Prostitutes see gold at Olympics

By Andrew Hanon, QMI Agency


Susan Davis of the West Coast Co-operative of Sex Industry Professionals in Vancouver isn't rolling out the welcome mat for prostitutes from out of town. (QMI/Rob Kruyt)

EDMONTON -- Olympic athletes won’t be the only people going for gold in Vancouver next month.

Thousands of prostitutes — including scores from Edmonton — are expected to descend on the West Coast city to cash in on the swelling numbers of fans, media and Olympic employees.

“Cha-ching!” one local escort, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said enthusiastically. “If you know how to work it, it could be huge. You’re damn right.”

But not everyone is as optimistic.

“It’s dead here right now,” says Susan Davis of the West Coast Co-operative of Sex Industry Professionals, which lobbies for the sex trade. “The construction boom is over.

“Those men are a migrant workforce and they’ve moved on.”

She says that the prostitutes who’ve arrived in advance of the Games’ launch on Feb. 12 are taking business away from the ones who live in Vancouver.

“It’s causing a bit of a financial crisis for us,” Davis says. “We’re all relying on the local clientele right now. As more and more (sex) workers come here, our income is being divided even more.”

Davis says that recently she went two days without getting a single call from a client. “Never in my career has that happened before.”

Davis acknowledges that there will be a brief flurry of business while the Olympics are on, but warns any out-of-town escorts to make sure they have a plan in place before heading out there to cash in on it.

“One girl I know came out here from Calgary, thinking she could just find a job at a massage parlour, but no one was hiring. She came without a lot of money in her pocket because she was expecting to be working right away and it just wasn’t there. She got stuck.”

Davis is also worried that escorts working out of their downtown apartments will be cut off from a lot of their regular customers by the Olympic security zones.

“There’s a belief out there that there’s massive amounts of money to be made, but I’m still not completely convinced that’s the case,” she says.

It’s not like a massive business convention, where lots of men come to the city on their own, she said.

“It’s a family event.”

Our local woman, on the other hand, put a notice on an escort message board Monday around 1 p.m. that she was looking for work during the Games. Her first response came about an hour later from an agency interested in hiring her.

“Ta da!” she said with a triumphant laugh.

She says she has plenty of friends to stay with.

“If a girl is experienced in the trade,” she says, “she can network. We’re a very bonded community. We watch out for each other.”

Vancouver clergy are drawing attention to fears that some of the prostitutes working the Olympics will be forced there against their will.

A statement issued by the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops Dialogue warned in a statement that the “profound social ill” of human trafficking “subverts the very essence of the Olympic spirit.”

Meanwhile, the Edmonton police vice section is bracing for an influx of new prostitutes — some of whom will be trafficked — here after the Vancouver Games shut down.

“What we’re most concerned about is all the new faces that Vancouver is going to see during the Olympics,” says Staff. Sgt. John Fiorelli. “What happens after the Olympics are over? What’s going to happen with these women? Are they going to start coming out east? We suspect that they will.”

andrew.hanon@sunmedia.ca

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