A brothel next to a nunnery. Seriously, it was. There was a convent next door to Tudor Court where nuns lived. Once some visiting elderly nuns walked up our path accidentally while the girls were all sitting around in the lounge looking like trollops and the lady in the reception had to point them in the correct direction.
The brothel was in Potts Point, Sydney and I just lived around the corner from it. I would bike to work every morning on my little pink bicycle with my normal red hair, spend some time out the back coiling my hair tightly and pinning my hair close to my head, and then put on a wig. I wore a big blonde Tina Turner style wig which I had bought in a shop in Los Angeles on my way back from London. Surprisingly it looked pretty good. It made my body look super slender below my huge hair and I was able to wear a tight red lace dress, which I called my money dress. It earned me lots.
At the time I was also a student and would be diligently working on a table out the back all day, then totter down to the front when the bell rang, meaning a client was there to look us over. It was a “walk in” place. Once they chose us we took them to the room and inspected their penises under a special blue light. For the first week we had been trained with what to look for, how to squeeze their penis lightly to check if any discharge looks normal etc. If there were any tell-tale signs of an STD we would walk them to the door, otherwise they would get into the shower and our time together would begin. Of course we still used condoms, but in Australia, they have these extra procedures in place.
There was another university student and she was as studious as I. It was amazing how much work we could get done in between bookings, it felt great to be so productive. I wonder what happened to her, she said that one day she would be Australia’s first female Prime Minister. She wasn’t, but I hope she went on to be something equally as noteworthy.
I worked days and the day girls were a completely different animal from the night girls. We were much less glamourous. We were a motley bunch of students, Greenpeace volunteers and a couple of sisters, one of them was a young mother who lived with her boyfriend. He was alright about her working while he stayed home and looked after their son. There was another girl with brown, poker-straight hair long enough for her to sit on, who wore no makeup and rocked a very old-fashioned girl-next-door look, with nude-coloured stockings and suspenders. She was a tennis fanatic and every year she would take time off to go to Wimbledon.
Generally we wore elegant, sexy dresses and heels, with matching lingerie and stockings. I forget what our prices were, but it was a nice place to work though.
It was here, though, that I had a slightly dangerous experience with a client, which I still shudder about when I think back to it. Obviously I did come out of this alive. I mentioned that while working at the Penthouse, a guy who was a friend of the owner’s son pointed a gun at me. You’d think it would have been pretty scary and while it was not an entirely comfortable experience, I wasn’t that worried. For one thing, the guy was an idiot who was trying to act tough but probably wasn’t. For another thing, he was hardly going to shoot me in his mate’s dad’s brothel, with clients around (think what that would have done for his friend’s family’s business, a supposedly respectable establishment) and for another thing – I wasn’t worth going to jail for a few years for. With dozens of witnesses that would have been the outcome for sure.
However, this other experience at Tudor Court was quite unsettling (an understatement) because the guy was not sane and sober and capable of thinking through the consequences.
I had arrived to work on a Saturday morning and apparently he had been there all night after jumping in the spa fully clothed the night before. He had been acting strangely (as it turned out this was due to not having taken his medication). From memory (I could be wrong) the night shift girls left at 5.30am, which was when the cleaner arrived, and he had thought the man was drunk and put him in a room to sleep it off, or more likely to keep him out of the way. His clothes had got wet and he was wearing a robe so apparently he was waiting for his clothes to dry.
The cleaner finished his work around 9am which is when we arrived to get ready, I think we opened at 9.30, and the man was still alone supposedly sleeping off his drunkenness in a room, but we all saw him still wide awake as we walked back from the dressing room past his open door into the lounge. He hadn’t slept and he was crazier than ever, not that any of us realised that. Apparently he told one of the ladies on her way past that he wanted to book me, “the lady in red,” so I was told to go and see him in the room. Big mistake.
It’s very hard to reason with a man who is not thinking straight and unfortunately by the time I realised the seriousness of the situation I was in, he was making strange threats to kill me with his bare hands, threatening to strangle me and/or snap my neck in half. He was between me and the door, blocking my exit. He was very jumpy and kept saying that I was an imposter of his “friend”, a famous actress, then it was a famous singer whose identity I was stealing and on it went. Of course I looked nothing like them other than that they were both blondes and I was wearing a blonde wig.
I somehow managed to talk him away from the door without his realising. I have a hazy memory that I mustered all my strength to not seem as terrified as I was and I sat down on a sofa on the other side of the room and pretended I couldn’t hear him so he came closer and away from the door. At the first opportunity, I bolted out of there. And I really was moving as fast as a lightening bolt.
It’s a dangerous job, sex work (although the same could be said for many straight jobs nowadays – anyone want a position at WINZ, or in a bank?) After that I decided to give it up for the second time, and my nervousness about being alone in a room with a client kept me away for a lot longer than my first retirement.