Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hookers don’t work the streets anymore.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA--My mom had warned me about the prostitute promotions, but I didn’t get what she was talking about. I assumed they hadn’t realized women were prostitutes at first. What she meant was that short middle aged Mexican men pass out flyer-like cards with numbers you can call to arrange services “in less than 20 minutes.” It was very strange—no talking, they just flicked the stacks of cards so they clicked. click click click click. There were so many of them. I saw scores, often standing in small groups. The tactic surprised me, given that prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. It was out in public the way people promoting clubs often are—here check out this place, free drink—but the presentation reminded me more of the drug dealers on Haight Street and in the park whispering “kind buds” as you pass. Is illicitness a necessary part of the deal? The main thing I wondered though was the economics of all these men doing the street work. Clearly it frees up the hookers to spend more time doing what they’re paid for. But even if all these guys are undocumented and making less than minimum wage, the industry must be raking it in to make it cost effective to have so many live bodies doing personal, but untargeted advertising. I didn’t see a single person take a card. How many sales can they really be making? Enough, which must be a lot, apparently.

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