Paige & Powe
By David Thomas Henry Wright
Digital Interface by Karen Lowry
Illustrations by Julia Lane
Cover by Irit Pollak
Special thanks to
Special thanks to
Interface made for PC. Mobile viewing is not recommended.
© 2017, David Thomas Henry Wright.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher of this work.
The author would like to acknowledge the support of Seizure’s AltTxt, which provided editorial assistance in the early development of this work.
David Thomas Henry Wright has been published in Southerly and Seizure. Recently he was shortlisted for the T.A.G. Hungerford Award, the Viva La Novella Award, and the Overland VU Short Story Prize. He has a Masters from The University of Edinburgh and has lectured at China’s top university, Tsinghua, where he developed courses in Creative Writing and Australian Literature. He is a member of the Electronic Literature Organisation and presented at the ELO 2017 conference in Porto, Portugal. He also co-edited Westerly: New Creative and is currently a PhD candidate at Murdoch. www.davidthomashenrywright.com
Karen Lowry is a lecturer at SAE Institute in Perth and SAE Online. She completed her PhD in digital poetry at Curtin University and was the recipient of the APA and Curtin Research Scholarships. Karen co-directed the inaugural 2017 Literary Youth Festival as well as the 2012 and 2013 WA Poetry Festivals. Her minor work, ‘Text Message Generator’, was featured at the 2016 Noted Festival. Karen's previous publications include the Australian Poetry Journal and WRIT Poetry Review. She has previously taught creative and professional writing at Curtin University as well as digital Media and Web Design at Murdoch University. www.kazzalow.com
Julia Lane is an artist, graphic designer and PhD candidate from Perth, Western Australia. Her current research revolves around exploring the rhetoric of the monstrous feminine in contemporary graphic culture. Julia has published several works in both written and graphic fields.
Irit Pollak is a design strategist, specialising in social impact. She is the Networks and Engagement Lead at Doteveryone. In her previous role with Deloitte, Australia Irit helped set up the Design for Business team, driving design for social innovation across the public and private sectors. Irit also produces a podcast and frequently collaborates with academics and artists on independent storytelling projects. www.iritpollak.com
Kim Arthur Powe
Chaplet Limited (ASX: CPL)
Letter to the Shareholders
Amended: September 13, 2010
Dear fellow shareholder, Dear fellow shareholder MODEST PARASITE [*],
It is with considerable pleasure pleasure confusion that I present Chaplet Limited’s 2010 Annual Report. For the financial year ended June 2010, Chaplet announced a net profit of $337.8 million, an increase of 15.1 percent on last year, and a final dividend of 19 cents per share, franked to 50 percent. This brings the total dividend for the year to 38 cents per share.
These results reflect a varied performance by Chaplet’s Australian casinos and hotels, but a pleasing contribution from Chaplet’s Macanese interests. These results reflect a varied performance by Chaplet’s Australian casinos and hotels, but a pleasing contribution from Chaplet’s Macanese interests. MAKE NO SENSE TO ME. I certainly have done nothing to warrant this success.[†]
For many years we we I
have shown have shown TOO MUCH faith in Australia.
Our current $1.8 billion expenditure displays continued confidence in Australia’s economy, Australia’s appeal as a tourism destination, and our ability to deliver resorts and gaming facilities of international quality. Our current $1.8 billion expenditure displays continued confidence in Australia’s economy, Australia’s appeal as a tourism destination, and our ability to deliver resorts and gaming facilities of international quality. That is why I fled. What followed is almost beyond comprehension. In fact, a psychiatrist has deemed my recollections so inexplicable he has diagnosed them as delusions constructed to fill the void of a psychogenic fugue [‡] brought on by stress. Indeed, despite their vividness, I barely believe my nightmarish memories. Yet, even if they are simply subconscious fantasies, I feel you, the shareholder, have a right to know what your Executive Chairman has been (or believes he has been) up to, for it will inform Chaplet Limited’s future.
Despite the challenges of the domestic environment, Chaplet’s wholly-owned and regulated casino businesses and integrated resorts have recovered from the reverberations of the global financial crisis and achieved normalised EBITDA growth. Despite the challenges of the domestic environment, Chaplet’s wholly-owned and regulated casino businesses and integrated resorts have recovered from the reverberations of the global financial crisis and achieved normalised EBITDA growth. Yet I remain stunted by the losses of yesteryear, by the exodus of billions. [§]
On behalf of Chaplet’s Board, I wish to show my gratitude On behalf of Chaplet’s Board, I wish to show my FEEL LITTLE
gratitude gratitude OR EVEN SATISFACTION for all of our employees and management working so hard to ensure Chaplet’s future success.
Chaplet is Chaplet is I DO NOT FEEL proud to be a leading employer, with over
17,000 people working across both properties. 17,000 [#] people working across both properties. I even whisked away Executive Chef Chen Xiu from his fine-dining duties at Chaplet Perth’s award-winning Sichuan restaurant, The Zen Duck. He now cooks for me and only me. He cooks me chicken nuggets and only chicken nuggets. When he first presented me with my requested meal he passionately described his recipe for gourmet spatchcock medallions. Before he could finish explaining, however, I had scarfed the entire meal, barely stopping to chew or taste. Chen Xiu’s poorly-concealed contempt was an ambrosial condiment. We have not spoken since.
VIP gaming at Currently we are quarantined from civilisation, floating in the Pacific, far from VIP gaming at both Chaplet Melbourne and Perth
has reached record levels. Chaplet continues to demonstrate that, by offering first-rate facilities and generous rewards programs, we can attract a greater number of domestic and international visitors. has reached record levels. Chaplet continues to demonstrate that, by offering first-rate facilities and generous rewards programs, we can attract a greater number of domestic and international visitors. , aboard my restored superyacht that is crewed by staff who, like Chen Xiu, I also do not acknowledge.
Chaplet remains committed to responsible gaming. Our facilities offer a Responsible Gaming Support Centre staffed by a team of highly trained professionals, including psychologists and a chaplain, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ongoing development of our program draws upon the work of professional counsellors, leading academics, and researchers. Our Responsible Gaming teams routinely engage with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and the Western Australia Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council. I have been in an extended stupor. Not quite asleep, not quite awake. Hypnagogic. Any thread of thought that enters my head is immediately snipped. Chaplet remains committed to responsible gaming. Our facilities offer a Responsible Gaming Support Centre staffed by a team of highly trained professionals, including psychologists and a chaplain, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ongoing development of our program draws upon the work of professional counsellors, leading academics, and researchers. Our Responsible Gaming teams routinely engage with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and the Western Australia Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council.
In addition, all of our integrated resorts offer a In addition, all of our integrated resorts offer a SOMETIMES, HOWEVER, self-exclusion
program that has been available since our first casino opened in 1994. IS THE ONLY SOLUTION. program that has been available since our first casino opened in 1994. For nights I have raged at the ocean, attempting to relieve the terminal grief of the past years. On occasion, as distraction, I engaged in one-sided intercourse with a twenty-something year-old who called herself ‘Fantasy’ and offered A levels, OWO, and CIM.[Δ]
Chaplet acknowledges that Problem Gambling adversely affects a small portion of the population. We accept the research-informed definition proposed by the state gambling authorities, which across the country characterise Problem Gambling as an impulse control disorder. One evening, while with ‘Fantasy’, she regurgitated a horde of miniature dead mice onto my naked lap. She then flopped unconscious on the mattress. The fear I felt was immediate and refreshing, so unlike the cryptic dread of the past half-decade. Without washing off the vomit or putting on clothes I absconded to the yacht’s lifeboat, powered up the engine [¶], and set off into the night. Chaplet acknowledges that Problem Gambling adversely affects a small portion of the population. We accept the research-informed definition proposed by the state gambling authorities, which across the country characterise Problem Gambling as an impulse control disorder. The exhilaration of charging through the Pacific Ocean in total darkness rinsed away my terror. Even though I was being belted about so much I was almost thrown overboard; even though salt water blasted my face and invaded my throat, nostrils, and unnecessary eyes; even though the roar of the lifeboat’s engine was deafening; even though the wind made my wet, naked body so cold my somatosensory system shut down, I powered on, jumping unseen waves, traveling nowhere at maximum speed.
We have taken measures to reduce the impact of problem gambling in the community. In particular, we have developed a problem gambling indicator [i] awareness program for our gaming staff so that they are better able to identify vulnerable members of the community. We have taken measures to reduce the impact of problem gambling in the community. In particular, we have developed a problem gambling indicator [i] awareness program for our gaming staff so that they are better able to identify vulnerable members of the community. The sun rose and made the foggy horizon glow. I let the engine die and the boat drift. The gentle rocking was relaxing. The movement seemed deliberate, as if for my benefit. Peace, however, was soon interrupted by spurts and splashes. Not far from the boat I spied black and white shapes bobbing in the water. Orcas. Seven of them. Swimming away from me. I turned the lifeboat back on and followed. The killer whales travelled at a desperate pace. Despite the engine’s power, I could barely keep up. I soon discovered that the orcas were not fleeing me, but pursuing prey: a mother sperm whale and her albino calf. The orcas assumed formation and began systematically barging the sperm whales with their leathery heads.
In the face of new domestic regulations, Chaplet has made a commitment to work with State regulatory bodies in order to strike a balance that both protects those at risk and allows us to remain competitive in a challenging economic environment. In the face of new domestic regulations, Chaplet has made a commitment to work with State regulatory bodies in order to strike a balance that both protects those at risk and allows us to remain competitive in a challenging economic environment. The waters turned magenta and frothy. An enormous ray leapt and flapped its pectoral fins, as if mimicking a seagull and attempting flight. Gravity brought it crashing back to the water, parting the ocean’s curtains, revealing blurry clouds of krill and fish: a hint at the frenetic realm below. My engine sputtered and struggled. Exhausted blowholes puffed. The orcas had managed to pry the albino calf from its mother and were clobbering it below the surface. Bodies splashed and crushed. Teeth ripped chunks, instigating an eruption of fins and froth. The lifeboat rocked. I lost balance and fell, bruising my hip and forehead. Around me, feeding frenzies collided and combined like multiple black holes merging; time seemed to slow down and speed up all at once. Bursts of silence interrupted pink effervescence. I considered individual animals (a single fish, a single plankter, the mother sperm whale, etc.) and the probability of survival, death, injury, nourishment, exhaustion, escape, and potential propagation for each species.
Chaplet recognises the release of coronial statistics that may suggest a link between suicide and problem gambling. We are working with the VIC Transcultural Mental Health Service and the Western Australia Mental Health Commission to provide a clearer understanding of these issues so that they can be better addressed. Chaplet recognises the release of coronial statistics that may suggest a link between suicide and problem gambling. We are working with the VIC Transcultural Mental Health Service and the Western Australia Mental Health Commission to provide a clearer understanding of these issues so that they can be better addressed. From this point onward, my memory becomes opaque. I have only impressions of impulses. I recall: falling (or diving?) into the fizzing vortex; being thrust downwards, far from the sun’s influence; the excruciating noise of a thousand waterfalls; a painful blur; swift scales slicing my fatty back; the sting of saturated salt; a shadowy maw enclosing my groin and buttocks; my exposed genitals touching icy uvula; flailing, thrashing; my big toe mashing eyeball; retreating monsters; blood dispersing, diluting; not bothering to breathe; my bulging gut floating me involuntarily upwards; drifting; going back underwater, to sleep; quiet.
