of me").
Mikayla, who outside her fetish persona is more like Betty Crocker than Bettie Page, sheds her wholesomeness in the moments before a session. A longtime fetish icon known as "The Mile High Model," she's the Madonna of Amazons. Hers is a tale of transition from freak to star and the conflicts that ensue in the space between reality and fantasy. In South Florida, with rigid beach-culture body-type standards, Amazons turn those ideals upside down.
After eight years in the business, Mikayla has gotten smart about making her national and international fans come to her. She has recruited a group of Amazons to the area, where they share clients and film videos for their websites. Mikayla's site, for example, shows clips of her "flexing big, strong biceps" and "stomping without mercy." Her yearly income is in the six figures.
During an hourlong session, a skilled Amazon might play the role of a dominatrix, a mother, a bully, a psychologist, and a coach. While the private meetings are inarguably sexual, they don't involve nudity or erotic touching — unless your idea of erotic is having your diaper changed or a big gal wrestle you. Clients tend to find conventional sex acts blasé and predictable compared to feeling a crushing female presence.
The term Amazon woman has become sexualized since it was first referenced in the Eighth Century B.C. in Homer's Iliad. Today's Amazon connoisseurs are paired with admirers of the giantess (mythical ladies of superhuman size and strength) and are ogled by macrophiles (lovers of the big).
Usually, Mikayla ends sessions by "studying the hell out of the guys psychologically." Sometimes that means talking about emotions, mommy issues, or feelings of shame. It helps her deflect the expectation of sex. "I don't allow release," she says, referring to ejaculation. "I like to get inside their brains."
Don, the mostly naked trample victim from the Crowne Plaza, for example, has had some issues to work through. A former business professor from Las Vegas, he hasn't been able to maintain a healthy relationship with a woman because he believes so deeply in female supremacy. It has paralyzed him at work and in his personal life. So Mikayla has taken on the role of an unofficial psychologist.
"Women are a higher form of life," Don says in staggering seriousness. "If she's much larger than me, it's that much better."
It's September 1987, the first day of school at Knob Noster Middle School, in the woods of small-town Missouri. Chattering sixth-graders step off a canary-yellow school bus. In their back-to-school garb, they file into a fluorescent-lit gymnasium and settle into packs on the bleachers. Pretty girls make a show of exchanging hugs and dramatic stories about the summer. Pimpled boys crack sarcastic jokes. Mikayla, a gangly, bucktoothed, six-foot-tall 12-year-old, wanders into the gym alone. Slouching to make herself seem shorter, she stumbles slightly over her size-13 white Payless sneakers.
One prissy athletic girl with sandy-blond hair — and her own set of pubescent insecurities — sees Mikayla and shouts, "Hey, Big Bird, nice shoes!" On cue, the girl's friends cover their mouths and cackle.
Mikayla feels her face flush with embarrassment. God, I hate this body, she thinks.
"She was really angry at that point," her normal-sized sister Tammy says now. "She'd try to hide it at home, but we knew."
Eventually, Mikayla would learn to turn what she despised most about herself into a trait for which men would worship her. But even with the transformation, an obsession with the fetish world would cost her relationships, privacy, and emotional health.
From the day Mikayla (her real name is Teressa) was born, her size shocked people. Her mother, a sweet, slender, five-foot-five homemaker, somehow squeezed her out in March 1975. "I still can't believe you did this without a C-section," the doctor told her a few days after the birth. At 10 pounds and two feet long, Mikayla occupied her crib like a pine tree in a flower pot.
As a 6 year old, standing five-foot-six, she was taller than her first-grade teacher. Some nights, her growing pains were so excruciating that she'd wake her sister in the middle of the night screaming. "Dad would go in and rub Bengay on the back of her legs," Tammy says.
And she'd fall asleep crying.
She made one friend, Jennifer, who ironically was the shortest girl in school at four-foot-eight. They bonded by raising middle fingers to the rest of the class.
In high school, she joined the basketball and volleyball teams and gained praise for dominating on the court. Despite her pretty face, she never got much attention from boys. She was, after all, six-foot-four. "I always had crushes on the small, nerdy, shy guys," she says. "They were scared to death of me."
As a 17-year-old at Woodland Park High, she set the volleyball record for the most blocks in one season. "Coaches would tell her to stand tall when she walked into a room," says her former coach, Vickie Cusimano. "I don't think she knew her potential."
When a recruiter from the University of Missouri-Kansas City saw her and offered a full ride for volleyball, she accepted. A year later, she transferred to the University of Northern Colorado to be close to her family and play basketball.
