Danielle Boachie ("Dani")/Mistress VelvetAge 33
8 May 2021
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Dani died by suicide. She was an activist who - under the name Mistress Velvet - was known as a Dominatrix who made her clients read Black Feminist Theory.
CHICAGO — Music, tears and laughter filled the halls of First Lutheran Church of the Trinity in Bridgeport on Saturday, where loved ones of well-known dominatrix Mistress Velvet shared stories celebrating the trailblazing activist’s life.
Visitors created artwork and lit candles in Velvet’s memory, and the church was decorated with altars covered in flowers, photos and knickknacks from the iconic dominatrix’s apartment.
Friends sang and danced to a playlist of Velvet’s favorite music — a mix heavy with Beyoncé, Rihanna, SZA and Coldplay — as Velvet’s dog, Kuma, patrolled the room, giving affection to loved ones when they teared up and needed comforting. Visitors were encouraged to mingle during the four-hour memorial, which at times felt more like a ceremony in celebration of Mistress Velvet, known personally as Dani Achiaa B.
“This is a community that we all built — a community that Dani built — and that’s why we’re here and we should get to know one another,” said organizer Erica Kadel, one of B.’s close friends.
A subsequent report confirmed that Dani died by suicide:
Mistress Velvet died by suicide May 8 after months of struggling with their mental health, friends said.
“The last few months have been extremely dark [for Dani], and it’s not something we want to gloss over,” Kadel said. “It’s not something we’re ashamed of and it’s not something that Dani was ashamed of, either. It takes a lot of work to be vulnerable publicly, and we don’t know who that touched or inspired to ask for help.”
Velvet was famous for making their white, male clients read about Black feminist theory. And they advocated for multiple causes as an executive director for the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA and as director of education and training for Resilience, an Illinois-based nonprofit that advocates for survivors of sexual violence.
Velvet got started in sex work about 10 years ago, but struggled at first to find their confidence as a dominatrix, Koch said. The two married in 2015 — the same year they moved from North Carolina to Chicago.
“The first session they had, they were very nervous and couldn’t hit hard enough, so the client said to them, ‘You should really stick to regular sex work because you’ll never be a domme,'” Koch said. “And they took that as a challenge and really built up a vibrant practice as a domme.”
By 2017, Velvet had started incorporating their studies, which included a master’s degree in women and gender studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, into their dominatrix work by making clients read Black feminist texts during sessions.
“I describe it as a form of reparations — not in a systemic way like we’re getting land back, but definitely on an individual level, it provides me with an emotional sense of reparations,” Velvet explained in a 2018 Q&A with the Huffington Post. “That’s because of the nature of the dynamic ― that [my clients] usually are white men, that they’re straight, and they’re usually pretty well-off to be able to sustain a relationship with a domme.”