Down the Rabbit Hole

Updated: Oct 24

VALENTINA FOX in conversation with BARDOT SMITH


BARDOT SMITH

We could start — because we don’t know each other — with a little bit of background. Maybe how you got into findom? Your name, where you are from, all that fun stuff?


VALENTINA FOX

Well, I’m Valentina Fox. I live in New York. I just stumbled across findom online when I was 18; I’m now 24. I thought it was really cool, but I wasn’t really sure how it worked. So I showed it to one of my guy friends who I kind of rejected all through high school, but was still that guy that just stayed around anyway. And I was like, I think I could do this. And he was like, “yeah”, and didn’t really seem that into it. And then fast forward two years later, he approached me and apparently had gotten really, really into it and had like a sub account with a couple thousand followers. He had been used as a filming slave, all from that one dinner with me. So he started paying me just to like, humiliate him at first and tease him about our high school relationship… [t]hen I would reject him and stuff in front of everyone. Then he was a sissy. So it was my first experience with sissies. And yeah, I joined Twitter, probably like six months after I started domming him and met a couple other people on Fetlife as well.


BS

There is a theme amongst findoms where we almost accidentally find it because we had experiences that were sort of femdom-ish before we even maybe knew about it. At least that was true for me as well before I found out about financial domination in like a formal sense, maybe about seven years ago. But before that, I had already experienced guys who I had never had any romantic contact with, wanting to give me money. And so it took me a little while to figure it out, and to put it in the context of that. But I did later on after I started getting involved in findomme as a thing. I was like, oh, all this makes sense now!


VF

I know, it’s crazy. How many things click from like past interactions with men.


BS

I think that there’s a personality type where you’re more likely to feel some kind of resonance with findomme. And obviously, you’ll have that personality type long before you know what it is. And I think that’s a common experience with dommes where we’ve been like “oh, that’s why guys embarrass themselves in front of me all the time!”


VF

Exactly, it just all clicks. And yeah, I mean you do have to have a certain kind of personality too to gravitate toward this [work] and to enjoy some of the disgusting and humiliating parts of it.


BS

Yeah. And I think with financial domination in particular, there’s so many hang ups that people in general have about money: that a lot of people are afraid, they are afraid of doing something that’s seen as so contrary to how you’re supposed to behave. You know, even in sex work.


I see a lot of times there’s this tension between, you know, working for a certain rate versus anything that’s outside of that, which obviously, a lot of the Internet has enabled that outside of the context of findom now. But it kind of started with findom, where people were like, well, what do you mean, it’s money for nothing? Like, is it really money for nothing? Because you have to find me on the Internet and everything that I’ve done. But the idea that you’re not performing a specific action in order to get the money? Um, it doesn’t click with everyone.


VF

Yeah, exactly. And I feel like everyone wants “free money” but they just don’t see it as possible. Because we’re not taught that that’s ever possible. Like, you have to work hard for your money.


BS

Yeah. And then it puts us in an interesting position, right? Because we –I mean, you and I– both know that we do so much work kind of behind the scenes in order to exist online. To make content, to have websites, to have a presence that is attractive to people who are interested in these fetishes. But on the surface, it can look like you know, we just have a Twitter account, and people just hand us things. I think that’s part of the finesse, though. So it’s like, obviously everybody with a Twitter account and a Twitter following even isn’t generating income from it.


VF

And it’s funny too, like seeing posts from people that you know, are working super hard or just put out like 50 clips or something, and they’re like, ah, I get paid for doing nothing like I get paid for existing. Like, yeah… ?


BS

Like you’re figuring out the kind of benefits of the passive income lifestyle. So I mean, when I started doing work online in findom, there wasn’t a whole lot of infrastructure there. There wasn’t Onlyfans, there weren’t even the clip sites. It was like Niteflirt or Clips For Sale. So the idea that you would turn your social media into a performance to get money was still pretty unusual. And I think that’s something that findomme pressed into the scene more than really any other fetish. Like, actually no, existing on Twitter is worth money.


VF

Exactly. And it is like a type of influencer, I feel like, you know obviously not the same as an Instagram influencer or something, but..


BS

We’re not allowed to be that way!


VF

Right, but it’s still the same concept of content creation, and all the work that goes behind the scenes of having the perfect image – to get paid to exist.


