Greece's Sex Industry Hit Hard by Economic Woes

Bob Johnson

ATHENS, Greece  —  If the country’s debt crisis and recession aren't enough, add a sagging sex industry to Greece’s current economic woes.

A new report says people are spending less on adult movies, toys and sex fairs in the financially troubled country, nearly crippling its adult business.

According to the Telegraph, the recession has shrunk Greece’s biggest sex fair — The Athens Erotic Dream, that used to attract big crowds and plenty of exhibitors — down to a shadow of its former self.

Show organizer George Chrysospathis said the number of exhibitors has fallen by half since 2008 to about a dozen and the crowds are dwindling.

"We used to get 20,000 to 30,000 visitors, but this year I don't know, we'll just have to see," Chrysospathis said.

Greece’s former small, but thriving porn business is also suffering. In its heyday, studios employed about 1,000 people, including actors, photographers and cameramen and many of the productions were shot on the country’s exotic beaches.

But free Internet porn and movies from Eastern European countries took their toll. "Five out of the seven porn stars in Greece are Hungarian," Chrysospathis said.

The report said only one production company could be found at the sex fair hawking a title called “Seduction on Santorini,” aimed at sparking interest because of the connection with one of Greece's most popular tourist islands.

Sex shops have also been hit hard.

The report said that only a quarter of the 300 to 400 sex shops that once existed in Athens have survived the economic crisis, and business looked bleak for sex fair exhibitors.

What makes matters worse is that most sex shops in Greece struggle with a seedy image and are usually located far off the beaten path in rundown areas, making sales that much harder.

"Things look really bad," Donatos Passaris an anxious sex novelty exhibitor said.

Other retailers said they made only about $25 a day at the sex show, claiming that customers are depressed and not concerned about sex, or just can’t afford to buy the luxuries.

New concerns over Greece’s recent inconclusive election and fears about it abandoning the euro have also helped tank the sex business that’s made up largely of small family businesses that live or die on foreign suppliers and are faced with international competition.

"There's not a single wholesaler," Chrysospathis said.

And the booming novelty industry is anything but in the troubled country.

The report said that local makers of erotic underwear have found it difficult to compete with cheaper rivals from China and Turkey.

And a dreaded return to the drachma currency would deal another blow to the already ailing novelty industry. Nearly all of the sex toys sold in Greece are from countries such as Germany or Poland, and a devalued drachma would put them out of reach for most consumers.

“A vibrator that now costs $25 would then cost $62," Passaris said.