In my second year of Uni I was feeling adventurous, and also slightly desperate because there simply were no jobs for me. So I decided to try the one industry that ALWAYS had work available.
Everything in this story is true. Yes, I really did meet this people and have these conversations. While not exact to the words of the people mentioned, it's close enough. Also, names, except for one (which was too adorable not to use) were changed to protect the identity of everyone. Also, I just wanted to share this experience, I'm not condemning anyone nor am I advocating anything. I'm just a girl who believes in trying everything at least once.
It was cold, the wind was freezing and I had just walked 20 minutes from a bus stop into an industrial park lined with car workshops and a few nondescript buildings. I was late.
I was terrified that I might be penalised for being late, so I called the lady boss, whom I was meeting for an interview, and she answered in two rings, "You're lost aren't you? No worries hun, take your time." She hung up and after a few more minutes of wandering around I found the place.
It wasn't because of a sign (there wasn't one), or that she was standing outside waiting for me (who'd be crazy enough to be out in this freezing cold beside me?) It was because it was the only building among the other short stacks to be decorated with flashing green and red twinkle lights like it was Christmas Day, have two white cars up front and two very obvious cameras at its front door.
So I psyched myself up a bit and walked through the dark passageway, past an ATM and through to a lounge. It was dark, two televisions playing old 90s music videos, 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys and N*Sync were running at the back. The lounge had a few couches, cocktail tables and was filled with girls in bustiers and tiny skirts chatting on chairs. On the walls hung lingerie that looked pricy, but aged, as though they had been there for quite a while. There were no men, except for one, who quickly went into a separate room with another girl. The room was smoky with the scent of stale cigarette smoke in the air. But before I stepped in any further, A chirpy girl at the counter greeted me. "Hey there! How can I help you?"
Before I could answer, the lady boss, Nancy popped up and said, "She's the new girl! Coming to take your job." She teased the girl at the counter. "Come on, let's take a look at you." Nancy was nice, she offered a cigeratte, which I politely declined, and brought me to a bar at the back of the lounge to have a chat. She smiled, but you could tell that she would be kind, but stern. Really, the kind of mamasan you would expect or want if you were to work in a brothel. Which, in case you haven't guessed, was where I was for the night.
I had come to interview for a position as a receptionist of a prominent brothel in Perth. For $23 an hour, I was pretty excited to try it out! I had even dressed my best; tranny-high heels, a tight pencil skirt that made my ass look great, and a blouse that was sexy not skanky. Bright smile, chin up, fluffed up hair and wannabe strut, I followed Nancy to the back of the bar and handed her my resume as she sat down.
Nancy didn't tell me what I would be doing, all she said was, "Tell me what makes you perfect for this job?" My first thought: have you seen my rack? But then again, I was in Australia, my rack was the average. So instead, I spewed out my well-practiced verses - I was determined to earn $23 an hour - I'm friendly, organised, chatty, etc etc, she smiled, nodded and then said, "You're here to sell SEX."
My smile froze.
"All kinds. Since you have had no experience working in this line, I wasn't sure that I wanted to hire you... But you've got a pretty face and a pretty smile." She paused to let me revel in my huge ego boost. "So I'll give you a go. But you need to work on that blush."
I looked at her and asked, "blush?"
"Yes, that rosy cheeked thing on your face." She patted my face. "Look at you! Blushing already. You can't blush in this industry!" I smiled awkwardly, because I wasn't blushing, I just probably did a really bad job and went overboard with my baby pink blusher. "So, are you ready?" Nancy stubbed out her cigarette and stood up. She tucked my resume in her pocket and walked off.
I tottered behind her on my heels and followed her to the desk where two gentlemen, both in suits and looking absolutely divine were inquiring about girls.
"Listen and learn." Nancy whispered, and leaned against the wall. Well, looks like I was starting immediately.
"How much again?" One of them asked, he had a Rolex on his wrist, his soft hair looking tussled. I was curious as to why a gorgeous man like that needed to pay for sex.
