Celia Capace - Header - name

Some Serious Shit

Sex workers and clients. Supply and demand.  It's a business perspective. Whatever your feelings about the sex industry, it exists and always will.  There is that dark element that exists due to legalities or illegalities, whichever the case may be. I had no idea, nor wanted to know, about prostitution until I stumbled into the industry. Personally, I could not do it myself nor could I understand how others could. That may be judgemental on my part. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate sex workers.  I just didn't know any and I had never needed to think about it before. 

I was to spend 12 years on and off as a brothel manager.  Getting to know sex workers I grew to understand and care for a few. I met the best and worst of society.  I got to know some toxic narcissistic scum. Sociopaths and predators, although not all, were owners of these establishments.  Of course, some of the staff and clients also possessed these qualities but not in the abundance as I personally experienced with the owners. 

Human trafficking or exploitation of any creature should not exist.  The inhumanity of humans has always puzzled me. I hope it always continues to as I never want to become desensitised to it.  I've learnt humans don't learn from history’s atrocities. As long as power, avarice and a sense of superiority exist so will exploitation and slave-like practices.  Be it forced servitude, labour, or other forms of subjugation to quench the sense of entitlement and need for power that exists in human nature, we want what we can't have. We desire what society deems we are not allowed. We absolve our morality by justifying our deservedness with our sense of entitlement.

I learnt from working in the brothel industry that legislation makes sex work safer.  Prohibition failed miserably in America’s 1920s and only resulted in an oxymoron crime wave. When legalised the majority of the criminal elements were removed. The so-called ‘War On Drugs’ was a complete fiasco. I'm not justifying the occurrence, just stating the facts. 

In Australia, prostitution is legal in half of the continent and decriminalised for most elsewhere. Basically, the owner has most rights when decriminalised and the sex worker gains a better deal when legalised, yet sex trafficking still continues unabated.  I heard from Asian sex workers on this myself. In my part of the world, they seemed the only ones practising it with money appearing the greatest motive. These poor girls were subjected to long hours and meagre pay if any. They were in a strange country, they didn't know their rights and they were vulnerable as their passports and documents were held until they had paid off some improbable debt. 

One night at work there was a News report on the exposure of such a place on the television in the girl's lounge. Kitty, a popular Asian sex worker, pipes up angrily, “It's not Australians! It's Thai doing to Thai. That was done to me by my people!” 

Everyone looked at her in shock. 

“My husband was my client. He pay $40,000 so I can leave.” 

Everyone is now talking at once. 

Kitty waves them down.  “Is ok. I love him. He idiot but look after children good. I like job. I want to do”.

Strangely, this might be the one job women earn good money in some cultures. I'd never call it easy money although I'd definitely call it quick.  Two other Asians step forward. They'd also been rescued, but not in the way they'd expected. They had voluntarily come to Australia as sex workers. They didn't expect the horrible conditions they were subjected to upon arrival, agreeing they'd also been swindled by their fellow countrymen. The place had been raided and the authorities had released them.  They come to find out there is some confusion with their rescuers. That might have been because it was the mentality of the Salvation Army and social workers whose responsibility they'd become. The girls didn't have a problem with the job, just the working conditions. 

“They wouldn't help us find jobs as sex workers. They didn't understand”, one complained, “they think we brainwashed”.

“They be the one brainwashed”, another Asian girl added, laughingly. 

I work and associate with many Asians. We are close on the world map and we visit each other often. Most of these workers came from Buddhist countries and felt that as long as they weren't causing harm their profession wasn't an issue. Many supported families who knew about their source of income and were not subjected to discrimination and stigma as seen in most Western cultures.  A lot of sex workers are created by the society they are a part of. I'd say a good eighty percent, if not more, were abused in some way and receive little if any ongoing support or assistance with their needs. With quite a few sex work was all they knew for it had started at an early age. 

On a slow night whilst managing at The Crappy Cave Brothel (an alias earned due to it’s dark and cheap decor) I scan the staff roster. I'm overjoyed to see Moira starting that very night. That made us an even dozen on shift. Eleven ladies and me as the manager. I was jumping up and down when I saw her walk in.  “I saw your name on shift with ‘new girl’ written beside it, so I was hoping it was you”. New girl written next to a girl’s name usually meant the first time that lady was to work at that particular brothel and not that she was new to the work. 

“I knew you were now working here and working tonight. That's why I put myself on this shift.” She smiles at me.  We'd become close when we met. She'd worked at that first brothel I started at in my home town after I'd returned from my holiday, a trip I now refer to as my New Zealand New Career Discovery Tour.  It was a well-known brothel in the city so from now on it will be known as Big City Brothel. 


Big City Brothel

Big City Brothel was run by a tiny and very attractive Thai woman who was always impeccably dressed. She had two assistants. One of them by her side at all times.  When she spoke all my ears heard was gibberish. She would mix her English with Thai so my ears would hear something like, “CeeCee, I need you to whag ern oni wah so do now, please. Also myni toi um ba. Ok?”

My response to her was always a silent smile followed by a call to one of her assistants to translate once she was out of ear-shot. Alas, this was to work only for a short time as she happened to respond to her assistant’s phone one day when I called asking for a translation as usual.  Next thing I know boss lady comes storming towards me down those stairs yelling at the top of her voice. More gibberish although I comprehended that she was really pissed off at me. All I really understood was when she ended with, “why you no understand English”, practically spitting in my face. 

