Mistress Adrienne / New York City
We are very sorry to have to inform you that Mistress Adrienne has passed away on December 29, 2019 after a long battle with cancer.
Adrienne was a unique person whose love of life and charisma will resonate with many for a long time.
We took great pleasure interviewing her and feel proud to publish her words here.
PortraitsdUnion is maintaining the publication of her interview unchanged despite some sections speaking about a future that is no longer possible as it represents her vision at the time of the interview.
We thank all of our readers who show an appreciation for Mistress Adrienne's testimony by reading her words on this Web site.
TELL ME THREE THINGS ABOUT YOUR FATHER, OR SOMEONE ELSE IF YOU PREFER
I’ll speak about my father. He is a very kind man, and he has a very strong interest in music that I have as well. He shared that with me as I was growing up. He was very supportive of me.
Would you like to elaborate a bit on the music side ?
He would show me album covers of musicians and kind of teach me, even about their looks. Like when I learned who Debbie Harry was, I can't forget that. Then he would play me some of their music, or it would be a historical thing, like when he explained to me the shooting at Kent State University by playing the Neil Young song “Four Deads”. So it was like I was getting history lessons as well. I really grew to admire rock stars and pop stars. It is this bond that we share admiring those people, their freedom and their outspokenness and their sense of style as well.
So you had very strong interactions using music as a medium ?
Yeah. I was very much into Madonna, and I would share that with him, and he really liked her authentically as well, so we would always be very excited to listen to Madonna together and watch the new music videos. He also really loved the Beatles. So he taught me about the Beatles. There were some musicians at the time who even did a remix of their songs, so we would get very excited to listen to new mix of the Beatles music. We shared a lot. We still share a lot about music.
Your father is still close to you?
Yes. For Christmas two years ago, I got him an iPod and I placed a lot of music on it. We still share music a lot.
Do you want to elaborate on anything else?
I'll elaborate on his kindness, just because it was always very impressive to me. It still is. He wasn't judgmental about anyone and he was always wanting to help people out and be nice to people, whereas my mother had very little patience for people. So it was a contrast that I saw and still something that -- I wish I could be a little more like him. I'm very impatient and a little bit more demanding and selfish, but he has a genuine good-heartedness rather than some people who are nice just to be nice and get by, but I can see it in him, a genuine niceness.
WHO CARED FOR YOU WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?
My parents stayed together, so it was the two of them, but in some ways I think I took care of myself. My mother was very stressful when I was a child and my father was very busy. So he was -- I'd say I had the most fun with him; he was the one I related to more, but they did both take care of me. I was never abandoned or without food or anything.
When you said you took care of yourself, from what age do you consider that you made your own education?
I'd say since about 10 or 11 that I just feel that I -- I wanted a lot more. I wanted the world and I grew up in a very small town, so I asked for a lot of things. I think if I had better resources -- I had really high ambitions and I wanted to take a lot of theatre and dance. I was really into dance. So I was kind of trying to make my own decisions. I guess when I say I took care of myself, I reacted to the lack of, sometimes, parental love by being tough and finding a way to keep inspired. I was very inspired.
Was it because you were going in directions or doing things in which they could not follow you, or was it for lack of availability on their part, or a mix of both?
Yeah, a mix of both, I would say a mix of both. Once again, my father seemed to be there more, and if I asked him for some personal talk, he was available, but he was a man, so he didn't always totally understand what I was going through. He did the best he could, but my mother was hard to approach.
I get the impression from the way you speak about your relationship with them that you were an only child?
No, I have a sister. She was very different from me. She's very quiet and would get very emotional, whereas I was very tough.
DO YOU REMEMBER A MOMENT WHEN, AS A CHILD, YOU FELT VERY SPECIAL IN THE EYES OF SOMEONE?
I don't know. The word special is hard to -- because I was always kind of special because I was an alternative kid, so I had teachers who thought I was very unique and intelligent and something different. So I felt very appreciated by some of them, for sure. There were a lot of people that I guess I felt special, but it was more on the terms of, like, unusual. So I don't know if that's the type of special in somebody's eyes that you mean.
I had a childhood friend and even her mother, I felt very special in her eyes and still do today.
In what sense then -- what connection, what happens between you that makes you feel that way?
I think she can see me as I am. She sees my very creative side, as well she knows my loving side and she also knows my very funny side. She recognizes all those different facets to my personality.