"It's $400 an hour, you get a full body massage, affection, mutual french and sex.” The current receptionist smiled. Gorgeous man raised his eyebrows, I frowned. What the hell was mutual french? And affection? What does that quantify? If I rub your chest and sing you a lullaby... does that count as affection too? Apparently Mr Gorgeous and Rich knew, because he shrugged and pulled out $400 CASH from his wallet. His friend, Mr Sorta Good-Looking-and-Rich-Too grinned and said, "me too!" and promptly pulled out $400 cash as well.
"Great!" said the receptionist and began to count the cash quietly. "So are you guys staying close by?" She asked casually.
"Yeah we're from Melbourne, just here for a couple of days at the hotel close by." Said Mr Gorgeous with a swish of his hair.
I just looked on wondering how they were so cavalier about paying for sex. "Alright! All seems to be in order. Why don't you have a chat with the girls and tell us who'd you like later?" Seconds later, they were pulled into the crowd of girls.
"Come." Nancy commanded. "This is Sara. She'll be teaching you the ropes. Your shift will end in three hours yeah. It's only a trial, so you can decide later if you'd like to take the job. Be nice Sara."
"I'm always nice!" Sara laughed as Nancy walked into the back room.
I smiled at her and she and I shared a moment, "don't worry, the girls are great and the men can be great too." she smiled reassuringly before introducing me to the various things of importance.
Things of importance
Magenta: a thick black binder with hot pink paper, this was the manual for anyone working in the sex industry, the rules set by some unknown governing body.
The computer: we also manned the company's website, where all the escorts' pictures were posted. They had two male escorts, I was amused to see. A 65 year old, white-haired gentlemen in a suit graced a profile, of course, like all the rest, his face was hidden. Sara said, "he doesn't usually get called up, but you never know!" All sorts of girls were on the site, the variety was amazing. Sometimes the girls chatted online with potential customers too.
The phones: they had two, if either rings, I'll have to pick up and use the standard lines, "Hey there (insert name of brothel) how can I help you?" followed by "“What kind of girl would you like? Blonde and busty? Asian? We have it all." Sometimes, there were prank calls. "It happens all time time." Sara rolled her eyes, "Usually teenagers sniggering into the phone, or people too afraid to actually tell us what they are looking for. We just hang up." And she did. Thrice. Within the first three hours of the start to the evening shift.
There were two shifts, 10pm to 6am and 2pm to 10pm and the girls came in whenever they wanted. They earned per customer, $400 an hour, $200 to the girl, $200 to the house. Almost made me want to join the nightly profession. (I'M JOKING MOM.) But anyway, sometimes, if the girls did two shifts in a row, they were allowed to stay in one of the extra rooms for a small price. But aside from money, there was the price of their sanity.
Nina, one of the youngest ran in, she looked great, she probably had Arabic blood because she had thick black hair, hauntingly beautiful eyes and she had banging curves. She had eye bags though, big eyebags. "You can't stay here too long." Nina said tiredly, "It really takes a toll on you, you know? Constantly surrounded by the smoke and sexed up atmosphere. It's exhausting. Sara, are there any jobs for me tonight?"
See unlike most of the girls in the lounge, Nina was popular, which meant Nina didn't have to fight for jobs, they came to her. "Just two. Hold on, I'll ring Joe." Joe was the driver. He drove the girls to appointments. Driving girls out for appointments cost more. $100 more.
"Oh god. I hope it's not the crazy one."
"Which one?" I asked excitedly.
"You meet a lot of creeps in this line of work." Nina said. "This one guy had me come in and lie there while he did his own thing. When he was done, he smoked a cig and sat next to me. Then he stubbed it out on my belly button." I just let my jaw hang after she said that.
"What a sick bastard. We cancelled him Nina." Sara shook her head and looked at me, "We make sure Joe stays just outside the appointment's place in case the girls need to run off because of cases like this."
"Then why do you continue Nina?" Sara wasn't very happy that I asked that question, but I continued anyway.
"It's fine Sara." Nina smiled. "I like it." she told me. Well. I guess I heard everything. It was so... refreshing almost, to listen to the way Nina spoke about her job. It really was a job that she loved, almost a vocation. Someone told me after that it was sad that Nina only found joy in being an escort. But honestly, I was more impressed rather than shocked. She really looked past the stigma of the oldest profession in the world and still went through with it. She had damn big balls to do what she liked and suffer for it.
