Lapdance of luxury
Yesterday, a friend and I drove by what is probably Toronto's landmark ''gentlemen's club'' and got into a debate over whether the financial meltdown is good or bad for the business. We've seen conflicting reports.
My theory is, a beer or two at a strip joint, especially those that offer cheap meals to bring in the customers, has got to be a lower-cost way of, um, getting that loving feeling than hitting the ''massage'' parlours or hiring ''escorts.''
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the sex trade, as long as sex workers have the right to ply their trade safely. Too many don't, risking rape, robbery, exploitation, eviction and worse. Of course, this is not exactly what I would like to see women doing but I can't deny that many are in the game because they actually enjoy it.If there's a market for it, and everybody involved is a consenting adult, well, why not?
Especially since this is an area where there is no gender pay gap.
But I digress.
The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines like Hustler.
Employers across the adult entertainment industry say they're seeing an influx of applications from women who, like Brown, are attracted by the promise of flexible schedules and fast cash. Many have college degrees and held white-collar jobs until the economy soured.
"You're seeing a lot more beautiful women who are eligible to do so many other things," said Gus Poulos, general manager of New York City's Sin City gentleman's club. He said he got 85 responses in just one day to a recent job posting on Craigslist.
It's too bad women who might otherwise never dream of going into a peeler palace feel they have to strip to make ends meet. But, since women are already poorly paid, and with so many in the tanking retail sector, I suppose they need to supplement their income in some way.
I just wonder how long the customers will have the cold hard cash to make it worthwhile.
In this economy, "desperate measures are becoming far more acceptable," said Jonathan Alpert, a New York City-based psychotherapist who's had clients who worked in adult entertainment.
For some, dancing is temporary, a way to pay for college loans or other bills. Others say they've found their niche.
Dancers at the upscale Rick's Caberet clubs in New York City and Miami can make $100,000 to $300,000 a year – in cash – even with the economic downturn, club spokesman Allan Priaulx said.
Priaulx said 20 to 30 women a week are applying for jobs at the New York club, double the number of a year ago.
Still, analysts say, the industry isn't immune to the economic recession. Business is down an estimated 30 percent across all segments, including adult films, gentleman's clubs, magazines and novelty shops, said Paul Fishbein, president of AVN Media Network, an adult entertainment company that has a widely distributed trade publication and an award show.
"In the past, people have said this industry is recession-proof," said Eric Wold, director of research for financial services firm Merriman Curhan Ford. "I definitely don't see that; maybe recession-resistant."
Young women financing their education this way is not new.
What is new is the reported competition for these jobs.
Looks like a buyers' market.