She got a job teaching second grade in Colorado Springs. Through an online dating site in 1998, she met Jason (not his real name), a thin but well-built 27-year-old. Like her father, he had a military background. She fell for his childlike energy and sense of adventure, and they married in November 1999 on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.
A couple of years into the marriage, she went online to search for shoes. On a Yahoo group for large women, she posted a few sentences, asking where she could find a pair of heels. Almost instantly, she got a reply. It read, "If you're who you say you are, I will fly you to L.A. and we will make money."
Without knowing it, Mikayla had stumbled into a foot fetish cyberland— a place where bigger meant sexier, for once. The note came from a low-budget movie producer who knew her size 16 shoes were a ten-toed gold mine. At first, she had reservations. She didn't want him to take advantage of her. She talked with Jason and decided to try it. "Do it if it makes you happy," he told her.
A week later, they left for Los Angeles to make a video. "It was weird," Jason says. "He treated her like a star. She was playing a role."
Upon their arrival, the producer took them to a sex shop and told Mikayla to pick out any outfit she desired. She chose a leather skirt and bustier with cutouts for her breasts. "I looked like, I would say, a whore," Mikayla says.
Then he drove the couple to an industrial ghetto of Los Angeles, where a secret knock and a password got them into the chambers of a dungeon. In a dark room, past a faux electric chair, a guillotine, and a doctor's office setup, a skinny transvestite with frizzy blond hair greeted them.
There, a director devised the plot of the flick: Mikayla's character would catch a small man spying on her; then she'd teach him a lesson by trampling him and spanking his bare bottom. She acted it out while Jason looked on uncomfortably. "That trampling stuff made me cringe," he says. After eight hours of work, the producer paid her $250.
The acting sparked something inside Mikayla. Being worshiped felt good. So did the money. I'll do this only until I get out of debt, she told herself.
She says she realized the producer was skimping on her payment, so a month later, she started her own website. It catered to lovers of big feet, big women, and men interested in private fetish sessions. Jason was supportive, even though it made him nervous.
She was hooked on the business. She spent eight hours a day on the computer, and on weekends, she traveled to sessions as far away as New York. Men had unusual requests: They wanted to lick her long feet, have her step on their ribs and scrotums, be tickled, or be beaten. They all had different ideas for what a large woman was good for. After sessions, she came home physically and emotionally exhausted. She didn't have energy left for Jason. "It just made things more complicated," he says.
Two years after her website launched in 2001, a crazed fan showed up in Colorado Springs at the studio where she taught yoga. The man was a musician from Ohio who had done research to find her real name. He aimed to persuade her to marry him. When she told him she was already married, he threatened to expose her for who she really was. She got a restraining order.
Three years later, just when she had paid off her college debts, she and Jason decided to divorce. The passion had fizzled. They both attribute the breakup to her job. She hasn't been able to find a boyfriend so accepting of her lifestyle since.
On a recent muggy Tuesday, just before a session, Mikayla sifts through a plastic bin full of fetish toys in her condo overlooking Hallandale Beach. She pushes aside pink fishnet tights, a dog toy, and a Superwoman costume and pulls out a pair of massive black boots. She holds up the shoes.
"People always ask me how to get into the fetish world," she says. "I tell them: 'Take the thing you hated most about yourself when you were younger and that's your fetish persona.' "
Asked about her future, she says, "I don't want to be creating someone's fantasy for the rest of my life. I want to create my own."
During a second trip to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mikayla has company. Amazon Amanda, a six-foot-three, 380-pound former plus-size model, is setting up a video camera in a spacious room on the tenth floor. Her auburn hair is tucked up into a clip as she glances through the Sony viewfinder.
A king-sized bed has been shoved into the corner of the room to make way for a bright-blue wrestling mat. On top of it, Arekah Lox, a fiery, freckle-faced Amazon with hulking biceps, does a few quick stretches. Mikayla is next to her, waiting with a wiry engineer named Thomas. He's a client who has agreed to be filmed.
Amanda signals "OK, ready," and presses record.
Arekah and Mikayla warm up by casually shoving Thomas' 140-pound body back and forth between them, as if they're playing catch. Thomas looks like a kid getting beat up on the playground. Only way happier.
After a few minutes, he tries to slip between them and get away, but Arekah decides to step it up. She picks him up with one arm and tosses him over her shoulder. Then she body-slams him onto the bed and puts his head into a scissors lock between her thick, muscular thighs. She squeezes.
"That's what you get for trying to escape," Arekah says. Amanda zooms in for a close-up of Thomas' head, sandwiched between her thighs.
