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Sex work has been considered “taboo” for too long
During the pandemic, we saw the rise in platforms like onlyfans, and the conversations around sex work began to rise.
But we’re still seeing information and education blocked on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. So we decided to reach out to one of LA’s premier dominatrixes, Justine Cross, to talk about it.
In this conversation, Tori and Justine talk about the stigma around sex and sex work, how Justine pivoted during the pandemic to help her business strive, her unbelievable amount of income streams, and how she’s planning for the future with irregular income.
What you’ll learn:
How Justine manages her irregular income to pay her bills AND plan for the future
Why there is so much stigma around sex work and what to do about it
The importance of enthusiastic consent in all relationships
Tori Dunlap (00:00:00):
Hello, Financial Feminist. Excited to have you back. I’m so excited to share this episode with you. It’s a little saucy today. Our guest is incredible, badass, and so transparent about her finances. I first discovered her on a collaboration that she did with The Try Guys, we get into that a bit on the episode. But oh, we’re about to delve into the world of kink today, and I encourage you to have an open mind and it’s a fun fucking conversation. Before we jump in, a reminder that my book, Financial Feminist, will be out in just a few weeks. Holy fucking shit. So please, please, if you can order from a local bookstore, if the book isn’t in your price range. If a $22 book isn’t a thing for you right now, no worries. Go request it from your library. Either way, Financial Feminist will be in your hands so soon.
You’ve heard me talk about it before. I’ve worked for five fucking years on this book, and oh my gosh, it feels like the culmination of so much hard work, and I can’t wait for you to read it. I can’t wait for you all to highlight it and put little stickies on it and then send a picture to me. Just makes me happy. We’re also doing a bunch of book events around the country, so you might be seeing me shortly, maybe get to meet me, get a signed book. Oh, and that’s the other thing, if supplies haven’t sold out by the time this episode comes out, we have four independent bookstores, one in Colorado, one in, I think, Illinois, one in Seattle, and then there’s another one. But they ship nationwide and they have signed copies. I am literally, as we speak, like signing copies of books.
Like I have 3000 books at home that I’m signing, so if supplies haven’t run out, you can order from those bookstores. Again, they ship anywhere, so even if you don’t live in those places, and you can get a signed copy of Financial Feminist and support a local bookstore. Okay, let’s talk about today’s episode. Justine Cross is a professional consultant and Dominatrix. Owner of Dungeon East in Los Angeles. Justine offers dominant life coaching and kink classes. She also hosts BDSFemme, a play party for cis and trans women and co-hosts Deviant, a play party for all people. Dismantling the patriarchy, traveling the world and oyster happy hours are some of her favorite things to do. And by the time you hear this podcast, she will also have put away Her First $100K, hell fucking yeah, which only took two years. Most recently, Justine has appeared as herself on The Try Guys and A Little Late with Lilly Singh.
She’s also appeared as herself on Funny or Die, A&E, Lifetime and VH1. She was such a blast to interview and was, again, just so transparent and kind and supportive of our movement here. She answered all of our biggest questions about how she built a business with over a dozen income streams, how she manages the inconsistent finances of running a business, and how she’s helping disrupt the stigma around both sex work and BDSM. If you’ve ever wondered what happens in a sex dungeon, this is the episode for you. Anyone who works in any sort of career that brings in inconsistent income, you’re going to learn something here. And if you’ve ever wondered what happened in the life or wallet of a Dominatrix, let’s go ahead and get into it. You’re based in Los Angeles, right?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:03:10):
Correct, yes, I’m in Los Angeles.
Do you like LA?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:03:13):
I’ve always really liked LA until recently, I would usually travel. I was on the road about 30% of the time. So during the pandemic, that was the most I had ever been in Los Angeles. And then I started feeling like, “Wow, now I understand why people don’t like it here so much.” It’s good for me. It’s not so good for other people. And I think because it’s getting to be so not good for other people, both people I know and people who are really struggling. Like our homeless population is just, it’s really getting to me because we are an incredibly wealthy city and resourceful, and we should be able to not have the inequalities that I’m seeing on a daily basis of just kind of everyone having their worst day ever, so that’s sort of bringing me dow.n
Based in Seattle. And our houseless issue is just everybody has a solution, but nobody actually… It never ends up working, and it’s just… Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. It’s gotten so much worse every single year.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:04:14):
Yeah, it’s really terrible and tragic, and I wish we would just put people in houses. There’s houses, put them in there. It’s not like rocket science, pay people a living wage. Hello? Yeah.
Yeah. I find going to LA… My best friend lived in LA for eight years, and so she loves it. And every time I visited, I lived there for a month earlier this year in the spring, and I went and just, there’s certain restaurants, there’s certain areas that just feel extremely fake to me. And I know that that’s the stereotype of LA, but I’ve found that out. And then my friend, my best friend, totally well
intentioned, she’s like, “Well, don’t hang out there.” And I’m like, “But the nature of my job…” If I’m taking a business meeting, unfortunately in the business I’m in, it’s like, “Oh, I’m meeting with my TikTok rep.” And we’re going to one of those fancy dinners, which I’m very excited about. But if I show up in anything less than two hours of perfection that it took in my house before I left, I feel so out of place.
I love New York so much more than I love LA for that reason is it’s like I walked around New York and a sports bra and bike shorts, and that was my default thing in New York and didn’t feel weird at all. I don’t know. That’s my experience with LA.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:05:33):
Well, two things. One, I always say you have to love a city for what it is and not hate it for what it’s not. In Los Angeles is a bunch of fancy pool parties and everyone looking beautiful. And fulfilling the rest of my totally typical LA day, I am going to a pool party later where we’re just hanging out by the pool and having a little work date party. And then also too, my friend once said about LA, you always know who’s the most important person in the meeting by who is purposely dressing down the most and wearing flip flops and a hoodie, very [inaudible 00:06:08] TechRow.
Interesting. So that’s the power move, is the dress down. So you mentioned pre pandemic, 30% you were traveling, was that client work?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:06:18):
Yeah, sometimes it was. I had a pretty robust tour schedule of traveling to other cities, but I also was just going on a lot of vacations a lot. So I don’t know how much of that, probably about half and half was like tour and then some vacation time that was just not any client based. So I missed that. I’m getting back to that this year
You moved from New York to LA, right? So can you walk me through what was that journey like? And then what was your origin story of becoming a Dominatrix?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:06:52):
Yeah. Well, I went to school in New York and when I graduated college with… I have degrees in literature and psychology. I moved to Los Angeles about 15 years ago, and the joke I always make is that when you have a liberal arts education, you just kind of have to go into sex work, so that’s what I did. No. I had other jobs, like regular jobs, but then I kept getting laid off and I was doing Dominatrix work part-time at a commercial studio. A commercial studio is where you have shifts and there’s other people on staff there. You’re paid as an independent contractor, but you’re not really an independent contractor. After the last job that I had that I got laid off from, I just decided, “Okay, let me try doing Dom work and see what happens and collect unemployment.” And then I realized, “Oh wow, I’m so much happier.I’m making so much more money. My schedule is so much more flexible and it’s just so much better of what I want to do.”
So being a full-time dom and then getting my own studio Dungeon West, because I realized I was renting other people’s studios and paying their mortgage, I didn’t want to do that. I opened Dungeon West, have that running as its own business where I was using it for my own sessions as well as other people using it for theirs and shoots and overnights and parties and stuff like that. And then I decided to double down on that and open another space Dungeon East, which by the way is absolutely bananas. No one has had two dungeons running in LA at the same time. That was nuts. I can’t believe I did that. And then ran those sort of three businesses that were all related, but at the same time. And then during the pandemic, I did have to close down Dungeon West in October of 2020, but Dungeon East is still running and everything is going well. So yeah.
That’s amazing. Okay, so if I have heard the word dominatrix before, but don’t know exactly what that means in layman’s terms, can you explain what a dominatrix does? Who a dominatrix is? Tell me all about it.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:09:07):
Yeah. Well, I would say that dominatrix is probably more used for a professional sex worker, although I want to clarify that I’m also a lifestyle Dom, so this is what I do in my personal life as well. And this is something that I enjoy, but a professional dominatrix would be someone who is doing BDSM from a top or dominant perspective of things. So that could include things like corporal punishment, foot fetish, financial domination, electro play, things like that. I am exchanging money for my time for those services. And a lot of what I do is… Well, I do in person work, but I also, because of the pandemic, have quite a robust online presence as well in terms of doing online sessions through text, phone cam, videos, selling my socks, stuff like that. OnlyFans, LoyalFans.
