Mercy Mistress is an episodic drama series that follows Mistress Yin, a queer first-generation Chinese-American professional and lifestyle dominatrix living in New York City.
Mercy Mistress is based on Yin Q’s memoirs. It archives Yin’s experience as a first-generation Chinese-American, GenderQueer writer, who has been a BDSM practitioner and educator for over 20 years. Yin Q wrote, created, and executive produced the series. Directed by Amanda Madden of Collective Sex and produced by a crew of primarily women, queer and gender non-conforming folk, each episode focuses on a different client and explores the roots of their particular kink. The larger story is one that unveils the layers of Mistress Yin’s sexuality and how she broke from a cycle of abuse, self-destruction, and childhood violence through her healing journey with BDSM. Mistress Yin is played by breakout actress and critically-acclaimed filmmaker, Poppy Liu. Mercy Mistress also stars as Billions series regular Daniel K. Isaac, and actress Synead, who?s also known as co-organizer of Millions March. “Our mission is to de-stigmatize the shame that shrouds kink sexuality and sex work,” says Yin Q. “We also created Mercy Mistress to combat the sexualization, fetishization, and eroticization of Asian women by representing a queer Asian femme protagonist who tells her own story about her sexuality.” Mercy Mistress star, Poppy Liu refers to herself as a “baby domme in training” as Yin Q trained and guided Poppy into the world of BDSM for the creation of Mercy Mistress. As you watch Mercy Mistress, you see Poppy disappear and wholly become Mistress Yin. For Poppy, this experience has been empowering. “The exploitation of Asian femme sexuality for white male consumption is rampant in the media industry,” says Liu. “Mercy Mistress addresses the stigmas of kink and BDSM, how sex work intersects with Asian immigrant communities, as well as the alarming truth that Asian women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and exploitation.
In fall 2017, the Mercy Mistress team chose to crowdfund the filming of the pilot rather than involve network television at this phase to maintain the integrity of the project, hire from within the community, and prevent the story from getting whitewashed. Mercy Mistress successfully crowdfunded $77,442 from community support alone. The funds raised in the fall allowed them to hire a 30 person crew, 15 person cast, and complete five full days of filming in January 2018. With a diverse and inclusive on-screen cast, the Mercy Mistress team made a conscious effort to make sure the crew also reflected that. “Media is a powerful tool for understanding who we are and a mirror to validate our existence,” says Yin Q. “But these stories need to be written by us and for us. There is damage when we see stories about us written by white men or people who are simply using our bodies for capital gain.”
Photographer: Yana Toyber