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.