New York City Sex Work Happens Mostly in Midtown and Murray Hill


Wired has a new in-depth feature on New York City sex workers, wherein a writer studying the profession in the city since 1999 argues that “hustling and streetwalking” have been transformed into a “luxury brand.” Because it’s Wired, the reason for the shift is obviously technology, most notably the internet and cell phones. The resulting graphs, charts and tables — divided by neighborhood, price and more — are fascinating.

Sudhir Venkatesh writes:

I followed 290 women, 170 of whom made enough (at least $30,000) to separate them from streetwalkers. I spent at least 12 months earning their trust, trying not to ask a lot of prying questions. Once they realized I wasn’t a cop or social worker, they usually told me their stories. I focused on financial questions first, because it made them feel validated as workers. How much did you earn this week? What expenses did you have? Do you save any money?

The results indicate that while a “streetwalker” may earn “an average of $75, but her pimp gets a 25 percent cut (30 percent on weekends),” an “upscale agency” will run a client $2,000 for the worker and $2,000 for the agency. Plus, “The client covers expenses.”

Now, due to a crack-down in Times Square and subsequent move indoors, the highest density of sex workers operate out of Murray Hill and north of Midtown, whereas in 1999, it was most concentrated on the Upper East Side and the north section of Times Square. For more sex work minutiae, check out Wired‘s “How Tech Tools Transformed New York’s Sex Trade.” [Via]

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