Years have gone by since the internet became widespread, and life without it has become truly unthinkable.
The spread of the internet has also had a tremendous impact on the sex industry. The explosive increase of available pornography has been particularly influential. Information posted on the internet spreads in the blink of an eye. One consequence of this is that pornographic films, which used to be accessible only to enthusiasts, can now easily be viewed online by young people.
That means an increasing number of young people quickly become familiar with sex, and no longer have such a keen interest in the sex industry. Internet pornography has caused a lot of damage to the sex industry.
However, prostitutes have found ways to use the internet to their advantage. Just as escort services have outstripped brothels, prostitutes are also using social networks and the like to find clients.
Fewer physical locations means fewer chance customers for the sex industry
Brothels used to be easy to find, situated on street corners. It was not uncommon for people to visit them on the way home after an evening of drinking with colleagues or senior employees.
However, since 2000, there has been a movement towards beautification of townscapes (also referred to as “cleanup campaigns”). Brothels with shady signs were easy targets for these kinds of campaigns.
The Kabukichō district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, was particularly hard-hit by “cleanups”. Its streets were once lined with brothels, but now they have all but disappeared.
This situation gave rise to an increasing number of sex businesses that operate without a physical location. Escort-type sex businesses are generally referred to as “delivery health” (or “deriheru”) in Japan.
Prostitutes working in delivery health services wait for a client to contact them, and then meet the client at a nearby love hotel or his house. Then they perform sexual services there.
One problem with this business model is that it does not bring in any of the aforementioned “chance customers”. Most clients of delivery health services do extensive research before contacting a prostitute. It has become very rare for anyone to contact a delivery health service for the very first time as a drunken spur-of-the-moment decision.
Vying for the patronage of repeat customers
With the number of chance customers being so low, prostitutes focus their efforts on retaining their repeat customers. A repeat customer is a patron who frequently calls for the services of the same prostitute.
For prostitutes, retaining repeat customers means that they can earn a steady income. However, whether a client becomes a repeat customer depends on the prostitute’s skills.
With a chance customer, a prostitute will not lose anything if the service she gives is a little impersonal. Turning such a client into a repeat customer, however, requires a serious level of dedication.
In any case, the first order of business for a prostitute is to make potential clients aware that she even exists. No matter how skilled she is, no one will call upon her if potential clients have no idea what she can do.
Moreover, in the delivery health business, clients tend to form attachments to a particular woman rather than to a particular brothel. Suddenly, women’s individual business skills become much more important than before.
Prostitutes turn to the internet to market themselves. Social networks are particularly popular for this kind of activity.
The women try to entice clients by making their availability widely known, and publish details about their private lives in order make favorable impressions with potential clients.
There are also prostitutes who exchange email addresses with their clients. Booking a prostitute through her personal email address is called “princess booking”. This system lets clients enjoy the feeling of being in a pretend relationship, which means they will come back more often.
Prostitutes who become very popular through their businesses are treated almost like pop stars. Pop stars whose hand you can go shake are popular in Japan to begin with. In a way, these prostitutes are pop stars that you can go and have sex with.
Delivery health services boomed in Japan after various cleanup campaigns, and have now developed into a new kind of business thanks to the internet. This business model is also changing who can be a prostitute, since it requires women to have an aptitude for some things that they did not strictly need before.