V for Vixen

December 18th, 2008
Laura Roberts
lroberts@hour.ca

Even the world’s oldest profession might not escape 2008’s economic crunch

Bad economy, bad sex?

With endless talk of recession and layoffs, we’re all well aware that the economy is in the toilet. Some claim there are certain “recession-proof” jobs, sex work being one of them, but after a recent slew of sex journalism layoffs and resignations (including Christie Hefner’s decision to step down from her top spot at Playboy and the firing of Tristan Taormino from her nine-year-long position at the Village Voice), one really has to wonder if sex-related jobs are as recession-proof as previously thought.

Granted, writing about sex isn’t sex work, per se, but if even the strippers are feeling the pinch as Wall Street money for lap dances dwindles, where’s a sex journalist to turn for racy stories? Porn producers are also finding themselves hard-up for cash these days – lately interviews with even the most hardcore crowd read like transcripts from their business meetings. Instead of talking about their latest gonzo porn adventures, they’re pontificating on crappy revenues and blaming the increasingly competitive market on free, Net-based amateur videos.

Where has the sex in the sex industry gone?

Wired reported back in July that while a tanking economy has historically been good for “vice” products like booze, tobacco and sex, our current situation is screwing those that screw for their daily bread. In porn, as in most industries these days, it’s all about innovation. While traditionally produced porn’s sales are suffering due to increased Internet competition, they still haven’t overhauled their methods of delivery to the sex-addled consumer. This would involve changing their source of income from outright purchases of DVDs to rentals, or even to taking smaller fees for the consumer’s right to stream or download videos.

As the Wired piece points out, in both porn and the auto industry a reliance on oil-based products results in negative impacts on profit. As transportation fees climb with the price of gas and increased costs for the materials used to create the DVDs themselves (which are also oil-based), is it any wonder that those who have adopted new technology and methods of reaching consumers are feeling more financially secure?

But it’s not all hookers and blow for the masters of new technology. Bloggers, for example, are often the first to get the boot at troubled media companies. Not necessarily because their web content isn’t valuable, but because the companies view them as expendable – companies aren’t making money from their websites, so can’t justify the expense of Internet-only employees. Strange, when you think about it: Online employees should be helping companies reduce their expenses since they don’t typically take up costly office space or receive benefits like health care and won’t swipe all the free doughnuts and toilet paper. Additionally, Internet-savvy employees are exactly the people who could help ailing companies reach the new audiences they seek to attract, so seriously, WTF?

It’s enough to make a girl turn to high-priced escorting, another supposedly recession-proof job. Of course, if you’re not already catering to the special needs of a high-roller, it’s unlikely you’d be able to land one to keep you in the style to which you’ve become accustomed – the crappy economic climate has deemed your services a superfluous expense. However, some claim that hiring a pricey courtesan for a few romps a week (plus her various fees for lingerie, spas, wining and dining) is still cheaper than marriage and divorce, so certain types of sex work will keep plugging away no matter what the economy is up to.

Perhaps most disheartening is the fact that depressed economic times are bad for everyone’s sex lives. It’s not only gold-diggers who need to worry about their oral skills, but everyone who’s nervous about making their rent or mortgage payments. Money troubles, and the associated tension and anxiety, tend to kill the mood for most people, but add to that an unending sense of doom and gloom? Well, that’s fatal for fucking.

But, wait, there’s an upside to the decline: Nerve recently posted “10 Reasons the Recession Will Rock Your Love Life,” pointing out ways in which the slumping economy can actually benefit those of us who perpetually face money troubles. The number one reason? You’ll have to read the article to find out for yourself, but among the points listed are that cheap dates will finally become fashionable, “romantic” gestures will be replaced by more kinky ones, and (my favourite) “library-sex will make a comeback.” Since we’re already in a recession, might as well go do some “research” in the stacks today.

http://www.hour.ca/columns/vixen.aspx?iIDArticle=16276

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