EP 28

EP 28

Barbieland is like the dungeon where women are in charge. Explore the life of a pro domme with Mistress Hera as she discusses the importance of consent, vetting clients and her own unique experiences.

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Guest Bio

Mistress Hera (she/her) is a 28 year old Professional Dominatrix born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL that has been practicing sex work for 10 years and opened her independent dungeon in Pittsburgh, PA in 2015. With a background in Anthropolgy and Global Gender studies at university, Mistress Hera is able to guide you to understand and accept a greater sense of your proclivities and self. A sensual and sadistic combination of fetish facilitator, shame liberator, and queer exhibitionist she’s prepared to bring the south Florida heat.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pghdominatrix/


[00:00:08] Wicked Wren Hello people, and welcome to the Shibari Study Podcast. I'm your host, Wicked Wren. Shibari Study is an online learning resource offering video tutorials for beginners through advanced practitioners. Whether you're brand new to the world of shibari and needing to learn the basics, or a seasoned rigger or rope bottom seeking inspiration to push your practice to new places, there's something for you at shibaristudy.com. Today, I have on Mistress Hera. Her pronouns are she/her. She's a (…) in Pittsburgh, vegan, a bunch of awesome things. 

[00:00:43] Mistress Hera Hello, Wicked Wren! I'm really excited to be on this podcast today. 

[00:00:48] Wicked Wren I'm happy to have you. You're a really fascinating person. I'm excited to talk to you. 

[00:00:52] Mistress Hera Shucks! Thank you so much. Um, it's really exciting to get recognized for anything in this industry. Frankly, that's positive. And I'm...

[00:01:02] Wicked Wren Yes, also the use of shucks. I really, really like that. 

[00:01:06] Mistress Hera You know, I don't know how to respond to a lot of people. And shucks is really an all-encompassing response. 

[00:01:14] Wicked Wren It really, it kind of says everything in one word, doesn't it? 

[00:01:18] Mistress Hera Indeed. 

[00:01:20] Wicked Wren So before we started recording, you were telling me that you're from Miami, and then you unleashed some of the most fascinating facts about yourself. 

[00:01:30] Mistress Hera Um, yes, I am from Miami. I actually – Fort Lauderdale. I was born and raised in South Florida area generally, which is a pretty (…) place. I think the humidity in Florida, really, I don't know, makes people a little weird. 

[00:01:47] Wicked Wren Yeah, it's kind of a joke at this point, but Florida is kind of a goofy place. I went to college in Florida. I really liked my time there. You were telling me that your mom was in the (…) scene in Florida. 

[00:02:01] Mistress Hera That's correct. So because it's been around for decades, my mom, a dominant woman, was part of the (…) scene for a long time. I don't know exactly how long. 

[00:02:17] Wicked Wren I mean, that's pretty awesome. I don't know anyone that has that story that their parents were in the (…) scene and really cool and like let them know that. Let their kids know that. 

[00:02:28] Mistress Hera Right? Um, yeah. I'm like a second-generation (…). Maybe even more because, my grandmother did tell me that her grandmother was also a (…), so I think it runs in my blood. 

[00:02:42] Wicked Wren There you go. Growing up, did your parents talk about (…) and things like that? 

[00:02:48] Mistress Hera Yes. My mom was very sex-positive, which I'm so fortunate that she was. Even though at the time, I was really embarrassed. She would talk about periods in front of my friends because she was worried that they didn't get those talks and that they might not have, because sex education and the public schools in Florida is pretty much nonexistent. 

[00:03:11] Wicked Wren Yeah, it's just really cool and heartwarming to hear that. It's just not people's upbringings. I didn't have that, and I really wish I would have. 

[00:03:22] Mistress Hera Right. I have like little snippets of it here and there, but a lot of people haven't. And then the fact that some, that a lot of people did get is, it just scratches the surface and it's drowned in like religion a lot of the time. 

[00:03:41] Wicked Wren And again, misogyny and...

[00:03:44] Mistress Hera Just corrupt, right?

[00:03:45] Wicked Wren Yeah. So was your mom, is your mom like a (…)? Do you know any of this? You said she's a dominant woman, and I'm just curious. 

