Couple bare business all

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They are likely Hamilton’s biggest brothel keepers, with 500 girls on their books in the seven years since they began their foray into the sex industry.

Tattooed, shady characters with underworld connections? Far from it.

She’s the secretary of the school PTA and an active parent at the high-decile country school in the wealthy Tamahere mansion belt where they live, reports the Waikato Times.

Peter and Nikki Matthews have added a swingers club to their brothels (Photo: Waikato Times)
Peter and Nikki Matthews have added a swingers club to their brothels (Photo: Waikato Times)

He’s a well-spoken former musician who until now often waved his hands and muttered words like “property” when new friends asked what they did.

The pair own a small, Cambridge-based software development business, but a growing empire is now headlined by Hamilton’s two best-known brothels, and soon, a private swingers club nestled in a former swanky city eatery.

Calendar Girls owners Peter and Nikki Matthews have confirmed adding California Girls to a stable of businesses many friends have no idea about.

They claim to have fallen into the industry after a boozy dinner party rolled on to town – and unknown to them, up a “dimly lit staircase” into a brothel.

“We got talking to the owner, and it turned out that he had another business for sale. So two weeks later, we owned Calendar Girls,” Peter explains.

“We’d never, ever have gotten into the industry when it was illegal. We had some capital, but we didn’t have anything else on the go. We were looking for something to do and then this opportunity just presented itself. Those first few months were tough. But we just carried on.”

“The place, when we bought it, was a dive,” says Nikki.

“It was horrible. It had been a parlour there for something like 40 years. It was just a mess.”

The rear of the aging building was demolished and rebuilt, designed for the business. They have similar renovation plans for California Girls once they open the new swingers club, in the former Harwood’s on Liverpool St.

The pair have a six-year lease and originally saw it as a potential new home for Calendar Girls when the buildings occupied by it and Biddy Mulligan’s pub on north Victoria St are demolished in the next couple of years.

Three days after taking the lease the chance to buy California Girls came up, “which we weren’t going to turn down, it gave us one and two in Hamilton. So then we had to find something to do with the building,” says Peter.

The country’s largest “swingers” website boasts 53,000 members: 1600 of them call the Waikato home, they say.

The couple don’t expect huge profits from the new club, and will only open two nights a week to start. The established businesses will clearly remain their financial engine room.

The club holds a liquor licence from Wednesday to Sunday, 6pm until 2am.

“If it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else. But we think it probably will.”

There will be no crossover between their paid and “lifestyle” venues, says Peter.

“It would not be good business for us to bring prostitutes in here and get them to hustle for business. They have already paid $80 at the door.”

Occasionally at parties a man will sometimes loudly profess to know Peter. The return of memory is generally followed by a slinking departure, and despite the couple’s success, the tale confirms old stigmas do remain.

That’s despite clients including everyone from freezing workers to judges.

As a result, when it comes to revealing their previously discreet business interests to the public’s harsh stare, the couple are in different spaces.

“It’s just a business,” says Nikki.

But the industry can be a rat’s nest and they’ve been known to help girls get out.

“If somebody doesn’t want to be working in this industry, we absolutely believe that you shouldn’t be in it,” says Nikki.

She holds her head, wondering what the crèche will think. And the school.

“I’m the bloody secretary of the [Parent Teacher Association] for God’s sake,” she blurts.

“This is going to be a shock to our friends. I’m really nervous”.

Their three older children know about the Matthews’ significant sex industry investments, but the two youngest – who they refuse to discuss – do not. They concede losing acquaintances who found out about their business.

“We’re not doing anything wrong. I know some people have a moral issue.

“It doesn’t make us bad, it just makes them a bit judgmental,” says Peter.

“Having got into the sex industry, we’ve discovered it’s a reasonably good business. It has its problems. Some of the people and situations do conform to what the general public might have as a general stereotype of the industry.

“There is an element of that, in terms of drug use, poverty among the girls. But these are not necessarily areas we should be getting involved with.

“These are all grown up people, making their own decisions.”

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