In the early hours of the morning, when Sydney is at its quietest and most vulnerable to noise and disturbance, there’s an explosion.
It comes from a blacked out window on the second floor of a small house in a residential area near Sydney’s inner west. Police fire shots into the darkness with high powered rifles as they storm up the stairs. They find two men hiding inside. One has been shot dead but police believe the other man was about to open fire.
This scene played out in front of dozens of horrified residents who were woken by the sound of gunfire. The raiders then took over the house, searching for evidence that could lead them to Sydney’s only legal brothel.
The raiders found it quickly. Inside the Cabramatta brothel are more than 100 sex workers, some of whom have worked there for decades. And if past raids are anything to go by, this particular brothel will be home to a lot of illegal activity.
But what happens when you visit a Cabramatta brothel?
- CHERRY BLOSSOM BROTHERHOLES: Where does the word ‘brothel’ come from?
- WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF SYDNEY’S CABRAMATA BROTHEL?
- INSIDE A CABRAMATA BROTHEL: How Does It Work and Who’s Running The Show?
- WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WORKING IN A CABRAMATA BROTHEL?
- WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE AGAINST REGULATING SEXWORKERS?
- HOW CAN YOU AVOID GETTING RIPPED OFF AT A CABRAMATA BROTHEL?
Chrystina* works as a dominatrix at Cherry Blossom Brothels, one of three legal brothels in Sydney. She says there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” brothel. Every place is different.
“If people think that going to a good brothel means getting all these services like champagne and flowers, they’re wrong,” she says. “Some places offer those things, others don’t.”
“You can get everything from a massage to a hand job. Some women might want to do both. If they’re not being paid properly, they’ll probably try to rip off their clients because they need money to pay rent and bills.”
According to Chrystina, working in a brothel doesn’t give her any special powers or abilities that aren’t available to anyone else. But still, many outsiders see sex work as inherently degrading. Why would someone choose to take part in something so stigmatised?
“People assume we know how much pain we’re causing,” she says. “We’ve had people say, ‘you must enjoy doing this.’ That’s why I tell everyone I’m working in a safe environment.”
Cherry Blossom Brothels offers a range of sexual activities including oral sex, masturbation, bondage, spanking and role play. There are also private rooms where couples can have sex without disturbing the neighbours.
These options make Cherry Blossom stand apart from other brothels around Australia. In fact, it’s one of just a handful of licensed brothels in the country overall.
Other Sydney brothels include:
- Mimi’s Exotic Massage Parlour (Mimi) – This establishment gives customers access to sensual massages and erotic body treatments in a luxurious lounge room.
- Amor Proprio (Amanda) – Located in a converted warehouse, this Sydney CBD brothel allows guests to engage in various forms of sexual entertainment.
- Passionately Yours Private Pleasure (PYPL) – PYPL offers traditional lap dances, professional strippers and adult parties.
- Lady Dazzle’s Nightclub & Day Spa (Lady Dazzles) – Lady Dazzle’s offers a selection of live entertainments including pole dancing, stripping and dance shows.
- Viva La VIP Escort Agency (VIP) – This Sydney escort agency provides escorts for gentlemen looking for companionship during business trips.
- Le Club de Luxe (LCL) – LCL is located within a five star hotel, offering luxury accommodation and intimate events.
- Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club (SGC) – Offering male strip clubs, SGC is located next door to Sydney Airport.
- Exclusive Gentlemen’s Club (EGC) – EGC is Sydney’s first gentleman’s club which serves alcohol and hosts weekly events.
- Voyeur Adult Entertainment Centre (VEEC) – VEEC is a former motel turned into a fully licenced adult entertainment centre.
- Platinum Elite Escort Agency (PEEA) – PEEA offers female escorts and strippers to suit every taste and budget.
- Xtreme Selective Privileges (XSP) – XSP caters specifically to businessmen and executives.
- VIP London Escorts (VIE) – Providing escort service throughout your stay in Sydney.
- VIP Asian Ladies (VIL) – Provides beautiful young ladies for social functions and corporate gatherings.
- VIP Asian Girls (VIG) – VIG operates similar to VIL, providing highly trained young lady companions.
- VIP Asian Escorts (VIES) – VIES provide elite escorts for exclusive occasions.
- VIP Asian Call Girls (VICG) – VICG provides companionship 24/7.
- VIP Asian Massagers (VIMA) – Provides quality masseurs for men travelling in groups.
As well as running the brothels, Cherry Blossom runs a nightclub and day spa called Cherry Garden. Chrystina says the difference between the two businesses isn’t hard and fast.
“People often confuse us because we run the brothels and we run the nightspa too,” she says. “Everything is very separate here. We have strict rules about staff members visiting our venues. Only employees and management can enter Cherry Garden.”
What happens when you visit a Cabramatta brothel?
When you walk through the doors of a Cabramatta brothel, you’ll notice right away that the atmosphere is completely different from mainstream nightclubs.
There’s no DJ spinning cheesy pop music. Instead, loud conversations fill the air while upbeat songs play in the background. Customers sit along wooden benches, sipping cocktails and eating finger food while waiting for a girl to show up for a quickie.
Most of the girls are dressed provocatively, wearing little more than underwear and high heels.
“At Cherry Blossom, we like to keep things relaxed,” says Chrystina. “Our girls dress however they want. It’s important for them to feel comfortable.”
She adds that dressing provocatively makes it easier for the girls to attract new customers. “They love showing off their bodies and feeling sexy,” she says.
Despite the relaxed atmosphere, Chrystina insists that she takes security seriously. All the buildings have video surveillance cameras positioned in strategic locations. Security guards patrol the grounds regularly.
So what happens once you’ve chosen a girl?
- INSIDE A CABRAMATA BROTHEL: How Does It Work and Who’s Running The Show?
Once the customer chooses a girl, they’ll meet her at a designated spot outside the building. Then the fun really begins.
“The whole point of coming to a cabramata is to get laid,” says Chrystina. “I always ask my girls to start the conversation off with a joke. People often laugh at the jokes, so they relax even further and end up having sex sooner.”
While Chrystina acknowledges that some people may not be comfortable with the idea of paying for sex upfront, she believes it’s better than leaving cash lying around an unsupervised brothel.
“Imagine you’re walking down the street and you pick up $100 bill without knowing whose pocket it came from,” she explains. “That’s exactly what goes on in a brothel.”
When the time comes for the transaction to happen, the girl will take payment directly from the client in cash. Once the money exchange has taken place, the girl will leave.
“We never lock the doors of the premises,” says Chrystina. “Guests are welcome to hang out until they decide to leave.”
Why are some people against regulating sexworkers?
Many people oppose the existence of Cabramatta brothels because they believe that prostitution should remain unregulated. They argue that regulation creates problems such as trafficking and disease transmission.
“Sex work shouldn’t be regulated,” she says. “Whether you agree with it or not, sex work already exists. Now that everybody knows sex workers exist, we need to start accepting them.”
She points to the example of Australia’s current approach to gambling. Gambling laws differ depending on whether a person gambles in public or privately. Similarly, Chrystina argues that regulating sex work won’t create any more harm than regulating gambling.
“Prostitution is just another form of employment,” she says.