Wall Street traders, Rust Belt factory workers, and Silicon Valley programmers may be packing up their cubicles, but “Jane,” a San Francisco–based dominatrix, says business couldn’t be better. The 22-year-old lesbian (who wishes to remain anonymous for legal reasons) has traveled the world performing acts of sadomasochism for four years and says the economic crisis hasn’t left her in a bind. “I haven’t seen a drop-off yet,” she says. Indeed, she’s booked for months to come.
Jane is much like any small-business owner. She maintains a loyal clientele -- mostly, straight men traveling on business -- on whom she can rely for consistent business. She minimizes travel costs by arranging city tours that allow her to see multiple clients in one place. And she keeps up with innovations in the field by learning to use new devices and equipment. Unlike many of her colleagues, she’s never had to take a second job to pay the bills.
Jane charges $500 for two hours of work or $2,500 per day, which yields her between $50,000 and $80,000 a year after taxes. But rather than stocks, she puts her money in investments with locked-in rates (like certificates of deposit), and she spends little on herself. “My leisure expenses are very minimal,” she says.
Unemployed workers sometimes look to the sex industry as a quick and easy way to earn cash, though, meaning greater competition -- and lower prices. But Jane’s not too worried. She became a dominatrix because she wanted to be her own boss, and so far she’s had nothing but success in the industry. “Right now,” she says, “this is working for me.”
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