Story transcripts

Queen of the Cross

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reporter: Michael Usher
Producer: Sandra Cleary

Not so long ago, it was hard to tell the cops from the crims on Sydney's notorious vice strip — the Golden Mile.

The woman you’ll meet on Sunday night was both. Kim Hollingsworth started out as a Kings Cross prostitute before fulfilling a lifelong ambition to become a police officer.

Then she went undercover, exposing the bad guys on both sides of the thin blue line. It cost her career. And it could have claimed her life, as well.

Now with the latest instalment of "Underbelly", Kim and that whole sordid era are back in the spotlight.

And, as Michael Usher discovered, she's surprisingly comfortable with having her life up on the screen for everyone to watch and judge.

Read Michael Usher's blog on this story and have your say

Full transcript:

STORY -

MICHAEL USHER: It doesn't get more sleazy, more sinful, than Kings Cross. And right there, in the heart of it all, is Kim Hollingsworth - back on the 'Golden Mile' after a very long time. In the neon heyday of this seedy strip, Kim was the queen around here - a high-class hooker.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I kept a tally of how many people I'd seen, and I was going, "Oh, my God, I'm up to 100 now", and that was really disturbing for me because I just couldn't believe it was happening.

MICHAEL USHER: How many men do you think you've slept with?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Oh, gosh. Well, if there were 100 within a very short space of time, I mean, it must be a matter of thousands.

MICHAEL USHER: Thousands of men, thousand of dollars. Kim was a prostitute in demand. It was the late '80s, and whatever you wanted - sex, drugs or strife - you'd find it in Kings Cross.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Prostitution is a fast-paced lifestyle. The excitement is always go, go, go, go, go. We would run ourselves into the ground, you know, to the point where you had to try and keep your eyes open to keep performing.

MICHAEL USHER: So business was pretty good, I guess?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Business was booming.

MICHAEL USHER: And business was booming for the the notorious Kings Cross Police. Corruption was rife. The local detectives only had to look out their window, from the cop shop here in the heart of the Cross, to see it all - drugs, gambling, brothels. But the boys in blue turned a blind eye. As long as they got their piece of the action. They ruled the Cross?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: They ruled the Cross, definitely. They ruled the street girls on the Cross.

MICHAEL USHER: But there's a remarkable twist in Kim's tale. In spite of all the corruption and dodgy cops she experienced first-hand, believe it or not, she quit prostitution and joined the police force. And it wouldn't be long before Kim was working undercover as a police whistleblower.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I reported corruption. I did the right thing. I didn't survive - but those who did the wrong thing, a lot of them are still there.

MICHAEL USHER: With such a colourful, true-life tale to tell, it's not surprising that Kim is now a central character in the television series 'Underbelly'. Your name, your image, is famous again, notorious again?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Notorious, infamous, yeah.

MICHAEL USHER: Are you comfortable with that?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Hmm, I might be comfortable with it. I don't think the police are, because they felt that their past shouldn't be brought up and thrown in their faces.

MICHAEL USHER: You don't mind seeing yourself portrayed on TV?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: The public have a right to know that this happened. And I hope they watch closely, because they will see what it was like in NSW Police.

MICHAEL USHER: And it all happened?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: It all happened.

MICHAEL USHER: This was the era when Kings Cross flourished as a breeding ground of crime, corruption and charismatic identities. In those days, it was men like George Freeman and Lennie McPherson who ruled. And a new arrival was on the scene - John Ibrahim, who went on to become today's 'King of the Cross'. You would have seen it all?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah. I saw it all, OK, yeah. Just the fights - the blood! There was always blood. Blood spattered everywhere.

MICHAEL USHER: It's 15 years since Kim was last in the Cross, and tonight she's taking us back to where it all began, showing us the real underbelly.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH/DOORMAN: Oh, my God! How you doing? Oh my God! Can I introduce you - or no? Yeah.

MICHAEL USHER: It's a trip down memory lane, and some of the old faces are still around.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I used to work for Roger...come here! I used to work for Roger at Love Machine. Roger was my boss at Love Machine.

MICHAEL USHER: Even after all this time, the doors to these brothels are still open to Kim - for a guided tour, at least. Back to the Love Machine!

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Oh, my gosh, I cant believe this! Yeah, I want to see my room. Oh, my heart is just out here! And I'm getting chills.

MICHAEL USHER: You right?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I hope so.

MICHAEL USHER: Back in the day, Kim was the star in here. Room 1 at the Love Machine was hers.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: After you'd finish the job, you'd have to make the bed look as though nobody had been on it, so you would straighten the sheets up.

MICHAEL USHER: A bit of housekeeping?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Bit of housekeeping, fluff the pillows. Oh, I still remember how to do the towels - fan it out so the bed looks fresh.

MICHAEL USHER: What have we got here?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: This is the Love Machine's bar.

MICHAEL USHER: Now you wouldn't know it, but this was a girl who grew up a self-confessed nerd, the daughter of a country police sergeant. When Kim first came to the Cross she had dreams of following in her father's footsteps and joining the police force. She was 20, in love - and very naive. How did life change so radically for you?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: The first boyfriend. I walked in on him in a motel room in Kings Cross and there were two girls there - a blonde and a brunette - and they were prostitutes and he paid them to make him happy.

('UNDERBELLY') KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Are you already here? Oh my God!

MICHAEL USHER: The cheating boyfriend got mad.

('UNDERBELLY') KIM'S BOYFRIEND: Kim, I wouldn't do any of this with the other women if you weren't such a dud bloody root.

MICHAEL USHER: Kim got even.

('UNDERBELLY') PROSTITUTE: Come with us.

