“Actually, I was amazed no one had thought of it before”, Janet commented languidly, gazing at the reporter eagerly taking notes in front of her. “I mean, lots of people know about submissive men. It’s a well-known image in popular culture – you know, the MP who goes off to Miss Whiplash for a hard session after a hard session in the House, and that sort of thing.”
The reporter nodded as she took these words down, and Janet noticed how prettily her golden curls danced across her shoulders.
“Well yes, I suppose so” she replied, a little hesitantly. “Only… for most men it’s just a game, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve been reading about safewords and things like that.”
“You’ve obviously done your research well” said Janet, with a broad smile, and was delighted when the pretty young thing looked up to meet her eyes and smiled shyly.
“But it’s just a matter of numbers and time. Maybe one in ten of the adult male population is submissive. Well, if about one in ten of those is prepared to make a lifestyle commitment, that’s still a few hundred thousand. And it’s better than that because you can work on the others – get them used to longer and longer periods of voluntary submission, until they make the lifestyle commitment.”
“Lifestyle commitment…” the reporter said, slowly. “Yes, I read about that. It’s basically slavery, is that right?”
“We prefer to avoid that word” Janet said, a little sharply. “Because we find it tends to reduce our supply of inputs, and that’s important for us. But the concept is essentially the same. They sign away their rights to freedom and to property – in fact, they become property. The property of SubService plc.
“But I can see how you’d get away with it for a short while, when it’s all really new and small-scale” the reporter said, doubtfully. “But when you got really successful, so many people were talking about you. New…errr…recruits must have known what they were getting themselves into.”
“It did become a little more difficult.” Janet admitted. “But that’s why the trappers are so important.”
“Trappers, yes…” the reporter mused, her lips gently closing around the top of her pen.
“Entrapment operatives” Janet snapped, wondering whether she was going to be able to make it to the end of this interview without throwing herself at this dim little blonde, stripping all her clothes off and fucking her right here. She’d make a fine trapper herself, she thought grimly.
“The trappers lead the men on, starting things off as a normal kinky relationship, then taking it further and further until…”
“Lifestyle commitment?” the reporter suggested.
Janet nodded. “Not to SubSupply, of course, that would be too obvious. They make a lifestyle commitment to their ‘girlfriend’ and then the trapper sells them to us immediately.“
“That must come as a bit of a shock” the reporter gasped, her eyes wide. “Don’t they protest?”
“Most of them do, I think” Janet replied, a little vaguely. “Not usually for very long, though.”
“No, I suppose not” the reporter breathed, almost to herself, and seemed to consider this for a while.
Definitely a trapper, Janet thought, wondering whether a few practical demonstrations of how the organisation dealt with male protests might put her in a…receptive mood.
“So…err…what was the first product? “ the reporter asked, pulling herself back to the job. “Domestic service?”
“Oh no!” Janet laughed. “That was exactly what we were trying to get away from. Hairy blokes dressed up as little French maids, prancing round with dusters? That’s not something women will pay for. Quite the opposite, actually.”
“But you do sell domestic servants. It’s in your brochure”, the reporter said, with a defiant little toss of her curls.
Janet stared. Was that a pout on her face? Was this little minx angling for a spanking? She’d get a shock if she was.
“Yes” she said calmly. “But that was later. After we’d established the brand. When our customers could have confidence they’d get a boy doing industrial quantities of laundry in 14-hour shifts if need be, not some fat pervert drooling as he washes a pair of panties by hand. Male fantasies are just completely useless for any real purpose. They all want to lick shoes, for example! Show any woman who really wants to sit there for hours while some idiot slobbers spittle all over her new Jimmy Choos! Of course, we gave it a go, to see if there was any long term benefit. We tried having some shoes cleaned solely by being licked for a few months. Ruined the leather, and frankly there was a slightly rancid smell. You know – like morning breath? No – male ideas of service are great for entrapment, but once they’ve signed the lifestyle commitment, it’s reality time.”
The reporter nodded and sat up a little. Janet tried hard not to think of her behind a school desk, her pleated skirt tucked neatly beneath her. She failed hopelessly.
“So your first product was…?”
“Oh, we tried a few things” Janet replied, moodily. “All sorts of manual labour really. Sent a few boys out as rickshaw drivers on days when the traffic in London was heavy. Nothing really seemed to take off.”
She brightened, as a memory returned to her. “There was one steady earner, though: Punch Partners”
“Punch partners?” the reporter asked in confusion. “I’ve never heard of them.”
“Oh, well we don’t do it so much now” Janet replied. “We’re too well known, so it wouldn’t work. But the idea was to hire one of our boys and beat him up.”
“Sounds like fun” the reporter declared.
“Well, I suppose it was, for some clients.” Janet agreed. “But mostly, the point was to show off. Get into a fight with someone quite big at a bar, and leave them sprawled on the floor with a bleeding nose – that kind of thing. You paid extra for broken bones – it would have been quite lucrative to have let someone give a boy a real going over. But hardly anyone ever really wanted to do that. Maybe the girls that did trapped their own…”
All was quiet in the room for a moment as the ladies thought about this.
“Anyway, the really big break was cosmetics.” Janet said, decisively.
The reported nodded. “The Nature’s Way range.”
“That’s right” Janet laughed. “I can still remember when the idea hit me. I was at a dinner party, and this woman to my right started talking about how they’d been trying to move all of their cosmetics into the ‘cruelty free’ range, not tested on animals. She was quite passionate about it. But she did also mention that products not tested on animals could command up to a 25% premium, and what a shame it was that product safety standards still required some animal testing, so they couldn’t just declare their whole range 100% cruelty-free. That’s when the idea hit me. I called her managing director the next day, and we did a deal within a week.”
