walk the walk

Florence Der­rick meets dom­i­na­trix Madam Storm, whose Strut mas­ter­classes em­power women

The Wharf - - Focus -

It is the most em­pow­er­ing feel­ing when you walk into a room and don’t even speak, but just you walk­ing around the room makes some­one trem­ble Madam Storm

Dom­i­na­trix, mo­ti­va­tional speaker, se­duc­tion tu­tor. I knew from the start Madam Storm would be a for­mi­da­ble woman. But I wasn’t pre­pared for how downto-earth and down­right lovely the fe­male em­pow­er­ment coach was.

“Hi dar­ling,” she cried as I stepped into The Book Club in Shored­itch, leap­ing up from her latte in a flurry of faux fur, leather and stilet­tos the same crim­son shade as her lip­stick. “You’re beau­ti­ful.” If Madam Storm’s job is to make women feel good about them­selves, the first two min­utes of our meet­ing showed her to be a to­tal pro.

We’d met to dis­cuss her Strut mas­ter­classes, which she started run­ning in Septem­ber last year.

In the ses­sions, Madam Storm teaches women to walk con­fi­dently in high heels. But it’s about much more than that.

“Strut is all about not giv­ing a s***,” she said. “It’s about you say­ing, I am here, I am pow­er­ful, I own my sex­u­al­ity and I am au­then­tic. “A strut is me.” Tow­er­ing more than six feet in her heels and hav­ing worked as a dom­i­na­trix for 11 years, Madam Storm comes across as the epit­ome of con­fi­dence and sass.

But I quickly learned she didn’t al­ways feel so com­fort­able in her own skin – de­spite the fact she’d al­ways been strut­ting.

“Peo­ple cel­e­brate me for be­ing this con­fi­dent, sexy woman and ev­ery­one wishes they had it,” the 34-year-old said. “But it’s a bless­ing and a curse. “I had so many chal­lenges grow­ing up. I was sex­u­ally as­saulted, I was bul­lied. I had my power taken away from me and my cop­ing mech­a­nism was to be like, ‘No, f*** that. I’m go­ing to take back my power’.”

Madam Storm grew up on an es­tate in Tulse Hill, re­lo­cat­ing to Vaux­hall (where she now lives again with her boyfriend) and even­tu­ally Croy­don as a teenager.

“I didn’t grow up with priv­i­lege,” she said. “I grew up poor. My par­ents were clean­ers and I re­mem­ber get­ting up at four in the morn­ing to go to work with them.

“But from Vaux­hall you can see cen­tral Lon­don. I re­mem­ber even then think­ing, one day I’m go­ing to be out there, ex­plor­ing the world.

“Now I’m in black taxis go­ing over the river. I’m like, yay.”

Grow­ing up, her strug­gles had noth­ing to do with an iden­tity cri­sis.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing 11 and know­ing what it was to be sexy,” she said. “To know you have some sort of power that al­lures the op­po­site sex. But it kind of f ***** with me. There was no way I could switch it off or tone it down be­cause I didn’t know what I was do­ing.

“I’ve al­ways been tall and curvy, and I’ve al­ways strut­ted. I’d walk into a room and com­mand all this at­ten­tion, but that came with bul­ly­ing. I ended up go­ing to seven dif­fer­ent schools.

“I had a re­ally hard time be­ing me. Adults would feel un­com­fort­able around me and that would make me feel un­com­fort­able – dirty and ashamed about be­ing the per­son I am. As a teenager, you’re not al­lowed to ex­press your­self in a sex­ual way and for it to be pos­i­tive.”

In her early 20s, Madam Storm found a non-judge­men­tal en­vi­ron­ment for the first time – in a com­mu­nity she’d only heard spo­ken about neg­a­tively be­fore. “Be­ing a dom­i­na­trix al­lowed me to ex­press my­self for the first time af­ter all those years of be­ing bul­lied for who I was,” she said.

“I fi­nally found a place where women were sup­port­ive of me. They loved the fact I was tall, and dif­fer­ent – they en­cour­aged me.

“And sud­denly I had men who wouldn’t even look at me with­out my per­mis­sion, who would treat me with the ut­most re­spect.

“Be­ing a dom­i­na­trix healed and em­pow­ered me.

“It is the most em­pow­er­ing feel­ing when you walk into a room and don’t even speak, but just you walk­ing around the room makes some­one trem­ble.

“I grew up on an es­tate where I couldn’t even go to the shops with­out be­ing ha­rassed. I was bul­lied for hav­ing this at­ti­tude and pres­ence, but then in dom­ming I was cel­e­brated for it and I could whip the s*** out of men at the same time. I was like, ‘Yes’.

“I like that ex­change of power. And then to get paid s***loads of money for it? It’s like, ‘Al­right, I did that, girl’. “It was very ther­a­peu­tic for me.” It also opened up to her a life of glam­our – “I said to my­self, one day I’ll live in Chelsea.

“And I ended up liv­ing just off the King’s Road and thought, I made it” – but the life­style that ac­com­pa­nied the scene didn’t al­ways have a pos­i­tive ef­fect.

“Earn­ing that much money at such a young age, you get caught up in drugs and al­co­hol,” she said.

“That fu­elled the de­mons I had from be­ing sex­u­ally abused.

“I used to sleep un­til 3pm be­cause I could. One hour’s work dom­ming would be the same as some­one else’s wage for a week.

“One day I was like, ‘No, this isn’t it’. I couldn’t have gone through all this and for it to not be for a rea­son. “I al­ways felt I had a pur­pose.” Madam Storm swapped par­ty­ing for early-morn­ing ex­er­cise and even­tu­ally com­pet­ing in the World Body­build­ing Fed­er­a­tion. “It changed my life,” she said. “Peo­ple saw my tran­si­tion and were in­spired by it.

“I got flooded with mes­sages say­ing: ‘You’re such an in­spi­ra­tion, I love your con­fi­dence’ – but I was just be­ing my­self.

“But I loved the feel­ing that I was mak­ing peo­ple feel good about them­selves.

“I al­ways had the abil­ity to make other women feel em­pow­ered. Be­cause I was bul­lied, I couldn’t un­der­stand why some­one would want to make some­one else feel s*** about them­selves.

“I was the girl who’d walk into MAC, see you putting on a lip­stick and say: ‘Oh my god, that looks so Con­tin­ued on Page 12

The con­fi­dence coach helps women find their feet with poise and stilet­tos

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