One day in 2016, Yevgeniya Ivanyutenko, a 28-year-old born in Belarus and living in Canada, was chatting with other women on a forum where sex workers shared stories, tips and questions. She'd signed up for every site she could find when she first became a cam girl, setting up a Twitter account for her new persona and interacting with guys over Skype or Yahoo Messenger. But her private messages weren't from men wanting to employ her skills as a financial dominatrix: they were from other sex workers, asking for help. That April, she had an idea. Adding "sex work strategy consultant" to her bio, she went from simply taking money from clients for her expert abuse, to showing other women how they, too, could profit. It wasn't a career move she envisioned but a year later, it's definitely paying off.
Financial domination, or "findom," as it is known, is at its most basic a type of domination fetish where monetary transaction takes place. Financial dominatrixes, or "findommes," demand money from their male clients, called "paypigs," in exchange for time and attention, which can be as un-erotic as a simple IM conversation. And the paypig pays up, over and over and over again. "I'd test him out by asking for a certain amount," Yevgeniya, who prefers to use only a first name, explains. "If he sends it, I try a little more next time, and so on…" She shows me a screenshot of a guy paying her $450, then $215, then $301. "You essentially have a blank check."
These transactions can happen in person – at "cashpoint meets," where the findomme and paypig meet each other at an agreed-upon ATM – or online. Most findommes prefer the latter, using cams and chats to communicate with their clients. Camming websites like NiteFlirt come with a built-in audience and exposure via a ranking system, and they also allow paypigs to send "tributes" or tips, which makes for a steady influx of money – if you're one of the lucky ones. The amount of findommes greatly outnumbers the amount of paypigs, Yevgeniya says, adding that most women who try the fetish give up within a year because it's harder than they expected. "It's simply not an appealing fetish to most men unless they have already developed an obsession for a dominatrix," she says. Cultivating this obsession is where Yevgeniya's sex work strategy consulting comes in.
Yevgeniya's unconventional career choice is the result of a thoroughly unconventional life: prior to going full-time as a findomme, she worked at both BBC America and CBS. Now she splits her days between financial domination and her new endeavor: advising other sex workers about the industry and how to grow their business. If "sex work strategy consulting" sounds new, that's because it is. Yevgeniya claims to be the first woman doing it, though it's clear the need for more accessible information regarding sex work has been present for a long time.
Making it as a findomme isn't easy. "It's simply not an appealing fetish to most men," says Yevgeniya.
"I think people genuinely want to learn," Yevgeniya says. Over the last year, consulting has become a bigger and bigger portion of her income, and her online persona – but her new career is not without its detractors. Several sex workers have "vocally been against my services and webinars," she confides. Currently based in Canada, Yevgeniya also receives criticism from Meghan Murphy, the editor and founder of popular Canadian website Feminist Current. "Focusing on the minority of women in the West who 'choose' prostitution and erasing the majority of women who do not, but have no other choice, is unethical," Murphy tells Rolling Stone. She believes that Yevgeniya's business feeds into the "glamorization and whitewashing of prostitution" by erasing the reality of women who enter the industry in order to survive. Yet sex work is work — why shouldn't there be someone telling you how to do it better?
Yevgeniya's strategy consulting grew naturally out of her findom business, but it's far from where she had originally pictured herself. "It's one of those boring, cliché stories," she says of her childhood dream: working in media. While still in high school, Yevgeniya lied about her age to get a job interning at a New Jersey radio station. After the internship came a job at WBAI, a non-commercial radio station based out of Manhattan. Every morning, Yevgeniya would commute from New Jersey and give her growing resume to anyone who would take it. She soon landed a job at BBC America, but paying $30 every day to commute quickly began to outweigh the benefits of working in Manhattan. To offset her spending, Yevgeniya would chat with men on cam sites.
Yet it wasn't the first time she'd tried out sex work. "I kinda went backwards," Yevgeniya says, recalling her entry into the industry. "Usually, women who go into sex work do so a little at a time. They dip their toe in the water." Holding back, however, is not Yevgeniya's style: her first porn shoot happened right after her 18th birthday. "Basically, this guy put up an ad on Craigslist looking for girls to do porn and the payout was listed as a grand per shoot, so I figured, 'how difficult could it be to fuck on film?' As it turned out, pretty hard." She left the set that day knowing she wouldn't do porn again, but continued experimenting with other niches, like fetish shoots and camming. "The fetish clips were fun," she says, gleefully describing the first time she fucked a guy with a strap-on. "Camming, on the other hand, was a lot more work than I anticipated." The site Yevgeniya performed on used an algorithm to match camgirls to viewers, which she found demoralizing. Still, she loved the feeling of having new money in her bank account at the end of every day — a feeling working for media companies couldn't provide. Yevgeniya began to have doubts about where it was she truly wanted to work.
"I wasn't really sure if I'd be able to do everything I set out to do in the media because I was already financially and psychologically poor and didn't know how I'd possibly go on like this," Yevgeniya says. With her bank account continuing to dwindle even as she picked up a second job to make ends meet, Yevgeniya decided to abandon her budding journalism career and strike out as a full-time camgirl. "My dream as a little girl was to work in television," she Tweeted recently. "I accomplished it."
Yevgeniya's segue into domination happened shortly thereafter, on a website for phone sex and one-on-one camming. While chatting with her clients, Yevgeniya began to add elements of control and aggression to her delivery – and it paid off. Literally. "It was the first time I felt absolute control over a situation in my entire life...and I liked it," she says. "It was absolutely exhilarating to log on every day and see men sending me money for no apparent reason and nothing in return but my disdain." Yevgeniya took money from men while they cried on camera, ordered them to do sex acts (the most elaborate of which involved raw chicken and a hotel room paid for by the client's employers) and listened to them confess their secrets, desires and embarrassing or humiliating stories. After enduring childhood abuse, the power offered by domination was dizzying – and delicious.
