• A high-paid escort says she's had to switch to online videos and phone sex, increasing her working hours while reducing her income by half
  • Strip clubs are suing the federal government for blocking them from taking part in the SBA paycheck protection program
  • A recent report notes sex workers often have inadequate savings and rarely qualify for government aid

Sex industry workers say they are particularly hard it by the coronavirus pandemic, with many forced to choose between practicing their chosen occupation or facing reduced incomes to stay healthy.

E.B. Cotenord, a $500 an hour escort, told the Chicago Tribune she had to switch her business model to subscription video and phone sex, forcing her to put in 70-hour weeks but reducing her income by half.

“It’s a really rough transition,” she said.

Mistress Vivian Grey, a self-described Chicago dominatrix whose services do not include sex, told the Tribune she sees her what she does as a form of therapy and is providing her services over the internet but is still seeing “one or two people a week” in person. She said though some longtime clients have sent her gifts, her income has been cut in half as well.

“To be honest, I think [online] is a fine substitute but it does not replace the real thing,” Mistress Mara, another Chicago dominatrix, told the Tribune, adding she has given up all in-person encounters, fearing someone could have coronavirus but not show symptoms.

“It’s kind of like NutraSweet when you’re used to honey. I much prefer human contact and the conversations. It’s very difficult to have a cerebral dialogue with someone when it’s like, ‘Gee, your time is up for that $2.99-a-minute call.’”

Florida dominatrix MsKitty Black, who said she had been laid off earlier this year from her job in chronic-disease prevention management, called the closing of the Broward County dungeon Command Performance “the end of an era for me.”

“That place closing – it was really hard,” she told Miami New Times.

Adult night clubs have complained the Small Business Administration shut them out of paycheck protection loans because of a longstanding rule that excludes live performances that are “prurient sexual [in] nature” from SBA loans.

“This is not an adult entertainment issue,” Luke Lirot, a Florida attorney who represents the Admiral Theater in Chicago, which filed suit May 8, told the Chicago Tribune. “This a guy that sweeps the floor that’s not getting a paycheck issue.”

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday struck down the SBA restriction in a Milwaukee case.

In Nevada, madams have been working on a brothel reopening blueprint, which would include temperature checks, face masks and limiting the number of women available to service clients. Rooms also are to be sanitized between encounters once the state allows them to reopen.

“Once everything has been cleaned and sanitized, we’ll put a seal on the door,” Sheri’s Ranch Madam Dena told KSNV, Las Vegas. “It would be the customer and the girl who have to break that seal, so they know it has been done and there is no question.”

Alice Little, a legal prostitute at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, said in a blog post reopening brothels presents a whole host of issues.

“I’m certain that wearing masks will generally become the “new normal” in the common areas of a legal brothel, but what about in the bedroom? Each individual brothel sex worker is an independent contractor that sets her own rates for services, and sets her own rules in her boudoir. Although face coverings may end up being be optional for customers in the common areas of the brothel, most sex workers may require their customers to wear masks during sex. For many brothel patrons, this mask-wearing rule could be a bummer or even a deal-breaker,” she said.

A recent report by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe indicated, sex workers are being particularly hard hit economically because of the pandemic, noting few have adequate savings and rarely benefit from government response and recovery plans.

Bernie Bowen-Thomson, who heads up the Wales StreetLife project that helps women trapped in prostitution called the situation “heartbreaking” because selling sex is their only source of income. One woman told the BBC men still keep asking her if she does meet-ups.

“When I say 'no' they just say, 'Please, it'll only take a few minutes.' But in those few minutes, they could still give you the virus,” she said.

In Germany, lawmakers are taking the opportunity to consider a permanent ban on brothels as the country begins to open back up, fearing prostitutes could become “superspreaders.”

“Sexual activities are not compatible with social distancing measures," 16 lawmakers said in a letter to the premiers of 16 German states.