These days, thanks to the Internet and high-quality, home-use digital video technology, modern professional dominas are not limited to in-person session appointments as their only sources of income. All we need do is look at the ads in this issue of DDI to count the number of mistresses who have diversified into subscription-based Web site production, speculation in video and DVD projects, paid fetish modeling and fetish event performance art. This was not always the case, however.

  Twenty-five years ago, when home video was in its infancy and the Internet wasn't even a twinkle in its creator's eye, magazine publishing was the chief medium for mass-distributed "infotainment" about female dominance, bondage erotica, sadomasochism and fetishism. It was the early 1980s. Women with whips relied solely on SM contact magazines to get their messages across and make their telephones ring. The specialized, non-explicit "fetish model" was not yet born. Posing duties went to either porn slatterns, who wantonly spread their booted legs, or real professional dominas who bartered authenticity for published name and contact recognition. Professional mistresses were dependent upon a handful of adult-magazine publishers. That is, all except two American dominas who bucked the system. One was Countess Anne, a well-known Las Vegas dominatrix who published half a dozen issues of her namesake title in the late '70s. The other was Mistress Diana, a New York City dominatrix whose name and lifestyle inspired a magazine series all her own.

  Diana was an attractive brunette with big blue eyes and a shapely figure. Born and raised in the Carolinas, she was the product of a somewhat privileged upbringing. Despite her naturally rebellious nature, she was nonetheless a refined southern belle, even if she dumped her drawl. She excelled at ballet and modern dance while pursuing a university degree. Dance is what eventually drew her to New York. Dance, plus a compulsion to defy her conservative southern father. He didn't believe good girls should behave as Diana did, so their relationship was contentious. In her early twenties she headed north, dreaming of a dance career on Broadway.

  Diana's plans did not go exactly as she had hoped. Being a great dancer in a big town in the south is not quite the same as being referred to as a great dancer in the Big Apple. She struggled for several years, taking classes constantly and auditioning for parts whenever and wherever they came up, but the selective nod never came her way. In the meantime, to pay the rent she took part-time jobs such as waiting on table and bartending. Her life took a dramatic turn when she met Christopher. He was a bigshot on Wall Street, about forty years her senior. Christopher was inherently submissive. He was made vividly aware of this quality in himself decades earlier in his youth. He was attending co-ed summer camp one year when a Nordic teenage amazon goddess lured him into the woods, knocked him to the ground, placed her foot upon his chest like a triumphant warrior and declared that he would be her slave and do her bidding for the remainder of the summer. Owing to the fact that Christopher was two years younger, physically smaller than she and already infatuated with her, he became her faithful puppy for the duration of camp. At that precise moment his sexual course was charted for life. Encountering Diana at a restaurant in Greenwich Village nearly 50 years later was like that moment of epiphany flat on his back in the piney woods. With Christopher's gentle, enduring support, Diana realized her natural aptitude for dominating men.

  In 1981, Diana was living and working from a small, two-level apartment on a relatively quiet, residential side street on Manhattan's upper west side close to the Hudson. The cozy apartment was entered at street level, but featured a spiral staircase down to a basement playroom. It was perfectly soundproof. Lots of mirrors decorated the walls. Steamer trunks held SM toys. A free-standing wooden bondage frame sat in the middle of the room, making it plain what went on down there. She acquired her faithful stable of slave men quickly and with minor effort. She was pretty, cultured, well educated, slightly brazen and a natural born dominatrix. Little wonder that she was able to keep quietly to herself and work successfully from her own flat while scores of other dominas around New York City in the '80s were clambering over one another to establish themselves. Diana was different. She didn't follow the accepted routine. She didn't accept "training" at a commercial dungeon. She advertised sporadically, if at all, in Manhattan's adult tabloids. Whereas most Manhattan mistresses bought display space in Screw every issue, she placed the occasional advertisement. Diana rebelled from all the stereotypical dominatrix behavior, just as she rebelled from her father back home!