Our Our MY vision
for Chaplet sees us for Chaplet sees us ME
as a leading global luxury brand, with a clear focus on Asian tourism in all its forms. as a leading global luxury brand, with a clear focus on Asia ian tourism in all its forms. I don’t know for how long I slept. When I woke, a self-proclaimed marine infection expert said that, due to the swift healing of my wounds, she was unable to tell what species had bitten me. She unnecessarily added that it was just as well I led such an unhealthy lifestyle, as my fat layers had shielded my vital organs. Without asking, she took blood from my arm and left to ‘do tests’. Below my belly button, my body was a blazing tapestry of itchy pain. I was wheeled to an adjacent room, given a pill, and told to relax. I slept. Slept well. Deeper than the ocean.
We We I
have faith in our ability to deliver integrated resorts of international quality and an have faith in our ability to deliver integrated resorts of international quality and an MY increasing global reach.
Despite trading conditions for the entire casino industry having been extremely difficult, Chaplet has one of the strongest balance sheets of any gaming company in the world. The most appropriate course of action at this time is an on market share buy-back of up to 30 million ordinary shares. [ii] Michael Webb and Mitchell Webster came to visit. Just as they did following my heart attack, they brought flowers, heart-shaped balloons, a giant teddy bear, a jittery nervousness, and this time a psychiatrist. I asked how they had managed to come and see me so quickly. They looked confused, and said that I had been in the hospital for almost a week. Webster insisted I undergo a psychiatric assessment, claiming it was a new requirement of Chaplet Limited’s board members. I did not score particularly high. [◊] Following the tests, the psychiatrist and I discussed my general health and stress levels. I relayed to him most of the information I have conveyed in this letter (though, admittedly, with less certainty). When I woke from an afternoon nap I found myself, at the psychiatrist’s recommendation, back on bupropion. [↕] The results of the marine infection expert’s tests were also available: all negative. Webb and Webster then presented me with greater news: Despite trading conditions for the entire casino industry having been extremely difficult, Chaplet has one of the strongest balance sheets of any gaming company in the world.Perhaps it was the prescribed painkillers, but the relief I felt was heavenly. All aches dissolved. Webb informed me of Chaplet’s plans:The most appropriate course of action at this time is an on market share buy-back of up to 30 million ordinary shares. [ii]I was also told that Chaplet had been approached by Lopec International Limited (LIL) [€] with a request for further investment. A meeting had been set up with Magnus Qiū (Chief Executive of Lopec Chaplet Gaming) later that week at ‘Raboratorii’ (ラボラ酉), an experimental kaiseki restaurant, to hear their proposal. Chaplet’s board had predetermined that, for now, they would not engage in further overseas investment, but would hear out the proposal so as to keep up appearances. I asked the on-duty nurse if I would be up to leaving the hospital. He said, ‘Maybe so.’
Chaplet’s improved performance this year was largely due to our investment in Lopec Chaplet Gaming (LCG) in Macau. Chaplet’s improved performance this year was largely due to our investment in Lopec Chaplet Gaming (LCG) in Macau. This is why we had to meet with Magnus Qiū. The waiter who guided us to our private room wore surgical gloves. I used a cane to assist with walking. [¿] LIL was already there when we arrived, seated at one end of a table laid out with chopsticks that resembled scalpels. After exchanging handshakes, we were requested to sit. A LIL man with a sparkling accent then delivered their proposal.
LCG has delivered strong earnings growth and Chaplet this year received its first dividends from LCG, which totaled $85.8 million for the year. LCG’s results continue to improve and are a major contributor to the growth in NPAT for the group. LCG has also continued to explore opportunities within the Asia-Pacific region, should nations decide to develop integrated resorts capable of competing on the world stage. LCG has delivered strong earnings growth and Chaplet this year received its first dividends from LCG, which totaled $85.8 million for the year. LCG’s results continue to improve and are a major contributor to the growth in NPAT for the group. LCG has also continued to explore opportunities within the Asia-Pacific region, should nations decide to develop integrated resorts capable of competing on the world stage. THEY HAVE ONE OBJECTIVE: to declare war on Mainland Chinese pockets by surrounding Asia’s coast with as many casinos as possible. Their pitch concluded to cautious applause. My fellow board members asked no questions. They regarded the presentation as nothing more than an elaborate sticking out of a palm for money. Qiū’s associates began conferring in Chinese. This upset Webb and Webster, who started to converse with needlessly complex vocabulary, throwing in sesquipedalian words so as to confuse LIL’s translators. I attempted to peruse the menu. It was in Japanese, so I had no clue what we were about to eat. I could not even tell if the cup in front of me was for sauce or wine. Waiters appeared and poured cloudy liquid into everyone’s saucer-like cups. I raised mine, thanked Qiū for his continued partnership, assured him that we would consider LIL’s proposal, and recommended there be no more talk of business this evening. My last statement received eager applause. We drank. I was correct in thinking it was wine. Soup was served. LIL’s members grinned and pointed. Magnus Qiū mouthed, ‘shark fin’. Great fleshy chunks floated in tan broth. I wondered if it could be the same beast that had bitten my groin and buttocks. The thought that it sat before me made me salivate. I scooped and stuffed the whole fin in my mouth, scorching the insides of my cheeks. The meat was tasteless, its texture both crunchy and chewy. All of LIL stared. Unlike me, they regarded each slurp and the pressure of their teeth upon delicate cartilage as precious. For the next course we were brought steak-like sashimi, garnished with pearls of roe. The dish was called ‘mōbī dikku’ (モービーディック) and consisted of freshly caught whale sashimi and albino beluga sturgeon caviar. Like the soup, I wondered if it too could be the beast that had bitten me. I again devoured without tasting. I again received thinly masked looks of disgust from the LIL board. As dinner progressed, the whale, shark, and wine in my belly and blood filled me with a luscious sense of assurance. I smacked my thick lips and imagined myself as a slurper of sea-monsters. I was again salivating. Despite the feast, I felt famished. Without forethought, I bellowed, ‘I would like to invest in your War on Chinese Pockets!’ Qiū grinned. LIL all stood and applauded.
In the year ahead our primary focus will be on maximising the performance of Chaplet Melbourne and Perth. In the year ahead our primary focus will be on maximising the performance of Chaplet Melbourne and Perth. working with Lopec International Limited to further develop integrated resorts in the Asia region. Following this announcement, Webb pulled me aside by the sleeve and asked what the hell I was thinking. I told him I knew what I was doing. I didn’t. I don’t. I know next to nothing about the inclinations of Mainland Chinese, or Taiwanese gaming regulations, or the politics of the Penghu Islands, or all the little doodle-like symbols and singsong tones of Mandarin. [※] I just wanted to indulge in a bit of a gamble. Webb warned I was making the same mistakes I did in 2006 and said he would rally the rest of the board to overrule my decision. Webster threatened to quit. I ignored them both and ordered more wine. I don’t recall making my way back to the hospital. I woke feeling worse than I did when I first arrived. The doctors, however, told me that I was on the mend and free to go. I took a taxi to the port, boarded my recalled superyacht, and returned to sea. The crew and Executive Chef Chen Xiu all asked where I had been. I told them that it was none of their business. When I asked them what had happened to ‘Fantasy’, they too acted coy. I began to wonder if she had ever even existed, or if the girl who vomited dead mice had, like my past financial fears, simply been in my head. Deliberation was quickly ditched. I ordered and ate three portions of chicken nuggets, guzzled a bottle of Shipwrecked Heidsieck, and slept for fifteen hours.
Chaplet’s contributions over the past two decades have been an enormous source of pride. To cement this commitment, the Chaplet Foundation was established in August 2009. As Chaplet’s new philanthropic venture, it will make official our involvement in the community and bring together all the initiatives that we have already undertaken. The Foundation recently announced a $200 million Charitable Fund, which will provide support to programs with demonstrated success in the areas of welfare, the arts, and Indigenous literacy. HEADACHE source of pride. To cement this commitment, the Chaplet Foundation was established in August 2009. As Chaplet’s new philanthropic venture, it will make official our involvement in the community and bring together all the initiatives that we have already undertaken. The Foundation recently announced a $200 million Charitable Fund, which will provide support to programs with demonstrated success in the areas of welfare, the arts, and Indigenous literacy.
We are the largest taxpayer in the country, contributing two-thirds of our pre-tax profits to governments, substantially more than any other ASX 50 company. We are the largest taxpayer in the country, contributing two-thirds of our pre-tax profits to governments, substantially more than any other ASX 50 company. EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN AUSTRALIA IS, IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, DEPENDENT ON ME.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank you, the shareholder, for your continued support. shareholder MODEST PARASITE , for your continued support. I realise this may not fill you with surety or confidence. I cannot say if or when I, the slurper of sea-monsters, will again power up my lifeboat’s engine and set off into the Pacific. The odds of my continued stability remain ambiguous. I sincerely wish I could offer you more, but in truth buying shares in our company is simply a more civilised manifestation of our poker machines and sic-bo tables. Who knows? 明天一切可以結束了![$]
The undersigned reader acknowledges that the information provided by Kim Arthur Powe in this business plan is confidential; therefore, reader agrees not to disclose it without express written permission as any disclosure or use by reader (other than information that is in the public domain through other means) may cause serious harm to Kim Arthur Powe.
Upon request, this document is to be immediately returned to Chaplet Limited’s Perth Head Office.
This is a business plan. It does not imply an offering of securities.
Kim Arthur Powe
Chaplet Limited (ASX: CPL)
Prepared: November 11, 2008
by Alan Bartlett | Australasian Financial Review | November 10, 2008
Since Kim Powe inherited Australian Capital Limited’s reins in 2005, I have been his lone supporter. While others have written of his fluctuating weight and mental health concerns, I have defended him by citing his handful of successes and bold investments. I now acknowledge my error. The qualities I listed are not those of a competent businessman; they are the characteristics of a compulsive gambler.
The Global Financial Crisis cannot take the blame for Powe’s idiocy. His investments in North American and Macanese casinos, and British online-gambling ventures have lost half the largest inheritance in Australian history ($AUD 3.9 billion: the accumulated average wealth of over 15,000 Australians) in just three years. Powe is not simply a victim of bad luck, he is a victim of ludomania; instead of gambling at casinos, he gambles with them.
Others have argued that, as the GFC subsides, Powe will recover. Though he is still a member of the billionaire boys’ club (his Melbourne and Perth casinos are still safe moneymakers), he clearly has not inherited a single scintilla of his father’s shrewdness. If he has any sense left he will acknowledge his inadequacy and allow better minds to manage his fortune. Like all problem gamblers, however, I suspect he will simply keep punting until all his funds are gone.