[00:03:54] Mistress Hera She – I don't know her, how she identifies herself in the (…) realm, but she's definitely a dominant woman. She just takes charge. She taught me growing up that, you know, not to rely or depend on a man because you can't. 

[00:04:13] Wicked Wren Yeah. 

[00:04:15] Mistress Hera And so, I've always been really independent. I am a first-born child also. So I think that might have contributed to my... 

[00:04:26] Wicked Wren Yeah, that really does it. 

[00:04:28] Mistress Hera The way I carved the path. 

[00:04:30] Wicked Wren You were also saying that you were Tumblr famous. 

[00:04:33] Mistress Hera Oh, dear. Like, that term makes me cringe a little bit. 

[00:04:36] Wicked Wren I understand. But I think it... So Tumblr comes up on the Shibari Study podcast like every other episode, because most people's intro to shibari is through Tumblr. 

[00:04:48] Mistress Hera Right? And I think that perhaps might have been even like part of my intro to (…) as well, because it was, you know, (…) is banned there now, I think. Or maybe it's unbanned. Who knows? But, yeah, that was an interesting intro. I had to (…) because I was a teenager on Tumblr, and then I grew into an adult on Tumblr. 

[00:05:13] Wicked Wren Yeah. That's a pretty hard place to grow up. 

[00:05:18] Mistress Hera Oh, it was so hard. Yeah, it was... Some weird things happened, but I'm glad that ultimately I left that platform and that my Instagram that had, you know, so many followers got deleted because I am not... I don't know if that life was meant for me. 

[00:05:41] Wicked Wren Yeah, it is a really hard thing with Instagram because you grow all this stuff and you post pictures and you're trying to treat it like Tumblr, and it just doesn't function that way, especially for (…). I think it's in some cases it kind of deletes a lot of history of people, especially trans people, because a lot of that is like how they're documenting journeys and stuff. 

[00:06:06] Mistress Hera Absolutely. Like, any like LGBT or high-risk community, POC, you know, how targeted (…) are in general, but, you know, being intersectional about it, you know, black workers, (…) get targeted so much more than I do, and they're so much more at risk than I am. Uh, I'm sorry. This is emotional. 

[00:06:29] Wicked Wren Yeah. 

[00:06:30] Mistress Hera So I feel like I need to use my privilege to... Oh, my God, I'm getting choked up. I'm sorry. I need to use my privilege to help them. So it's it's scary out here, and we're the only ones that will protect each other because the government won't. And the police won't. 

[00:06:47] Wicked Wren It's a pretty amazing community in that because it has to be about keeping each other safe. 

[00:06:54] Mistress Hera And I think a lot of like baby (…) are able to understand the risks because they hear about, you know, you can make a lot of money and fast, fast cash, but, you know, high risk, high reward. 

[00:07:09] Wicked Wren Yeah. Well, we should talk about safety a little bit. 

[00:07:12] Mistress Hera Totally. 

[00:07:12] Wicked Wren What are some things that maybe you implement now? 

[00:07:16] Mistress Hera Right. So I have... My clients, when they come into the dungeon, I have them write their name on a piece of paper. And, you know, that is just in case. Like if something really bad were to happen, like, their fingerprints are in the dungeon. 

[00:07:37] Wicked Wren Yeah. 

[00:07:37] Mistress Hera  I do take a lot of safety precautions vetting my clients. That is the most important process and probably the most difficult thing to explain. 

[00:07:50] Wicked Wren Yeah. I hate to ask this because you just said it's difficult to explain, but vetting is really hard. And this comes up a lot on this podcast because everyone exists as usernames. And like you were saying earlier, we get deleted. And also cancellations are a big thing, but those don't really work because people just make new profiles. They move and we can't keep up with everything going on. Could you talk maybe for about one technique vetting? 

[00:08:24] Mistress Hera Okay. I think you can learn a lot about simply the way someone fills out an application. The words they use to try and express their desires and the words they use, how they treat me in that email. There's definitely certain red flags to look out for and language to look out for. 

[00:08:47] Wicked Wren Yeah. Yeah, like treating you as a dispenser of (…) instead of a human being or something. 