  In 1982 Diana met a good-looking, Caribbean-American photographer with a very self-assured way about him. Before long they were playing house and thinking about marriage. She continued her session appointments, but having a man in her personal life was beginning to take its toll on her profitability. Some of the men she dominated called her less often; some stopped seeing her altogether. The mere presence of a boyfriend was costing her, so she decided to employ his photographic skills and co-create SM magazines, both to promote her session work and earn revenue from another source. Using favored slaves in the photo shoots, Diana and her boyfriend documented her domination sessions from her west-side apartment. Diana would always disguise herself with masks, dark glasses or veils since she still had aspirations of a career in dance. Her first magazine title, published in '82, was Diana: Diary of a Dominant Bitch created under the company name, D. Publications. Next came two more Diana issues in quick succession. These 48-page magazines were very simple in their editorial construction. There was no table of contents, no masthead, no editorial and no article structure. Each issue was a photo gallery of extremely explicit images as Diana bound her slaves' genitals or shoved her spike heels into places where the sun don't shine! Other collaborative titles included Mistress & The Maid, Painful Memories, Bitch In Control, Rope Burns, Forbidden Games, and Pain & Pleasure. In the course of two years Diana and her photographer boyfriend created more than a dozen magazines. They were all packaged for Star Distributors, a Brooklyn-based adult-publications wholesaler that specialized in bondage-and-fetish content. They were known for doing partnership deals with self-publishers. Diana did not get a great deal of money for these magazine packages, but the added income helped and the resulting notoriety temporarily spiked her in-person session business.

  During this magazine production phase, Diana and her boyfriend got married and moved from her cozy little apartment on the upper west side down to a chic, high-ceilinged photographer's loft on lower Broadway. The boyfriend-now-husband was envisioning an adult magazine empire, and maybe a transition into the growing adult-video market, since his vanilla photographic work was sporadic at best. Though Diana was the inspiration for the first magazines, she no longer wished to be the main photo subject. Instead, other models were used, and the strictly SM/dominance/fetish themes gave way to more generic adult content. Diana's suspicions about photographer/model intimacy may have arisen. We don't know; however, something put a strain on Diana's relationship. SM session appointments were declining. This further decayed relations between Diana and her husband. The magazines proved highly successful for Star Distributors over the long haul, but they had only a short-term effect for Diana, and not all good. Part of her liked the extra money and underground notoriety, but her more sensible side recognized that discerning slaves were backing away. Also, she was fighting an internal struggle about recognition, despite her disguises. Would one of her dance teachers welcome her to class as Mistress Diana? Would her father chance upon a copy of Bitch In Control and see his daughter threatening a bound, naked man with a strap-on dildo? These and other emotions tore at her.

  From what we can gather, Diana and her husband started drifting apart by the late '80s. Our timeline is not exact. Christopher had remained a faithful admirer of hers through thick and thin. Our own contact with Diana was mostly during her earlier years in Manhattan. She graciously appeared in some of our early magazines, like Fantasy Register and Stiletto. She also advertised in the very first issue of DDI, back in 1984. She had her own magazines on the adult newsstands, however, so she halted most other extraneous advertising soon thereafter. By the late '80s we lost track of Diana. Christopher informed us that she had divorced her husband and moved back to the Carolinas. Another mutual contact confirmed the divorce, but said she remained in Manhattan. She had put aside professional dominance altogether and was languishing in some ordinary job. This we doubt, but have no way of confirming which account is accurate.

  Mistress Diana was one of New York's finest and most sophisticated mistresses for nearly a decade. She was also one of the very first independent professional dominas in the United States to mass market her unique SM interests and talents to a media audience while at the same time maintaining strict control of the project and the profits due her. Diana was a bit before her time. If she were working today, rather than twenty years ago, things may have turned out quite different. If, by some small chance she happens to read this Domina Files bio, we send her our warmest regards.