Satisfaction is back with a few on and off-screen changes at the 232 brothel, writes Kylie Miller
EVEN in the sun it’s an unmistakably winter’s day; a chilly breeze blows in from Port Phillip Bay as the temperature creeps slowly towards 15 degrees.
So it is a surprise to walk into the balmy confines of the cavernous Docklands studio where 50 or so production crew work in short sleeves.
For them it will always be summer — or at least for the 13 weeks they are employed on the second series of Showtime’s drama series Satisfaction.
‘‘One of the challenges of shooting this series was that we were shooting in the middle of winter,’’ says series creator and co-producer Roger Simpson.
‘‘As well as losing light early, it was freezing cold. The show is about sex so most of the time they have their clothes off!’’
The best available heating, along with a constant supply of fluffy robes and polar fleece, keeps the actors toasty between scenes.
But there’s no sign of these homely comforts today. A long-limbed extra draped in a silky gown languishes on a quilted leopard-print armchair.
Another totters past on skyscraper high silver stilettos, shucking off her robe to reveal a tiny satin garment that barely covers her modesty.
Also back are Diana Glenn (Chloe), Alison Whyte (Lauren), Bojana Novakovic (Tippi), Peta Sergeant (Heather), Madeleine West (Mel) playing sex workers and Kestie Morassi (Natalie) as the madam of brothel 232, with her own secret fetish. Sullivan Stapleton plays Chloe’s lover, Josh, and McLeod’s Daughters star Dustin Clare joins the cast as Mel’s brother Sean.
Glenn recalls she was under no illusions when she auditioned for the role of Chloe.
‘‘The producers didn’t pull any punches,’’ she says.
‘‘They were very clear about the fact that the show would have sex and full-frontal nudity and they were clear that if you weren’t comfortable with that, not to bother auditioning.’’
Glenn was impressed by the quality of scripts and intrigued enough by the concept to stick with Satisfaction, even when the second audition called for the actors to turn up in their underwear.
‘‘I know my agent was very protective, but I thought I needed to know why it was so important that we do this (in underwear),’’ she says.
‘‘I told the producers: ‘If you’re interested in having hot chicks walk around with not much on then I’m not interested in doing that sort of project’.’’
But the producers gave a clear response — while nudity and sex aren’t the focus of the program, it was impossible to contemplate doing a show about sex workers and not show a glimpse of what it means to be a prostitute.
‘‘I think we are having a little more fun in this season,’’ says story producer Jo Martino.
‘‘With the first series you have got all the pressure. All you can do is back your instincts and hope you have got it right.’’
The addition of Dustin Clare, with guest star Jacqui Weaver as Mel’s mother, Gillian, introduced new possibilities.
‘‘That’s a great dynamic, that family group,’’ Simpson says.
‘‘We learn why Mel is a sex worker and why she embraces it so wholeheartedly.’’
Series two opens with tragedy and change— a cliffhanger from the first series is resolved, the brothel’s ownership is up for grabs and the lives of the women are in disarray.
Behind the scenes there also has been change, with the drama forced to move location when construction of the Westgate Freeway extension cost them access to the Melbourne nightclub Eve, where series one was filmed.
‘‘Because the look of the show was key to the success of the first series, we absolutely wanted to maintain 232,’’ says co-producer Andy Walker.
‘‘The brothel itself was almost like a seventh character in the show so we replicated the 232 that we had created at Eve.’’
The interior design, with its lush Florence Broadhurst wallpaper and reproduction designer furniture, remains, but the structure has changed.
While initially expensive, Walker says the shift proved advantageous, giving them more freedom.
‘‘Now, for example, Nat has an office,’’ he says.
‘‘There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a bar, reception, office space and pool room. We also have a shower.’’
While the reach of the show was until recently limited to viewers with access to premium pay television channel Showcase (season one is now available on DVD), actor Alison Whyte says she is as well recognised for playing Lauren as she is for her roles in other series, including Frontline and Good Guys Bad Guys.
‘‘I live in a very small country town and it’s really interesting the number of people who watch it and are just crazy for it,’’ she says.
Working girls: Diana Glenn says she was impressed by the quality of scripts of Satisfaction, which required a new set between series.