Oh, I have so many questions for you. Oh my God. Okay. So what brought you to this in particular? Were there any other forms of sex work that were interesting to you? Did you ever either dabble or were you interested in anything else?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:10:13):
Not really. I mean, honestly, many years ago I was interested in doing escorting, and the only reason I didn’t is because of the illegality and the screening process. I just didn’t feel like I was out to be able to do that, for me personally. And then just doing Dom work, just I fell into it really easily and really naturally. And again, it was something that I was doing in my personal life, so it was really easy for me to make that leap or just take over and doing that professionally. And it’s been working out really well.
Yeah. Dominatrices only women? Is there a different term if you’re a male identifying person doing Dom work?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:10:54):
Nonexistent. No, I’m sorry. There’s no alpha males. Was that you? No, that was some other TikTok this morning. No. Okay. Yes. Okay. Let’s not be male dom-phobic. Okay. Male doms exist, but I would say they’re dominant or male doms. So Dom, it would be like Domme, female would be D-O-M-M-E and male dom would be D-O-M. I mean everyone has their own moniker and how they want to be referred to. So I use Mistress Dominatrix, Dom, Dominant.
I was going to ask you, how would you like to be referred on this podcast? Do you want the full Mistress? Because I’ll give it to you-
Mistress Justine Cross (00:11:34):
Well, you got to pay for it, Tori. You can call me [inaudible 00:11:37] Justine. Yeah, I say that you only get to call me mistress when you’re down on your knees and your wallet is in my hands.
There we go. So one of the concepts as a financial educator that I’ve wondered about and heard about is you mentioned earlier being a FinDom. Talk to me about that. Is money really the object or is it just like a tool, like anything else that you might use in BDSM?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:12:05):
Yeah, I mean it’s both. I mean, look, anything that you’re doing in this profession is for the money. It’s a job, it’s my career. I would say that I dabble in FinDom. Because that’s not the main source of my income or what I’m doing, it’s just certainly one of the most interesting aspects I think of FemDom, FinDom things. But yeah, the exchange is that someone is giving me a lot of money or so much more money than I would normally consider fair trade for some kind of product or interaction with them. Where it’s like I could just be chatting with someone and I say, “Okay, well if you want me to keep chatting with you online, you have to just hit me a hundred dollars.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” To just continue the chat, but we would be chatting anyway. And they’re paying for that exchange, but they’re just paying so much more for that.
Exorbitant prices. Yeah. And is, it’s about that control financially, right? Is that the appeal?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:13:06):
Yeah. I mean, well, it’s not so much my desire… I mean, well, of course, it’s my desire in the way that it’s desire to get a lot of money for just kind of sitting here looking pretty, but-
But a client, they’re coming to you for that kind of control aspect or being controlled?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:13:22):
Yes, they are. But it’s also things like, yes, they want to have their accounts strained or give me lots of money or buy my clips or buy me presents and clear my wishlist or just pay a bill or something like that. So all kinds of different things.
For you, as someone who has that level of control, I would think… Obviously, I’m not a professional, I am not doing what you are doing. But I think to myself, “How much could I get away with? How crazy can I…” Does that ever cross your mind? Do you ever feel like guilt or is it like, “Oh, let’s see how far we can push this?”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:14:03):
Well, I always say guilt is not an emotion I feel readily. Well, there’s sort of things to keep in mind. One, just logistically, most platforms have a limit on how much someone can give you in the day for these exact reasons, because they don’t want chargebacks. And generally it’s around $500, which isn’t that much money. Some sites don’t have that limit, but it’s like if… So the other th
ing is that if I’m draining a client and if it’s a new client, I’m going to check in and say, “Hey, just want to check in with your limit right now because we’re about up to this much. Do you want to keep going?”
Because it’s important to have consent even when you’re online, even when you’re doing financial domination. Or sometimes I’ll ask a client, “What is your daily limit for spending with me? Or weekly or monthly? Or do you want to give me a budget? And what does that look like for you?” So yes, you do need to have consent, and yes, it’s hot to drain them until they cry and stuff, but it’s all part of the game that we’re all consenting to.
Yes, it’s hot to drain them until they cry. Can I put it on a T-shirt? But the consent, yeah. That makes sense of basically, “What’s your budget? What’s your budget for me to go crazy?” And for you, do they specify, “Oh, I just want cash or Oh, I want to pay you in gifts.” How does that work? Do you get to dictate that or do they dictate that?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:15:29):
Sometimes it’s both. I mean, some people really only want to do one thing. They only want to give you money in this one way. And sometimes you can tell them, “Oh, I really need this thing on my wishlist or these things and that can happen.”
I’m just wondering if you have a whole closet full of Dior saddle bags, you open the closet and they come [inaudible 00:15:50] out, fall out. You’re like, “Oh, another one. Oh God, okay.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:15:54):
Don’t, cause I’m not a fan of Dior saddle bags, but I do have many closets of shoes and lingerie and latex and I’m actually just constantly going through stuff to get rid of a lot of things that I’ve just built up over the years. When I close Dungeon West, I collected a lot of my stuff that was in three… I had six closets across town from my house and the two Dungeons to just get rid of everything when we moved. And I don’t think I could have sold anything more, but I’m still just finding stuff constantly, “Oh, okay, I don’t need this anymore. I don’t need this.” And just to keep recycling and refreshing things. But I don’t get too many doubles of things. Although one time, through a weird lark, I ended up with three Jenga games and I had to get rid of them.
Because someone wanted me to do a custom clip with Jenga and then he ordered one, and then I ordered one and then someone else ordered me one on my wishlist. And I’m like, I posted on my personal Facebook, “It’s not a long story, but I don’t care to tell it. I have three Jenga games, who wants them? And I was able to give up the people.
Immediately, my brain goes like, “How can we make Jenga sexy?” I’m like, “All right, I dot know.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:17:05):
There’s a kink for everything.
Yeah. Got it. Well, you transition perfectly of like what are some of the costs of being a dominatrix. Like you were talking about like latex and heels? What are the laundry list of things you need to do in order to do your job
Mistress Justine Cross (00:17:24):
Okay, so much. Well, let’s see. Nails, hair, makeup. Right now we’re sitting in my Dungeon, at my office. So in my home, this isn’t where I see clients in person, but it’s where I do all my virtual things and recording. Just basic LA lady maintenance like lasering and Botox and stuff like that. My studio Dungeon East is a certain cost, but mostly, it’s more than made up by all the renters. Shoes, lingerie. I mean luckily now I’m at a point in my career where… And also I’m just asking for a lot more, but a lot of companies are sending me things, so I’m trying not to buy so many things. I’m trying to either get people to buy them for me or have companies send me things and just having different [inaudible 00:18:14] relationships with people. Which is great, being an influencer.
Mm-hmm. That free shit. I’ve made a secret promise to myself that I don’t want to pay for a first class ticket. I want to get either flown out somewhere or I want to get upgraded. My goal is to hopefully never pay for a first class ticket.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:18:33):
It’s exorbitantly expensive. It’s like 800 to eight grand and you’re like, what? That’s a thousand dollars an hour for a nap.
I know. And then the lie down seats. Yeah, that’s my other secret dream is to fly lying down at some point. And then every time I’m like, “Oh, let me see for this flight.” And then it’s like $4,000 in addition to the 500 you’ve already paid. And I’m like, “Nope, nope. Can’t do it. Can’t bring myself to do it.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:19:01):
It’s insane. I’m going to Argentina and Antarctica this fall and it’s a trip from last year that got moved and my client that I’m going with took care of my flight and ticket and everything and he got me the one level below the lay down. So I was like, “Okay, I don’t know why you don’t want to just get me the lay down. You have literally a million miles, but fine.” So I upgraded myself and then the flight canceled and they would not refund me. I was like, “Are you serious? And I can’t…” Yeah. I mean it was not that much, but still it’s just on principle that like, “You’re not going to give it to me. You sold that seat or canceled that flight.”
