I devoted about 4 chapters in my memoirs ‘Dominatrix on Trial‘ to describing how I operated as a dominatrix. For those who are curious about the lifestyle I want to say that being a dominatrix, or dom, can mean a number of possible lifestyles.
For those who do outcalls only it means you just pack a bag of equipment and perhaps clothing, or wear your fetish wear under an overcoat, and go to the client’s home or hotel room. Other doms will have a small “dungeon”, perhaps even one bedroom in an apartment or a bachelor apartment set up as a dungeon. Yet other doms will rent dungeons in which to see their clients. So different doms use different locations.
Some doms will work in teams and share clients, whatever their locale. Others will hire someone to handle all phone calls and just go to sessions or be in their dungeons when the clients arrive. If the dom has an extensive dungeon she must clean and tidy up or have it done for her. Some will allow loyal clients, slaves, to exchange their labor for sessions or just to be around her and her staff.
What is common to all is that they must have records kept and be aware of what laws they must observe concerning licensing, taxes and prostitution. The latter, as we are well aware, is a fiasco in Canada and now before the courts. They must have good records kept like client files, schedules and contact information of associates.
The job part of the lifestyle is as much like another job as it is unlike it. It means responsibility and work, as well as creativity and role playing. The personal part of the lifestyle can be as much or as little as the dom wants it to be.
In my book I tell all about that. I hope you will read it.
When I first realized I was being raided I was shocked and angry. I had been there doing this openly for almost two years. I had checked with lawyers, a couple of whom were clients, to ensure legality. I had run my dominatrix house as if all visitors, repeat all, were police.
There was absolutely no need for a SWAT team. There was absolutely no need for them to strip the place almost clean by seizing 700 items, most of them everyday items. There was no need to mock us. And they didn’t have to call a press conference the day after the raid to display what they had had taken. They could have just charged me or given me a ticket and awaited trial. I knew this during the raid and it was raised in subsequent legal proceedings.
In future I was actually glad they made such a big splash, because it led to my profile in the media where I could advocate for my rights and bring big issues to national attention and publish my story as well.
I’m not sure what I would have done differently. I had a chance to run a first rate dungeon and facility for adult role play. I had a chance to earn a decent living. My dream of running such a facility came true, and the cause brought me allies to enable me to rise up again with another facility a few years later and bring forth my book. I don’t think, looking back, I would have changed a thing I had done.
For me, today, it feels good. Not embarrassing now. After all, I have a book for sale and some causes to advocate. This means that long ago I accepted that my life would become an open book itself.
The opening of that book began in Windsor in 1986 when my dungeon and escort service was busted and my name and face were in the papers. Then in 1994 came the big raid near Toronto and I was again front page news but this time in Toronto, and my name was very exposed; as were the private practices I sold to the public. When I fought the charges I was interviewed and photographed continually and my private life and history discussed continuously in the media. Nothing the people I am closest to privately see in the media takes them by surprise.
So I have got used to living as a public figure. I did so gradually. I love to talk and fight for what I believe in and, as I say, I just published my memoirs (go to my website terrijeanbedford.com if you are interested) so for me it is now second nature to live my life knowing that everyone who knows who I am knows my history, public and formerly private. However the fact that it is now second nature does not always make it easy.
You may have just started reading my blogs now so let me introduce myself. I am Terri-Jean Bedford, Canada’s most famous dominatrix. I presume you know what a dominatrix is. If you don’t you are going to learn some very interesting things. On my website terrijeanbedford.com you can order my book. That tells you about all I can about the craft of the dominatrix. It also tells about my legal battles fought over a period of 15 years.
It is because of those legal battles that I became famous. Before I came into the public eye I had an early childhood of severe poverty, a youth of abuse and neglect, and wild teenage years filled with drugs and prostitution. My years as a young woman were like that too, until I became a dominatrix. When I was charged with prostitution despite not selling sex I fought the charges and supporters came from all over. My final legal battle, waged beside two other courageous women and with three great lawyers headed by Professor Alan Young – a Canadian institution in himself. It led to the striking down of Canada’s prostitution laws; a stunning legal victory that is still under appeal. I am now in my fifties, very ill and may not have long to live. I spend any time I can with my grandson and daughter and close friends.
My supporters wanted me to tell my story in book form. Right from the time I was raided I kept notes and drafted chapters. I would sometimes put the draft on the market to get reactions and raise a bit of money. So the book that was published in June and is now being launched formally in August is really the completion of a work in progress. I was going to finish it and self publish in 2005 or 2006 but when the constitutional challenge began it seemed to make sense to wait a bit longer and tell a more interesting story. My main reason for writing the book was to explain why I fought, what I fought, why I got so much support and to tell the world what needs to be done to protect freedom and improve the safety of women.
