Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience (striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows).
The term "sex worker" has since spread into much wider use, including in academic publications, by NGOs and labor unions, and by governmental and intergovernmental agencies, such as the World Health Organization.
The term is strongly opposed, however, by many who are morally opposed to the sex industry, such as social conservatives, anti-prostitution feminists, and other prohibitionists.
The term "sex worker" was coined in 1978 by sex worker activist Carol Leigh.
Its use became popularized after publication of the anthology, Sex Work: Writings By Women In The Sex Industry in 1987, edited by Frédérique Delacoste and Priscilla Alexander.
Phone sex operators have sexually-oriented conversations with clients, and do auditive sexual roleplay.
Other sex workers are paid to engage in live sexual performance, such as web cam sex and performers in live sex shows.Many of these studies attempt to use smaller samples of sex workers and pimps in order to extrapolate about larger populations of sex workers.One report on the underground sex trade in the United States used known data on the illegal drug and weapon trades and interviews with sex workers and pimps in order to draw conclusions about the number of sex workers in eight American cities.For example, while pornography is legal in the United States, prostitution is illegal in most parts of the US.However, in other regions of the world, both pornography and prostitution are illegal; in others, both are legal.Many studies struggle to gain demographic information about the prevalence of sex work, as many countries or cities have laws prohibiting prostitution or other sex work.