Mistress Cathryn Curtis emerges as the archetypal dominatrix: zaftig, milky-hued, clad in an all-black ensemble of elbow-length latex gloves, patent leather spike-heeled boots and a gossamer pinafore that reveals a G-string teddy underneath. Her glossed lips perpetually pout, and shoulder-length blond hair alluringly covers a good third of her face.
Under certain light, her gray eyes turn olive; eyes that, during conversation, can fasten a disarming and cogent glare. It's a stare that doubtlessly doubles as one of numerous tools she applies when pulling rank on her submissives.
Her persona varies little from villain femmes fatales in old spy movies, or Catwoman. The cultural craze for sadomasochism has infused the pop mainstream with fetish influence. International couture runways are rife with models in latex and leather; scores of MTV videos--such as Busta Rhymes with Janet Jackson and TLC--adopt the S&M mien as their own; and legions of naive Marilyn Manson kids mix Goth pretensions with corsets and harnesses.
"It's all over television, movies," Curtis says of her dominatrix image. "Everybody is wearing rubber and leather and doing the whole look. And I'm really happy about it. It makes it easier for me. When I meet people, it's easier to digest. They'll say, 'Oh, you're a dominatrix, what goes on? Do you really do that? Wow.'"
Curtis' apartment is like any other up-to-the-moment, upscale complex in Phoenix, with gated driveway, well-kept grounds and security. But her clean, wall-to-wall carpeted dig has a twist--a bedroom that doubles as a dungeon.
The "dungeon" sports the decor of any practicing BDSM (bondage, domination/discipline, sadism and masochism) buff, complete with a wall-size St. Andrew's cross, a padded bondage exam table, cage, spanking horse and adjustable lighting. The walls are lined with an array of touchy accouterments including bondage straps, posture and slave collars, neoprene and wood paddles, slappers, floggers, crops, quirts, spanking rulers, ball gags with head harnesses, a gas mask, head and face muzzles, a wig and bondage mittens. Neatly arranged on racks and shelves are multisized dildos (one measuring in at two feet in length, as big around as a softball), butt plugs, handcuffs, polished ob/gyn gear (including speculums and urethral sounds), rope, cock-and-ball and tit torture devices, various harnesses, and nipple clamps with sundry weights.
A bathroom off the dungeon provides a makeshift frolic room for water sports, complete with enema and colonic irrigation tubing and paraphernalia.
"I don't do anything that is unsafe," Curtis says while showing me the water-sports bathroom. "I don't do any kind of overt sexual acts with people I'm playing with, because I play with a lot of different people. I won't do things that personally repulse me, like scat."
"Scat" is a euphemism for an obsessive interest in feces. The scientific name is coprophilia.
Curtis is an Arizona native in her 30s who grew up in Cave Creek and was bused to high school in Phoenix. She says she became sexually active in high school.
"After two boys, I started playing with girls. And that was in my sophomore year. I'm bi, I'm just in boy mode right now."
Dan Reyes is Curtis' current boy gewgaw. He's a lissome musician sporting a shaved head and a subdued and inconspicuous presence. Nary a sound comes out of his mouth; Reyes mostly just nods his head. It is obvious who's boss in this household.
Reyes is also developing a tolerance for pain, and Curtis orders him to strip down to shorts before tying him to the St. Andrew's cross for New Times' camera.
"He's my boy," Curtis says lasciviously while roping him down. "We met at a party. We met at the Company Store in the art scene. And I was at this party, and I was really bored. I had just quit drinking, and everybody was drinking. I came home and I put on this mask, this leather muzzle. So I got my head all strapped up, and I got taken back to the party on a leash.
"I don't like to date and make out and get naked and roll around in bed, it's much too clumsy. I much prefer to meet a man, know that I am attracted to him, and want to play with him, put him into bondage and then play with him. And it doesn't have to be about getting hit and pain. It's just that erotic power exchange.
"With Dan, we had a couple dates and then he allowed me to do that. And that is very rare that I'll meet somebody like that. He turned me on a lot, so I had to go for it."