Sex worker services still sought in Launceston despite pandemic

BIG HIT: Studio 152 owner Celeste Bates has no income anymore and sex workers who rented from her are also suffering because of COVID-19. Picture: Scott Gelston
BIG HIT: Studio 152 owner Celeste Bates has no income anymore and sex workers who rented from her are also suffering because of COVID-19. Picture: Scott Gelston

Two Launceston business owners say clients seeking sex or erotic massages have been continuing to contact them during the coronavirus pandemic.

One sex worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said she stopped providing services when Prime Minister Scott Morrison first announced a 1.5 metre social distancing requirement last month.

Despite the introduction of the extraordinary requirement, the sex worker said prospective clients continued to seek a service.

"I was amazed that some of them still wanted a service when it just defies common sense under a 1.5 metre restriction of space, it's just not possible," she said.

"I'll be a bit worse off [financially], but I have other work so I only work a bit."

The sex worker said she considered herself lucky, but worried about other workers who might not have any alternative sources of income to live on.

Those comments were echoed by Studio 152 massage parlour owner Celeste Bates, who was forced to close her Launceston premises about a fortnight ago.

Ms Bates said she rented out rooms to about 25 sex workers, known as "angels", who offered erotic massage services, but did not have intercourse.

Her partner owns Studio 14 in Hobart and she said the coronavirus had caused a heavy financial blow.

"It's really disheartening for all of the ladies that were working between both studios because they were very keen to stay on and quite worried about losing that source of income that they very much relied upon," Ms Bates said.

We have dozens of calls from clients still coming in and I've just been sending them out the message relating to the virus and when we can reopen again, which is when we have permission to do so.

Studio 152 owner Celeste Bates

"I've actually been living on no income but I will try to probably get some sort of assistance. I'm not going to do anything with the studio for now, I'm going to leave it vacant in the hope that within the next three to six months, it can reopen again."

Ms Bates said when the risk of catching the coronavirus increased in Australia, the women who rented rooms off her undertook extensive infection control training.

"Before the Prime Minister announced that all massage parlours should close the angels were doing temperature checks, they were asking clients if they'd recently been overseas, they were practising hand sanitisation and we'd done all the measures to keep that up-to-date as well," Ms Bates explained.

"They're very giving and aside from the money they actually really love the work, it's very empowering, a lot of women have become very empowered from working here."

Clients continued to seek access to services offered out of Studio 152, Ms Bates advised.

"There's been a lot, even since the announcement that massage studios have closed, there'a still a lot of inquiries.

"We have dozens of calls from clients still coming in and I've just been sending them out the message relating to the virus and when we can reopen again which is when we have permission to do so."

This story Sex worker demand not drying up in pandemic first appeared on The Examiner.