A dominatrix, or 'doms' for short, is a woman who gets paid to do all sorts of dominant and sometimes sadistic stuff. Legally, being a dominatrix is part of the sex work industry. They usually don’t have actual sex with their mostly male clients, but they do offer sexual services in a broader sense.

The word 'dominatrix' comes from Latin and literally means 'lady of the house', because 'domus' is Latin for house. Originally, a dominatrix was just a woman in charge of a household or even a nunnery. Pro doms often add titles like Lady, Madame, Mistress, or Goddess to their names. Sometimes they use names related to their speciality, like Online Mistress, Findom (short for financial dominatrix), or Governess. Most of their clients are blokes; women hardly ever use their services. They usually work independently and are registered as sex workers. While you'll mostly find them in the BDSM scene, not all of them are personally into dominance or S&M – for many, it's just a job.

In the commercial BDSM world, the male equivalent of a dominatrix is a 'sado', short for sadist, also called Sir or Master. The media often use 'Dominus', which you'll find in English literature too. Erotic novels like using 'Dominus' for a dominant bloke. Sados usually cater to gay clients.

Dommes work either in special areas connected to brothels or in places rented specifically for the job. The setup in these dungeons is geared towards clients' common fantasies, with things like dungeon-like rooms with cages, St. Andrew's crosses, racks, chains, pulleys, and all that. Then there’s medical play, with doctor-patient roleplays, completely different gear like enemas, needles, and sometimes gyno chairs, with or without restraints.

Besides these well-kitted out places, a domme often has a massive collection of mainly S&M toys and gear, like crops and whips, clamps, chastity cages, and dildos. Plus, they use masks, uniforms, and latex or leather outfits for roleplays. But it's not all in dungeons – some offer outcalls to hotels or homes.

The internet's also changed the game for dommes. There's now online domination, where clients and dommes arrange roleplays via email or chat. Financial domination’s big online too, where clients get a kick out of sending gifts or money. A twist on this is 'blackmailing' – clients hand over embarrassing photos or info and then get 'blackmailed'.

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