Sex Still Makes World Go Round

Discussion in 'New York' started by zoulou, Nov 30, 2001.

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  1. zoulou

    zoulou

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    BERLIN (Reuters) - Jessie, a Berlin prostitute, has never been to New York and hasn't a clue where Afghanistan is.

    But the bubbly hooker says her brothel has suffered since September 11 and blames the
    U.S. terror attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the looming recession for shrinking demand.

    "The clients are staying away in droves," said Jessie, 33. "Demand fell 20 percent since the
    terrorism thing. Men don't seem to have as much money for pleasure any more."

    The hijacked airliner attacks on New York and Washington sent after-shocks through
    virtually every walk of life, including the world's oldest profession.

    An informal Reuters survey found sex business booming in some parts of the world -- such
    as Nevada's legal brothels -- but prostitutes in other hot spots such as Amsterdam,
    Germany and Thailand reported a slide in their local sex trade.

    Sex operators in the United States say their customers may be turning to hometown
    hookers to seek comfort from the mental anguish stemming from images of the September
    attacks.

    "People are scared. They want that connection," said Joe Richards, owner of the "Cherry
    Patch" brothel in the Mojave desert 120 km (75 miles) north of Las Vegas -- one of the few
    isolated U.S. regions where prostitution is permitted.

    "Any time a disaster happens, it improves the sex business," Richards said, adding
    turnover rose 30 percent since September.

    "They're spending money they think they might not have a chance to spend in the future."

    But in countries where prostitution is traditionally legal or tolerated, anecdotal reports
    indicate a downturn -- largely because Americans are not traveling abroad as much any
    more.

    The fall is often linked to a dip in travel since September 11, exacerbated by slowing
    economies and recession fears.

    In Amsterdam, where prostitution has been legal since 1815 and scantily clad women sit in
    large windows for inspection, sex workers said they were feeling the pinch.

    "Business has been hurt because there are fewer Americans," said a spokeswoman for the
    Dutch prostitutes' association, Rode Draad (Red Thread).

    But sex is a major industry in Amsterdam and a stronger appetite from local consumers has
    compensated.

    "People turn to comfort in dark times," she added.

    The related erotica industry is suffering as well.

    "Fewer and fewer people are coming to Amsterdam," said a salesman at the ABC
    Videosexshop which sells pornographic videos, lingerie, leather and rubber clothing. "No
    Americans, no Japanese. You just don't see them."

    In Thailand, the Americans are also sorely missed.

    "After the attacks on their cities, the Americans have been afraid to travel and they have
    not shown up here," said Praphan Poomchawsuan, operator of a powerful entertainment
    group in Bangkok's notorious Patpong red-light district.

    He said American tourists had once accounted for half of Patpong visitors but have
    disappeared since September 11.

    In Berlin, a spokeswoman for Hydra, a lobby representing some 400,000 prostitutes in
    Germany, said there were about 1.2 million sex transactions each day before the attacks.

    "Times were better before," she said. "But I think the recession is taking a toll as well.
    Tough economic times usually hit the male libido. They worry about money."

    A Berlin prostitute named Gina, who has more than 15 years experience, said she was sure
    business would pick up again.

    "Men are always interested in sex," she said. "The demand never dies out."

    MEN SEEK COMPANY OF DANCERS

    In related sex industry businesses, there is no clear cut trend. Some establishments report
    an increase in demand by local customers but note that overseas travelers have become
    scarce.

    In New York, where the destruction of the World Trade Center has created an eerie war
    zone feel, emotions still run high.

    Nadia, 24, a dancer at Flashdancers at Times Square since 1998, said in the days after
    September 11 the "gentlemen's club" was overflowing with customers.

    "They thought there was going to be a war here, and they wanted to be near someone,
    they wanted company," she said. "But now it is very slow...people need to be with their
    families."

    Vira, 25, who also dances at Flashdancers, agreed. "Men still come in, but it is sort of
    subdued."

    In Florida, Charles Gianniny, manager of Spice of Life, an adult toys and videos store in Fort
    Lauderdale, said even though tourism to the state had been hit, his business was steady.

    "The sex industry is last hit in a recession because it's based on people's fantasies. It is an
    escape from reality."

    In Paris, the world-famous Moulin Rouge reported a rise of six percent in visits to its
    cabaret shows since the attacks.

    "The number of foreigners has fallen but more French people are coming. They don't want
    to travel," said spokeswoman Fanny Rabasse. "They need a laugh."

    In Rome, Giovanni Fiorelli, 73, who has sold erotic calendars and magazines for over 40
    years, said: "With the war on, our clientele are distracted and not even a calendar is going
    to take their mind off it."

    In Britain, where prostitution is legal but soliciting and pimping outlawed, people are
    staying close to home yet keeping sex toy shops busy.

    Delia Bourne, spokeswoman for the Ann Summers retail chain which sells lingerie and sex
    toys, said business was strong.

    "Sex and fun make the world go around," she said.