The goddess Kali by Ravi Varma, courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

Mistress Kali is a professional dominatrix who lives and works in Devon. She takes her name from the Hindu goddess of Time and Change, a many-armed blue woman often depicted standing on the corpse of her male consort Shiva. She is the perfect avatar for a mistress of BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism), empowered and fierce. According to her website, Kali’s ‘talents excel in the dynamic interplay of pain and pleasure; of tension and release; of teasing, withholding; using and playing’. She is ‘passionate, sensual, cruel; and with a wicked wit and utter authority which compels you to obey or suffer the consequences’.

While many dominatrixes receive clients in ‘dungeons’, Mistress Kali works in a space she calls her ‘Temple’, ‘a Sanctuary of Kink where fantasies find reality’. It is decorated tastefully and frangranced with incense, setting the stage for a ‘transformative’ erotic experience. She tells me that she’s madly busy at the moment; however, despite a punishing schedule, kindly agreed to answer my questions via email:

How did you originally get into BDSM practices?

It was sparked off by meeting my boyfriend (now husband of 20 years); we both explored many areas of sexual activity, including swinging, exhibitionism, voyeurism, threesomes, foursomes & moresomes, fetish parties and clubs.

You were a lifestyle dominatrix before you went professional; why did you make the change?

My friend began to work as a ‘massage girl’ and kept getting calls for domination, which wasn’t her scene. She thought I would be good at it… the rest is history 😉

Do you find sexual pleasure in your work?

I find a great deal of sexual pleasure in my work, and would like to ensure that continues!

It is often rumoured that subs hold powerful jobs in the “real world”. Does this ring true?

That is a fable. People of all ages and all walks of life visit me. Obviously, a few conform to that stereotype.

How much do you find out about your clients’ lives outside of the temple?

Usually very little. I do not like to pry, but regular clients who I have got to know over the years may tell me more. I often ask them their profession, the area where they live and perhaps their marital status.

Is there a divide between your work and out-of-work personas?

I have so many facets to the fore of my character that it is a hard question to answer. I am a creative person in various media, and a performer and am very gregarious… but I also like quiet and solitude…

You say that you believe in the supremacy of the female. Can it be found outside of your temple?

The patriarchal culture in which we live and have lived in for thousands of years has suppressed the feminine, women and the earth, to the entire planet’s detriment… I like to think I am helping to get a little of the balance back.. 😉

What would you say to those who are frightened by the idea of Kink and BDSM practices?

It’s OK to be cautious about something of which you know little, but there is a great deal of fun to be had with the right people/person.. and ultimately it is about love… love comes in various guises.

And finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring dominatrix?

Do it for more reasons than just the money. Be genuine. Have an open heart. Be true to yourself. Respect your clients.


Recently, all I’ve been listening to is the sound of my fingers hitting the keyboard and the rustle of pages as I turn them. As a soon-to-graduate serial intern suffering something of a quarter-life crisis, I’ve decided to tear myself away from the library and re-immerse myself in the audiovisual Now. The sun is getting sunnier, the days are getting dayier, and summer is pretty much upon us; therefore, having acquired a foot tan through your Birkenstock straps, take a while to enjoy what the internet has to offer in the way of #totallyyoungandcool sound and vision:


Online radio station Know Wave is the project of Aaron Bondaroff, founder of L.A.’s OHWOW gallery. You’ll find an interview with Bandaroff in the latest issue of i-D, during which he describes Know Wave as a way to ‘tap into conversations, into atmosphere’, bringing together interesting people and interesting music. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s growing: having begun in L.A., the station now has an established outpost in NYC, and there is one set to open in London. As a fan of writer/blogger Karley Sciortino and photographer Petra Collins, the first thing I listened to on Know Wave was their one-hour show, Sex Logic. Check it out below.



Pure Flesh is a series of DJ mixes found on Alldayeveryday, an arts blog and purveyor of “creative services” with clients ranging from Nike to Alexander Wang. Maybe I’m just a technologically inept and my research skills are failing me, but I can’t seem to work out what or who Pure Flesh actually is. Maybe its just a blog by Alldayeveryday; maybe its a DJ; maybe its a top secret government organisation. I just don’t know, but I like it, and that’s what’s important. The mix below was released three days ago, and has some good summer vibes (original post here). See all previous mixes here.



The greatest export of VFILES, that uncategorisable fashion brand/shop/channel/social network/thing, is its videos. VFILES series Model Files (starring Preston Chaunsumlit) and What the F*shion? (starring Casey Jane Ellison) make my life worth living, and are possibly the best things on Youtube (WATCH. THEM.). Attempting to fill the gaping hole their absence has left in my heart is new series Such Fashion, which debuted on Tuesday. I have no idea what it will have in store over the coming weeks, but chillis and tanned abs are a good start. This video is basically like looking in the mirror for me, though, so I hope they’ll push the envelope in coming episodes.



