Week after week, obsessive Mad Men fans call up retired advertising veterans, fashion historians, and businessmen to suss out what it was really like back in the sixites. But when Don Draper, the son of a prostitute, shockingly ended up getting slapped by an escort wearing a red bullet bra in the season-four premiere, did anyone think to call up a dominatrix and get her take on the scene's verisimilitude? Why yes, in fact: Vulture did. The scene raised so many questions: Does Don need a domme? And do dominatrices get to abuse guys as luscious and successful as Don Draper? On the eve of the prostitute's return in episode three, airing this Sunday, we asked professional dominatrix Mistress Pixie to help us understand some of what Don Draper may be in for. Now sit the fuck down and pay attention, slaves!!!
The slapping sex scene takes place on Thanksgiving day. Would you ever work on Thanksgiving?
Fuck yeah, could care less. Money is money.
This woman on the show, who is not a domme but an escort, mentions her family briefly. Do you ever offer any details of your personal life?
Not too much info in the beginning, but yes, after a few sessions, they like to talk; they become like friends, sort of. And they talk about themselves; it's like therapy.
This woman seems to be offering a little S&M along with sex. What do you think about that and do most dommes ever mix sex with domme work?
No, never. You never cross that line. A real domme never has sex with a client.
What if he's as adorable as Don Draper?
You never have sex, ever; you never cross that line. At least I don't — most don't. But it does annoy us when escorts also advertise themselves as dommes, because real dommes don't have sex. They should advertise themselves as escorts with fetish services. Real domme clients don't get off on sex, they get off on being dominated and humiliated: You give them nothing.
So having a client like Don doesn't turn you on?
No, but a gorgeous client is just an added bonus, a fun toy, more fun to torture.
Are your clients successful men like Don Draper?
Definitely. 90 percent of clients are powerful men: They are powerful at work, in their families, socially. They need a balance; S&M is a need. They need to feel weak and let go.
What kind of women are dommes?
Lots of very educated women, lawyers, woman with PhDs. We love what we do. We love to study psychology so we can fuck with their heads even more.
How's business been with the recession and all? Lots of these high-powered guys have lost their jobs. And Don's not doing great on the show: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is struggling and his finances are taking a hit because of the divorce.
Yeah, we got hit pretty hard two years ago when the recession started. You know, hiring a domme is a luxury. But business is back. You know, when times are so stressful, I guess the luxury becomes a necessity.
In 2006, recent Harvard grad Alexa von Tobel was headed for a job at Morgan Stanley. But though she would soon be managing the bank’s investments, she realized she didn’t know the first thing about her own finances. Most financial guides seemed to be written for middle-aged readers with millions in assets, rather than recent college grads. "I was reading every book I could find, but none of them spoke to me," she says. So she came up with the idea for LearnVest, an online personal-finance resource for young women like her, and ended up writing an 80-page business plan.
After two years at Morgan Stanley, von Tobel entered Harvard Business School in 2008. But upon winning a business plan competition held by Astia, a non-profit that supports women entrepreneurs, she took a five-year leave of absence and invested $75,000 of her Wall Street earnings to start LearnVest in November. She quickly enlisted advisors, including Betsy Morgan, the former CEO of the Huffington Post, and Catherine Levene, the former COO of DailyCandy, to help develop the site’s content and technology. In January 2009, she secured $1.1 million in seed funding from executives at Goldman Sachs.
LearnVest’s site launched a year later and has since signed up more than 100,000 members. It offers online budgeting calculators, video chats with certified financial planners on the company’s staff, and free e-mail tutorials on topics such as opening an IRA. The company earns revenue from advertising and by referring its users to companies such as TD Ameritrade. In April, after just four weeks of fundraising, von Tobel closed a $4.5 million investment round led by Accel Partners, which has also invested in Facebook and Etsy. (Incidentally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lived in the same dorm as von Tobel at Harvard.)
Von Tobel likens LearnVest to an online version of The Suze Orman Show, but with the goal of reinforcing positive finance habits early on. “Suze Orman helps 45-year-old women get out of debt,” she says. “Why not reach 20-year-olds to keep them from getting into debt?”