It was Sunday morning and I was slowly warming to the wrinkly dog named Deniro. Scott said I was supposed to bathe him once a week, but when I thought I could stretch it to 9 days I almost gagged at the smell and knew it had to be done as soon as possible. Getting Deniro into the bathroom involved first locating him and then chasing him around the house furiously as he narrowly escaped my grasp multiple times. Once I had him captured I had to drag him across the carpet as he dug his feet into the ground and whined. I then would literally pick him up and throw him into the bathroom (the humane way) and quickly slam the door behind us. By this time I would be sweating and Deniro would be a nervous wreck frantically looking for a way out of the bathroom. I would pick him up again and try to get him into the shower and he would splay his legs out against the wall and scream. Once I dropped him into the shower I would have to climb in with him to make sure he wouldn’t barrel through the shower curtain. I learned quickly to wear swimming trunks because the lines became blurred between who was giving who a bath. Once the shower was on and the intense screaming commenced, I would hold onto his collar with one hand and use the other to open specialty dog shampoo and conditioner bottles and scrub his skin for a good ten minutes. I had to make sure to scrub well between the wrinkles where it stank most. The smell wouldn’t come out of my hand for days. Once all was said and done I would rub him down with a towel and set him free and he would run away and not be seen for a day or two, presumably hiding in Scott’s bedroom. After the exhausting routine I got ready for work.
Sunday Afternoon I arrived to work an hour late, something that was becoming common. I would rock up late with a chai latte in hand from a little cafe in Kings Cross. The two ladies who ran the cafe knew me on first name basis, and we would spend a couple minutes chatting. I wasn’t the only one who frequented the cafe, Nick and Brendan did as well. Between the three of us and our daily (sometimes multiple times a day) stops to the cafe, mixed in with the the fact the ladies had a good view of us walking down the small alley leading towards the brothel, I was sure they knew what my profession was. They politely never asked what I did for work or why I frequented their quaint cafe.
A new boy started at work and his name was Jay. Boys were constantly coming and going, the dynamics of KC constantly changing. Every new boy made us wary. Every new boy brought uncertainty and had the possibility of breaking down good dynamics. Jay didn’t have a particularly handsome face, but he did seem to have a nice body underneath his shirt. He was short, but seemed very intelligent. He spoke like an aristocrat and was very polite to everyone. He seemed oddly comfortable even though it was his first day. I noticed I felt gravitated towards him from the beginning.
Judging how I felt on first impressions I would either choose to wait a couple days to talk to a new boy or I would bombard them with questions right away. Either way, the strategy was used to try and keep new boys in their place. It was a passive aggressive way to let them know that they shouldn’t fuck with the group dynamics. Everyone did it in their own way… It was an intimidation game. The race to become King of the brothel.
Nick’s strategy was to ignore them. Nick believed he was queen ruler of the seven kingdoms, so he made sure the new boys realised that their place was below him by acting like they weren’t there. I was the only person I’d ever seen Nick warm to on their first day. Brendan seemed to be loud and proud, using a kind of intimidation game. He always had an aggressive opinion about everything. Matt was just, well, Matt. He was always asking stupid and rude questions regardless of the person or occasion. Matt and Brendan were the only people from our group who had job’s besides escorting so they weren’t as dependant on keeping brothel dynamics as Nick and I were. My strategy was a mix of all three, because one strategy never works for every occasion. I was adaptable based on the situation, which had got me into a lot of trouble as much as it saved me from a lot of trouble.
I was pulling a double shift with Nick and about eight other boys. It had been a quiet afternoon and even quieter night. I had only pulled one client, same with Nick. Those two clients had been the only ones who had come in all day, so all the boys just lounged on the couches and and mingled lazily. We all sat up straight when we heard the client bell go off.
A few seconds later Pete came through the door with two people behind him. I was startled because no one other than the managers were allowed in the Boy’s Room. I had a moment of panic that it was a police raid, something I heard happened at the other male brothel in Sydney. Pete announces, “Hello boys. These are the good men and women representing the sexual health clinic down the road,” the man and woman give nervous waves, “They are here to have a talk with you guys about sexual health screening and to answer any of your questions.”
“Hello,” I say out loud, a few other greetings echo from other boys.
“Hello,” says the woman who steps forward, she introduces herself and the man she was accompanying, “I am here with KRC to have a little discussion with you guys. I hope you don’t mind.” We give her our pardons and she continues, “How many here have had a sexual health screen?” Most of the boys put up their hands, “That’s good. How many of you know their is a free clinic down the road?” Most of the boys put up their hands, “That’s good. Normally we tell people to come in every three months but since your line of work puts you at higher risk you should be coming in every month to get tested.”
She continues and tells us to always use condoms when having sex and while giving oral. Half the boys try and hide their guilty looks as nearly none of us used protection when we performed oral. She hands us little booklets that describe STD’s we could get infected with. She tells us that the HIV rate in the area is one in every seven, which is extremely high for a first world country. The guy takes over and tells us about new strains of gonorrhoea that are almost untreatable, how their clinic is funded by the government, and the clinic’s opening hours. It was a good program they run, going brothel to brothel (male and female) and educating them to make sure we all were well informed. I had never received proper sexual health education in my life, so it was interesting to hear it all bluntly from these two people.
The biggest fear being an escort, besides murder and, depending on the person, rape, was being infected with HIV. At the time I was still under the primitive assumption that I couldn’t even touch someone with HIV or else I’d be at risk. I heard horror stories from other boys about the disease so my knowledge began to get jumbled between myth and primitive thinking. I was afraid to ask the lady questions about it in fear of other boys thinking less of me. I remained as careful as possible with my clients, so I was sure that I was safe. Like the other boys I sometimes disregarded the rule about oral with condoms on a client to client basis. If they seemed clean and/or were good looking, oral with condoms was optional in my opinion.
After the sexual health people left and the brothel shut for the night we all went to Matt’s apartment.
“If I ever get HIV I would instantly kill myself.” Matt says bluntly.
“I would be devastated but I would get over it,” says Nick.
I am silent. I didn’t know what I would do if I contracted HIV. I had never even entertained the thought. I was running a higher risk than the average person, even with all the precautions.
“I wouldn’t even touch someone who had HIV,” says Matt disgustedly.
I really wasn’t sure how I felt about it.