If the book makes money that’s great. But I wanted to be heard, and from what the marketing people overseeing the formal launch of the book tell me I am being read and will be for a very long time.
I have not been updating my blog each day because I got a great invitation to stay at a cottage for a week. It was sudden and I had to leave right away and it has been great. The only way I can vacation is if it doesn’t cost anything, so I can’t plan.
My supporters are watching for the release of my book on the Internet. Instructions for downloading it will be on this web site and in my blog as soon as possible. Some technical issues are currently being resolved.
Direct e-mails will also be made to many contacts I have made over the years. Hard copies should be in major bookstores soon as well. I’m very excited and encouraged by the reactions I have been getting thus far.
Thanks again for your interest.
I am appreciative of the media for presenting me in their reports so frequently, but I must remind everyone that I am one of three plaintiffs in the current constitutional challenge. Val Scott and Amy Leibovitch have for years been in the forefront of the battle to change the laws.
In the 1990’s Robert Dante headed a coalition to amend the laws. Richard Hudler and numerous others met regularly at 519 Church Street in the middle years of the decade just concluded to make efforts for amendment. Andy Anderson is not to be forgotten. He too has been a presence during all these years. This list of activists is long and not confined to Toronto.
I and some of my key supporters have been in touch with some educational institutions and may be participating in histories and other studies to be written on the initiatives over the years to change the laws. The media has largely ignored this history and this is a shame. It is my wish that all the heroes in this long struggle be acknowledged.
I am going to be publishing my memoirs this week, so in future blogs I will talk about my book and address some questions about it that people may send me. I will attempt to share the questions and answers with you on this blog. Also, I will now reduce my blogs to every second day or so for the present time. Thank you for reading what I have to say.
We have now concluded the hearings of the appeal by the governments of Canada and Ontario of Justice Susan Himel’s striking down of Canada’s prostitution laws in the fall of 2010. A decision is expect in the fall of 2011. It is widely expected that the matter will go to the Supreme Court of Canada, but this is not certain. The stay on Judge Himel’s decision remains in effect until at least the release date of the current appeal decision.
There is also widespread agreement amongst those following the case and involved in the case, that Parliament, not judges should decide what is legal and not legal between consenting adults. I will comment on that in the future, but for today I just want to share a couple of observations looking back on the week just passed.
Most of those studying this matter, by far, in the academic community are women. I know this from contacts I and others have made during the three years of this case and from seeing who attended the overflow room at the courthouse. In my opinion, many women are concerned about being told how to conduct themselves in private and about being legally denied the right to take measures for their security. This case has hit a nerve amongst women, whether for or against the original decision. Perhaps the current laws remind them of the authorities in other countries denying women basic rights and protections.
Another observation to share. At the Conservative Party convention before last week delegates voted to oppose any liberalization of the prostitution laws – meaning not giving prostitutes any more rights. At their convention this weekend, as far as I know, the New Democrats have been silent on the issue. Whatever these parties advocate, I hope they begin by defining exactly what prostitution is. I hope they distinguish which private behaviours between unmarried adults at home for free are to be illegal in private for money. The more specific they are the fairer they are. Fairness would be a start.
For those of you who are just finding out about me let me say a few words of introduction. I am Terri-Jean Bedford. I am a retired Canadian dominatrix, whose trade name was Madame deSade. I have been in the news for many years because I was charged under the prostitution laws yet, I maintain to this day, my conviction was wrong. I never sold sex or sex acts. I operated two “dungeons”, one from 1993-94, for which I was convicted and one from 1999-2002, for which I was not even charged. I have been engaged in numerous legal proceedings to clear my name and reform the laws. The most recent of these, where I joined with two other women as plaintiffs, resulted in Canada’s laws against prostitution being struck down in September 2010.
As you may know, my memoirs are about to be published. I have been working on them for almost 15 years. However I am withholding their release until after the appeal of the September 2010 decision. This appeal is being held at Toronto at the Ontario Court of Appeal from June 13 to 17 inclusive, at least. Even if it adjourns without concluding I will not delay the release of my memoirs much beyond the 17th, if at all.
For now, let me just say that these proceedings are a disgrace. They involve 5 or 6 judges and 32 lawyers and countless other support work and resources. Judge Susan Himel, who wrote the decision under appeal, was clear. The issues raised are for Parliament. I accuse Prime Minister Harper of cowardice in hiding behind the courts. Real criminals and serious crimes will go unaddressed as he clogs the court system so he can sidestep the issue. At least for now. Or so he thinks.
Thank you for sharing this time with me. I will continue to enter my blogs daily during the next couple of weeks, and regularly thereafter.