An alert reader from New Zealand (wow, I have alert readers! and New Zealand still has people! I thought the sheep had taken over long ago) linked me to the recent conflagration of a brothel in his home country.

Prostitution is legal in New Zealand, apparently to the point where a known “massage parlor” such as Beauty 28 can operate above an Internet café on a historical street officials are happy to develop for public and pedestrian uses. Now, a crass, low-level blogwriter would of course take a news item such as this as an opportunity to spout an infinite number of obvious, immature, lowest-denominator jokes, so I set aside a couple hours to get in as many as I could. Reading over the story, however, I really have more questions that anything else:

1. Who puts a brothel over a café, or a café under a brothel? It doesn’t matter if the brothel was on top first, but the combination has to cause some confusion. Let’s say a couple of buddies are walking down the street when one of them stops in front of this complex. “Boy, I could really go for some hot coffee!” he says.

As the other friend, how are you supposed to respond to that? “Would you like me to, uh, just wait outside?”

2. If the brothel is on a historic street, does that mean it’s also historic?
Is there a plaque outside this place stating something like: “At this location in 1802, Prime Minister Percival Cobblepot signed into effect the Pants-Emancipation Proclamation, legalizing the profession of prostitution and demanding the full release of the Full Release.”? I hope there are no field trips.

3. How nervous was the editor of this story?

“(sigh) Yes, what now?”

“This one part, here: ‘A crane hoisted firefighters on to the roof to dampen hotspots.’ Can you reword that somehow?”

“What? Again??”

“Well, come on! ‘Dampen hotspots’? Doesn’t that sound a little… you know…”


4. If you were a customer at the time the fire broke out, would it be something to brag about? You probably looked like a dunce tripping over your wool boxers getting out of the place, but if you’re a guy who would frequent a place of ill repute, you’d probably find a way to make it all about you.

I tried to think up an example, but it’s just gross. Get away from me.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire. But if they choose to rebuild, a better name for Beauty 28 might just be Fahrenheit 451.