Right. So you mentioned pre-pandemic your business versus either in pandemic or… I don’t know if we’re post pandemic even. What happened to your business during COVID? Like we know obviously a lot of people doing sex work, lost a lot of clients, lost a lot of income. What was that reality like for you?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:20:04):
The reality for me was I pivoted on a dime and I sat down with my partner in our living room and I had a whiteboard and I said, “This is how much money I used to make and we need to figure out how to do that again.” Because I looked at the data and I realized, “Okay, it doesn’t matter what the government is saying that we’re going to reopen in five weeks, six weeks…” Kept pushing that date. I realized this isn’t going to change until there’s a cure or there’s a vaccine and that end isn’t anywhere in close sight. So luckily between my partner and my best friend, we were our little COVID pod, we all agreed on what we were going to be doing in terms of contact with other people and I realized that we had to put everything online. And it was really intense because we had to cancel classes, move them to online.
Then I had to get the gears going again about my online business because I’d always dabbled in online things like phone sex and caming and clips and stuff like that. But it was never a huge part of my business. I would say maybe 85% of my business was dependent on in-person things, whether that was my one-on-one work with clients or events that I would host and things like that. And then the rest of it was online, so I already had a start, but I didn’t really use that much. It hasn’t been updated since five years ago, 10 years ago. So getting all of that going and then creating content. So in addition to just re-upping everything and doing the things like, “Oh, let’s overhaul my websites and do this.” And that kind of thing. Then we created content. So we created new classes, we created new events.
And when I say, I’m sorry, my partner was working with me as someone that I hired, but she’s not a part of my business. It was just at that time where she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her business. So it was like, “Okay. Well, sex work makes the most money, let’s go with that.” So we did that in that time and we developed an event called LA Kink Pride. So that was a series of all virtual events that we had over a week, but it was classes and strip shows and virtual play party and things like that. And then just, we sold a lot of stuff. I sold a lot of dildos, I sold a lot of dick. I had so much extra stuff before I even knew that I was going to have to close one studio. I just kept having sales and I had no idea people would buy used dildos, but they totally did. They needed some kind of dick, so they bought mine. Yeah, and then Dungeon West-
That makes sense, but okay. All right. Okay.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:22:41):
Yeah. I mean, they were clean. They were clean. I’d clean them again, so they were clean.
Oh, they were clean. Okay. I didn’t know if that was part of the appeal. Like buying panties, it’s like, “Okay. All right.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:22:52):
Well, that’s what I said because I did sell a lot of my lingerie and stuff on Poshmark. I never knew that people would want Agent Provocateur like Circa 2015, but wow, that sold hotcakes. Yeah, but it was mostly just doing everything online and realizing also I can make a lot more money online and I tightened up a lot of things. I increased the rental rate of my studio. I also increased my rate of things when I was able to safely go back and see people in-person to fully vaccinated people. I only allow fully vaccinated people in my space once we were able to start doing events safely. So yeah, I count myself really lucky. I always say it was a lot of blood, sweat and someone else’s tears.
Another T-shirt. Okay, so this is probably my own naivete. You keep saying clips. W
hat are clips?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:23:45):
Oh, clips. So that would be, yeah. Video clips. Yeah, short hair clips. “Hey. Hi” Okay. Yeah, it would be short videos usually around 10 minutes, seven to 10 minutes. And this would be something on clips for sale or I want clips and also OnlyFans, things like that where you were selling your content.
You’re literally just giving me transition after transition. We have questions about OnlyFans. So I remember getting on TikTok for my business in 2020 and all I heard about was people making bank on OnlyFans. And maybe that was my own algorithm, but all I heard about was people quitting their job as a nurse or quitting their job as a flight attendant and making a bunch of money on OnlyFans. So what have you learned about the finances of using different platforms, OnlyFans? What else is out there? We also know, I think, they’ve increased steadily the cut that they take over the past couple years. What is your experience with those kind of platforms?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:24:47):
Yes. Okay, so well OnlyFans, I mean, I think everyone knows what it is, but basically it’s an online platform where people can sell their content and the cut is 80/20 across the board, which at that time was an industry high. So when you hear in other industries 80/20, that doesn’t sound very good. But for sex workers, that’s a huge cut because we’re unfortunately very scrutinized and discriminated against, even if the sex work that we do is legal. Because sex work is a huge umbrella term, so if you do OnlyFans that is sex work. I mean not the people that they currently feature on their OnlyFans which are chefs or boxers. I mean, I don’t know what goes down to the DM for them.
[inaudible 00:25:29] Right. There’s some people creating content on OnlyFans where it isn’t sexual either… Yeah, they’re using almost like a Patreon and then there’s some people on OnlyFans who are I guess technically doing sex work, but they’re not nude there’s that content as well. Right.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:25:44):
Yeah. No, of course. But I think that the people who are making the most money are people who are well known, already have a built in social media following of in the millions or doing nude content. So I personally don’t do nude content or any kind of solo masturbatory content and stuff. Just for me, it’s dominant only. So what I will say about that and OnlyFans in general is that I’m really honestly just super happy if it has helped women and people who are just minorities and not able to make enough money and they were able to quit their shitty fucking jobs that weren’t paying them enough. I’m really happy for them if they were making Bank on OnlyFans and making a ton of money.
That being said, I think there’s a lot of problems with the company and one thing for me is that actually every time I sign in now, I have to do a biometric test to prove that I am me and only me can sign in to my OnlyFans. And that’s a really huge problem because, guess what? The top people on OnlyFans are not the people doing, their OnlyFans. They have a team of people doing their OnlyFans.
[inaudible 00:26:55] It’s like hiring somebody to run your Instagram.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:26:57):
Of course, yeah. So I am not making a ton of money on OnlyFans because I have to buy… Because you think I have time to do my… Yeah, so that really sucks and I’m completely calling them out. They will not change it. They refuse to change it and they refuse to say why that they’ve changed it. And it’s really stupid because it was never a big money earner for me, but it’s something that I keep but it’s not my favorite thing. And then because of, they won’t promote sex workers and sex workers or the people who built that platform. And then of course they did this thing where… I think it was a year ago where they said, “Okay. Well, we’re not going to let you do any sexual content. And everyone’s like, but that’s literally all I do.” You know what I mean? And then they, in 24 hours they reneged and it was like… I mean, that’s a lot in an industry where you already feel like you’re fucked half the time, even if you’re making bank all the time-
And not in a fun way.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:27:52):
Yeah. No, not in a good way. No, in a bad way. Definitely in a non-consensual, without lube, but in a creepy way that you don’t like kind of way. So it’s complicated and I haven’t deleted mine, I just kind of have it as a place where people can find me just because of the name recognition. But they have no customer support. They’ve like withheld money from me, from other people. They’ve locked people out of their DMs where they couldn’t DM people for a month and that’s where people make their money. So it’s definitely not my favorite company, but it’s certainly one that you can make a lot of money doing. For me, in terms of online platforms that are better, I would say LoyalFans, which came out of OnlyFans not being the best in our industry. But again, I just always want to say that i
f this is helping people make more money and make more income and getting out of bad situations where they’re not financially independent, I always think it’s best to have these methods or these platforms where we can use that to get out.
Yeah. So you have online work, you have your work at the dungeon. Walk me through all your income streams.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:29:02):
Oh my god, I have like 16. Okay. All right, let’s just go down the list. Okay. So I do a lot of stuff with Eventbrite. So I do a lot of classes and events pretty robust. And I’m not sure when this is airing, I meant to ask you before we started, but I have a lot of stuff going on all the time for classes that I teach events, play parties, as well as I also have guest instructors, so it’s not always me. A lot of… Let’s see. So next would be rentals. So rentals for the studio, that’s a large part of my income as well as doing media appearances and work like glorified extra kind of stuff or being hired as an expert or things for Try Guys as we were talking about earlier. Oh yes, also Dungeon Rentals in terms of pro doms using the space, so when I say rentals for the Dungeon, that means other pro doms, lifestyle people who are renting it for hourly rentals or overnights.
