Whip Smart


By Melissa Febos

cover image of Whip Smart

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Whip Smart is the story of how a heroin-addicted college junior with perfect grades chose to become a professional dominatrix at a top-tier "dungeon" in Manhattan. What began as an exhilarating anthropological experiment became a life-changing personal journey.
After Febos' drug addiction hit its nadir, her sessions at The Dungeon of Mistress X progressed from sensual to corporal to those in which she physically submitted to her clients. In sobriety she was forced to confront her very real obsessions with power and desire. As a result, she freed herself from her obsessions with secrecy, lies and double lives, and learned how to have a truly open mind, and a bigger heart.
Whip Smart is a literary memoir that focuses on the universality of Febos experiences with addiction and sex work. While the story involves many sensational situations and details, the emotional experience is one that most people will relate to. It doesn't romanticise or sensationalise or typify the sex-worker experience or the addict experience. It doesn't shy away from the intellectual and psychological questions that such an experience inspires but nor does it reach for easy armchair-psych explanations. Really, it's a coming of age memoir, a love story.

Whip Smart