And that makes you feel good?
Does the fact that she's the mother of your childhood friend make a difference to you?
Yeah, I guess, too. I have a good relationship with my mother now, but growing up she was very pissed off. To have this other mother who was very warm and loving, it was almost like a second mother.
WHO HELPED YOU GROW-UP?
Madonna helped me grow up. So she was my role model as far as what kind of woman I wanted to grow up to be like. But I'd say I didn't really grow up until I was almost in my mid-to-late 20s. I'd say before then I was kind of a rebel brat, not totally yet mature.
Madonna, you said she's a role model. Did she also show you that what you wanted was possible?
Oh, it was totally possible because she was from a small town, like me. She was not rich. She worked. She basically got where she did because she worked very hard at it and so it seemed very possible to me. Well, I've come to have a different opinion of her as time has gone on, but back when I was growing up, she appeared to me, as well, very spiritual. So that seemed possible, that somebody could be both sexually free and different and alternative and still be very spiritual. She was so into the causes that I was interested in, like gay rights and sexual freedom and being an individual and not conforming. All of that was really important to me. I wasn't looking to be the superstar of the world, but I felt that I could embrace everything that she stood for, to me, and do it.
In what I hear, there is the possibility of the lifestyle or the difference, but there's also that you can be different while still being traditional, and that is important to you?
It is. I'm a spiritual person and there is a bit about her that seemed still traditional to me in a way. I guess it was that spirituality and also it seemed family was important to her, yet she had broken free from that style of life. So those two things were what I connected with.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME ADULT?
(Sighs). I'm just sighing because it's like “gosh, it took so long”. I guess I feel like I became an adult when I started taking responsibility for my behaviors. That took a long time because I felt -- I acted very entitled to do whatever I wanted, which I still have a bit of that about myself, but I used to be more of a bitch and then I wouldn't want to own up to it.
There came a point where I developed more empathy and I started addressing some of the things in my childhood that hadn't been processed. Once I started to look at the things that I didn't want to look at and take responsibility for my behaviors, I feel I became an adult. But it took a while; because I was just wanting to rock and roll into the sunset and not really take responsibility.
That attitude is kind of advertised. You know, be a careless teenager until your 70s. So if you manage that, you'll have a good life.
Well, I feel I still do, because I still live the way I want to live. That's essential. But I'm much more willing to -- something has happened or I do something that doesn't sit well with me, I like to take responsibility for it. And I go to a therapist now, so that's also addressing things that I just didn't want to think about for a long time.
I didn't want to go to therapy at first. I was like, I don't need anyone to tell me what to do, what to think. And then eventually it was like, Okay. Things need being addressed. But it takes a while to find a good therapist, too, one that you vibe with.
WHEN DO YOU STIL WANT TO BE A CHILD?
Oh, gosh. I guess quite often, really. I mean, I like to dance, and dancing for me, is very free and I was also very into dance when I was a child. I'd like to be a child more. I'm very introspective and I think a lot about the heaviness of the world. I could use more times being childlike. So when do I want to be a child, I don't know. I'd say I could use it more often, but it certainly helps in dance as well to be less -- get out of your head and be a little bit freer.
It's a physical aspect of dancing or it's another aspect that attracts you to it or is there more?
Oh, there's more. I love music, so there's the music element to it. There's the performance aspect of it. I love to perform, so the three combined make it a really great art form for me.
BETWEEN BEING AUTONOMOUS AND BEING CARED FOR ...
Autonomous, I prefer, yeah. I have trouble being cared for. It's hard for me to be vulnerable. I like things so specifically that sometimes it's hard for me to just let go and to let other people -- as well, as I've somewhat explained to you now, I feel like I've been taking care of myself for a long time, so I have a bit of that like, it's okay. I know how to do it. I can take care of myself. Almost like the strong I-can-do-it kind of thing. But, recently, I've realized that I can accept help and that it can be very nice. So who knows, maybe I could accept a little bit more of that in my life, but for the most part, I would say I do prefer to be autonomous.
When you say help can be very nice, is that relative to the feeling you have when you're being helped or is that because it works; it makes a difference when it's done?
It's more the feeling, the feeling of actually allowing somebody to take care of me and to not be so controlling. I have a lot of controlling aspects.
Being a mistress plays into that.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS BEAUTIFUL, WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL?
