Yes, we’re in a recession. And it’s going to get a whole lot worse.
But the main reason I post is to send readers through the Internets to a Grace Undressed-a well-written and in-depth blog by a stripper, which I came across probably via BoingBoing–post on how strippers are massively crunched in the current economic situation. The anecdotal-based point of the post is that less people are going to strip clubs and spending less. Not only is this interesting insight into the adult services industry, but it is a simple and low-level (i.e., no more trickling to be done) example of how much trouble U.S. consumers are in.
On the economies of adult services, I have argued for some time that strippers must be a huge source of U.S. productivity increases (assuming that their incomes correctly make their way into the relevant statistics). Consider the fact that their income is predominately tip based and, unlike waiters and waitresses, not based on a percentage of another good (e.g., food) that can increase in price (given inflation, etc.). Furthermore, the form of currency constrains their income stream. That is, a buck per dance per gent is traditional because you can’t slip coins into a garter belt but there’s only moderate incentive for the viewer to provide more dollars per dance. As a result, strippers probably had a much higher labor value years ago than today.
Because of the diminishing value of their labor (i.e., one dance has been, is, and probably will generate one dollar per viewer), they must work much harder to maintain the same quality of life. This squeeze is why I suspect they are a major contributor to productivity growth.
Of course, this isn’t a robust argument. It’s an analysis of logic with almost no case studies (let alone large-n datasets). Furthermore, people are probably providing more than one dollar per dance, meaning that a stripper’s income is more correlated to inflation/price changes than I make it out to be in this post. Last, the likely emergence and growth of additional services (e.g., VIP rooms, table service, non-sexual escorting) mean that strippers have probably found new more profitable revenue streams that make up for lower margins (just like any other successful business).
In any event, it’s a stimulating issue to think about.