[00:08:56] Mistress Hera Right. And there definitely are like submissive (…) who I think being submissive is hot, so they want to do it, but they're not. They're more like switches. 

[00:09:08] Wicked Wren Do you feel like working with someone that is a switch in that way is a little bit, I don't want to say harder, but maybe more that you have to feel out. 

[00:09:21] Mistress Hera Yes. So actually, a lot of (…) won't take clients that are switches, but I do. But I do because I really enjoy a challenge. I love someone to be difficult. And yeah, I love disciplining them for being difficult. 

[00:09:38] Wicked Wren I think there's a difference between being difficult and being disrespectful. You were talking about power dynamics and the imbalance of what happens inside of your dungeon and what happens in the world, and I would be so fascinated to hear you talk about that a little bit.

[00:09:57] Mistress Hera Yeah. I think I saw the Barbie movie this weekend and I was like, Wow, it's, you know, the Barbieland is kind of like the dungeon where women are in charge. 

[00:10:08] Wicked Wren That's amazing. 

[00:10:11] Mistress Hera The outside world, it's, you know, misogynistic man. Ken world. 

[00:10:15] Wicked Wren Yes. God, that is so amazing. 

[00:10:20] Mistress Hera Yeah. So I get to welcome everyone to Barbie Land. And Barbie Land is a safe sanctuary where I can keep their secrets and they can express themselves safely, because practicing (…) alone can be dangerous. 

[00:10:37] Wicked Wren That's such a fascinating thing to think about. Has being a (…) change the way that you interact with the world? Like the bank or the grocery store and things like that?

[00:10:48] Mistress Hera No, I, I work really hard to try to stay humble and not be an (…). There's a thing in our community called (…)-itis and it's basically (…) that are stuck in (…) mode 24/7.

[00:11:06] Wicked Wren Yeah. 

[00:11:07] Mistress Hera Like they aren't...

[00:11:11] Wicked Wren Insufferable to me. 

[00:11:13] Mistress Hera Right? They're, they're not. They're difficult. They are just, maybe they've been doing it so long that they don't realize. But I feel like in this industry or this line of (…), because you're worshiped constantly and all the time, you have to keep yourself in check. 

[00:11:31] Wicked Wren Yeah. 

[00:11:32] Mistress Hera And in reality. And like, because you can, I don't know, you can get lost, I think. 

[00:11:39] Wicked Wren You seem to be very real on social media, and your persona is like you, it feels like. Which is very cool because a lot of times (…) do pick a persona. And we all do that in life. If you're (…) or you're a construction worker, everyone picks a persona they want to put on that day. But did you feel like when you were getting into (…) work that you had to like pick some certain thing and be it. And was there some kind of arc where you started just kind of being more chill in yourself? 

[00:12:20] Mistress Hera No, I never felt that way. But I've always been weird, and excited to explore. And when I became a... When I started (…) work, I had already been doing (…) because of Tumblr. You know, I started posting like (…) online. And then I started, I got like a sugar daddy. And then I started doing escort work, and then I realized that really wasn't for me. So I started doing (…) work. 

[00:12:53] Wicked Wren That makes sense. Can you tell me about the negotiation that you have with clients? Because I'm sure it's very refined after doing it for a while and like learning and stuff. 

[00:13:06] Mistress Hera Yes, yes, I have a packet at the beginning of a session because it's important that I know a lot of things about the client. I need to know their history of (…) in like their personal life. I need to know if this is their first session with a (…), and I need to know their levels of interest in bondage. Levels of interest in pain if any. Levels of interest in verbal (…). Because not everyone wants to be (…). Some people want to feel good or a relief. 

[00:13:46] Wicked Wren Yeah, yeah. Weird, right? 

[00:13:48] Mistress Hera That's right. So that's...  Thing I have to ask about health concerns. If people are taking Viagra or Cialis, if they have high blood pressure. There's a lot of aspects that I need to be aware of to like properly design a session for someone because it's kind of like a collaboration. 

[00:14:11] Wicked Wren Absolutely. I think that that's something that a lot of people don't realize that it is a collaboration. 

