TOPCommunityQueer Japan: The Canadian Lumberjack Turned Dominatrix

Queer Japan: The Canadian Lumberjack Turned Dominatrix

Cross-dresser and dominatrix Dominique Dubois is a self-described “bitch who loves life”

By Kat Joplin

A six-foot rugged Canadian lumberjack, wrapped in PVC and slapped with lipstick and fake nails: that’s cross-dresser and dominatrix Dominique Dubois, the pride of Totsuka, Kanagawa. A self-described “bitch who loves life,” Dubois is pure personality from head to toe.

A fixture of the Tokyo-Kanagawa queer and kink communities, Dubois has also been working as a carpenter in Japan for the past 30 years. Totsuka locals know Dubois as the friendly neighbor who weed-whacks her landlord’s lawn, builds shrines and schools around town and pulls neighbors’ cars out of ditches when it snows. They also know her as the cross-dressing eccentric who minces through the supermarket in glossy boots and a pussycat wig.

“Old ladies are the sweetest. They come up to me all the time, patting my wigs, telling me I look amazing. Old guys compliment me too,” Dubois says over coffee in a local Chinese restaurant. This isn’t her first time here — the staff pay her no mind.

“It’s mostly little kids who will say something about seeing a weird foreigner. And I’ll turn and say, ‘It’s a weird foreigner who speaks Japanese.’ And they run away screaming,” she cackles.

“I just feel very safe in Japan,” continues Dubois. “I’ve made some good friends, I get along well with my neighbors. I just love the place I’ve made here.”

A Canadian Redneck

Dubois has always been familiar with small-town life, having been brought up in Kitimat, British Columbia, a small coastal community.

“Northern Canada is very redneck,” Dubois says. “I’m redneck too. People speak with Texan accents, they drive pickup trucks, they shoot things. It’s a very macho, hypermasculine culture.”

Dubois’s father brought her up around tools, starting her on the circular saw when she was just five years old. In her family, self-sufficiency was king: why take your car to the shop when you could fix it at home? As a kid, Dubois learned her way around the auto shop, woodworking, plumbing and even repairing lawnmowers.

“I spent a few years as a lumberjack, swinging a big Husqvarna chainsaw around, murdering the forest. Then a few as a log boomer,” she says.

Eventually, Dubois followed one of her cousins into the carpentry business. Japan was supposed to be a temporary house-building gig.

“I knew I’d wanted to go somewhere else, just to get out of Canada,” Dubois recalls. “I’d had a bad divorce a few years earlier and needed a clean slate. And Japan was just different. So secular. So polite. I couldn’t get enough of it. Subsequently, when the contract was done, I got everything in order and came right back. I’ve been here so long now; I don’t miss Canada. I’ve remarried, started a family and have my friends. This place feels right.”

Coming Out and Letting Loose

Dubois’s evolution came in stages. Growing up in a conservative household, she had little chance to question her sexuality growing up and only realized she was bisexual in her late twenties. Cross-dressing as well was something Dubois originally explored in private from her thirties on.

“I consider it mostly fashion, with a little bit of fetish,” she explains. “I’ve always loved girly things, and especially when I began dating my second wife, I just loved her style and wanted to try it on myself. ” Dubois clarifies she is not transgender.

“A guy who likes girly things — that’s how I feel when I’m Dominique. A guy playing this badass female character. It just feels like loving and celebrating myself.”

When Dubois began practicing as a dominatrix in her spare time, her role became a way of embodying feminine power.

“I don’t feel comfortable when I see a male domme and a female sub,” Dubois says. “My slaves are always men. Women have it bad in this world. Especially since I come from the male-dominated logging industry, I saw how women were treated every day. I hate gender discrimination. And that’s how I ended up entering the kink world, as a sub to women, and Dominique the dominatrix to men.”

About 10 years after creating Dominique, Dubois finally began appearing in public in drag with encouragement from her friends and neighbors.

“My drag queen friend Mauricio lived in the apartment above me for about a year,” she says. “He was always asking me to play dress-up during typhoon days. Then he started asking me to go food shopping with him, to go to bars around town, and then finally I had the courage to go out all the time. Now lots of people know me. My favorite bar cheers when I come in.”

Balancing Two Worlds

Professionally, Dubois still keeps her two lives strictly separate, fearing her business would tank if clients knew her as “the weird contractor.”

“There’s some cross-over, of course,” she says, examining her nails — large, strong carpenter hands with broad false nails glued. She uses only thumbnails.

Dubois has told some super conservative coworkers she has known for years, but many still don’t know. She is similarly discreet with her family, both in Japan and in Canada.

“My parents never knew about my sexuality or crossdressing,” she says. “They were always so conservative and as a kid I’d fight them about racism and prejudice. As they got older, they changed. My dad died without a hateful bone in his body. I get them more now that I’m older with kids.

“For the rest of my family, with some members I’m totally open. With others, I don’t go out of my way to show it. I don’t want to upset their lives. I came out late in life and I understand the conservative side of things. But I’m out to the degree I like. I feel free when I walk outside. My friends can come over and feel free. Most people are cool and kind.”

Dubois has walked as Dominique in her hometown only once in her life: on Halloween a few years ago. It was the only time she has been threatened with violence.

“I was in a bar one night and some redneck started calling me slurs, pushing me around,” she remembers. “But I’m a redneck too. I was born there. So, I just grabbed the guy and shoved him down, took out my riding crop and started spanking him. And here’s the incredible thing: the whole bar applauded.”

Just Do It

It’s becoming dark, but Dubois is still full of energy. Even after a full day of work, she says, becoming Dominique brings her back to life. We migrated hours ago from the restaurant to her apartment/dungeon, which she keeps perpetually under construction but also well-stocked with futon and blankets for when friends come to crash.

“My advice to people is ‘just do it,'” says Dubois. “Hang out with people who give you the courage to step outside as yourself. I found people who love all of me — carpenter and drag queen. I found people who inspired me to be free. People are nicer than you think. I like to start things. I just break the ice and talk to people. And once they pop out of their shells, we all become human.”