‘Whip Smart’: A Story of Dark Fantasies


Discover the secret and dark side of the life of a sexual dominatrix through the voice of Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart: The true story of a secret life. Melissa shares the power struggles she had with her self as she wandered into the deep psychological work, that is played out in a sex dungeon. She tells an honest story of the mix of power, curiosity and impoverishment that was generated by the secrecy imposed by her life choices. Her shocking double life is not nearly as remarkable as the naked vulnerability she shares about her descent and recovery. This interview will change the way you think about the darkest fantasies of human sexuality.

Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), about her career as a professional dominatrix, which Kirkus Reviews said, “Expertly captures grace within depravity.” She has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Anderson Cooper’s daytime show, and the cover of the New York Post, among many other national publications. Her writing has been published and anthologized widely, in venues such as Glamour, Hunger Mountain, Salon, Dissent, The Southeast Review, ReDivider, The Brooklyn Rail, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Bitch Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, and on The Nervous Breakdown , where she regularly blogs. For five years, she has co-curated and hosted the popular Mixer Reading and Music Series at Cake Shop in Manhattan. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she has taught writing at SUNY Purchase College, The New School, NYU, and Sarah Lawrence, and is currently Assistant Professor at Utica College. A 2010 & 2011 MacDowell Colony fellow, she speaks widely, and splits her time between Brooklyn and Clinton, NY. She is currently at work on a novel.

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Linda F.
.3 years ago

thanks Mit W. you gave me a smile

Dana W.
Dana W.3 years ago

I applaud Melissa for having the courage to write openly about her life and a lifestyle that many can't comprehend or identify with. Perhaps if people read her book with an open mind without prejudging they may learn something.

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

Very interesting! Who doesn't have dark fantasies..?

Angela N.
Angela N.3 years ago

Thank you!

Samantha Shira
Samantha Shira3 years ago


Mandi A.
Amanda Adams3 years ago


William K.
William K.3 years ago

Sounds like an interesting book.

Paige DeBoer
Paige DeBoer3 years ago

Jane, saying in your ignorance that this is a perversion and sickness because no on LIKES pain is about the same as an ignorant person saying two men can't like each other- they aren't MADE for each other, so after all that must be sick and perverted when they do.
Think before you type.

Mit Wes
Mit Wes3 years ago

This reminds me of that Eurythmic's song, "Sweet Dreams". Of course, i'm showing my age now.

Patricia G.
Patricia G.3 years ago