Feature

Business columns: Survival tips from the oldest profession

How do hookers deal with a downturn?, asked Sudhir Venkatesh in <em>Slate.com.</em> The same way any small-business owner would.

Sudhir VenkateshSlate.com

How do hookers deal with a downturn? asked Sudhir Venkatesh. The same way any small-business owner would. I have been studying high-end New York sex workers since the late 1990s. Because many of their clients work on Wall Street, sex workers have been affected by the turmoil in the markets, and they’ve had to devise strategies to survive. Just like other small-business owners whose clients are feeling pinched, they’ve focused on retaining customer loyalty and even banded together for mutual support. As management textbooks recommend, successful sex workers take pains to know their customers and anticipate their needs. “Jean,” a 35-year-old prostitute, understands how business reversals can cripple a man’s self-esteem. So she sets out to “make them feel like they can go back out there with their head up.” And like a merchant who extends credit to a loyal but temporarily tapped-out customer, some hookers will give preferred clients “freebies for a few months until they can get back on their feet.” Some sex workers even pool money to create a rainy-day fund. It may be the world’s oldest profession, but it’s still a profession.

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