True Stories: I Was A Receptionist In An Australian Brothel

"A handsome young guy with curly black hair came in and immediately offered me $500 for an hour..."

By Claire Litton

It's midnight. I'm already three hours into my nine-hour shift, and it's only just starting to pick up; we won't get busiest until about two a.m., when the bars let out and miners with pockets full of fifties and hundreds decide to splurge on a couple of girls. The phones are starting to go off, but most of the girls are sitting in rich-looking leather chairs, their legs neatly crossed at the ankles, slouching over cell phones or, in one case, a novel. Some of them stare into space. Most of them disappear every ten minutes to go smoke out back. There are only supposed to be two girls smoking at one time, or the floor looks too empty: house rules.

Everything is above-board, so nobody needs to scramble for ten dollars in the back of someone's station wagon.

This brothel has an illustrious reputation. Its sister establishment, in the mining town of Kalgoorlie, is one of the oldest in West Australia, and this one has been around for decades itself. It's only a few blocks from Perth's casino complex, which is the only place in town to get a drink after two a.m. while gambling away the money you just made working the rigs up in Karratha, or visiting Perth on a weekend business trip from Sydney. The casino has a hotel, too. We know it very well... and they know us.

Prostitution is legal in Western Australia, with some restrictions: independent escort work is frowned upon. Sex workers are encouraged to work in brothels. There are no low-class streetwalkers; everything is above-board, so nobody needs to scramble for ten dollars in the back of someone's station wagon. Unlike strictly-legislated Sydney and Melbourne, however, Perth has some bizarre restrictions: while sex work is legal, "making a living from the proceeds of sex work" is not. This means a sex worker cannot hire a driver or a bodyguard, as they would be engaging in illegal activity. I am technically employed by Mackenzie Ltd, an umbrella corporation whose assets just happen to include the brothel I sit in four days a week, from nine p.m. to six a.m.

We do in-calls and out-calls. That means we send girls to houses, hotels, and nightclubs as escorts, and we also host visiting clients in our suites. The girls have twelve-hour shifts and most of that time is spent sitting or smoking, fiddling with phones, making coffee or tea, and sucking up to the various nervous gentlemen who come through the sliding doors. The interior is a dark chocolate brown, low-lit, with an enormous pool table. We have a fifteen-minute limit on it, to thwart the guys who just come in and play pool obsessively instead of booking a girl. A large television screen plays music videos so repetitively that none of us even notice them anymore.

It's house policy to call the girls "girls," even though most of them are older than me. Liz, our highest earner, is well into her forties, and she still pulls in a couple of thousand a night. That's not all from the straight-up booking fee; the girls only get $250 per hour from the house. We know, although it is technically against the rules, that they ask for and get extra fees in the room. Massage, bodyslide (massage with a naked female body), oral, and full-on vaginal sex are included in the basic fee we charge, but there are a thousand extra perks the girls can charge for. You want anal? An extra $200. You want to cuddle? It'll cost you. Kissing? Not likely, but some girls will do it for a hundred.

NEXT: "Sometimes they ask me if I'm tempted to jump the counter..."

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