Brothels in crisis as coronavirus fear hits sex industry
Exclusive: The coronavirus has hit the sex industry with some brothels reporting an eye-watering 80 per cent fall in clients.
Fears of contracting the COVID-19 disease has put punters off visiting Sydney's predominantly Asian establishments, forcing owners desperate to drum up business to bar Chinese sex workers returning from virus-hit Wuhan for two weeks, the time it can take to develop symptoms.
Some brothels say their Australian sex workers have experienced a rise in demand, leaving the majority of Asian girls twiddling their thumbs.
Business has been so slack at Pyrmont 200, where ten ladies in their 20s predominantly from Bali, Japan and China work the roster, the manager is toying with closing the club's narrow door in Harris Street.
"If this was my only business, I'd shut it down, we used to have around 23 clients a day, now we have about 15, it's been like this for six weeks and each week gets worse," said manager Bing Wang.
"Regulars are panicking and calling asking 'does anyone have the coronavirus?' because we do people-to-people touching.
"I'm checking the girls' Uber apps and bank statements to make sure they've been travelling and shopping in Australia for the past 14 days. They're not allowed back here if they've been to China, unless they've been in Australia 14 days.
"We've lost around 35 per cent of business and I want to assure our regulars it's safe here. Everyone's worried, the girls are worried about clients and the clients are worried about the girls.
"On the flip side our Aussie girls are doing great, they're getting 80 per cent of the business because customers are turning to them."
Penny's 77 gentleman's club in Newtown is still switching on the neon sign beckoning customers up a narrow staircase but business has dropped a staggering 84 per cent in recent weeks, from an average 26 customers a day to four.
"Business is very quiet, we are still getting customers but people are scared," said the owner of two years who asked not to be named.
"Sunday, we only had four, or five clients, it's always quiet on Sundays and Mondays but it's never been like this - customers are ringing up asking 'are any of your girls sick?'
"I say 'no, we don't have any sick girls in my shop'. If any of the girls are sick I tell them not to come in."
Bellevue 12 bordello in Surry Hills, with just a dozen Taiwanese, Chinese and Thai women on its books, says Sunday trade has plummeted from 20 punters a day to an average seven.
"It's very, very quiet but people are still coming," said owner Ton Li.
"Customers are worried and don't want to part with their money - we don't have the virus here."
Sex worker Claudia at Tiffany's, perhaps Sydney's best-known bordello offering standard full service, said: "Touch wood, it's business as usual here, we haven't been affected."
Amanda at Kelly's Asian Flowers in Five Dock says customers are still trickling in.
"It's very quiet, the virus has made customers nervous," she said.