Prostitutes tempt clients with deals
Christchurch prostitutes, hit hard by the economic downturn, have been forced to offer novelty services to lure clients.
Even the oldest profession in the world is not recession-proof, and the city's sex workers are trimming prices and providing special services.
Phebe, who describes herself as a busty blonde, is offering a $50 lunchtime special to attract clients.
"The lunchtime special - $50 for 15 minutes - makes up 90 per cent of my work now because a lot of people are not going to book an hour or half an hour," she said.
"I've also had to drop my prices to bring in the same amount of business. A lot of girls out there are doing things and offering services they wouldn't normally do, but I've just come up with this special and dropped my prices."
Another escort, Loretta, 26, is offering a service called double-trouble to bring in business.
"This is our hook. Now you've got to have a hook or offer something different," she said.
"The service [which costs $80] involves one lady offering full service while another watches. It's a tease."
Loretta said the recession had hit her prices hard.
"I've been working a couple of years and people just don't have the money they used to," she said.
"I used to charge $100 for half an hour and $160 for the full hour. Now I charge $120 for an hour and $80 for half an hour, but no-one pays for the full hour any more.
"Competition is up, too, and there are girls out there offering full service for $40."
The Christchurch co-ordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Anna Reed, said: "The first thing that goes in a recession is discretionary income, and nobody is making much money."
She said there had been reports of prostitutes moving elsewhere to get work. "We have heard of some girls being forced to go to work in Auckland and Wellington."
Not all prostitutes are being hit by the recession. Felicity James, of Felicity's brothel in Lichfield St in central Christchurch, said she had not seen a drop in business.
"We have seen a drop in staff levels here as women opt to work as escorts at home," she said.
"They work their own hours, they have more independence and they have autonomy, but not the protection we can offer.
"Right now I only have 12 girls. Ideally, I'd want 26, but I expect an influx next week when the children go back to school."
James said the recession had not hit her brothel.
"People will always buy food, alcohol, drugs, coffee, and sex. A lot of men are stressed and want a release," she said.
"We haven't been forced to drop our prices. We get about 150 clients on average a week, and this number is staying steady."