Sex workers in parts of the country are turning to "straight" jobs to boost their income due to a drop in the number of clients.
As a result of the economic downturn many are being forced out of the industry because they can earn more in other jobs, according to industry representatives.
In Wellington the number of clients had decreased and sex workers were struggling to pay their bills, said New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) Catherine Healy.
Many were turning to "straight jobs" where they could make more money, she said.
"It sounds funny but it's certainly a situation we come across from time to time."
More [sex workers] are finding their clients drop away because they don't have the disposable income. It's been affected through the recession," she said.
Some sex workers were still doing "extremely well" and earning several hundred dollars a night, but they were the minority, said Ms Healy.
Several of those struggling to make ends meet found it hard to leave the industry because they were holding onto the false hope of a Pretty Woman dream coming true: "There may not be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."
Client numbers remained steady in Auckland but there was a lot of competition for work, as sex workers rivalled entertainment establishments for business, said Auckland NZPC regional manager Annah Pickering.
Many held down two or three different jobs, which some needed to pay their bills, Ms Pickering said.
"If times are quiet, regular clients are their bread and butter."
Others took on the extra roles to "top up their lifestyle".
Tauranga sex workers had been picking up extra work outside the industry in the past six months, with some working up to 60 hours a week combining sex work with second jobs such as cleaning, said NZPC community liaison officer Gina Davies.
"The economic downturn has affected the industry. I've been in the sex industry for 25 years and I've never seen it as quiet as this."
One worker with 15 years in the industry said prostitutes could no longer earn "thousands of dollars".
"They'd be lucky if they get $50 to $25 a night," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.
The woman, who works in a local parlour and wanted to remain anonymous, said fewer men were spending and if they did, they chose to go to women working from home because they were cheaper.
"Whereas previously you might get four or five jobs a night, you're lucky to get one job over three nights," she said.
Another woman Tina, who works privately, said work had been slowing down since Christmas.
Owner of Corporate Angels in Tauranga and Rotorua Allan Coombes disagreed, saying there was no shortage in male clients and no shortage in women looking for work.
His business was "busier than ever" he said