I consider myself lucky to live in a time and a place where buying sex is clean and affordable and legal. It hasn’t always been that way.
When I was growing up in Melbourne, the newspapers often ran salacious stories about illegal massage parlours. They seemed to be seedy places where underworld figures and corrupt cops fucked the same hardened moles. The typical Melbourne whore was portrayed as tough, ugly and dirty. Literally dirty, as well as figuratively. Prematurely aged by booze and smokes and unfair wear and tear. I had recently turned 18 when the law was changed. I was still a virgin and curious about the possibility of having sex with a woman without first having won her affections. At the same time the AIDS epidemic was unfolding and Ronnie Reagan had just declared war on drugs. My Catholic mother explained to me that prostitutes were junkies with AIDS. She also talked about mortal sin and eternal damnation, but it seemed to be an important element of the whore narrative that they carried incurable diseases. The confessional could undo sin, but not herpes.
I had no idea about what prices they charged at these newly legalised brothels, and I had no job anyway. I was still a poor student living at home while I studied at university. But it was unthinkable that, even when I did have enough money, I would spend it on having sex with a woman who was drug-crazed and diseased. Prostitution might now be legal, but it was impressed on me that prostitutes were still undesirable.
Of course, there was the allure of the “high priced call girl”. The Yellow Pages phone book had ads for girls who charged $5000 for the night. Presumably they were drug free and disease free. But the day when I could afford that was, to my 18-year-old mind, a long way off. It’s still a long way off today.
I never went looking for brothels. Even when I got my licence and a car and a job. There were a few conspicuous ones that I passed every now and again. The Manhattan Terrace was just down the road from the University of Melbourne. Club California was conspicuous near St Kilda junction. But I never dared set foot in one. Not even when I was drunk. Not then.
A year later, I went to Bangkok for a holiday. That was in the days before the internet and I was a naïve 19-year-old. I had little understanding of the extent of the sex industry in Bangkok at that time. One day I was sitting in the lobby of our hotel, waiting near the hotel tour desk for a day tour of the canals. The middle-aged woman from the tour desk approached me with a red folder. I was appalled when she opened it to show me a catalogue of naked Thai girls. The photos were faded, as if they had been left out in the tropical sun. She seemed to think there was something wrong with me when I politely declined. I almost ran from her when my friends arrived to join me for the tour.
For the next 15 years, that was my closest brush with prostitution.
I lost my virginity free of charge. I had a series of normal, healthy relationships with girls my own age. I learned that I was no good at picking up women in bars or nightclubs. I was good looking, but shy. All my sexual relationships evolved slowly from friendships.
My typical cycle was 3 years. Eighteen months to become good friends and then another eighteen months of becoming good lovers. At the end of that time, someone wanted to get married. I fell in love with my first girlfriend and was fool enough to marry her, if she would have let me. Later I was grateful that she didn't. My second girlfriend fell in love with me. We had great sex, but I didn't love her and when she realised that, we broke up.
By the end of the third cycle I was engaged.
My wife and I enjoyed 5 years of coupledom before we decided to have kids. During that time, our sex-life deteriorated from 3 times a day to 3 times a week to 3 times a month. But we were still having memorable sex in the last month of her pregnancy.
After the birth, she was sore and we were tired. It seemed only reasonable to give it a break for a month or two. Or three. But she kept saying no. We didn’t have sex for 9 months. And by the end of the year, we had gone from 3 times a month to 3 times a year. I was seriously pissed off. I started drinking instead.
Unfortunately, the house we were renting had a brothel at the end of the street. My tram stop was only a few metres from the entrance to the Candy Club. Our favourite Vietnamese restaurant was only a few doors further down. Every weekday, on my way to work and on my way home, I had to walk past the Candy Club. I wondered what was inside. I wondered who was inside. The sign said it was “open from 11am till late, 7 days a week”. It was closed on my way to work, but open on the way home.
As the months passed, I kept walking past that door. The door with the red light. The house with an illuminated sign showing the glossy red lips of a woman sucking on a candy cane.
