Economy Driving Many Job-seekers into Adult Entertainment

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Despite a recent spate of mainstream articles noting the declining fortunes of the adult entertainment industry, the number of people seeking employment sanctuary in the business continues to rise, perhaps a sign that the porn biz is a facilitator of career dreams as well as sexual fantasies.

But while the odds of succeeding in porn are as steep as in any business, the barrier to entry is admittedly often much lower, and the allure of easy money selling sex in one form or another continues to be a powerful draw. What is different is the fact that people who would not have considered such a move now are.

An article in The Tennessean Monday illustrates the trend. In Nashville alone, the paper reports, the number of people who “applied for or renewed a permit necessary to work in an adult entertainment club or adult bookstore in Nashville reached 330 in September, compared to about 300 this time last year. While that number may not sound like a big increase, it comes as some clubs have shut down and the ones that remain are actually seeing fewer customers.

“Across the country,” the article continues, “there is anecdotal evidence that the number of people entering sex industry work—legal and illegal—is on the rise as joblessness continues, said Bernadette Barton, an associate professor of sociology and women's studies at Morehead State University in Kentucky who specializes in the study of sexuality.”

The Tennessean also visited local strip clubs for the article, in the process finding a former real estate agent, a former dog groomer and Iraq war veterans—all of whom said they were driven into the business because of the economy.

"For people willing to look,” Barton added, “it tells you something about the cost of living, what kind of jobs and what kind of pay may be readily available to women."

But it isn’t just women who are trying to find work in adult. The paper also spoke with a man named Cole Whitfield, a former freelance travel writer and porn reviewer who last year opened the only strip club in Tennessee that features male dancers, the best of whom can take home $500 to $600 a night.

"We have people come in pretty much every day looking for work," he told the paper. "A lot of them are people who may not have that much in the way of education and need to earn a living. We're happy to give them that chance."