We set up the interview in the ?Ambassador? room, which is also Mary?s very own dominatrix dungeon. The dark wooden walls are adorned almost floor to ceiling with anything a sadist or masochist might desire.

Mary takes a seat in the middle of an old hospital bed in front of a wall with a pair of handcuffs fastened to it.

Mary is intelligent, professional and generous with her time.

Some of the men call in with endless questions, and I can?t help but wonder about the person on the other end. When one caller asks for a 15-minute booking, the look on Mary?s face says it all ? this is something clearly not on offer at The Fun House.

?Sex work is work and that?s why it?s called sex work? she says at one point.

I found the many characters who make up the sex industry an eclectic mix. They do the work for different reasons, although money is the main draw card.

Telling this story has been challenging at times, but the people I’ve met have been gracious in sharing stories of the journey they took into the industry.

Some stories are heart-wrenching to hear.

There is no denying that some parts of this world are troubled ? souls are broken, families kept in the dark. Sometimes drugs are used and lives have been lost.

Other stories are more positive than you might expect.

Some people have families, others hold down other careers or are training to be a pilot or lawyer, some are working towards a PhD. Some are married with children, while others struggle to maintain relationships. Some love the sex, while others simply see it as work.

But many see the street or brothel as more than their workplace ? it?s the place they belong, their home.


Rebekah Parsons-King, RNZ