Last year I had a chat to American Playboy about one of my favourite activities, erotic mummification. Here's the interview in full.
A look inside a rare fetish that’s gotten a bad wrap..
Domina Fatale, an Australian-based professional dominatrix who prefers to go by her stage name, takes her time setting the mood. The sounds of neo-classical instrumental music bounce off of the dungeon walls, which are illuminated by soft light. The serene space is gently heated so that her client, a 6’5” man she endearingly calls her “rubber slave,” feels comfortable in the nude as she swathes him from head to toe, taking away his ability to move inch by inch. As his darling nickname suggests, he’s not here to get a seaweed wrap. Instead, his catsuit-wearing mistress will mummify him in sheets of plastic, duct tape and, of course, rubber.
Mummification — an extreme form of bondage in which someone is mostly or completely restrained to resemble a mummy using a variety of materials — may seem far from spa-like. But for some, the experience is as therapeutic as getting a facial. “I want people to come into the dungeon and leave feeling better,” Domina Fatale, who started her career in counseling, tells Playboy. “The ultimate goal is to have some sort of transformative experience, some sort of cathartic experience. In particular with mummification, that can be achieved through different means but, ultimately, you want that endorphins release.”
She explains there are three main types of play: sensory, in which the experience can be playful and sexy or tortuous and painful (her favorite); edge play, in which people push themselves to more dangerous limits through breath play or the introduction of hazardous objects like knives; and therapeutic, in which people enter a more meditative state through sensory deprivation.
In Bend, Oregon, 40-year bondage veteran Dale Beaumont explores this third option by removing sex from the equation completely. Beaumont spent his childhood and early adulthood trying to find a way to calm his overly active mind and body. He explains the symptoms as similar to ADHD, though that diagnosis wasn’t around when he was a kid, and he was still years away from learning about Dr. Temple Grandin’s “hug” and “squeeze” machines. The closest thing he could find was bondage, and he dove head-first into the BDSM community. “I saw the power of the sexuality of it,” he tells Playboy. But as he grew older, Beaumont realized he needed something more. “This has been something that’s been a desire of mine,” he adds. “This restriction, not being able to move, basically, just having a safe place that I can relax because sitting still to me is an effort, and it takes energy.”
I want people to come into the dungeon and leave feeling better. In particular with mummification, that can be achieved through different means but, ultimately, you want that endorphins release.
Unsatisfied with the current offerings, Beaumont created his own business, Happy Place Reset, that specializes in what he calls “adult swaddling.” “It’s like a massage without a happy ending,” he explains, adding that by removing the word “bondage,” he could better appeal to people outside the kink community. Unlike the adult swaddling craze sweeping Japan that primarily uses cloth, Beaumont incorporates familiar BDSM elements into his practice. His collection includes pallet wrap, tape, rubber suits, sleep sacks, hoods, and restraints, all of which he uses on people to help them achieve a sense of peace by cutting off all feeling to the outside world. Each session can last anywhere between two hours and multiple days, depending on the person’s experience level (and willingness to insert a catheter).
Of course, some people rely on kink to help them reach a sexual and spiritual nirvana. That’s where professionals like Domina Fatale and a Colorado-based FemDomme, who goes by the moniker Princess Devi, excel. Just as Domina Fatale loves “tormenting” her submissives with electro-stimulation and nipple torture, Princess Devi likes to explore the riskier sides of sensory play. A quick scroll through her Twitter feed yields dozens of photos and clips of her tormenting her “slaves” by stepping her needle-thin stilettos onto their balls or pegging them with eight-inch dildos. Sometimes, she’ll even claw or “cane them bloody.” “It’s a weird feeling of caring for someone but also owning them in a way,” Princess Devi says. “You know you can now manipulate them in more delicate ways because they’re in a compromising position.”
The mummification process and subsequent play can last for hours and can be equally as pleasurable for the mistresses. “I’ll get a lot out of the actual application of the mummification, so for me, it’s also a therapeutic experience in that the materials that you use can be time-consuming,” Domina Fatale explains. “It can be quite repetitive and cyclical… like a meditation. I get a high from it, from that perspective, as well as, hopefully, my client getting a high.”
I saw the power of the sexuality of it. This restriction, not being able to move, basically, just having a safe place that I can relax…It’s like a massage without a happy ending.
As fun as it may be for those who indulge, mummification isn’t without its risks. Last fall, UCLA professor Doran George died in a tragic mummification accident at prominent Hollywood executive and longtime BDSM master Skip Chasey’s Los Angeles home. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chasey, who practiced bondage for decades, fastened a metal lock around George’s neck and secured a chastity belt around his penis before wrapping him in plastic and tape. Two hours later, Chasey found George lifeless on the floor. Coroners found no signs of foul play and determined the cause a “sudden death during recreational mummification bondage.”
Both Domina Fatale and Princess Devi understand the potential for these dangers and believe safety is paramount in any kind of dungeon play. They establish safe words—or physical cues, if the sub is completely masked or wrapped—with their clients before they even think about tearing off the first piece of cling wrap. “I’m always very conscious of reassuring them that they’re safe and that there’s avenues of escape,” Domina Fatale says. “As I always say to people, the fantasy can be very different from the reality. So, at any time when you want to opt out, all you do is say so, and we’re done, and there’s no shame in that.”
Reassuring clients of their safety can be harder to do for those who get off on the danger and don’t want to be reminded that they’re safe. “It’s kind of like the proverbial clothing tag peeking out of your shirt, you know, it ruins the image a little bit,” Princess Devi explains. Still, establishing trust in a dom-sub relationship is critical to Princess Devi—and her clients would agree that when she’s happy, they’re happy. “Emotionally, there’s a big gratification from receiving that sort of trust from someone,” she adds. “When I have someone in a compromised position, I think often, ‘This person has trusted me with their whole life.’… Like, people would feel okay saying, ‘Yes, take everything from me and have what you will at the moment. I’m yours to do with what you want and please.’ Those are really powerful words to hear.”
Private dungeon or at-home mummification sessions don’t run cheap. Beaumont’s starting price is $199 for two hours, and depending on how adventurous you’d like to get in the dungeon, the cost could skyrocket. But when you consider that Americans spend approximately $14.7 billion a year on services like massage and acupuncture—and that doesn’t even include the $650 penis facials or $1,900 vampire facials loved by celebrities—is mummification really so strange? Hey, whatever gets you off—or, you know, doesn’t.