Wednesday, June 17, 2009

'We Have To Be a Lot More Aggressive Now'

Another victim class of the economic downturn.

Just heartbreaking.
It's past midnight in downtown Berlin, and the prostitutes pace in front of the Hackescher Markt's stores. Signs of a slow economy are everywhere — a sportswear store offers 40 percent markdowns, and bars advertise discounted drinks.

Like so many other businesses, Europe's largest legalized prostitution industry is having to adapt to the economic downturn. Customers are fewer or more frugal, competition has increased, and more clubs and brothels are offering discounts to drum up business.

Since late 2008, the number of English and American tourists has dropped and the street dynamic has changed, according to one prostitute in her mid-20s who requested anonymity because she did not want her family to know her profession. She still gets customers, she said, but they no longer pay for the extras.

"We have to be a lot more aggressive now," said the woman, wearing pink jeans and a black corset, who has worked the area for three years. "The customers used to come straight to you. Now they don't ask you as much."

Nevertheless, she said, the prostitutes in the area have been sticking to a set minimum price — about euro80 ($110) for sex.

"If he doesn't pay our prices then he can't go home with me," she said, putting her hands on her hips. "That simple."
If money's tight, you can always go the smorgasbord route.
At the other end of the spectrum is Berlin's Pussy Club bordello, which has branches in Heidelberg and Wuppertal.

It opened in mid-2008 with a focus on the discount-minded customer, offering an "all you can sex" flat-rate. For between euro70 and euro100, depending upon the time of day, customers can enjoy any sexual services with an unlimited number of women. For their work, the women are also paid a flat-rate wage.

"All the girls get a daily wage of euro100 to euro250 ($140 to $347), so they don't have to worry about money, which is good in this working atmosphere," manager Patricia Floreiou said in an e-mailed reply to questions. She noted a steady increase in applications since the Pussy Club's opening, attributing this in part to the bordello's flat-rate salary. "Many women in other clubs aren't earning enough anymore, and we offer steady, secure money."

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