Good old-fashioned priorities gone

By Rosemary McLeod


"It won't be sex" says the businessman involved in opening Wellington's newest strip club. "It's just visual." And I take him at his word.

I'd be keen to see the decor of the multi-million dollar facility when it opens in March.

It promises to be a little bottler.

Industry being thin on the ground in this town we're adapting, like Darwin's finches.

The sex trade - which I call light industry - provides wholesome work for female school leavers who'd otherwise be under their parents' feet all day and will encourage them to keep fit, which can only be healthy.

There is, as yet, no NZQA qualification required so there's no need for them to lift their sights to - say - bookish heights.

As for the job description, it's as old as time, like the style of the planned decor.

The staff - there will be work for 80, we're told - won't get paid any extra for exams they may have passed and investors have never followed The World of Interiors; they rely on instinctive knowledge of what constitutes a sure thing.

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The proposition is all class. There will be chandeliers, spokesman for The Calendar Girls Club, James Samson, has revealed and chandeliers are always a sign of good taste. Specially made carpets will also arrive from Germany and Spain. I'm picturing swirling red-patterned lushness, gold tassels, and big, fat paintings of naked women lolling on tiger-skins or in top hats, brandishing whips. Divine.

The building refurbishment will create a strip club, whiskey lounge and cigar room on the site, round about where you could once buy the best roast chickens in town.

I miss those roast chickens, crisp-skinned and garlicky but there's no stopping the march of progress. Only the strong survive.

Lucky patrons of the new club will be offered strip shows, lap dancing and what are called "private shows" in between puffing on stogies and downing spirituous liquor.

The patrons will, of course, be men. The young women working there will, just as naturally, require decent central heating to prevent that untoward side-effect of going about half-naked, which is goose-bumps. I have heard that goose-bumps are a turnoff.

Although the purpose of the classy four-storey amenity is apparently to provide a turn-on, Mr Samson says it will not be a brothel, "No way". Good news, then, for The Mermaid and Splash Club, Dream Girls and Liks, all a short stagger away and all offering a full service to the well-primed punter.

Good news for downtown Wellington too, where we now encourage this sort of business to thrive, what with it being legal and all. The squeamish, who may wince in an old-fashioned way to see the teenagers touting for trade outside The Mermaid any evening, can stick to the suburbs if they've got a problem. Sleaze, like greed, is good.

It's Mr Samson's attractive wife who'll run the show, as he has done time for making and conspiring to make and supply P. That temporary setback was in 2004, when the court heard he was also behind a sex industry turf war in which two Christchurch massage parlours were firebombed.

I mention this only because it reminds me of those delicious rotisserie chickens, gone for ever.

With a new government there's always dread of the great new brainwave they'll come up with. Legalising the vice trade and all its adherents was one.

Deregulation of just about everything that has caused major disaster since is another. There was scant mention during the lead-up to Saturday night of the ongoing leaky homes horror show, the implications of the West Coast mining disaster, or the official blind eye turned to the likelihood of liquefaction that had Christchurch people building in danger zones until February's quake proved an embarrassing reminder.

It's interesting to think of the millions of dollars available for the necessary new facility in Wellington while 6000 Christchurch homes are being razed to the ground and no replacements in sight.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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