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Next stop, Karma Therapy. It was the name of the brothel I started working at after I had an argument with the extremely unpredictable boss at the brothel I loved. Any long time Adelaide brothel creeper client type will remember it.

I had to show my boobs to the receptionist at the interview. Sex industry interviews in South Australia are a funny thing. As an average looking 19ish year old, I knew they wanted to give me a job more than I needed the job. But the interview would involve both of us dancing around the details, talking in riddles, me not wanting to make them think I’m a cop, them hoping I’m not a cop. Very similar to a sex worker trying to negotiate a service with a new client, being careful not to say anything that could get us in trouble. By asking me to lift my top and flash my boobs and checking to make sure I wasnt a cop, this receptionist cut straight to the chase. I felt uncomfortable but I obliged, and I was actually glad I did. It made the interview so much easier, I was able to be clear about what I wanted from a job (day shifts, no cops, decent money per shift) and they were able to be clear about what they offer (pay, service, they supply condoms lube etc). The price they charged the client was less, and therefore so was my pay per job, but the place was busy, and so it gave it a go.

It was another brothel run by an ex sex worker in a house in suburbia, this time a larger house, with about three workers on shift. At Karma Therapy I learnt about ‘intros’. Intros were when the client got to meet all the workers and then choose who he wanted to see. I wasnt used to this. The last brothel I worked at, we just took it in turns. The clients would sit in the waiting room and we would go in one at a time to say hi,  introduce ourself and briefly discuss our service. As I mentioned, this brothel wasn’t shy, so instead of having to be coy around the subject of sex, using code words like “full service”, this brothel had a different method of avoiding the police detection. The same receptionist that had me show her my tits, would also make the clients undress. By the time us workers met the clients they would be in a towelling robe having flashed their bits to our gatekeeper. This made our job a lot easier as we could talk openly about our do’s, our don’ts, our prices and our service.

The management were obviously as concerned as I was about the police because they were also paranoid about condoms or lube being used against us as evidence, which is still a common police practice in our great state. In the last brothel I worked at we had plenty of every safe sex products, everything you could possibly need in the bedside table drawers. Not this one. Instead just before every job, I would be given a tissue with a blob of lube on it and a condom. Already opened! Just one! Now any sex worker knows, it is not uncommon to need more than one condom in a booking, or to perhaps need access to different size condoms, or to want plenty of lube to be available. And im no germ-aphobe, but I like my condoms to come STILL IN THE SEALED PACKET!. Yet another shitty side effect of our crap laws.

But they were protecting me from the police, so I felt safe. It seemed like a full proof plan, but it must have missed something, because still,  one day there was a raid. No matter how many times I meet the cops, they never fail to intimidate and scare me. This was no different. I was in the room with a client at the time, an old italian guy. It was a quick service. We were nearly at the end when I hear the doorbell ring repeatedly. No sooner than I register that it’s the receptionist warning us, the banging on my door starts. I hear the police yelling “open the door before we bang it down!”. They are thumping on the door so hard, yelling loudly, and I hear footsteps everywhere outside. My client and I throw our clothes on while I quietly repeat over and over and over again “you just had a massage, you just had a massage, you just had a massage, you just had a massage” , I hoped he could hear me over the panic and the door being bashed down. Even thinking about it now makes my heart race.

I was so scared rushing around but I managed to opened the door just before the flimsy lock broke. As soon as I did, I was grabbed by one of the 3 male cops and shoved roughly out of the room, a female cop lead me to the lounge where she took my details and checked my ID and then we waited silently. When i was being lead down the hall I saw my good friend being questioned in one of the other rooms, she was crying. My client was being questioned in my room and there were two other cops searching the place. about 8 or 10 cops in total sent to bust three of us female workers that were on premises. This is your tax money, isn’t it crazy?

My mind raced, I had been through this before, I knew what came next. I sat there silently and awaited my fate. The cops were questioning, intimidating, threatening my client with anything they think might work, trying to get him to make a statement against me. Trying to get him to give me up. Any minute they would lead him out, he would look all scared and guilty and when asked by the police to identify me, he will point his finger at me. I was numb, terrified, waiting.

So you can imagine my relief, when after another eternity, I see my client waving at me, smiling widely as he walks out the door, “Ciao Bella, see you next time”. I was shocked, I looked at the cops who looked back at me and said “you can go”.

I didn’t question them, I left, quickly, before they changed their mind. I made sure I grabbed all my stuff because I had no plans to come back. This was too scary. I didn’t want to go through that again. I walked and walked and walked until I saw a taxi and hailed it. I was grinning as widely as my client was. I loved this guy! He didn’t give me up! I don’t know what he said, I don’t even know what he did with the condom he was wearing, but he didn’t let them intimidate him. He didn’t even look shaken as he called out that he’d see me next time. I don’t remember his name, I wouldn’t remember him if I saw him on the street tomorrow, but even after all these years this guy is still, by far, my most favourite client ever!!