Questions about the historical use of prostitution services

How has the use of prostitution services evolved historically in North America and Europe?
Compare to the past, what percentage of the male population has used the services of a prostitute? What about the frequency of use for those who do? If there have been sudden permanent changes, when did they occur?
Historically, is it true that sexual practices like fellatio were common among prostitutes but not among non-prostitute women? Were there others?

Was one of the argument against prostitution that non-prostitute women felt like they had to compete with prostitutes? Or that sexual practices like fellatio were dripping into married sexual relations?
I know it’s many questions but if you only have information about some of these aspects, it’s very much welcome.

Here is a site with a good amount of worldwide statistics. Mainly a comparative chart by country, but also a short history for each one. I especially liked this comment: *"Prostitutes in the Lugano area of Switzerland are being trained in the use of defibrillators due to their high number of elderly clients, reports say.

There are currently 38 brothels in the area, largely catering to Italian clients traveling over the border. Following incidents of heart attacks amongst several patrons, including the death of one elderly man reportedly using anti-impotence medication to enliven the experience, defibrillators are now being placed in the sex clubs."*

In general, the services seem to have declined. If you look at the 19th century, there were hundreds of brothels in major US cities (and guides that listed locations, so “the reader could avoid them” :rolleyes:). Brothels are a thing of the past, but it would seem the number of prostitutes has declined. Street prostitutes have given way to call girls.

Up until the 60s, prostitutes were the main way that men could have sex without being married – most unmarried women were unwilling. Robert Klein wrote about going to a prostitute to lose his virginity; this would have to be around 1960. Nearly all American men lose it to a girlfriend. I’ve seen estimates that back in the 40s, 80% of American men had gone to prostitutes; I doubt that number is 20% today.

Well, there was an article on it back in the 70s where hookers were joking that if wives were willing to go down on their husbands, the hookers would be out of business. It may not have been the only reason, but it was one reason.

Never heard of the first. The normalization of fellatio had probably been a factor (and “dripping” is an odd choice of words in this context. :slight_smile: ) Prostitution was always considered a moral issue, not a sexual issue per se: Those against it thought it corrupted young men (not much thought about the corrupting

Every time I see any mention anywhere of the prices for the services under discussion here, I am astonished at how exorbitant the prices are. What percentage of the young male (or any age male) population can afford that? Or is it because only prostitution-for-the-rich-and-famous is the only stuff that ever makes the news?

I had some reason to be aware that the going rate for a 50-minute hour, in a reasonably nice and well-maintained establishment, was around $60 in the mid-1970’s. What would that be adjusted for today? Is that in fact the going rate? The prices I keep seeing seem utterly prohibitive. Are prostitutes pricing themselves out of the market, or just deciding to focus on the big-dollar clients?

Only in the US. In many countries around the world where prostitution is legal, like Australia, Brothels are quite common. I believe this is also the case in quite a few countries in Europe.

For most of the last 500 years sex was risky since there was a good chance of pregnancy and an STD which would be delibatating and at best have a lengthy and difficult recovery period…

Antibiotics and the pill mitigated those risks which meant that women were more willing to have sex then before.

Which reduced demand for prostitutes.

you have any actual evidence or a cite for this? <dubious>

One would think so, right? But apparently not.

When I was living in and around Berkeley, Ca., 1970’s, there were massage studios everywhere. The vast majority of them were, in fact, whorehouses, and it was obvious. You could tell from their display ads in the Yellow Pages: They all showed pictures (just illustrations or simple line drawings, not actual photos usually) of scantily clad “masseuses”, along with obviously risque text. Legit massage studios don’t advertise like that. Some of them had raunchy pictures in their windows too.

I had a friend at the time who wondered aloud on several occasions: What in the world do prostitutes do for a living in Berkeley?

The answer, of course, was: They provide their services to lonely sex-starved males who can’t get it any other way. Duh. You know, the “jerks” and the “Nice Guys™”. Yes, even in 1970’s Berkeley.

