Looking up at the symbol of crucifixion above the Farmers Trading Company boss’s head my only thought was I don’t stand a fucking chance. But I’d got this far and ‘if you don’t ask…’ well, you know how it goes !!
“I want to start a business, but I need some credit to get underway,” I asked the man opposite me, trying hard not to look at Jesus impaled and bleeding. “What do you want it for?” A perfectly reasonable question I thought.
“A brothel,” I said looking him straight in the eye.
A Short Trip to Surfers Paradise
I was back in Auckland after returning from a stint on the Gold Coast in Queensland. With my marriage over, Japanese Bathhouse and Harred’s door-to-door businesses sold I needed yet another change…or maybe diversion. My drinking was, by this stage, way out of control, but I could still think clearly, booze got me through the day and helped me function.
So, I packed up and moved to Surfers Paradise, rented a two-bedroom apartment in Budds Beach, walking distance from the hub of Surfers Paradise’s nightclubs, restaurants and tourist shopping.
I scouted up and down the main shopping strip and found an empty shop. I planned to set up a shop selling expensive crystal’s, and so I filled it with Baccarat, Waterford Crystal, Orrefors – only the good stuff.
What was I thinking ??
In no time I was bored shitless, closed the shop and headed back to Auckland.
I found a lovely apartment in Parnell, and once I settled in, I put my feelers out for my next venture. It didn’t take long!
The Lone Warrior
After years of bad experiences teaming up with business partners, my preference is to work alone. I can count all the friends I’ve ever had on one hand. These would be people I’d pick to go to war with.
Men such as my staunch and loyal brother Fred, then there’s Roy Harper one of my original bouncers, and good friend, from my nightclubs days in the UK. Roy has a security company managing an army of fearless men in London (they used to be Gurkha’s, so when I say they were ‘fearless’ I mean FEARLESS.)
My Useful Connections
However, I do admit that I have a knack for making connections and building up a network of people that I can call on when needed. Whether I like them or not is relevant…they’re ‘useful.’
Within a short time, the news of my return to Auckland had circulated and the next phase of my life began with a call from Len Russell.
Len (or lecherous Lennis Russell as he was known) told me that Rainton Hastie wanted to sell his share of Flora’s Massage Parlour. Now, I didn’t mind Ray Miller but the idea of working alongside the contemptible and sleazy Lecherous Lennie Russell, who I didn’t like and had no respect for, didn’t appeal one bit.
However, I was keen to get hold of Flora’s, and sometimes you’ve got to bend and be a little bit flexible…if only for a short time.
“Okay, on one condition,” I told lecherous Len, “you let me do it my way and don’t interfere.” “Deal” he quickly responded.
I’m Back In Business
Within no time I’d turned the business around. The first thing was to clean it up with a thorough scrubbing, new towels, fresh paint. I gradually replaced the furnishings, including carpet, and fitted in a brand new sauna. The rooms had spa baths which need a thorough scrubbing. I got the girls working before every shift to get the place ready, sparkling clean and looking the business.
The business had increased, but I was using the profits to fix the place up much to my partners’ dismay, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want my unsoiled reputation tainted by being attached to Flora’s as it was when I stepped in.
Within a few months, Ray Miller wanted out so I bought his share and this left me with the grub of the trio, lecherous Lennie Russell.
The Search Is On…Again
Flora’s was now the busiest and most successful massage parlour in Auckland, and my money making juices were flowing; I had to open another parlour.
I was back out on the streets once again, exploring and looking for suitable premises.
Eventually, I found a building in Symonds Street, a street where you’d find most, if not all, of Auckland’s Universities. It was also a street where a rather large and impressive church stood, and the building I had my eye on was right next door.
All the Fort Street parlour owners were laughing at me; I planned on opening a brothel right next door to a church, and let’s not forget the bus stop right outside the main entrance. Surely punters wouldn’t want to walk in or out of a brothel, easily spotted by people waiting for their bus? I must be mad…they thought !!
At this stage, I still had Len Russell as co-owner of Flora’s, and he was relishing in the success the parlour finally enjoyed.
I controlled everything, and lecherous Lennie just collected his share of the profit. But I now needed funds to take on the new Symonds Street property, but first I had another problem to solve.
When I first approached Jimmy Kirkpatrick, the owner of Symonds Street building, he told me he used to rent the building out as individual apartments. However, he’d had enough of tenants and wanted now to lease out the entire building.
The problem was that there was one tenant who wouldn’t leave the property and refused to pay rent. In other words, he was a squatter. Jimmy couldn’t and didn’t know how to get rid of him; getting the prick out was going to be a doddle for me, however.
“Leave him to me,” I told Jimmy, and we shook on the deal. Symonds Street was now mine, and I wanted vacant possession. I went into the building and told the squatter I’d give him one week to fuck off.
Seven days later I barged back in, on my own but making as much noise as I could. I raced up the stairs to where the squatter had set up home and banged on the door.
“Are you still here?” I screamed, and from behind the closed door, I heard someone scrambling around. “I’m leaving now,” he bleated and marched out with bags in hand.
With the squatter gone I now needed to turn these apartments into massage rooms complete with hot tubs. So, I had no choice but to bring Len Russell along with me.
That’s why I came to be sitting in the office of Farmers Trading company asking for credit. I wanted to try Farmers first as it was the biggest department store in Auckland and had everything, except hot tubs and sauna, that I needed to fit out Penthouse.
When the boss asked me what I wanted the money for I had been honest; I needed funds to build a brothel.
I didn’t let my eyes leave his face and noted his stunned, open-eyed expression. However, I did expect him to turn me down immediately. Farmers was a religious based company, and with that symbol of Jesus impaled on the cross right above his head, I didn’t like my chances.
His response, however, surprised me. “Look, I’ll have to speak to my partners on the board,” he said, “come back next week.” I was elated, there hadn’t been a hint of disapproval, I had a good feeling about this.
A week later I rocked back up at Farmers and presented my glowing reference from the Auckland City Council who owned the building where I ran the Japanese Bathhouse. I also brought along references from others proving my excellent reputation as upfront or on time payer of debts.
What happened next blew me away. “Here’s a gold card,” the boss said. “It has unlimited credit.” Well, fuck me !! Unlimited credit !! I certainly didn’t expect this outcome.
We agreed on the terms and conditions of the agreement. Before I left I said: “can I ask you one question please?” As I held up the shiny gold card, I asked: “why did you give me this?” “You told the truth,” he said, “I knew I could trust you.”
I felt like bowing or genuflecting, or whatever they do in front of the cross of Jesus. Instead I walked out with a smile, eager and ready to start renovating the Penthouse.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog 😊
Until next week….see ya later mate 😎