May 132024
Natalie (Nicole LaLiberte) speaks with her fellow pro dommes

My Normal is a 2009 comedy-drama about a professional dominatrix living in NYC, directed by Irving Schwartz, written by Abdul Malik Abbott, Renee Garzon, Keith Planit, and Adam Sales, and starring Nicole LaLiberte.

Natalie (aka “Ashley”) juggles her work as a pro domme with pressures from her family to get married and have kids, and looking for love as a lesbian. She gets her break to work in the film industry but encounters a new set of problems.

My Normal treats BDSM in a matter-of-fact way. Natalie works in a dungeon with other women, enjoying the money and the work. She contemplates working in the film industry. She and her fellow dommes talk about the issues of family and other types of sex work. One of them says that being a pro domme means a life of single-hood.

Natalie identifies as a lesbian, but there’s a part of her that likes dominating men for more than just the money. When a straight guy inserts himself into a gathering of her lesbian friends and monopolizes the conversation, she leaves the room, calls up one of her clients, Jim, and teases him.

At a lesbian club, Natalie meet a woman named Jasmine and they hook up. This turns into dating. Natalie appears to be content to have a vanilla relationship with Jasmine, but I have to wonder if she really could compartmentalize her sexuality so that she only wants to dominate men. The possibility of Natalie having a relationship with a submissive woman never comes up.

Nicole, Jasmine, Noah, and others on the stoop

However, Jasmine is troubled when Natalie and her domme friends talk shop, and later criticizes Natalie for being a sex object for men when it’s difficult just being a woman in New York. Later, Jasmine has a dream sequence in which she is tied up by a fantasy version of Natalie, who says “everybody becomes my slave”. This suggests her real fear is being controlled.

Natalie gets an unpaid internship at a small film production company, though her domme friends suggest she will come back to the dungeon for the money. Her work consists of handing out coffee and doughnuts, though her bondage skills come in handy in decorating a set for a slasher movie.

Michael, the obnoxious producer, takes the wrong kind of notice of Natalie. He sexually harasses her, and she turns the tables on him so he is taped to a chair before she quits.

Jasmine is not pleased with Natalie quitting the film industry and returning to being a pro-domme. She asks Natalie, “Is it the money? Does it turn you on? Do you get off on it?” Natalie answers, “All three.” They break up.

Jim and Nicole in the park

Natalie returns to pro domme work by doing a public fin-dom/humiliation scene with Jim (the only client we actually see). He sings her praises, saying she’s actually better than his fantasies. She talks about wanting to make films, and he offers to connect her with investors.

Meanwhile, Michael had some revelation of his own masochistic submission from his experience with Natalie, and recognizes her picture in a femdom magazine. He tracks her down (basically stalking her). Natalie turns the tables again by getting him in bondage and reading her screenplay to him.

The story ends with Natalie producing a film of her story, while still having a fetish slave to wait on her.

Jim and Nicole in the dungeon

My Normal suggests that being a pro domme is obviously better than the supposedly legitimate work in the film industry, with rampant sexual harassment. Perhaps, but my biggest problem with My Normal is that its view of working as a pro domme is a little too idyllic. All the problems come from other people reacting to Natalie’s profession, not her work itself. We never see Natalie with a client like Walter from Going Under, who pays his pro domme well but endlessly nitpicks and provokes her. She has no problems with her clients, the police, or the management of the dungeon she works at. Jim is the perfect client: wealthy, well-connected, obedient and never too demanding.

Danielle Lindeman’s Dominatrix shows that pro dommes and their clients create a delicate balance of power. Clients want to get their needs met and have the money. Pro dommes want/need to get paid and to uphold their status as professional and independent artists, not just wind-up toys who perform their clients desires. Sometimes that balance is not in the domme’s favor.

My Normal is currently streaming free with ads on Tubi.

  One Response to “My Normal (2009): The Celluloid Dungeon”

  1. […] to films like My Normal, Remedy is a lot less glamorous in its depiction of this kind of sex work. The dungeon space is […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.