"Here" is a body alteration shop (to say "tattoo parlor" would be a slip, as tattooing's illegal in Cleveland) that has the smut factor of a taffy pull, with L.L. Bean moms bringing the kids here for their first nose rings. The owner mainly does piercings but also performs by-consultation-only brandings (just like they do it at the ranch, but prettier) and scarifications--repeated cutting of the skin.
Mistress Lauren, 26, a dominatrix with her own full-service dungeon in a Flats warehouse, is considering a genital rhinestone. "I'm a glamour queen," she confesses with a toss of her blue-streaked wig. Even doms can't live on chains alone--she's gotta climb out of the cellar every once in a while and party--and if it's in a leather nun's habit or a backless, boobless dress made of leather straps and buckles, all the better. She'll be buckling down the runway on Saturday at the biannual Fetish Ball at U4ia nightclub.
"I'm gonna be a hoochy mama," Mistress Lauren notes, relieved not to be on flogging duty this time. At the last ball, she did the BMD (Bondage Masochism Domination) demonstration, which was sort of harrowing--though not for the slave she brought with her, who went home with some nice markings from her whippings. She was well into her routine when she noticed the disturbed looks on the uninitiated faces in the crowd and decided to stop early.
"When you see [a slave] actually react to getting hit, it takes it to another level"--a level that group wasn't ready for. Usually, fetish balls are closed affairs, with admission limited to those wearing the evening's improper attire. But that one--like the one this week--was open to the public, regardless of rubber thong.
Back at the dungeon, Lauren can entertain up to fifteen submissives at a time in her slave corral, an eight-by-five-by-three-foot metal cage. In the role-playing area, she has "a lot of equipment hanging around," including a gynecological table with gleaming foot restraints and a dental chair that creaks as it inches up and down. "The sound is really eerie," she says, pleased.
The dungeon--which Mistress Lauren, who works when she feels like it and subleases by the hour to other doms--is supposed to be in a "special secret place"--a fact reinforced by her landlord, who had a fit once when she invited a film crew inside. But over a beer at the nearby Rock Bottom Brewery, she soon found that it wasn't quite so special. From her panoramic pub seat, she could see not only her building, but right into the dungeon window: "I thought maybe I better get a blind or something."
Face-to-bootheel communications seemed a logical career choice for Mistress Lauren, who started out in the phone sex industry when she was a college student at Youngstown State University, living above a funeral home. Being a bitch comes naturally, she says, "but I hate talking on the phone." The money for in-person play was so good ($200 for the first hour, $150 for each hour after) that she dropped out of school. About every two years, she moves to another town so she doesn't get too close to her customers.
"A lot like to leave sessions with marks," Mistress Lauren says of her regulars, whom she admits she has to actively dislike. A particularly good encounter, should leave the customer spent, sore, and smiling "like a dork."
The belle of the ball and chain has high hopes for this week's affair, though at a similar event in an Akron club last year, she wasn't received like royalty. "I dyed my muff fuchsia to match my wig," she recalls. Her fishnet outfit showed off her new 'do. "Dammit if I didn't walk in the door and they said, 'You're gonna have to cover yourself.'"
Mistress Lauren will make an appearance at the Fetish Ball at U4ia, 10630 Berea Road, on Friday at 9 p.m. Admission is $20; call 216-221-0014.