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Madam : A memoir - Antonia Murphy

Madam

A memoir

By: Antonia Murphy

Paperback | 30 October 2024

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A poignant and darkly comedic memoir from a mother who opened an ethical escort agency in small town New Zealand – and dared to make a difference. Now a major international TV series starring Rachel Griffiths and Martin Henderson.

I’m Antonia, a real-life madam. I’ve got a blended family of six kids; I spend my mornings packing lunchboxes and my evenings reading bedtime stories. And two days a week, I work as a pimp. Procurer, madam – whatever you want to call it. Personally, I think of myself as a union organiser. For vaginas.

An ex-pat from San Francisco, Antonia Murphy is living on a farm in rural New Zealand with her husband and two kids, bored and isolated, when her husband leaves her. Suddenly, she has to figure out how to survive.

Upon discovering the decriminalisation of sex work in New Zealand, Antonia’s mind starts to wander, and she reaches out to the iconic Madam Mary to learn more about the business. Mary runs a human rights-based escort agency, and she opens Antonia’s eyes to a workplace that safeguards women’s health and dignity, while providing a clean, shame-free establishment for male clients. Inspired, Antonia decides to open her own agency: The Bach.

Over the next three years, she encounters more than she could have imagined: domestic abuse, assault, theft, drugs and a stream of silly, horrific and sometimes touching requests from her clients. She witnesses the ways so many women are trapped – by early pregnancy, lack of education and the constraints of their circumstances. More than anything, she sees fire in the women who choose sex work: they refuse to give up and be poor, even when the odds are stacked against them.

In Madam, we follow Antonia through the turbulent years of her agency, as she toils to keep both her business and family afloat, and to keep the women of The Bach safe and thriving as they practice the world's oldest profession.

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