Whip Smart: A Memoir

By Lisa Kirchner in Books

One day, mulling over possible job options, college student Melissa Febos had a chat with her neighbor, a professional dominatrix. And so began a long journey of self-discovery.

In Whip Smart, Febos chronicles her four years of working at a midtown N.Y.C. dungeon, from her clueless beginning to her seasoned, even somewhat wise, end. Sessions with clients are described in explicit, unshrinking detail, from required accoutrements, to clients specific kinks, and more. She also explains what made some sessions transcendent or simply great fun and others unbearable. Folded into the dominatrix narrative is another story about Febos longstanding drug addiction, which played a significant role in her domming work. Her self-assuredness sometimes ventures into annoying cockiness, and the book occasionally feels more like a journal than a polished final product. But overall, Whip Smart is an illuminating read, as Febos strives to take a bluntly honest look at both the world of commodified kink, and herself.

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