Estelle Leon is a romantic at heart—bound to the beauties of sadism as the deepest form of pleasure. Her relationship with kink follows an exploration of power dynamics and their relationship to feminism closely, ultimately honoring the radical challenge of self-exploration. Petit Mort probed further at the root of it all—where personal values lie in practice, compassion as a virtue, and the absolute surrender of BDSM as an artform.
What has been your journey through BDSM into a professional Dominatrix? How have you developed your ethos as a practitioner of “romantic and elegant sadism?”
My journey into BDSM & fetish has largely been framed by my time in the sex industry. Although I’ve been drawn to aspects of kink for a long time. I started in the industry escorting, and once I went independent it became quickly evident that kink & fetish were my main market. I leaned into that and offered myself as a fetish escort & companion for a few years.
During this time BDSM really grew as a passion, I became very drawn to the expansiveness, creativity, technicality, and theatre. In the pursuit of becoming a professional Dominatrix I sought out education, training, mentorship, and as many opportunities to learn and practice as I could. I am still growing as a professional today, I don’t see this journey as having a point of arrival, there is always more to learn. I also still do escort occasionally, though most typically as a FemDom companion these days. I am a romantic first and foremost and this is consistent across my industry offerings.
My presence and practice embody a great appreciation for intimacy, connection, and care. My romanticism and sadistic sensibilities are not mutually exclusive either. There is so much romanticism that exists in BDSM; care and attention given; trusting surrender; offering the body or suffering for someone; committed loving ownership; service in the pursuit of another’s pleasure and happiness.
It is a perspective that I feel is not very well represented from the outside, and perhaps underrepresented in the Pro space in contrast to the lifestyle community. I try to draw attention to and celebrate the romantic in BDSM through my practice and aesthetics and have done so in a way that feels most authentic to me. I have fortunately found that resonates with a lot of people, who may see me as somewhat a bridge between a kink escort and a traditional Mistress, or at the very least offering something different.
As a Domme, you are likely no stranger to teaching your submissives the value of discipline. Have you cultivated an inner-Domme voice that keeps you focused while you study for your master’s degree?
I am a fairly disciplined person and I work hard but look I’m also a pleasure-seeking hedonist so the inner voice can often be quite busy being pulled in these opposing directions. I’d say that mindfulness, which I teach my subs in line with discipline is something that I will be personally cultivating and refining to keep myself sane and focused through my studies.
You wrote that you were recently recertified in first aid. How is safety important to you as a Domme and how does it inform the way you practice?
Health and safety are incredibly, incredibly important, to me and any responsible BDSM professional. Sexual activities carry risk – and many BDSM activities undoubtedly carry more. There is room for harm if you don’t know what you are doing. As a professional is it important to not only be able to perform the technical skill well, mitigate risk with attention to proper safety and hygiene practices, but also know how to respond if something goes wrong and to be able to take responsibility. I suppose it informs my practice in the sense that I take individualised care with the people I session with, the boundaries I hold, and the education that I pursue.
With regards to the first aid course though, I honestly think it’s a great thing for any in-person sex worker to do regardless of what you offer – we deal with so many different people in intimate often one on one settings, and you generally don’t know people’s backgrounds, like whether they have any underlying health conditions. In escorting you may also encounter alcohol consumption and drug use – in the rare event it is needed, first aid knowledge could potentially be lifesaving.
Can you talk about your philosophy of empathetic perversion, and whether it gets incorporated or manifested in sessions with you?
My philosophy of emphatic perversion both overlaps with my style as a romantic Dominant but is more broadly informed by my philosophical approach to FemDom. Femme Dominance for me is not simply about fulfilling fantasies of power exchange with the gender hierarchy reversed, but the privileging of attributes and forms of expression socially and culturally ascribed to femininity. In my practice, this is embodied through empathy, holding space for people, intuition, nurture, and sensuality.
Of course, this does not detract from the cruelty I can inflict, nor the control I command but my style and the meaning I instill in practice is guided by my philosophical approach. I like to hope that probing power dynamics in this way is constructive in support of my feminist principles; but I think it’s also important to recognize the value that play, pleasure, challenge, exploration, and self-expression presents on a personal level – which of course can be radical in itself.
In your shoot you incorporated food into the aesthetic of the photos – does food also make an appearance in your sessions? How does it add to the erotic play?
I wish food made more of an appearance! I’ve really only had a couple of requests for the incorporation of food in erotic play, I was hoping to gain more opportunities after the inclusion in my most recent shoot. I enjoy making mess, getting my hands dirty. I also like working with blood (and clay in my spare time). And yeah, sex is messy, food is messy, messy is sexy, food is sexy. Beyond the erotic possibilities of play, food does make an appearance in the form of service, care, and companionship dates. I get to eat food in session more than I get to play with it!
As you study for your master’s degree, how has your BDSM practice changed both personally and professionally? Is your degree at all related to your kink and fetish practices?
My experiences in BDSM and sex work have profoundly changed me on a personal level in addition to the shift in my professional direction. They have afforded me perspective that has shaped my worldview in many ways. I’m actually a much more compassionate and patient person as a result of my industry experience, something people often don’t expect. I attribute this to the opportunity I have had to engage with a great diverse number of people – exposure I have learnt a lot from and feel very privileged for.
I have also bore witness to the discrepancies between the reality of sex work and kink and how wider society understands us. I feel like this has encouraged me to think critically about representation, understanding difference and the importance of listening to voices of lived experience. Our lenses by which we perceive the world are always going to be limited by our own social standpoints and knowledge. The best we can do is it be receptive to new ideas and perspectives even if they challenge us. Prior to my current academic focus, I was interning overseas in an international development organisation coming off the back of an undergraduate in international studies. I found the paternalism and saviour mentalities of western intervention and the dependencies that this fostered deeply troubling. The cumulation this experience, and my sex work perspective very much influenced my academic shift. With my growing interest in sexuality, I pursed this area as my post-graduate focus.
I would say that my BDSM practice and sex work experience enrich my post-graduate studies, I have a lot of accumulated knowledge and lived experience from which to draw from. And my academic pursuits have undoubtably enriched my practice and work, aiding me to engage with sex work and BDSM on a political, philosophical and theorical level. So yes, these pursuits are related and complimentary. I hope that my studies will eventually afford me the skills and opportunities pursue research and/or practice sex therapy, but I also see myself as a practising Dominatrix into the future, though I imagine my approach will evolve as I do.
How does aftercare shift or change in different types of sessions? Do you maintain an environment of romanticism and the erotic in the aftercare space?
I do maintain romanticism through aftercare, I am just a romantic person, as I mentioned, my Dominant persona is fairly authentic to who I am, perhaps just a little more refined. Though I would say that I’m quite friendly on the bookends of a scene. I do think it’s important to carry different energy in negotiation and aftercare. I also value time to engage with people I session with as equals as I feel this helps to foster trust and connection. I find people generally really interesting, so often in negotiation and aftercare, I take the opportunity to get to know them. What I offer specifically as forms of aftercare does shift and change person and person as people have different needs. Sometimes they might want to leave quite quickly and prefer to be alone to come back down to earth, others will want a hug, a tea, and a debrief. I often follow up with people the next day too, especially if those I’m playing with are prone to sub-drop or may need some time to collect their thoughts post scene before sharing with me. Like sessions, there is no one size fits all approach, my engagements with people are all unique.
estelle leon interviewed by molly simmons
photos by evelyn hunt