Will Pammy's bordello survive?

Equality in prostitution is fine principle, but are women the same as men when it comes to shopping for sex?

Let me declare from the start, I got the idea and some help for this column from a male. It was not just from any man, it was from a Marxist - my colleague from the Herald on Sunday, Matt McCarten - who does actually understand the free market. Perhaps that's why his organisation, Unite, is successful. Know your enemy.

I told McCarten that Corkery's new venture, a brothel where women could pay $240 an hour for sex with a man of her choice, was, in principle, a good idea. We were drinking in a bar and, looking around at most of the other munters, by this time half cut, I pointed out that a woman looking for a sexual companion in this place would be hugely disappointed on several counts. Apart from McCarten (who wasn't available), all the men were fat or hideous or both, many looked as if they hadn't bathed recently, and given they'd been drinking alcohol for some time, handing over a decent sum of money expecting, as Pam herself put it in The Listener, "a good rogering", would have been (I will not descend to cheesy double entendre) risky.

Well, you could argue a gal should choose a better class of venue. Get out of the working class bars on Auckland's waterfront, and up to Ponsonby Road, or even the Viaduct Basin if one must be beside the seaside.

But then there's the tiresome task of conversation to get through. Remember, our imaginary woman out sex shopping does not want marriage, she does not even want hiking in the hills, a companion for the movies, twilight suppers or concerts in the park, she just wants good sex.

With $240 she can buy a decent shoe (just one, mind), a smart shirt, several books and CDs, some nice wine. She doesn't have to spend an hour chatting to the retail assistant, drinking bad sauvignon blanc, politely turning away from halitosis and pretending not to notice nostril hair. She doesn't have to hear about a failed marriage, past relationships, go-nowhere job, anything to do with the life of a man she doesn't want to know about, she just wants to have sex with.

So, Pammy's bordello sounds like the answer to every frustrated girl's dream. As Matt said, it's the market. It is truly, he said, the invisible hand. Ha ha.

But will it work?

When men shop - for anything - they see, they decide, they buy. I know I generalise. There are men who schlep around like women, but they're aberrations, exceptions to the rule.

Women, on the other hand, make comparisons. Take clothes, for example, does the dress suit them? Does that colour look better? What about the other brand? Let us compare lengths? Does my bum look smaller in this one?

Paintings, plants for the garden, furniture, books - purchasing these requires much thought and sometimes, if the seller is co-operative, it may involve taking the item home on 'appro'. Can Pammy's goods withstand such scrutiny? She says viagra will be "part of the work kit", but women are so particular. It's not just about that - let's get psycho-babbly - it's a 'holistic' thing.

And a matter of timing, if you get my drift. How will they know the erogenous zones of each individual customer and not ... waste a good $240?

I like Pam Corkery, and admire her spirit. Recently I read a beautiful piece she wrote in some women's magazine about how she'd lost her rag at a service station attendant when her ATM card was declined, then returned later to apologise. It was an article about manners, and I emailed her to say how much her writing moved me.

Also, her courage in going through rehab, and Alcoholics Anonymous, is an inspiration. One day at a time.

So while I wish her well, I don't think this new venture will flourish beyond the initial successful flush of the reality television show. Why? Because I think the true reality is that men and women do lonely in completely different ways.

I'll get into big trouble for saying this, but I don't believe most women really want "a good rogering" when they're lonely. I think they really want intimacy - and there is a huge difference.

And $240 an hour ain't going to buy you intimacy.