Along with the others, the video will soon be posted on the girls' websites. Depending on the running time, fans will pay $5.99 to $35.99 to watch it. The women know just what to shoot and how to spin it. They have become masters of the business and the psychology of their unusual trade.
Men first contact Amazons by email, via their websites. The women screen them through their letters to make sure they aren't violent or insane. Since most Amazons work independently, with no male bodyguards, the girls have to be quick judges of character. Mikayla says she can sniff out a good submissive just from the tone of his writing. She's had only one female client — a foot worshiper. The few other ladies she's seen came with husbands.
Next comes a conversation about what the client is looking for. Mikayla does this via email "because guys can get off just talking about it." This also gives the girls a chance to weed out the men who might waste their time. "If they're talking about things they want to do to me or they're not sure what they want, I end it right there," Mikayla says.
If a client passes the test, some Amazons will ask for a deposit to ensure he won't flake out. Through PayPal, Mikayla charges $250 an hour to reserve her time. Then specific boundaries are set. Each Amazon has her own limits.
Mikayla, for example, also has a rule that forbids alcohol or drugs. She'll explain what else is off-limits: full nudity, defecation-related acts, or violence that causes serious injury. (Although she did once have to take a client to the hospital for accidentally breaking his ribs.) Her guys don't sign injury releases, but she keeps emails describing the clients' desires to be trounced, just in case.
Amanda has one more rule to add to the list: no death. "I had a guy whose parents died when he was young. He offered me $50,000 to kill him," she says. She politely declined.
After being vetted, the men drive or fly to Miami or Fort Lauderdale. They check into hotels, where the meetings are held. A select few regulars are allowed to come to an Amazon's home. Some clients ask the women to come to the door "in character." Others start out with a friendly get-to-know-you chat and end up doing more talking than trampling. Sessions can last up to eight hours but are usually over within two. Mikayla accepts U.S. dollars, Chinese yuan, British pounds, and euros through Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Clients always pay upfront.
Bunny Glamazon, a kickboxer and the "grandmother" of Amazondom, has been doing this for 20 years. She now operates out of her home in Indiana. She says she knows why Amazons make such a good living: the wealthier and more powerful the man, the smaller he wants to feel.
Unlike mainstream porn, which usually puts the male in the power role, Amazon videos cater to rich guys who are big at the office but want to feel small in the bedroom. They almost always have money and are willing to drop it on sessions and memberships to Amazon websites. "They want to be manhandled to the point they can't get up," Bunny explains. "When I got 'em in a fetal position, they don't have to worry about the big, bad world anymore." Legally, Amazons who don't have sex are in the clear.
During her career, Bunny has seen a priest who refused to take off his robe, a British broker who wanted her to act like a nanny, and a macho family patriarch who broke down in tears about childhood abuse. "I couldn't figure out why it bothered me so much to smack him in the face," she says. "Then it clicked. I wasn't slapping him; I was slapping that little boy."
When Mikayla arrives at Amanda's condo, she has a problem. She can't find her whip.
Amanda, who's wearing glasses and around-the-house jeans, lounges on a brown couch. After hearing about the dilemma, she disappears into the bedroom and comes back with a horse crop. "I like this one because it's longer," she says. She whaps the air with it, as if an invisible man were bent over in her living room.
"Perfect," Mikayla says.
The plan now is to hammer out some details about AmazonCon, a convention for Amazon lovers that the two will host October 10 through 12 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. They expect about 75 attendees looking to meet Amazons and set up sessions.
But in the nature of being your own boss — and working with a friend — the conversation quickly drifts into personal territory: love life. Soon, they're chatting like a couple of girls at a slumber party.
The ladies share the same Catch-22: They can't date their clients because they're usually nuts. But all the nice, normal guys are alienated by what the women do for a living. "My clients say, 'I really want to get to know you,' " Amanda says. "I say, 'No you don't. It will kill your fantasy.' "
Mikayla gives a nod of agreement. "They think we walk around in heels all day looking sexy."
After getting over her divorce, Mikayla set up a session with a Turkish man. When she arrived at his hotel, she found he was tall and handsome. They had chemistry. A few minutes into it, she knew she was in trouble. "I was like, 'Damn. Can you not be my client?' "
She generally has a rule not to get involved with the men she does business with, but she couldn't resist. Problem was, he couldn't get past the idea of Mikayla as a fantasy. He didn't want to know Mikayla the goofball or Mikayla the intellectual. "It drove me insane because he only liked me for my feet. I'm up here too," she says, pointing to her head.
They were together for nearly a year. Then one night, after a lengthy breakup, she headed to an Irish bar with a friend for a rebound. She hit it off with a Vin Diesel look-alike. He made her feel comfortable, so she told him what she does for a living. "So you're a stripper? Or a whore?" he asked. Afterward, he disappeared.
