German Brothels Going Green

It seems everyone wants to jump on the ‘going green’ bandwagon, even part of Berlin’s red-light scene is going green.

One bordello, hoping to stave off falling demand in the economic crisis, has begun offering discounts to customers who pedal bicycles to the door.

“It’s very difficult to find parking around here, and this option is better for our environment,” said Thomas Goetz, who owns the brothel Maison d’Envie, or House of Desire.

Local residents in Prenzlauer Berg — a part of former East Berlin now home to scores of trendy boutiques, restaurants and clubs — had staunchly supported the Green party in recent elections and have welcomed the bordello’s offer to emphasize the environment.

The bordellos in the capital of Germany, where prostitution is legal, have seen business suffer with the global financial crisis. Patrons have become more frugal, and there are fewer potential customers coming to the city for business trips and conferences.

But Maison d’Envie has seen its business begin to return since it began offering the 5 euro ($7.50) discount in July, Goetz said.

To qualify, customers must show the receptionist either a bicycle padlock key or proof they used public transit to get to the neighborhood. That knocks the price for 45 minutes in a room, for example, to 65 euros from 70 euros.

Those who arrive on foot, however, are out of luck.

“We haven’t found a way for people to prove they have walked here,” Goetz explained.

Other brothels have tried different incentives to cope with the economic downturn. One Berlin bordello offered a flat-rate for an unlimited time before officials’ concerns over prostitutes’ rights and cleanliness in the club forced them to rescind the offer.

The 450,000 prostitutes working in Germany, some 10,000 of whom are in Berlin, have the same legal rights and social benefits as people in other professions.