She wasn't the only one though. A frail, heavily made-up escort dropped by the counter for a chat. Her name was Maya. She looked like she marked the age bracket: 55 and above. She was dressed in a slinky red dress clinging to every bone in her body. It was so tight, you could see her nipples. Sorry, I mean her stick-on nipples. Her rail-thin body, coupled with her shivering hands that clutched a bright red hand bag spoke volumes about her dedication to the job. She didn't even bother jumping in to speak to the two young men, she just kept on drinking her cup of strong black coffee. I know this because she leaned in towards me, perky nipples just above the counter, coffee breath right in my face, and said, "how's your first day?"
"Good thanks." And so began out conversation as to when she started working here. Maya was fascinating. She was cheerful, her voice cracking from the amount of cigarettes and coffee she has drunk over the years, as she told me about how this was her first job after she finished high school and how she's never gone back from it. She even asked me if I'd like to take her old clients out in the future.
Definitely not Maya, but thanks.
Maya's conversation lured over a blonde, pretty one. By then the two men had picked their girls, popped by to see Sara who handed them a towel each and gave them keys to the Scarlett room and the Midnight room, so the rest of the girls were free. This blonde one who joined our conversation was Starsha. She was cheerful too, and so, so blonde. I liked her from the moment I met her. But before we could make any proper introductions, Nancy came out of the office and told Starsha to bring me on a tour.
"A tour?" I asked.
"You need to know where you're working dear." Nancy said before heading back into the back office.
"Come on!" Starsha (yeah really! Her name WAS Starsha!) said and pointed out the vending machine, the lingerie that hung on the wall that customers could buy for the girls but no one every bought and then she brought me to the rooms.
The Madame Butterfly room
"This is my favourite room." Starsha said. "See, it has mirrors on the walls and ceilings so you can see yourself when you do it. Isn't that great! It has this great couch which you can use as well.. Always be sure to lay out the towel on the bed before you get started, you don't want anything on the bed..." I began to have the sneaking suspicion that Starsha wasn't telling me this because she thought a receptionist needed to know this. "And then when they're done you can tell them to clean up in the toilet. You have to clean up the bedroom -"
"I'm the new receptionist."
"Oh. Oh! I'm so sorry! I thought you were a new girl!" She laughed before bringing me out. "Well you'll love it here. Everyone's really nice." She walked me back out to the counter after pointing out various rooms.
At the counter another girl stood sobbing. Tears were running down her face and her lingerie covered derriere looked distressed. "What's wrong?" Starsha ran up and asked.
"Starsha! My mother's sick again. I don't have money to send her." Starsha looked at the girl in horror.
"You can have all my assignments today..."
"You'll do that?"
"Thank you so much Starsha!" they hugged and the girl went on an appointment after chatting quietly with Starsha for a while.
"What's wrong with her mother Starsha?" I asked, being kaypo.
"Jemma's mother has cancer and lives in Sydney. Jemma has to constantly send money back to her. Some girls aren't here out of choice.." Starsha said sadly.
It was sad. Depressing really. This secret job that so many have heard about but know nothing of the real reasons and people behind it seemed a lot more complicated than it was previously. The thing I discovered about the girls is that they are all cheerful. Always. Despite strange circumstances all of them smiled, were nice to each other, and went about this job... as though it was a job. I don't know what else I was expecting, but definitely not this.
After three hours of hanging out with the girls, answering the phones and talking, sometimes flirting, with the men who came to meet the girls, I had enough. I enjoyed my time, opening my eyes to a whole new world and speaking to people I never thought I'd ever meet, but this wasn't something I could do forever. Something I suspected Nancy knew.
"This job isn't for everyone Amanda." Nancy looked at me hard as she passed me her name card with her personal number on it. "You're young, you have life to experience. Are you sure you want to work here?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure."
"That's no problem hun. You take your time and think about it, Joe here will send you home. He sends all the girls home if they don't drive." Nancy winked at me and gestured to Joe to bring me home.
The next morning I called Nancy to let her know I wouldn't be taking the job. She was understanding, and wished me the best of luck.
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