People...we’re taking a trip down memory lane once again. So fill your popcorn bucket, take the phone off the hook and settle in, cos it’s Storytime Motherfuckers!
When you’re working at a brothel, you shouldn’t be surprised to find people you recognise walking through the door. Sometimes it’s as simple as noticing that it’s the same guy who stood in front of you on the tram that morning. Other times you’ll see a local celebrity. And very occasionally you’ll get a friend or family member waltzing into your place of work and it'll make you wonder what Miss Marple’s Guide to Manners would advise you to do in this situation. The most important thing to do in these situations is to maintain your sense of decorum, or in layman's terms, you’re going to need a fucking good poker face.
In most parlours the service providers have a break room where they can relax inbetween bookings. On a particularly quiet night they might chill with a magazine or play on their phone until there’s a client in the introduction room. Then they'll check on the monitors what the client looks like to see if it’s someone they know, or if it's someone they will refuse outright. On busy nights however, there’s not always time to check the cameras and do your due diligence, and it’s in this moment that social apocalypses are born.
Many sex workers choose not to tell partners about their occupation. This is not something you get to judge them for so you can step off that soapbox right now. One girl, “Rachel”, had never told any of her partners about her work. She had been seeing a new guy for about six weeks and had been desperately trying to make a good impression by maintaining a fairly demure attitude, so she didn't frighten him off (which had happened to previous partners). So when, on a particularly busy night Rachel walked into an intro room and found her new beau reclining in the armchair deciding on his lady of the night, things escalated quickly. What you probably didn’t expect though was that, kind of like that song where everyone loves Pina Coladas, the new boyfriend actually had a fetish for sex workers, which he had been trying to keep secret from Rachel. The last I hear from them they were several years in to their relationship and very happy.
I wish all of the random run-ins ended as happily, but unfortunately most didn’t. Because of the stigma of sex work, almost every time a service provider ran into someone they knew it ended in a some form of anxious breakdown. There was the girl who ran into her ex-boyfriend, the one who took an escort call for her father-in-law and one who literally ran into her child’s primary school teacher as he was leaving after a booking.
One service provider, “Tiffany”, walked into the intro room and started giving her rates and services to her own father. What was an intense moment for Tiffany later devolved into some kind of mutually assured destruction pact where neither Tiffany nor her father could tell their mother/wife that they’d run into each other in a brothel.
Melbourne is home to a great many large events and every time there was some kind of big star visiting, whether it was a rock god, a pop starlet or just a meaningless vapid celebutante, you could be sure that someone from their retinue would end up visiting the parlour. Or sometimes things would get really interesting and an escort would be booked for the celebrity’s hotel room. Much as I would love to disclose the antics and foibles of the rich and famous, I am more attached to my reputation for discretion. People often wonder why they don’t hear about all the salacious details of celebrities going to brothels; the reason is pretty obvious. Any brothel that let’s the stories get out, doesn’t keep getting the clientele. A person’s privacy is worth more than someone else’s entertainment. I will tell you this though, famous athletes are very rarely as good in bed as they’d like you to believe.
My moment of magic came unexpectedly one Friday night. I was working at the front desk, greeting clients and taking bookings. I saw a guy coming up the stairs and as he walked through the front door I recognised it was a good friend from high school. Stupidly the only thing that occurred to me was that he had come to see me. Obviously he’d been in the neighbourhood and thought he’d drop in and say hi. So as horrific realisation dawned on his face, mine was broken into a huge smile of genuine pleasure at seeing him.
“Oh my god! Hey! How are you?!”
Audible gulp. “Uh...hi.”
“How have you been?! How’s work?!”
I was so genuinely surprised and thrown into social overdrive mode that it took me a good couple of minutes to realise that he probably wanted to have a look around at where I worked. Yeah, it still hadn’t clicked that this moment wasn’t at all about me.
“Oh! Do you want to go through?!”
Audible nervous sweating. “Uh...yes?”
“Yeah! Come on through!”
And I ushered him through to the lounge and enthusiastically started pointing out features of the architecture and laughingly introduced him to all the girls, who for some reason didn’t feel the need to exchange names.
It was only when I heard another client come through the door and went back to attend the desk, did I have time to actually think about what had happened.
I stood and stared stupidly at the wall in front of me while the cogs slowly turned and then I looked through at my friend sitting very awkwardly in the lounge.
I had never been so embarrassed. It never actually occurred to me that my friend had anything to be embarrassed about. I mean, he was just here to see a sex worker, there wasn’t actually anything weird about that. Me, on the other hand, had just proven what a self-involved narcissist I was by believing that anyone came to a brothel for the receptionist.
Having successfully ruined my friend’s chances of any stress relief that evening, I hung my head in shame.
Worst. Brothel. Manager. Ever. That's what all the reviews were going to say from now on.
Luckily for me I have good friends who are inclined towards forgiveness. We never again ran into each other at my place of work, which was probably for the best. But I did get to see various other acquaintances, old colleagues and even an ex-partner, all of whom I managed to remind myself, weren’t there to see me.
I guess the message I took away from all of this is that the chances are high that you already know someone, or several people, who visit brothels and sex workers. They might have done it in the past, they might still be doing it. Should knowing this change anything? Fuck no.
Someone you know pays for sex, so what? I pay for a lot of things, and not a single one of them should make a difference to the way my friends see me. Similarly if you've been thinking of seeing a sex worker, but you're worried about someone finding out, don't be. You have nothing to be ashamed of! Life is too short to worry about what other people think of you, particularly if it's standing between you and something that's going to make you happy. You should go to a brothel. We should ALL go to brothels!
That is all.
You may go now.