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THE heat may be cooling on the mining boom, but the sex trade is roaring. This is what goes on behind closed doors. Narrow it down for me.
Young, size 8, double D. Lana, the mumsy phone operator, places down the handset and puts on her specs to peer at her computer. She points to a profile photograph showing only an enormous pair of breasts. Bridgette is soon at the door. She wears gold sparkly stilettos, red lipstick, and thick foundation disguising poor skin. Her brown eyebrows are painted on, and her long, blond, Barbie-doll hair is curled and slung to one side. Outside, in the brothel lounge, about 17 other women — mostly Australian but also Asian, African, and European — bide their time waiting to be summoned for house calls or clients who walk in off the street.
They gossip on glittery sofas and munch on chocolate bars from the snack machine under queasy, harsh lighting. In years past, this city of 1. Now, as residents have become richer, gleaming skyscrapers have sprung up in the business district alongside hip cocktail bars and swanky restaurants.
Cashed-up FIFO workers come ready to splash some serious cash. Contractors often fly into Western Australia from homes elsewhere for fast cash. They work for weeks at a time offshore or in isolated mines. Because they have scant chance of finding a relationship if single, or find themselves far away from their wives and families if married, many turn to sex workers for intimacy.
Here, local newspapers are chockablock with classifieds ads for sex workers. Langtrees, one of the oldest and most expensive establishments, is more up-market. With its discreet door hidden down a dark side street, Langtrees is a different sort of night-life institution. But men also come here willing to splash serious cash. On this steamy summer night, a plump man in glasses loiters shyly near the reception. Seeing his resolve waver, the madam quickly whisks him away to introduce to a woman.