Yeah, I'd say I am beautiful. I do see myself as beautiful. Why do I think that is? I do think I'm blessed. Sometimes I can see myself and there's a light inside of me and I see others respond to it. It's not even just when I'm all glammed up because to me that doesn't matter, that's just – that is all an illusion.
But I notice it's something else beyond that. I feel that I was given a lot of power and that I am a person of light, although I love BDSM and intensity and I love going to the dark side. I do feel that there's something I strive towards, a more spiritual, eternal light. That's what I see in the beauty. I've been told that my heart is black, but that may be the -- I have a lot of pain. The pain is beautiful as well.
There's a song from a French singer, so there's very little chance you've heard it. In one of the rhymes he says about his girlfriend, who is a wild thing, that she is as beautiful as a truck who lost its brakes. To me, it's a very powerful image. You know something's going to crash, but it's beautiful. So do you consider that beautiful?
I do. Sometimes it's a little dangerous because I've -- I do get attracted to things that are self-destructing, and that often sets me up for heartache. There's a beauty in, not only the pain, but the truck without the brakes, it's like the loss of meaning to be on the path that everyone says one is supposed to be on. I love feeling the, you know, fuck-it kind of feeling.
Like the cow-boy outfit. Once go out in the wild, everything's free range. You go where you want.
IF YOU ASK THREE FRIENDS TO COME UP WITH AN OBJECT THAT REPRESENT YOU, WHAT WOULD THEY THINK OF?
It's hard for me to look on somebody else's, but I would say, maybe a pair of cowboy boots. I'm usually not without a pair of cowboy boots and those represent me quite well.
How do they represent you?
It's that cowboy spirit, you know? As well, the wanderer, I'm a bit of a wanderer in the world. I don't feel -- I feel New York is home, but --
Yeah. I like to just wander the world. It's freedom. Cowboy boots, they're a way of being free. They're also sexy, but not being overtly sexual. I think there's a sexuality of just, like, comfortable -- a comfortable sexuality in them. There's a bit of that American wild spirit that's there. I'm very into the older times, so, to me, even, cowboy boots represent like an America past in a way. Let's see. There's that. Another object? I was going to say my juicer. Something healthy, but I don't know if they would pick that. I am known, though, for being on a pretty healthy diet.
You look very fit.
Thanks. But, as well, you know, a champagne bottle could also be on that list because I like to drink alcohol, especially wine and champagne. What else? It could be a friend that knows me from this, they would say a pair of leather gloves. So I don't know. I would say the cowboy boots. If I were to pick something, that would be the one.
And a bottle of Champagne. Of course, you party; you have fun. Rock star life, and it's the bon vivant kind of --
Is this Champagne bottle image about the extravagance or is it about the good taste of it?
It's the good taste and it's the celebration. When you're drinking Champagne, I usually feel like you're in a good place in life. You're not just drinking Champagne when -- well, I guess you can when you're depressed or whatever, but it helps. Like, after a photo shoot we did recently, we went and had a glass of Champagne and it was just -- Yeah, it was like, what a nice night.
WHAT IS HARD WHEN YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING?
In the morning, I try to meditate and then I write in a journal. Those things make me come back into myself and get to a better place to deal with my day. It's hard for me to do the journaling and the meditation. It's hard, but it's worth it. So I do it, but it's hard to try to quiet my mind. It's hard not to just go online and get caught up in Instagram and e-mails and all that. It's hard to sit there and journal and just write out whatever it is that I'm thinking. Some days there's not much to write about and those days it's actually harder because it's like I'm searching for what is really underneath. Days like today I had a lot to write about because I was lazy in Germany and I didn't write. So I had a lot to write about. But it can be hard, it can be hard for me to confront.
What is hard is the effort it takes for you to collect, concentrate the information and put it on paper, or is it your approach to what happened or what will happen that is hard? Is it facing it that is hard?
It's just being disciplined and facing it, yeah. Facing it and even the meditation is hard because I have a very active mind, like most people, and it can be hard to attempt to quiet it and frustrating on days when it doesn't quiet down. But I know that with practice it gets better. So today it was very bad because I haven't done it for two weeks. But I still sat there and put the time in and I know it'll get better.
WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE DURING THE DAY?
