Economic slowdown hits the world's oldest profession

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Looks like the expression "sex sells" may need to be rethought in light of the current slowdown.

Brothel owners around the world are complaining that people feeling the pinch economically are not in the mood to be . . . well, you know. Monika Heitmann works for a support network for prostitutes in Bremen, Germany, summed it up nicely: "If customers can't even afford to spend money on housing, food and cars, then how can we expect them to spend money on sex?"

Business is down in brothels in Australia where one prostitute is quoted in a local paper as saying she was forced to become more entrepreneurial, because "all of the
parlours are deadly quiet." Some are hoping that their business will be "stimulated" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's economic stimulus plan.

In Nevada, where prostitution is legal in some counties, business has dropped off. Brothel owners are being forced to give away gas cards to customers who drive out to their rural locations. State officials are considering levying an excise tax of $5 on the customers of prostitutes, a proposal that has outraged brothel owner Dennis Hof whose business is featured on the HBO series "Cathouse."

Like every other business, Nevada's brothels are trying to weather the economic downturn. Bob Fisher, a spokesman for the Chicken Ranch brothel told the Daily Finance that the industry is being hurt by the decline in business in tourism and convention business in Las Vegas.

"Las Vegas is not an ordinary town," he said. "Most of the business (at the brothels) does not come from local people."

The prostitutes at the Chicken Ranch are independent contractors who set their own prices. Like all service providers, they have to be sensitive to the changing nature of the markets.

"Some might throw in a few extra services," Fisher said.

To be clear, seeing a decline in brothels where workers (particularly children) are exploited is a very good thing, But if there was not a demand for these services, no one would offer them. They don't call it the world's oldest profession for nothing.
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