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Off Mic

My First Time With Two Sex Workers In Australia

Off Mic

All right, it's not what you're thinking. I kept everything on a professional level.

I didn't meet them in a brothel, or standing in front of a seedy bar. We met at an outdoor caf? in a district just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Sydney.


Kylie was an attractive blond dressed in very casual clothes. Her colleague Debbie was a bit more flamboyant, with multi-colored hair and a nose ring. We sat at a table, and they ordered some tea and a couple of dishes from the menu. I got out my recorder and flipped on the switch.

In the audio excerpt above, you can hear part of my interview with Debbie.

I was struck by how dispassionately they talked about their business. And in terms of eroticism, forget about it. I mean, it was about as titillating as talking to a couple of accountants.

But it was fascinating at the same time. Here I was, thinking that their business was degrading and exploitive, and how women who are involved in it must have been grade school dropouts who had no other options but to sell their bodies on the street.

Kylie and Debbie didn't fit those stereotypes at all. They were college graduates. They swore they chose to go into the business, in part because it afforded them the opportunity to make a good living and to be their own bosses.


And they weren't ashamed of being commercial sex workers, not at all. In fact, they were proud of what they did.

My experience with Kylie and Debbie was an eye-opener, to be sure. It's amazing how commercial sex work, which we denounce, abhor and criminalize in this country, can be seen so differently in another culture.

joanne faryon
September 29, 2007 at 12:30 AM
I liked your interview Kenny. You asked these women questions without judgement or moral superiority. I think their story underlines the propensity of many Americans to define life around them, in fact make laws, based on personal moral codes. Australia's collective open-mindedness is inspiring. j.f. -----

les tari
September 29, 2007 at 12:58 AM
ditto j.f.

September 30, 2007 at 12:49 AM
I suspect that our laws in Australia (at least in Sydney where these two women live and work) are far less draconian than most US states. When you don't have the fear of law enforcement trying to trap, trick or persecute you - its easier to keep that professional pride. However, speaking as someone who has been in touch with other hookers all over the globe - I have to say that Kylie and Debbie aren't that different from most of the other sex workers I've known. Most of us work to support ourselves and our families as best we can. The big difference is that Kylie and Debbie don't fear police persecution for being 'out' about it. Oh and BTW - the term "commercial sex worker" is silly. Do you call someone a 'commercial doctor' or a commercial florist'? A sex WORKER is someone who WORKS in the sex industry - the commercial tag is redundant. :)

October 01, 2007 at 07:22 PM
Sex work is legal in New South Wales, the Australian state in which Sydney is located. Any person of any gender over 18 years old may provide sexual services to any person over the age of consent in exchange for money, goods or favours. Running, or working in a sex industry business is legal as long as it is conducted within the legislative framework; Brothels, massage parlours, strip clubs and anywhere else than sexual services are offered must be licenced by local councils. However street workers can be charged with soliciting and working near or within view of certain (prohibited) places such as schools. Also, 'support staff' (friends, partners, pimps) for street workers can be charged with 'living off the earnings'. Bizarrely, it is an offence in NSW to advertise a sex worker or a sex industry business; however this law is rarely (if ever) enforced!

ed klein
October 02, 2007 at 12:38 AM
Legalized prostitution in the US and many other countries is prevented by religion's political clout. It's time we outgrew such nonsense!

seb cox
October 02, 2007 at 03:19 PM
I wish people woould just let prostitutes get on with their own business. Stop analysing us, the only time you should contact one is when your horny.

November 03, 2007 at 01:43 AM
Fortunately, attitudes toward sex, wether paid or not, are quite diverse, all over the world. Some of the countries which are tagged as backward by the US, sometimes are more open towards paid or casual sex, treating both partners with dignity. Just to mention a few: "sacred" prostitutes in India, temporary wifes in Iran, prostitution in Thailand or Brazil, are all finely integrated with local culture. On the other side, I feel sorry for prostitutes in countries like England or the US, where they frequently feel humiliated.