Coronavirus and the Club: Part 2 - Where's the $$$ At?
Let’s start with what this is and isn’t. It IS a little bit of information on the state of the US and global economy, and how that’s translating into the sex work industry.
It is NOT a dismissal of the very real human effect of this virus on the safety, happiness, and life of the individuals who have been struck by it.
A lot of these economic reports seem not to mention this – that behind every number and statistic are billions of us, encountering this thing from up close and afar – and that more important than any number is our shared humanity and empathy. Please consider these factors when evaluating the economic impact.
If you're reading this section though, you want to know more about the $$$.
I won’t cushion it for you.
This one could get bad.
As put by Ian Goldin, an economist and a professor at the University of Oxford:
“How bad could this get? Breaks in supply chains, factory closings and worker quarantines have disrupted supplies. Restrictions on hospitality and travel, and fears regarding contagion have hit demand. Growth is being dragged down and could turn negative in a range of economies from Germany to China to the United States. The crippling of retail and consumer businesses could quickly escalate into bankruptcies, the downgrading of corporate debt and impairment of the balance sheets of banks.”
In other words, it could get more serious than 2008 by a long shot. But it’s important to note that
We are NOT there- not even close.
Even while the stock market has been taking a plunge, both the Chinese and US governments have been hard at work stimulating their respective economies – and even with the increasing travel bans, the flow of goods between countries is not likely to be stopped anytime soon.
There are lots of steps between now and a global, long-term recession- and many different paths that national and international organizations could take to slow down this thing- and its long-term effects on the economy.
There’s also a ton of unknowns, which means a lot of potential different outcomes in the long run.
Right now the economy is going through a dip - we don't know if that will translate into a full recession, and no matter how many articles and opinions are out there, the truth is no one else is 100% sure about what's coming next either.
In this section, we’re going to stick to the facts of what’s happening inside and outside of clubs – and how this may affect our industry in the short and long-run.
Before Reading On:
Take a second to breathe. Do a little yoga. Meditate for a few minutes- whatever gets you relaxed. Some of these predictions will sound scary and overwhelming. Especially if all your financial ducks aren’t in a row right now, it’s easy to assume the worst-case scenario.
But please consider:
- News outlets are notoriously good at making the worst-case scenario seem like the most likely – it’s how they get clicks. That doesn’t mean the worst-case scenario is the only potential scenario.
- A recession is not a collapse: this isn’t Mad Max or Zombieland stuff – many of us have lived through other recessions (2008 is the most recent one, and here we all are), and we will again. It may get tough, but we are a long, long way away from War Boys and seed hoarding.
Social isolation policies, shutdowns, and supermarket empty shelves can make this time feel like an eery film; but we're a far cry from a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
- Things change quickly: for better or worse, we will adjust. You are smart, you’re adaptable, and you’re going to make it through this. Do not let this take over. These are only predictions and guesstimates- it’s what you do with them that matters.
All that said, we’re likely facing some tougher times than usual. The global economy is seeing a big effect from the combination of less travel, disrupted supply chains, and less spending. People are staying home, making less things, and buying only essentials – and this isn’t just a US thing – it’s worldwide.
While individual countries are trying their best to stay afloat, so far there hasn’t been a coherent international response to this thing. So, we’re likely looking forward to a downturn of at least a few months – if not the rest of 2020.  
Even if the current spread of the virus slows down quickly, the economic effects of this slowdown will likely be around for the near future- both in the slowdown of customers visiting clubs or service providers, and in the reduced disposable income of customers who may have lost money to the market downturns, reduced wages, and who may be more cautious with their money going forward.
Consequences for Our Industry
While so far there hasn’t been one unified response to the coronavirus by clubs and by service providers (far from it; reports coming in from entertainers verge from “business as usual” to “club is shutdown”), if other national responses to the coronavirus set any example, we’re likely due for closed clubs, limited customers, and lean times in what is traditionally one of the busiest times around the country.
And yes, I know that it’s not fun to hear or fun to think about. This isn’t coming from an abstract “everything is scary right now” fear, though. The facts support that we may be going into a period of reduced income potential – especially for industry members who rely exclusively on going to communal spaces for income. Here’s the reality:
- Sh*t is closing down: work-travel, conferences, schools, universities, festivals, concerts, workplaces, all of the sports – they’re closing for business until we know what we’re dealing with. If you’re in a major city and haven’t seen shutdowns yet, you’re in the minority. These closures are going to affect our business- period. Limited travel means less customers. Limited events will affect our customer base.
- People are scared: it’s not just the shutdowns. We don’t know what we’re dealing with, and it shows. Many supermarkets are missing basics like toilet paper, water, and basic food staples. People are huddling down (with government encouragement – the federal government is basically telling everyone to stay home and stop the spread of this thing). Hand sanitizer is all but gone. This grown up is spraying his child with Lysol:
Basically, things are all out of whack. That doesn’t mean you should be in full panic mode too (more on this in the next article), but it does mean we should all be planning accordingly.
- Communal setting sex-work will be especially affected: compared to other forms of sex work, parlors and strip clubs will likely see the biggest hit. With remote work, there is still work to be done even if social distancing measures come into play. With one-on-one work, as long as the provider and the customer are both in good health, there is lower risk of transmission and thus higher likelihood of appointments. In group environments, there’s less chance of controlling or preventing transmission – we know that, and so do customers. Throw on local and state mandates against meeting up in large groups, and we may be looking at a large slowdown or even a full (temporary) stop to income.
- Sex workers will be affected differently- unfortunately, the members of our community who have been struggling the most will see the biggest impact of this event. For service providers who may already be struggling to cover expenses, who don't have an emergency fund, or who have dependents relying on them, this situation has bigger risks, and may pose tough choices about when and how much to work. 
How long is this for? When will it be back to business as usual?
I wish I knew. Right now, no one does.
What I do know is that this is not the end of the world. But I won’t sugarcoat it –depending on how this thing plays out, we may all be tightening our belts for the next few months.
That said, this is not the time to fall into panic, anger, or hopelessness. There’s still a ton we can do during this time to care for our businesses and ourselves—as one of my favorite movies puts it:
Nothing is fucked, dude.
I don’t have all the answers- but making some space for all of us to share ideas never hurts – and when we work together, things get done.
If you haven't yet, and are wondering what this Coronavirus thing is all about, check out Coronavirus and the Club: Part 1- Toilet Paper Panic, State(s) of Emergency, and "Isn't It Just the Flu?"
And if you're looking for more information about what may coming next, make sure you check out: “Coronavirus and the Club: Adapting to New Conditions” for tips, information, and a general brainstorming session on how we can get creative and work together to get through this time.
And, if you're looking for some squeaky clean analysis of what this could play out like economically, check this article out.