It's hard to hang onto a reporter's notebook when a pro dominatrix is smacking your ass.
That's the lesson Scary Mary Santa is literally hammering into a visitor touring her new Fort Lauderdale dungeon. She's showing off her St. Andrew's cross, a domination rack where willing slaves (and reluctant reporters) strap in while Mary unleashes business-like thwacks. The contraption is just inside the door of Chamber 7, the dominatrix's new digs in an anonymous, industrial space off North Dixie Highway.
Mary, who won't give her age, is chiseled and lithe. She wears a black top and a leather skirt with a hole front and center should a strap-on (please God no) be necessary. She oozes diva-like command. "You like it," she says thwacking my behind. "Everybody has a fetish."
Whips hang from the walls, while a box full of dildos overflows on the floor. A few feet away rests a red leather throne where, in about 24 hours, Mary will sit while a train of slaves smooches her feet. "Men bow down to me," she says while cocking a penciled eyebrow. "Especially those with small penises."
Since arriving in South Florida 13 years ago, Mary has become the Grande Dame of the South Florida fetish world. But her résumé stretches beyond the scene. She paints, stars in fetish porn, fronts a goth rock band, photographs ghosts, and communes with the dead.
Chamber 7 is the playpen for all of those creative juices — not to mention the, uh, other juices flowing from her high-dollar work as a professional dominatrix. Since taking over the space last October, Mary has also been throwing a monthly dungeon party. It's a hot ticket among the spank-and-slave set.
"This is a pro dom studio, so everythinnnnnng is available," she says, pulling the word out so your imagination has enough elbow-room to run wild. "I'm running the show. I get other goddesses here, they bring their clients, and together we have a loooooooot of fun."
Like a goth-porn version of Gertrude Stein's Paris salon, the wall space is covered with Mary's paintings, swirling bright acrylics featuring busty vampires and sex-frenzied witches. Incense smoke wafts off an altar of potions and religious geegaws. A stripper pole rises near a small stage set up with keyboards and a microphone ("Vampire strippers are much more fun than regular strippers," she counsels). In a loft above sits Mary's boudoir, where slaves will pay to spend a weekend chained up below the mistress' bed.
For Mary, Chamber 7 was meant to be. "I am a goddess; I get what I want," she explains. "My dungeon boy was actually living here. He brought me in, and as soon as I saw it, I thought, This will be mine. I told the guy living here, 'If you have any financial problems, just call on me, I'll take over the space."
The phone rang two months later.
Mary's all business about the goddess thing, which after some grilling turns out to be not so much a proclamation of deity status as a self-assertive tao. "We're one with the universe, but not many people listen to what the universe is offering us. Every time you want something, you can get it, but do you respond when the universe is giving it to you? That's what a goddess does, whereas other people neglect the gifts they are getting."
Whatever its source, Mary's dark brew of girl power has been hooking men since the early days. When she was a kid in upstate New York, bums on the street would tell her she was a shoo-in for Raphael's "Sistine Madonna." In the 1980s and '90s, while living as an artist in New York City, enthralled boy toys kept her apartments clean, she claims,
But it wasn't until she arrived in Fort Lauderdale that she took her bedroom domination pro. Today, Mary says she makes as much as $4,000 per session — beating, whipping, and humiliating. At this point, she packs enough psycho-sexual know-how to unlock your hidden bedroom kink. "It's much harder to go to therapy for years to try and get rid of a fetish when you can come to a dominatrix for an hour, experience your fetish, have a great time, and then you're over it for a little while. Until you have the urge again."
Say, for example, you want to be kidnapped. When Mary picks you up at a local airport, she'll gag and blindfold you, then shoot off to her dungeon while holding a gun to your head. ("An air soft gun, but he doesn't know that.") Next, she'll tie you to a chair and grill you about your secret desires. ("I love interrogation. I put on my Gestapo outfit.") Fantasies confessed, she'll act them out.
The Chamber 7 parties are a way for Mary to take her freak show to a wider audience. On the third Friday of every month, Chamber 7 hosts a two-pronged event. The first part of the evening is open only to members, fetishists who've forked over a nominal membership fee to join. This is for the serious slaves. If your pocketbook is light, she'll stuff you in a maid's outfit, hang some weights from your balls, and make you clean the whole dungeon before a party. "Even the poorer people have fetishes that need to come out."
After midnight, Mary throws the dungeon doors open to the public. It's BYOB. Dudes walk in for $20; shemales and females get free admission. "Shemales are my fetish," Mary confides. "I love freaks." So far, the parties have picked up steadily in attendance. Last month, 20 fetishists showed, and Mary expects the numbers to grow.
"The parties are just crazy," says Acid Scott, a bespectacled middle-aged guy who attends faithfully. "And not just fetish stuff. It's like an actual porn movie."
In September, Mary is planning to hold an art opening so the public sees her pieces. Despite her activities in the fetish arena, she still considers herself an artist first.
"My art still makes more money than being a dominatrix," she says. "Because now my slaves buy my paintings."