I watch notorious club kid James St. James’ Youtube show Transformations every week. The premise is this: each week, someone well versed in the art of makeup visits the studio and paints all over James’ big, smooth, hairless, slightly lecherous-looking face. Recently his guest of honour was Rupaul’s Drag Race royalty Alaska Thunderfuck. If your not familiar with her increasingly slow valley girl vowel-sounds, make their acquaintance here. And here.



M.I.A. dropped her remix of Beyoncé‘s ‘Flawless’ just a couple of days after the internet went all-out mental over a video showing Solange and Jay-Z fighting in an elevator. Being released during the four days prior to any official statement about the video, which saw the entire world suspended in a suffocating jelly of emotional confusion, I like to think it capitalised on the new attention directed at Bey (even more than usual, if that’s possible). I am totally in love with it, and listening to it whilst watching a loop of the aforementioned video is a real winner. Try to time it so the beat drops exactly when Solange drops the shit and gets real.



Click on the button, watch a 90s music video.




As you probably know, Pantone’s official colour of 2014 is 18-3224 TPX, a.k.a. Radiant Orchid, which strikes a sickly, diamante-encrusted-tweenage-diary middle ground between pale fuchsia and violet. Duh.

According to the Pantone website, the Color of the Year serves to ‘express in color what is taking place in the global zeitgeist’. Unless the current zeitgeist is led by Taylor Swift’s prepubescent fan base, I’m not sure Radiant Orchid is quite the correct choice.

The Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, describes the colour as ‘magical’, one which ‘encourages us to innovate’. She says, ‘it kind of embraces you; it pulls you into it. Think about that if you’re wearing the colour’.

Although I can’t imagine purchasing any kind of outfit in Radiant Orchid, I must admit that I’m a little hooked by Eiseman’s borderline-nonsensical spiel. Besides, how could I dismiss the official words of Pantone? I often drink coffee from a Pantone mug in 3273 C.

In an attempt to embrace Radiant Orchid, I thought I’d find out whether the first four months of 2014 have offered us any treasures in its hue. Looking around me, I’m unconvinced that the colour has caught on: the only Radiant Orchid I see adorns the lid and label of the Highland Spring water bottle I just bought at Costa. With enough time spent on Google, however, I found a whole different story. And it is Radiant Orchid.



This Michael Kors jumper is actually something I wouldn’t mind wearing. I like it because it looks as if it’s been infected with a suppurating rash of Radiant Orchid, which is exactly what Pantone are hoping to do to 2014.


femail radiant orchid

And if we’ve learnt anything, it’s that the Daily Mail is always right, right?


In her hair. This may be a slightly washed out version of Radiant Orchid, but the Pantone website teaches us that its colour of the year may be subject to small alterations. How would we cope otherwise!?


Adorning the laps of Strictly Come Dancing viewers nationwide, Quality Street chocolate tins continue to sport Radiant Orchid. This is a timeless and effective use of the colour because it perfectly reflects the repulsive sickliness of the confectionary inside.


Lavender beginning to bloom across the globe has been seen to match the dulcet tones of Radiant Orchid. Crazy!



I recently finished my undergraduate degree. I handed in my dissertation, listened to Amanda Lear in the sun for a while, and indulged in a cold glass of wine. Then, none of my friends being free from university work, I was bored out of my mind. Reworking my CV in the hopes of securing some kind of future, I added a mention of The Zemblan, and realised that I really missed writing it. Accordingly, here I am writing it once again.

You can expect round-ups of my favourite recent releases/events/experiences, and, of course, narcissistic ramblings on the subject of my totally fascinating life. Fortunately, people seem to enjoy those. So buckle your seat-belt and fasten your lace-front, because I’m back from academic limbo.


(Originally posted on Exetera)

Detail from ‘An Allegory with Venus and Cupid’ by Bronzino, c.1545

A beautiful virgin, new to the idea of sex, is led secretively into a wardrobe by a highly seductive girl a few years her senior. In the wall is a peep-hole, through which the pair watch a prostitute named Polly enjoying ferocious sex with a well-endowed, muscular Italian man. Excited by what they see, the two girls begin to masturbate – first themselves, and then each other.

Does this sound like the beginning of an atrocious 1970s porn film? I wouldn’t know, of course, never having used the internet for anything but writing careful, inoffensive prose and reading about the healing power of God.  As a lascivious plebeian, however, you’re probably familiar with this sort of debauchery. But get this: it’s a summary of a scene from the 1748 novel Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by all-round rebel John Cleland, an Englishman who flunked his education, lived in constant financial debt and was eventually imprisoned because of the novel’s extreme sexual explicitness, which was blamed for “corrupting the King’s subjects”, many of whom read it while it was circulated in secret.

