The Life of Lucy

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By Emily Zeinert.

Upon entering Tiffany’s Palace in Canberra, you will find an assortment of girls waiting to fulfil your most intimate desires and erotic fantasies. One of these girls, Lucy, spoke to PRISM about the ins and outs of working in a brothel, from the lonely, weird and sometimes delightful clients she has had, to the sexual assaults that regrettably go with the territory.

Lucy is almost twenty and turned to prostitution when she was seventeen to avoid the minimum wage grind of working in fast food joints and supermarkets. She walked into the job with a “get rich quick” mindset and has never looked back.

Lucy is proud to admit she enjoys her job. The hours suit her and she finds great delight in dressing up in outfits she wouldn’t otherwise wear in public. She makes an average of $600 a night, though one night she proudly claimed she earned $2400. On weekends she says she can earn around $100-1500 generally.

While the pay is great, the job does have its downfalls. Lucy has at times felt unsafe and she’s been sexually assaulted twice. We asked her about how she keeps safe in this business. “If I don’t like their attitude in the introduction room, I’ll tell my reception that I’m unavailable if the client chooses me. Some guys can be nice as chips in the intro room, but as soon as they’re alone with me they turn evil. In those cases, if I can, I ask them to leave, and if they refuse I can press an emergency button and the security guard or reception will come to the door and ask them to leave. I have only ever been sexually assaulted twice whilst working, and those situations were because I was either with a drunk guy, or in a threesome when I didn’t have the skill set at the time to handle two guys. The police are great when we ring to notify them of these situations; they arrive promptly and are swift with how they deal with the clients, without making a scene.”

Continue reading The Life of Lucy

Interview with a Skid Row Gangster

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Gangster Erwin Ross talking to PRISM about life in South Central, Los Angeles, heroin addiction and homelessness.

Words and Photography by Joshua Thaisen. Every Monday morning at 10am, street sweeping trucks roar up and down the gutters of Skid Row, while homeless people, who are being threatened with loitering citations by the LAPD, search for a new space of footpath for the next long, restless night. The four-square-mile district of Skid Row is ‘home’ to thousands of homeless and saturated with drugs and prostitution, creating a climate of sickness, hunger and violence. With a population nearing 20,000, the strain on community services and healthcare has created the largest humanitarian conflict zone in the developed world. The footpaths are furnished with used needles, broken crack pipes, loan sharks, and street gangs. Referred to by locals as a lawless “snake pit,” Skid Row is society’s comedown, with track marks that lead back to a great institutional failure of a nation neglecting its own people. Skid Row gangster Erwin Ross spoke with PRISM about life in South Central Los Angeles. Erwin is a well spoken, hard-edged elderly man, decorated with scars and stories from a hard life on the streets. Born in South Central Los Angeles, Erwin describes his life as a colorful adventure of risk-taking and hard lessons learned. At the age of fourteen, he was sentenced to four years in the State penitentiary for vandalism, depriving him of any formal education or career prospects. While in prison, Erwin’s masculine identity formed in an environment rewarded by violence, deception and drug-taking. Erwin developed what would become a twenty-two-year-long heroin addiction, keeping him bound to a vortex of crime, incarceration, and homelessness.

Continue reading Interview with a Skid Row Gangster

I used an Oculus Rift and Felt Like God

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Words by Nick Taras.
Photography by Sergey Galyonkin.

As I stood atop an asteroid, mesmerised by the cobalt aura of Earth viewed through an Oculus Rift headset, my meditative state spawned only one thought: “This is what it feels like to be God.”

My “voyage” through space was the penultimate level in a five-minute simulation developed for the virtual reality console known as Rift. Designed by Californian company Oculus VR, inside the Rift goggles you’ll see something so spectacular that Facebook paid $2 billion in March 2014 to acquire it.

Put the mask on and you’ll experience a 360-degree visual display so real that your mind can’t distinguish it from reality. Combine this optical hijacking with headphones, and the Rift is a completely immersive computer-generated adventure.

With such clear definition, the occipital lobe in your brain – responsible for processing vision – tricks your mind into believing that what you’re seeing is real. For decades, futurists predicted that virtual reality would become the next big thing in technology. However, the poor visual quality found in early virtual reality models only drew attention to the oxymoron that is ‘virtual reality.’

