Street Lights

This is the story of two Christchurch sex workers.

This podcast contains mature content and may not be suitable for young listeners. For the protection of those involved, voices have been digitally altered and names have been changed.

Chapter 1ย 

Meet Jess and Lisa, two sex workers in Christchurch, New Zealand. In this chapter of Street Lights, they share with us how they became sex workers and give us a window into their personal lives.

Chapter 2


The women lift the veil on life on the street and in the parlor.ย  Sex work has some surprising perks and perhaps unsurprisingly, a darker side.


Chapter 3

In the final chapter of Street Lights, Jess and Lisa share their experience with sex work and the law.

This episode features Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney and sociologist Dr. Jarrod Gilbert



Soundtrack: Bensound

Voices edited by Luana Barnes

Visuals by Annabel Kean

A huge thank you to the New Zealand Prostitute Collective, Jocelyn Darling and to Jess and Lisa, the street lights.

Professional Practice

Tomorrow afternoon I will get given a piece of paper which will quantify how good my personality is out of a 100. I’m not joking. This is not a drill. This is Professional Practice.

All week I’ve been overthinking this performance review and it’s been giving me mild anxiety. I like to think of myself as a mostly level-headed person but this year the heat really has turned up in the kitchen.

While I’ve enjoyed absolutely all of the highs and lows and wouldn’t change them for anything – I am starting to regret the time I tried to suppress an ugly cry in front of my tutor when a story fell through in the last minute. You think there’s nothing worse than ugly crying until you hear the sound your body makes when you try to suppress a sob. Don’t try it at home. Parental supervision is advised. I also regret the time I smacked my friend’s arse only to turn around and be face to face with the tutor. There’re countless more things I’m sure to regret but we don’t have all day.

Every minute we arrived late, let out a few too many yawns, looked down at our phones at the wrong moment, is judged and written down as an evaluation of how fit we are to be journalists.

While I see how it’s useful for our future employers to know if we can be polite individuals, the report doesn’t fully account for the times no one of authority was in the room. It doesn’t fully account for the times we’ve shared black forest chocolate by the kg, offered back up stories when things hit the fan, driven classmates to interviews that have nothing to do with our own grades, proofread countless articles for each other and it damn sure doesn’t account for all the times there’ve been words of encouragement when your own mind forgets what you’re capable of. ย This only accounts for 20% of the grade.

I’m sure tomorrow will be fine – it will all work out. But to the 21 of you that are sure to be overthinking alongside me tonight – I love you even when you ugly cry.


Burning building


by Kethaki Masilamani


A long hose mapped our course

A fireman said they’re still looking for the source.

From the neon truck to what used to be home

to eight young men who’d escaped the fire –

so far only remnants, no explanation, no hope, situation dire.


Flood lights exposed charred corners;

The ceiling dripped, doused from quick reactions.

The house stood, gutted by flames – but she had no mourners.

She stood alone, humiliated from years of protecting their infractions.


They’d left in her all their belongings,

jumped down from balconies with heat on their heels.

Burnt couches, crushed beer cans, shattered glass, and broken skateboards.

No flat farewell, no last meals.

Video edited by George Berry. Footage by Kethaki


To whom it may concern,

“Would your parents be open to being interviewed about their sex lives…by you?” and “Can you find me a psychopath, surely there’s one that’s done a TedTalk” are just a couple of questions I was asked at VICE that I’m almost certain would be considered out of the ordinary anywhere else.


I decided to intern at VICE while visiting my parents in Melbourne – partly for the invaluable experience and partly because mum doesn’t really enjoy people relaxing in the house for more than a week. I’d already pushed this boundary for 3 more weeks than anyone had ever managed before and it was time to get back to being productive.

Working at VICE brought back serious ‘1st day of school’ vibes. I couldn’t figure out where I fit in. Walking into the warehouse cum officespace, I noted almost every female had a micro-fringe, didn’t care for their bras and were letting their armpit hair grow (I’m assuming for feminism (but not their leg hair…still investigating this logic)). The guy in charge of me skateboarded to work and I was definitely the most square person in the room. On my first day, I sat in front of a girl who had piercings, a micro fringe and a mullet and she was making it work – Do you know how cool you have to be to make a mullet look good?

Covers of books aside, the level of wit and intellect was on a completely different playing field. These young, super fresh minds seemed to know about everything: politics, new music, current events, fashion, pop culture, art from every era, knowledge of drugs and their aftereffects. There were no censors and they unleashed this knowledge on their website on a daily basis.

While everyone was warm, they were incredibly focused and single-minded in their work. My ideas didn’t seem to fit and I didn’t have an edgy way of executing them – this struggle lasted for almost three weeks. No, I didn’t want to write about my parent’s sex lives; there’s not enough money in the world to make me write about that and I wasn’t getting paid at all, I’m also genuinely not that curious about the effects of inhaling nitrous oxide on the brain, I will however definitely hunt down a psychopath for your article on ‘how to get over breakups like a psychopath’,

I was almost defeated – I’d completed one interview of a Kiwi band and the editor edited in swear words so that ruled out sharing it with my Gran. One day I sat across from another girl, this one had multiple tattoos of various religious symbols of which I’m almost certain she had no belief in, and I thought sod it – I’m going to write about something none of them can, I’m playing the brown card.

And so I interviewed my Granny about arranged marriages. They edited out all the nice things I said about my Gran to make it edgier but I think it still turned out alright. She was cool with it because as the pre-edited version would read, she’s a boss.

I did learn a lot about good writing from this bunch of geniuses. I also learned that there’s a component named psilocybin in magic mushrooms which research shows when given to terminal patients can eradicate the feeling of dread and fear of dying. Fun fact. I’m not sure I’ll ever be edgy enough to work at VICE but damn, it made me want to be good enough to write there.