But I was a respectable man working at a respectable stockbroking firm. Happily married to a beautiful woman with a baby son we both adored. I was too clean and nice to be caught dead in a dirty place like that. Neighbours and friends saw me walk past that brothel every night. People on the tram and people in the restaurant saw me. Colleagues and acquaintances. The entrance was on a main road. It was a very public entrance. The risks of being seen – going in or coming out – were too great. The consequences for my reputation, my marriage and my career – if I was seen – were too great.
Besides, I didn’t want to have sex with a dirty whore. And even if I did, how could I perform with a condom and a stranger? I’d only ever had three one-night stands in my life and they had all ended unsatisfactorily. I couldn’t perform with a condom at the best of times, never mind with a complete stranger.
I had to keep walking past that door and those lips that were open till late. Back through the cold winter’s night to my warm house and my warm bed with my cold wife who said no and rolled over and went to sleep.
One night after a long boozy lunch, I lurched into the red lit doorway and rang the bell. I told myself that I was just going in to have a look. To see what the inside of a brothel looked like. To see what those dirty whores looked like. To see how much it cost. I was too pissed to get it up and I didn’t have any money on me. Just in case. Belts and braces.
The woman at reception was surprisingly tolerant of this drunk with no money. A board above the counter said that it was $180 for an hour and $100 for half an hour. The reception area was furnished in red and lit with red lights. It was small and functional. I sat down on the black vinyl bench seat against the wall opposite the counter. I slumped against the wall and decided that I needed to stay there a while. My mission was largely accomplished and I could now leave. As soon as my sozzled mind was motivated to stand up again.
I know now that there should have been an intro and the roster of ladies working that evening should have appeared, one by one, for me to inspect and choose. Maybe they were all booked. Maybe I blurted out to the receptionist in my drunken state that I didn’t have any money and couldn’t get it up. Maybe she could tell from looking at me that it would be a waste of time to bring out the girls. In any event, they didn’t appear.
I sat there in a drunken stupor. I pulled out my wallet and checked every pouch and pocket to make sure I really didn’t have $100. The receptionist invited me to use the ATM in the corner or to pay by credit card. But my wife checked our bank and credit card statements each month.
I sat there for what seemed like hours. I’m surprised the receptionist didn’t kick me out. Instead, she excused herself to go to the bathroom.
With that flash of insight and burst of energy that surprises even the drunk himself, I lurched to my feet and hurried down the hall and up the stairs. The place was a rabbit warren of corridors and doors. All the doors were closed. I dared not go into any room. But there was another vinyl bench seat against the wall in the upstairs corridor. My burst of energy was spent and I collapsed on the seat, expecting the receptionist to come and get me and kick me out.
She never came. She must have assumed I had left. And so I sat there for maybe half an hour before a door to one of the bedrooms opposite opened, and a man and a woman came out. I bowed my head in my hands to hide my face. The chances of that man being someone who would recognise me were objectively low. But I was paranoid.
The guy walked down the hall and down the stairs. But the woman came back to sit beside me on the bench seat. She knew I didn’t belong there. She asked some questions and told me I had to wait in the reception area. I continued to look down, as if that would make her go away.
“You can’t sit here, hun.” She put an unexpectedly beautiful hand on my knee and I had to look up.
“Wow, you’re beautiful.” I can still hear my stunned words and the dumb way I said them. It was like, “you’re not supposed to be beautiful, but you are”, or, “how can a woman as beautiful as you be a whore?”
She was young – in her early twenties. She was pretty and blonde. She had pale unblemished skin. Her full, C-cup boobs spilled out of the top of her pink corset. The corset contained a voluptuous figure and her legs were smooth and shapely. I probably drooled.
“Thanks, hun.” She smiled and I was even more surprised. She had the most beautiful, relaxed, friendly smile. My sozzled brain could not comprehend how such a lovely girl could work in a brothel. I just stared in open mouthed wonder. “You’re handsome,” she responded. “Why don’t you go downstairs and ask for Crystal (that’s me) and pay the receptionist and you can come back to see me?”
“I’m pissed,” I confessed. “I don’t think I can do anything.”