BS

I think the underlying psychology [of finsubs], and understanding how they work, how they think and what they’re looking for, is evident in the content that we make, and what we, you know, say and do in public. That might not be evident to casual observers, but there is obviously a lot of subtlety to it. And everyone has their own style, but how you cultivate a group of subs and how you keep them interested, and how you push them and trigger that constant effort of cultivation.


VF

And I think that definitely is like a learning thing. And I’ve definitely learned a lot just through phone call interactions with subs or sessioning with subs. And I like phone calls, honestly, more than anything, and like reading into their long typed out fantasies.


BS

Reading all the mail that you get whether or not you’re getting money for it. It’s like, “Oh? This is a reconnaissance mission”. You’re actually giving me the keys to the machine. I think that’s true. Like over time, the more interactions you have you start to notice patterns. You create these kinds of efficiencies, like if I do this thing, it’s going to trigger like, X, Y, and Z. People that I know are reading my Twitter or are watching my clip site or whatever. You get a little bit more effective at converting the internet into money.


VF

Yeah, exactly. And for me, also, I like to ask a lot of people where these ideas started, or when was the first time they remember feeling like that, or liking something like that. And I think that also has helped me understand a lot better where some of the fetishes come from and that they really have been a lifetime part of their sexuality.


BS

And I think that, you know, findom has been discussed in the media over the last couple of years, but I think still from a sensationalist perspective it’s like, ‘I can’t believe these weirdos would just give money away’ or ‘who could relate to that?’. But if you break it down into what’s actually occurring, a lot more people might relate to it, like the idea of money symbolizing power and being handed over to your domme or to whoever the target is for these guys. It’s not always Dommes anymore, it can be anyone on the internet.


VF

And a lot of women just naturally do that. I think too, with pop culture right now talking all about, you know, tricks and guys flying you out. And you know that is financial domination, whether they’re calling it that or not. And a lot of guys do have that desire to spoil and to provide. And I think that the fact that it’s mainstreaming a little bit makes it so we are starting to see more non financial domination applications of women relieving men of their money. Or men having some kind of experience or thing that they have to sacrifice in order for them to have access to us is like a thing that was probably popularized by sex workers and maybe specifically findommes because I mean, at the beginning of doing this I feel like it was received in a much harsher way. Like the idea that you would just say, “Yeah, of course, I’m not going to talk to you without getting paid”. Like it was seen as some kind of like, ‘oh, you’re you know, that can’t be. This is just like a fetish thing.’ No one does this now, it’s pretty much normalized.


BS

So that’s a positive development.


VF

Yeah, I couldn’t have imagined the early days, especially parts of social media… and what came with that back in the past.


BS

Yeah, it was very uncommon. I think it was more common for people to use social media as a way to advertise. So you would go on social media and like, link to your other stuff and you would maybe put your travel schedule up if you were touring or something, but it was not as common for people to use it as a platform itself. And I think, you know, the financial tools weren’t there as well, it was like the wild west. So it seems pretty easy now, which, I guess, lowers the barrier to entry.


VF

Yeah, definitely. And it is being talked about in movies and TV shows more and more now.


BS

I mean, the popularity of people having Onlyfans and how it’s discussed in like, mainstream media has made it like, almost just super casual for people to do online sex work. And obviously, that’s creating a rift with like, the, the older, established formal experienced sex workers, which makes sense to me, but you can’t really stop this tide.


VF

Especially though, the problem I think, is a lot of them don’t even realize that they’re sex workers, or identify themselves as sex workers if they have an Onlyfans, just selling foot pictures, or etc…


BS

Yeah, I think that’s always been true. To some extent though, before, there was no centralized platform to contain this phenomenon. There was always people who even produce hardcore boy and girl porn and still don’t consider themselves sex workers. It is like a political term because you know, their work is legal, or whatever the excuse happens to be… but yeah, this consciousness of being a sex worker isn’t there a lot of times, especially in this new wave of people.


VF

Mmm.


ON CONTENT PRODUCTION


BS

Yeah. So do you make clips?