When Powe gained control of and then demerged ACL, he became the wealthiest citizen in Australia. He is now ranked #4. I suspect it will take less than a decade for him to fall well below the top ten. Then, like Alexei Ivanovich in Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, he will find himself hopelessly trying to figure out what once made him win at the roulette wheels, before finally declaring ‘Tomorrow all shall be ended!’
I now pronounce the Powe tycoon dynasty: extinct.
CPL has become harmful to my wellbeing. Therefore, I have decided to redirect my efforts elsewhere.
I am going to retire. Despite Bartlett’s hyperbolised words, I believe he is right. Even now I cannot pinpoint what caused me to lose so much. I have listened to dozens of explanations. Some said I was too eager. Some said I was too trusting. Some said I was just unlucky. One former colleague called me ‘a thirty-something with a high-school mind for business blindly trying to take over the world.’ Another said, ‘you’re a chubby piglet trying to attach yourself to the teat of an overwhelmed American sow.’ Yet another said, ‘you put all your eggs in one basket, and all the eggs were rotten, and the basket had a hole in it.’ .
But I don’t require an analysis of the past; I require a strategy for the future.
3.0Business Model Templates
3.1The Stockmen of the Barkly Tableland Sheep Station
After failing the first semester of my business degree [i], Dad sent me to the Northern Territory to work as a jackaroo. He believed exposure to honest hard work [ii] would be more instructive than attending the ‘National University of Cannabis’. To his credit, by the end of my stint I did start to derive satisfaction from the sight of a full paddock of freshly shorn sheep.
Recent market research, however, indicates the Australian Wool Industry is down (↓6.3% since last year). Wool is a wholly useful product, yet has been abandoned by consumers. People want polyester. As a result many of my old colleagues have lost their jobs. The only thing keeping the rest in work is the popularity of designer sheepskin boots (Uggs) amongst 15-50 year old women. Now the sight of a full paddock of freshly shorn sheep would just make me depressed.
3.2The Former Opposition Leader
Four years ago I declined an opportunity to show my support for the Opposition Leader (as a rule of financial thumb, Powes are opposed to Union affiliates). He did not impress me then, but he impresses me now. After his failed attempt at becoming Prime Minister and subsequent ostracism from politics, he penned a book [iii] in which he burned all political bridges; he then became a househusband. In an interview with Australia News Network’s 7:00 Scoop, he stated, ‘…every day I don’t play backyard cricket with my boys is a day I’ll never get back.’ Four years ago, 38% of the population voted that he run the country. The only public appearance he has since made has been at a St. Kilda McDonald’s having milkshakes with his sons.
At the time, his retirement seemed cowardly, bitter, and bordering on treasonous. Now, however, his retreat seems understandable, necessary, and perhaps even noble.
3.3The Oldest Living Australian
This morning I read that the oldest living Australian is a one-hundred-and-seven year old man. Every morning he walks to the newsagent to buy The Australian Daily. Every day he eats a sandwich and a chunk of goat’s cheese for lunch. Every evening he drinks a glass of Margaret River Shiraz with dinner. Every week he travels two kilometres on an exercise bike. Every fortnight he volunteers at his local church. Every month he rereads a novel by Patrick White. Every year he marches in the ANZAC Day parade. He has been married for eighty-six years. He loves his children, he loves his grandchildren, he loves his great-grandchildren. He claims his longevity is due to an absence of stress and frequent smiles.
By contrast, my father lost a kidney, a lung, had two heart attacks, and died of a stroke. He yelled at someone most days of the week, cheated on my mother annually, was overweight, suffered from back pains, and died aged sixty-nine.
3.4The Paralysis Tick I Discovered On My Inner Thigh
Last month Nicolette insisted I get some exercise and fresh air, so we went to stay at my Margaret River horse breeding property. After hiking along the shoreline near Sugarloaf Rock, Nicolette complained of a painful itch. She lifted her top and discovered two ticks embedded amongst her armpit. Whilst she winced, I removed the ticks with tweezers. I suggested we keep them in a jar in case she became ill. Nicolette, however, simply shrieked and smashed them with her shoe. Later that evening, when we returned to the cottage, I discovered I was also hosting a tick. Nestled below my groin, it had engorged itself to twice its original size. When I removed it, its chelicerae waggled. I put the tick in a jar in case it needed to be analysed. Four days later, when I showed no sign of disease, I decided not to destroy the tick, but release it back into the Cape Naturaliste bushland. Part of me was proud it was living off my blood.
During three separate ACL meetings Dad referred to me as a parasite [iv]. It was meant as insult, but I now regard it as a fair observation, as inspiration.
From the age of nineteen my fiancée attempted to pursue a career as a pop singer. In 2002, she recorded an album (titled Me, As I Am), released a single (also titled Me, As I Am) and filmed a music video in which she gyrated semi-naked. The tune debuted at #33 on the Australian Singles Charts; the following week it fell off the list completely. She has not recorded since. Instead, she met me, we became engaged, and she retired. She has also expressed an interest in having children, which I have thus far ignored (kids have always seemed to me a bad emotional investment).
I doubt Nicolette loves me or even admires anything about me. Any woman who shows affection is presumed Machiavellian. It would be delusional to believe otherwise [v]. For the first time, however, I feel a sense of fellowship. I respect her decision to simply live off my father’s money, and I see no reason why I, also a failure, could not do likewise.
4.0Strategy and Implementation Summary
Modest Parasite Strategy:
5.0Projected Profit and Loss
If my children are successful: wonderful. If they are not (which is likely, considering they will have the genetic material/parental influence of two failures), at least none will suffer as I currently am.
Though I have as much trouble holding onto money as I do a bucking bull [vii], my grandchildren will all be dead well before the funds finally trickle away. Money will of course disappear at some point, but nothing lasts forever, least of all an overstressed Powe.
[i] BIntBus at National University of Australia, 1988.
[ii] 3 a.m. starts, 40°C+ heat, strained muscles, bruises/cuts from sheep kicks/bites.
[iii] Confessions of a Former Opposition Leader. H.T.T. Publishing, 2005.
[iv] This was one of many pet names. Others included: slowpoke, chubby boy, bloody useless, twit, twerp, gutless, spineless, Karly Marx, a constant headache, a girl, a cry baby, Mummy’s brave little soldier, ‘not my son’, ‘someone I would’ve fired a long time ago if you weren’t my son’, fence-sitter, waste of space, waste of everyone’s time, a disappointment, and ‘very, very lucky to still be here.’
[v] At the wedding to my first wife the phrase ‘for richer or poorer’ produced snickers from the pews.
[vi] One financial journalist has already noted that, had I initially sold off ACL and led a playboy lifestyle, I would be significantly better off than I am now.
[vii] My bull-riding record at the Barkly Tableland sheep station was 1.7 seconds, a result the real jackaroos said reflected my sexual stamina.
Kim Arthur Powe
Chaplet Limited (ASX: CPL)
Ammended: February 17, 2009
Sunday Night Newsmagazine | A.N.N. | Feb 15, 2009 [i]
M (reading from book): I never actually had intercourse with Kim Powe’s fiancée, though she did have her lips around my… what’s the most appropriate word to use? Penis? No, that’s too… punctilious. [CENSORED]? Too countrified. Member? Too country club. Manhood? Too symbolic. John Thomas? There are enough names to keep track of as it is. But in these events it does seem like a character. And in my life, it does seem like the protagonist. So let’s say… Kim Powe’s fiancée had her lips around my – around our – protagonist.
GORE (V.O.): As he enters our studio, greets our team and sits down, no one double takes. No one swoons. No one is charmed. He is average looking, medium-height, medium-build. He wears a coffee-stained shirt, plastic sunglasses, faded jeans, and grimy sandshoes. His eyes are crusty and droopy. Yet this man claims his actions have the potential to cause more grief amongst Australia’s wealthiest men than all the financial fiascos in the world.
M: You could say I have a different way of keeping score.
GORE (V.O.): The man in question, thirty-seven year-old Byron M, claims to specialise in sleeping with the partners of the very wealthy. He has recently had relations with Nicolette Chester: fiancée of Australia’s once wealthiest, Kim Powe. A memoir of this solitary experience, ‘Confessions of a Wealthy Wife Womaniser: How to Steal Trophies’, was released last month.
GORE: This book is barely even on shelves and you’re already being taken to court.
M: Well, there’s evidence. Can’t argue with evidence.
GORE (V.O.): On the 25th of January this year, an .mp4 audio file was made available for download at www.kimpowesfinanceeisacheater.co.ch, along with three very graphic photographs of Nicolette engaged with M’s ‘protagonist’.
CHESTER (V.O.): Hi. It’s me, Nicky. We met at the charity dinner for Indigenous literacy… (giggling). Kimmy’s in another hemisphere, and I was wondering if you wanted to come round and have a drink… and maybe [CENSORED].
GORE: Did you upload the answering machine message and photographs?
GORE: Who did?
M: Don’t know.
GORE: But you were initially in possession of both the message and the photos.
GORE: So how did they escape your possession?
M: Don’t know.
GORE: Many believe that you, or someone affiliated with you, distributed this information as a way of promoting your book.
M: Well, people are free to say and think what they like.
GORE (V.O.): The defamation suit against M was filed by Nicolette Chester last week. Also threatened with legal action is M’s publisher, H.T.T. Publishing.
HENRY TIMOTHY THOMAS: Everything in the book can be verified.
GORE: But even with proof, is any of this really in the public interest?
HENRY TIMOTHY THOMAS: Yes, I believe so. Chester is a high-profile member of the community who depends on her clean image, so the revelation of any hypocrisy is most definitely in the public interest. It’s also interesting to the public. You obviously agree or you wouldn’t be here talking to me.
RYAN PETERSON (LEGAL ANALYST): I suspect the judge will rule in favour of M and H.T.T. The evidence they have to support their claims, however, is probably going to be found in violation of the Privacy Act. In any case, I doubt they will be found guilty of anything severe.
GORE: How did this actually happen? You don’t seem charming or witty…
M: Well, I’m not trying to sleep with you. (slurps coffee, burps)
GORE: Did you lie to Nicolette Chester?
M: No. I was honest.
M: I broke her self-delusions without breaking her spirit or my chances.
GORE (V.O.): As the interview progresses M seems to grow more and more defensive. When asked to read from his book, however, he becomes awash with enthusiasm and seems to relish revealing every detail of his affair.
M (reading from book): I looked down at her sunken cheeks as she struggled to bring our protagonist to his predictable climax. Nicolette choked. Her eyes watered. Mascara-stained veins flowed. Foundation, lip-gloss, botulinum toxin: her face was a palimpsest. Her eyes looked up through sapphire-tinted contact lenses, looking ethically awry amidst rusty tan and raven-dyed eyebrows. As she scratched her tongue with a faux-fingernail, our protagonist bounced, slimy and sparkly from liquid-diamond-lipstick and saliva.
