Happily, my dear chum Adam finds much of my prattling about sacred spaces useful, if not exactly on-point. His criticism is an excellent one on the semantics of the thing. When I went a-rummaging through my lexicographical rucksack for a word that adequately covers what I wanted to describe, the nearest thing I could find was “sacred.” The trouble with this choice is that the antonym of “sacred” is “profane”, and the associated mood affiliation problem plagues the word choice.
Look people, no one goes to a crack den to preach the gospel. The errant faithful do go to a crack den to commune. Specialized vice is just as targeted, just as focused as specialized virtue.
So I agree with Adam that “sacred” is a lousy choice of words. What I want is a word that identifies a sense of separation from the mundane. Imagine Maslow’s Pyramid standing before a dark pond. The peak of the pyramid, bearing the inscription “Self-Actualization” is inverted in the reflection, perhaps the hieroglyphs scan as “Self-Abasement”, a corrupted ideal, but an ideal nonetheless. Instead of a rosary, the neck of the subject is encircled in an obedience collar; instead of a cassock, a gimp suit. It ain’t sacred, but neither is it profane. Or maybe it’s profane+, a negative one instead of a zero, so to speak.
As for Adam’s other criticisms, I agree that the existence of a physical location is irrelevant, but the OP was an effort to tease out why it is that strip clubs have unorthodox employment relationships with dancers. The club property itself is somewhat incidental to the value created between the performers and their clients, but time and tradition have appended rights of residual claimancy to land and the property thereon. In this one case (at least) these rights fail to properly reflect either the commercial or the “sacred” (and I’ll keep using this word until a better one occurs to me) transaction at hand.
And for this passage:
When parishioners offer their money to the sacred, they aren’t paying for a service rendered. They are providing support for something that is a crucial part of who they are. This can often be masked by actual services rendered here and there—and the sacred brand of which Sam speaks is inextricably linked with profane objects imbued with its wonder—computers, laptops, media players, smartphones, tablets. But the cult quality that Apple has managed to cash in on is derived from a body of faithful for whom the presence of the shining logo in their lives is a small but important piece of who they are. Apple’s success since the iPhone has actually shrunk the importance of this group—but they’re still out there. Believe me.
Forgive me, dear readers, but I had intended this to be my exact point the whole time. The peak of the pyramid, as well as its dark reflection, yield special value to both buyer and seller that can’t be easily explained by prosaic market valuation techniques alone. That’s why they’re rents and not mere revenue. There’s something intrinsically special about the brand affiliation, about the chemical pleasure, about the joy of transcendence that you don’t obtain with cheap imitators or hollow posturing. You don’t get drunk on the communion wine, and methadone is nothing more than a mock turtle dragon. There are rents in the depths of those dark waters, and that’s exactly why we warn our kids to stay away from the edge.