“I’m sure you’re not that bad. We’ll find something to do.” She gave me the seductive version of that beautiful friendly smile and my jaw dropped a bit wider. I launched myself off the seat and took off down the hall and down the stairs. I was on my way out into the night to find an ATM and some cash. But I took a wrong turn at the foot of the stairs and stumbled out through a back door that opened onto an alleyway at the back of the shop. I was disorientated at first. But then I realised that the Candy Club had a back entrance. A CCTV camera above the door watched me leave. A buzzer in the wall beside the unmarked door would presumably get me back in.
Somewhere between the Candy Club and the nearest ATM, the cold air brought me to my senses and I never went back to Crystal. It would have been a waste of money anyway.
The reception at home that night was not warm. My wife, Amanda, was furious that I would come home drunk and not be able to share the parenting duties that evening. She had a point. The next day, standing sober but hungover at the tram stop, I looked at the Candy Club and was mortified to think that I had gone in there. Had probably been seen going in there. Over the next few weeks I lived in fear of someone telling me or Amanda that I had been sighted. But as the weeks passed I became confident that I had gotten away with it and I was relieved. I had seen the inside of a brothel and I had no desire to go back. At least, that’s what I told myself.
But the ground had shifted under my feet. Crystal was not what I expected. Even allowing for the beer goggles, she was a goddess. She was the “Wow girl”. There aren’t many girls I meet who make me think “wow”, never mind say it out loud to their face. Of course, I was pissed and uninhibited at the time, but she still brought out that reaction. And the way she spoke and behaved and smiled. She was a nice person. There was nothing tough or dirty about her at all. She looked healthy and clean. Not drug addicted or diseased.
And all it would take would be $100. At the end of the street. Seven days a week.
But I loved my wife and I valued my reputation and I did not go back.
Months later we bought our first house and moved away from the Candy Club and the drought ended and we were having sex again. Only every second or third month now, it seemed. But that was just a phase. Surely. We would be back to normal soon. Back to 3 times a month. I complained to Amanda about how rare sex was becoming and she agreed. She agreed we should have sex more often. But each time I asked there was an excuse. This dragged on for another year. And then another year. Whenever I asked for more, I got less.
Finally, Amanda decided she wanted another baby. I was brought down off the shelf and there was a flurry of activity one September. Quite perfunctory sex. I felt used. Our “normal” sex life was short lived and I was soon back on the shelf until next month.
In Amanda’s words, I am “spectacularly fertile”. I gush fountains of semen that spurt for up to a metre. Sometimes 10 or more spurts in an orgasm. At least I did, in those days. Amanda must have been similarly eggy, because both times we tried for a baby, I hit the bullseye in the first month. So October brought news of success and no more sex.
“Not till after the baby’s born.” This wasn’t just, “not tonight, dear”. This was, not for the next 18 months. This was twice as bad as last time.
I thought about leaving.
I was working on a big project at work and the stress of that and the unhappiness at home was intolerable. I thought about killing myself. I drank worse than ever.
On my 37th birthday, I took the day off work. I never got any time to myself these days and I needed a “mental health day”. I had a celebratory lunch of King Island brie on French baguette, washed down with a glass or two of Scotchman’s Hill chardonnay. Then I drove down to the Candy Club.
I parked in a side street and walked down the back alley behind the musical instrument shop to the door in the corner under the camera. I rang the buzzer and waited. I looked up into the camera, in case they wanted to see my face before letting me in. A cheerful Middle Eastern guy opened the door. He was a pudgy youth in his early twenties. He seemed too young for this job. Like a nephew or a younger brother covering for someone else’s shift. He led me past a row of washing machines and driers that were all spinning, full of sheets and towels, presumably from the night before. We went through the maze of hallway to the waiting room at the front. The place had been remodelled since I was here last time. It was completely different and unrecognisable in daylight.
Just before we got to reception, we passed through a big room that was carpeted with a raised runway platform and a stripper pole. It was empty.
“We have a strip show here on Thursday nights, starting at 6 o’clock. There’s a $20 cover charge and you can stay as long as you like. It’s popular because you get to see the girls completely naked before you choose. First come, first served.”
