In crisis more Russian men want talk, not sex

Sun May 3, 2009 8:31pm EDT
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By Amie Ferris-Rotman and Thomas Peter

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A popular joke among Russian oligarchs has one telling another, "I have bad news, I have lost $5 billion." The second replies, 'Well I have lost $7 billion. But the good news is that whores are back to costing $100.'

It may seem a typically Russian view of the economic crisis -- selling and paying for sex makes up much of Moscow's notorious nightlife, and some "night butterflies" say they are slashing their prices to compete. But they add a new kind of customer has emerged who wants emotional support, not sex.

Adriana, a prostitute in her 30s who works in the flat she shares with her 18-year old son, said her role has evolved to being a shoulder for her customers to cry on: "They complain and many (now) don't come for sex," she said, downing a flute of champagne in a noisy bar and flicking back her jet-black hair.

She recalled a recent experience with a client whose salary had fallen by a third to 40,000 roubles ($1,200) per month: "He stopped after three seconds and suggested we had drinks and talk."

Sex drive and economic prosperity are strongly linked, said British sex expert, columnist and writer Tracey Cox.

"Lots of men define themselves by their jobs and how much money they make... Our libido is definitely affected by times of financial difficulty. Stress is a huge contributor to (its) loss," she told Reuters.

"A prostitute is someone who is basically paid not to judge them for whatever they ask for... she therefore becomes the logical person to talk to."

Though illegal, paying for sex is widely accepted by many Russian men. The eight-laned highways which stretch out of the sprawling capital of 10.5 million teem with prostitutes, some of whom agree demand for sex has fallen.   Continued...

<p>A dancer performs in a nightclub in central Moscow, March 9, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>