Scary Mary Santa

Inside the bedroom of a beachside apartment, a tall, muscular, Italian-American dominatrix with attractive, sharp features and multicolored dreads was putting a damsel named Lumina in some pretty serious distress. She wrapped the naked, feminine body in black plastic wrap, stretching the dense material down Lumina's arms and legs, binding her belly and chest, then finally, leaving enough space for her to breathe, covering her face.

Then Scary Mary Santa, who commanded this scene in black crotchless panties, fishnet stockings, and vinyl boots up to her knees, squirted lube on Lumina's fully wrapped body, hopped on top for a vigorous dry hump, and claimed that she had paid "millions of dollars for this Swedish doll."

How far was this twisted, power-hungry, ferocious femme gonna take this thing? I started to wonder, when -- oh bobby socks! -- she reached for her big knife.

Hold up. The tension was suffocating. Better, I thought, to walk out to the living room. Above a hamster cage, a snake aquarium, and the canopy of Mary's 10-year-old son Spooky's bed (the boy had been shipped off to a sleepover), the walls were covered by Mary's acrylic paintings depicting vampires sucking necks, witches throwing attitude, and the female body as landscape.

The date was July 4, and I was a guest along with eight others at the Fort Lauderdale abode of Scary Mary Santa. At the evening's start, she had laid out for me what was to be the exciting agenda for her annual "Things to Do with Scary Mary" party: "First, I'm going to shave Honey Bunny's pussy; I'm going to wrap Lumina in black plastic and cut her out; we're going to make new forms of dildo with Chuckie's Bride's hand and insert it in my pussy."

Mary dominated the Independence Day get-together with an exploded female presence reminiscent of a drag queen sans camp. The 40-ish dominatrix is satyr-like in that she has the body of a college track runner and the head of Medusa. Her step was certain, each gesture specifically tailored for maximum dramatic effect. She is a curious creature.

Mary was born in upstate New York, circa a year she wouldn't say. "I've been around for centuries," she commented. "When I was a kid, I used to hypnotize girls at pajama parties. I'm in my last life. I've heard it from Indians and witches."

The critical juncture of Mary's life is behind her. Her father, who is also a painter, advised her to get a traditional education: "You're already an artist. Some people are born artists, and they create from when they're 8 years old. Don't go to school for art. They will mess you up."

In 1986, while pursuing her master's degree in nutrition at Florida State University, Mary had a rebirth: "That's when I became Scary Mary. I said, 'I'm going to become the artist that I am.' I lived in an abandoned house with freaks and artists. I said, 'I'm not going to be structured anymore.' We got people to pick mushrooms, and bands played in the house. We had wild parties. I like to take off and just go somewhere. Most people don't do that."

In the years after graduate school, Mary lived in New York City, then moved on to New Orleans in 1994, where she painted, started a band called Fatal Beauties, and gave birth to Spooky, which, she claims, brought on the most striking element of her appearance. "As soon as I had him, my hair started growing dreadlocks. A Rastafarian told me: 'It's energy, man. Hold onto it. '"

The wild-haired woman moved to South Florida in 2000 and quickly became fascinated with the fetish scene. Having always had a penchant for whips, she came into her own as a dominatrix. In August 2002, she met a guy named Nick -- no last names -- an intense man who looks like a gaunt Patrick Swayze, and they started a romance. A band called Scary Mary and the Pussy Bones was their first progeny. The new lovers' artistic routine entailed writing songs with titles like "Blessed Dark Souls," then freak like banshees in an abandoned beach bungalow.

"We were making mad love," Scary Mary explained. "Right after a song was done, we'd get to the beach. It seemed like God was rewarding us."

"In six months," Nick continued, "we put together what was to be our first unsigned album, Group Soul of Snakes."

In the years that followed, the band played Churchill's Pub, a Fetish Factory party, Gumwrappers, and Rose & Crown Pub. When not playing out, the couple uses a computer, a synthesizer, guitars, and Mary's vocal chords to generate ambient, creepy recordings that, with the addition of dance beats, they anticipate will be popular on the fetish circuit.

Of Mary's energy, Nick said: "I want 50 percent for the band. It's a love of hers to sing and create music with me. I don't think it's an affair that can be broken up easily."

It's not necessarily difficult, however, for Mary to juggle the many tasks that her mysticism and obsession with all things gothic and fetish engender. She keeps extensive illustrated journals, makes fetish videos, raises Spooky, and, in her capacity as a genuine dominatrix, maintains Amy, a full-time slave. Being a dom is the center of it all.

At the Independence Day party, Mary's Scary Crew gathered at an outside plastic table to enjoy the night air, smoke cigarettes, and talk fetish. First, she pointed to Byron, a young man with big shoulders and a thin waist who was wearing a red corset and orange bikini bottoms. "His fetish is smells," Mary said, "and he likes to wear corsets."

Byron commented on the corset, "It feels restrictive, but the restrictiveness is comforting to me."

Then she turned to her slave Amy, a stalky grad school-type with shoulder-length brown hair. Her fetish, Mary said, is "to have her master tie her up and beat her."

"Nick," she continued, "likes to dress up like Nicole."

"That's an alter ego, not a fetish," Nick clarified.

"He likes to do whatever Scary Mary wants to do to him," she replied.

"And Courtney," she said to me, "I think I know what your fetish might be. You might dig a strap-on, a nice pink dildo, and no clothes on except for vinyl boots and a black bra."

I was dubious but more than willing to entertain Mary's depiction of me.

"You'd be a German dominatrix bitch."

Kick ass.

Then, the conversation turned to Lumina, the plastic-wrapped lady, a strikingly intelligent post-op transsexual with exaggerated, sumptuous lips; round cheek bones; and large, dramatic eyes. She/he said she/he paid a pretty penny for big breasts, Adam's apple removal, and a vagina to replace what one fetishist named Ryan said used to be a "big dick."

Lumina told me her fixation with fetish dynamics was the only viable way for her to experience her sexuality. "I live in South Beach," she said. "I could get a guy to take me out, take me places, fuck me. I could have a vanilla relationship, but now, that seems limiting to me."

I commented that, with all of her operations, she must be living a hard life.

She responded: "When I was not doing what I wanted to do, my life got very difficult. I think nobody grows up knowing what they want to do. But you know what feels wrong. From when I was very young, I knew what I wanted to do, and now my life is easier."

I asked her opinion of Scary Mary as a dominatrix. She responded bluntly that she thought Mary was all well and good, "but I'm not attracted enough to Mary to want to commit to her as a slave."

Cut back to the bedroom, where Lumina submitted herself to Scary Mary's black plastic and knife blade. The dread-headed dom, limber as a crab, crouched over Lumina and poked the knife through the black wrap. A nervous mumble was emitted inside. Undeterred, Scary Mary dragged the weapon across the plastic and pulled it apart to reveal the tranny's expensive, subtle mound of flesh. And in truth, it resembled an authentic, grade-A, peachy little puss.

But that must come as little surprise to this centuries-old dominatrix with a goth-rock habit. She's been around long enough to see it all.

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Courtney Hambright