The short version:
Antonia Murphy is the author of DIRTY CHICK, published in 2015 by Penguin Random House (USA/Canada) and Text Publishing (Australia/New Zealand.) She is also the founder of The Bach, a legal, feminist escort agency. A San Francisco native, she lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her partner and two children.
The long version:
I've been hanging out at the crossroads of feminism and sex work for a long time.
When I was six months old, my mother went to the United Nations Women’s Conference in Mexico City, leaving me with my dad. My father decided this was a good time to attend the Hooker’s Ball at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency, with me swaddled in a blanket in the backseat of his car.
It was 1975. These things happened back then.
San Francisco in the 70s and 80s was full of revolutionaries and poets, civil rights activists and artists. We went on family outings to Gay Pride parades and cheered for the Dykes on Bikes. There were lots of intellectuals and weirdos at our dinner table. This was 100% normal for me.
I was a serious student and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University, with a degree in European History and Comparative Politics. But then things got strange. I bounced from tech jobs (which paid the bills) to theatre gigs (which did not.) I went to art school. I hitched a ride on a sailboat as a yacht chef. I backpacked through Central America.
In 2005 I set sail with my then-husband Peter on a two-year voyage from San Francisco, down to South America, and across the Pacific to New Zealand.
Peter and I had two children, Silas and Miranda. Silas was born with a rare chromosome deletion and intellectual disability. But despite all that heartbreak, we dove into rural New Zealand life with our own little farm and (at one point) 26 different animals. I also made a lot of fruit wine and cheese.
In 2015, my book DIRTY CHICK was published. Soon after, I found myself pregnant to a French guy named Patrice, my marriage collapsed, my youngest son Matisse was born, and I had to figure out how to make enough money to keep the farm and raise a blended family of six kids.
So I started an escort agency.
The Bach grew and thrived until 2019, when my son Silas died suddenly, of a massive epileptic seizure. I sold everything, and Patrice and I moved to France for the year with Miranda and Matisse.
I guess all this sounds a little chaotic and weird, unless you come from a family as unusual as mine. Because here I am now in Auckland, working on two books and a TV show, with two kids and three step-children, dual US/New Zealand passports, and a household that speaks a mashup of English and French, and I think about that six month-old baby in the back of the car at the Hooker’s Ball, and I realise…it couldn’t have turned out any other way.