A 42-year-old New Zealand woman has opened a new brothel – one that’s run as an ethical enterprise.
The author-turned-unlikely madam is a firm believer women should have complete control over their bodies, and wants to see the industry operate in a more empowered way.
Sharing details of her journey in Take 5 magazine, Ms Murphy said she’d never imagined her life taking such an unexpected turn.
Author-turned-madam Antonia Murphy makes a case for running a brothel as a ethical enterprise
Her business supports women to take charge of their own bodies (stock image)
‘If 20 years ago you’d told me I’d be a madam someday, I’d definitely have thought it was a wind up.’
Years ago, she explained, she’d spoken to New Zealand women working in the industry for project she was working on at the time.
Their responses, she said, both surprise and intrigued her.
‘Why did you choose this profession?’ I asked them.
‘The money is great and I’m saving for a house,’ one said. Another said it was just a really fun job.’
A chance meeting, she said, with woman called Nicki, who worked in a sex shop, would blossom into an unexpected business opportunity for the pair.
She said she supports the notion that women have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies
‘We both heard stories about drug addiction and pimps forcing women to work for them, she said.
They hit on the idea it could be possible to own, and operate, an ethically-run escort agency.
‘Perhaps we could offer a secure environment and do everything to keep the ladies safe.’
Ms Murphy said the idea to operate an ethical escort agency came out of conversations she’d had with women working in the sex industry (stock image)
Research led Ms Murphy to an similarly-run brothel in Wellington.
The business, she explained was operated by a woman called Madam Mary who believed first and foremost women are in charge of their bodies.
‘There were no pimps, no disrespectful clients, no drugs and the workers were well-taken care of,’ she said.
Under Mary’s guidance, Ms Murphy learnt not only the nuts and bolts of running a brothel but how to ensure her establishment had the right clientele.
‘I watched her on the phone making bookings with clients.
A rigorous screening process ensures Ms Murphy’s establishment has a high calibre clientele (stock image)
‘[I was told to] use the same instincts for picking clients as you would if you were going on a date.
‘If I suspected they were creeps or if they said anything disrespectful, I’d simply say I couldn’t help them.’
Her other significant lesson from Madam Mary was to employ girls ‘who genuinely enjoyed sex and who would be reliable, just like in any other job.’
With a working business model under her belt, Ms Murphy and her business partner set about recruiting staff for their newly created Wanganui-based establishment.
The down-to-earth business owner (pictured) takes the issue of consent very seriously
As part of her business practice, Ms Murphy tells her workers they are in control at all times.
‘If 20 years ago you’d told me I’d be a madam someday, I’d definitely have thought it was a wind up,’ the brothel madam said
Women who applied for jobs were interviewed, the down-to-earth brothel owner said, and questioned about the issue of consent.
Ms Murphy shares her journey in Take 5 magazine
‘It was important to make sure they were all doing this by choice and not under the direction of another person.
She said empowering women also meant giving them a clear choice in terms of what they felt was acceptable.
‘I told them ‘You have the right to retract your consent at any time during a booking.
While the venture has only been open a few months, the modern madam said there had been plenty of interest even with a rigorous screening process in place.
‘Prospective clients contact Nicki or myself and we decide if they’re suitable to go ahead with a booking,’ she said.
‘If we sense even the slightest bit of disrespect to the girls as “it”, or saying they don’t want to use protection, we simply tell them they’re not welcome.’
Although Ms Murphy knows there are people who may not agree the industry she’s now involved with, she strongly supports the notion that women have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies.
‘I think of myself less as a madam, and more a union organiser, she wrote on her blog. ‘For vaginas.’