Being a Sex Worker Where Prostitution Is Legal

Sex workers in New Zealand have the same employment rights as any other employee, but 15 years after the radical law reform that brought about full legalization of prostitution the industry still struggles with stigma.

Madam Mary takes us inside the “privileged bubble” that is her luxurious brothel and sex dungeon in Wellington. Services at the Funhouse go for around $500 per hour, compared to the cold streets of Christchurch where Phoenix says some nights on the job end with just $60 in her pocket. Victoria runs her business quietly from home in Merivale, a posh suburb of Christchurch where at least one enraged neighbor wants her out.

Broadly examines what it’s like to work across all levels of the sex industry and the ongoing fight to do the job free from prejudice. As dominatrix Gwyn says, “The sex is definitely not the most interesting part of the job and I feel like often the desire to talk about the sex is essentially used as a way to exceptionalize sex work and to justify othering us.”

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