Some events, I’m very picky about events, but also production, whether that’s stuff for kink.com or Lifetime. So a lot of different kinds of things. It’s the dungeon for your dom or your mom. So then all my other income streams. So a lot. Okay, so we have Night Flirt, which is a phone sex… On the oldest phone sex one, so you’re mostly doing phone, some cam, texting, stuff like that. Clips for sale, I want clips. Those are the clip site stores with videos. Okay. And then OnlyFans and LoyalFans, those are subscription based sites where you can sell a lot of content as well. There’s also Sex Panther, which I love. I mean it’s the best name, best name. Which is another… Yeah, it started off with obviously just texting, but you can sell clips on there and they do phone and cam and stuff like that. And that one honestly, is my favorite. I started it right before the pandemic and I was glad that I did and that was really, really wonderful.
Yeah. And then Sessions and just straight up people giving me cash and donations and loading up my Cash App and all of that. So, a lot. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot one. Okay. And also Gumroad. Gumroad. So also, all my classes are… If you missed it live or the virtual versions, I’ve recorded all of them and they’re on Gumroad, so you can access them anytime.
Does that feel overwhelming? I’m overwhelmed just hearing that. That’s a lot of things.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:31:27):
It is very overwhelming and I’ve sort of cut back on some of those things and I’m sort of figuring out what I want to do for next year. Because it’s like the last two years you’re just playing catch [inaudible 00:31:41] up, and this year is just kind of like, “Okay, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled stuff and see how that goes.” And it’s going and I’m looking at my business plan for next year and what I want to do. Because I kind of became a cubicle dom, I never meant to spend this much time in my office, in my Dungeon, Dungeon net. And so I want to get out there more. I want to get out there in the world and be in front of other people. I’m very-
You want a lie flat on that airplane?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:32:10):
Yeah. Well yeah, I’m definitely back up to my regularly travel time more or less, but I want to be outside more so I don’t have to worry about whatever plague is plaguing us next and I want to be around more people. So just figuring out how I want to do that. And also after doing such a robust schedule of classes and events for the last three years through my own platforms, I’ve sort of exhausted my base. I mean, I’m also severely shadow banned on everything, so it’s kind of hard to get out a lot of stuff. And then, partly inspired by you and another person I just interviewed on their podcast as well, very robust TikTok. So it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to get back on TikTok and like things and post things.” It’s like I have six imposters on TikTok that they will not take down. I got reported for posting a wet emoji on someone’s content.
I can connect you with somebody at TikTok who hopefully can help you get those imposters taken down. So I will make a note for myself
Mistress Justine Cross (00:33:09):
That would be very helpful. But I’d also like to get my OG account back because I’m very tame on there. I don’t do anything that’s problematic. I do unboxing videos and full… I don’t do anything that pushes the envelope and I don’t even know why. So that was my next question, help me out with that because it’s-
[inaudible 00:33:30] Well, and the interesting thing is our entire business is largely built on social media, right? Other than me being a little too feminist. And sometimes I think we get shadow banned for just being like, “This is patriarchal bullshit.” There’s no real threat to our social media accounts, as opposed to something that you do. Unfortunately, what happens is it’s like this incredible platform like TikTok or Instagram that has the potential to grow your business you can’t take full advantage of. And I imagine that’s incredibly frustrating.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:34:00):
Oh, it’s extremely frustrating and I’ve been talking very openly a lot about it is because so many small content creators rely on TikTok and Instagram and Twitter and all of these things to grow their business. But unfortunately, these are really poorly run businesses. And this is something that happens to people on TikTok and Instagram of course in the sex worker world who sometimes they post things that shouldn’t be on there and sometimes they’re like, “Absolutely, I posted nothing on there that was problematic.” But they’re also doing things, they’re banning other people’s accounts that are not in the adult industry world whatsoever. Like one of my assistants, she was telling me that her eight year old’s account got taken down. She’s like, “I have to look at everything she posts and she’s just posting silly videos, dancing with the dog.” Clearly the eight year old isn’t… They were just for fun. It wasn’t like, “I’m trying to make my child a star.” So-
Oh, my friend who creates travel content, her name’s Channel, she got her account suspended on TikTok and I had to reach out to my contact at TikTok and be like, “Hi, can you help?” And then she got the account re-upped, but no reason, no reason at all, just happened.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:35:10):
It doesn’t show in the backend what happened and what-
No, she got like a content warning but she was like… Again, I’m talking about like the credit card points to help you get to Paris for free. She’s like, “It was no way violating any rules or regulations.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:35:26):
See, I always wonder, is this… I’m always asking and I never hear if this happens to men because I’m only pretty much always talking to women. No, but I mean it’s like… I teach a class about Instagram about how to try to hold onto your Instagram account because it’s called, Fuck Instagram, Get Your Power Back. And I say, change it to male, change your gender to male in the back end, and that helped. TikTok doesn’t have that. And I don’t know if… Because I was like, “Oh, maybe if I change it, it won’t…” Because I had my Justine account as male, and then I was getting a ton of account violations on my Dungeon East one. And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” I went in the backend for Dungeon East, I changed it to male, no more account violations came up.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:36:12):
Oh, I’m going to literally try that, right after this. Yeah, I mean Twitter, right? They’ve taken down Trump, they’ve taken down, I think Ben Shapiro’s not allowed on Twitter anymore. So I think Twitter’s done a little… I think they’ve done little bit more. But yeah, I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have had incredibly violating comments sent to me. And I have screenshots and I go to Instagram and I’m like, “Take them down.” And they’re like, “We don’t see that they’re violating anything.” And I’m like, “I just showed you that this person called me this thing.” And so yeah, it’s really fucked.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:36:51):
It is really problematic because what is it saying that for any of these social media platforms that they allow hate speech and bullying and quite frankly, minors doing sexual things like [inaudible 00:37:07]. They allow that, they absolutely allow that and they’re not taking down imposter accounts. And Instagram used to be better about it. Finally, I got a bunch more taken down and it’s hard because people are taking money from people on like DMs and stuff. And for Twitter, one of my friends told me that if you say your location is in Germany, you’ll actually be… Because Germany has a very strict policy against any kind of hate speech or anything like that. So if anyone does that to you in Germany, they have to make all these reports and stuff. So Twitter doesn’t want to deal with that. So they’ll like kick people… Something like that. But I can look it up for you later if you want, but I haven’t had a problem on Twitter with hate, that kind of thing happening. But yeah, it’s just a real problem. Why are we not taking down people who are Nazis?
Right? Fascists. But sex work is somehow so scandalous.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:38:05):
No. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean it really depends on what it is. It’s just really… I mean, again, I don’t know… And I think the main problem is, you’re talking to just some bot and there’s no real conversation. So it feels very [inaudible 00:38:20] cost to us.
You can’t get ahold of anybody at Instagram.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:38:21):
No. Or any social media. From what I understand, it’s like bots will take down certain things, but then there’s supposed to be a human looking at the review. So it’s like, “Are people just mad there?” And they’re just like, “No, I don’t like you.” I don’t know what’s happening there. It’s really hard. So it’s hard when you don’t have a conversation because I know that a lot of content creators, if we had a very specific guideline about what we were allowed to do or not allowed to do, we would do it. No one wants to lose their Instagram. That’s never anyone’s goal. And some people are dumb and they’re just going to do whatever anyway. But most people want to abide by the rules because it’s an important tool that people like and want to use.
Yeah. There are no guidelines. And it does feel very often… Like we curse on our pages and we’ve even seen from the data of you have to star out your cursing in captions if you want to be featured, right? But that’s all hearsay. Or to your point of somebody changed their gender to male in the background and then it was fine. It’s all of those kind of through the grapevine regulation or tips rather than Instagram or any of these platforms being like, “Here is directly what’s allowed.” Like, “Side boob’s allowed, nipple isn’t.” Like, “Great. Cool, thank you.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:39:46):
Exactly. And I’ve worked with companies that are in the millions of followers and verified and they say, “They will not give us a straight answer either.” And that’s a problem. It’s like, “Why do you not want people to know how to use your platform? Why are we in this cough gas mystery? There’s no reason, there’s no reason. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s know what the boundaries are, let’s know what we can do, what we can do, what we might be able to get away with.” And again, because I feel like these companies have grown so quickly, so fast, there isn’t an infrastructure or internal review system that makes sense. And quite honestly, I think that there’s a lot of [inaudible 00:40:23] insults who work at them. Why are so many beautiful women who are adult, sexy ladies getting their accounts taken down and we can’t get them back. No one sucked a dick in Instagram, how is this possible? No one stepped on a dick there, how is this possible? Mysteries. Mysteries, I don’t know.
