Madison Avenue: Vic Park’s decades-old brothel closes

Sue Chapman, who ran the Madison Avenue Brothel, says business has waned recently. Picture: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au   d465208
Sue Chapman, who ran the Madison Avenue Brothel, says business has waned recently. Picture: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au d465208

IT is the end of an era for one of Victoria Park’s most controversial businesses.

Madison Avenue, a brothel which has operated for 67 years under various names, has closed down after being a staple on the corner of Albany Highway and Temple Street.

Sue Chapman, who started at the business as a receptionist, has run it since 1995. She closed on February 5 because the building is being sold.

“It ran under the containment policy, which was good until it changed and let things run underground,” said Ms Chapman.

“The lease expired in January; we were never given a heads-up by the Williams family, who own the building, that it was up for sale, so we never had the opportunity to purchase it.

“We never had the chance to relocate around Victoria Park because I don’t think we’d ever be able to pass the planning regulations from the council.

“I don’t want to lie about what we do; some other places say they are a massage parlour but they are not. It is a sad time for us and our clients too; we have built up plenty of goodwill.

“There have been four robberies in my time and two hold-ups but everyone has been caught.”

Mrs Chapman said the removal of the containment policy, an unwritten policy that ran until 2000 allowing sexual services businesses to operate with police approval subject to conditions, was a negative outcome.

“We’ve had MLA Michelle Roberts visit in 1999 and other pollies as well. People are surprised and interested in it,” she said.

“There have been private tours; people are curious about what happens here.

“A few raids have happened over the years, early in the piece especially, the drug squad has come out but we’ve always complied with them.

“Back in the day under different laws, the girls had their taxes paid and the girls were required to have health checks.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience. There must have been thousands of people who have visited here over the years.”

Mrs Chapman said the economy had affected the business.

“We had about 18 to 20 clients each day at the end, it was probably the worst time ever,” she said.

“During the good economic times, we would have up to 70 clients per day.”