The Time Our Neighbour Figured Out We Were Running a Brothel Next Door

A few years ago, one of my friends and I ran a SOOB (small owner-operated brothel) in what I guess would be considered an upmarket Auckland suburb.  It was just her and I working there (hence the term “owner-operated”, eh), but we were pretty busy.

Then one day between clients, our neighbour showed up at the door.  She was holding some letterbox numbers and she said, with arched eyebrow, that she was getting a bit tired of all the men knocking on her door and could we please put the numbers on our gate.  My dear friend and colleague tried to spit out a little white lie, but our neighbour said, “I’m not stupid. I know what’s happening here.  And I don’t care, but I don’t want these men knocking on my door.”

We were, of course, mortified.  We had numbers on our gate – not huge neon numbers, but we couldn’t believe that our clients hadn’t been more careful when coming to a brothel to be sure they were knocking on the right door.

Anyway, we apologised profusely to our neighbour.  We put the numbers she gave us on our gate and were sure to be very specific when giving clients directions from then on.  The next week, we took our neighbour over a pot plant and some chocolates to say thanks and sorry.  She didn’t start inviting us over for Sunday roasts, but she was good natured about it, and she didn’t start a crusade against us or call up the Herald or publish our clients’ licence plates on the internet or circulate flyers with our landlord’s name and phone number.  She got on with her life and we got on with our business.

Because it’s no big deal.  Truly.  If there is a brothel in the house next door to you, it is no big deal.  You know your neighbours are almost certainly having sex mere metres away from you anyway, right?  Does whether it’s for money or not really make any real difference?  Clients generally don’t wish to announce their presence and intentions to the world.  They are not interested in you and they are certainly not interested in your children.  Sex workers are not going to go door-knocking to drum up business if it’s a bit quiet.  Sex work does not create a fog of iniquity which will send your dog mad and sour your milk.  A brothel is just another business in your neighbourhood.

And if for some reason the brothel is having an impact on your life, here’s a novel idea – go have a chat to them.  It might come as a surprise to you, but sex workers are people just like you.

Fairytales of Prostitution – Hookers are Forced into Prostitution

The first question I often get asked when someone finds out that I used to be a prostitute is “Why?”  There is an assumption that there must have been some terrible underlying circumstance which forced me into hooking.  Was I addicted to drugs?  Was I burdened by debt?  Was I forced into it by an abusive boyfriend?  Was I unable to find other work?

No, no, no and no.  When I entered prostitution, I already had a perfectly good and respectable job.  I had no addiction issues.  I had no debt, aside from student loans.  I had a girlfriend at the time who most certainly didn’t force me into prostitution but was very supportive of my decision (and I’ll forever be thankful to her for that).  I just decided that I wanted to be a prostitute.  OK, that is a bald-faced lie.  But the reasons that led me to that decision are long and complex and for another fairytale altogether.  Certainly, there were no circumstances forcing me.  But to me, it was like deciding to study or deciding to move to Auckland – a notion that I’d thought about for a while that had reached its time for fruition.  I did meet some women* who were more or less forced into the industry by one or more of the above factors, but they were in the minority.  I also met some women who, like me, were genuinely drawn to prostitution – also something of a minority.  The majority of women I met in prostitution were there because “I need to earn money somehow, and this pays better/has more flexible hours/is more fun than waitressing/call centre work/being a shop assistant.”  Some found it to be perfectly good and acceptable work, others tried it for a short while and decided that it wasn’t for them.

Having made my decision, I rang up and made an appointment at a massage parlour.  It was a place that ran lovely welcoming ads for prospective workers, promising that it was a friendly place and women who wanted to work should come in for a “chat” with their female manager.  I was shown in, put in one of the “bedrooms” (a tiny room with a vinyl bed and mirrors everywhere) and left there for about half an hour.  Then a bloke came to get me and I was led into a tiny office where he and another big burly guy asked me a series of very blunt questions.  The whole time I was wondering how I was going to extricate myself should they ask to “test my skills”.  Thankfully, they didn’t (it would be illegal for them to do so, by the way).

I can’t even tell you how relieved I was to get out of there and never, ever go back.

But I was undeterred!  The next parlour I went to, I did indeed speak to a friendly female manager who didn’t ask me a single question but got me to fill in a form at the front counter and told me to come back the next day to work a shift.  Then she briefly showed me around the place.  It was hilariously tack-tastic, the stereotypical cheap brothel – neon lights, vinyl sofas, full of women in blonde wigs wearing next to nothing who didn’t so much as look at me.  I felt enormously out of place.

However, the third place I went to was just right.  I was greeting by the female co-owner, who invited me into the lounge to talk to some of the girls.  They were cool, friendly people (some of whom were to become good friends); the place was fairly classy for a brothel (I was starting to think myself something of an expert in brothel decor!) – all leather couches and plush carpet like an old-fashioned gentleman’s club; and the manager seemed lovely (and it would transpire that she genuinely was lovely – a former hooker herself who wanted to run the sort of place she would have wanted to work at).  I filled in my form and reported for duty the very next evening.

So, to recap: not only did I choose to enter into the sex industry of my own volition, I also had in mind the sort of place I wanted to work and kept looking till I found it.  No coercion here!

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*Obviously, there are plenty of male prostitutes too.  I just haven’t come across too many.

Fairytales of Prostitution – an Introduction

I was a prostitute for four and a half years, give or take.  During that time, I worked in several massage parlours, I did independent outcalls and I co-ran a SOOB (small owner-operated brothel).  I was briefly a dominatrix*, which I was rubbish at, but I was a much more successful professional submissive.

I left the industry a whiles ago now, and I think enough time has passed that I have some perspective on it.  While I was in it, I was staunchly pro-sex work to the point that I refused to see anything but positives in the industry.  Now with distance and hindsight, I see it for what it was – like anything, it had awesome aspects and it had some pretty shitty aspects.  On the whole, however, I’m really happy for the time I spent as a prostitute.  I loved most of my work, I learned new skills (not even the sort of skills you’re thinking about!) and I think it made me a better person.

So I thought I’d start writing about some of the myths that surround prostitution.  Of course, it’s all my own perspective informed by my own experiences.   Other prostitutes’ experiences will no doubt be completely different.

I use the term “prostitute” quite consciously.  “Sex worker” seems to have become a bit of a catch-all euphemism which I have heard applied to everyone from strippers to phone-sex workers to paid erotica writers!  I’d rather own the term “prostitute”, because that’s what I was.  I’ll probably also refer to myself as a hooker and a whore.  These terms, to my mind, have more poewr and more history than the bland “sex worker”.

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* The dominatrices I know will want me to mention that their line of work is not the same as prostitution and that as a rule dominatrices do not have sex with their clients.  Indeed, in my brief stint as a dominatrix, I didn’t.  I did, however, have sex with clients as a pro-sub, although only in specialised sessions.