I’ve encountered a number of sexually submissive women who have expressed an interest in going pro. It’s true that being personally interested in subbing makes it much, much easier to do professionally, but that’s not the only pre-requisite for the job. All potential pros must understand that subbing professionally requires a much different skill set than recreational submission, because it’s a very different experience overall. True submission—that is, allowing a Dom to completely control a scene— requires a level of trust that a woman can’t develop with a casual partner without severely risking her safety. Until she’s really gotten to know a client, then, her job is to provide the illusion of relinquishing control. A pro-sub is really a discrete pro-top, an actress whose costar doesn’t know he’s playing pretend.

Before the show starts, however, remind your scene partner what the limits are. BDSM scenes are a kind of improvisation, and limits are the boundaries within which the actions take place. When working together for the first time, it’s important to set strong limits. Any sort of edge-play should be off the table, as should any activity you deeply dislike. Limits should also include any activity you’re not sure about. If you think you might like to try electro-play, test it out in your personal life, NOT with a client. Otherwise, you may wind up with a regular who wants you to do something you’ve just realized you hate! Finally, make sure you’re able to end the scene should things go wrong. Don’t agree to be gagged and immobilized at the same time, or you’ll have no way of going for help.

A safeword is another important tool you’ll need to be able to stop the action. Pick something simple and standard, like ‘red’ and remind your scene partner beforehand. Don’t be afraid to use your safeword, either. You may be able to tough out his extra-hard caning, but if you go along with something you hate, you may end up with a regular who you resent and dread seeing. Your mental and physical well-being need to come before your client’s pleasure, and if he’s a decent client, he should understand.

A responsible Dom should quickly figure out how to avoid pushing you to use your safeword, but you can help steer him away from that dead-end. Suggest scenarios wherein it’s possible for you to control the amount of physical punishment you receive. For example, an interrogation scene in which the flogging will stop as soon as you reveal the ‘secret information.’ Try to suggest these scenarios beforehand, but if you forget, it is possible to suggest them in-scene without breaking your submissive character.

Learn to use phrases like, “If it would please you, Sir, perhaps we could do X.” This is a classic topping-from-the-bottom technique, and it’s difficult to deploy without sounding like you’re attempting to gain control. Practice sounding humble and sincere. Make it seem like you’re putting his wants before your own. This can be especially useful if a particular punishment has been going on for a long time. If your Dom has been spanking you for what seems like ages and you don’t think you can handle much more, tell him you’ve been so bad that you probably deserve a flogging, too. Finally, if all else fails, overreact. The easiest way to avoid a hard spanking is by pretending the light spanks already hurt! The squirming, whimpering reaction is really what the Dom is looking for, after all.

This may seem manipulative, but ultimately this advice is designed to make the session better for you AND your Dom. A lot of Dom clients won’t know how to properly run a scene without falling into tedium or awkward pauses, and topping-from-the-bottom helps to avoid this. Putting your safety above genuine submission benefits them also. They’ll likely feel bad if you wind up hurt or resentful, and ending a scene early with a safeword isn’t fun for anyone. As long as they’re getting to discipline you and seeing the reactions they want, you’re absolutely fulfilling your duty as a pro.

You’ve probably realized by now that pro subbing requires a lot of the same skills as pro domming. Indeed, even if you never tie up clients, it’s important to know how to do so safely so that you can protect yourself. Learning the basics of BDSM is just as important for bottoms as it is for tops, so make sure to educate yourself properly. In addition to domming skills, you’ll need to know specific subbing skills like pain management. Learn how to control your breathing, shift positions to distribute impact, and distract yourself mentally without spacing out. In all, pro subbing requires knowing how to top and bottom, how to plan a scene, and how to act like you haven’t planned a thing. If anything, it takes twice the skill as pro-domming, so don’t jump into it unprepared!

More Reading:

Safety Tips for Pro Subs: What to Do Before the Session