Review: The Pleasure’s All Mine (book)

pleasureI picked up The Pleasure’s All Mine by Joan Kelly a month or so ago, and it was a pleasing, quick read. Perhaps my hopes were high, thinking she might add to my understanding of being submissive or bottoming, but unfortunately it was moreso a big of a glamorized account of being in a generally dominatrix-dominated field and being submissive.

When I first heard of this book, the idea sent a jolt through me – a professional submissive? Really? I love the idea of a formal study of the skills of bottoming, and I definitely wanted to read that kind of analysis and those kinds of stories.

The memoir, unfortunately, read as a fairly naive linear narrative of her time from discovering that she’s kinky, to working in a dungeon as one of only two submissives on staff, then becoming “freelance,” if you will, and taking private clients. It is incredibly breezy, almost effortless, moving in and out of one place to the next with no change in tone or depth of emotional weight, so I never got the idea that one place was harder or easier than another – even though she’d write “I was happier there than at the first place” for example, there was no emotional connection on my account with the difference between those experiences. She never recounts the problems with professional submission, either – she vaguely hinted at it, and, toward the end of the book, relayed a particularly scary account where she was tied to a shower curtain and seemed terrified. I was very uncomfortable for her, for example, and nothing in the writing told me that she was actually having a good time – I was expecting a few pages of “this is how I recovered from that situation” and “this is what I learned, and I never got myself into such a bad scenario again.” But the situation, once the description of it was over, was barely discussed.

This book got me thinking, too, about the difference between a “sex worker” and a “professional submissive.” I’m not so up on the world of sex work, so do correct me here, but I would guess that sex workers don’t necessarily figure kink or BDSM play into the mix, and professional submissives are more skilled at the various ways to bottom and receive in those scenarios of sensation play or power play. And yet, I went away from her memoirs feeling like she lacked explanation for these deeper BDSM bottoming techniques and consciousness.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. It was an easy, fun read, and I was quickly absorbed in it. But the writing wasn’t anything special, and her selling point – that she’s a “professional submissive” and ooooh isn’t that such an amazing, wild, sexy thing to do – felt underanalyzed and naive by the end. I would’ve loved to see some analysis that was more intentional and conscious, in a greater context of the kink and BDSM communities.

Have you read this? What did you think?