[00:14:18] Mistress Hera Yes. Yeah. I tell my subs, I'm like, Oh, it's kind of like an art piece, you know, we're making an art piece together, and it might not go the way you planned, but it'll be, it'll be magical. 

[00:14:31] Wicked Wren Yeah. What are some things that make good collaborators? 

[00:14:34] Mistress Hera Someone that's a good listener. Someone that's good at asking questions. Curious. 

[00:14:42] Wicked Wren Yeah. It sounds like someone that's open to experiencing a lot of different things. 

[00:14:48] Mistress Hera Yeah. I also really love an enthusiastic sub because part of consent that's really important to me is enthusiastic consent. And so when I have a sub, you know, I want to know they're having a good time. So I tell each of my clients, and this is one of the last things I tell them. I'm like, you know, , if you could give me a smile or a grin or a moan or a twitch, a squirm, anything to let me know that you're having a good time. And the, the consent is still enthusiastic and there like that is what I like. And that's what I like in a session and, you know, enjoy the reactions of people. 

[00:15:36] Wicked Wren You said the last thing you tell them. And did you mean the last thing you tell them in your negotiation? Oh, yeah. Do you feel like it's important to leave them with the most important thing? Do you put that at the end for a reason? 

[00:15:51] Mistress Hera Not, not really. I, you know, just get, get to every point. And be as thorough as I can because the more I know about someone, the better I can, you know, better I can, you know, experiment with them and know what to pick and choose based on what they think they're interested in or know they're interested in. 

[00:16:09] Wicked Wren That makes sense. I feel like reading people is a big part of your job. And yes, doesn't always mean yes. It can mean a million different kinds of yes, whereas no generally means no. No feels very finite, whereas yes can be a maybe. There's a million different kinds of yeses. 

[00:16:32] Mistress Hera Right? Yeah. 

[00:16:33] Wicked Wren Do you find that sometimes people might say yes to something and you're still a little bit hesitant on why they might be saying yes. Did they feel pressure to say yes, that kind of thing? 

[00:16:46] Mistress Hera I can usually tell based on the way someone is talking to me. And usually people are very nervous. So nervous they can be visibly shaking upon arrival. So a big part of this is de-escalation. And, you know, calming these people down because they're very nervous. And when you're nervous, it affects, you know, your body and muscle. It's going to affect the experience and the decision-making certainly. 

[00:17:21] Wicked Wren Can you tell me about some of the de-escalation stuff you do? 

[00:17:26] Mistress Hera So when a sub walks in, I give them a hug. I'm like, How, you know, how are you feeling? You're, they're, you know, they're nervous. I'm like, I give them a hug. I tell them we're going to make magic. It's gonna be a funny kind of magic, you know, there's sometimes bloopers. You know, they always edit the bloopers out of out of (…), but (…) are some of the best parts. 

[00:17:56] Wicked Wren Yes, yes. Do you feel like when people come in and they don't know about you're referencing like the bloopers of a real life (…) scene? Do those things kind of catch them off guard, or do they like it and kind of laugh and stuff? 

[00:18:13] Mistress Hera I  think it really just depends on the person. I think a lot of people – for some subs get so embarrassed when their body doesn't react the way that they think it's going to. But I think those instances are so entertaining and amusing for me. I'm like, I love reactions and noises and fluids. Like the weirder, the better. And I try to tell people, you know, I've been doing this (…) for ten years, so I've seen a lot of weird things. And usually there's not much that surprises me anymore. But still, I'm yet, I am always surprised all the time. 

[00:18:57] Wicked Wren Yes.  feel like that's like the fun part of the job. 

[00:19:01] Mistress Hera Oh my God. And it is so much fun. I feel really fortunate to have something I feel so passionate about and that I love to do. 

[00:19:10] Wicked Wren Yeah, you're (…) style, if you will. What kind of stuff do you really like as a dominant? 

[00:19:19] Mistress Hera Oh, okay. I like examining my specimens, you know. Just kind of giving them a rush of like, like, checking them out, but like physically. I want to, you know, kind of like, objectify them, and make them feel very submissive. So I start off slow, and, you know, I'd ease into it. What else I like to do as a dominant, I like (…) play, I love bondage, I love – Oh, my God.  Let's get started. I love electric play. (…). Any – I mean, yeah. I mean really... Role play. I love acting. Like, the weirder the role play, the better, too. I did the most absolutely unhinged role play last year. 