VF

I do. Besides one on one sub interactions, I make the most of my money online from clips. And I love clips, because like we were saying before it’s great passive income. Honestly, for me, it’s been really amazing with clips because I’m an artist in my vanilla life – I create, I do makeup, and I’ve been involved in fashion a lot. So being able to have full artistic expression is something that’s really cool for me. And even though it’s only like a five or six minute thing, and probably only $6 or $7, every one that I make is adding more and more to my passive income.


BS

Right?! You have a library of things that sell, they are income and a form of advertising as well, because people can always come by and like, get a little glimpse of you.


VF

Mm hmm.


BS

And I say, because of clips, I just have no zero income days. Because even on like a slow day, I still at least sell a clip. You know, it’s nice to have that out there.


VF

I also find that my favorite subs are usually ones that find me through my clips, because then they already kind of know a little bit about my style, and they know what I like, and they know how I’m going to be in a session.


BS

Yeah, and clips can be so highly specialized because you can make them in any amount. You can make these one minute fetish clips if you like. I’ve done this with very nuanced psychological fetishes. When I make POV clips, for the type of people who are into something that’s not very common they’re like ‘oh thank you!’ Like, ‘I haven’t had a clip about this thing for many years…’ or whatever. And so it’s nice to just have that on the backburner.


VF

Mm hmm. Yeah, and it’s nice waking up to money. Or just not being online all day and then logging on and seeing that you had clip sales, even when you weren’t promoting anything.


BS

So do you film everything yourself?


VF

I do. I actually live with another findom. So we’ve done nice little POV clips for each other, but pretty much all of them I’ve just done by myself on a tripod or something.


BS

Yeah. I feel like I started making clips like six years ago, I just used my iPad. And now I look back and I’m like, wow, those are so busted. But they did it all the time. I mean, everyone was filming on whatever at that point. And then, you know, over time things have evolved. I ended up with a 4K camera and kind of made my setup nicer. So it’s nice that we can do these things on our own. And it’s not so cost prohibitive to make really high, high quality videos.


VF

It’s also really cool to see your growth, like you were saying. Like your old clips, you look at now and you’re like, “oh my gosh”!


BS

So blurry! You just know [that] your skills improved. Your lighting skills improve, or your set skills improve, and all these different things that you get to practice, and tweak.


VF

And it’s just made me so much more comfortable on camera, like during photo shoots and stuff. I’ve just realized I’m much more comfortable now from filming all the time. And from being in front of the camera all the time.


BS

Yeah, that’s interesting. I think so too. I mean, you also learn how you look on camera, and then you understand your angles and ways to make things look better and more composed. You just learn more skills, and it becomes I don’t know, I mean, it’s not like it’s easier, there’s still a lot of work involved, especially if you’re doing it alone. But you feel more confident in doing it. I don’t worry now that I’m going to make a clip and it’s just not going to sell anywhere.


VF

I also love that, even the ones that I’ve done that I think are weird, or really niche, or are just me being more creative. They still sell eventually.


BS

Yeah, for sure. I have a bunch of like higher priced clips. And I think those are nice too, because it gives people the opportunity to kind of make a big splashy purchase, which goes into the findom theme, but it’s more than just like, oh, what kind of clip is worth that much money? It’s like more of the experience of like, well, I’m going to drop $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 on a clip because I’m handing that money over to her. And like, I know when she gets the notification she’s gonna notice that.


VF

Yeah, exactly. I love that. And like, having rip off clips too.


BS

Yeah, giving them the invitation. Using clips as a static invitation to spend a lot of money, a constantly beckoning invitation. And you know, of course, like this goes back to the beginning of our conversation about learning from conversations with subs. I made a $10,000 clip and a guy came by and he’s like ‘that clip. I just can’t stop myself. I’m eventually I’m gonna you know…’ and he ended up buying it about 36 hours later, because it was there.


VF

It was just tempting him.


BS

Yeah. And then I got my Shopify shut down, but it was fun while it lasted. They were like, ‘This is gotta be fraud.’


VF

No one gets that much on one go – on purpose.


BS

Yeah, so anyway, that’s a fun side effect.


VF

What do they know?


BS

Yeah, right. I feel like you know what, if some one wants to glue a banana to the wall and sell it at Art Basel in Miami, then I should be allowed to sell fetish clips for as much as I want. Its performance art. So do you do scripts for your clips? Or do you just wing them?


