When you book a session at the Gates, you arrive right on time. You ring the bell, and step through the front door to a glass-walled porch filled with potted houseplants. The door to the house swings open, and you enter.
Behind the door stands the lady you’ve booked your session with. She ushers you into a living room and sits you down on an enormous, comfortable, black leather couch. On the coffee table before you are some large hardcover books of fetish photographers Erik Kroll and Doris Kloster. To your left, freshwater fish swim in an enormous tank.
Your mistress sits opposite you on another, smaller couch. She may be in a dress, or robe, but she is not naked or in fetish gear. One of the rules of the house is that negotiation is conducted between two consenting adults with as little distraction as possible. Regardless of whatever depraved roles you may eventually play, this is a professional discussion.
She smiles, and greets you with pleasantries, like an old friend or a hairdresser. Then she gets down to business. What are you in the mood for today? What’s your fantasy? What are your turn-ons? What are you curious about, and what is an absolutely boundary? Do you have specific attire requests? Are you interested in a walk-on from another lady? There may be a new girl in training: how would you feel about her sitting in on the session?
She might ask you about any safety concerns you have. Can you be on your knees for long periods of time? How’s your heart?
She suggests you “get business out of the way,” and you hand her a bank envelope, or a gift bag, or a sweaty wad of bills. She retreats with a smile behind a thick black curtain to an unseen room. For a few minutes you wait, wring your hands, stare at the fish, flip through an art book. Your heart pumps and your imagination runs wild.
Behind the curtain is the world you don’t see.