WARNING: Adult content
Mistress Tokyo is unapologetically frank.
Speaking before a Sexpo fetish workshop audience to news.com.au, she speaks with an almost discomforting candour about the pleasure in inflicting pain on her clients.
On stage only her face and hands are visible. Everything else — from her neck down to her feet — is encased in shiny black latex. She dons a trademark violet bob, a tight corset and thigh-high boots your toes ache just to look at.
Yet behind closed doors — or rather, a transparent cotton sheet in the back corner of Sexpo's "Fetish Room" — Mistress Tokyo is not nearly as intimidating as she appears.
"I'll be two seconds. Would you like a glass of water while you wait?" she asks.
When she returns, the fetishist brings a surprisingly intellectual element to bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM) — and explains just how tender the act can be.
WHAT DOES A DOMINATRIX ACTUALLY DO?
Handcuffs, ropes, role play and control have punctured the mainstream media this past decade, courtesy of 50 Shades of Grey.
But to Mistress Tokyo — who has been a professional dominatrix for the past 18 years — that's all bull.
"That's one of the biggest misconceptions about what I do," she says. "That it's all 50 Shades of Grey. That it's abusive. That spaces are not held with consent.
"People might ask, 'Why would we want to do this?' Well shamans have been doing this for thousands of years. People have a want and need to escape their reality."
There is little Mistress Tokyo won't do with a willing, consenting client. "Bondage, torture, invasive procedures, medical procedures, kidnapping, martial arts, latex," she rattles off like a grocery list. "Then there's things I've come to enjoy that I didn't initially understand, like golden showers. I never used to understand that, but 18 years on I have a different perspective. You don't have to love it. Just try it."
There's only two requests she's repeatedly had to turn down.
"I don't do scenes that vilify people by their ethnicity. Yeah, that's a thing," she adds, seeing my facial expression. "I will not do that.
"And I don't do scenes where people talk about people who are minors. I will not try any scenes where minors are considered or mentioned, or if I feel like there's any sort of fetishisation of people who are under or on the age of consent. Basically anyone who has pedophilic tendencies."
But where's the appeal in the laundry list of kinks she just mentioned? Why would anyone want to be flogged 'til they're literally bleeding?
"People who seek BDSM experiences are seeking some sort of release from their daily life," Mistress Tokyo explains.
She calls it a "heightened experience", and compares it with going to the gym, writing poetry or — one of her more surprising daytime hobbies — the Japanese martial art aikido.
"People are seeking an out. They want to take on different contexts, personae and they seek some sort of embodied experience."
Orgasm isn't the end-goal, she adds. "Some seek orgasmic release, sure, but some don't. For some it's just not about that.
"People want to be seen. They want to be heard. They want to be seen in that gentle state — in that altered reality — and they want to be heard as people."
BDSM can also be a way to process a period of intense emotion.
Mistress Tokyo has first-hand experience with this. Earlier this year, she suffered a period of intense emotional grief — the specifics were off the record — and desperately needed release.
She went to a dear friend and long-term "play partner" and asked him to help her. "He gave me a flogging and I had my head against the wall, and I cried and cried and cried onto the rubber floor, and he beat me," she said.
"It was exactly what I needed — what I felt in my body that I needed to process my emotion.
"And I felt great afterwards. I was washed out — replete of tears. It was wonderful."
Yes, a dominatrix can take on a submissive role, and vice versa. "You've got to know to understand."
BEING A DOMINATRIX IN THE #METOO ERA
A man is bent over on stage, presenting himself to Mistress Tokyo before an eagerly-watching audience.
"Are you ready?" she asks, before raising her palm.
"Maybe," he responds with a half-laugh.
And just like that, he's dismissed. Not a single slap fired. The man returns to his seat.
"Maybe is not yes," she later explains to me. "Maybe is a no. Maybe is basically the subject weighing up who they feel the need to please.
"If the first response is a maybe, you go with that first response. You don't upsell. I have totally pushed people during scenes into things that were challenging for them.
"But BDSM is more intricate than that — it's about getting up to that edge of the boundary without overstepping it. It's sex-art, in a way."
Enthusiastic consent. Authentic consent. Verbal consent. As the #MeToo era sees society opening up about sexual misconduct and practices ("F*** yes!" she exclaims), I'm told people can learn a lot from BDSM.
This practice, she stresses, is the opposite of sexual misconduct. Everything — no matter how violent or torturous it may seem — is consensual and carefully negotiated before the fantasy takes place.
"[A dominatrix] might hold a whip and beat another person 'til they're bleeding. But people don't see the relationship that goes into actually getting to the point where you're doing that activity," she says.
"People don't see pre-negotiations, or setting up a container that's safe. They don't see safe words being agreed upon. They don't see people asking for what they want — for a beating, for a flogging."
Despite her tendency to go off-topic — at one point we're suddenly debating private capitalism — Mistress Tokyo is acutely aware of her presence.
Every now and then, our arms graze a fraction of a centimetre. I barely notice, but she abruptly stops mid-rapid-fire-sentence to apologise for this feather-like contact.
It's a minute action that may seem out of character for a woman who beats the crap out of willing subjects for a living. But it's so ingrained in her mindset that you don't touch anyone without their consent.
"You work with agreement during the scene, and when it's done and the bubble is closed, you look back on the history of the agreement and evaluate," she says. "Did you hold the agreement? Who were you in the agreement? Can you do better? What can you learn from your experiences? BDSM is a reflective process as well."
Mistress Tokyo's closing piece of advice? If you're even the slightest bit curious about something, roll with it.
"People should consider that the messages their bodies are giving their mind have value, and should be explored," she said. "Explore anything you want to explore — even just once — going into an alternative state, a vulnerable state, having a cathartic physical experience.
"Have the bravery to even write down all the things that hold them back on a piece of paper, and then burn that piece of paper, get out there and try it once.
"Rue other people's judgment. Life is too short to be living someone else's life."