Right. And then you’ll have some of… I know a lot of sex shops will do the classic fruit, as like a vague, not so vague innuendo. And then sometimes that can stay and sometimes it can’t. So it’s just… Yeah, there’s no sorts of guidelines for it at all.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:41:06):
Crazy. I’m doing a hard shift, but I love Janelle Monáe’s Make Me Feel video. And you got to work as a consultant on that video. You work as a consultant for media and film. What does that work look like? And especially with things like intimacy coordinators, I think being more and more required for film sets, what does that transition look like for you?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:41:41):
Yes. Well, when I’m working on… Yeah, the music video’s really wonderful. The part that I worked on is that back bed scene, that pink back bed, that mysteriously disappeared from set that day. But anyway, being on set is really interesting because in some ways it’s fun for me because I feel like, “Oh I can get out of my Dungeon net. I can go do other things with other people.” And there’s a certain cool factor. But then in some other ways where, again, because I’m not the star and I’m getting paid a decent amount of money, but I certainly make a lot… There’s this point where you’re looking around at other people. And again, I do two different things when I’m on mainstream media, either I’m working as a consultant like I did with the Janelle Monáe video or some other things or I’m a glorified extra where I’m playing myself, but I’m still kind of more of a background actor and stuff.
And for the things where I’m the BDSM consultant, I feel like more in my power. And it’s cool because people are asking me for what I need them to do and stuff like that. And with intimacy coordination, that’s really helpful too. But that being said, doing glorified extra work kind of things. I’m looking around at other people who are getting paid less money than I am and being there on set for 12 hours a day. And like, “You want this life because I don’t. I make a lot more money sitting at home in my sweatpants and that’s what I’d rather be doing right now.” But I also am doing things like I’m on Sex Panther the whole time that I was on set for Euphoria and I made double my money, everyone else is sleeping in the auditorium. I was like, “I’m going to work.” So.
It feels almost for the resume or for the clout, not necessarily for the money.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:43:28):
Not yet. Not until I have my own show and I will change my tune because again, I’m always the sidekick or the person for the day. So until I start doing things, like having my own show doing that, then it’s going to be different for me. Yes.
Well, and in planning for next year, because you have all those income streams, is it, “I want to do more of the work I like.” Is it, “I’m going to spend more time doing what I know makes a lot of money.” What is your thought process going into next year about where you’re going to spend the most time?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:44:04):
Yeah, it’s going to be slightly different where… I mean, I’m already making a lot of money and I’m saving a lot of money, so that’s really good. I think that I want to… Yeah, there are a lot of income streams and it’s hard to focus on one and I know a lot of people who just do OnlyFans or something and I have all these different things and it’s kind of hard to stop because it’s one of those things where you never know what site is going to make you the most money someday. You’re just sitting there, it’s like, “Okay. Well, I’m going into work and I’m going to put all my lines on and see what happens.” And it’s like one could be dead and the other one is hopping and you don’t know why. I mean it’s just consistency or different things come up.
Being in Los Angeles, I have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things. But I think for next year what I want to be… Well, for this year I want to finally get my own podcast up but also be working on things like teaching for other people and other places. Because again, I just realized I feel like I’ve exhausted the people who I know and in my immediate community and I just want someone else to handle all the media and marketing and emails because it’s getting exhausting as fuck. Constantly having to battle Eventbrite. I mean, every time I get ahold of someone at Eventbrite, it’s great, but it’s the email exchanges… Or I feel like we’re girlfriends and we’re going through a breakup because I’m like, “Well, what about this and this and that?”
And they’re like, “Okay, well that was okay because then there’s this.” I was like, “Yeah, but now you said that. So now I got to know about this.” And I’m like, “God, I just want to take these ladies out to a drink.” But I mean, I’m a business owner and I have to fight for my business because the things that unfortunately, are happening sometimes are affecting my business and I need to fight for that. But I’m getting a little tired of fighting all the time and I want to teach with other companies and in other places that are outside of this adult industry.
And all of that energy that goes to that, right, is either time and energy you could be spending elsewhere, but also just is exhausting trying to battle something that you are hoping to win but maybe you won’t. Like that’s got to be frustrating.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:46:17):
Yeah, it is super frustrating. And I tweeted the other day where I said, “I’m really tired of doing everyone else’s job today. Can everyone else just do their job out of boredom.” And-
Can you just do your fucking job?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:46:28):
Yeah, please. Thank you, because I’m exhausted. And I was sort of joking with my partner where I just kind of was moping in the living room. She’s like, “Oh, what’s wrong babe?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, I just don’t want to work.” And she’s like, “Are you okay?” And I said, “Yeah, I just have to do this and I can do it, but I’m just tired because I’m doing a lot of this other stuff and I’m just tired that I’m fighting a lot for things the way that they should be and they’re just not. And if I can get ahold of someone, I can fix it. But until I get ahold of someone I can’t.”
Do you feel like the stigma around BDSM, around sex work is changing?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:47:06):
Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, like we’ve had two shows in the last year, Bonding and How to Build a Sex Room. And great. Well, one of them is, but it’s like, Fifty Shades of Grey was in the airports, terrible book, obviously. And seriously-
I was just about to ask your opinion on Fifty Shades.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:47:32):
Well, yeah. It definitely encourages abuse because you’re sitting next to your partner and you’re hitting them. You’re like, “Get a load of this book, it fucking sucks.” But all of that helps bring it into the mainstream. And I’ve been doing this for over 15 years. I’ve had a dungeon for over 10 at this point, one or two. And now when people call me or email me, more often than not there’s a woman calling me to book something either with me or a couple session or to book the space. And that’s really changed. That never happened before. It was always men, always men booking it, always men calling me to book something with me, and now it’s not. And that’s on the binary. There’s like a lot of people who are not identifying as gender nonconforming who are also contacting me, which is changing because I’m very openly queer and in the queer community.
What sort of safety precautions do you take in your work that you feel are necessary for your privacy, for your safety? What do you have to do in order to protect yourself?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:48:46):
In terms of when I see clients in person, or?
I mean, that one is the big thing I’m thinking about.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:48:52):
Yeah. Well, luckily I’ve been around for a really long time, so a lot of my clients are regulars. Although coming out of the pandemic, I’ve never seen so many new people before because everything changed for everyone. People moved away, people worked it out with their partners or they didn’t and they moved and now they’re getting divorced and they have no money. So everyone has to fill out a booking form. They have to send me their COVID Vacs card and a deposit and confirm two hours before. And that’s usually fine for me. I’ve never felt like I was in danger. More than one person always knows where I am. I’m always checking in with my partner and my best friend and saying, “Here’s where I am. I’m on my way home.” Stuff like that. And I don’t really ever feel unsafe in my sessions.
That’s really comforting to hear. Because I was worried that there was a lot of horror stories, so that’s actually really lovely.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:50:00):
No. I mean, knock on wood, I really don’t have any and… Oh, wood. But I’m pretty picky about the clients that I see at this point. And if there’s any idea that it’s not going to work out, I mean they can’t even get to my booking process. I just hang up on them. It’s not like… So I can’t be bothered. People hear me talk to people like this and like, “Oh my God, you’re so rude and what a bitch, don’t you think you should talk to them and get them in?” And I’m like, “No. No, because literally-“
You’re like, “I’m a fucking Dominatrix.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:50:24):
“You want me be to be sweet and docile.”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:50:27):
Yeah. Well it’s also just like, “Look, why are you calling me? In order for you to call me, you got my number somewhere not on my website. And everywhere that, there’s no… So why are you calling?”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:50:39):
Right. Have you run into a client in public and is it like therapy where you have to act like you don’t know them? Has that happened?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:50:48):
Let me think. Yeah, I did run into a client at a party, at a holiday party. It was a queer holiday party. So they’re in the queer community and I’m like, “Hey.” And I just was like, “I don’t know if I’m suppos
ed to know you or what’s up.” And I’m like, “Hey, do I know you?” And then they said, “Oh yeah, you saw me for a session.” I was like, “Okay, cool. I didn’t know if I could say that. Of course, I know who you are. What’s up?” But not really. I mean, because I’m mostly in queer circles and obviously, I go out to fancy dinners and stuff. I haven’t really seen my clients in any other way. So they’ll come to my events or something like that, but it’s not… Yeah, I wouldn’t act like I knew them unless it was okay. I’d kind of be like, [inaudible 00:51:37].
