The "bizarre style" (as it came to be called) of leather catsuits, claws, tail whips, and latex rubber only came about in the 20th Century, initially within commercial fetish photography, and taken up by dominatrices.Within the mid-20th Century, dominatrices operated in a very discreet and underground manner, which has made them difficult to trace within the historical record.In the contemporary era of technological connectivity, sessions may also be conducted remotely by phone, email or online chat.Most, but not all, clients of female professional dominants are men.The term dominatrix is sometimes used to describe a female professional dominant (or "pro-domme") who is paid to engage in BDSM with a submissive.An appointment or roleplay is referred to as a "session", and is often conducted in a dedicated professional play space which has been set up with specialist equipment, known as a "dungeon".
Von Cleef went on to set up her "House of Pain" in The Hague in the 1970s, which became one of the world capitals for dominatrices, reportedly with visiting lawyers, ambassadors, diplomats and politicians.
The role of a dominatrix may not even involve physical pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks, or servitude.
A dominatrix is typically a paid professional ("pro-domme") as the term "dominatrix" is little-used within the non-professional BDSM scene.
The term was taken up shortly after by the Myron Kosloff title Dominatrix (with art by Eric Stanton) in 1968, and entered more popular mainstream knowledge following the 1976 film Dominatrix Without Mercy.
Although the term "dominatrix" was not used, the classic example in literature of the female dominant-male submissive relationship is portrayed in the 1870 novella Venus in Furs by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.