Lately, she's had some reevaluating to do. The choices she's made sometimes overwhelm her. "I gave up normalcy," she says. "As I'm getting older, I'm feeling lost and lonely about it." Relationships have been the biggest sacrifice.
With a tired expression, she crosses her legs and smiles at Amanda. "I think we're working out some karmic things from a past life," she says.
Amanda folds her powerful arms and thinks for a bit. "So, were we good or bad?" she asks.
Mikayla glances down at a long, lotioned foot. It rests like a boat in her flip-flop. Then she looks back up at Amanda and shrugs.
Now with his clothes on, Mikayla's client Don looks much less edgy. Sitting outside a Starbucks on Hallandale Beach Boulevard with a pack of M&M's in front of him, he agrees to answer one question: Why?
Wearing a pair of thin glasses and a Dolphins T-shirt, he speaks gently. "The degradation is a big relief — to be her property, to be dehumanized," he says. He sounds like he's reading directions from a bottle of Tylenol. "Female supremacy is the natural order of life."
Don grew up in Nebraska with a traditional homemaker mother and a firefighter father. In April 1974, when he was 7 years old, he flipped on the TV set and came across the movie Planet Earth. The premise: A future society is run by a breed of fierce women who use men as slaves. As much as a 7-year-old could be, he was turned on. "I'm thinking maybe I'll grow up and be a slave to a good mistress," he says with a straight face. (Don is adamant that he's never been abused. He also notes that his parents shared equal power roles in the family.)
A couple of years after college, he watched Planet Earth so many times that the tape stopped working. By age 25, he had developed the wholehearted belief that men are inferior to women. The gist of his credo: A man's Y chromosome is just a broken X chromosome, causing males to live shorter lives, commit more crimes, and lack a womb.
He longed to be treated as a slave not only in the bedroom but also in everyday life. And he longed to feel small. Coupled with his tendency to overeat and gamble, this made finding a girlfriend difficult. (Don has never had a romantic relationship with a woman. Nor does he have "normal" sexual intercourse with them.)
He kept his desires masked until he found Mikayla online in 2001. Because of her size, he believed she was the perfect mistress. "I thought I had died," he says. "You just don't see many women with her dimensions."
By the time he got a job as a business professor at a Las Vegas college, the fantasy had developed into a fixation. While teaching, he succumbed to the compulsion to give all the ladies in the class A's. And he had trouble saying no to female coworkers.
He met Mikayla in person in March 2006 at a fetish conference in Vegas. Since then, he has seen her six times. His sessions usually begin with him giving her gifts — fine perfume, lotions, designer purses, dark chocolates. Then the energy shifts and she gets into character.
She stands on him, spits into his mouth, and makes him lick the bottom of her feet. He also likes her to treat him like a dog, leave welts on his back with a whip, and mark degrading things on him with pens.
Once, this past May, he flew to her home and paid her just so he could clean it and be ordered around. Aside from literally walking all over him, she demands he do positive things. They maintain an email correspondence, and she orders him to eat healthful food and quit gambling. Like a good slave, he obeys.
These days, Don still can't stand up to women — such as colleagues who dump workloads on him. Or ladies who cut in front of him in line at the grocery store. Or reporters who request an interview an hour before his plane takes off. "Every woman is better than me, even if she's in a trailer or a person I don't like," he says.
He swears sessions have been good for him. Indeed, since he met Mikayla, he has lost 50 pounds and is now at a healthy weight. He stopped gambling. It's liberating, he says, to let someone in on your obsession — even if it's just one person. Even if you are paying her. "She cares about me," he says. "There is certainly an emotional side."
Mikayla acknowledges that very few of her clients are in a healthy state of mind. Most of them have addictive personalities, and she's had to ask herself if she's harming more than helping.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm the drug dealer — that I'm feeding the addiction," she says.
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Back at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, after their session, the role-playing has stopped. Mikayla, now out of her red corset, is no longer in character. She shouts lighthearted remarks from the bathroom as she slips out of her boots and back into sandals.
Don is still in his Fruit of the Looms. He runs his hands across the pink whip welts on his bare body. He's silent and seems to be having trouble turning from "slave" back into Don. He's stuck on the idea he's little. After some encouragement from Mikayla to snap out of it, he eventually gets up and heads for a glass of water on the dresser.
As he turns, a smudge of black letters, written across his back in magic marker, becomes visible. It reads, "Mikayla's bitch."
He takes a sip of water and looks out the window toward the bright lights of the city. Then he gets back down on all fours, eyes fixed to the ground.