Yeah. That’s what I was wondering. You run into them in like Chipotle and you’re like, “Do we say something?”
Mistress Justine Cross (00:51:43):
Well, I guess as long as we don’t run into each other at Taco Bell, it’s okay.
So you mentioned you host in-person classes. Walk us through a class at the Dungeon. Who are they for? What’s the experience? Walk us through one of those.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:51:58):
Okay, so it’s basically two hours of me making you laugh at my jokes and giving you information about BDSM. So the class-
Oh, so it’s standup?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:52:07):
Yeah. Yeah, sometimes. Yeah, I’m working on my Tight Five. No, I’m not that much of a [inaudible 00:52:11] douche. No. Yeah, so the classes that I do, I do a BDSM 101 class. I do exploring your dominant personality, persona, rather exploring your submissive persona, an impact play class. And let’s see what else did I do? I feel like I do another. Oh, I do a play party class about how to find play parties and do doing fun things there. So yeah, the classes that I do are mostly lecture style, but I leave a lot of room for questions and people picking my brain about things and that. Some of them, we do have some demo or an exercise in the play pretty class. We do an exercise called the yes, maybe or no. And where I get everyone up and you’re forced to talk to each other and ask someone for something that you’d want to do to them or something that you want them to do to you.
And because I instruct everyone, it makes it very easy. The only answers are yes, maybe or no. And that just calms everyone down, especially the Libras and just make sure that everyone gets that. So it is a really fun exercise to do with people because all of my classes, I give real life examples for not just in BDSM, real world examples I should say. Where it’s like, here are the skills that you’re going to learn in my class about BDSM, but here’s how you can apply that to the real world situation. So when your boss is like, “Can you come in tomorrow?” And you’re like, “No.” But just figuring out your boundaries and stuff like that.
Yeah. One thing I’ve always wondered about play parties, about classes, is there a level of anonymity? Like if somebody shows up who is… If I show up at a class and somebody recognizes me, is there some sort of barrier where they can’t go and either tell people about it or post on social media of like, “I was here and I saw this person.” Is there any sort of anonymity?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:54:17):
Well, Tori, you can come to my online class and just change your name to [inaudible 00:54:24] funlaughs.
I mean, I’m always curious. If a celebrity, I imagine that there’s… I know that there’s celebrities into this, and if you show up at a party and you see a celebrity, how is that celebrity protected themselves from, I don’t know. And not even outed because maybe they’re not embarrassed by it or want to keep it private. I don’t know. That’s something I’ve wondered, is there an anonymity factor?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:54:51):
Well, we always say what happens at the party, stays at the party. But I can’t control what other people do unless they pay me a lot of money to make that happen. That being said, people are still wearing masks, so you can still wear a mask and no one would think you’re that weird at my party for wearing a mask. So there’s that. But also, I do have people who have notoriety at my events and sometimes I recognize them and sometimes I don’t. Clearly A-listers are not showing up to my party. That’s not happening. They’re showing up to my Dungeon for a private session or I’m showing up to their place, yeah. But they’re not coming to that kind of public event for obvious reasons. And that’s happening. But sometimes people are like, “Oh my gosh, did you know this artist, that person is over there?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” And then I look them up, I’m like, “Oh wow, they’re really famous. Whoa, cool.” But there’s so many famous people, I don’t know everyone. So everyone has a 100,000 followers on Instagram. It’s like, “Oh, what’s it?” Yeah.
Have you had to sign NDAs?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:55:58):
I did for the first time ever, just this last few months to an event that I worked. And it was really strange because I said, “Okay, I don’t…” Well, first of all, they gave it to me after I did it. So it was like, “That’s kind of not how that works.” One, and I felt kind of salty about it. I was like, “Well, I’m not in the business of blackmailing people or telling tales out of school.” But I talked to my lawyer about it and he’s like, “Look, clearly, the children had a party and the adults are now cleaning it up, so you have to sign it because otherwise it’ll get around town that you didn’t sign it and then no one’s going to want to hire you for this kind of thing.” And I said, “Okay, fine.”
So that was the one time. And then, it’s come up a couple of other times and I certainly have some clients who you would recognize in terms of being in a media way, and then certainly other names that you would recognize in a Fortune 500 kind way. But I’ve only had to sign one in 15 years in LA and that’s kind of nuts.
That’s really impressive, actually. I’m shocked that people aren’t rolling up more frequently.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:57:14):
Well, some people want to get caught and some people… I mean, my God, have so much money that if I were to go rogue and say something, they’d have no problem burying me, completely if I wanted to say that. So I think it’s just a courtesy and also just a lot of people don’t care. Or maybe they want that fucked up experience. I don’t know. They did Really
well. And it maybe speaks to you too of they trust you or they trust that this is a business transaction that’s like, you know what? Or she’s not going to say anything. And that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Mistress Justine Cross (00:57:47):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, again, it’s something that I’m open to doing, but most people are like, no, that’s fine. I mean it’s, I’m not known for being blackmailing and doing a lot of drama on Twitter. I’m like, “Here’s my cat. And okay, I’m funny and mean.” And it’s not like my vibe, so.
Do you find that feels like therapy to some people? Is it a form of therapy or self care for clients?
Mistress Justine Cross (00:58:13):
Oh, definitely. Yeah. I think that it can be. I mean, it’s pleasurable. It’s a release sometimes. And definitely, I think it is. And I mean, I think that anything… It just kind of depends on what people define as self care. I think anything that feels good to us and is giving us some healing is something that we should be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly basis depending on what those things are. And I think during the pandemic, especially for me, I take very good care of myself and a lot of my self-care was not available and it was really hard trying to find those things.
And so, I find it therapeutic for me as well if someone wants to take it to that level and trust me in that regard to make it a very therapeutic kind of experience. But some people just want to fucking get off. That’s cool too. It doesn’t have to be whole high. Someone tweeted, “Can everyone stop saying sex work is therapeutic? I’m just here. I just have tits and you’re just jerking off of them and that’s the end. Okay.” And that’s cool too.
Well, I loved about… Because we were talking about this before, the way I was introduced to you was the Try Guys did a trivia. They do trivia all the time and then it was BDSM. And if they got a question wrong, they were spanked by you. And what I loved was you checked in with every single one of them and was like, “Is this okay? How do you feel?” Because you built up to different ways of spanking them, and Eugene had vulnerably shared that he had been spanked as a child, as a punishment. And I don’t know if you saw the comments on that video, but I felt the same way. All of these comments were like, “I love that…” You had this very distinct moment where you asked him like, “Oh, okay. Is this okay for you? Is this okay for you?”
And it was so I think important to see that consent in action and to see that… We all talk about consent is sexy, but to see it actually happen was so cool of just you paused and you stopped and you’re like, “Okay. Is this going to be okay? Or is this going to be too much for you?” And I just loved that moment.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:00:23):
Thank you. Yes, I definitely read and respond to all comments on all things. Thank you. I was glad that they kept that in and it was really nice working with the producers of that because they really wanted to show consent on screen and keep that in. And also, as I’m getting older and doing this more often, I’m better about asking for what I want and what I want to keep in. And I say like, “Look, this can be funny and we’ll make this sexy, but let’s keep this consent part in and it’s really important.” And they say, “No, we really want to do that.” And I say, “We can make it funny and we can make fun of BDSM, but we can’t make anyone feel bad about themselves or me.” So I’m really got that. They kept that in. It was so important.
And a lot of people… Yeah, I did read all those comments where they said, “Oh, thank you. That was so nice that you checked in with him again.” Because it is a huge difference between consensual and abuse, and we need to understand what that distinction is and that distinction has to do with consent. Just like there’s a huge difference between sex work and sex trafficking. There’s no such thing as child prostitution. That’s sex trafficking, that’s child trafficking because the consent is not there. Again, yes, consent is sexy and you must have an enthusiastic yes when you do things to your person.
