What manner of men visit brothels and why? A NSW University criminologist and his students are hoping to answer both questions as they talk to brothel-goers and brothel workers over the next two months, and in my column in The Herald today I've given him a head start. I've been able to do that because I've spent many hours in brothels around the world. I find brothels fascinating and not often pass up an opportunity to go. I always emerge feeling better and a little more sober, because most, if they serve beer, have a limit of two cans per customer.
My time in Newcastle's brothels has always been spent in the waiting room, waiting for friends to get their rocks off inside, and I'll recommend the people-watching opportunity in a brothel's waiting room over cricket any day. There'll be a group of young blokes who've been drinking, geeing each other up; one or two very fat men sweating profusely; a couple of tradies still in their work gear after a few hours in the pub; and businessmen. I would say that businessmen are the biggest single group of clients, or close to it. The great majority of clients would be of the middle class.
The criminologist, Philip Birch, expects "it will turn out that the men who visit prostitutes are very ordinary, decent, hard-working people", and while that may be a little limiting it is, in my experience, largely right.
Why do they go to brothels? Sex.
Why do women work in brothels? Money.
Mr Birch expects, too, that far from brothels being a seedy industry, the business will be shown to be shaped by morals and public values.
As I've declared, I find brothels fascinating places, and I believe very strongly that their legal existence is a great thing, but I do suspect that Mr Birch is too hopeful. What do you say? And what's been your experience of brothels?