Then there was a knock at the front door. Nicolette rose from between my legs. ‘You have to leave,’ she said, scraping the outline of her lips.
I remained reclined, determined to see our protagonist through to the end.
‘Get out,’ she shouted, gnashing bleached teeth, struggling to frown through paralyzing chemicals.
I perched my upper body on my elbows. ‘I don’t know where my shirt is.’
Nicolette clutched the fat of my thigh, piercing me with fake nails. Again she squealed, ‘Get out!’ Still naked, I leapt up and hobbled downstairs, thrust open the back door, and sprinted across the lawn. On reflection, I probably should have stolen a coat, but at the time I was feeling so authoritative that my nudity produced no shame. I was without clothes in Mosman Park with blood running down my thigh and it did not bother me at all. There had been no orgasm, but that seemed inconsequential. While our protagonist had subsided somewhat, despite the coolness of the evening, he dangled proudly, like an Olympic medal.
GORE: Tell me, is this all an act that you put on?
M: An act?
GORE: I would like to think that the character you celebrate in your book and that you’re presenting on our program is a persona that you’ve affected, and that you’re not typically so decisively obnoxious.
M: You’re right. This is an act. It is an act that I have cultivated and permanently maintain. And I’m proud of my ongoing performance.
GORE (V.O.): A spokesperson for Nicolette Chester has said, ‘she is so mortified she is barely able to get up in the morning.’ Kim Powe has yet to comment.
GORE: Do you feel any guilt over what has happened to Nicolette Chester?
GORE: So you’re able to completely detach yourself from your actions?
M: I wouldn’t say I completely detach myself. I’m not a sociopath.
GORE: Some would say you are.
M: Well, people are free to say and think what they want.
GORE: Ultimately what are you hoping to achieve by this?
M: I’m achieving now what I… want to achieve. (pause) Aren’t you getting a kick out of this? Aren’t you and your audiences also a little titillated?
GORE (V.O.): H.T.T. Publishing has already shipped 30,000 copies of ‘Confessions of a Wealthy Wife Womaniser’ to Australian bookstores. Whether admired or reviled, it seems readers are indeed titillated by Byron’s tale.
My former goals now seem so banal I want to bash my former self in the face. My business plans (C-Tel India Mobile, DotOrg.Au, North American Gaming) have all been specious. Recalling my personal life (teenage romances, my first marriage, my engagement to Nicolette) makes me squinch. Going back even further, my earliest memory is of me sitting on the floor playing with blocks. [ii] I built a tower. It collapsed. I cried. My mother consoled me. I returned to playing, I built another tower, it collapsed again, I cried again, and my mother consoled me again. And again, and again, and again. [iii]
I plan too far ahead. I should focus on moment-to-moment gratification only.
Lately, I have been overindulging. I have no desire to stop.
3.0Business Model Templates
Last night I went to www.nicolettechester.com.au and downloaded the music video of Me, As I Am. As I watched the low-resolution (480x360 pixels) video of Nicolette thrusting her hips, I masturbated with an arthritic wrist. The release was better than any sex I can recall having with the real Nicolette.
Since the Sunday Night Newsmagazine story broke I have not heard from my ex-fiancée and I have no intention of contacting her ever again. Yet my admiration for her has never been greater; she gambled everything I could ever give her in order to satisfy a momentary impulse.
3.2My ex-Fiancée’s Lover
What I need is a self-esteem assassin: someone who could publicly annihilate arrogance. But you cannot shame the shameless. Legal action would irritate me more than him. Despite my best efforts, I cannot fantasise his humiliation.
Perhaps it is best to simply pay him no mind.
3.3My First Sexual Encounter
At the age of eighteen an ACL accountant took me to Melbourne’s then premier bordello, The Steel Stiletto. I was introduced to a tall, plump Māori woman who introduced herself as Charlie (most certainly an alias). She led me to a suspiciously sterile room and requested I remove my pants. I did. She then requested I remove my underwear. I did. I felt embarrassed with genitalia exposed, yet with shoes and shirt still on, as if accentuating my nudity. ‘Squeeze the head of your penis,’ she said, with the detachment of a physician.
I did. ‘Good. Now, take a shower.’ I did. When I stepped out, so-called Charlie gave me what I thought was a shot of alcohol, but was in fact mouthwash. ‘You’re not supposed to swallow!’ she said, failing to conceal laughter. As I choked, my exposed body turned pink. So-called Charlie recovered and ordered me to, ‘just relax and lie on the bed.’ She left the room. Moments later she reemerged, emitted a breathy, ‘Hi,’ and began massaging my neck. It was not relaxing. My muscles tensed up like large leeches suckling my spine. So-called Charlie moved her hands to my back, my buttocks, my thighs. ‘Is this your first time?’ she asked.
‘No,’ I lied.
She kissed my shoulders. ‘Do you want to turn over?’ she whispered into my ear, licking my lobe. I did. She massaged my chest and suctioned my stolid tongue. It tasted like an ashtray full of mouthwash. I must have appeared indifferent to the performance, as so-called Charlie took off her bra and began grinding her breasts into my crotch.
Semen spewed into cleavage. She immediately dropped her sensual act, pulled tissues from the bedside table, and wiped herself clean. ‘You can use the shower now.’ She put her bra back on and disappeared. I showered without waiting for the water to heat. I then dressed, left the brothel, walked three blocks with my head bowed, and caught a taxi home.
I have not seen an escort since. In fact, this is the first time I’ve dared summon this memory in over a decade. Compared to these women, I am a bad businessman. Working ladies like so-called Charlie charge exuberant fees for short periods of time. As soon as their responsibilities are over, it becomes clear how shrewd these champions of capitalism consider themselves to be. I must match them. I must haggle for the best deal. Only when they too suffer the pains of bad business, will I feel free to take pleasure in their service.
4.0Strategy and Implementation Summary
As longevity no longer holds appeal, I plan to:
5.0Projected Profit and Loss
I do not fear withering. In fact, I want to encourage disintegration. Presently, I am thirty-nine years old. Dad died aged sixty-nine. Ideally, the day I die will be the day I spend my very last cent. This gives an approx. allowance of $AUD 100M/year. I will, however, probably burn out sooner than predicted. Thus, [decline in health] allows for [increased allowance], which in turn allows for [increased gratification frequency].
[i] This story has since been referenced on multiple televisual/Internet news networks.
[ii] An antique 1931 Empire State Building Block Set bought at auction for US$760.
[iii] Dad once said this unremitting consolation is the reason I ‘lack balls.’
[iv] Only Perfection Escorts, Donna’s Dolls, The Most Charming Company, Outcalls2Perth.
[v] While typing this plan I have smoked thirteen Dunhills, drunk half a bottle of Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, and devoured an entire roasted Poulet de Bresse. Once I am finished, I intend to spend an hour with a lean, false-chested twenty-two year-old who calls herself ‘Paradise’.
Kim Arthur Powe
Chaplet Limited (ASX: CPL)
Ammended: November 14, 2009
Six weeks ago today, at 11:43 a.m., whilst raking Chaplet Perth’s replica Ryōn-ji karesansui rock garden (a meditative activity I had recently undertaken), I was approached by three men. One held a video camera on his shoulder, the other a boom microphone above his head. As soon as I noticed them filming, I attempted to abscond. They pursued and aggressed me with questions (How do you feel about pensioners losing their life savings to your Fisher-Price toys?; How do you sleep at night knowing that you’re exploiting the simple and bewildered?; I lost $2 on one of your poker machines, any chance of getting that back?) interspersed with putrid burping. This tirade climaxed with the questioner vomiting on my arm and casino floor. [i]
From this point on I have only a vague recollection of how I responded. I have seen the footage of me swearing, gurgling, choking, drooling, turning betanin, and then crumpling to the floor, but have little memory of it. According to casino security, the crew was impeded while I was chauffeured in an ambulance to the Royal Perth Hospital. A stent was inserted into my left coronary artery. Meanwhile, CPL obtained an interim injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent broadcast of the footage. [ii]
The video of me undergoing an acute myocardial infarction and transient ischaemic attack covered in stomach contents has, thus far, not been broadcast on Australian television. My prevention of the program, however, has been widely discussed. On an ANN talk show, the boys responsible gleefully recounted what transpired at Chaplet Perth and even showed a pre-prank clip of the ringleader consuming: a cask of wine, a tub of (allegedly) expired yoghurt, a 350mL can of Passiona, a rare eye fillet, and a raw onion so as to encourage bad breath. This snippet was met with audible revulsion from the live audience, followed by hearty applause.
Four days following my return from hospital, Michael Webb and Mitchell Webster (CPL’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Deputy Chairman) came to visit. They brought flowers, heart-shaped balloons, a giant teddy bear, a jittery nervousness, and a spokesman for ITS-NOT-AUSTRALIAN: an anti-‘anti-pokie campaign’ campaign formed by Amalgamated Clubs Australia (ACA) and the Hotels Association of Australia (HAA). This gentleman informed me that Chaplet Perth had yesterday been overrun by a group of protesters called EXCLUDE ME, PLEASE! (EMP). In response to the prevention of the broadcast of Fundamentalist, approximately fifty fans claiming to be recovering gambling addicts had demanded Chaplet Perth perform a mass exclusion, i.e. every single person voluntarily requested the casino refuse them entry in the future. [iii] Casino management ordered the protestors form a single-file line out the east entrance, recorded each individual’s details and photograph, and then requested they take their signs and chants elsewhere.
This incident has added substantial fuel to the national anti-pokie debate, which is why the ITS-NOT-AUSTRALIAN campaign felt I was obliged to donate to their cause. [iv] Doing so, however, did not satisfy board members Webb and Webster. They went on to reveal that a damning government inquiry into Australia’s gaming industries [v] was to be released that week; that the untelevised footage of my encounter with the Fundamentalist boys was, despite the court injunction, viewable via a popular video-sharing website [vi]; that hundreds of thousands of on-line stickybeaks had seen my bizarre outburst and heart attack; that illegal video-sharing of this sort was the primary reason my pay television holdings were performing poorly; that during Parliament question time one of the no-pokie senators had compared me to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi; that the Singaporean Parliament’s decision to develop integrated resorts would most certainly have a dire impact on Chaplet’s patronage; and that satisfaction amongst CPL’s shareholders was at an all-time low. At best, shareholders believed I was an ailing eccentric; at worst, completely unhinged. Webb and Webster both felt the best course of action at this time was for me to accompany CPL’s research and market development team to Dubai [vii] so shareholders could have photographic evidence that I was healthy, levelheaded, and working in the company’s interests. They felt it so prudent that they coerced my cardiologist into assuring me that flying in my current condition would be fine.
