Auckland City’s rich, lively and ever changing sex industry has seen many characters and guises through the decades. Parlours would open with great frequency, but never seemed to survive long, but for only a small handful of ‘stayers’ that thrived through the years.
The Pink Pussycat Club (run by the ‘King of K Rd’ or strip club magnate, Rainton Hastie, who opened his first strip club, the Pink Pussycat, on Auckland’s Karangahape Rd in 1963 and passed away in 1995), The recently deceased Las Vegas and Famous Floras, The (still alive) Pelican Club all becoming legendary in status and leaders in this highly competitive industry.
(Worth mentioning, though this isn’t the location that the team investigated….) In 2003, the iconic Pink Pussycat Club sign was carried off its K’Rd property, ending the strip joint’s 40-year presence in the red light district.
The club had been closed for years, but during its two-decade heyday it was almost synonymous with Auckland’s growing sex industry. Ian Hastings, former head of Auckland police’s vice squad, rated it as the first big strip club in Auckland.
The red light areas in Auckland City have stayed quite constant through the decades.
From the Lower Queen St end of ‘seedy’ Fort St up to the buzzing mini metropolis of K’Rd.
A few parlours started up around the smaller surrounding suburbs to cater to those wanting a thrill closer to home.
Prostitution in Auckland
Prior to 2003, indoor prostitution in New Zealand was governed by the Massage Parlours Act 1978, which allowed brothels to operate in the guise of massage parlours.
However, the act defined massage parlours as public places, so laws against soliciting in a public place applied to workers in parlours, and they were sometimes raided and entrapped by police posing as clients. Workers in the parlours were also required to provide their names and addresses to the police. Advertising the sale of sex (“soliciting”), running a brothel, and living off the earnings of prostitution were illegal.
These laws were changed by the Prostitution Reform Act, passed in June 2003.
The decriminalisation of brothels, escort agencies and soliciting, and the substitution of a minimal regulatory model created worldwide interest; New Zealand prostitution laws are now some of the most liberal in the world.
Although prior to 2003 New Zealand had several laws meant to suppress prostitution, during the last decades of the 20th century, there had been a high degree of toleration of sex work in practice. Nevertheless, police continued to raid brothels, streets, and private residences of sex workers right up to the day before the Prostitution Reform Bill was passed by Parliament.
The Massage Parlours Act effectively allowed indoor commercial sex under a facade. Prostitutes advertised their services as ‘escorts’ and brothels advertised themselves as ‘massage parlours’.
Workers in massage parlours were required to be registered with the police from the time the Massage Parlours Act 1978 came into force.
Haunted Auckland was requested to investigate and cleanse an Auckland inner city brothel before it’s reopening by new owners. Some pretty thorough renovations were underway as the opening night deadline loomed.
Many people have mentioned the building to be haunted including the NZPC (New Zealand Prostitutes Collective), the bartender from the bar downstairs and some of the working girls there, current and previous.
Due to some of the ‘older’ working girls’ dislike for working in the building with is present ‘haunted vibe’, as well as the owner’s discomfort, the Haunted Auckland team were asked to do an investigation and subsequent cleansing of the brothel so it felt better, in time for their grand re-opening.
The three level building has a long history.
It’s believed that the current owners are the fifth set of owners to be running a brothel from this property.
They told us of rumoured deaths of one of the working girls in an upstairs room and the demise of a man in one of the rooms now being used by the business.
The basement level of the building is currently being run as a bar, the main level the brothel and the upper level is being refurbished into apartments.
It is known that at one time the building was used as a boarding house (or lodge) and it is rumoured that the premises was originally a factory (perhaps manufacturing nails).
- The smell of smoke and whiskey inside the building (smelled mainly by women), in the bar area, hallway and Room 2.
- A locked door to the upper level being found ajar, the owner made certain to lock it but it was found ajar again the next day.
- The owner’s mother dreamed of the building before she had ever seen it.
- Loud noises coming from empty areas.
- Lights going out for no reason on more than one occasion with an electrician having difficulty finding reason why and not being able to repair them.