I really love drag queens. So I love -- if I'm on a break and want just something that will make me laugh, I like to watch videos of drag queens online. I like to see friends -- makes me smile and going to dance class, as well, could be good.
You dance often?
Yeah, I try to do it almost every day. So today was my first day back; I just did a stretch class.
WHO TAKES CARE OF YOU?
I hate to say it, it's myself.
When I’m having troubles, I see everyone that's close to me in my life really step up, and then I’m able to allow them to take care of me. The most beautiful thing is seeing who's close to me and seeing who's not. My family really does take care of me and my best friends absolutely take care of me too. So I would still say, though, I take care of myself, but if I really need help my friends and close family are there.
You know they are there and they have shown it?
Yes, they've shown it. As well, they know that, at the end of the day, I still make my own decisions and they've also been supportive with that.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT YOU CARE FOR?
I take care of this slave. I take care of my cat. I take care of my immediate family; I'd say my sister, my mother, my father a bit less. I think he wants to be strong, so he doesn't seem to be there asking for help as much.
Do they live close by?
No. I mean emotionally. I'd say I talk to them once a week on the phone for about an hour each one of them, and we send e-mails every night.
You're very close to your family?
Yeah, it's nice.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY WHEN YOU'VE DONE SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE?
I really like artistic collaborations. I feel like when I get together with somebody, it's usually photos. It could even be this. I may walk away from this feeling this way, but it makes me very happy to be able to connect with people and to create something artistically out of it, whether it be writing or photos or video or even helping somebody with a project. That seems to get me the most excited. But, as well, I’m very good at helping people organize their wardrobes and get rid of clothing, and that makes me feel really good too. Because I like to -- it's good to free people of excess stuff and I'm very good at it, so that makes me feel good. I haven't done that in a while though, so I need to.
When Yasmin gave me your name, I looked you up on the Internet, and the thing that came across was the fashion advice that you were dispensing or the reference that you seem to be regarding fashion, what to wear, what to do.
I like doing that. A lot of people have said that I should do it with a job, but it's different when it's a job. When you're doing it with your friends, I can be more honest, I think. Part of the fun of it is I like delivering little cutting statements. If they want to hold on to something that I don't think that they should and because they're friends, they take it and it's good. It's a good thing to help somebody revamp their interior space.
It makes a big difference and not everybody can do it.
Yeah, it helps to just have somebody there to help do it with.
WHAT MAKES YOU SAD?
If I didn't speak honestly, that makes me very upset. If I wasn't good at communicating, I don't like that at all. Or if I was mean, when I could've said something in a -- sometimes it's okay to be a little bit bitchy. I'm okay with that, but when I'm cruel, which I can be, that makes me sad. That's hard. It lingers.
For you there’s a difference between being direct and being gratuitously mean or negative? Is that what you mean?
Direct is okay. I'm very direct and my friends all say that. Sometimes it comes across as a bit harsh, but if they know me well, they know that that's not what I'm trying to do. But, once in a while, if I'm really pissed at somebody, I could be a little mean and that makes me sad.
You know you're going to be mean before you do it and you do it anyway or you act naturally and afterwards you look back and realize?
You know, normally it’s if I'm drunk. When I was younger, and I was telling you, before I took responsibility for my actions, I could just be mean. Now, not so much. I'd say now I'm not too cruel and I speak honestly even if it's something that's difficult, and I can be straightforward. But if I've had a bit to drink, sometimes I could get maybe in a nasty mood if it's -- not a friend, but usually a guy that I'm seeing and there's different kind of tension or something -- or family. It doesn't happen too much, but the last couple of times it happened it’s because I've been a bit tipsy.
IS ANYONE THAT YOU ACTIVELY HELP OR SUPPORT?
Not especially. I do feel, though, that I support the BDSM community and that I present myself as an authentic person and not just as a fake fantasy. I try to make posts that express my real feelings so that people don't feel so alone. I want to further that, even. Doing something like this and exposing vulnerability, I think is very important. It's not for the clients and the slaves, it's more for people that -- I was into this when I was a little girl and I didn't even know what it was. So I think of people like that who are maybe in a small town. If you just see these mistresses that look like they have the best lives ever, it's very discouraging. So to be able to show some more vulnerability and struggle that I've gone through, I hope to stand for the community and be a -- I wouldn't say a role model, but a partner in crime.
Be some kind of spokesperson?