The reporter nodded. “Did you have any trouble getting permits and things?”
Janet grimaced. “Well, this was early days for SubService. The concept of using lifestyle-committed males – “ she noticed the reporter’s luscious lips quietly mouthing the word ‘slaves’ but decided to ignore it – “ hadn’t really taken off at that point, so we were breaking new ground in human rights law, employment law and so on. We had about six months of legal battles before we could really begin operations.”
“That must have been expensive” the reporter commented.
“Well, not really, actually.” Janet replied, thoughtfully. “You see, it turned out that a disproportionate number of our lifestyle commitments were from boys who had formerly been barristers, city lawyers, that kind of thing. So most of the labour was free. It was the first real demonstration of the competitive advantages our approach can bring. And with teams of high-powered lawyers working night and day, we not only won all of our cases but we did so in record time.”
“I heard a rumour that the judge…” the reporter began hesitantly…
“Utter nonsense” snapped Janet. “The fact that the judge made a lifestyle commitment just three weeks after the trial had nothing to do with it. I understand the trapper concerned has stated clearly that she didn’t even know he was a judge. And he himself didn’t know she was one of our trappers, and he has subsequently signed an oath to that effect.”
She stared hard at the reporter, waiting for her to question whether the sworn word of an item of property of her company could really be relied upon. But the reporter simply nodded dutifully.
“OK. So then you did the testing for Nature’s Way? The first all cruelty-free cosmetics range ever.”
“That right” Janet continued, with some relief. “Of course, we didn’t use the words ‘cruelty free’, because of the trades descriptions act. Even with all those lawyers we couldn’t have got away with that one.”
She paused and gazed at the young blonde in front of her, silently daring her to mention improper influencing of judges again. If she did, it would surely be time for the paddle across that pert little bottom.
But the reporter was too wise – or, Janet reflected, probably too dim – to make the connection, and the moment passed.
“Nature’s Way was quite a success when it launched” she reminisced. “It came out with all sorts of pictures of happy rabbits and rain forests across it – you know the sort of thing.”
She reached down and pulled out a plastic bottle from a drawer and handed it across to the reporter, who stared at it curiously.
“So, this is what they looked like at first? It’s really different, isn’t it?”
“It is” Janet agreed. “You see, we just hadn’t realised yet what we’d stumbled upon. Oh we were doing fine, selling these pretty bottles with gambolling animals “ –her eyes narrowed as she saw the reporter look puzzled over the word ‘gambolling’ and made a mental note to check the copy later to ensure no casinos or lottery tickets came into the text at that point – “sales were growing nicely, people seemed to be happy to spend a couple of pounds extra to keep the bunnies free….but then we tried some marketing experiments, and we just couldn’t believe what the focus groups were telling us.”
She reached down again and passed another bottle over. The reporter turned it over reflectively in her hand. “Tested vigorously on adult male humans” it announced clinically at the top. Below it were two pictures, one of a fit-looking young man wearing a suit, smiling confidently at the camera, the second a close-up of the head of the same man, his head held rigid in a metal frame, his eyelids fastened open, two testing bottles above him, each dripping a different liquid into his two exposed eyes. He appeared to be screaming lustily.
“I remember this.” The reporter exclaimed happily. “It’s one of the first shampoo brands I ever bought for myself, when I was a teenager.”
Janet smiled happily. “You and millions of others. We’d been trying to conceal the cruelty of the testing process, but actually that turned into our major selling point. The products with that packaging just flew off the shelves – even though it’s the same stuff inside. It was a sensation – the newspapers even managed to trace the name of the tester we’d featured, from before he made his commitment to us. Some bloke called Frank – so we started calling that the ‘oh, look what’s happened to Frank’ range, in our marketing studies. A classic. That ‘before and after’ look is still our most reliable product design. We just keep coming back to it.”
“You’ve done some lovely products since, though” the reporter gushed happily. Clearly, she was on firmer ground talking about cosmetics than about the legal system. “Agony and Ecstasy – that’s my favourite. I just love the TV ads with the tester who nearly manages to get free! It’s so funny when he swings upside down, but he’s still attached to the testing machine, so the boiling liquid goes all over his – “ and she broke off in giggles.
Janet smiled indulgently. “I’m glad you like it” she said. “But it’s our girls in marketing who deserve all the credit.”
“Well, and your top scientists who design all these clever testing procedures” the reporter added, eagerly.
“Yes…that’s right” Janet said a little distantly, wondering how so many people could really believe that the same product could continue to need testing after so many years and millions – no, billions! – of sales worldwide. The real ‘testing facility’, which had only ever been a couple of rooms, had long ago been closed down, while the magnificent glass testing complex which dominated the outskirts of Guildford contained some sophisticated and complex procedures, to be sure, but mainly for show and to ensure that customers like this one could think happily of the agonies men had gone through on their behalf, every time they washed their hair.
“I just don’t know what the world did before proper human testing.” the reporter continued, a little indignantly. “I mean – what about all of those tests using nitric acid as an active ingredient? Those went on for years, didn’t they? When I saw those ads showing the effects, I just stopped buying anything but Nature’s Way. It’s the only one guaranteed to contain no concentrated acid, after all! Well – without testing on poor little bunnies”, and she looked a little upset.
“So it is” Janet agreed, without much enthusiasm. “Anyway, that’s the cosmetics story. We changed all our marketing concepts at the same time, actually.
We’d been planning to launch the domestic service range under the slogan ‘Loves the jobs you hate’. But of course when we finally rolled it out, we went with ‘Hates the jobs you hate, but is forced to do them anyway.’ It was a great success too.”
“Have there been any failures?” the reporter asked, innocently.
[To be continued. Probably.]