Americans are not aware of Terri Jean Bedford, but in Canada she is one of their most notorious citizens--but under the name Madame deSade. Terri-Jean Bedford was Canada's most famous leather-clad dominatrix, a well-known public figure appearing on the evening news as she took on the Canadian legal establishment to ultimately change sex worker law throughout the country. Canada's prostitution laws were struck down in 2010.
Terri-Jean Bedford’s autobiography, Dominatrix on Trial, published by Riverdale Avenue Books, chronicles her life born into poverty to her rise as Canada’s most famous dominatrix. As a poor bi-racial girl, she was placed into a foster home at six, where she was abused. She was later moved into various children’s homes and lived there until she was 16, when she left to make it on her own. Terri survived by working numerous unskilled jobs. Her talents and interests helped her move into the elite world of the professional dominatrix, after which life was never the same. Located just outside of Toronto, her elaborate Bondage Bungalow became the target of a spectacular raid. Six highly publicized years of trials and appeals later, she was convicted under bawdy-house laws and paid a small fine. In 1999, she opened a similar facility in downtown Toronto, one that closed without police interference in 2002.
“Terri-Jean Bedford is a feminist icon, a revolutionary who not only fought for what she believed, but for freedom for both women and men.” said Publisher Lori Perkins. “She is a courageous and strong woman who continues to have a lasting impact on Canada and sex work.”
A few years later she was at the center of Bedford vs. Canada, a five-year constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex trade laws. The Supreme Court vindicated her struggles. She remains a vocal advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised.