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The Choice (2006) Riot or Revolution (2005) Life is Too Serious (2001)
Love's Tragedies (1999) Big Hair Woman (1997) We're All Independent Now (1995) Deadly Hurt (1994)
The Great Australian Dreaming (1992) Big People Small People (1991) Something You Call Unique (1989)  
Why Men Pay For It - synopsis

According to TheAustralian Study of Health and Relationships (2003), over 99% of prostitutes' clients are men. And yet, most research into prostitution has traditionally ignored the male clients. The groundbreaking study was conducted by three Australian universities and involved a nationwide sample of over 10,000 men. It tells us, for the first time, just how many men in this country pay for sex.

The study found that 15.6%, or about one in six men, have been with a prostitute at least once in their lifetime and 1.9%, or about 1 in 50, in the previous year. Why Men Pay For It goes behind these statistics and asks, "who are these men, and why do they do it?" There are seven main characters who tell their stories. The men are as diverse as the reasons they give for paying for it.

First up is Mark, 35, a safety rep. for a small chemical company and happily single. Mark's in-your-face attitude is summed up when he says, "It's good just to be able to go somewhere and see a beautiful woman and go 'yes I'll have that one', that's good."

Then comes Matthew, 47, recently separated. He and his wife were busy professionals with a young son. Matthew was an IT manager in a large multinational company. "The corporate world is all about objects," he says, " ... and prostitution is about having another object." Somewhere along the line, Matthew stopped seeing prostitutes as objects and made the mistake of falling in love with one.

We go on to meet divorcee, Carl, who tells us about the "frequent blowers' points" he clocks up at his local brothel.

John speaks sadly about his wife of 30 years who died suddenly one night while they were watching TV. Visiting prostitutes helped in his recovery, indeed he says it became an addiction.

Arthur, the never married 48 year old man-child, prefers streetgirls. In between reading us his poem about life being "but a dream" and singing his grunge song about everyone "living in a world of sin", he manages to explain why prostitutes exist. "She's there for a purpose," he says, "... she's there to help guys have sex."

And then there's 70 year old Richard, still married to his childhood sweetheart, and, as he puts it, "as fond of her now as I was when I married her". Only problem is they haven't had sex for 20 years. So Richard puts a little of his pension away each week in the secret compartment in his wallet and when it accumulates to the right amount and when he "feels like a little rough and tumble", off he goes.


The other main character is Rosco, the 25 year old pretty boy who still lives at home with mum and dad. He lost his virginity with a prostitute who, he says, "looked like an Asian version of mum". Rosco, being a good boy, shared his big news with the family, beginning with grandma. Lucky his mum "understands" that "he had to lose his virginity somehow". Indeed, she is so understanding that she's in the film, as well. Rosco, of course, agrees with his mum that what he really wants is to "meet a nice girl and settle down". But in the meantime he'll settle for his other wish ... "to bring home about four girls and just have a big group session". 

Interwoven throughout the film are a range of "expert" interviews. Dr Ouyang Yu is a Chinese-Australian poet and writer. He explains why, even though Asian men are over-represented in some client surveys, they would never agree to show their face on camera.

The other commentators in the film are more "sexpert" than "expert". They include the madam, Emma, and a prostitute, Rebekah, both from an outer suburban brothel in Melbourne. There's also Milan, owner of an upmarket brothel, The Boardroom, who puts his finger on what it's all about for the men who come through the door. "It's a bit like the kid in the candy store", he says. Why Men Pay For It  also touches on the issue of violence. We hear a streetgirl, Kate, describe the dangers while Mark, Matthew and Rebekah add their perspectives.

At the end of the day, what do the mens' stories tell us? The film asks,"are there any common threads?" The Australian Study of Health and Relationships found that 76%, or three quarters, of the men who visit prostitutes had no live-in partner. Perhaps this finding would suggest that the one thing these men have in common is their difficulty with relationships.
Alan Bennett