As a private jet could not be chartered at such short notice, I flew business class. The flight, despite being classified as ‘halal’, was wearisome. Upon landing in the U.A.E., I was immediately met by a lowly member of Dubai’s Royal family (name unpronounceable, therefore forgotten), accompanied by nine excessively servile Indians. I was taken via buggies, luxury-cars, and motorboats on a tour of the city: the still-under construction Burj Dubai [viii], the Atlantis Aquarium Hotel [ix], and the World Islands [x]. At the artificial archipelago I was boated to the Australian sandbar to have a promotional photograph taken. I was requested to remove my jacket, roll up my sleeves, and wave an Australian flag. As I waited for the helicopter photographer to fly over, I was momentarily the lone occupant of The World. I imagined what it would be like to exist free of other people. Despite the heat and my condition, this fantasy brought fleeting relief. Reflecting on life in Australia, I began to feel an intolerable cultural ache. I sensed jokers sharpening tongues; Parliament reforming policies; the entire population turning; residual business disintegrating; final funds dispersing; feeble arteries clenching; remaining neurons misfiring; a race under way between doctors and courts, the winner of which will have the honour of declaring me either dead or bankrupt.
Everything continues to deceive me.
I refuse to become penniless and/or a corpse under the shaming eyes of Australian citizens. Therefore I am going to restore Dad’s superyacht and abandon everything.
3.0Business Model Templates
3.1The Filmmakers behind Fundamentalist
This series has been labeled the work of ‘barely political, fundamentally-cheerful larrikins.’ I did not, however, laugh when they snuck into the House of Representatives dressed as Islamic terrorists, or when they presented the former Opposition Leader with an unemployment cheque, or when they released fifteen Chihuahuas in tiny All Black jerseys onto the field at the Rugby World Cup semi-final. I do not understand this particular brand of cruel humour. Perhaps the jester’s life is simply more fulfilling than the king’s.
3.2Dubai’s Royal Family
Every project I have undertaken, or could conceive of undertaking, must seem pathetic in the eyes of the Dubai Royals. Despite financial hardship, they remain allergic to modesty. I so envy the confidence of their spending and their ruthless desire to restructure their world. Even if they were to lose everything and their population forced to return to Bedouin tents in the desert, I doubt they would regret a thing. They would recall fondly their attempts to control the elements: their ski slopes in the desert, their air-conditioned beaches, and their summoned continents.
3.3The Inventors of the Abaya and Niqāb
I do not know who invented the abaya and niqāb, or what its intended purpose was. Perhaps it was conceived to conceal female property from coveting neighbours. Perhaps to impose modesty and purity on the female population [xi]. Perhaps to erase women from male consciousness altogether. The latter seems to me to make the most sense.
I wish I could force not only women, but everyone to wear these garments. I wish I could drape the whole world so that I could be aware of no one.
3.4EXCLUDE ME, PLEASE! (EMP) protestors
While these protestors were mostly a latte lot, I do admire the genuine few who, aware that they have a problem, have obstructed their future selves from an opportunity to reenter the casino.
I wish to do the same to the country, to reality. I want to tear up my passport, renounce citizenship, and tell the Immigration Minister to exclude me, please.
3.5My Father (Reginald Archibald Powe, 1936-2005)
‘I should just up and leave this ungrateful country.’ Dad said this twice in public, regularly in private. He said it in response to rumours that he ran secret brothels. He said it in response to accusations of tax evasion. He said it in response to poor profits, policy changes, government inquiries, sloppy journalism, income tax increases, a mean-spirited skit by the national broadcaster, depleted Violet Crumble stores in the pantry, my crashing his Rolls-Royce, investigations by the ATO, and lukewarm soup at restaurants. Yet, because business required him to have his finger to the pulse of the population, Australia remained his home from birthplace to grave.
I can’t even assess my own needs, let alone the crazy wants of the Australian public. Therefore, I am going to finally make Dad proud by doing what he never could.
3.6Australia’s suicides for 2009
Last night I watched the end of an investigative report on Australia’s suicide rate. According to a recent study, approximately 2,000 Australians killed themselves last year, and an estimated 65,000 contemplated doing so. More died at their own hands than in road accidents [xii]. When asked how to rectify the situation, the speaker (a spokesperson for Mental Health Australia) stated, ‘This is a complex problem that cannot be solved simply by throwing money at it.’ This last statement bothered me so much that I tried to donate $1,000,000 at www.mha.gov.au/donations. Their website now states there is a ‘500 Internal Server Error’.
4.0Strategy and Implementation Summary
Criteria for living aboard the superyacht:
5.0Projected Profit and Loss
Bankruptcy is but a state of mind.
[i] I later discovered this footage was for a segment of Fundamentalist: a comedy series funded by the national broadcaster (i.e. Australian taxation dollars). This particular episode was to focus on political speech and literally addressed a comment recently made in Parliament by one of the independent no-pokie senators: The current state of gambling in this country is a scandal. This is something we have always known and we do not need a one-thousand-page report to tell us this. But now that the issue cannot possibly be ignored any longer, what do we do? Do we simply get angry? Let off steam? Become indignant? Or is our collective indignation nothing but a belch? A little liberatory burp to relieve social indigestion?
[ii] This was granted on the possibility that there had been a breach of confidentiality through trespass. I have since been assured that everything possible will be done to hold the national broadcaster accountable. Though it will be difficult to prove, CPL’s legal team intends to show that, given the prolific reportage of my dubious health, they would have known what they were doing put me at risk.
[iii] Interestingly, the casino’s takings for that particular day were almost twice that of the previous year.
[iv] Chaplet Perth’s legal team is also working to have our machines classified as ‘electronic gaming machines’, so as to avoid any state or federal legislation that attempts to outlaw or restrict ‘poker machines’.
[v] Gambling: Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, Australian Government, 2009; most scathing is the ratio of [estimated problem gambler spending]: [total spending].
[vi] www.oldmillstreaming.com/392093840981f3423; the public distribution of this footage has been added to the lawsuit against the national broadcaster.
[vii] The Dubai bid is driven by nothing more than the fact that, at the 2009 Dubai World Cup, Sheik Mohammed reportedly smiled when told his city resembled Las Vegas.
[viii] Economic downturn has caused construction to stall. Rumour has it bailouts are currently being sought from the emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
[ix] A possible venue for a future casino, the palm island based-resort consists of two towers, 1539 rooms, a waterslide theme park, and a 14-million litre aquarium housing a 4 metre-long whale shark.
[x] Work on the World Islands has also been suspended due to the Financial Crisis. Oceanographers have claimed neglect has caused the man-made, continent-shaped islands to sink back into the sea. One disgruntled investor has described the project as ‘a sandcastle that got out of hand.’
[xi] This seems unlikely given the Emirati women I observed wearing abayat/niqābs had vanity oozing out their jeweled gloves, thickened eyelashes, and designer eyewear.
[xii] This does not take into account suicide by decisive car accident.
The following interview transcript is for Right Now! Weekly’s June 2014 feature article
(Working title: ‘Confessions of an Australian Sex Worker’)
|Date of Interview:||March 18, 2014|
Hello? Test, test. Can you say something?
That’ll do. (pause) OK, let’s start.
Where am I supposed to start?
Let’s pretend that I’ve never met you or heard of you before. Introduce yourself.
OK. I’m Paige. I’m twenty-nine. I have brown hair. Plus bits of grey. (pause) I’ve got colorectal cancer. I’ve got no money. (pause) What else?
What’s your first memory?
When I was five I ran away from home.
Why was that?
I was annoyed cause mum wouldn’t buy me an ice-block.
Can you elaborate?
Mum refused to buy me an ice-block, so I went and stole a box of Frosty Fruits from the store, and took ‘em to the park, and ate ‘em fast, and made myself so sick I threw up. Then I went and fell asleep on the seesaw. When I woke it was night, and I panicked cause I remembered someone’d said redbacks were living in the slippery dip. I was fine, but it was Karratha, and it was winter, and I wasn’t as chubby then, so I started walking to warm up. Somehow I ended up at the beach. I got really tired again, so I lay down again, and fell asleep again too. When I woke up it was still cold, and it was still night, and there were all these baby turtles shuffling to the water. I’d accidentally rolled over on one. It was all flat and bloody and crushed, and I remembered those cartoons where turtles can take off their shells, but it wasn’t anything like that. It looked gross, but at the same time I was sort of glad it was dead, so I started stomping on all the baby turtles, and I found the hole and started stomping on the eggs too. Then I saw flashing lights, which was a tour group wanting to watch the babies hatch. They asked me what the hell I was doing, but I was shivering so hard I couldn’t answer so they put me in their van, and took me to the police, who took me home and woke up mum, who got annoyed with the police and then with me. I think mum got in trouble for not knowing where I was.
Why did you kill the turtles?
Dunno, hey. Just one of those things you do when you’re a kid. (pause) Is this useful?
Tell me about your parents.
Never met my dad, so can’t really say anything about him. Not sure mum even knows who he is. (pause) He probably doesn’t know he’s my dad or even a dad at all.
What about your mother?
Mum was kind-of-a-bit-of-a-dickhead. Almost every night we had day-old potato scallops and wedges cause she could never be bothered cooking. For a while she was on Centrelink. Then she worked part-time at the bottle-O. Only reason she worked there was the staff discount. Every night she’d be at it: rum and coke, rum and coke, rum, rum, rum… I remember the first time I tried it I stuck out my tongue, and scrunched up my eyes, and even as a ten-year-old I thought, ‘this is way too sweet.’ But mum liked it. It didn’t make her angry or sick or even late for work, just… dopey. She never spoke unless she had to. Whenever I got in trouble at school or with the police, she’d pretend she didn’t speak English. At work she just took money and gave change without even saying hello. On her days off she’d go to the beach and get plastered, then pass out. Her skin was always purple and peeling.
When did you last see your mother?
When I left home.
You haven’t seen her since?
Nah. She just wants to be left alone.
Tell me about school.
School was boring. I just sat there day after day doing nothing. Seriously, don’t talk about school if you want to sell magazines, hey.
Did you finish?
Yeah… nah. I sort of got expelled.
Why was that?
This is kind of weird… I wrote a death threat to a teacher. I was really bored one day, so I wrote ‘Today I’m going to kill you Mrs. Hocking’ on a scrap of paper and left it on her desk. When she found it she started shouting, and I shouted back, and the school said, ‘you don’t threaten a teacher,’ and I said, ‘don’t scream at me,’ but what I said didn’t matter. Plus, I’d gotten busted for wagging, and swearing at teachers, and looking up porn on the library computer, so this was my last-final-definite-warning and they reckoned I was going to fail anyway, so they organised another school for me to repeat at, but instead I went to Leavers to celebrate being done, even though I wasn’t technically properly finished yet.
Tell me about Leavers.
