From Dominatrix to College Professor

In this episode of Queer Voices I talk to Dr. Chris Belcher about her new book Pretty Baby – A Memoir, released in July 2022 by Simon & Schuster. You can listen to the episode here.

About the Author

Chris Belcher is a writer, professor, and former sex worker. She completed a PhD in English at the University of Southern California, where she is now Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Writing and Gender Studies. Under her working name, Natalie West, she edited the acclaimed anthology We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival. Born and raised in West Virginia, she now lives in Los Angeles.

About the Book

The dominatrix is the id of American femininity. She says the words that we all wish we could say when we find ourselves frozen in the presence of men. No is principal among them.

So writes Chris Belcher, who appeared destined for a life of conventional femininity after she took first place in an infant beauty contest—a minor glory that can follow you around a working-class town of 1,600 people in rural West Virginia. But when she came out as queer, the conservative community that had once celebrated its prettiest baby turned on her.

A decade later, living in Los Angeles and trying to stay afloat in the early years of a PhD program, Belcher plunges into the work of a pro domme. Branding herself as LA’s Renowned Lesbian Dominatrix, she specializes in male clients who want a domme to make them feel worthless, shameful, and weak—all the abuse regularly heaped upon women for free. A queer woman whom men can trust with the unorthodox sides of their sexualities, Belcher is paid to be the keeper of the fantasies that they can’t enact in their everyday relationships. But moonlighting as a sex worker also carries risks, like the not-so-submissive who tries to turn the tables and the jealous client out for revenge.

As Belcher moves between the embodied world of the pro domme and the abstract realm of academia, she discovers how lessons from the classroom apply to the dungeon, and vice versa. Still, fear that her doctoral program won’t approve burdens her with a double life. Pretty Baby is her second coming out.

In this sharp and discerning memoir, we see through Belcher’s eyes how power and desire can be renegotiated—or reinforced.

M

© All Rights Reserved

Morris Ardoin’s book, STONE MOTEL – MEMOIRS of a CAJUN BOY can be purchased through the publisher, on the independent bookseller website Indibound, or on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other booksellers, and is also available as an audiobook on Audible.

3 thoughts on “From Dominatrix to College Professor

  1. Hi Morris,

    Another interesting podcast.

    One of your podcasts that I really enjoyed was with Alecia P. Long. I have just finished reading her two terrific books: The Great Southern Babylon and Cruising for Conspirators. Her next book is to be about my dear friend Peter Patout and the scandal that erupted around him when he was wrongly accused and sent to prison for commissioning thieves to steal from New Orleans cemeteries. I considered writing a book about Peter and his troubles, then realized I could either write the book or continue my career as an art dealer, but did not have time nor energy for both. The work I did ended up as one chapter,” Stealing Angels,” in my forthcoming memoir. I did make tapes of Peter talking about the experience and just sent them to Alecia, who is also a close friend of Peter.

    I also wanted to tell you about gay author John Copenhaver, cousin of my husband, also named John Copenhaver. I have loved both his books, mysteries set in D.C. and Virginia. His last, The Savage Kind, just won the Lambda Literary Prize for best gay mystery. He is a very talented writer and teacher and I am sure he would be a lively and interesting interviewee. Here is a link to his website: John Copenhaver https://johncopenhaver.com/

    I hope that you had a good summer. We had just enough rain this summer and the corn, cantaloupes, and peaches have been exceptionally delicious. I made your aunt’s maque choux and it was a huge hit with John.

    But now we are more than ready for autumn.

    All best, Joel

    I

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the update, Joel! I am hoping to get back to a more routine schedule of podcast output – my cohost and I took a summer break – and are back at it. Glad you enjoyed it! And bring on autumn!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.