OVERRIDE

Whip Smart

The True Story of a Secret Life

Melissa Febos

Thomas Dunne Books

A dark, wild, powerful memoir about a young woman’s transformation from college student to professional dominatrix

While a college student at The New School, Melissa Febos spent four years working as a dominatrix in a midtown dungeon. In poetic, nuanced prose she charts how unchecked risk-taking eventually gave way to a course of self-destruction. But as she recounts crossing over the very boundaries that she set for her own safety, she never plays the victim. In fact, the glory of this memoir is Melissa’s ability to illuminate the strange and powerful truths that she learned as she found her way out of a hell of her own making. Rest assured; the reader will emerge from the journey more or less unscathed.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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Part One

1

STEVE KNEW TO BE KNEELING when I walked into the Red Room, his torso bent over his knees, forehead resting on the rug. He knew to be clean. He knew to undress, and to fold his clothes neatly behind the door, so that I walked into an immaculate room, nothing between me and the softly folded fist of his body but anticipation. While desire rose off Steve in fumes, steeping the whole room in its cloying vapor, I reveled in its absence. Just minutes before entering the Red Room, I adjusted my garters before the dressing room mirror, wrapped my fingers in electrical tape, and

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    A dark, wild, powerful memoir about a young woman's transformation from college student to professional dominatrix.

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REVIEWS

Praise for Whip Smart

“All memoirs are an attempt to follow a trail of breadcrumbs home, yet WHIP SMART steps off the path, into the wooded shadows, and names that part of ourselves that could linger there forever. Melissa Febos masterfully brings us into these unexpected, unsettling places,  the least of which are the dungeons she so vividly—briefly—occupies.  WHIP SMART is a wild, bright-eyed, ride home.”
--Nick Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY

 “WHIP SMART is remarkably honest, brave and provocative about growing up: the pleasures and perils of being visible, the temptations of being numb, and the weird kick of being desired.”
--Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone critic, and NY Times bestselling author of LOVE IS A MIX TAPE

“Mesmerizing.  A brave, darkly wild and powerful memoir, Melissa Febos's fearless journey through drugs and dungeons into the uncharted territory of true intimacy will shock, inspire, and leave you breathless. Don’t even think about resisting."
--Rachel Resnick, author LOVE JUNKIE

“Melissa Febos takes us by the hand and leads us into a curious, disturbing, and funny world of a dominatrix, and she does so with often startlingly beautiful, expansive prose. That would be engaging enough. But what's even more gripping is Febos' fierce intelligence as she examines herself inside it. A must read for anyone interested in enlarging his or her understanding of sexual politics.”
--Kerry Cohen, author of LOOSE GIRL

"Melissa Febos writes with lacerating wit and insight into the world of the professional dominatrix, saving the sharpest sting for herself. An unsparing, deep, and dazzling read.  
--Janice Erlbaum
, author of GIRLBOMB & HAVE YOU FOUND HER

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Melissa Febos

  • Melissa Febos is co-curator and host of the Mixer Reading and Music Series, she holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and teaches at SUNY Purchase College and The Gotham Writers’ Workshop
  • Melissa Febos Caitlin Delohery
    Melissa Febos
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Available Formats and Book Details

Whip Smart

The True Story of a Secret Life

Melissa Febos

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Thomas Dunne Books

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