Yeah. Yeah. And actually I didn’t plan on asking this question, but I’ve talked with previous people, I’ve dated about that concept of an enthusiastic yes, or enthusiastic consent. Can you talk about what that is? Because I think it’s so important because I grew up… I think most people, especially most women, grew up hearing like, “No means no.” As opposed to, “Yes means yes.”
Mistress Justine Cross (01:01:57):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. So consent needs to be enthusiastically given. It can be withdrawn at any time. Just because you say yes once doesn’t mean you say yes forever. There’s a cuter way to say this, it has an acronym with fries and I can’t remember what it is, but those are the facts. So I think that’s really important. And we don’t ask for consent, so then we don’t get consent. And then consent does not happen. So yes, no means no, yes means yes. In BDSM we use a safe word. So no, in quotes, might not mean stop. It could be part of the play. But this is why we use something called a safe word that will call a stop to the action. And that’s why you can do something and have a really hot scene where you’re like, “No, no, no, no, no, no.”
And you can check in with someone and say, “But your safe word is mercy. If you want to say that, you will stop the action, right?” And then someone’s like, “Yes, I understand. No, no, no. Stop hitting me.” And it’s fun. But this is really important to get, and this is something again, in my classes, I talk about this in terms of the BDSM scene, but I also encourage people to do this in their vanilla. That is to say non-BDSM sexual encounters to get consent and to ask for it. And to ask for what you want and ask for what you want to be done to you and ask what you can do to that other person. As well as non-sexual situations, like going out to dinner with your partner and talking about what that looks like and how long you’re going to stay and what you’re going to do if someone says something racist. And these kinds of things. How do we set this up before and negotiate and how we check in with each other during this action, during the scene.
What popular media about BDSM, like we talked about Fifty Shades is the least accurate and what is the most accurate?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:03:49):
I would probably say Fifty Shades is one of the least accurate in terms of the books, all of it. And the movies, the first and third one were terrible. But the second one, Fifty Shades darker was actually really quite good. And there was a lot of things in it that I really enjoyed about it and things that I would even do in my own personal sessions. So I thought that that was really good. Bad things, so many, I would say the first season of Bonding was, I mean, just so horrible. I think in the first episode they show someone having something around their neck and then falling off a table. I mean, literally people die this way. Don’t put anything around anyone’s neck.
So that was really horrible. But then again, the second season they hired consultants and it did a 180 and I heard it was much better. I haven’t seen this, but I always mention it because so many people recommend and say it’s really good, is that there’s a dom character in billions. And that is supposed to be very accurate and good. And I mean, of course anything that I’m in, but I think those are good starts.
Yeah. What do you feel like society gets wrong about BDSM beyond just the actions? Or what do you wish that people understood about your work?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:05:21):
It’s always hard for me to answer that because I have so many friends in this world and who understand this world. So I don’t know what the general public, that person from East Jesus, whatever. I mean, let’s just talk about general things like sex, work is work, this is a career, this is a job. I pay my taxes. A
ll of those things happen and it needs to be really recognized and protected, even though what I do with clients is under the umbrella of sex work. I’m not having sex with my clients. No [inaudible 01:05:52] P in vagin, if that’s how you define sex, which is very narrow definition. But there’s that. I think also that I didn’t come from an abusive childhood and that’s not why I like BDSM or want to do it to other people.
Right. That’s the Fifty Shades of gray thing, right? Was he was abused by parents or parental figures or he has trauma and that’s why he does this now.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:06:14):
Indeed. And this is something I was talking about with my partner, and it’s like, “Look, the unfortunate reality is that many people come from abusive situations. More people are coming from abusive situations. But some of them are into BDSM.” False correlation is that they’re people who are into BDSM, that didn’t happen because they were abused. Because if that was true, literally everyone would be into BDSM. Because quite unfortunately, many people are from very abusive situations. Let’s see. Yeah, I don’t know. What are the myths come up? I think that those are the two big ones for me that I feel like I see a lot, so. But I don’t know. I’m not-
Well, I feel like even some of the way I’ve phrased my questions and I’m realizing this about myself, even talking to you is like, “Oh, this is something that a lot of people would like to keep secret.” And to your point, it’s like, “Maybe they don’t. Maybe, it isn’t as secret and maybe people feel shamefully or something like that.” It’s not, for many people, and it sounds like for most people, that’s not the reality.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:07:18):
No, I’m sorry, let me go back. So I think that, yes, there is a lot of kink shaming and sex shaming and yes, a lot of people do want to keep this secret. And that is very true. I mean, when they’re seeing me, they’re seeing a professional and they might not necessarily be telling their partner about that or their friends. I mean, in a professional sense, I see a lot of reasons for wanting to keep that secret, but also in a personal sense… And I was talking about this, so another thing where you’re not going to tell people… I mean, look, there are people who really believe that masturbation is cheating. Come on? Or OnlyFans is cheating or going to a strip club, it’s cheating. So yes, there is all of that shamefulness.
And also not understanding that sex work can be a tool for people, couples or for people, individuals. And that the professional side of it shouldn’t be shameful. It should be recognized and respected. It doesn’t have to be your cup of tea, but those things just need to happen in terms of your personal life. Yeah, a lot of people are ashamed about it because of whatever society has told us and drilled into us in these terrible ways from our parents or school or society. And I always hope that it’s getting better. I always feel like overall it does get better and it is better because of the large media representation. But also I live in this bubble of Los Angeles where all my friends are kinky and they come to all my boy parties. I don’t know what it’s like with someone else.
I don’t know if I took this show on the road to Milwaukee, what would happen for people in different ways? I don’t know. And I mean, there’s a lot of cultural differences. My friend Dr. Amie Harwick was telling me about how she went to China and was talking about sex with these women. And they said, “Well, if my husband cheats on me, what do I do?” She’s like, “Well, then you have to decide what you want to do and how you want to have that discussion.” And they’re like, “What? No, we can’t divorce anyone. That’s not an option for us.” It’s very different.
Well, and that sounds like it is weirdly a collective yet, so individual experience, right? So it’s like you have all of these notions or these narratives that are being told or taught good and, quote-unquote, bad. But then it’s such an individual experience about what you’re into, what turns you on, what feels good for you. And sometimes that is in direct antithesis to all of the things that we’re taught on a societal level.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:10:02):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. And also BDSM is so specific. It is so deeply specific about what that person looks like and the skillset that they have and where they’re doing it. The collective experience about BDSM might be at a play party or a club where something is happening. But it’s not the same as like a strip club where everyone’s kind of in this room together. Escorting is also very individual, but in some ways more accepted and also put down more. Because a lot of people just don’t understand BDSM because it’s the weird, smaller thing profession, in this huge umbrella of sex work. Where people kind of understand what a stripper is or does or an escort does. No one fucking knows what I do every day. They don’t. They’re like, “Oh, what’s a dominatrix?” As we said earlier, “I don’t know what that is.” What do we do? I don’t know.
Right. Part of the reason why I had you on, so I imagine if you’re running your own business, it’s just any other business where you’re setting it up financially for making sure you have savings, making sure you’re paying your expenses. Can you break that down for us of wh
at that looks like? What are you saving, what do you earn, and what does that look like?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:11:15):
Yeah, so as we discussed earlier, there’s 16 income streams, which is a lot, but they’re not all rolling in thousands and thousands of dollars. But I’m keeping track of them. So I’m looking at my whiteboard right now because during the pandemic I needed to track it a little bit more closely. And during the pandemic, one of the plus sides is that I came out financially ahead even though everything was disrupted and changed in my business. So every Monday morning is accounting day, so I track what comes into each of those income streams and I write it down. So it’s in my Excel spreadsheet. And then I also look at all my bank accounts and Cash Apps and all those things and write down all of that money to see. So it gives me a total idea of what’s coming in and what I have. And then also, so starting this year, I’ve been putting… Oh, I just started my investment portfolio like two years ago. It’s a little late for me. But you just got to start, so.
