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Eager Ecdysiasts Dance Through Downturn

Plus, call-girl compassion.

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Even as Wall Street was collapsing last week, the strip clubs that cater to corporate types were still packed. On Tuesday night, all twenty VIP suites were filled at Rick’s Cabaret, on West 33rd Street, and in the main room strippers doled out a steady diet of lap dances and neck massages. “I was giving a back rub to some guy earlier tonight,” said Margo, a three-year vet. “I told him he had some knots in his neck. He was like, ‘Yeah, I work at Lehman.’ ” Columbia sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, who studies the city’s sex-worker industry, warns that the clubs will soon see less business.Fifty to 60 percent of their client base, if not more, is finance guys,” he says. But high-end call girls, he argues, will keep busy. “Those girls specialize in taking care of their clients’ emotional needs and ‘wellness’—listening to their problems, conversing,” he says. “Forty percent of the time, they’re not even consummating.”

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