The expenses associated with running a prostitution business are numerous and complicated, according to a fascinating new report from the Urban Institute on the economics of sex work in U.S. cities. Imprisoned former pimps told researchers that they spent much of their revenue on gasoline, expensive cars (rented and purchased), housing, clothing, grooming, advertising, and more. Many said legal fees were a part of the business, too. One even reported keeping an attorney on retainer. About 14 percent said they provided their employees with condoms. (The bars in the graph above do not add up to 100 percent, because they show the number of pimps in the survey who reported spending on each category, not the total amount spent.)
In many ways, pimping is like any other business. The costs of energy, of real estate, of communicating with clients, or of dealing with the legal system are costs that most firms incur.
Yet the report also reveals disturbingly how pimping is unlike other businesses, where employees’ relationship with firms is largely pecuniary and is not a result of emotional dependency. While there are surely many women who choose to enter the illegal sex industry solely for entirely defensible reasons, the pimps in the survey described how they manipulated their employees into working for them, either by feigning romantic interest or by exploiting their psychological weaknesses.
Click below for other details from the report.