Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images
Atlanta was recently named the number one city for sex trade and trafficking in a federal study. This report was conducted by Washington D.C.’s Urban Institute for the U.S. Justice Department. The study compared the sex trade industry in eight major American cities and found that Atlanta had the largest sex trade between 2003 and 2007. Atlanta profited $290 million over this five year span, which is more than double what the other cities in the study had earned.
This reminds me of my first few years in Atlanta, while living underneath a female escort who was a single mother in my apartment complex in Sandy Springs. Of course, moving from Louisiana, I was interested in hearing more about what this young lady did in her “profession” since I had never heard of it before. I asked questions and babysat her son when I could so I can earn extra money. Surprisingly, she made a really good living being an escort and even stated “I don’t have sex on most of my escort dates.”
From time to time, I wonder what happened to that young lady and her son. She had moved away before I did and I never had a chance to find out how to keep in touch with her.
Atlanta is well known for its prostitution and female entertainers in and near the adult nightclub industry. Many events and conventions bring people to our city with lots of time and money to exhaust, which brings business to the escort industry. Some escorts charge more than $1,000 per hour. An Atlanta “pimp” that the researchers interviewed made, on average, about $33,000 a week, according to a WSB story. That is over $1 million a year.
With knowledge of the information above, I must ask the question “is sex that bad?” I am sure many thoughts come to mind when I ask this question, but more questions come to my mind. I definitely don’t condone the sex trade business or sex trafficking either, but we must admit that the sex industry exists and is a very lucrative business. Are there positive benefits to this industry? Metro Atlanta’s exotic and nude clubs generate $240 million annually–more than the city’s three major sports teams combined. The adult-entertainment industry is currently a major economic engine in Atlanta. While city and development officials prefer not to talk about this publicly, Atlanta’s erotic economy has long been a major financial force in the city that helps draw conventioneers and “high-rolling” celebrities alike, according to Atlanta Journal Constitution. Would-be dancers apply for a $350 permit, which involves an extensive background check to work in one of the city’s 19 clubs. Atlanta police say that this is due to the over 10% unemployment rate in Georgia. Also, more college students, single mothers, health and office professionals, and even a few age-defying grandmothers are open to this industry as a way to pay for mortgages, car payments and groceries.
A local club owner stated that, “you can use the industry one of two ways — as a stepping stone or tombstone; usually, the industry is a “pass-through” so women can go on to bigger and better things.” A 21-year-old single mother, who is a dancer, estimates earning $50,000 after paying a nightly fee to the club, tips to DJs, and the “house mother.” She states that “most of us work a day job too now.” Dancers who could once make $5,000 in a single evening say those nights are now increasingly rare due to the economy. Those women and men that don’t make this industry a “stepping stone,” usually benefit from therapy and counseling services, which is where I can.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet many of us still reject the thought of counseling. Therapy can be an effective treatment for mental and emotional problems. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a trained professional can provide healing and emotional support.