MICHAEL USHER: Alone, broke and desperate, this was Kim's turning point.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I went from, in a matter of months, from a virgin to a prostitute. I remember knocking on the first client's door and thinking, if I knock and go into this motel room, I'm going to come out a prostitute. MELISSA HOLLINGSWORTH: Nothing much has changed.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: No. MELISSA HOLLINGSWORTH: Kebabs.

MICHAEL USHER: It wasn't long before Kim had a new recruit. Life was so good, Kim's little sister Melissa was also seduced by the game.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: The kebab guys still like us. We actually got boob jobs and then we dumped our boyfriends, who were nasty to us, we came to Kings Cross and started making some good money. MELISSA HOLLINGSWORTH: Not sorry about dumping the boyfriends either, they're long gone.

MICHAEL USHER: Not sorry abut the boob job?

MELISSA & KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: (Both) No!

MICHAEL USHER: Not sorry about the dumped boyfriends?

MELISSA & KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: (Both) No! MELISSA HOLLINGSWORTH: They didn't get any benefit.

MICHAEL USHER: Where are we here?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: This is 169 Victoria Street, Kings Cross, which is The Golden Apple.

MICHAEL USHER: Take me down, I'll follow you. After you. It was at this famous brothel, The Golden Apple, where Kim and Melissa first came into contact with corrupt police in Kings Cross. Local cops, unashamedly enjoying all the perks that their job had to offer.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I saw enough that went on here. It was loaded guns on the ground, just carelessly tossed aside because they were busting to get into the spa and relax.

MICHAEL USHER: And the police certainly knew how to have a good time. Kim was soon recruited as their number-one crowd pleaser, stripping at more than 30 private police functions that they liked to call fundraisers, often in front of 300 officers. If you don't mind, could I ask - was it just a strip show?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Oh, no, no, no. I mean, if it were a strip show I don't think they would have hired us. They wanted the goods afterwards. They wanted desert.

MICHAEL USHER: But for all that repulsed her about her clients, ironically, at this time, Kim was desperately trying to get into the Police Academy. Why, after everything you'd been through with them, you still wanted to be one of them?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah, I wanted to be a good one. I mean, I guess I had good role models as a child in that I saw good police, like my father.

MICHAEL USHER: You didn't think they were all bad?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: No, I didn't think they were all bad.

MICHAEL USHER: Her dream came true in 1995, when she was accepted into the Police Academy. This is Kim when we first met her on 60 Minutes, proud to wear the blue uniform.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I couldn't believe it, I was so excited. I just went, yes! Finally my life is going to be what I planned it to be.

MICHAEL USHER: How long did that happiness last?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: It was short-lived happiness because the students and senior police instructors there would make indecent approaches towards me to try and keep me in prostitution.

MICHAEL USHER: So life in the academy was a bit like life in the brothel?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: It was worse!

MICHAEL USHER: Kim joined the NSW force at its most tumultuous time in history. The Wood Royal Commission was blowing police corruption wide open. Kings Cross detective 'Chook' Fowler had just been exposed in a sting by an equally-corrupt cop Trevor Haken. Before long, Kim was also recruited by the Commission to nail a bent detective, on the take from brothels. She named 20 cops linked to the sex industry. Two months later she was sacked.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I was sacked before the ones I blew the whistle on. I don't think the police wanted to give a prostitute credit for naming corrupt police.

MICHAEL USHER: So you went from prostitute to trainee police officer, whistleblower, undercover agent - then where did you end up?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Supposedly witness protection which was a farce, it was a joke.

MICHAEL USHER: What did you end up doing? The Royal Commission officer told me which brothel to go to work in and...

MICHAEL USHER: And you did?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I had to, I had no money.

MICHAEL USHER: For 10 long years she was in and out of court challenging the police force to get her job back. It took a huge toll. Kim slid into depression, and her appearances at court became increasingly bizarre - often turning up with her pet rat.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I wasn't happy at all, I was morbid, depressed, crying all the time, nightmares - huge nightmares. Come on!

MICHAEL USHER: That'S a voice - you can belt it out.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: You have to, to make it carry.

MICHAEL USHER: You couldn't' get MUCH further from Kings Cross, an isolated bush block that's now Kim's backyard.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Come on, come on.

MICHAEL USHER: That's amazing. It's a stampede.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Stampede. They never hit me though. They know who feeds them.

MICHAEL USHER: Today, at 43, Kim lives a quiet rural life.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Have you got a kiss for Kim? Oh, a better kiss please.

MICHAEL USHER: No partner, no children, but certainly not lonely. Life has changed, Kim.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah, hot and sweaty in a different way now.

MICHAEL USHER: Only you can say that, but you're right.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: It's true, yeah.

MICHAEL USHER: Kim's trust and love these days is saved for her animals. And she has no shortage of furry friends. Not entirely comfortable with this.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I think she likes you. Let her go up in there and on your head.

MICHAEL USHER: No, no, no!

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: She can make a little nest up there. She'll be real comfy. Just let her sit there and enjoy herself.

MICHAEL USHER: Kim, get your rat off my head.

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: Don't worry about it, Michael. She's happy up there, we've got to make her happy.

MICHAEL USHER: Few people have seen as much or lived as much as Kim Hollingsworth. She makes no apologies for being a prostitute. Never has done. But she does regret not becoming a cop. What have you learnt?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: I have learnt to believe what goes on behind my back more so than what is said to my face. I have learnt to stand up for myself and to demand a type of respect.

MICHAEL USHER: If you had the chance and you could pull on the blue uniform and serve in the police force, would you?

KIM HOLLINGSWORTH: The reality is, that may never occur, because I'm up against a huge blue wall. And I've been banging my head against that for years. And you know what? You can crack it but I don't think we'll ever knock it down.

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