I looked at her and thought, “I'm done here”, “I've lost my job for sure”, “so much for my new career”, and “that didn't last long”.  Thinking I had nothing to lose I decided to stand my ground. “Of course I understand English”, I respond.  

I proceed to imitate as best I could her recent rant at me, ending with spitting back in her face.  “Sorry, NOT English! You hon wah suh CeeCee? Not…ENGLISH!” Her eyes widened followed by her mouth, both open agape. For a moment we stood facing each other, frozen to the spot.  Finally, she turned and walked away. Fair call. No point responding if it's going to need a translation. 

What was to follow I still can't comprehend.  I waited till the end of my shift for some reprisal.  Nothing. I waited till the end of my work week. Still nothing.  I get a call from one of her assistants on my first day off to advise from now on I'm to be doing day shift.  “Ok”, is my only response. I'd wanted day shift all along and as strange as this was it was also acceptable. From then on boss lady mostly communicated with me via one of her assistants,

Not long into my new day shift, I was informed by one of her assistants that I had a new duty. Once a week I was to drive boss lady to her manicurist. I was then to otherwise occupy myself for an hour, as there was no parking nearby, and then to pick her up.  “Ok”, was, again, my only response. 

So, at the same time and day each week I drove boss lady to her manicurist while she chatted on her mobile phone. I dropped her off after a short ten-minute trip then proceeded to roam around my beautiful hometown of Melbourne.  So pretty both night and day. No, I'm not biased. She is one classy city. While the sun was shining I'd whiz around in that red sport convertible of hers like nobody's business. As I checked out the scenery I'd often think to myself, “seeing as I get paid for this I'd call it a promotion”. 


Getting back to Moira; I was looking forward to working with her again.  She was a tall, gorgeous, naturally red-haired curvy gal who came from a huge Irish family with somewhere near a hundred siblings.  She also worked as a nurse. (Quite a few sex workers came from nursing and I'm not sure why). She was a sweetheart and very professional therefore I was surprised when she jumped over the four foot high thick wooden desk at Big City Brothel one night. 

“What the hell”, I muttered as I turned to the sound of Moira hitting the floor.  Sex workers behind the reception area at Big City Brothel was a big no-no. 

“My oldest brother”, Moira whispers in a panic up to me. Now she is crouched down behind the desk.  She describes him to me and asks me to tell her when he's looking away. I do. She pops her head up, takes a quick assessment, then pops down again.   “He's with my sister’s fiancé too”, she laments. 

Continuing to hide under the desk her brother and future brother-in-law approach and stand on the other side.  They proceed to book a lady each and disappear upstairs. Upon this Moira decides she can't work for the rest of the night and, grumbling the whole time, leaves.  I wasn’t sure if she was upset at loss of income or seeing her family, or both. Small world is all I'll say, now. A few short years later here we are reunited in a different brothel.  A slow night enables for a decent catch-up. Our talk soon turns to the night of her brother's visit to Big City Brothel.  

“I don’t know why I was so surprised. I just always thought it would be my father who'd I'd have the misfortune to run into”, she says.  Her words continue into a revelation of sexual abuse by that very father and of self-sacrifice for her younger sisters. Being the eldest her thoughts went to, “as long as there's me he'd leave the others alone”. 

“I'd try to make sure it was only me. He's a drunk. Attends church every Sunday and put his hands on me every chance he could.  I hate him so but do love the rest. After that night I now can't stop wondering if my brothers took after father. Maybe I didn't keep anyone safe”.  I'm listening to this when another lady steps forward. She reveals her story of sexual abuse. Then a third. Followed by another. I'm in shock.  

“Bloody hell! Hands up all those that weren't sexually abused as a child?” I blurt out stupidly.  I raise my hand, quickly realising my lame sarcastic joke is no longer a joke as I look around all eleven women.  No one speaks. Most eyes are downcast. No one else has raised their hand. I'm the only one. The horror dawns upon me how unfunny my remark is, my frozen arm still raised. 

All of you?” I'm dumbfounded. Yes, all eleven of them.  Yet these ladies weren't victims. They now spoke confidently amongst themselves and comfortable shared their experiences.  I sat back and just listened, the realisation of how blessed my childhood had been. My innocence had never been disrupted that way.  My adulthood was a whole different story. 

They were broken yet this industry seemed to have fixed them a little.  It seemed that the damage done had evolved into these beings who now felt comfortable in a role that had become reversed. As one lass explained “we’re not the naked, vulnerable ones in that room. We choose how it's going to go”.  Maybe that's why it attracted so many. It's hard to explain.  

Some took drugs.  This was, mostly, to dull the emotional pain as the sexual act didn't faze them.  It was like any other job. Some days were good, others not so great. Good or bad, it didn't last for more than an hour at a time, often less, and it paid well.  Some tried other work yet most returned. The stigma was often the only reason most tried elsewhere. 

The point I'm trying to make is, in my personal opinion, the industry needs to be made legal worldwide.  The oldest profession in the world isn't going anywhere. Just maybe, to help stamp out human trafficking, we meet supply with demand.   There are those who choose this way of life.  

It's prevalent in all facets of our society, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.  Victims of abuse are damaged by that abuse. Society then continues to punish victims by victim blaming.  A significant amount of victims of abuse have transformed their horror into a tool that works for them. I'm not condoning anything except live and let live.  Some humans want the whore life. Let them. Then those that don't want to live that way won't be forced to with no rights or choices…just saying.