I went with a group of guys from another school. They were a bit younger than me cause I’d been kept down a year. One was called Sam, the rest… (pause) I don’t remember. Sam let me tag along cause he thought I’d sleep with him. He had his license, so he drove. I fell asleep on the way. When I woke up we were smashed into the side of the road, and the guy-in-the-front-seat’s head was bleeding, and Sam was swearing, but he eventually calmed down and we started driving again, and I fell asleep again too. When I woke up everyone was unpacking. Sam’d checked into our motel, which was pretty crappy and far from everything, but I wasn’t paying so I couldn’t really complain. It soon started stinking of guys-living-together, so I went to the beach near Sugarloaf Rock, but then forgot how to get back, and I didn’t have a mobile so I never saw those guys again, but I did meet this other guy who invited me back to his unit and gave me too much to drink, which made me so sick he called up these volunteer paramedics who kept trying to keep me awake, and give me water, and asking what I’d had, and I kept answering ‘I’ve had enough of your questions,’ which I thought was really funny, but no one else did cause my head was bobbing, and my words were slurring, and I was spewing in this apartment where I didn’t actually know anyone. As soon as I started feeling better they kicked me out. The next night I stayed with another guy-who-wanted-me, but I kept shoving his hands away and he got kind of annoyed. Then the next night I stayed with another-nother guy-who-wanted-me, and I did sleep with him and he also got kind of annoyed cause I think it was his first time and it was a bit of a letdown for him. I’d slept with guys before Leavers and my first time was a bit of a letdown too. Not gross or horrible, just kind of… so what. (pause) So yeah, that was Leavers.
Anything else you’d like to add about this period?
Yeah… nah. (pause) I remember seeing the splattered body of some guy who’d jumped off a balcony. It was on the news I think?
What did you do when Leavers ended?
I didn’t realise it had ended. But then one night I woke up on the beach feeling kind of cold, and kind of strange cause it was quiet for the first time in ages, so I guessed it was probably over. I was also hungry, so I went to a Hungry Jack’s to buy chicken nuggets, but only had enough for a cheeseburger. Then once I’d eaten that I went and slept in the dunnies cause they don’t like you sleeping in the restaurant.
You were sleeping in public toilets?
If you get a bunch of bog-rolls you can make a pillow. Provided it doesn’t stink, it’s no worse than sleeping on a bus.
How long did you keep that up for?
A couple of weeks? Some police-lady caught me sleeping on a bench one morning and made me go with her to the station. She made me a jam sandwich and then drove me to a ‘help the homeless’ group, who took me north and found me a place in Freo where I could never get to sleep cause even at midnight the magpies warbled and the windows rattled cause the wind was always blasting. They told me the room was temporary, but they let me stay for almost a year. It was actually pretty nice. Nicer than the motel Sam’d booked for Leavers. Had to share a bathroom, but the others weren’t around much. There was a lady that cried a lot, and a fat girl who smoked so much the ceiling in her room was yellow, but other than that it was fine.
Did you ever consider going back to Karratha?
Nah. Even when I was starving, and going crazy from no-sleep, and my scalp and armpits were all itchy and stinky… (pause) I was done with Karratha’s dust, and heat, and the big gas plant flame that flickered over the whole city, and I was done with mum and her apartment that was always full of ants and mould cause she never once bothered to clean up her spills.
Was it during this period that you first began to consider sex-work?
Did you just decide one day that that was an option or…
…did someone suggest it to you?
Don’t really want to talk about it, hey. (pause) If someone actually reads all this stuff about squashing turtles and sleeping in dunnies, I reckon they’d think I’m an idiot. (snorts)
Don’t worry about what people will think. I’ll tidy it up for the article. For now, just tell the truth.
Truth was I was bored. Centrelink made me go to these English classes with Chinese students, but it was a waste of time. The teacher even told me I was too smart to be there. Then she kicked me out for looking up porn on the class computer. After that I got sent to apply for jobs, but they wanted me to vacuum floors and wash dishes and at the interview I just said, ‘I’m not gonna do that.’ The Centrelink lady with the saggy arms got all pissy and said, ‘You have to work somewhere.’ So I found a website for this place out in Burswood by the casino called Ultimate Elegance. The website said they weren’t allowed to advertise that they wanted girls, which I think meant that they wanted girls, so I phoned ‘em up and they said come in for a chat. The place was really hard to find. It was hidden between a Holden and a Ford dealership. Took me ages to work out where the door even was. When I finally buzzed my way in, the Greek-guy-who-ran-the-place straightaway told me he didn’t want someone-who-had-to-be-shown-the-ropes, which I think meant I wasn’t hot enough.
It was a job at a brothel?
Yeah… nah, it wasn’t even a job. They wouldn’t’ve paid me. It was just the opportunity to work at that place.
Did you apply anywhere else?
At first I was too scared. If I couldn’t get a job at a brothel, it would’ve been too… (pause) but that kind of made me want it. So I looked in the mirror and sussed out what was wrong with me. I’ve got a wonky eye. One of my boobs is floppier than the other, or at least it was back then. Also got a gap in my teeth here. And even as an eighteen year-old my hair had bits of grey. But it’s not all bad. My nose is cute. It’s tiny with big nostrils. I like my nose. My legs are OK. Overall shape’s not bad. I’ve never liked how I smell though. My body smells like chalk and pork. I’m always worried I stink. Do I stink?
I haven’t noticed anything.
Well, smell was the first thing I tried to fix. I went to David Jones and sprayed myself with sample perfume, and there was a lady doing make-up, so I got some of that too. Then I found a place called Blue Brazil Butterfly and got my everywhere waxed, and ripped, and sprayed with tan, which got in my eyes and made me cry. Then I had my hair washed, and cut, and dyed. The hairdresser pulled this plastic, purple cap over my scalp and yanked out my hair with a hook, and painted it, and set a timer, and went to make me a free cappuccino, at which point I got up with the plastic-helmet and hairdresser-cape still on and sprinted out of there, cut hair flying everywhere. I wasn’t sure where to go, so I just kept running. Somehow I ended up at the beach. Ran straight into the sea to hide. Probably shouldn’t’ve gone in the water cause the perfume came off, and the make-up and dye and fake-tan smudged, and sea lice made my waxed areas all rashy and red. Ended up looking like I had some weird disease. Definitely didn’t feel bad for not paying for any of it. When I got out, I dried myself off and stole some sunnies and a wallet from a surfer’s shoe, and got the free bus to a place in South Freo called Australian Maiden where they straightaway offered me some shifts after barely looking at me.
So the transformation worked?
I think they just let anyone work there. Or maybe they liked that I was straight out of school.
Were you happy to get the job?
Nah… yeah? Relieved. (pause) The place was nice enough. Nice enough for a brothel. Clean. Kind of Spanishy. Missile gave me a tour on my first day.
Miss Zow or Zower or… I think her name was spelt Z-H-O-U, but I’m not sure how to… I just called her Missile. She ran Australian Maiden with her husband. She wore sunglasses all the time cause she had this bung, milky-white eye that looked the wrong way. That might’ve been why she took a shine to me, cause we both had screwy eyes. She was scary-healthy. Way too lean. I couldn’t tell how old she was. She could’ve been anywhere between thirty and seventy. Didn’t speak much, but her English was real good. Better than mine, I reckon. And she ate all these weird foods. Once I saw her bite into a boiled egg with a baby bird inside. She just crunched into the shell and bones, and sucked the meat, and beak, and guts, and everything. But she was nice enough. Nice enough for a brothel-owner. (pause) Well, apparently she ended up in jail for slavery, but she was nice enough to me.
Apparently she snuck in Vietnamese girls and stole their passports. It was in the news, I think? She didn’t do anything like that to me though. Just looked over my ID, and made me fill out a bunch of forms. Some of it I made up. I remember saying I lived in ‘Bogolong’. Not sure if that’s an actual place or not. Also had to get an STD test and, cause we had to know how to check guys for STIs, I got showed a bunch of photos of diseases. Had to take ‘em home and learn ‘em by heart. It was probably the first time I actually studied for anything.
How long before you started work?
Literally the next day, hey, though it didn’t matter cause Missile gave me all these early-morning-shifts when hardly anyone came, and those that did always chose the Asian girls. Apparently I’d just missed tourist season and it was the post-holiday-draught, and I kept showing up and not working, and Missile was probably thinking she shouldn’t’ve hired me. But then a bunch of girls got food poisoning, and I got put on Saturday night, and saw three guys in a row, which made me enough money to at least be able to eat half-decent.
Tell me a bit about the actual clockwork of the place. Walk me through the process.
If a guy comes in he sees the receptionist, who takes him to a room where he meets the girls one by one. The guys thought they did the choosing, but cause we watched ‘em come in through a video camera we could just not meet ‘em if we didn’t want to. We were supposed to negotiate and say what we would or wouldn’t do, but I always just said, ‘hi,’ and left it at that cause I didn’t want anyone who wanted something specific and weird. I always just went with the guy who didn’t know what he was doing. Then, say he picks me, he pays at the desk for however long he reckons he’ll last, and I take him to the room, and he drops his pants, and I give him a quick scan to check he’s not got genital warts, or gonorrhea, or herpes, or lice, or MC, or scabies, or syphilis, or thrush, or anything else gross-looking, and if he’s clean he takes a shower while I put the money in the free-Ansell-tote-bag-I-got-at-the-STD-clinic, which I put in my locker, and then I lock that, and after triple-checking that’s proper-locked I go back to the room and give the guy a massage, protected-oral, and protected-sex. Then the guy has another shower while I change the sheets. Then he leaves. And if another guy comes in, I do the whole thing all over again until the shift ends.
What happens if you come across someone with an STD?
Girls got annoyed with maybe-STIs cause it meant we had to give the guy his money back. I only ever found a possible-STI once, though. (pause) Shit, maybe I wasn’t checking right.
Did you ever find it difficult to provide service?
Yeah… nah. Sometimes having to rub oil over hairy backs and bums was gross, but I’d just pretend I was a butcher marinating giant chicken thighs. I know Belinda and some of the other girls liked dressing up and putting on a show, but I never cared for it. I take pride in taking no pride. The key was to stall. Take things super-slow. Wind down the clock. Sometimes I got complaints about being lazy and just lying there, but the brothel never sided with the guy.
How long did you work at Australian Maiden?
Couple of months. Also tried working at a place in Northbridge that Belinda suggested, but I quit straightaway cause they always had too many girls on. You were lucky if you got a single guy on a single shift.
Who was Belinda?
A really stuck-up bogan who worked with me at Australian Maiden. She was scary-looking. Scabby tan. Fake nails. Boy-short hair. Boobless. Big bum. Long legs. Long face. She had a tattoo of a charging bull on her arm. Said she was working to pay off her HECS debt. (pause) If a guy ever picked you over her she’d get really pissy, and there’s a certain type of guy who prefers Asian girls, so she always treated them like shit. But she got along with me. Sometimes she’d be nice and give advice. She also gave me things… razors, pills…
Razors and pills?
For shaving my legs. And pills were… ‘the pill.’ Belinda reckoned you had to be on the pill just in case a condom breaks, cause you definitely didn’t want to get preg with an Australian Maiden client’s kid. Her pills made me a bit sick, but that could’ve just been how I was feeling anyhow. (pause) She also got me into sole-opping.
Working from home. She quit Australian Maiden cause she reckoned Missile was ripping us off.
So the two of you were quite good friends?
