Originally conceived as a documentary about dominatrixes and their clients, once Toska went “undercover” to get a first hand, inside look at the BDSM world, she found herself seduced by the aura of power and redemption that consumed her. After working for several years as “Mistress Kassandra,” Toska removed herself from the work so she could concentrate on developing her story into a scripted series instead.
The pilot stars Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias), Cady McClain (All My Children), Jon Lindstrom (Bosch, True Detective), Mark Borkowski (Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards), and Catherine Eaton (Interpretation of Dreams, The Sounding).
Viewers are taken on an authentic and never before seen journey to the riveting world of BDSM by Stella and the main characters as they navigate leading a double life, while fighting the battle for power, identity, ambition, love and family. In some ways, SWITCH is a workplace drama, much like ER, but in a dungeon instead of an operating room.
As the episode opens, we meet Stella, an immigrant woman with a dark past who begins training as a professional dominatrix in New York City’s most exclusive BDSM Establishment Athena’s Temple aka The “Temp”, all this while she is battling her own demons and severe PTSD.
While Stella awakens to the reality that everyone leads three lives – one public, one private and one secret, she is also trying to discover who she truly is herself. Determined to change everything in her life and become the Mistress of her own fate, Stella forgets one very important thing…in order to find her light she must embrace the darkness within.
Creator Toska shares that while she originally took up the dominatrix mantle for “research,” it wasn’t long before the lure of incredible compensation, both financial and emotional, overtook her.
“Five years into working as a dominatrix, I was offered $1.2M dollars to do something for a client that would potentially put my life at risk,” she recalls. “By that point I had long left the BDSM dungeon I was working in and had gotten into the independent dominatrix game — a whole other world.”
The lifestyle was light years away from her traditional Greek roots and middle class mentality. “You see, the biggest drug of them all is power. And I was pretty high by that point. But this offer, and the fact that I was seriously thinking about accepting it, made me stop at my tracks and think about what I want to do next with my life,” she says. So, she left the business at the top of her game and decided to create a scripted series based on her experiences instead. The result is SWITCH, the most provocative franchise series in recent programming.
Notable Dances With Films alumni who first gained notice at the festival include Gina Rodriguez, Bryan Cranston, Jesse Eisenberg, and John Hawkes, among many others.