Fanny Hill tells the story of a country girl who finds herself thrown into the sexual world when the death of her parents forces her to relocate to seedy 18th century London. Cleland’s rich prose puts unimaginative smut such as 50 Shades of Grey to shame. The novel’s world is one of ‘fleshy orbs’, ‘hard, firm, rising hillocks’, ‘plenteous effusion[s] of white liquid’, and ‘the sweet seat of the most exquisite sensation’. It even contains its fair share of BDSM (take that, E.L. James).

I read Fanny Hill in preparation to study it in the colourfully titled English class ‘Prostitutes, Pornographers and Inverts: Sex in the Long Nineteenth Century’. I made the flawed decision to read it on my daily commute, which really helped me perfect the art of hiding reading material from curious tube passengers. The skill of it is holding the book vertically in front of your face, so that onlookers can see the front cover of the novel (presumably admiring your capacity to read a Penguin Classic at 8.30 in the morning) but can’t catch a glimpse of the pages inside it, which are held so close to your face that your nose is almost stroking them. You’ll avoid embarrassment as long as they don’t find out you’re lingering on a sentence describing ‘the stiff intersertion between the yielding divided lips of the wound now open for life’.

Awkward public transport aside, Fanny Hill is a novel well worth reading. It helped to dispel my inaccurate misconceptions about the supposed prudishness of centuries gone by, entertaining and strangely seducing me in the process. It’s sex scenes are relentless, but never boring, and what was once seen as nothing but pornography has, through time, become something beautiful and worthy of the literary canon, if only for how alien its language appears by today’s standards. Fortunately, you no longer need to be privy to the secrets of Cleland’s literary circle to get hold of a copy. You’ll find Fanny Hill in your local bookshop, clothed modestly in the standard Penguin Classics cover – although what you’ll find inside is anything but modest.


I can’t sleep. It’s only 00.26, but over the last year or two I’ve become old-mannishly afraid of late nights. If I’m not in bed after 22.30, whiteheads appear around my nose, the corners of my mouth crack and I spend the next day yawning incessantly, worsening said cracks. That’s why my family’s assumptions that I live the wild, borderline alcoholic life of a stereotypical student confuse me. What I’m actually doing is attending live opera screenings, attempting to fine-tune my vitamin intake and covering my face in jewels so that I can send painstakingly orchestrated Snapchats, complete with costume changes and well practiced lip-syncing. Then I go to bed. Really, really early. And by the way, if you’re not receiving those Snapchats, you are MISSING out.


As I was saying, I can’t get myself to sleep yet. As a way of putting my mind to rest, I decided to click on that daunting “New Post” button and finally publish something new on this terribly neglected blog. This is me brushing away the cobwebs and clearing out the tumbleweed.

Now that I’m here, there’s the small matter of what to write about.

Oooooooh, isn’t that last line profound!? Isn’t that what writers have been asking themselves for centuries?! Stream my consciousness and call me bipolar, because I’m totally Virginia Woolfing write now.

Okay, so I’m making progress. I’m writing about Virginia Woolf.

Virginia Woolf.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Not me! I’m taking an entire Virginia woolf module on my English degree course this term, and loving it, obviously. Nothing gets me going quite like a Woolf novel. I won’t subject you to an inevitably lengthy argument about her impeccable genius, but I will say that I’m head over heels in love with her (or at least her words), and that if anybody wants to accompany me on a trip to ogle at her various homes, I won’t hold it against you. It would be a logistical nightmare to take full-length shots of myself posing beside those little blue plaques, and I’ll be needing someone to hold the camera.

Oh, and another thing I’d like to say is that Nicole Kidman’s performance in The Hours, in which she portrays Woolf herself, does no justice to Ginny whatsoever, and whoever is responsible for the white plasticine lump they squished onto her nose in an attempt to achieve an accurate likeness should be forced to eat kale on a bed of nails for the rest of eternity. Furthermore: Nicole, honey, I don’t know why you think whispering qualifies as acting, but you really need to speak up sometimes.

I guess that I’m writing about Nicole Kidman, now. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I’m going to roll with it.

When I was about 14 I was irrationally obsessed with the 2004 adaptation of Stepford Wives. Back then, I loved Nicole. I was too caught up in the ridiculous melodrama of the movie, and wasting too much energy pretending that the homosexual character didn’t have a weird and incomprehensible emotional impact on my deeply closeted mind, to notice that Nicole has been tricking Hollywood for decades by acting every role with the same rotation of incredulous frowns and dramatic whispers. I was young and naive.

On that note, with a mind soothed by the therapeutic power of writing (a power which Virginia Woolf would surely vouch for), I’m going to try again to sleep.

Sweet dreams, and I’ll see you in the morning.

