You hear a lot of seedy stories about brothels and drugs and violence, but my experience was nothing like that.
I loved running the brothel and I loved the girls that I worked with. We respected each other and I looked after them.
All of the girls worked at the brothel for their own reasons but they were basically just trying to make their way. It’s easy money, it’s fast money and it’s good money. Just because they get paid to have sex doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, beautiful ladies who are good people.
I studied arts and majored in photography. My major work was portraits of my grandmother who had dementia and everyone told me how moving they were and I realised I wanted to work more with portraiture, and humans in their raw states.
I asked myself what the rawest thing I could photograph was and I decided it was porn. I didn’t even watch porn so I had no idea how to become a porn photographer, so I looked online and a few brothels popped up.
I fired off some emails requesting a meeting and I got a phone call from a raspy throated woman who invited me in for an interview. The building looked like an ordinary terrace in the back streets of Kings Cross, and when I entered I felt really comfortable there.
The moment the woman saw me she said I could easily be a prostitute for her, but I explained that I just wanted a job in reception and see how the business worked and maybe take some photographs of the girls.
It didn’t take long for me to form relationships with the girls – we built a mutual respect which I earned by treating them nicely and kindly, and making their welfare my highest priority.
We were a high class brothel, and the guys had to pay 50 per cent before they even came in the front door, which they did not get back if they were thrown out for bad behaviour. I never had any trouble. You hear of it occasionally, but we weren’t that kind of place.We had mostly bankers and lawyers, guys that can afford that kind of money for an hour or two with a young, glamourous woman.
Brothels are an incredibly important part of society. They allow men to play out fantasies, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a community service in many ways. We had some girls who looked very young and some clients, I’m not suggesting they were paedophiles but they liked really young girls, they can come to a brothel and have sex with someone who is over 18 and fully consenting or they can go out and what? Underage sex? Worse?
Also, in this society people are encouraged to work 60-80 hours a week, how are we supposed to have relationships? You’re either at work or you’re asleep. You can come to a brothel, have some no-strings-attached affection and you go home again. Everyone needs some affection.
Sometimes a new girl would could to me, desperate for money. My priority was not to ensnare a vulnerable girl and put her to work. My priority was to find out how much trouble she was in. How could I best help her?
I would ask her why she was in trouble. Maybe she was a single mum who needed money immediately to pay an electricity bill or buy groceries, or maybe she was a student in debt up to her eyeballs.
I would always ask exactly how much money she had in her bank account and how much money she needed to get out of this immediate trouble … then how much money she needed to survive from there on out. We would work out how many shifts she needed to work and what that would look like in reality. I didn’t sugar coat it, but I never took advantage of their situations.
If they had kids I would pay for their childcare, knowing that the what we would all earn in eight hours would more than adequately make up for it, and my girls felt they were supported.
We saw drugs in there, but drugs are everywhere in the night time world. It wasn’t the girls who brought them in, it was the clients. The girls might do some cocaine or ice with them but I rarely saw any of the girls with a drug problem. They were too careful with their money. They weren’t messy, drug addicts, these were classy ladies.
I never tried to get them to leave, or encouraged them to get a different job, why would I? The money was great, and the hours were flexible. It was a workplace of women that supported women.
I’m a young, cute blonde so now and again I would be asked by clients if I was willing to have sex for money and I admit I was tempted but I had a boyfriend, firstly, but also it’s just not what I was there for. I was more of an observer, or a guardian of the situation.
I took my photos, sometimes I’d shoot the girls with their clients if that’s what they wanted, and I got everything and more than I wanted out of the job.
My time in the brothel created nothing but great friendships and good memories. I would go back there if I ever needed to but I decided it was time to try something different. It’s a really diverse industry that is often thought of negatively, but people need to open their minds to the idea that it’s just a service like any other that gives women so much sexual and financial freedom.
What other industry does that?