Success in this profession doesn't depend on tips to make your man go wild but on business acumen – and a well-crafted story.
"It legitimately felt good to inflict psychological pain on men who asked for it," Yevgeniya says. Eventually, she even got a real life "slave" who ran errands for her and scrubbed her toilet naked.
"You don't have to be supermodel gorgeous in order to do this as long as you understand BDSM power dynamics and your client's particular buttons," she says. The more confident she got, the more she raised her rates. And to further flesh out the domme persona she was using with clients, Yevgeniya took to Twitter.
Because Twitter is one of the few social media platforms that still operates on pseudonyms, it has an incredibly large and vibrant sex worker community. Yevgeniya's new domme persona quickly amassed 15,000 followers, with men constantly asking her to Skype or Yahoo Messenger in exchange for sending money to her Paypal. "While my real life sucked, my online life was great," she says. "I argued with Governor Chris Christie, got an invitation from Cypress Hill to party with them whenever I find myself out in California, got cute little DMs from people I saw on TV…" She signed up for every sex worker forums, and immersed herself in that world.
Soon enough, other sex workers began reaching out to Yevgenia on Twitter, wanting to learn how she did what she did. "They'd ask me to teach them" Yevgeniya says, "and I realized that not many of them were actually going through with [the suggestions] because it was free advice." At the time, financial domination was receiving a lot of media coverage from outlets like MTV, whose series True Life ran an episode around the fetish. Aspiring findommes were all over Twitter, thinking it was an easy way to get paid. "You call yourself a princess or a goddess, and guys pay you money. It's that simple, right?" Yevgeniya jokes. Success in this profession doesn't depend so much on hot tips to make your man go wild but on business acumen, and a well-crafted story.
Yevgeniya compares sex work, especially findomming, to professional wrestling. "It's performance art," Yevgeniya says. Audiences know that they're watching characters; the wrestling term "kayfabe," which refers to the treatment of in-show relationships and rivalries as true in the real world, applies just as easily to the myth-making and world-building Yevgeniya teaches her clients. "We have storylines, fans, observers," she says. "We get into beefs and we have spoken and unspoken alliances." Yevgeniya isn't promising to make anyone the John Cena of sex work — but she's certainly going to try. "I've seen the best findommes get added to wills, have cars and homes bought for them by their slaves, and other stuff like that," she says. "Most of the time without even meeting with them in real life."
Last August, Yevgeniya expanded her one-on-one consulting business to include webinars. Sex work is a lot of work, much of which isn't sex – or sexy. The most basic class Yevgeniya teaches covers everything from brand and character creation to money management and how to file taxes as a sex worker. When her consulting clients want to talk about becoming findommes, however, Yevgeniya encourages them to first develop a following in a different niche, like cuckolding or body worship. "You have to corner the market somehow," she says. "Become so good that guys are basically forced to pay you more money due to perceived demand." Most of her clients are women looking to increase their success on NiteFlirt, though she also consults with escorts and people totally new to the industry. Clients usually only need two or three sessions, long enough for Yevgeniya to discern what they're doing wrong and how they can break into their preferred field. "To me, my consults are customized business plans. The results speak for themselves." (She hasn't had a male consulting client yet, she says, and doesn't expect to. "That's not where my strengths lie.")
Feminist Current's Murphy, doesn't see this as a good thing. "It seems that Yevgeniya has managed to make a cozy profit off of the sex industry, by becoming a 'sex work consultant,'" Murphy says. Approaching the sex industry through a socialist and radical feminist lens, Murphy believes that promoting sex work as a personal choice made by individual women is harmful. "This strikes me as yet another way to capitalize on women's oppression and objectification." But is it better to not share strategy information with other women? Nearly a third of the registrations for Yevgeniya's last webinar were "scholarship" spots paid for by established sex workers looking to help those new to the field, and when she put a call out on Twitter asking for any negative feedback she got lots of replies – all of them enthusiastic declarations of love for her classes.
A Twitter user from Vancouver, British Columbia, who goes by Femme Fatale says she found Yevgeniya's webinars to be "welcoming to those who seek to work in a safe manner." As we DM, she emphasizes the part about safety. Femme Fatale is a self-described indigenous sex work activist and believes that Yevgeniya is providing a valuable service by explaining the confusing laws around sex work, as well as providing suggestions on how to screen clients. Pocket Tease, a findomme whose Twitter persona has nearly 10,000 followers, shares how Yevgeniya's consults helped her become a successful financial dominatrix, eventually allowing her to walk out of her office job. "Yevgeniya is one of my SW role models," she raves. "She genuinely cares about others succeeding in the industry," adds another Twitter user, an exotic dancer who goes by the name Allysa Jayden. A fourth woman, Her Majesty Bambi, says she contacted Yevgeniya when she was "looking to take [her] business to the next level." She saw results in less than six days.
Feedback like that is what keeps Yevgeniya confident she's helping, and not hurting, her community. She often receives updates from past clients and loves hearing that their business has significantly improved after implementing her advice. "I've blundered my way through sex work and spent a long time hustling backwards and then finally figured out what I was doing wrong, so now I help other women make money on the same site where I got my feet wet," Yevgeniya says. "All I ask of my clients is – and it might be a lot – to do exactly what I said. To make their money worthwhile. To take the time we spoke and the money they spent on our conversation seriously. To just fucking do what I said."