“Inside Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch: Come for the sex. Stay for the negotiation skills.”

“It is important to study the darkest parts of the economy. We don’t always see the small, important subtleties that make markets work in the conventional economy. Those nuances are often much more apparent in extreme markets, like vice. When it comes to negotiation, what goes on at a brothel offers unique insights into the power dynamics of women asking for what they believe they are worth and what makes some more successful than others. At their request, we used sex workers’ stage names instead of their real names…
Prices are an opaque function of services performed — certain sex acts cost more — and the amount of time the service will take, anywhere between 15 minutes and several days. Prices vary widely depending on the provider and what’s involved. According to Hof, the average party, a quick (less than an hour) purely sexual encounter typically costs about $400. In addition to choosing a woman in the lineup, customers can make an appointment in advance if they are a repeat client or if they see a woman on the website, or on social media, and wish to party with her. But even those transactions must be negotiated in person, by the provider, and at the brothel. Even repeat clients must renegotiate; it is an opportunity to get more money and sell more services. And as one woman named Harley Lane reminded me, even prostitutes face inflation…
The business structure creates an incentive for the brothel to transform a new recruit into a successful businesswoman who can garner media attention and, most importantly, know how to make a deal. Working at the brothel includes extensive training in the art of negotiation…
I asked Galinsky, the Columbia Business School professor, what civilians (which is what the women call non-sex workers) can learn from the brothel. “Power in negotiation comes from two things,” he told me. “Offering options and information.”
The women at the brothel do lots of both. One of the most powerful steps they take is they work together. They train each other, share business and negotiation skills, and bring in other women for three-ways (not appropriate for most jobs, but other forms of collaboration certainly are). Working together and sharing information gives them all more power in negotiation. At one brothel, the women even colluded and established an unofficial price floor. In most jobs, discussing pay with your co-workers is discouraged. Galinksy says it is important to overcome those boundaries. He suggests anonymous pay surveys, if pay discussion is taboo at your workplace.”