There were only two girls available. The second was older and plainer, so I went with the blonde. I can’t remember her name now. It was something bland and unmemorable, like Cathy, so I’ll call her Cathy. I paid the chubby kid $100 for half an hour with Cathy.
She looked pretty hot in her lingerie. She was no Crystal and that was disappointing. I wanted the Wow Girl as a birthday treat. But Cathy would do. I was shaking with nerves. I felt guilty and ashamed to be in this place and to be doing this. I was afraid of getting caught. I looked furtively at the front door all through the intro.
Cathy led me back through the strip show room and into a bedroom off to the right on the ground floor. She left me to shower. I was worried about the infections I might get on my feet from standing in a shared shower that looked like it was not particularly clean. The liquid soap smelled of something strong and artificial. I shivered as I tried to dry my wet skin with the worn towel. Its fibres had lost the capacity to absorb water, if they ever had it. The towel just wiped the water over my skin, spreading it more thinly so it could evaporate.
I wrapped the towel modestly around my waist and waited for Cathy to return. I was embarrassed about my shrivelled cock. I didn’t want to sit on the bed in the wet towel. I stood awkwardly and anxiously.
I don’t really remember much of what happened after that. Cathy returned and got me to lie naked on the bed. When she took off her baby doll, her boobs sagged and her tummy was flabby and wrinkled from a recent pregnancy. I felt I had been deceived. Her hips were broad and curvy and she had nice legs. When she dropped her panties, she had a shaved pussy and a caesarean scar. She climbed on top of me and started kissing my nipples. Her tousled blonde hair was sexy and she was good looking in a girl-next-door way. But I was too cold and nervous for her to get much of a reaction. She tried for 5 or 10 minutes but I never even got big enough for her to put a condom on. Finally she asked me if there was anything wrong.
I was too nervous to lie and too embarrassed to tell the truth. I avoided the question with an unconvincing denial and offered to rub her clit for her. She gladly agreed and I cuddled up to her as she lay on her back beside me. My hand was shaking still and I did not do it confidently. I seemed to be getting her very turned on, but then it occurred to me part way through that she might be faking it.
I must have got her close because after the third near miss she asked if she could finish it off herself and she came less than a minute later. She arched her back and shook in a way that was very convincing. I enjoyed holding her as she came and for a moment I forgot to be nervous or embarrassed. She thanked me for my part.
“It’s nice that you can enjoy your work like that.” She gave me a look as if she thought I was taking the piss.
“Yeah,” she conceded. “That was fun. Most of the guys are OK, but they’re not all as nice as you, sweetie.” She smiled. “It’s a pity we couldn’t do the same for you.” She gave a nod at my cock, which had receded all the way into my groin, so that only the head sat on top of my tight scrotum, like a third pink testicle.
“It’s not your fault. I was very nervous. I had a couple of glasses of wine before, but it didn’t really help.”
“Why are you nervous, sweetie? There’s no need to be nervous.”
“It’s my first time.”
“Awww, sweetie, you should have said!” Her level of concern surprises me and then I realise that she thinks I’m a virgin.
“I don’t mean that, I mean it’s my first time in . . . a place like this.”
We get dressed and I leave and the chubby kid lets me out the back door. I wander out of the alley unseen.
I seem to have gotten away with it again, but that was a disaster. I resolve never to set foot in a brothel again. I’m obviously not cut out for it. I haven’t got the confidence or the ego to carry it off.
In the weeks and months afterwards, I am haunted by the guilt. I cannot look Amanda in the eye. I am worried that she will be able to see the guilt in my eyes. That she will know what I have done. But the stresses of working and parenting and supporting her pregnancy and that gulf between us in bed at night slowly replace the guilt with anger and frustration.
I should say something to her. But she is quick to anger too, and I am afraid of her when she’s angry. We love each other, but we don't deal well with conflict. She gives me the silent treatment and I sulk. It’s a bad combination. I am a chronic insomniac and after she falls asleep at 10, I lie awake beside her, wanking mostly, until after midnight. I never fantasise about Amanda. I never have. I don’t fantasise about Cathy, either. There was nothing exciting about that day.
