Meet Tony Abbott's sex worker nemesis

HENRIETTA COOK
Last updated 19:43 22/05/2014
gloria sex worker
Fairfax Media

FORTHRIGHT: Gloria, the sex worker and pensioner who surprised Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

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She is known as Gloria, the grandmother telephone sex worker whose talkback call with the Prime Minister, and the wink it evoked, triggered a storm of controversy.

Her real name is Judith Power and she is a long-time feminist activist and anarchist but insists she has never been a member of a political party, even though Liberal Party twitter accounts claim she is an ALP branch secretary.

An ALP spokesperson said Ms Power had never been a member.

The 67-year-old from Warburton, Melbourne, did not hold back in her interview with Fairfax on Thursday, saying the Prime Minister was as sleazy as some of her callers.

"He looks like what some of my clients sound like," she said, of the wink and smile he gave as Ms Power revealed she worked as a telephone sex worker to make ends meet.

Ms Power said she decided to phone ABC talkback radio on Wednesday after "seething for weeks" about the Abbott government.

She has a range of illnesses including emphysema and was particularly incensed about their new AU$7 GP visit fee, which was revealed in the budget.

The grandmother of three has a distinct, raspy voice and said the controversy has not been good for business. She suspects some of her clients may have recognised her voice and is uncomfortable with the fact her real name has been revealed in social media.

She began working on the sex line three years ago after losing her long-term cleaning job.

"I couldn't find any other work at the time. I saw an ad in the local paper and needed work so I thought I'd give it a try and virtually started straight away."

She receives 50 cents a minute and says the average call lasts 2 minutes.

Her clients come from across Australia and New Zealand and include isolated, single farmers, and before the mining boom ended, lots of men working in Western Australia.

She also provide phone sex services to disabled people, and young people coming home from nightclubs on a Sunday morning.

"Some of them do ring in because I'm 67. One of them is a granny line and they ring in because I'm an older woman."

She said while sometimes the work is funny and interesting, it is mostly boring.

In the last fortnight she has made AU$84, which she has put towards her rent.

But she had no idea her conversation with the Prime Minister was going to go viral.

"I couldn't believe that someone in charge of a country could look like that. It is really sleazy, it is as sleazy as some of the people who ring me up," she said of Mr Abbott's wink.

She said she is pleased the PM's bat of an eyelid has received so much attention.

"I was a catalyst for him showing himself for what he is, which is sleazy and a misogynist."

Her phone has been beeping incessantly since the drama with messages of congratulations from friends and family.

"I've received messages saying I was a warrior queen, go mum, you really stuck it at him."

While the grandmother's call to the Prime Minister has gone viral, Ms Power has not been able to view the #winkgate controversy because she does not have the internet at the moment. On Thursday she went to the local library in the hope of using one of their communal computers, but unfortunately they were all booked out by locals doing genealogy searches.

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Ms Power said if former prime minister Julia Gillard was answering talkback calls she would have given her just as hard a time over her changes to the single parenting payment.

"It didn't affect me personally but I thought it was a disgusting thing to do to vulnerable people."

She suffered a heart attack around three years ago, has arthritis, and emphysema from years of smoking.

When asked to describe her financial situation, Ms Power says "it's like walking along the edge of a precipice".

She said she lives on AU$200 a week after rent and can never afford new clothes.

- The Age

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