May 27, 2012
Greece's once-thriving sex industry has become the latest victim of the country's debt crisis as Greeks spend less on erotic toys, pornography and titillating underwear.
About 50 people, almost all young men, lined up on Friday as the Athens Erotic Dream - Greece's 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 Greece's 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 country's 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 fair's organizer 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.
"We used to get 20,000-30,000 visitors, but this year I don't know, we'll just have to see," Chrysospathis said.