Yeah… nah, I’m pretty sure she conned me.
One morning after my night shift she took me to breakfast and kept going on about how much better sole-opping was, and how much more she was making. Then she asked me how much money I had, so I took out the free-Ansell-tote-bag-I-got-at-the-STD-clinic and started counting and she sniggered and said, ‘you just carry all your money around with you?’ Then she asked where I was living. I didn’t want to tell her I was in temp housing, so I lied that I was sharing a place with mates, at which point she said, ‘that settles it, you’re quitting with me,’ and cause I was so tired from the shift the night before I let her call Missile and say, ‘Paige won’t be coming in anymore.’ Then I let her take me shopping. We went to the bank and I signed a bunch of forms and got a sparkly credit card. Then at the Communi-K shop I signed a bunch more forms and got a sparkly mobile and laptop. Then Belinda took me to Naughty Boys & Girls and made me buy satin robes, and latex skirts, and chunky heels, and extra-oily lubricant, and lots and lots of condoms. Then she took me to Glamour Photo Magic and made me get the deluxe erotic package, and I got make-up put on my face, and glitter put on my body, and sunglasses put over my eyes cause apparently ‘strabismus isn’t sexy.’ Then she took me to an apartment-just-now-on-the-market, with marble tops, and chrome taps, and video intercom, and a sex-worker friendly atmosphere, and I’m pretty sure the guy who owned the place was Belinda’s boyfriend, which is why I think she conned me, though I can’t prove that’s totally true. Either way, I signed some more forms and rented the place for six months at way-too-much a month, plus electricity, plus gas, plus pay TV, plus a phone line, plus internet-I-hardly-ever-used. Then she signed me up at wacompanions.com.au and ozescortsaplenty.com.au, and posted my Glamour Photo Magic photos, and typed that I cost two hundred and fifty dollars an hour for incalls, which was two hundred dollars less than what she charged. Then she said I was in business, and to remember the six rules, and good luck. (pause) Then she disappeared and I didn’t see her again for… at least a year.
What were the six rules?
Umm… turn away anyone you think is even a little creepy. Always get money straightaway. Always loudly pretend-call pretend-security when a guy comes in. Always keep your money safe. Never let in more than one person. And… use condoms for everything, no matter how much you’re offered not to.
How long until you got a customer?
A while. First call I got was some guy asking if I was the same Paige who went to Karratha District High and that it was good to see that I was doing my drunk mum proud. Then he sniggered and hung up. I got so annoyed I hid the phone in the kitchen drawer cause I couldn’t work out how to turn it off. I left it there for at least a month.
You didn’t work?
I was fed up, hey. Didn’t want to do anything. So I just slept in. Took baths. Sometimes watched TV.
What did you live on?
You mean food?
Did you have any money left?
A bit. Centrelink was still paying me to look for a job, which was enough to buy some beer and groceries. (pause) I remember one night I was just lying on the couch in my underwear, wrapped in a blanket with the air conditioning fully-cranked, sipping beer, watching some guy on TV cook a chook and thinking… this is really nice.
Why did you stop?
Well, I was really into this one cooking show that was on in the arvo called Cook Canada, Cook! and I was waiting to watch the final episode, but then the pay TV went down. I phoned the number on the screen to complain, but the guy said I needed to pay my bills. So I tried paying, but they said I didn’t have any money. So I had to start working.
You started working just so you could watch the rest of a television series?
Dunno. Maybe. (pause) You keep asking me why I did the things I did, but I don’t know why I did ‘em. I just did ‘em. (pause) Never did see the end of Cook Canada, Cook! though.
How was sole-operating once you finally got started?
Not bad. For a while I was seeing one or two guys a day.
Did the men you saw as a sole-operator differ from those that came to Australian Maiden?
Everyone was a bit older and flabbier. Most drove, so they were usually sober. I made ‘em hand me money at the door. Some used envelopes and some counted from wallets. Some talked themselves up and some said nothing. In bed most just lay there. They were pretty much corpses. There’s not much to say cause I know virtually nothing about ‘em and anything I do know was probably a lie they told to impress me.
You didn’t have any regulars?
Not really regulars. More like unregulars. I remember there was this one guy who saw me, then I didn’t see him for a couple of weeks, then he saw me five times in one week, then I never saw him again. It was weird. And the guys who returned were nearly always the ones who’d left annoyed. You’d have one guy leave happy, and then you’d never see him again. Then you’d have another who acted like he’d been gypped, but then he’d be back the next week. I didn’t understand what went on in their heads, but once I worked out that what I did made no difference, I pretty much stopped putting in any effort.
Is this around the time that you met Graham Mossman?
You mean Mozza?
Could you tell me about that?
This is what you’ve been waiting for me to talk about, hey.
It happened to you, so I want to know about it.
I’ve already talked about it. A bunch of times. You know what happened. Everyone’s seen what happened. I bit him. I don’t know why I did it, or if I should or shouldn’t’ve done it, or… I don’t know what I can say that you don’t already know.
Well, now that the accusations have subsided, and you’ve had time to reflect on the experience, I want you to give an official, definitive recollection.
My recollection is that I had trouble breathing cause I was choking, and I was tired, and I felt like I was going to black out, and then I actually did black out. That’s all I remember. (pause) I’m pretty sure there’s a video of it floating round the Internet. Why don’t you watch that?
We’ll get to that. But before the actual incident, how did…
Look, my throat’s sore. Can we have a break?
I’d like to keep going while your resurfaced memories are fresh in your…
I’ve got to stop, hey. I’ve had enough.
(pause) OK. Let’s take five minutes…
Do you have any beer?
End of recording.
The following interview transcript is for Right Now! Weekly’s June 2014 feature article
(Working title: ‘Confessions of an Australian Sex Worker’)
|Date of Interview:||April 25, 2014|
Hello. Could I speak with Paige Bligh, please?
Just a sec… (mumbled discussion) Yeah?
This is Dorottya.
The writer. (pause) Whose credit card you stole.
How’d you know I was here?
I looked up the purchases you made. One was at Karratha. I figured you’d be back at your mum’s.
Just to let you know, I am recording this call.
I read your email and I’d like to…
You didn’t call the police, did you?
Did you tell the bank?
I cancelled my credit card, but I haven’t reported a theft.
Are you pissed off?
Let’s just finish what we started.
I’d like to finish the interview.
I’m not going back to Perth.
Let’s do it over the phone then.
I told you everything there is to know about Mozza.
Apart from a few clarifications, I’m not especially interested in Mozza. I’m interested in you. I want to know what you’ve done since that incident.
(pause) Can you call me back? There’s something on TV I want to watch.
What’s so important?
(pause) Cook Australia, Cook!
Celebrity Cook Australia, Cook!? Starring Graham Mossman?
Yeah. Call me once it’s over. (hangs up)
The writer. (pause) Whose credit card you stole.
And I’m recording this phone call as well.
I called four times, but you didn’t answer.
There’s a blackout. Couldn’t find the phone. Electricity’s stuffed cause of the floods. I’m surprised the phone even works. (banging) There’s sand everywhere. I forgot how dusty this place was.
Did you manage to watch all of Celebrity Cook Australia, Cook!?
Yeah. Caught the end just before the power went out. Tonight the losers had to eat half a kilo of rotten shark. Mozza ended up throwing up.
Seeing Mossman doesn’t bother you?
Bothers me a bit. But I’m not going to not watch my favourite show just cause Mozza’s in it. (sips) I thought you weren’t especially interested in Mozza?
I thought you were done with Karratha?
Yeah, well… I guess I lied.
Why did you go back?
Why do you always have to know why things are the way they are?
How is your mother?
Asleep. We’ve been drinking. Had some Bundy and cokes. (sips)
Was she happy to see you?
She said people kept calling saying I owed ‘em money, and that I embarrass her, and that I wasn’t welcome in her home. Then I told her I’d brung some rum, so she said I could stay a few days. (sips)
How have things been between the two of you?
I cooked her some marrons. She said she liked it, even though she ended up being sick. (sips) I think she’s actually sick. Not just drunk-sick, but… she’s got all these moles on her face.
Does she know about your condition?
Does she know that you have cancer?
Oh. (pause) No. (burps)
How much have you had to drink tonight?
A bit. Why? Do I need a low BAC to talk to you?
Not as long as you make sense.
(laughs, coughs, sips)
You mentioned in your email that you spent time in jail. Could you elaborate on that?
Jail was boring. I just sat there day after day doing nothing. Seriously, don’t talk about jail if you want to sell magazines, hey. (sips)
OK, we’ll come back to that. (pause) You also mentioned that you quit the Libido and Lifestyle Expo. What did you do instead?
Caught a bus south. I think it was headed to Albany, but I got off earlier.
Why did you go there?
Just fed up, hey.
Did you have a plan?
Nope. (sips) Didn’t want one either.
So what did you do?
Got off the bus. Wandered to the beach. Hopped in a tinny tied to a jetty. Undid the rope. Drifted. Lost sight of shore. (sips) Then just floated. Rocked back and forth thinking about… nothing. Got pretty thirsty and sunburnt. I think I fell asleep or passed out. (sips) Woke up on a fishing boat. (burps) The fishermen said they hauled me up like a lobster pot. The guy who drove the boat was this grouchy, buck-toothed Bevan who was pissed off with everything: pissed off with overfishing tourists, pissed off with the council cause they never seemed to do anything about it, (sips) pissed off I didn’t care that he’d rescued me, pissed off my face was tattooed, pissed off I didn’t have a job, pissed off I didn’t have an address, pissed off I didn’t know anyone in Pemberton, pissed off I wouldn’t try his prawns that were slimy and had veins of shit running through their backs, (sips) pissed off it was dark by the time we got back, pissed off I walked off without saying thank you… (sips) I just kept walking and walking. I had it in my head that if I kept moving I could shut out everything. (sips) Ended up in the bush. There was a sign that said ‘NO CAMPING’, but I didn’t have a tent so I reckoned I’d be fine. Even though it was summer, it got cold cause the grass was wet. I remembered those cartoons where they rub sticks together to make fire, but that didn’t work, so I just lay on the ground and stared at the stars. Couldn’t hear or see anyone. For a while it was nice, but then the fishy smell started attracting ants, so I went deeper into the bush. (sips) While I was hiking it started sprinkling. Then bucketing. Then thundering. Then golf-ball hail and falling branches. I got soaked, and sore, and muddy, and bitten by mozzies. (chews ice) When the sun rose the rain had stopped, but I could still hear water. A creek bed nearby’d filled up. (effervescence) Whole area was trashed. Mud, bark, and leaves flung everywhere. (sips) Then, (chews ice) the bizarrest thing. A huge marron sitting in a tree. Had hair, and massive nippers, and was almost half a metre long. (burps) Not sure how it got up there. Maybe the wind? (burps) Or can marrons climb?
How much have you had to drink tonight?
