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Greek sex industry is the latest victim of debt crisis

Greeces once-thriving sex industry has become the latest victim of the countrys debt crisis as Greeks spend less on erotic toys, pornography and titillating underwear, Reuters reported.

About 50 people, almost all young men, lined up on Friday as the Athens Erotic Dream - Greeces biggest sex fair - opened its gates in a nondescript building squeezed against a highway on the outskirts of the capital.

The annual show attracted big crowds when it opened in 2008, at the height of Greeces debt-fuelled economic bubble. But interest has wilted alongside the Greek economy, mired in its fifth consecutive year of recession.

The austerity measures Greece adopted as part of the countrys international bailout deal have led to record unemployment, while wage cuts and tax hikes have throttled consumer spending.

The sex industry is feeling the hit. The number of exhibitors has fallen by half since 2008 to about a dozen, said the fairs organiser George Chrysospathis - a grey-bearded, corpulent man whose jovial manner changes quickly if he spots anyone who has failed to pay the 15-euro entry fee.

Only a quarter of the 300 to 400 sex shops that once existed in Athens have survived the crisis, and business looked bleak for those who brought their wares to the sex fair.

An inconclusive general election on May 6, which plunged Greece into fresh political turmoil and fanned fears that the country might leave the euro, has worsened matters

Unlike other western European countries, where sex shops can be found in central avenues and shopping streets, Greek sex shops have failed to go upmarket and struggle to shake off their seedy image.

Almost all are in ugly concrete blocks or perched on top of car washes or fast-food joints in rundown areas of town.

Just as other manufacturers have suffered from soaring wage costs since Greece joined the euro, local makers of erotic underwear have found it difficult to compete with cheaper rivals abroad.

Greece was once home to a small but successful pornography production industry that employed about 1,000 people, including actors, photographers and cameramen.

In the 1980s, sex films were usually shot on remote, sandy beaches on some of the countrys many islands and dubbed into English for export.
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