Control Tower

Dirty Sexy Money

  • comments (17)
  • Print

Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research—otherwise known as the National Bureau of No Shit, Sherlock—officially confirmed the U.S. is indeed in a recession. It's the second recession on George W. Bush's watch. Kudos to Republicans, the "Party of Business." Please leave before we're all selling apples on the sidewalk.

There are two schools of thought about how a recession affects the sex industry. The rational view is that business should tank. We're a luxury item, right? And if there's no play money in the budget, well, there's always a bottle of hand lotion and free online porn.

But it's not just about an orgasm. People under stress crave pleasure and relief, and for a lot of men, a woman who can make harsh reality go away for an hour is worth cutting corners for. Thus, you'll hear it said that sex work is actually a recession-proof business.

Reality lies somewhere in between. I've noticed some changes, but I've worked through economic downturns before and been fine, and I'll handle this one too. To get a wider perspective, though, I asked some independent Seattle escorts if business has been down recently.

"Absolutely," said Alana. "I am offering specials with a much greater frequency than I ever have. And, God, I hate specials."

Natasha, who offers options like role-play and sensual massage in addition to traditional sex, said some of her regulars have vanished. "One was in commercial real estate. I gave him a session [on credit] and never heard from him again. That sucks. Some of my weekly guys are now monthly."

Jessica, who does sensual bodywork, is holding the line. "Some clients have asked me if I would give them a discount. I don't, and I've found that somehow they come up with the extra $20. I get calls where the first question is 'What kind of special do you have today?' Those morons, I won't see them, even if I have an opening."

Still, Jessica admits she's booking fewer clients than she'd like.

So our industry does feel the economic pain. However, we usually stay afloat, even in tough times. As with any business, it's good client relationships that are key.

Paige: "I'm doing fewer appointments overall, but they're tending to be for longer times. I get fewer tips, but [the clients] actually seem to be happier to be there, like it's a nice escape."

Lynne: "New clients are looking for special rates, but oddly enough, my [regular] clients do not want a special—when I offer them a special rate, they don't take me up on it and leave my regular fee anyway."

Alana: "For the most part, they're incredibly gracious, and I do still receive tips. Recession-proof? I'd say cyclical."

Natasha remarked in closing, "I find it interesting that I'm embarrassed to admit a less-than-stellar business income, like it's somehow reflective of my service. Which it isn't."

Don't you feel bad, Natasha—the people who should be embarrassed are in Washington, D.C. recommended


Comments (17) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Please take the time to watch Nina Hartley's movie "Nina Hartley's Guide to Erotic Massage". Language matters! The terms "sensual massage" and "sensual bodywork" are redundant, ridiculous, and incredibly insulting to nonerotic massage practitioners. I hate you.
Posted by Brian on December 10, 2008 at 2:30 PM · Report this
BOOM! Tagged by the PC police!
Posted by James Early on December 10, 2008 at 3:47 PM · Report this
to Brian:
Uh, I don't see the redundancy here. I don't think either term could be mistaken for therapeutic or holistic massage/bodywork, whether you call it "erotic" or "sensual." Sensual involves the physical senses, especially with a pleasurable emphasis.…
But good luck getting people to change their word usage by calling them names and declaring you hate them. That's always a great way to get people on your side. :)
Posted by Scribbles on December 10, 2008 at 8:42 PM · Report this
Oh, Brian FYI. Many sensual massage practitioners have formal massage training. They just happened to skilled in more than one area of massage.
Posted by Syd on December 11, 2008 at 1:53 AM · Report this
Interesting column! I especially liked the way it closes, that a drop in business during bad times is not a referendum on the provider. It's a nice reality check for folks in all types of business.

Brian, don't shoot the reporter. If Natasha calls what she does "sensual massage" and Jessica calls it "sensual bodywork" and MM describes that, she is only quoting her sources.
Posted by veggiegodess on December 11, 2008 at 8:07 AM · Report this
Reality check re economy: GDP fell in the final qtr. of 2000 (Clinton's term) and the 2nd qtr. of 2001 (residual effects of Clinton's term). Thus, although it may fit your template to tag Bush with that "recession," it's inaccurate.
Posted by economite on December 11, 2008 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Somehow I doubt that Matisse has ever given discounts, but that's just me.
Posted by redheadedbitch on December 11, 2008 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Redheaded, you are wrong about that. True, the Mistress has never gone 'on sale' but she gives much more of her time and energy when her clients express their needs, but more often its when she perceives things that aren't being requested. Ive seen her in/out of work sessions, watched her interactions with her clients, peers, and in the general community for over 10 years now and can tell you the woman has more integrity than 99.9% of the population. She gives her clients more than she charges for ... and more than you can possibly know...
Posted by Jae on December 11, 2008 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Glad you've been happy with the services received Joe.
Posted by red on December 11, 2008 at 5:20 PM · Report this
Jae is right -- the Mistress is very professional and does a great job of giving her clients a quality experience....
Posted by eric on December 12, 2008 at 1:09 AM · Report this
Somebody's been listening to Stephanie Miller...
Posted by Rachel on December 13, 2008 at 1:10 PM · Report this
I'm no economist, but it was my understanding that the real effects of this recession would take some time to really hit people off Wallstreet. I think it's a bit early to say how hard the sex industry will really be hit by this.
Posted by Dharma Dude on December 14, 2008 at 6:32 PM · Report this
yeah, DD, that's what I hear too--and from an economist. Growth might not return for years, perhaps more than a decade...

Tt'll be interesting to see how society shifts and changes if the economist I heard is right. I'll bet sex workers will be about as affected as any retailer of luxury or even small luxury goods (upscale coffee shops, book stores)
Posted by hanging around with depressing types on December 14, 2008 at 8:01 PM · Report this

According to the NBER, the last recession began in March 2001 under Bush. There were no recessions during the Clinton years.
Posted by Nutso on December 16, 2008 at 12:02 PM · Report this
MM may be good with clients, but does anyone else think she wrote the "quotes" herself? Something about the article feels fake.
Posted by The Professor on December 16, 2008 at 1:10 PM · Report this
No they're not made up. I saw where she asked for interviews on a escort message board and a bunch of girls answered. I know who one of those girls is.
Posted by missy on December 16, 2008 at 11:33 PM · Report this
Actaully a recession comes after a large growth cycle which we just went throw. It was one of the largest growth cycles globally in our history and certainly not sustainable. The 1st recession (on Bush's watch)in 01 was the shortest recession on record and came after the fake growth period from Y2K. remember the tech Bubble. That was on Clintons watch. If this current recession had of hit us 6 months later would you say that was on Obamas watch?

Posted by pmasu21 on December 17, 2008 at 2:39 PM · Report this

Add a comment