So how do you imagine the inside of a 1920s brothel on Roe Street?
Like the above, perhaps? Not even close.
Fortunately, we don’t have to guess, because Paul Hasluck once accompanied the police on their rounds and described the interiors:
Beyond the door we walked down a passageway to a sitting-room—very like the sitting-room of a Methodist parsonage with a green baize tablecloth on a dining-table with a lace doily in the centre and a vase of listless leaves and china ornaments of shepherdesses and dogs on the mantelpiece. In one of the smaller places, obviously not a Methodist, there was a cheap coloured print of the Madonna with uplifted face.
One empty bedroom shown to us was very much like the sort of bedroom the spinster sister of the Methodist minister might have slept in by herself, with a bass bedstead, a white quilt with tassels, and a china toilet set in the willow pattern.
Apparently Josie Villa was a little livelier, with brighter lights, bolder pictures and a piano. The girls there were more animated with thinner dresses, and tidier hair and makeup compared to the other brothels on the Rue de Roe.
The above quotation comes from the incomparable Selling Sex by Raelene Frances. The complete guide to everything you ever wanted to know about the history of prostitution in Australia but were afraid to ask.