Peace is good for business. Some business.

Russell Turpin deafbox@hotmail.com
Fri, 30 Nov 2001 19:46:57 +0000


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


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