Spectrum 563 and Spectrum 564. Madam Trudi

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Tono kōrero mai

A two part documentary. Jack Perkins talks to Kalgoorlie "lady of the night", Trudi Paterson, about her 20 years as a brothel-keeper in the gold-mining town. Kalgoorlie is 650km east of Perth, famous for its gold and its brothels.

Part 1.
Perkins explains that although brothels are illegal in Western Australia, in Kalgoorlie they are openly tolerated as part of the traditions of the mines. Trudi Patterson's establishment is one of four brothels in Hay Street. She describes how she got into the business, attracted by the money at first, as a housekeeper.

Trudi shares how it took three months before she came to terms with having to discuss fees and the entertainment's duration though by twelve months it became normal.

Three to four years later she found herself falling in love with one of her clients however the relationship ended after a year due to closure of the establishment and her having to move away for work.

Although client relationships are business agreements, Trudi acknowledges friendships develop with regular clients as they often discuss affairs of the heart and childhood problems. She makes the observation that clients come from "all walks of life".

Trudi explains every girl draws the line at unusual sexual requests and identifies her own boundaries. Later in life she was approached by a madam seeking retirement and came to own the establishment.

She describes the inherited house and town rules which include living on the premises, keeping a low profile in the community and cleanliness at all times. All girls are required to attend weekly health checks at the state run health clinic.

Trudi shares a humorous story about a besotted drunk client, saying that it's the mirth and hilarious situations that keep her happily ticking over.

Part 2.
Perkins explains the brothels of Kalgoorlie began during the gold mining boom in the 1890s and because the community accepts them and they keep a low profile, the police turn a blind eye.

Madam Trudi shares a story about a client that stalked her, flying across the country to be by her side on holiday in Sydney. She also relays a story she finds amusing about a man who declined her propositioning for three years running but whilst on holiday declared his attraction for her.

Trudi explains the Kalgoorlie brothels are competitive but friendly. In the evening the steel gates to her establishment are opened and the girls can be viewed by all from the street. Gentlemen can approach the veranda to talk to a girl and either make an arrangement or leave.

She says there is no under-cutting of fees as this breeds dissension between girls. Fees vary according to an entertainment's duration and any extras but there is a minimum rate of $30.

Trudi looks for girls between the age of 21 and 41, They need to speak English and have the right attitude. The girls come from many walks of life, from all over Australia and overseas, they can be single mothers or young women wanting to save money for study.

Trudi discusses her establishment's approach and education about AIDS. She says the community holds them in high esteem and describes the low sexual crime rates in what is a working man's town. Only once has she been approached by a jilted wife.

Trudi describes the qualities she thinks makes a good madam. Once retired from the business she also looks forward to creating a social life and hopes to settle down and get married one day.

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Year 1987

Reference number 1503

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
PATERSON, Trudi, Interviewee
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Interviewer

Duration 00:57:52

Date 17 Jan 1987

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