As usual, I think of Jo. My first crush and my second girlfriend. She was my wet dream fantasy before we became lovers. And now, even years later, the mere thought of her and what we did together still makes me hard and makes me come, night after night. One orgasm is never enough to put me to sleep. I lie awake, still hard after the first, rubbing slowly until I am ready to come again. Two usually does it, but often there is a third one at 1 or 2 in the morning before I finally drift off to sleep. Amanda never wakes.
We rented a beach house for a week in early January. It was hot and there was a girl next door in a red bikini who was even hotter. But I got pissed one night and went too far. I woke up in the middle of the night not remembering when or how I came to bed. The bed was empty. Amanda, Lachlan and his porta-cot were gone. My heart froze. What have I done?
I got up and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water for my desert mouth. I expected Amanda to be on the couch, but she wasn’t. I imagined that she was driving back to Melbourne in the middle of the night. That she had left me. I passed the rest of the night in anguish.
In the morning, Amanda and Lachlan appeared. They had spent the night in a spare bedroom in the attic. She hadn’t left me, but I was in no less trouble. She read the riot act. I had to stop drinking. I had to get counselling. I was irresponsible and not fit to be the father of one child, never mind two.
I did what I was told. I gave up alcohol and went to a counsellor. He confirmed that I was an alcoholic.
And a workaholic. With a high likelihood of being a sexaholic too. An all-round addictive personality.
The matrimonial bed went from cold to icy. I was making changes, but it would take a long time to mend what I had broken. And part of me wondered if three times a year was worth fixing.
At the end of January we gathered on a Saturday night for a family occasion at our favourite cheap and cheerful Vietnamese restaurant. After dinner we milled around on the pavement outside in the warm summer evening saying our good-byes. My eyes were drawn to an African-American woman walking slowly along the pavement towards us. She was fully dressed in denim and a black top, and yet she drew the attention of all three males in our group. She was taller than average. Tall in a way that made her powerful and remarkable, not gangly and odd. Her body was athletic and in proportion. She had long legs and a superb figure. Even in jeans. Perhaps, particularly in jeans. They hugged her in a way that seemed to flatter everything and hide nothing.
She had long, braided hair and a face with blunt features. She looked very African. She was more handsome than pretty. Good-looking in an almost masculine way.
I tried to observe her in repeated glances, not wanting anyone else in the group to notice that I was noticing her. I glanced at the women who were talking and oblivious. Then I checked Amanda’s brother and her brother-in-law to make sure that they were not watching me watch her. But, to my surprise and amusement, I caught them both watching her. They had spotted it too. She had something that caught the male gaze.
As she passed among us, I stole a glimpse of her ample black cleavage from above. The scooped neck of her top afforded a lovely view and I saw the other guys staring as well. They stared openly with none of my self-consciousness.
There was something slightly unsteady about her gait. She seemed to drift to the left of the footpath as she walked on up the street, past my old tram stop, towards the Candy Club. My brothers-in-law were now between me and her, and I could watch her – and watch them watching her – in the same field of view. None of us cared about the wives now.
I offered up a silent prayer. “Please God, make her turn right. Make her turn right.”
She drifted all the way out to the road side of the pavement and almost passed the front gate of the Candy Club before abruptly turning right and disappearing into the brothel. My heart leapt. For a hundred bucks I could see her naked and knead those big juicy tits. That’s all I wanted to do.
The women finished talking and we all said good-bye. When we got home, I complained to Amanda that I was restless.
“I’m tired," she said. "I’m going to bed early. Why don’t you go see a movie?” I told her I would just go for a drive.
As I drove down past the tram depot, I laughed to myself that the other two guys were probably banging their wives, thinking about the black girl who walked into a brothel. Whereas I was going to see her.
If they had the same idea as me, I was fucked. I stopped laughing. But I was pretty sure they wouldn’t have the same idea as me.
I parked in the side street and rang the back door buzzer. An older guy let me in and took me to the waiting room. He gave me the same spiel about Thursday nights and I nodded and agreed as if I hadn’t heard it all before.