- Different people feeling strange or sensing a presence particularly in and around one of the rooms.
- One of the owners went home one day feeling a strong sense of anger that was out of character for her, then ‘came to her senses’ thirty minutes later.
- Some working girls dislike working in the building due to the occurrences and due to who they refer to as ‘an angry man’ in there.
Haunted Team for this Investigation – Mark, Barbara, Kris, Kel and Jacalyn.
Weather Conditions – Light rain periodically throughout the evening.
Lunar Cycle – Day before first quarter
The Haunted Auckland team conducted a Class 2 investigation of the premises.
A complete room-by-room E.M.F (Electromagnetic Field) and temperature reading sweep of the building was conducted and logged at three stages throughout the night.
The team interviewed the owners and others who had been at the venue, took hundreds of photos and hours of video, as well as trialling the use of a ‘spirit box’ and doing numerous trigger tests.
The entire investigation was audio and video recorded by two members of the team and hours of additional audio was recorded during communication sessions, where members of the Haunted Auckland team attempted to capture E.V.Ps (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) during communication sessions.
The teams’ initial views on entering the premises were varied:
Barbara – It was a shock to leave the bar area and walk into the corridor which lead to rooms as the walls in that area were bright red. It felt as if there was something / someone there watching us. It felt quite creepy to me. At times I could feel a sadness which was not mine.
Jacalyn – I had a slight sense of apprehension when looking up the corridor towards the rooms, which I found strange.
Mark – The building does have a somewhat eerie feeling on entry, but I put it down to the place just being empty and under construction with renovations. There was the smell of paint and the place was darkened due to the lights not being in use.
Kel – When I first entered the brothel I felt a very strong vibe there. There were a lot of entities there. I had to leave the bar area as I felt quite sick and I felt I was being watched
Kris – Feeling wise, I got nothing I couldn’t explain, apart from a feeling of unease when I first went in and an empathy to those that have worked there in the past.
Mark noted a few slight temperature fluctuations, mainly in the two rooms that the owners had mentioned that others had noted paranormal activity around
Mark – If I had to pick one room as being the more ‘different’ than the others, I would say Room 2. Mainly due to the temperature fluctuations being higher and changing faster than the other rooms.
EMF – (Electromagnetic Field) Readings were pretty flat throughout the place.
There were no major fluctuations, spikes or out of the ordinary readings within the EMF readings the team took. The only spikes being around the room heat pumps and in the bar area around the fridges, which is common.
TEMPERATURES IN THE BUILDING
There were definite temperature fluctuations between rooms, though there were also many wall sized mirrors in the rooms, heat pumps (some of which were operating) and various open windows and air vents around the building.
Room temps were noted at 9.30pm and 11pm.
Note the change in levels, which could have been due to a few factors – Us being there in the rooms (body heat), the natural drop in temperature outside as it got later, the room heat pumps adjusting themselves, the wind / air coming through air vents and toilet windows, a breeze surge as the front entrance door was opened and closed as people moved around.
- Room 1 – 19.0 / 20.8
- Storage Room – 20.9
- Toilets beside storage – 20.7
- Room 2 – 18.9 / 19.2
- Room 3 – 20.9 / 20.8
- Team Base Room – 20.7 / 20.8
- Room 4 – 20.7 / 20.1
- Hallway – 20.8 / 19.9
- Room 5 – 18.7 / 19.3
- Room 6 – 20.5 / 20.4
- Room 7 – 20.8 to 20.7 / 20.7
- Hallway – 19.9 / 19.7
- Kitchen / Bar – 19.5 / 19.6
After the investigation the team members spent many hours or reviewing, combing through their photos, videos and audio recordings, however we found nothing worthy of mention.
The lack of useable audio was partly due to the music from the club below being heard throughout the entire building and therefore was present in most of our recordings.
The spirit box was used during some of the communication sessions.
A good possible E.V.P recording was captured in one of the rooms where workers had complained that they felt uncomfortable.
