Naked Truth: Lifting the Lid on the New Zealand Sex Industry by Rachel Francis, Penguin NZ, ISBN 9780143567622, RRP$35, Available now.
Reading the marketing blurb around Naked Truth and reading the actual book is quite the contradictory experience. The slightly breathless salacious back copy doesn’t really do the book justice.
This brutally honest and at times shocking account of the New Zealand sex industry will open your eyes and challenge your preconceptions. From brothels and strip bars to porn and granny sex, delve inside if you dare . . .
Shocking? Only if you find reading genuine, sex-work positive, inclusive stories from real people, treated with dignity and respect, terribly shocking.
Rachel Francis is an ex-hooker herself, and has written about her experiences in the honest, frank and highly entertaining Laid Bare. In Naked Truth she talks to, and writes about, other workers in the sex and sex entertainment industries, from the Flora MacKenzie to Steve Crow, the man who dares bring boobs to Auckland streets. In between there’s Margaret, who’s been a sex worker since the 1960s and is still going strong, Sharon and Rod Jackson, who own a “couples/lifestyles club”, Miss Ribena, and Lauren Roche, who’s written her own books about her sex work experiences and now works as a hospice doctor. And more. Of course.
Swingers are like possums: they know who they are, what they are, but they’re very shy. And they only come out at night.
Francis is, as she is in person, enthusiastic, embracing and admiring of all those people she talks to. She lets them tell their stories, positive and negative, and they reward her by being honest about their feelings towards their work, the difficulties they face and the joy they take from it. One overriding theme is that the change in prostitution laws in New Zealand to decriminalisation has probably been a major contributor to protecting sex workers. And the sex industry hasn’t been immune to the general economic doldrums.
Naked Truth is an engaging read, and one that may open the eyes of some people and simply confirm the ideas of others.