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Pop CultureJune 19, 2018

The strange story of how a NZ musician was led into the world of financial dominatrixes

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David Farrier finds out why some men are paying Auckland musician Princess Chelsea hundreds of dollars for one song.

Princess Chelsea is one of my favourite New Zealand musicians. Some of her songs are massive and big, like this one which has 40 million views on YouTube. Others are a bit smaller, like ‘Yulia‘ (only 4 million views, pathetic!), which, if I recall correctly, was based on a strange Nightline story I did about the relationship between pop songstress Yulia and her manager Glyn.

Princess Chelsea is very creative and talented, with a certain visual style creeping through all her work. So I was super surprised when I saw this post on her timeline. I mean the post was fine, it was just a little off-brand:

Confused, I dug deeper, only to find the Princess Chelsea I knew and loved had simply retweeted a different Princess Chelsea, whose bio read “22yr old brat born to spend losers money!!” and tweeted things like “I want some loser to pay for my gym membership” and “Laughing at how small your shrimpdick is.”

I got in touch with Chelsea to find out why she was retweeting this 22-year-old self-confessed brat, and she told me this whole story had actually started years ago. “I noticed a common theme amongst my influx of Twitter followers was that a high percentage of them described themselves as things like ‘worthless piggie boy use me’, ‘your number one pay pig’ and ‘pig boy please laugh at ur pig’” she said. It turns out that a certain number of Twitter users had mistaken Princess Chelsea for being a findom, or a financial dominator.

Basically, there’s a fetish called ‘findom’ (financial domination) in which a submissive guy (often called a ‘pay pig’) gives cash, gifts and power to a financially dominant woman, in order to get off.

“A financial dominatrix is basically someone who makes fun of men online for money and posts a few pics of their butt and stuff, and then they buy her things from her Amazon wishlist like Chanel perfume or a slow cooker,” says Princess Chelsea (the musician, not the findom).

For her, the confusion came with a few bonuses. “Some of them became accidental fans by listening to links I posted on my Twitter feed. So I was hardly surprised when I noticed that someone named ‘Piggie Mike D’ had paid $100 for one song of mine on Bandcamp, with a lil’ smiley face private message.”

I ask her what she makes of the scene she’s been quietly observing from the sidelines. “Overall, I think findom – like any sexual fetish – is fine, and could be a safe way for women working in the sex industry to make money. However, I imagine sometimes findom spins out of control and starts to affect the lives of family members of some of the pay pigs involved. I’m not a fan of judging people whether they’re a dom or a pig, but like any habit, you need to make sure it doesn’t harm yourself or others.”

There are countless articles online about the scene, with sexy headlines like ‘Inside the twisted world of the Internet’s priciest fetish’ and ‘Financial Domination is DEAD!’, but I kept thinking about what Princess Chelsea had said, and wondered how far a scene like this could spin out of control. I mean, I was always taught to keep my credit card close to my chest, and my passwords even closer. Surely it can’t be a good idea to give that stuff out, willy-nilly. It certainly hadn’t worked out very well for this senator.

Then I was reminded of an email I got years ago, which I’d sort of ignored. Finally it all made sense. “They are online bullies who get off on destroying people’s lives,” it read. It was written to me by an American man in his 30s, who wanted me to expose a findom. At the time I wrote him off as an angry man raging against women in general.

“Much like someone who’s gay, I knew that I was sexually submissive when I was very young. Single digits young. When I was 13 and I saw a bad movie on TV with a dominatrix in it I knew for sure. That’s why I sympathize so much with these submissive men who get their lives ruined by findom,” he went on.

The man, an American, wouldn’t say whether he was burnt himself, but he certainly seemed upset.

“The thing is, we’re supposed to think that the financial submissives are the stupid ones in these situations because they sign up for the abuse, but findoms are master manipulators who know how to get exactly what they want. Some findoms have contracts that say their blackmail is all ‘entertainment’ so it goes nowhere in court. There are some who even take pride on causing mental damage to their subs. All of them tell their subs that they’re addicted and there’s no helping them.

“If a sub tries to stop paying his findom, she sends all his illicit photographs to his boss, family and friends. She’ll also post the photos online. Many findoms specialize in ‘financial ruination’ and laugh in their blogs about how they made a man homeless or cost him his job. Some findoms wear the word ‘sociopath’ like it’s a badge of honour. They’re all entitled female supremacists and incredible narcissists.”

Although I’d received this email back in 2016, I thought I should finally reply. But there was some bad news.

I hope the guy’s OK. I picture him financially ruined, living under a bridge. I hope that’s not the case.

I did some googling and reached out to a financial dominatrix he referred to in his email, but it didn’t come to much: “No thanks. I lead a quiet life and enjoy my privacy. Have a good one,” she told me.

Dismayed, I DMed Princess Chelsea (the dominatrix). She said she’d answer some questions about her profession, but she never emailed me back. Which is fine. I mean, I wasn’t paying.

Sometimes the rabbit hole just… ends

For Princess Chelsea (the musician) it’s now all come around full circle. She sings on Jonathan Bree’s new record, a beautiful bunch of tunes called Sleepwalking. One of the singles, ‘Static’, is described by Chelsea as “a non-judgmental ode to #paypigs and modern love in the digital landscape – a truly original song.”

“Chelsea schooled me about what findom was after she noticed a bunch of pay pigs following her,” Bree tells me. “Once I got my head around it enough, though I still don’t fully understand it. I was intrigued as to whether findominatrixes were in general as man-hating as they come across, or whether in some way they were just incapable of having a normal relationship, and therefore drawn to a strange superficial validation. The pay pigs at least know they are fetishising a strange kink.”

While I talk to Princess Chelsea and Jonathan Bree, I can’t help but compare the lives of indie musicians and financial dominators.

For the former, the money comes slowly, like an afterthought. For the latter, it comes quickly and is the only thought. The endgame. “I should have started a findom empire instead of a record company,” says Bree. “No, I guess I realised that like any industry there are good and bad aspects. Things can get out of hand anywhere. It is probably good that it self-empowers women financially, whilst providing a service that is safer than potentially getting in a harmful situation. There’s always the chance that in an industry built on degrading some will go so far that lives are lost or destroyed though. Beware the Princesses!”

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