The economy, not Tinder, is escorting brothels to the brink

The economy, not Tinder, is escorting brothels to the brink

Calm down, concerned Brisbane brothel owners. You've got bigger problems than Tinder.

Yes, the hook-up app might well have cost you some customers. Still, it's more likely the city's horndogs aren't enjoying a complimentary adult beverage in your stylish and elegant waiting lounges as often as they once might have because they're busted-arse broke.

High living costs and dire employment prospects are the real enemies of brothels.

High living costs and dire employment prospects are the real enemies of brothels.

Photo: Tanya Lake

They're too busy working a second or even third shift driving for Uber or Deliveroo just to make ends meet. When rent and groceries and the power bill chew up 130 per cent of your take-home pay, finding another couple of hundred to get the yoghurt cannon polished up is probably asking a bit much.

Also, with an ageing population, who's got the energy?

Joan Leeds, licensee of the premier sophisticated and seductiful Viper Room, told Brisbane Times this week that her business was being undercut by the internet through dating sites and apps like Tinder.


"Nobody wants to acknowledge it but it's true," she said. "You only have to jump on the internet to see what sort of sites are out there."

This is true. I jumped on to the internet and saw the Viper Room's website which looks as though it fell through a rupture in the time-space continuum from an alternate internet where MySpace is still the biggest thing since hyper-colour T-shirts.

Leeds complains of seeing no growth in her business for the past four years which does track with the growth of Tinder, but it more closely matches the end of the mining boom and the collapse of a super cycle for high-paying blue-collar jobs.

Blokes earning a 150-grand a year flying in and out of the diggings to drive trucks can afford to visit the Viper Room. Blokes earning 10 or 12 bucks an hour driving their own car for Uber? Not so much. And Uber's plan, of course, is to do away with human drivers altogether in the future.

This is the real long-term technological threat to the girls of the Viper Room, not the cannibalisation of their market share by software, but the broad-scale destruction of employment itself. Many of the factory jobs that have been lost in the last generation weren't exported to China. They were automated away. The next 20 years will see the same thing happen to white-collar jobs. In retail, administration, and even in the lower levels of professions such as law. Even sports writers are being replaced by code.

It's possible, in a way, that sex workers are actually in one of the few jobs that can't be automated away; not for a long time yet. Not until sexbot technology undergoes its own revolution.

We've strayed a long way from the original premise of this blog, which was to write some cruel jokes about The Viper Room's terrible website, but perhaps it's worth following the train of thought to it's natural conclusion.

If the relentless pursuit of "shareholder value" eventually destroys the economic prospects of 90 per cent of the working-age population, who will be left to buy anything?

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