It was seriously huge. (sips, burps) And I was starving. So I snuck up and grabbed it by the tail. It was heavier than I expected. The marron hissed, and snipped, and buzzed, and thrashed. Somehow my fingers got caught up with claw. (sips) There was a crunch. Red dripped down my arm. I squealed and bashed the marron into the side of the tree. Just kept smashing and smashing. Made my knuckles bleed by scraping the bark, but I didn’t care. Just wanted it dead. (sips) Once it stopped moving I licked the blood, and goo, and gunk. It tasted salty, and raw, and red. I sucked the claws of the rest of the meat, at which point some guy behind me yelled ‘hey!’ I dropped the claws and shell, and turned and saw a guy in uniform with a half-grown Movember moustache. He asked what I was doing but it wasn’t a question. Told me I’d just killed a hairy marron, and that it was endangered, and that I was illegally fishing. I said it wasn’t a fish and that I wasn’t fishing. He said catching one without a permit carried a fine and that ignorance was no excuse. Took out a pad and asked my name and address. I said I was Paige and that I was living right here. He said camping in a national park was illegal and that I could face even more fines. I said technically I wasn’t camping cause I didn’t have a tent, but he said that also didn’t matter. I had to give him my Centrelink card and he wroted up the fine and gave me the paper, which smudged cause of the blood and goo on my hands. Then he went and got a medi-kit and sprayed my cut with something. It stung. I swore. After that he seemed nicer. He took me to the station and wrapped my hand in a bandage. (sips) I think I was meant to pay the fine by a time or go to court or phone someone or… never did work out what I was supposed to do.
You didn’t pay the fine?
Yeah… nah, I went straight back to Perth and straight back to Dr. Tamara’s to finish my tattoo removal. Reckoned whoever gives fines for eating hairy marrons or for camping without tents was going to end up taking all my money before I’d’ve had a chance to get my forehead back to normal. Didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with ‘MOZZA’ on my face. (sips) Rather be in jail with clear skin than be free and still tattooed.
How many sessions of laser removal did you need?
Heaps, hey. (effervescence) Dr. Tam’s didn’t just remove tattoos. They did other stuff, too. Made boobs bigger, faces tighter, skin smoother.
Yeah. (sips) When I got there the up-herself receptionist got pissy cause I hadn’t made an appointment. She said Dr. Tam’s always booked up weeks in advance, and that I wouldn’t be able to see her till next month. I was about to try and find somewhere else when Dr. Tam herself came out. She squealed hi, and hugged me, and kissed my cheeks. Said she couldn’t believe I still hadn’t gotten my forehead fixed and that she’d try and squeeze me in for a laser session at the end of the day, even though she was running late. (sips)
That was nice of her.
Dr. Tam was like a mum. A good mum. Had a massive smile. Bleached teeth. Nice hair. Pretty face. Too pretty to believe she’d had nothing done, but not so pretty you’d straightaway assume she had. (sips) Her schedule was always stuffed cause she was way too chatty. She remembered last time I visited I was about to start work at the $exhibition, and that she’d been meaning to go cause according to her adult entertainment dictates female body shape.
How was the laser treatment?
Bad. Only took ten minutes, but it was so painful I yelped through it all. When it was done I saw my face in the mirror. I looked like a burn victim. (sips) I was a burn victim. Big bubbles of skin hung from my face. Looked so gross I started to cry. Crying made my face hurt worse. Dr. Tam said blistering was normal, and the swelling would go down. (sips) I told her she was full of it. Then I squatted in the middle of her office and folded my arms and refused to leave till she fixed me.
Did she fix you?
Nah, but she was pretty nice about it. Said it was understandable I was emotional, but that the best thing for me to do was to go home and rest. I shook my head. Shaking my head hurt, but I did it anyway. She suggested we pen in a consultation to discuss other options. I shook my head again and shouted, ‘I want to be fixed now.’ (sips) In the end she offered to stay late to talk about other treatments.
For tattoo removal?
Nah, I got the ‘Egyptian Goddess Package.’ Dr. Tam said it’d enhance my natural features. Included a Nefertiti lift, and cheek enhancement, and breast reduction on my floppier boob, plus a bunch of microdermabrasion. They even let me stay in a recuperation villa. (sips)
How much did all of that cost?
Everything I had left, hey. I reckon it was worth it, though.
Were these procedures something you’d previously considered?
Umm… dunno. Not really.
What made you decide to get it, then?
I was scared I’d have to go back to court, and everyone was going to look at me like some diseased animal whose skin was falling off. (sips) I wanted to go into court broke and sexy. I wanted to give the judges and fish-police nothing. (burps) And I wanted ‘em to know I’d spent all the money they wanted, but were never gonna get.
Tell me about your procedures.
Got breast reduction first. (sips) They drew on my boobs with textas. Then they chopped my left and pulled it up so the nipple faced out rather than down. Then they transferred some of the chopped-out-fat to the other so they matched. (sips) When I woke after I was shivering, and bruised, and had all these tubes sticking out that collected blood in plastic bulbs. The bulbs kept rolling off the bed and tugging at my cuts. Even though I was on painkillers, it hurt so much I howled. Just touching my chest made everything sting, except for my left nipple, which’d completely lost feeling. (sips) Even now I still can’t feel anything there.
How long until your next procedure?
Next day, hey. They yanked out my tubes and redressed my wounds, then sent me back to Dr. Tam to have dermal fillers injected in my cheeks. She was behind schedule as usual, so I had to wait in the reception. I sat next to this plastic lady, who was huffing cause she wasn’t being seen. She saw my faded tattoo and straightaway asked if I was Paige. Said it was great to see me. Told me she’d read all about me. Told me to be careful cause the escorting world is a jungle of drugs and abuse. (sips) Said she thought surgery was a great idea.
She recognised you from the news?
Not just the news. It was Belinda.
From Australian Maiden?
Yeah. ‘Cept I couldn’t tell it was Belinda cause of everything she’d had done: chubby lips, cartoon eyes, pointy jaw, stretched neck, balloon boobs…
It’s quite a coincidence you ran into her.
Not really. She visited Dr. Tam every second week, so I was bound to run into her at some point. When I saw her she was having platelet rich plasma injected into her elbows. At least, that’s what Dr. Tam told me. She said she normally tries to talk patients out of unnecessary procedures, but that she gave Jemmy more control cause she knew what men wanted better than anyone.
Jemima. Jemima Xavier. That’s what Belinda was calling herself. As an escort at least. Apparently she was the highest paid in Australia. (sips) Well, that’s what she reckoned. Don’t know if it’s true or not. You’ve always got to assume half of what Belinda says is bullshit.
How did you react to seeing her again?
As I said, when I first saw her I didn’t recognise her. But then she mentioned the Glamour Photo Magic photos, and I just blurted out, ‘Wait, you’re Belinda?’ and she sniggered so loud everyone in the waiting room stared. (sips) As soon as I heard her sniggering, everything I always hated about her came back. But I didn’t say anything. Just sat there and listened to her talk herself up. She said she was establishing a national-level, respect-based, intimidation-free business environment for high-class companions and clientele, which was an up-yourself way of saying she had an agency. Told me she might hire me, depending on how my surgery went. Told me I seemed edgy, and that some guys liked that. She gave me her card, which had her phone number, plus a lipstick mark, plus ‘J.X. Escorts’ written in glittery silver.
Did you want her to hire you?
Yeah… nah. Part of me thought it was another con, and part of me thought the fish-police might come arrest me any day, but mostly I just didn’t want to. (sips) But when the police never came and I had to sort out a proper place to live I phoned Belinda to see if she could set me up with just one or two sessions. (sips) She made me meet her at a café and when I got there she looked me over and straightaway said I’d have to dress nicer if I was gonna be a J.X. escort.
So she gave you a job?
Sort of. She asked a bunch of dumb questions, like how I would handle nosy hotel receptionists, and what I thought the word ‘discretion’ meant. I mostly just answered ‘dunno’ cause I wasn’t thinking properly cause of the painkillers I was taking for my swelling and bruising. Plus the skin around my face was so tight I could hardly move my mouth. My cheeks were unpinchable. (sips) Belinda reckoned my personality wasn’t quite what she was looking for, but that she’d give me a trial run. So I signed a freelance employment contract, and they put my details on her website, and wrote that I was willing to do just about anything.
What’s her website called?
www.jxescorts.com.au, I think? Not sure if it still exists. (sips) They renamed me ‘Fantasy’ without even asking if I liked the name. (sips) Pay was good though. Even though I had to give Belinda a percent, I could charge a lot more than I used to. Almost three times as much. Plus it was hotel outcalls only, so I didn’t have to worry about keeping my place tidy. (sips) Still felt like a con though.
I think I was Belinda’s guinea pig for new clients. Whenever I got sent to a new guy she always called after to check how it went. She acted all concerned, and maybe she was, but if I ever said a guy was nice and easy, I never saw him again.
How long between your surgery and your first client?
Not long after my last bandages came off, hey. Probably should’ve waited longer though, cause everything was still pretty sore. The guy Belinda made me see kept squeezing and slapping. It stung so much I screamed through the whole session. (sips) I think he reckoned my screams meant I liked it.
Tell me about the types of clients you saw through Belinda’s agency.
I only saw a dozen or so different guys, cause after a couple of months, Belinda sent me away.
Got sent on a boat trip. (yawns) But there’s no point in telling you about that. (burps)
You won’t be able to write about it.
Why won’t I be able to write about it?
Cause I can’t prove it happened. (burps) Not anymore.
If you tell me the truth, I can write about it.
How do you prove something’s true though, hey?
(pause) Why don’t I tell you what I know, and you tell me if it’s correct or not?
In February 2011, you phoned Right Now! Weekly claiming you were pregnant with the child of the Executive Chairman of Chaplet Limited, Kim Powe. Is that correct?
Is that correct?
Can you elaborate on anything I’ve said so far?
Hello? (pause) Hello? Are you there?
End of Recording.
National Bank of Australia
ABN 45 221 123 123
MS DOROTTYA COOKSON
12/33 MACCARTHUR TERRACE
PARKVILLE VIC 3052
Page 1 of 1
27 FEB 2014
26 MAR 2014
5353 0110 3214
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Payment due date
Minimum amount due
Credit Card Statement
|Date||Reference Number||Transaction Details||Amount (A$)|
|19 Mar||8W9920112WXBEESW||West-A Grade Marron Mandurah, AUS||45.00|
|19 Mar||97X90897BUMMMMD3||Bottleo Pty Ltd Mandurah, AUS||49.53|
|20 Mar||3X113923XCBUZWE3||West-A Grade Marron Mandurah, AUS||42|
|20 Mar||9FF923J9XC01234Q||Bottleo Pty Ltd Mandurah, AUS||40.78|
|24 Mar||88FGIM8S62156D89||Thirsty Jack Karratha, AUS||32.60|
Credit limit $10,000
|Interest charged on purchases||Purchase Rate 17.024%||Daily Rate 0.04664%||0.00|
|Interest charged on cash advances||Cash Advance Rate 18.990%||Daily Rate 0.05203%||0.00|