The cost of living crisis has hit Britons hard – with prices of food, fuel and even mobile phone tariffs soaring.
But no matter how tough things get, there are still a few luxuries punters can’t do without, according to the UK’s escort agencies.
James Dior, who runs London-based agency Dior Escorts, exclusively told the Daily Star: “Even when times are tough, people would rather cut back on home comforts than not book an escort”.
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The sector is still something of a taboo subject in business circles, so the true scale of its value to the UK economy is often overlooked.
Charles, a director at specialist adult industry marketing agency Adult Creative, told us: “Over the past 10 years we’ve witnessed the effect of Brexit, pandemics, going to war, pulling out of war, and living through recessions [and] cost-of-living crises.
“Time and time again, we’ve been surprised by the resilience of the adult sector.”
He says that online platforms such as OnlyFans and newcomer Social Ikon have shown massive growth – especially over the lockdown years – and believes that adult entertainment businesses are coming increasingly attractive to investors.
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Alexis from Social Ikon added: “We launched Social Ikon, a premium subscription platform during the lockdown in 2019.
“Since then we have grown rapidly. The platform capitalised on the fact nobody was able to leave their house and therefore they turned to online entertainment.
Social Ikon was able to give people the opportunity to earn a significant income at a time that businesses were closing, and the economy was in a decline”.
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OnlyFans has achieved astronomical growth since it was founded by Essex-born CEO Timothy Stokely in 2016.
In 2022, it had a total worth estimated at $18 billion (almost £15 billion), and the platform is continuing to grow
Some $3.2billion of that money has found its way into the pockets of content creators, attracting major celebrities such as Cardi B and Bella Thorne to the platform. Bella’s account reportedly earned her $1million (around £831,000) within 24 hours of going live.
Compulsory age checks for online pornography will affect millions of viewers
Emma from Geordie Girls, an escort agency in the north-east, says that sex work is increasingly seen as a legitimate – and often more lucrative – alternative to “ordinary” jobs.
“In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a big increase in ladies with ‘normal’ jobs come to us about starting a career in escorting,” she told the Daily Star.
“We had a teacher quit her job and earn over £100,000 last year. She said it was the best job she has ever had”.
The scale of the UK adult industry is staggering: UK escort platform Adultwork receives 3 million searches a month and the search term ‘escorts’ attracts an average 100,000 UK-based searches per month.
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Online porn appears to be coming more acceptable, too, especially among the younger generation that grew up online. In a recent poll, a majority of teens and young adults said they thought “not recycling” was more immoral than watching porn.
In a significant social change interactive experiences, such as live cam shows, are increasingly being seen as a socially acceptable phenomenon.
There is little doubt that as more digital-native generations mature into adulthood the social stigma of adult work will evaporate altogether.
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Concerns about younger web users getting access to free – and often psychologically damaging – adult content online have led to calls for legislative crackdowns on online porn.
Age checks on porn sites have been on the back burner in the UK for some time, with legislation introduced as part of the 2017 Digital Economy Act, before being mothballed in 2019 – largely because of potential clashes with data protection rules.
Whether the seemingly recession-proof nature of adult work will persuade future governments to create more sensible laws around porn and escorting is a question that only time can answer.
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