Has anything changed between then and now? I recently lived in Modesto, Ca. for a few years. It seemed like there were massage studios in just about every block. “Asian” massage studios are really popular, and if one believes the stereotypes, those are whorehouses. Before that, I lived near Santa Rosa, Ca. – Same thing there (although there are plenty of clearly legit massage studios there as well). Judging by all the indications, business is booming as always.

Well. On penicillin.

Your cite maybe shows that penicillin makes sex less likely to cause unpleasant consequences. It doesn’t show that there has been any corresponding decrease in demand for sex worker services.

I know that the OP is asking about the US and Western Europe, but I’ll comment on Japan anyway.

Despite the image in the West of geisha, they were not really prostitutes, but rather accomplished entertainers. There were separate prostitutes in licensed quarters.

Post WWII, Japan banned prostitution, but defined it only as coital sex. Back in the bubble days of the later 80s and early 90s, there were establishments called soap lands where the women would give the man a bath and then provide a happy finish. Some time in the 2000s, cheaper establishment called “fashion health” would provide manual stimulation.

According to the link above, 37% of men have paid for sex, about twice the rate of the US. That seems right.

Lately, with cell phones and the internet, there are more women offering full services as it’s much harder to catch them than establishments.

There are also deai cafe (meeting cafe) where students, bored housewives and professionals can go there, drink free coffee, tea or soft drinks and read magazines. Men have to pay an entrance fee and go there to meet someone. If he sees someone he likes, he asks for time to talk to her in which they negotiate the service. If the negotiations are successful, the man pays an additional fee and off they go, usually to one of the hourly hotels nearby.

Japanese consistently rank as the lowest of the developed world in the frequency of sex, especially between married couples. As the joke goes, what do you do after sex? The most common response: “Go home to my wife.”

There’s a section in *Freakonomics *about prostitution, based on a study done in Chicago.

IIRC - points were:
The relative price of services, allowing for inflation, has dropped dramatically in the last 100 years or more. This is attributed to more “loosening of mores”, more competition with free.
There is a fairly large contingent of part-timers, women who hop on the bandwagon, so to speak, during busy times.
The more open and public conduct of government has removed the corruption that let brothels get by with a “live and let live” philosophy by law enforcement.

The internet has probably changed the game even more, removing much of the risk and the need for pimps or other protection.

Historically, I suspect brothels were a side effect of bigger cities and commerce - it’s certainly easier to be a prostitute when there’s money circulating - so easier in a setting where people work for money than in a rural place where mostly people raise their own food and a lot less money changes hands.

Prostitution is a layered market, just like restaurants. At the highest end, women are available for evenings or whole weekends, with four- or five-figure prices. In the middle are those with your 50-minute hour. At the bottom, and far more numerous, are street prostitute who provide fast food. Depending on the location and time, they could provide quick sex (I’m tempted to say in-and-out sex) against a wall in an alley or in the back seat of a car. They might have an arrangement with a hotel to get out of sight, but the transaction would be almost as fast. The price for these services was probably around $5 in the 1970s, not much more than a movie.

The traditional brothel also required fast turnover. It was a volume business, like McDonalds, except at the high end. The worst were mining camps, where the women would service, usually orally, as many as 100 men a night.

Prostitution isn’t a thing anymore than any other business is. You can’t say that it is like any one model. It’s always a range, everywhere at every time.

Comparisons are difficult. For one thing there is currently a lot of sex tourism to countries like Thailand, The Philippines and Germany. I’m sure this wasn’t a thing 50 year ago.

In many places in Europe with legal prostitution, you typically see new brothels popping up constantly. In Germany alone they estimate about 200.000 prostitutes that are working there currently. I remember reading a newspaper article a couple of years ago, where the authorities were getting concerned about the number of Spanish twentysomethings that prefered to go to brothels for an evening out (instead of bar or something). This seems to happen in other places as well.

The price thing is already discussed. Standard prices in legal environments (in rich countries) are often around 100 bucks an hour, but you can get quite a bit lower than that as well. Prices that a large part of the populace can easily afford.

Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for a father to take his adolescent son to a lady of the evening for an “education.” Today, I think this is extremely rare, if not extinct. I don’t have a cite for this, but if this were still at least SOMEWHAT prevalent, I’d imagine we’d here about it more in divorce cases and so forth.