Meet the Dominatrix Trying to Take Down Donald Trump

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I walk into a restaurant in Downtown, Los Angeles. It’s Friday night, and I’m late because the parking lots around here only take cash, and obviously no one carries that anymore. But after a traversing the streets, desperately hunting for an ATM, I’ve finally made it, to the Dominatrices Against Donald Trump! Presidential Party and Fundraiser, hosted by Mistress Tara Indiana, head dominatrix and founder of the BDSM playpen Den of Iniquity. I’m here because Mistress Tara is running for president.

Mistress Tara invited me to the fundraiser personally, after reading a VICE article I’d written about one of her workshops. She wasn’t thrilled about this, so I’m nervous. The program for the night, according to my ticket, includes a sit-down dinner and Mistress Tara’s presidential stump speech, followed by a burlesque show and some mingling among members of the BDSM community. There’s also going to be a raffle.

“Are you here for the event?” a hostess asks as I walk in. The restaurant isn’t rented out, so I assume she says “event” to maintain some level of discretion or anonymity. I nod yes, and she tells me to find my place card.

There are about 50 people in attendance: an assortment of professional mistresses and their male subs, Tara’s childhood friends, and some photographers. And me. There are also two old friends of mine from high school sitting at the bar, but they’re not here for Tara; I nod and wait for the rumors to start circulating about the new crowd I’ve started hanging out with.

I head to the press table, but my place card isn’t there. So I walk to a few other tables, and realize I don’t see my name anywhere. I start to think the Doms Against Donald are playing some kind of elaborate prank on me, and my immediate reaction is to freak out and bolt, because that’s my immediate reaction to most situations. You don’t belong here, I tell myself. Run. So I do.

I walk back outside, already planning to call this piece off, or write about how I was duped over by a dominatrix. This is my payback for writing that article about Mistress Tara’s workshop in the first place: A 30-minute drive and $10 for parking to walk around a restaurant humiliated. But eventually, I take a breath, suck it up, and head back inside to explain the seating issue to the hostess.

This time, she tells me to follow her, and suddenly I find myself face-to-face with Mistress Tara. There’s my nametag—it’s been waiting for me all along, seating me at her table. We exchange a polite hello, and she tells me she’s glad I could make it. I do not know why, but for some reason, I’m intimidated. Like seeing a teacher out of school for the first time and expecting to be assigned homework while at the grocery store, I keep expecting to be whipped or flogged at a dinner party.

Seated to my left is an older gentleman who, within minutes of arriving, will not stop talking. He is an infectious disease doctor, which I know because he tells me every few minutes. He doesn’t admit to practicing BDSM, but hell, does he know a lot about it. When he finds out I’m writing an article on the event, he asks that I not identify him in the piece. He also asks for the paper and pen from my purse and proceeds to take extensive notes for me.

He explains to me the pleasures of cock and ball torture; I zone out but it has something to do with nerve endings. He tells me BDSM isn’t a fetish but rather a sexual orientation. This is all well and good, but I’m here to cover a presidential campaign. Even in a world where women reign, there seems to be room for some well-intentioned mansplaining.

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