Maîtresse Françoise (pen name Annick Foucault) is a dominatrix in Paris, France. Her autobiography (Françoise Maîtresse) was published in 1994 in France by publisher Éditions Gallimard.
Maîtresse Françoise was born in the South of France. Her childhood was marred by the loss of her father. After having been the victim of an accident, she consecutively had no real other alternative but dropping out of university. Thus she chiefly became a self-taught woman. She first ran a ready-to-wear shop and then became interested in Minitel (a videotex online service accessible through telephone lines, the world’s most successful online service prior to the World Wide Web), which she considered to be “an excellent means of communication, a kind of no-man’s-land where anything is allowed”. She subsequently participated in various forums and set up a “debate forum”, 3615 Fetish, which was devoted to sadomasochism (meaning sadism and masochism), before launching in 1994 her own specialized “minitel network”, under the name of Miss M. Marc Daum described her as “a major messaging authorizing officer 3615 on behalf of a foremost player in telematics, given that the good intellectual performance of her forums [had built] the loyalty of her knowledgeable readers”. During the same period, she was the chief editor of a magazine—La Scène—with a circulation of 5,000 copies.
I used to meet dominant men on Minitel. One day, everything changed with one of them. I suddenly tore the whip off his hands and whipped him. He then kissed me on the pumps and said: Please punish me, you’re a dominatrix.
In 1994, she published a book under her real name. This book—which, as pointed out by Anne-Élisabeth Moutet, was edited by Gallimard— is an autobiographical narrative called Françoise Maîtresse whose content, according to Jean Pache, is “strange and meaningful”. The book is prefaced by Pierre Bourgeade, who considered the literary quintessentiality of it as part of the expression of an “unconscious freedom of its own”, while Jean-Jacques Pauvert thought it a “major work of erotic literature over the past ten years”. In this autobiography, the author presented herself in two ways: Françoise, the dominatrix, and Marianne, “who discovered her masochism by watching the whip scenes in pirate movies as a teenager”. Anne Larue emphasized the link which appeared to prevail between those two paradoxical idiosyncrasies: “Françoise, it is first of all the name of a little girl of twelve years old […] who plays the mistress”.
The book also echoes the philosophical thought of Gilles Deleuze, to whom Maîtresse Françoise pays tribute, in a way that, according to Charles J. Stivale, conveys a “perceptive and fascinating reflection on La Vénus à la fourrure, Présentation de Sacher-Masoch de Deleuze”. According to Céline du Chéné, Mistress Françoise was “probably the most intellectual of the dominatrixes of the Parisian scene”, owning “all the editions” of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and “having maintained a correspondence” with Gilles Deleuze, who, according to Jean Pache, would have given “this unexpected disciple friendship and consideration”.
After the publication of her book, which, as noted by Giovanni Firmian, was “a great success in France”, Maîtresse Françoise was invited to various French talk shows and gave interviews about sadomasochism.
On the occasion of the release of a translation of her book in Italy, Giovanni Firmian described Maîtresse Françoise as “the queen of dominatrixes and sadomasochistic practices, the most famous one in France, but also known throughout the rest of Europe and United States”. The Italian periodical La Stampa recorded that the journalist Mirella Serri believed that Maîtresse Françoise considered herself to be the embodiment of “an outstanding artist belonging to a scarce and special breed: i.e. the “mystics” of sex”.