[00:20:15] Wicked Wren Well, you know, I have to ask what you did. 

[00:20:18] Mistress Hera Oh, my God, if I can even like explain this correctly. So the sub wanted me to be like a schoolgirl at first, so kind of like submissive. I was like, Okay, this is different. And he was like, but wait, you turn into a Catwoman vigilante superhero that has karate, like secret karate-chopping powers, right? And wait, he, the man, the sub is playing a frat boy henchman type. And that is the exact term he described himself as. 

[00:20:58] Wicked Wren Wow, wow. 

[00:20:59] Mistress Hera And he is, he is avenging someone because my boyfriend beat up his person, and he's like avenging them. He's like, trying to have a battle scene with me, basically. 

[00:21:15] Wicked Wren Wow. 

[00:21:16] Mistress Hera So that's kind of his persona and then that's mine. And so with my karate-chopping powers now, I would, I would use them to hit him only, only in the balls between his crotch. 

[00:21:31] Wicked Wren Of course. 

[00:21:31] Mistress Hera He only wanted to be hit in the crotch. 

[00:21:33] Wicked Wren Of course. Of course. Of course. 

[00:21:34] Mistress Hera Yeah. So the most...

[00:21:37] Wicked Wren Go on. Sorry. 

[00:21:38] Mistress Hera And the most fun part about, about this was how, how into it he was. So like, when I would karate chop him in the balls, he would like fly across the room. He'd be so dramatic about it. And so that made me get into it more. 

[00:21:56] Wicked Wren That's amazing. 

[00:21:59] Mistress Hera So we were like chasing each other around the dungeon with like karate chopping and some wrestling moves a little bit. 

[00:22:09] Wicked Wren How did you... Go on. Sorry.

[00:22:11] Mistress Hera So essentially he was getting dominated by a Catwoman vigilante with karate-chopping powers. 

[00:22:18] Wicked Wren Holy (…). Have you seen this – 

[00:22:21] Mistress Hera I had the transformation, though, remember? Because I was a schoolgirl at first, and that is a very important detail. 

[00:22:26] Wicked Wren It is actually super important to get that in there. This is –. 

[00:22:29] Yeah, yeah, it's important for the Catwoman arc that, you know, she went through.

[00:22:39] Mistress Hera Yeah. That was, that was just so, that really blew my mind. It was amazing. 

[00:22:46] Wicked Wren Did you see this person before, or is this a first time? 

[00:22:50] Mistress Hera No. And that was, that was actually the one and only time I saw that person. 

[00:22:56] Wicked Wren It's so funny because like I had a session where this guy wanted me to roleplay the Jim Carrey movie The Mask and the concept. So the concept was that the mask would get put on my face and I could do anything. I could grow (…) with my hands. I could... and like, so each finger would be a (…) and they could like fly in and out of his ears. And it was, it was, it was cool. 

[00:23:23] Mistress Hera So exciting. 

[00:23:24] Wicked Wren It was really fun. But when we started talking about it, I was like, you're (…) with me. And I was like, there's no way in (…), I'm going to do this because I don't think you're serious about it. But he was wildly serious about it and it made it so fun. And it's the most fun roleplay I've ever done in my life. And I think about it all the time. 

[00:23:47] Mistress Hera Oh my gosh, I love to hear that. And that is a great movie, so I'm glad it was a good reference. 

[00:23:55] Wicked Wren Yes. Because like, be weird and like say what you want and advocate for the things you want and it's going to get you such a better experience. 

[00:24:04] Mistress Hera Oh my gosh. 

[00:24:05] Wicked Wren You know. 

[00:24:06] Mistress Hera Well, yeah. Yeah. No totally I, I love, you know, finding community and talking to like-minded people. And I think this job just has... brings in the most interesting people I've ever met. 

[00:24:21] Wicked Wren What do you think the most rewarding parts of being a (…) are? 