VF

For 99% of them, I just wing it. I do have a teleprompter, though, so I have a couple with that. But it’s honestly kind of hard to read and make it not look like you’re reading.


BS

Right. Especially because the element of needing to be compellingly sexually attractive kind of stunts my movement if I’m trying to read. So I definitely improvise everything. I usually think about the theme, though, obviously, before I start and if there’s like a couple of points that I want to make.


VF

Yeah. I feel like it takes me the longest to record customs and stuff when they have a script or something super specific because I have to keep stopping.


BS

Sure yeah, I know when you’re just doing it for your own production, it’s like, well, if I go off on a tangent, I can edit it out. And if I go off on a tangent, it might be good. So let’s just do this.


VF

Yeah, it’s definitely just grown so many of my skills with lighting and I’ve changed my makeup style, my acting, and I feel like my voice on camera has gotten better just from doing it.


BS

So you said you see subs in person and obviously make clips. Do you find like that you get identical people? Or like, Is there not that much of an overlap between people that you see in person and people that like you online?So you said you see subs in person and obviously make clips. Do you find like that you get identical people? Or like, Is there not that much of an overlap between people that you see in person and people that like you online?


VF

Um, I think because I’m in New York, there is a lot of overlap. There’s so many people here and like such a big kink scene here. I think a lot of the subs that I’ve met for shopping, cashmeets, or sessions had been fans, some of them have their little fangirl moments sometimes. *giggles*




AFTERCARE IN FINANCIAL DOMINATION


BS

I made an aftercare clip once…


VF

What was the aftercare like in the clip?


BS

So at that time there was this discussion on Twitter about whether findoms or doms in general perform aftercare or specifically if you are, you know, required to perform aftercare in findom situations. So I made a findom aftercare clip that was not exactly, let’s say, ingenuous in its intentions.


VF

Mm hmm.


BS

I think another fun thing about findom is that built into the fetish is this idea that it’s a trap. Like everything that you’re doing is to entice the payment in the transaction and the submission. And so, my aftercare clip was designed to kind of re-engage the Findom process.


VF

Get them to spend again.


BS

Yeah, it was one of my top sellers.


VF

I love that. I love that. Like those kinds of mocking clips do so well.


BS

Yeah, they love it. I feel like it’s part of it. And I think you know, not findom, I mean, aftercare in general is important. And if you’re seeing a dominant person for a session and you want aftercare, that should be discussed and you should build in time to your session length to accommodate it, and everyone should be on the same page about it. But then, you know, the idea that you should have aftercare in the findom context is something different entirely in my opinion.


VF

Yeah, I don’t think I practice aftercare for findom sessions because you know, like, there’s buyer’s remorse with almost everything. There’s no one comforting you when you leave a casino. They’re not giving you hugs when you walk out of Bergdorfs.


BS

Yeah. Like, thanks for your money, sir. I kinda feel like a casino. That is a good analogy because it in the same way that a findom aftercare clip is designed to turn you back into findom, if you attempted to get a casino to care about you in that way, they’d be like, ‘sure, just have a seat at this blackjack table.’


VF

Like, ‘all right, let’s talk about it over some cards.’


BS

Yeah, and I think aftercare in sessions where there’s a heavy corporeal element to it makes sense because you receive physical damage to your body and need actual care. Or like, you know, you’re having an actual neurotransmitter drop and you need care. In findom we’re separate from you from the beginning. Well, you know.. if you want to pay me to give you aftercare, I guess I could work something out. I can probably come up with something.


VF

Soothe them into spending even more.


BS

You’ll be back tomorrow. Don’t worry. It’s okay. Tomorrow, you’ll go to work and make more money to give to me and then we’ll be here again.


VF

And again, and…


BS

Does that happen to you a lot? Do you have repeat chronic relapsers over the years? I have, like, you know, a couple people that I can count on to always go buy my clips. They are always going to send a tribute whatever, like regularly. And then there’s the orbiters who have been around since forever, who are maybe less predictable, but you can kind of sense when they’re going to pop in. Just every once in a while, drop some money and run away again.


VF

Yeah, exactly. I have a bunch of subs that like, you know, they’ll pop in like once a month, send really late at night, and I won’t hear from him again for ages.