P.S. I apologise if there’s a gaudy little advertisement flickering away below this post. If  you’re not happy with it, be a dear and send me the $30 which WordPress are demanding that I pay in order to get rid of it.


Before I begin, remember my embarrassing incident involving a toilet and a builder? Well, this morning a builder watched through my window as I combed a wig in front of my mirror. Normal? Yeah, I thought so. Don’t know why he looked surprised.

Yesterday evening, just before leaving work, I had a sudden urge to go out. I was in London, the weather was great, it was a Friday and I’d had a long week. This weekend, however, the social landscape is a sort of post-university wasteland across which everybody has been scattered well beyond walking distance (e.g. Australia). So, instead of having a wild one last night I ate an inordinate quantity of falafel on the sofa with my sleeping dog.


I can’t complain too much, though, because last weekend I went to the wonderfully debauched panvestite wig-fest that was Miss Sink the Pink 2013. It was a beauty pageant for the weirder breed of drag queens, which, if you know me or have been on my blog recently, you’ll know is my idea of amazing. Ben Wishaw and Ollie Locke were both there to judge, looking totally incongruous with the huge amounts of glitter,  fish-netted flesh and multi-coloured polyester hair on show, but were probably dying to go mad themselves.

The whole night was one long fit of glitter-strewn laughter. My friends and I danced on vomit (which we took to be cous cous and praised for its power to lubricate our footwork), I had my face painted by a completely off-her-face makeup artist, we did some pole-dancing, watched a drag queen lip-synch to a song from The Little Mermaid whilst holding a dead squid, and my friend got her nipple out only for a stranger to immediately begin painting a glittery blue starfish onto it.

Much to my distress, nobody took photos of these goings-on, so you’ll have to use your imagination, which is probably more powerful anyway. In your head, the starfish nipple can take any form you’d like it to – that’s the beauty of storytelling. Here’s a rudimentary sketch to help you along. Pin the starfish on the nipple!


In other news, I’m currently interning at the beautiful NOWNESS (it’s always written in capitals for some reason; I’m not shouting at you)  and luvvin it. Part of my job is researching art/design/culture etc, and I’ve been discovering so much beautiful stuff that sometimes I feel like my eyes are going to melt. It seems selfish to hold onto all that gorgeousness for myself, so here are a few golden cultural nuggets which you may or may not know about already:


Kevin Carmody and Andrew Groarke opened their architectural studio in 2006, and they’ve already one a tonne of awards and landed big jobs such as the Frieze London gallery space and the Windermere Steamboat Museum. They also designed the private underground spa which I’ve pictured below (that’s a swimming pool A SWIMMING POOL), which is situated in the basement of a nineteenth century family mansion. Who else is practically combusting with jealousy? The only way I’ll ever be able to afford an architectural commission like that is if I become an international drug baron or a high-end escort. Possibly both.

Private home in Limerick, Ireland

Frieze London 2011

The Filling Station in King's Cross

The Filling Station in King’s Cross


Sorry, I couldn’t help but squeeze that vulgar wordplay in somewhere. Assouline is one of the many incredible book publishers that I’ve been discovering on my research quests. I used to think there was just Taschen, but it turns out it’s not always the best. Some other greats I’ve discovered include Morel, Mousse, Etude and Hatje Cantz. If their books were human they’d look like a young Joan Didion, perhaps. I intend to make the pilgrimage to the bookartbookshop down the road from my office very soon. Goodbye, money. Hello, high-end, heavy-weight, limited release photobooks.

cats 2 cats


The kind of fine art photography which really does make life look frozen and beautiful. Cringe. Give me a shout if you want me to write your press release, Mr. DiCorcia.


I didn’t discover fashion and art magazine USED at NOWNESS (SO MANY CAPITALISED LETTERS), but it is another recent discovery which I’m a bit obsessed with. I enjoy it mostly for the superluxe photography and perfect styling, but the heavy presence of Birkenstocks in the latest issue is great, as it confirms the fashion-worthiness of my own. I’ve had them two years. Ahead of the trend oh yeeaah.

Issue 5, issue 4

Issue 5, issue 4

Craig Lawrence, Charlie Le Mindu


I was already vaguely aware of Carlsen’s work, having seen what he did for Garage magazine no. 4, but I didn’t know his name or anything about him. Turns out his black and white photographs, which utilise photo-manipulation techniques as a mean to distort rather than perfect, are pretty great. He released a book called ‘Worng’ with Morel Books, who I’ve already mentioned, which looks like a total dream.


Model Files is an online mockumentary series by fashion website V Files. I don’t really have anything insightful to say about it; it’s just great. You’ll recognise it’s slightly tragic protagonist, Preston, from the Asger Carlsen photographs above. I know that this is just a little Youtube series, but by the end of the second series it has reached absolutely genius heights.  Have a little watch — you’ve nothing better to do.