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Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.
Organizers of prostitution may be known as pimps (if male) and madams or Mama-san (if female).
Prostitution is one branch of the sex industry, along with pornography, stripping, and erotic dancing.
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession.
Depending on the jurisdiction, prostitution law may deem commercial sex to be legal or illegal.
Although a popular etymology connects "hooker" with Joseph Hooker, a Union general in the American Civil War, the word more likely comes from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan in the 1820s, who came to be referred to as "hookers".Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson writes that these metaphorical usages exist because "the term "prostitute" gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains".