Brothel work started at age 15

A WOMAN who began working at a Maroochydore brothel at 15 later commanded $3000 a day as a high class international escort.

The former sex worker has detailed her 18-year career in a just-released book, Mattress Actress.

The woman, who writes under the name Annika Cleeve, is now a married mother who holds a university doctorate.

As a teenager, she worked at an illegal brothel in an old house off the main drag in Maroochydore.

She had struggled to get legitimate work that would pay the bills after she left home following family problems and two sexual assaults.

Ms Cleeve said girls regularly lied about their ages, and worked under assumed names, to avoid hassles from the police.

When the Fitzgerald Inquiry brought a crackdown on sex workers, Ms Cleeve headed to Kings Cross, and later to Australia's top brothel, Tiffany's, before heading to Singapore and a jet-set life as an escort for the rich and famous, earning $10,000-$15,000 a week.

But Ms Cleeve said she did not necessarily encourage others to follow in her footsteps.

"I don't want to be viewed as an advocate," she said.

"If you are in the industry and feeding a habit, if you're not saving your money, you're not doing it properly.

"By the age of 25, I owned five houses. I wasn't married and I didn't have a boyfriend. That's the upside. If you play your cards right and you're a professional, the upside would be financially satisfying."

Ms Cleeve said that during her time as a sex worker, she saw other young women fall victim to drugs, and others who disappeared, presumably to be used as sex slaves.

She said life as a sex worker was far removed from that of Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman.

Although she once had her own version of Richard Gere, who gave her gifts and took her on holidays, she eventually realised that she was just a sex object to him.

"The whole Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman thing is just b......t.

"There was a client I did have feelings for. We were driving on our way to the airport to go on holiday. He was talking about all these things he was going to do to me.

"I asked him if he knew my bust size. He said 10DD."

"I asked him if he knew my eye colour. He couldn't tell me.

"I said, 'Can you stop the car and let me out here?'"

Ms Cleeve said she would have much preferred to have been a normal teenager with a mother who came to watch her play netball.

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