The first girl to introduce herself was a cute Vietnamese girl in black lingerie. The Candy Club is on Victoria Street, Richmond, which is the home of the Vietnamese community in Melbourne. But in those days it never would have occurred to me to fuck an Asian girl.
The second girl was an aloof Italian called Maria in a sea green satin slip. She shook my hand reluctantly with a weak hand and looked at me warily.
The next girl was a friendly “Aussie” girl called Jess who wore white lingerie and was “normal” but hot. She had dark brown hair in ringlets down to her shoulders. She had a lovely smile and a good-looking girl-next-door face. It was a shame to pass her up. I’ve thought about her many times since and never seen anyone quite like her again.
I asked about the black girl. The guy said “Oh, you mean Jinx? She’s busy.” I told him I’d wait. I was amused by the name. Halle Berry had starred in the last James Bond movie and her character was called Jinx. Candy Club Jinx had borrowed the name, but she was no Halle Berry.
I wandered around the strip show room while I waited. I was waiting a good 15 minutes. When she finally appeared, Jinx was wearing a white sequinned jump-suit. She was a 1970’s Blaxploitation fantasy, minus the Afro.
The next thing I remember, she was kneeling beside me on the bed, sucking my cock. Her body was incredible. Muscular and firm. Big heavy tits that no plastic surgeon could better for firmness and roundness, but they were 100% natural. A taut tummy. A big firm ass. Her skin was shinny and dark and I had never seen anything like it or touched anything like it. I was in awe. I had never been in the presence of a body anywhere near this perfect before. I caressed her ass and groped her shaved pussy. I spread her meaty black lips and felt for wetness. She stopped sucking me to glare at me and said, “Keep your fingers on the outside!” I was taken aback and must have showed it. She softened and said, “I don’t know why you boys wanna do dat, it does nothin' for me.”
I groped her big tits as they hung below her. She had big hard nipples and I pinched them and pulled them. I ran my hands over her shiny black skin.
I was as hard as I was ever going to get, but she kept sucking. Finally she said, “You wanna fuck me now?’ I nodded. “Well, why didn’t ya say so?” She had a very cranky attitude.
She got on her hands and knees and guided my cock into her pussy. I was not prepared for the awesome sight of her black figure from behind. Her buttocks were perfect. Her narrow waist was perfect. Her big boobs were visible at the sides of her flawless narrow back as she rested her head and shoulders against the mattress.
I grabbed her perfect ass. I grabbed her perfect waist. When she hoisted herself up onto her hands and knees, I leaned over her to hold her heavy tits.
It was all too much and I came prematurely. It was very embarrassing. It had never happened before. Sure, I’d had times when I misfired while trying to prolong things, but never anything like this.
It took her a little while to realise what had happened. She examined the full condom and said “Wow, baby! You must have been savin’ that up for weeks!” Then later, after my sheepish apologies, she said “It don’t matter, baby. You got what you came for.”
Suddenly she was all chatty and friendly. She walked about the room, proud and naked while I showered. She even walked off naked down the hall looking for something and came back.
She told me she was American (I’d guessed already) and that she was just doing this to make money while she was travelling. She had been to the pub down the road before her shift to have a couple of shots to get up the courage to do it. That explained the unsteady gait.
Three weeks later I saw her get off a tram on Elisabeth Street outside the GPO. I was on my way to work. It was a startling coincidence. But I overcame my initial shock and nerves and went up to her. She was standing in the mall looking up at the clock tower in that way that marked her as a tourist.
“Hi,” I said. She turned to look at me. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to say next.
“Hey,” she said, cautiously.
“You probably don’t remember me, but . . . I fucked you about three weeks ago.” I don’t know what urge drove me to confront her in this way. There were people around, but not close, and I spoke in a low tone so she could hear me and no one else would. I didn’t want the world to know. But I wanted her to know that I knew she was a whore. A woman who had sex so many times with so many strangers that she would not remember them. Any lover from 3 weeks ago would remember me. I could not use this line on any woman who was not a whore. The line amused me and I wanted to say it.
“Of course I remember you, baby!” Her voice was uninhibitedly loud. A couple nearby turned to look. “You were the premature ejaculator!”