HARD TIMES: Sex for The Price of a Sandwich and a Soda

October 5, 2015

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. They also add that a new kind of customer has emerged who wants emotional support, not sex.

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 it's loss,” she said. “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.”

Pay levels for Moscow’s prostitutes vary widely, but many say they can eke out a decent living, earning at least US$2,000 a month dealing with several men a night. A small elite charges thousands of dollars per session.

Marina, 26, who offers sex through her own Web site, said she was now offering an all-night special at 6,000 roubles, a 30 percent discount on pre-crisis prices. Men also have ample anecdotal evidence that women from the provinces where unemployment is high are coming to Moscow and St Petersburg to sell sex, driving prices further down.

A trucker said girls new to the trade were offering oral sex in small countryside towns for a mere 300 roubles — a little more than the cost of a sandwich and a coke.

Adriana has cut her prices by 500 roubles an hour to 2,000 roubles — the same charged by the girls on the highway and the lowest girls in Moscow are willing to go to.

“People who came three times a week suddenly don’t visit at all,” said Adriana, adding that this was the biggest dip in customers she has seen since she started the job a decade ago.