One of the challenges for novice dominants is figuring out a style. Style, for me at least, is about developing a persona, a face I present to my sub that helps structure their expectations and experience of the scene. Developing your style will generally make you more attractive to subs and may help you feel more like a ‘real dom’ and less like someone who’s just playing around.
One place to start is to think about what being dominant feels like to you and what you like about it. Does it feel cool and cerebral or primal and hungry? Do you feel like a cruel slavemaster or more like an encouraging daddy or playful older brother? Develop a style that fits with how being dominant makes you feel. Your style should feel like an expression of you, a manifestation of something genuine inside you, not just a costume you wear. I’ve watched a lot of porn where it was clear that the dom wasn’t actually interested in being dominant and was just doing it for the paycheck and I always wonder “Couldn’t they have found someone who actually enjoys being dominant?”
Think about what you see as your strengths in terms of kink play. Have you acquired a particular kinky skill already (like bondage or flogging)? Have you done a lot of reading and have a good grasp of underlying principles? Are you good at reading people and able to spot the nuances of body language? Are you highly verbal? Are you just eager to learn and find your place? Do you look good in a cop uniform or a business suit? Think about how you can advertise your strengths in the way you dress, act, speak, and interact with others. A good persona advertises to potential subs something about the experience they are likely to have with you.
Let me give you a few examples. If you’re a big guy, you can use your height to intimidate or loom over a sub and make them feel overwhelmed. If you’re good with your voice, work in a lot of sexy talk done in a seductive style. If you’re good at reading body language, saying something like “you’re feeling nervous, aren’t you?” can foster the illusion that you’re reading the boy’s mind. It’s a question of playing to your strengths.
It also helps to think about doms that you know or have seen in porn. What do they do that makes them seem dominant, sexy, in charge, or otherwise interesting and worth serving? Do they dress or speak in a particular way? Are they skilled with a certain toy or type of play? Are they quiet and reserved or outgoing and energetic? When you’re just starting out, it can help to have a role model you’re trying to emulate, because creating a persona out of whole cloth can be challenging. So
steal borrow from those you admire.
Think about characters you have seen in film, tv shows, or novels that say ‘dominant’ to you. Villains are often dominant and while you as a dom shouldn’t actually be a villain, you can certainly adapt some of the style of a villain. Consider for a moment the difference between Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Kiefer Sutherland’s David (from Lost Boys). Lugosi’s Dracula is smooth, reserved, and seductive, while Sutherland’s David is cocky, unpredictable, and almost feral. Both vampires offer models for a dominant persona, but they are very different models, and a sub’s experience with Dracula is probably going to be different than his experience with David.
Dominant characters are leaders or have authority of some sort, and almost any authority figure can serve as a style inspiration. Apart from vampires, think about school teachers and college professors, doctors, priests and minsters, coaches, CEOs and other business types, police officers, military officers, star athletes, nobles, pirates, bikers, and leather daddies. All of them have some form of authority or leadership quality to them, but they are very different types of authority figures. The scene you might have with a police officer dom is different from the scene you might have with a priest dom. (And there’s a reason that these are all characters that turn up in porn films and erotic novels. Authority is sexy, especially to a submissive.) So think about which of these types appeals to you and then figure out what about them says ‘authority’ and how you can adapt that to your own persona. Most of these characters have clothing and props (toys) that convey their style, so think about how to incorporate them.
One obvious caveat here: Even if your dominant style icon is a villainous character, you still need to understand consent and safe play. It can be very exciting for a sub to have a dom seem a bit threatening or dangerous, but you shouldn’t actually be dangerous or get what you want through threats.
For example, one trick I often use with a new sub is to get him stripped down and feeling vulnerable. Then I ask him to repeat his safe word, to make sure that he remembers it. Once he does that, I say “If I don’t hear that word come out of your mouth, I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I want to you.” It sounds enough like a threat that it often makes novice boys shudder or moan slightly. The idea is to bring in a hint of danger without actually endangering the boy or making him feel like his consent is being violated.
That trick works because it’s part of my leatherman persona, and leathermen are supposed to be outlaws and a bit dangerous. It probably wouldn’t work if my persona was more of an encouraging coach or a father confessor, because those persons have different styles. A doctor, for example, might say something like “Do you remember your safe word? Good. Now let’s proceed with the examination. Bend over.” Instead of feeling threatening, a line like that feels cold, detached, and a bit humiliating, which is how a doctor/patient scene might play out.
Whatever your style, it needs to include something that conveys power and authority. It can be body language, facial expressions, clothing, the way you manhandle the sub, or so on. But you need to find some way to convey a sense that you ought to be in charge during the scene. Subs want to let you be in charge, but they also want to feel like you know how to use that authority they’re giving you. In other words, you need to convey that you are someone they ought to surrender control to, and that they will be safe while they do so.
Developing a dominant style isn’t necessarily a permanent thing. Your style will probably change as you learn and grow as a dom and find out what really works for you. You’ll incorporate new tricks and skills and maybe you’ll abandon some of the things that you used early on. And you can have more than one persona, depending on what type of play you’re doing, what the sub likes, and what mood you’re in.
Get feedback on your style. After you play with a sub, ask them how they saw you during the scene, what things made them feel submissive to you and what maybe didn’t. This is good practice in general, but it’s particularly helpful as you are trying to work out a style, because style is a lot about how you are perceived, and your sub’s perception is most important of all.
Clothing plays an important role in style. In general, more clothing conveys more authority, and less clothing conveys less authority, because clothing is a metaphor for armor and protection. If one person is clothed and the other is not, the naked person will tend to feel a power imbalance with the clothed person. So if you want to convey dominance, being more clothed is usually better than being less clothed. Your look should be put together–wrinkled, ill-fitting, untucked, or dirty clothing generally conveys a lack of authority. This is particularly true with leather, uniforms, and business suits.
There are lots of components to effective style. No one component is absolutely critical, so if you can’t pull off a sexy swagger or if you don’t have a commanding voice, that’s fine. The idea is to work with whatever you have to send a message that your sub will have an enjoyable experience with someone they should want to submit to.