[00:24:26] Mistress Hera Oh, my God, there's so many rewarding parts. Being a secret keeper or just being told things, but people have never said out loud before. It's really special. I feel so like privileged to, you know, have this... Share this moment with these people, and help them, you know, liberate themself from the shame that these (…) have probably given them. Because I live in a relatively conservative state and, you know, a lot of people haven't experienced anything (…) related before. 

[00:25:06] Wicked Wren Yeah, that's a really interesting thought. Yeah, yeah, you're probably the first time that they're being able to say like, Hey, I like to get beaten up or whatever. 

[00:25:18] Mistress Hera Yeah, absolutely. So that's really special. I mean, I... My, my subs are so happy after the session, it's very easy for me to just see how, how rewarding it is usually. And then they're, you know, good subs are so grateful and so thankful. And I have one of my regulars tells me, like, every day. I like to think we all are making a difference and, you know, being the difference we want to see. But, you know, just doing that is a big deal. 

[00:25:49] Wicked Wren Yeah. So you use rope in your sessions. And earlier you were saying that you use it in a kind of inclusive way, if that makes sense. 

[00:25:59] Mistress Hera Right. So rope is a great form of bondage. And when it comes to bondage and (…), (…), especially from retail stores aren't the most inclusive. There's not many sizes, so rope can fit anyone. Yeah. It can be used for tying anyone to anything of any size. It can be very versatile. And not every tool can be versatile. 

[00:26:30] Wicked Wren The way you're using rope, it's really cool to hear because it's kind of the opposite conversation that happens within the rope scene. 

[00:26:39] Mistress Hera Wow, that's wild. I'm always pretty constantly disappointed in every (…) that is out there. I mean, (…) like you really get what you pay for, right? So you have to spend money and you don't have to... I mean, rope is cheaper and it's more accessible, and I think that's really important for (…). I think I love home Depot (…). Any, you know, buying... You can get plenty of (…) supplies way cheaper at Home Depot because they don't add whatever women taxes they do at (…).

[00:27:16] Wicked Wren Yes. Well, I think it's funny that this podcast started with Tumblr and then is ending with Home Depot (…) because, let's be honest, they're kind of cousins. 

[00:27:25] Mistress Hera They go hand in hand. They, they know each other and they go out for lunch. 

[00:27:28] Wicked Wren Yes, they do go out to lunch. 

[00:27:31] Mistress Hera The same kind of person. 

[00:27:32] Wicked Wren We never forget our roots here. 

[00:27:34] Mistress Hera Oh, yeah. I mean, they – I think they made me really tough. Like, no one could tell... Like anything anyone said, I just had to not let it affect me. 

[00:27:45] Wicked Wren Yes, exactly. I feel like that's a good thing. And then you became a (…), and now no one can say anything to you. Where can people find you if they want to connect with you?

[00:27:58] Mistress Hera Yeah. So I have a website called Hera's Dungeon. It's my name. Herasdungeon.com. I have an OF. My OF username is humanperformances and my Twitter... That came from my first Instagram. I'm on my fifth. 

[00:28:22] Wicked Wren Wow. 

[00:28:23] Mistress Hera Yeah. So that was my first Instagram username. And it was from a song. 

[00:28:30] Wicked Wren What song? 

[00:28:31] Wicked Wren It's, it's a song by Gizem which is kind of a niche type of music. 

[00:28:38] Wicked Wren All the Gizen fans out there really, really loving that reference. And then you said your Twitter before I cut you off with my...

[00:28:47] Wicked Wren Yeah, my Twitter is @pghdominatrix. 

[00:28:52] Wicked Wren Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being on. This is really insightful and learned a lot. You're a fascinating human being. 

[00:29:01] Mistress Hera Likewise. And I'm happy to talk to someone like-minded that makes me feel really comfortable and asks relevant and insightful questions rather than rude ones. 

[00:29:11] Oh my God, thank you so much. It's really helping my praise (…). This is why I do this. 

[00:29:16] Wicked Wren Oh, my god. I love praise (…) like, Uh, validation or reformation. Yes.

[00:29:24] Wicked Wren Send me the invoice. I feel like I need to pay you for that. 


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