Meet Domina Lyra, transatlantic Dionysian priestess, artist and sadomasochist
All photos courtesy of Lyra Lethe.
Last October at the Sex Expo at the Brooklyn Expo Center there was a constant parade of interesting people of every size, color, age, and interest. From those who didn't know a cockring from a scrunchie to those who knew exactly what time it was.
One of the most interesting people to swing by the Perfect Fit Brand table was New York based transatlantic dominatrix, Lyra Lethe, who snapped up (literally) one of our Zoro™ one-piece strap-on dildos and left her calling card.
In going through cards and checking out Instagram accounts the next day, it was clear that this was one fascinating woman. So, herewith, an interview with Mistress Lyra Lethe.
First question: What shall I call you in the article? Lyra Lethe? Domina Lyra? And I assume the first is a pseudonym, so what’s the story behind it?
You may call me either, and I'm glad you asked about my name—I don't get that question often. I came up with it before I can remember to represent a dark, heroic aspect of myself that I dreamed of becoming. Lyra is the harp created by the god Hermes and given to Orpheus, who played so beautifully that gods wept, monsters were lulled to sleep, and he was allowed to make a rare journey to the underworld and back. After he died, having been torn apart by maenads, his lyre was placed in the night sky for eternity. Lethe is the river of forgetfulness, which flows through Hypnos' cave in Hades. Most of the dead drink its water and lose the memories of their past lives, but the few who resist and remember their true origins have a chance to become divine.
Why did you become a dominatrix?
It began with a longing for another realm. I have always been drawn to power play, transgression and mystery. From early on, I remember searching for a door to the otherworld, certain that I was destined for a more adventurous existence. When I first had access to the internet, I joined occult forums and saw references to dominatrices and sadomasochistic rituals.
In college, a boy began addressing me as “Mistress” without explanation and another, “Your Excellency”. I started talking to a lifestyle domme from one of my forums. I was studying ancient texts and she was interested in what I was reading and writing. She encouraged me to explore BDSM, but I was pursuing other things and it would be years before I did. Still, it remained a strong interest and I found myself thinking about it often. I admired that world from afar and I finally came to it when I was ready.
I became a dominatrix because there could be no other way; it is the fullest expression of who I am in all my aspects. I am an artist, a scholar, a poet, and a priestess. I am a tormentress and healer, captor and liberator, avenger and protector, judge and absolver, devil and god I can finally access and guide others through the other realms that have always called me. I believe it was fate.
How did you learn the ropes (pun intended)?
I first started exploring when I was living in Chicago, which had a very welcoming BDSM community. I attended munches and play parties and learned as a switch. The first time I set foot in a dungeon, it was noted that I seemed right at home in the leather swing. And I jumped right in, submitting to fire, rope, and knife play. For me, the experience of submission was initiatory. Both the positive and negative experiences I had during that time taught me lessons about communication, consent, trust, and compassion that have stayed with me as a domme. Actually, rope bondage is among my weakest skills, not for lack of trying but because I love it so much I have always ended up in it. Some of my first friends in the scene were riggers who suspended me and created meditative puzzles for me to escape.
During graduate school, I started working under the instruction of a professional Mistress and learned by doing sessions with her until I was ready to develop my own practice. I have been fortunate enough to study with one of my most-admired dominatrices, Simone Justice, and to attend DomCon where I took classes with other such legends. I continue to learn all the time through the process of sessioning and forming relationships with those who submit to me.
You clearly enjoy the work. Do you consider it work? What do you get out of it other than gifts and cash? Or does that matter? Would you do it for free?
I enjoy what I do very much and it is absolutely work. Domination is in my nature and it will always be part of my life. I have invested a great deal into it, financially and emotionally, and making it my profession allows me to continue to do so. The expenses—which include specialized equipment, wardrobe, advertising, travel, and dungeon rental—are high, and I devote a great deal of time and energy each week to administrative work as well as to planning each session. I pay self-employment taxes and am responsible for my own insurance, retirement plan, etc. while navigating all the uncertainty of working under criminalization and increasing censorship.
That said, I am privileged enough to be selective in whom I engage with, and I feel fulfilled by my work on numerous levels, in the ways that I continue to grow and help others grow. I do have personal devotees and subs who serve me beyond the limits of a traditional session, for example by performing labor in my studio or serving as creative muses. The relationships I have formed vary but transcend transactional exchange and even BDSM.
From checking out your social media, you appear to travel often to London. Do you also practice (is that the word?) in London as well as New York?
Yes, I travel to London several times a year. London has a great BDSM scene and I am cultivating a following there and elsewhere in Europe.