Nick talks fast and his excitement builds as he begins explaining to me the ins and outs of the brothel, “There are three main groups here at KC- KC is what we call the brothel,” He starts listing them off on his fingers, being frantically and stereotypical gay in his enthusiasm, “First there is the group of people who keep to themselves: they don’t want to make friends here, and its best just to leave them alone. Then there is the group of foreigners: they mostly stick together and probably won’t talk to you unless you speak Spanish or something. And last there is the cool group, which is the group I’m in, and we own this place,” Nick is clearly over-excited about announcing the cool group; if there even can be such a thing in such a place.
Nick continues, “There are three people in the cool group: First there is me, who started working here before the other two. There is Brendan, who arrived here second and not long after I started. Brendan is really cool, and we get along really well. Then there is Matt, who has a full time job and only works here a couple of nights a week, and he arrived here third. We are the ones you want to stick with. You’ll meet them soon… are you going to be here tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I put myself on the schedule here almost every day.” I respond, taking another drag of my cigarette.
“Cool, well then you’ll probably see them tomorrow,” Nick also takes another drag then continues, “A lot of people come and go in this place, so groups and dynamics change all the time. Right now its a good dynamic. Brendan, Matt, and I are all your direct competition,” Nick stops speaking and looks at me as if he’s eliciting a response; I take the bait.
“What do you mean by direct competition?” I ask.
He’s obviously excited that I asked, “We are in the young and twink category, so we mostly get all the pedophiles. We wouldn’t really be competing with the muscly guys, or the older ones.”
“Yay, pedophiles!” I say sarcastically.
Nick laughs, “Yeah I’ll admit they aren’t too bad but at the same time they are disgusting.”
The rest of the night flies by. Pete comes in at 1am and tells us all that he is closing down for the night. I spent my whole shift nervous to experience my first client, but nobody showed.
When I asked Nick if it was normal to have no clients he replied, “Yeah, sometimes. But I got two clients on MY first night.”
Nick invited me for drinks at Stonewall and, with nothing else to do, I obliged.
“Cheers!” Nick screams over the loud music. I lift my glass and he does the same. We clink our glasses and take a sip. We spot an empty table across the room and race to sit there before anyone else does.
“So are you nervous about having sex with the clients?” Nick asks, sitting cross legged and leaning in close.
I was taken aback that Nick would speak so publicly about our work environment, but then realised the music was too loud and everyone else was too drunk to care.
I reply, “Yeah I am very nervous! I’ve only had sex twice in my entire life.”
Nick almost spits out his drink, “OH MY GOD! You’re kidding, right?”
“No, I wish I wasn’t.”
“HOLY-SHIT!” Nick laughs, “How the fuck are you going to do this job?”
I respond, “I have no idea.”
Nick and I spend the night getting drunk and laughing about our current life predicament. I was happy I didn’t get a client that night at Knight Call, as it was nice to get comfortable in those new surroundings before I jumped in head first. Nick was great at putting my mind at ease and making me laugh. He made me feel comfortable.
Back in Canada I didn’t have any gay friends. Yes, I worked with some gay people, and had some gay lovers, but none of them were anywhere close to being good friends. The fact was that I never had a gay friend to just hang out with. My whole Canadian life was built around a structure that was inherently straight, and I was ready to break down that structure. Even though I had my guard up that first night with Nick, I still felt comfortable around him like I’ve never felt before. My entourage of girlfriends back in Canada never seemed to fill me with the comfort that one man here in Sydney seemed to do. It was different, it was freeing, and that night I knew Nick and I would become great friends.
The night grows long, and it’s almost 4am before we decide to call it in. The hostel I was staying in had a 1am curfew, so Nick insisted I stay on his couch. He lived close to Stonewall.
I drunkenly crash on his couch and pass out.
After Scott’s memorial I meet up with Matt (the aforementioned member of the cool group). We are sitting at a pizza restaurant in Darlinghurst and it’s the first time I’ve seen him in a while.
Matt says, “I still can’t believe Scott died.”
“Yeah, me neither. I knew it was coming, but it’s still a shock. In a weird and fucked up way I’m kind of glad it happened.” I instantly regret saying. I knew Matt wouldn’t understand my reasons behind saying it. No one really would. I was upset he was dead, but also glad. Scott had suffered for so long, and now he was at peace. It was macabre; it was beautiful.
Matt and I sit in silence for a few seconds, letting what I said sink in.
Matt speaks up, “I saw Nick the other day.”
“Fuck, really?” I say, happy at the change of conversation.
“Yeah, he looked really bad.”
“Is he still… Into it?” I ask.
“Oh yeah, big time. He looks like a skeleton.”
“Shit, that sucks. But to be honest I have no sympathy for him. He has the choice to get out, and he chooses to stay in.” I chose my words carefully, knowing full-well the people around us could overhear.
“I talked to him as well.”
“What did he say?” I ask, suddenly intrigued.
“He said that if he ever sees you again he’s going to punch you in the face.”