BS

Yep, yep I have a couple of those. It’s like I like those ones because they’re very low maintenance .Do You have guys that get mad at you? I have plenty of those.


VF

Yeah, I actually just made “a hate stroke to me” clip.


BS

Yeah, very popular.


VF

Yeah, I had a phone call like last week that inspired me. This guy was just like, crying, but like angry crying. He was like, “It’s just not fair! It’s not fair. Like, why am I ugly with a small dick and like you’re hot, and you get paid for existing!!! I hate you. And I’m jerking off about it right now.”


BS

“Nature isn’t fair. And that’s exactly what she wants. She wants you jerking off to your futility.” I think that for whatever reason. (I mean, those are the types that you don’t have to put a lot of effort into because you’re not doing anything specifically to them.) You’re just existing and they’ve for whatever reason fallen into the rabbit hole of Twitter or wherever

and found you and got hooked on you. Do you have an experience with people that are like “not into findom” but end up paying you and are very similar to findom?


VF

Yeah. One of my one subs who pays me the most often describes himself as not a “finsub”, but pays me constantly for nothing. I’m like, “Okay”, every time I request money, I get it, you know, but ‘he’s not a finsub.’ ”


BS

Yeah. And in his mind, whatever rationalization that he’s using is fine because it’s working out for you. So why would you correct it?


VF

Send again.


BS

Send again: The most triggering phrase for a findom, send again, “Goddess… No, I can’t.” But you can. This is your life, and you like it? I think, you know, there’s something to be said for the attitude, again, that is required for us to do that to be successful at it. Because, , you know, if you’re faced with somebody who’s like crying and seemingly emotionally disturbed about their own behavior, I would say the normie reaction to that is not to be like, ‘well, empty your checking account.’


VF

Yeah. Well, go broke about it.


BS

Yeah. Like, ‘just send more money and see how it feels’ like, ‘Do you feel better? No. Okay, try again,’ like, that impulse is not necessarily the default impulse. So I think that’s part of what sets us apart. And it can be learned a little bit. I mean, obviously, people like winning money. And like “money for nothing,” but there’s also a killer instinct element that I think is not there in everyone.


VF

Oh, yeah. And definitely, I feel like I just noticed a difference with myself and like, a lot of my vanilla girlfriends way before I got into femdom. Just like our attitudes towards men. Even just walking into a club or a bar, the way that we’re looking at men, we’d like to get something out of them. Not like, ‘I hope he likes me,’ you know?


BS

Yeah, like attracting men to me for the purpose of nothing is unappealing? Be useful or to be out of my way.


VF

Exactly. Like, I don’t want to only small talk with someone at the bar. I also think that findom is completely natural. Like, I think it’s normal. And I think that the patriarchal structure of men providing for women and having the desire to build something or provide for their family… or be the breadwinner… is at its core findom, too. And where a lot of men like, I don’t know, if they struggle to be the provider, then it makes them feel inadequate.


BS

YES! So we’re like triggering some instinct that’s in there. And like rewiring it to be more useful in some cases. But I think you’re right that it’s almost like subverting patriarchy because, you know, women were excluded from financial resources outside of their access to men for so long that it makes sense that now we’re now pay-walling them.


VF

Mm hmm.


BS

And even outside of the context of findom, women are pay-walling men more. So it is just an explicit statement of what you are saying is a natural dynamic.


VF

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think most men, you know, enjoy feeling useful to a woman that they’re really attracted to.


BS

Yeah, well, it’s, you know, especially if it’s online. It’s like, if you’re watching someone, and you’re really interested in them, you have kind of two options. It’s like, watch, and stare, tap on the glass from the outside, or transactionally introduce yourself to the situation.


VF

Exactly.


BS

And I think, you know, the most effective and like, actually, most confident ones know to do that versus the endless barrage of people being like, ‘Hey, Hey, hi, Goddess. Talk to me.’ It’s like, why would I talk to you?



VALENTINA FOX INTERVIEWED BY BARDOT SMITH PHOTOS BY LAURA CORINN STYLING BY CAROLINE KELLY SET DESIGN BY AMY PILKINGTON & PENELOPE DARIO ART DIRECTION BY PENELOPE DARIO