Your Money or Your Wife

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 by

Despite claims by some that Britain has become a nanny state, what we are in fact living under is a dominatrix dictatorship.

Just watch any terrestrial TV station for a couple of hours. It’s inevitable at some point you’ll encounter a stern-faced disciplinarian issuing a series of orders to some masochistic member of the public.

But as if Mistress McKeith, Mistress Frost et al aren’t enough, Channel 4′s latest strict mistress is double-barrelled dominatrix Cesarina Holm-Kander, Your Money or Your Wife‘s whip-cracking financial trouble-shooter. Holm-Kander, the show’s self-styled “debt buster”, aims to bring her boardroom expertise to the bedroom and help couples climb the debt mountain they’ve managed to accumulate; and with the average debt of the under 30s being £8,000, Holm-Kander won’t be short of victims.

First in the series was credit card queen Kerri, a 22-year old psychology student and model, who was definitely more the latter than the former. Label lover Kerri (motto: Life’s too short not to get everything you want) felt it was important to look good, but was unable to manage this on her alleged £40,000 salary, and had ran up a five-figure debt on credit cards.

It wasn’t difficult to see how this had happened. Kerri admitted to spending £3,000 to £4,000 a month on clothes, had two silver convertibles, and had undergone a £5,000 boob job in 2004, although it was perhaps appropriate the latter should have been financed by plastic.

Amazingly, boyfriend James (motto: If you can’t afford it you shouldn’t get it) was unaware as to the full extent of Kerri’s spending, although you would have thought he couldn’t have missed the overnight breast enhancement and been curious as to how it was paid for. Maybe he was having too much fun.

Mistress Cesarina (motto: Spending money you don’t have to achieve your dream is the recipe for a financial nightmare) certainly had some work to do, as not only were the couple deep in debt but planning to go into business together and open a nightclub. Could she whip the profligate pair into equitable shape?

The first part of Cesarina’s master(card) class was to reveal the true extent of Kerri’s debts, not just to James, but to the debt diva herself. Kerri’s tenuous grip on her financial affairs was such that she was unaware of how much she was in arrears, although you’d have thought a model would have known a thing or two about figures.

Kerri told James she was “£30 – 40 thousand” in debt, although Cesarina was quick to point out the exact figure was £41,000. If you were being generous you could say Kerri was only a thousand out, but it would perhaps be more accurate to state she was £11,000 out. James was surprised it was that much (“I thought it was half of that”), although Kerri at least had some idea where the money had gone (“I shouldn’t have bought all those shoes.”).

After Cesarina got financial and informed Kerri she was technically insolvent – then explained to her exactly what this phrase meant – the mistress got down to drawing-up a post-nup agreement and attempted to pass on the organisational skills needed to manage their debt. Being a financial expert, Cesarina reckoned she could knock off £9,000 of Kerri’s arrears inside two weeks, although I wasn’t that impressed. Even though I’m a beginner at this financial advisor stuff, I could have knocked £41,000 off James’s debts inside two minutes with some simple advice: dump Kerri. However, he was determined to stand by his woman, insisting they were “in this together”.

Despite this declared spirit of togetherness, he was strangely absent from the next part of Cesarina’s attempts to “dent the debt” with a spot of public shaming. As a psychology student Kerri should have understood the motivation here. Carrying a suitcase of £20 notes which contained the amount she was paying in interest on her loans each month, Kerri had to walk the streets and hand out to passers-by the money, explaining to them as she did so why she was being so generous. Kerri thought this exercise was a waste, although as her mistress was quick to point out, this was what she was doing on a corporate basis by virtue of her interest payments each month.

But just in case the symbolic effect of the lesson wasn’t enough, James obeyed their mistress’s next set of instructions by cutting up all of Kerri’s cards. In addition to this was an enforced budget of £7 a day, with all their financial decisions having to be made together and Cesarina having access to their online accounts.

Following this was the inevitable asset-stripping which, understandably, had the Visa vixen feeling a little nervous, but while she was likely to lose the shirt off her back it was unlikely Cesarina was so strict she was going to take the implants from her chest. After going through her possessions and calling in an auctioneer, Cesarina was confident she could raise £2,000 by selling the tagged items, but James and Kerri resisted the proposed flogging by their monetary mistress.

James said he’d “rather get a job than sell this stuff” which in more than the way he’d meant revealed why the pair were so indebted. Kerri also refused to sell many of her “investments”, such as her £900 bag. But, as Cesarina pointed out, this wasn’t an investment, it was a debt … in the shape of a bag. This also applied to £34,000 in the shape of a Beamer that was parked next to the other convertible Kerri couldn’t part with as she wanted “the best of anything”. With an attitude and car like that, it was no surprise when Cesarina fitted her client with a tracking device so she could be monitored 24 hours a day.

The next stage in installing discipline was an attempt to show the superficial and ultimately pointless nature of Kerri’s desire for image. She had to discern a designer bag from a high street one, which, unsurprisingly, she was unable to do – but then she wasn’t alone. When the bags were shown to people on the street (the people Kerri the “model” was most likely to spend her time mixing with), they too were unable to tell the difference or which was the most expensive-looking. As Cesarina pointed out, many celebs wear high-street attire, and besides this try and blag as much free stuff as possible. Some of them probably even take advantage of the firm Holm-Kander mentioned that offered designer bags for a £30 monthly hire fee.

But the final test of Kerri’s newly found obedience was a spot of entrapment. Could she resist the ultimate accessory of the conspicuously consumptive: a pampered pooch as carried by the likes of Paris Hilton?

Knowing of Kerri’s desire for a £1,000 pug puppy, Cesarina had a secret meeting with James (in the front of a parked car for added furtive authenticity) to inform him of her cunning plan. He was to take his girlfriend to her pedigree chum to see if he could use a pug to make a mug of her. Four hidden cameras were recording the occasion as he attempted to entice her. However, she refused to take the bait, worrying that she didn’t want Cesarina to “lose respect for me or be told off”. Right on cue after this display of submission, Cesarina rang Kerri to congratulate her for not giving in to temptation.

By the end of the first month, Cesarina had saved the couple £9,845, although this sum was perhaps less impressive when taken into account the £7,900 that had been saved by selling one of the cars. Much of the advice Holm-Kander had given (organise your bills, pay them on time) was the practical kind you’d expect a layman to offer, and when the financial expert told them all they had to do to clear the remaining £31,155 was carry on with £7 a week budget for the next two years you had to wonder if it wasn’t just Kerri with the tenuous grip of financial reality.

But then this hadn’t all been about financial gains, and the experience had taught Kerri and James lessons about each other. The psychology student had learned she can’t have everything she wants and James had realised his woman can be tamed. But then what else would you expect a dominatrix to teach you?


Comments are closed.