Despite heavy promotion of sexual health across Australia in the last 20 years, risky behaviour slips through the cracks. Escorts and brothels in Sydney encourage safe sex, but PAULINE¬†McKENNA speaks to a man who uses escorts and brothel sex workers & who reveals a high incident of unsafe sexual encounters …

As a teenager I had a mentor of mine give me some sage advice: “an erect penis has no conscience”.

It helped give me perspective on the mysteries of early sexual encounters, but once I got into my late 20s and 30s I never thought about this expression again – until I started researching the adherence of sex workers to safe sex practices. At the very coalface of random sexual encounters between strangers, it’s clear that things happen which the government can’t always control or even influence.

I put some tweets out asking if there were any men who were, or had been, customers of escorts, and who were willing to talk about their experiences of unsafe sex.

One respondent, Mark (not his real name), was willing to talk about his experiences.

We met for coffee in Newtown in Sydney’s inner west, and he was ok with me recording his stories.

“I’m a 44-year-old guy, and my marriage broke down 4 years ago.”

“Being in my 40s, it hasn’t been easy finding a new partner, and if anything I feel like I’m an invisible man when I walk around the city. No-one notices me, in my 20s there was always possibilities but I was disturbed by how little attention women pay me – let’s just say it’s zero.”

“I was never the kind of married man who would see escorts while married, but after being separated for a year and having no partner at all during those first twelve months, I reached a point of depression and loneliness and it reached a point where I decided I simply had to go to a brothel – so I chose one in Surry Hills.”

“It took a lot for me to first walk into a brothel, I felt self-conscious about it and was conscious of who might be watching me – but I felt like it was simply something I had to do.”

“Once inside I was surprised by the attractiveness of the ladies who came out to introduce themselves to me.”

“I’d always liked the look of Vietnamese women and one of the girls was introduced as Vietnamese, so I decided to choose her.”

“I was quite nervous and sure enough when it came to the sex act, I was unable to sustain an erection.”

“She struggled to put a condom on me but it was clear that this was just making me even more self-conscious.”

“So suddenly she said to me, “you don’t come inside, ok?” and I realised she was offering me the chance to have natural sex with her.”

“She didn’t ask for extra money, I realised that she could tell I was nervous and she wanted me to have a good experience.”

“I found myself getting aroused at the exotic danger of it, and became erect, and since nothing had happened for me sexually for over a year, I couldn’t stop myself from accepting her invitation.”

A look over any escorts directories, which are quite common around Australia, shows street-sex terms such as BBJ (bare blow job – meaning no-condom oral sex) as services offered by high-class hookers looking for that extra edge over competitors in the independent escort ‘industry’.

Mark was willing to recount an experience with a Sydney escort who attended his inner-city apartment.

“It was a strange experience from the outset because I was told by the driver, “this girl is new – if there’s any trouble with her you let me know” – it seemed an unusual thing to say – I was expecting something very volatile after that.”

“Once we were inside my apartment, this girl just changed into a very sensual, warm-hearted, loving person.”

“I guess that’s what you call a GFE (girlfriend experience) – there seemed to be an incredible chemistry between us.”

“Once on the bed, she undressed me, and since I’d taken a viagra before-hand I was ready for sex – she touched my penis with her hand, smiled approvingly at its hardness and put it inside her – no condom, and we proceeded to have really intense sex with her coming three or four times – and even when I came, it was only my decision to come outside her, she was pretty well willing me to come inside her.”

“For the next few days I was in a state of mortal panic. All I could think about was how many other men might she have had sex with prior to me. I was terrified that I would have AIDS or might have an outbreak of some sexual disease or another.”

Now a semi-regular user of prostitutes and brothels, Mark admitted the unsafe sex with escorts Sydney didn’t end there.

“While there were many times where girls did use condoms, and that meant I didn’t have any stresses after the experiences, there was another night where I was surprised again.”

“I was looking at a brothel review website and it mentioned that an inner-city brothel in Strawberry Hills was having a relaunch – so I sent in an email and was invited to the night.”

“It was strange to be socialising with hookers and various proponents of sexual liberation including nude models, there were even a few C-class Sydney celebrities there.”

“As the night wore on though, there were a few nudges and winks to the single men in attendance encouraging us to take advantages of the services of the premises.”

“I chose a very attractive woman who surprised me by tongue-kissing me very passionately.”

“Then when it came to the sex she encouraged me to go all the way and go inside her without wearing a condom. She was extremely attractive and I couldn’t bring myself to say no.”

Mark admitted that over a 3-4 year period he probably used about 20 escorts or sex workers, and only three indulged in unsafe sex practices. However that’s still 15% of sexual encounters.

If that ratio of sex workers are willing to indulge in unsafe sex, the rate of sexually transmitted infections in Sydney is certain to grow.

Editor’s Note: The venue photographed to illustrate this article is in no way either of the venues mentioned by the subject of this story.