Madam discovers joy in writing

Lily Yang is "madam" of The Cherry Tree Garden brothel. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Alesha Capone

Brothel madam Lily Yang has penned an autobiography detailing her childhood in China and eventual journey to Australia.

Lily – who is madam of The Cherry Tree Garden in Williamstown North – says her book, Take Memories, Leave Footprints, “doesn’t actually dwell too much on being a madam in a brothel”.

Rather, the book details how a young Lily and her family were exiled to a village in far north China to be “rehabilitated” during the Chinese Cultural Revolution before going on to detail her experiences growing to adulthood.

Lily, who lives in Caroline Springs, described writing the book as “a wonderful experience”.

“Writing is a bit like reading a book in reverse – one thing remembered leads to uncovering other unremembered things,” she said. “That was the real joy I found in writing.

“I was lucky, as well, because I had grown up with storytellers, especially my father and an old Buddhist lady in the village when I was around 10 years old. I would sit enchanted by the ‘word paintings’ and the legends of old China and its superstitions.”

Lily has written two previous books, one of which is based on the true story of a young girl in Cambodia who escaped from child sex slavery and gets help from Lily.

Liiy said proceeds from sales of her books go towards the Sunlight Foundation, a charity she established to provide funds to rescue, rehabilitate and educate victims of child sex trafficking gangs in Asia.

Lily said she wanted to “speak out”, on the issue.

“I want to be a voice in my industry that says this is not right and it must stop,” she said.

Lily said she believed what she does as a madam “is fun, necessary and helpful to society”.

She said that people who might not have a positive perception of madams would “be surprised, and pleasantly so, to find that Lily Yang is just the same as everyone else”.