Skip to comments.Greek sex industry battered by economic storm
Posted on 05/27/2012 6:27:54 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
Greece's once-thriving sex industry has become the latest victim of the debt crisis as Greeks spend less on erotic toys, pornography and titillating underwear.
About 50 people, almost all young men, lined up on Friday as the Athens Erotic Dream - the country's biggest sex fair - opened its gates in a nondescript building squeezed against a highway on the outskirts of the capital.
The annual show attracted big crowds when it opened in 2008, at the height of the economic bubble. But interest has wilted alongside the economy, mired in its fifth consecutive year of recession.
The austerity measures that have been adopted as part of the country's international bailout deal have led to record unemployment, while wage cuts and tax hikes have throttled consumer spending.
The sex industry is feeling the hit. The number of exhibitors has fallen by half since 2008 to about a dozen, said the fair's organiser George Chrysospathis - a grey-bearded, corpulent man whose jovial manner changes quickly if he spots anyone who has failed to pay the 15-euro entry fee.
"We used to get 20,000-30,000 visitors, but this year I don't know, we'll just have to see," Chrysospathis said.
Only a quarter of the 300 to 400 sex shops that once existed in Athens have survived the crisis, and business looked bleak for those who brought their wares to the sex fair.
"Things look really bad, buddy," said stall holder Donatos Passaris, 38, standing in front of a long bench of vibrators, lotions and other items.
Shoppers at the stands were few and Passaris brushed off questions quickly for fear of losing a rare customer.
"We're making just 20 euros a day, if at all," said Marianna Lemnarou, another retailer. "Some customers just don't feel like having sex - others can't afford to buy our stuff in the crisis."
The inconclusive general election on May 6, has worsened matters. "Since the vote, business has completely tanked," Lemnarou said.
The troubles of the country's sex and pornography trade echo those plaguing its wider economy.
The industry largely consists of small family businesses that depend entirely on foreign suppliers and face tough competition from abroad. "There's not a single wholesaler," Chrysospathis said.
Unlike other western European countries, where sex shops can be found in central avenues and shopping streets, Greek sex shops have failed to go upmarket and struggle to shake off their seedy image.
Almost all are in ugly concrete blocks or perched on top of car washes or fast-food joints in rundown areas of town.
Just as other manufacturers have suffered from soaring wage costs since the country joined the euro, local makers of erotic underwear have found it difficult to compete with cheaper rivals abroad.
"The Chinese and the Turks are killing us," said Lefteris Papadopoulos, 55, who offers discounted hot pants, garters and stockings for 5 to 10 euros apiece.
Appealing to customers' patriotism, he has called his stand "Products Made in Greece", with plastic Greek flags stuck on the shelves.
Greece was once home to a small but successful pornography production industry that employed about 1,000 people, including actors, photographers and cameramen.
In the 1980s, sex films were usually shot on remote, sandy beaches on some of the country's many islands and dubbed into English for export.
But much of that scene has disappeared after local producers were undercut by free internet pornography and movies from Eastern European countries. "Five out of the seven porn stars in Greece are Hungarian," Chrysospathis said.
Only one company is left at the fair to promote its latest production. With an eye to the export market, the movie is called "Seduction on Santorini" - in a nod to one of Greece's most popular tourist islands.
Yet not everyone is gloomy. Antigone Koi, a 33-year old U.S.-trained psychologist, said she found a successful niche two years ago by offering pole dancing lessons to women - and most recently also to men.
"Only a tiny minority take classes to become strippers," she said.
But a return to the drachma currency - feared by many - would deal the industry a further setback. Almost all sex toys sold in Greece are imported from countries such as Germany or Poland, and a devalued drachma would make them unaffordable.
"A vibrator that now costs 20 euros would then cost 50," said Passaris.
Satire is dead. The truth is too absurd.
Face it: they are screwed.
If I were sure they washed their hands.
It is a slow day in a little Greek village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a 100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the 100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the 100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the 100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the 100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the 100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the 100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the 100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.
If the competition from abroad is too stiff they need to find a niche to fill.
No - the inn keeper got screwed by the prostitute. Everyone else received something of value for services rendered.
My Big Fat Greek Gelding ;o)
I guess they jumped the shark.
Sounds like they are hard up.
“Antigone Koi, a 33-year old U.S.-trained psychologist, said she found a successful niche two years ago by offering pole dancing lessons to women - and most recently also to men.”
Well, we have a female named Antigone, whose last name is that of an ornamental goldfish, who was a psych major in the USA. Not surprisingly, she teaches pole dancing.
Would make a great film.
I always wondered where those beautiful beaches and rocky cliffs and azure seas as setting for foreign porn were set
Usually white stucco homes
Blonde tanned girls
Swarthy Giancarlo Gianni looking men
Always figured Capetown
Group scenes FMMM stuff
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