Denise-Roman-Pic

What brought you to LA?

I came to Hollywood back in the mid eighties in pursuit of the sex and drugs and rock-n-roll lifestyle. Van Halen, Motley Crue, Guns and Roses were all playing on the sunset strip, and every night was a party. I loved the rebellious heavy metal culture and dressed the part, in head-to-toe leather and spikes. Originally I had just wanted to hang out and party with the rockstars, but as time moved on, I wanted to actually be a rockstar. I started my own heavy metal and cut three albums, however my addictions got the best of me and after eight years the band was dissolved.

How did you get involved with the sex industry?

When I got to Hollywood, I had already dabbled in the sex industry as a stripper. However in Hollywood, the competition was much tougher. Every girl looked like a model and they were all willing to do a lot more for that $100 bill than I was. But as father time moved on, stripping was just to hard for me. I decided to go on an interview with a famous Hollywood Madame to be a call girl. All my friends were call girls so I decided if you can’t beat ‘em, join, ‘em.  In the late eighties being a call girl was actually cool because it’s how you got a rockstar!  It was certainly safer than my current occupation, which was a methamphetamine dealer.  At that interview the Madame took one look at me with my long, dark brown, wild mane and head-to-toe black and she declared, “You are a Dominatrix!” I had no idea what a dominatrix was, but I was about to find out. She sent me to a client where I was given a check for $2500 for four hours. I was also given a whip and the opportunity to punish the two slaves who were already there. I was intoxicated with the power. I decided at that moment that I would never be the slave but always be the one in control and that’s how this dominatrix was born. Finally I had become the ultimate “bad girl” and I was in high demand for the next 14 years. I didn’t advertise as it was before the time of the Internet. All my clients were referred to me by word of mouth. I was the girl willing to push my clients past their limits, and they loved it.

What is your take on 50 Shades of Grey?

50 Shades of Grey is not reality. It is a fluff book written by some bored housewife. While it is entertainment, the danger is that it is enticing people to join a dark world in which they know nothing about. And it is inviting women to do it as a sexual slave under the guise of finding Mr. Wrong and turning him into Mr. Right. I want you to know that I never read any of E.L. James books nor will I attend the movie, however I did spend 22 years working in the sex industry, 14 of which were spent solely as a Dominatrix. So I feel like I am an expert on a subject most people only narrowly understand, if at all. The reality of the S&M world is this, when you are someone’s slave, you give them COMPLETE power over you. The nature of the relationship is that the dominant person controls you and punishes you whenever they wish. They find your limits and push you past them.  You are not whisked off in jets and helicopters like some sort of celebrity who has won a prize. You are beaten and stuck in cages and dungeons. You are handcuffed and whipped until your skin bleeds and then when your master makes you beg for more. You are pushed beyond the your limits of pain and left in a little ball on the floor. BROKEN! There is no mercy, there is no makeup artist, YOU have no control. Of course many people like to feel pain. It gets them off. I did a documentary a few years ago and one of the questions I was asked was why do people seek out pain? In my experience there are six main reasons why.

  1. LOSS: Some people have experienced so much loss and betrayal in life that they no longer feel anything. They literally are numb. Like all of us, they are looking to belong and be loved. The only thing they can feel is PAIN. So the person who offers them pain is the one they love.
  2. ABUSE: Some people are taught from a very early age that pain IS love. Abuse from a parent or sibling that has never been addressed confuses the person. They have been taught that love equals pain. So if someone causes you pain, they must love you. This person will literally look for reasons to be punished so that they feel more loved.
  3. CONTROL A: Someone who was sexually abused may look to being a dominant so that they can work through their control issues. Being raped or sexually abused causes constant feelings of loss of control. In order to gain some sort of control over their life they choose to be the one (The Dominatrix) who gives the pain. The one who does the punishing.
  1. CONTROL B: People who have a lot of power often end up abusing it. Money usually comes with power and the person gets a sense of not being able to hear the word no. They treat everyone around them poorly. Deep inside they know what they are doing is wrong and they seek out a dominant. Someone they can pay to punish them for how hateful they are to everyone else. Someone who will make them hear the word NO! and enforce it.
  2. MONEY: Some people do it just for the money. In the S&M world these people don’t last to long because they run into people who will happily break them and realize that no amount of money is worth the abuse they have just received. Still I will never forget the words of one of my slaves when I asked her why she liked to be abused. She said, “Sometimes it’s just easier to lie there and take a beating.”
  3. BOREDOM: Lets face it, people get bored easily. Everyone wants to try the new and improved trendy way of, well everything. You want to add a little spice to your sex life so you go out and buy some handcuffs. Next thing you know you are at swingers party with your husband and then divorced.

I think it is very dangerous to glamorize this lifestyle. Women and more importantly, young girls may enter this dark world thinking they will find their Mr. Grey and nothing could be further from the truth. What they will likely find is that they are whisked away to a house and stuck in a room, never to see the light of day again. They may be forced to have sex with upwards of 20 men a day and when they are all used up, they will either be tossed to the side of the road, or get a bullet in their brain. I know these words are hard to swallow, however, I hope it is enough to open your eyes to the fact that this is NOT a glamorous world where the girl gets whisked away by the rich and powerful man for a happily ever after. That she somehow changes him. That he falls in love with her and changes his wicked ways. The world of S&M is very black and white, there is not room for 50 shades of gray.

How was the recovery process for you?

In three words…long and painful. There is a statistic that the healing process for women who have been in the sex industry takes two years for every one they were in. For me that would mean I would spend 44 years healing. I didn’t have that much time so I dove in headfirst and worked intensely on my healing process for two years straight. Now I go through periods where I peal off another layer for a few months, but then spend the next six not working on my healing at all. I became a born again Christian when I got out of the industry, so it was very helpful to have my faith to fall on through the process. Treasures (www.iamatreasure.com) was a monumental part of my healing journey offering me one on one peer mentorship, support group, and community in which to safely walk through my healing journey. I also immediately got involved with the local church, (www.OasisLA.org) and built a new life with all new friends that had to do with serving others instead of focusing on myself.

How are you working to help women now?

I have been out of the industry for seven years now. For the last two years I have been serving as a liaison for the Treasures therapist led support group as a go between for the girls and the Treasures ministry. In addition, I enjoy mentoring girls one-on-one who are in the process of leaving the sex industry.  I recently moved to Palmdale, CA to be the house manager of the Cherished Home (www.Cherishedhighdesert.com) for trafficked women. I live in the home there and teach the women how to function in the real world. I also speak at Mercy Ministries of America spreading hope to the young women there, that no matter how lost you are in the darkness, God can find you and give you hope and a future.