I had a quick jaunt across the Ditch, and while there planned to indulge in some ‘away ground’ activity. After catching up for dinner with some friends I detoured via a well-known central CBD establishment, chuckling at my intention of re-living the antics of a mis-spent youth… I knew the area around this establishment had been gentrified and redeveloped over last few years, but the entrance was comfortingly familiar.
The reception area also looked just the same, though with the patina of use and wear. I was surprised to see that the pricing structure hadn’t changed much since the ‘90s. I accepted the offer of a tour before paying the ‘house fee’ and was admitted by one of the girls. During the tour I was introduced to the available team of around 10 girls, and saw the dreary and tired interior, and was taken upstairs to see one of the rooms, which confirmed that not much at all had changed since the ‘90s.
Some more quick intros and a short conversation with my tour-guide convinced me not to stay. The mood in the lounge area was just as awful and tired as the décor, and although the night was still early it felt like 3am. I thanked my guide with a small tip and made my way back to my hotel via a quiet little bar. Sitting there with a whisky I pondered the sex industry quandary of ‘on demand’ vs ‘on request’.
The global trend to more comfortable and conducive workplaces has only made it to a few in the sex industry, and Funhouse is a stellar example of this. Park OSH for a minute and consider the impact to motivation of sitting around a dark & dingy room for hours, on uncomfortable seating, waiting for someone to turn up, then making small talk with tipsy punters, only to go to another uncomfortable room to roll around on a thin piece of foam. It doesn’t sound like much fun…
We see it here all across the local industry, the shortcuts taken with cheap fit-outs, vinyl covered squabs which pass for mattresses, lounges full of disillusioned and dispirited girls just waiting for their shift to be over – and we view it as acceptable for $220 per hour. And it is made worse by the shonky operators who engage in underhanded ‘bait and switch’ tactics or who condone the girls’ risky and outright unsafe behaviour for a few extra dollars to keep their headline prices down. (And why would you risk any unsafe sex act? Is it worth the risk of galloping knob rot or worse because it ‘feels better’?)
The implications for the sex industry are even more important to consider. Brothels with ‘on demand’ girls meet a need in the market for the impulse buyer, but if their dodgy (and sometimes illegal) activities are allowed to continue the whole industry is in danger. Unless the operators provide better working conditions with more comfortable surroundings, pay more and see fewer clients, how will the legitimate and honourable proprietors attract and retain talent? We as clients have an obligation to maintain the integrity of this industry and ensure it becomes more mainstream by not patronising the illicit, illegal or plainly shabby.
In this little bar off Collins St I heard the immortal words of Jimmy Barnes who said it perfectly in the pseudo Aussie National anthem Khe Sanh; “there aint nothin like the kisses of a jaded Chinese princess, I’m gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long…” considered that for a minute and started writing this little blog…