In this recording, a question is asked whilst a ‘ghost box’ is playing. Immediately after, there seems to be answer, “yes’. When responded with a “what?”, from the team member, it is further replied with a repeat, “yes”.
We are trialling a Ghostbox, or Frank’s box, in the name of open minded-ness and working out hypotheses to hopefully find answers. Many investigators swear by them, many dismiss them as rubbish, so we decided to incorporate one into certain areas of our research to see first hand for ourselves whether there is anything valid in their usage. Whether anything received is just random radio sounds or something more, we aim to find out in due time.
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In the same room, a trigger test was also done using playing cards, which were balanced together. They were set up so they wouldn’t fall easily and when a team member tested the trigger by walking past them closely more than once and then literally jumping up and down, the cards did not fall. However they fell twice while they were unobserved and three team members were sitting quietly in the room. Unfortunately when we tried to capture what was happening on video the cards remained standing and did so for the rest of the investigation.
This is of interest as we did initially question if there was a possibility that the cards had fallen due to the vibration of the music that could be heard throughout the building, but as they then remained standing for several hours after this incident it seems that that explanation is unlikely.
During our session there we were able to explain and debunk the issue of cigarette smoke being smelled from time to time.
This was also smelled by the team throughout the night as the club patrons downstairs sat in the designated smoking area located directly below the brothel’s toilet window and the smoke wafted upwards.
There is also tenant living upstairs, who Mark heard twice walking around during our session.
There was the definite creak of walking weight overhead.
Mark even briefly met the guy as he was being shown up there by the owner.
This could explain some of the noises heard overhead at night.
There is also an emergency back stairwell through a locked door which leads down to the bottom club’s emergency back exit.
Kris and Mark spent some time taking photographs down in the stairwell.
Whilst down there they could easily hear people moving around next door in heels on wooden floorboards and the club’s music being played.
Barbara – I cannot definitely say that the premises is haunted but personally suspect that there may be an intelligent haunting there due to an EVP recording captured on the ‘spirit box’ and the trigger test being set off. I would have liked more time to investigate further.
Kel – My findings are inconclusive as to whether the place is haunted or not due to the fact there is residual energy there and I did not witness anything unusual
Kris – Nothing worth sharing, also found EMF to be reasonably constant.
Jacalyn – Given the history of the building, two alleged deaths and what the property has been used for I think there is a chance that the place is haunted even if there wasn’t a lot captured. I think it’s more likely for it be residual but I also feel there is a chance of something more intelligent being there as well.
Mark – I didn’t really feel anything odd in the building at any time during the night. There were a few slight temperature fluctuations, mainly in the two rooms that the owners had mentioned had been reported as having activity, rooms 2 and 5. These two rooms were colder than the others and the temps seemed to fluctuate rather quickly as they were being taken down. I would like more details about the deaths that have occurred in the past there and the strange activity that has apparently happened since, mainly in rooms 2. It was an ok investigation, though we were limited to the amount of controlled investigation we could put in action as there is another club downstairs. Cigarette smoke was wafting up and entering through the toilet windows from the downstairs club designated smoking area. Another disruptive factor was the below club’s music being audible through the building. This made trying for recorded EVP captures near impossible. I personally feel that there is more to the story than we were able to uncover on that night, though, at this stage I do not feel that this place is haunted.
Over the years there have been many stories about this premises being haunted.
The owners of nearby businesses have also heard the stories from the staff and patrons of the brothel so it has a well-known history in the area. The team are interested to know more about the building.
The whole building has a history, some dark, some neutral.
We have heard of potentially paranormal activity from other business owners using this building, so we are keen to dig further historically and investigate some of the other parts of this building as well.
There have been a good number of people that have claimed to have experienced activity within the building through the years, so the team feel they can’t all be discounted as being misidentification, human error or simple urban legend
Although Haunted Auckland was not able to document any photographic or video evidence during our visit, we did capture one possible EVP.
For a more controlled environment we would need to ensure the whole building was person and power free.
Totally closed and vacant whilst we carried out an investigation.
Haunted Auckland would like to thank the owners for inviting us into their premises and wish them all the best for the future in their business venture.