So what?” you may be thinking. “My HD TV has killer resolution.” The difference is that you know when you’re staring at your TV screen, whereas the Rift transports you to an environment that responds to your every movement in real time. For example, when I was orbiting Earth, I tilted my head to the left and saw Mars floating in the distance. Then I faced in the opposite direction and the Moon glared back at me. Looking at my shoes, I was presented with the perforated, brown rock of an asteroid. Just like your real vision, you see something different everywhere you look.

Continue reading I used an Oculus Rift and Felt Like God

The Art of Being Unemployed

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Words By Francis Hadid.
I grew up with two conflicting messages: ‘do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’ and ‘working is so bad, you get paid to do it’. And although they both followed me around like a Japanese death god, I feared the latter and vowed to a life of leisure. To me, that meant and still means low expectation academic pursuits and lazy afternoons under the sun. Then, I turned twenty-five and suddenly money, doubt and fear became the dominating theme to my existence. Am I gonna have a cubicle? What if the manager slaps my bum? Are they gonna ask me to sign Sharon’s birthday card? How does one respite when wearing the shackles of employment? I hadn’t yet started the job hunt and was already panicking. ‘Job hunt’ seems like the appropriate term because that’s exactly how it felt. I was a huntress, tip toeing through the forest of jobs, trying to catch a rare, feeble, beady eyed prey. What I didn’t know: it hadn’t been open season for a while; the forest was closed; I wasn’t the only hunter around, and my days of youth retirement were about to begin. I was unemployed.

Continue reading The Art of Being Unemployed

The Dark World of Balinese Cockfighting

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Words by Michael Cunningham.
Photos by Albert Retief.

On an otherwise uneventful day in Bali, I found myself standing in the sweaty crowd of an illegal cockfight. Being the only white person present, I was left wondering what I was doing there, and more importantly, why I was betting money.

I know many of you reading this are already reaching for your pitchforks and blazing torches, and that’s ok. Cockfighting is a dirty sport, and one that probably shouldn’t exist, but the reality is that it does. I only knew of its occurrence through word of mouth prior to my first hand experience of it, and even then I compartmentalised it in a section of my brain I like to call ‘things that exist that I pretend don’t exist’ , and imagined it would do a life sentence there. However, when I was standing in front of that pit, watching two roosters fight to the death in a very violent display, I was forced to re-evaluate my entire outlook on reality, especially the dark side of it that I had simply chosen to ignore.

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Top 10 Spelling and Grammar Errors in Gangsta Rap

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By Nick Taras.

I’m from the notorious middle-class Melburnian suburb known as Malvern. African-American Vernacular English is like a second language to me. In fact, due to Malvern’s dense population of elderly residents in retirement villages, the mortality rate is actually higher on the streets of Malvern than the ghettos of Compton.

But while I keep it gangsta on the streets of Malvern, I need to make a stand against gangsta rap. No musical genre butchers the English language more than rap music. Forget murder and drug use – rap music’s abuse of the English language is far more offensive than the actual lyrical content.

Errors like “you was” and “I is” are so prevalent in rap that I’ve had to ignore them in this article entirely. I’ve even had to disregard Tupac’s Ambitionz Az a Ridah, Timbaland’s The Way I Are and everything by Lil Wayne.

Instead, here are the top 10 worst spelling and grammar mistakes in gangsta rap. Continue reading Top 10 Spelling and Grammar Errors in Gangsta Rap

Aliens, Death Threats and a Free Flight to Brazil

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“I am willing to pay your way to face me, not because you believe in aliens, but because you’re an obnoxious asshole that needs to be shown your actions have consequences. In this case it is pain, mutilation and a lifetime of regret.”

By Michael Cunningham.

In 2011, I uploaded a video about crop circles on my old blog. While I don’t necessarily believe crop circles are made by extraterrestrials, I did think that the one in the video was particularly amazing, and figured it’d be a decent way to start up a discussion on aliens. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy discussing life outside our planet? I didn’t receive any comments until a year later, when a user by the alias of ‘slrman‘ called me stupid for in believing in aliens. A harmless debate ensued, where he persisted in calling me names in a lame attempt to get me to ‘prove’ that aliens existed, which I admitted I could not. An average night out on the internet, right?

Eventually ‘slrman’ – a 70-year-old man called James Smith – became so infuriated with me that he offered to pay my way to João Pessoa, Brazil (where he lives) so that I could meet him face to face and tell him that I believe in aliens, oh, and so he could beat the shit out of me for holding that belief. With nothing better to do, I decided to humour him. I wanted to find out if his intentions on buying me a plane ticket to Brazil were genuine, and besides, I figured I could use a holiday. Continue reading Aliens, Death Threats and a Free Flight to Brazil