A Romantic Evening with Madame Robbe-Grillet, the Legendary French Dominatrix

Posted on Oct 19 2015 - 3:37pm by F. Leonora Solomon
 La Cérémonie film still courtesy of Fi:af

La Cérémonie film still courtesy of French Institute Alliance Française

French Institute Alliance Française (Fiaf) in New York City opened the third year of its Sex and Seduction series with Catherine Robbe-Grillet, the 86 year-old dominatrix who was recently featured in a Vanity Fair interview. The rare appearance by the Madame, who was coined as a modern day by Marquis de Sade by Toni Bentley in her Vanity Fair article was an event indeed. Bentley spent time with Robbe-Grillet and her companion Beverly Carpentier in France, while working on her article and served as the evening’s moderator.

The talk was preceded by a screening of the Lina Manneheim film, The Cérémonie, which gave a glimpse into Robbe-Grillet’s world as a dominatrix. After Madame Robbe-Grillet wanted to get right to the q & a session, assuming the audience knew all about her already, or had a good idea of what she was about. But she obliged to take time to give a little background on her life as a dominatrix.

“What I do is more eroticism. Eroticism is in the mind, there is no age limit to that,” she stated when asked about her thriving lifestyle at her age. She said that people have no problem with a strong person becoming a nun, but dedicating their life to another person seems an abnormality. Although Charpentier describes that she almost knew from the beginning, that she would devote her life to Robbe-Grillet.

Robbe-Grillet and Carpentier both agreed that a lot of what goes on in their world is indescribable to people outside of it. This was why their appearance at French Institute Alliance Française was even more meaningful, since the Madame is known for her privacy.

“How awkward to talk about things like this in public,” Charpentier said shyly at one point.
The conversation evolved into a very frank discussion about the roles of men and women as dominants. Robbe-Grillet said that there was a difference,

“An evening organized by dominant women they share, When it is men they bring their women and there is not much sharing…they go straight to the G-spot.”

The three women shared that the “theatricality” of the ceremonies is an essential part. The importance of objects and gestures are as important as they events that take place, if not more so. She added that Catholicism is a big inspiration for the ceremonies, as it factored heavily in Robbe-Grillet’s upbringing – although she is now an atheist.

To get to meet with Robbe-Grillet and Charpentier, Bentley agreed to be a part of a ceremony. She described her experience at the chateau with Robbe-Grillet and Charpentier, being taken in dramatic fashion to see the marital whip that the Madame gave to her husband before they got married. Bentley was emotional as she described the ceremony that followed, designed especially for her and at the end of which, Robbe-Grillet and Charpentier surrounded her like fairies.

Emphasis was made on the eroticism and intimacy that sadomasochism requires.
“No one need to know where my desires come from,” Robbe-Grillet said, as a response for people who cannot grasp the lifestyle that she has chosen.

Madame Robbe-Grillet is terribly comfortable in her own skin, and the evening was transformative for the entire audience.

CLICK HERE to see Toni Bentley’s Vanity Fair article, “The Thin End of the Whip”:
 

About the Author

F. Leonora Solomon is an editor and writer, based in New York City.

Leave A Response