It’s great. It’s great. It’s never too late to get started. We tell people that all the time.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:12:23):
Oh no, it’s definitely not. But I definitely wish that I had obviously, had done this earlier, but I’m making up for lost time. My best friend, client, he’s like, “Well, you need to do this. You need to finally do this.” And my partner was teasing me that I went from stocks to stocks because I just had all this money everywhere in the house. And they’re kind of like, “Girl, you need to do this. You’re a boss and you are not being a boss in this one area in your life.” And I’m like, “You’re right. Okay.”
So now I open a Roth IRA and doing that with my new financial planner, which I have because I don’t know what I’m doing. They’re doing this for me, I don’t know. But basically I’m putting away a $1000 a week every week into that investment portfolio thing, in Roth IRA, so that is only a couple years old. And I wish I had done that earlier because it’s like you don’t miss that money. I think when I first sat down with someone, I said, “Okay, I can put away a $1000 a month.” And now I’m putting away a $1000 a week. And that’s a lot. But again, I’m not noticing my life going downhill in any way. Nothing has changed other than putting away that money.
How does it feel to be in that financial position of like, “I used to be making this. I used to be putting this away, now I’m putting this away.”
Mistress Justine Cross (01:13:43):
Really good. But also I kind of got too obsessed with… This year, my goal is to hit seven figures and that’s a huge goal. It’s not impossible, but I’d have to dramatically scale up. I’d have to do about four times what I’m doing now in order to hit that goal for the year. So I mean, anything could happen, but I don’t think I’m going to make it this year. But I’m doing really well. And I think that, in the beginning of the year, I was getting too obsessed with it in a way that it wasn’t healthy for me and it wasn’t making me happy. And I had to sit down with myself and just calm down and say, “It’s okay if you’re not making a ton of money.” Even if you are compared to other people. But it’s really hard in my industry because you see people posting receipts where people make like $40,000 in a day on their clip store or something, but they’re not doing that every single day.
But you’re seeing that. A lot of people lie and it’s the internet. You can say whatever you want. So could I, whatever. “Oh, I made $10,000, today.” “Okay, great.” A lot of people post receipts, a lot of people Photoshop it’s all these things. So I had to take a step back and just kind of calm down a little bit and say, “Look, okay, you’re doing fine.” And now what I do is not only do I have my daily and monthly goal, but I also had to look back at basically the last five years of my business and see how much money on average I would make in that month and put that up for myself. So I would kind of see what the trends were and also not feel too badly about myself if I didn’t hit a number. But really just trying to hit that number that’s really high every month. So I have a base number for my budget, a number that I realistically want to hit. And then my reach goal number, which would be, I think $83,000 a month every month to hit a million.
Well, and you mentioned you’re still doing all of this yourself, is that accurate? I think your partners help a little bit, right? But is this still a one woman show?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:15:45):
Yeah. It’s a lot.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:15:46):
More or less. Yeah, so I have an assistant who takes care of the studio. Yeah, I have a stude
nt who takes care of the studio. I had a client who was doing a lot of this stuff for me with the backend, but they’re basically retired now, so I want to hire somebody else. Yeah, I’m looking for a video editor. I just got screwed out of one and they owe me money and I’m going to get it. So yeah. No, I do want to hire help. I’m not like, “I need to do this all myself.” But I just got burned really bad, hiring someone. So I need to hire more people and get all this going. But yes, I do hire other people to do certain things for me, and I’m looking to hire more.
Yeah, I would say that was my biggest turning point as a business owner from where we were doing fine to doing really well, was starting to invest more and hire people. Even though, it’s super scary to trust somebody else to manage your thing for you. It’s very scary. But yeah.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:16:41):
Yeah. No, I want someone to manage all the things for me. And again, certain things happen where it’s like I can’t have certain people manage like my OnlyFans now because OnlyFans is requiring me to biometrically sign in every single time, and they won’t lift that. So yeah.
Literally, that’s my whole thing. That’s my whole thing is you just got to start.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:17:02):
No, start saving, start an investment portfolio. All the things that I’m sure you tell all your fans, “It’s scary, but just start it. It’s okay.” It feels really good. Looking at that number now where I see, “Oh, I’m putting this away every month or every week rather.” And yeah, it feels good building up that nest egg. And I think that in some respect that I don’t have a goal other than to make a million dollars this year. But I never wanted to buy a house, I wasn’t quite sure. And it’s like, I live a really nice life, so there wasn’t like, “I’m going to save for a vacation.” It’s just like, “Oh, I’m just going to go on vacation.” It’s like, “Fine.”
So I think that having that, for me, it works really well to put a certain amount away every week into my investment portfolio. And I put a certain amount away on my credit card every week because my income, a lot is coming in, but it’s not consistently coming in at the same time, at the same rate. So it’s just I’m putting away a certain amount every week. It works better for my budgeting and money flow.
Got it. Yeah, that inconsistent income is always rough, hard to navigate if you are a freelancer, if you own your own business, you have to do a lot of projecting and hoping that those projections are correct.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:18:20):
Yeah. Well, luckily for me, it’s pretty consistent on what I know I’m going to make for a month. But again, I don’t have a paycheck that drops on the first or 15th of the month, once or twice a month. If I cut it too close over the last weekend, which was for us, Labor Day. It was a holiday, it was the first of the month. So a lot of platforms delayed all their payouts. If I was counting on that money, I would’ve had a really hard time.
Last question, what’s your favorite thing about your job?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:18:51):
Oh God, everything. I’m sorry. That’s a terrible answer. But this job, it’s awesome. No, it’s great. I get to get up every day and look hot and go travel and make really good money and make people feel really happy. And my environmental imprint is pretty small. Well, except for now that I’m getting on plane more, but I get to really connect with people and make them really happy. Every interaction I have with people, it’s generally a healing, happy, sexy, fun time. And that’s awesome. I spend all day in my office making a lot of money and being endlessly complimented. And so my reality is so different from other people’s, where their business day is like, “Yeah. Well, Jim from accounting shit on me.” And like, “I had a bad day and I didn’t get promoted by a man and a Hawaiian shirt.” And I’m like, “I made lots of money and I’m going to get my nails done and get sushi. And someone called me a Goddess and I’m amazing. Okay, bye.” That’s my day and that’s real. It’s amazing.
Yeah, I know. Okay. I have so many other questions for you. I’m like, I want to talk to you forever, but I know I want to respect your time.
Mistress Justine Cross (01:20:05):
[inaudible 01:20:06] Well, we can always do a part two.
I know. Oh, part two, always. We’ll take user submitted questions. Thank yo
u so much for being here. Where can people find you? Where are your events? We’ll link it down below as well, but where can folks find you?
Mistress Justine Cross (01:20:17):
Oh, okay. Wonderful. Thank you. Yes. So please always go to my website since I control that one the most, and sign up for my newsletter and my website is losangelesdominatrix.com. You can find all of our events on losangelesbdsmevents.com. I’m also up on Gumroad. You can follow me on Instagram as thejustinecross, as well as on Twitter as Justine Plays. I’m also on TikTok as thejustinecrossagain, but maybe I’ll get my OG one back, I don’t know. But please always just make sure you’re following me on my website and signing up for that newsletter at losangelesdominatrix.com, and you’ll hear about all the good stuff. So thank you for having me, Tori.
Amazing. Thanks for being here. Thank you again to Justine for joining us. You can find out more about her and get links to her socials and classes, and I believe she does virtual classes as well. All on our show notes page. If you’re enjoying the show, do us a favor, rate, review, subscribe on your preferred podcasting platform, maybe share it with some friends. You can tag us at Financial Feminist Podcast on Instagram or at Her First $100K. And if you’re not following us there, what you doing? Get over there. We’d love to see you. It’s one of our favorite things. All right. We have more incredible episodes coming your way soon, but in the meantime, we’ll catch you later, Financial Feminist. Have a great day.
Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First $100K Podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields. Marketing and Administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alena Helzer, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning, and Ana Alexandra. Research by Ariel Johnson, Audio Engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional Graphics by Mary Stratton, Photography by Sarah Wolfe. And Theme Music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire, Her First 100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests, episode show notes, and our upcoming book also titled Financial Feminist, visit herfirst100k.com.