Or adding a true voice that can help people, perhaps, if that's what I understand?
Yeah, and I'm looking to do more of that. Somebody's going to be doing a documentary later in this year and we're going to be showing the two sides, the mistress and then the person behind the mistress. Then, eventually, I would like to do some writing myself, but I feel like, when it's time to do that, I have to be ready to expose everything. When I'm too caught up in the business, I don't feel safe doing that. So it has to be when I feel like I'm closer to stepping back a little bit.
IN YOUR DREAM LIFE, WHERE WOULD YOU BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Yeah, that's a tough one, because, part of me -- I'm concerned about the state of world, even. So there would have to be a lot of magic wanding (sic) going on over everything. But, for me personally, there's two different sides. I feel like on one side I would be travelling a lot and basically doing what I'm doing, meeting interesting people, living on the edge of society and dressing fabulously and documenting it all and sharing it with the world, which is what I'm doing.
But there has to be something deeper, which is why I do want to eventually start sharing more of the real side and hopefully giving back to, especially, women. You know, I really want to be able to speak about the troubles that I've been through. Because that's the other thing, because I feel like they think, oh, men like you; you get to shop and part of your job is shopping. But, really, there's a lot that I think we learn as sex workers that could be valuable for others to know. I feel like in this dream life, I would be still living the fantasy but in the same way that I would be able to do something that was giving back. With whom? Oh, I don't know. I like to meet lots of different people, so I would like to just imagine all sorts of fabulous, cool people coming into my life.
I think what you mentioned there's the difference between the idol and the life of the idol. What I hear is, you would be keen to show the distinction or teach the people about the distinction?
With an element of poetry. You know, I don't want it to be so bleak and blunt. Like, oh, this is my struggle and this is me. I would still want it to be a bit cinematic in a way, but that's because I think people respond best to that. I think too much reality, people -- they want the truth, but you have to tell it in a beautiful way. Otherwise, they don't want it anyway, but if you can tell the truth beautifully and just give enough and maintain still a mystery, that's the best way.
You want people to understand it, but you believe that if you say it plainly, they won't get it because it's too alien and that you need to digest it to get the message across? Is that a correct reading?
It's more that I would rather take away the details of the truth and then it becomes more universal. Yes, I would like to keep it my story, but, yeah, I don't know. I like ways of telling stories that are like a gentle wave rather than journalism or something; make something and still have a bit of -- not theater, but some sort of rhythm that's nice, that can be digestible. I know that sounds very heavy.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING WHEN YOU GET OLD?
I'm not sure if I project myself old. If I were to grow old, I can kind of see myself on a beach in a small -- not in America, maybe, like Mexico or somewhere that's just a very small town. Like, I'm living off the land, the fruits and just the local produce, having a very simple life, maybe even teaching yoga or something and really -- but it's hard because I have such an addiction to the chaos in the city and fashion and everything that it's like, could I do that?
But if I were older I don't think I would want to live in the city and not be able to live the life that I'd like to live here, which is glamor and slaves and all that. So I feel like I would want to do something simple and just have a very nice, natural rhythm. I love animals; I could have some animals and just be part of the community. I love to teach, actually. I wouldn't mind teaching English or, like I said, yoga. As well, who knows, I would like to even curate all these photos I've taken over the years. I would like to one day put a book together. So maybe I'd have the time, then, to do something like that.
You have something to look forward to.
I know, but sometimes I get very down on growing older. But it's true, I could live this nice life with eating fruits. Definitely, I would be healthy though. I can't imagine -- if I'm still like boozing and running around taxicabs at an older age, that doesn't sound very good to me. It sounds stressful. I like the idea of living somewhere like Mexico, though. I like the idea of being somewhere that's a different lifestyle.
You seek to find a different rhythm of life that would be more compatible with what you believe would be your capacity at the time, and find some equilibrium there.
Well, I love the sun. I could just take the sun and you know.
But then you are afraid to get bored a little bit.
A little bit, yeah, but who knows. I mean, we'll see.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO READ YOUR INTERVIEW TO WALK AWAY WITH?
I'm still even digesting the interview itself, so I'm not sure.
YOUR MESSAGE TO ANYONE WHO'S READING YOUR INTERVIEW?
I'm not sure on that either. What would I like for them get out of the interview? I guess, I would hope that they would find some area that they could relate to and not feel so alone.