Brothels cut prices to beat the recession

German prostitutes are offering discounts, loyalty cards and 'extras'

It has not taken long for the global financial crisis to affect the world's oldest profession in Germany.

In one of the few countries where prostitution is legal, the industry has responded with an economic stimulus package of its own: modern marketing tools, rebates, discounts and gimmicks to boost falling demand.

Some brothels have cut prices or added free promotions, while others have introduced all-inclusive flat-rate fees. Free shuttle buses, discounts for seniors and taxi drivers, as well as "day passes" are among marketing strategies designed to keep business going.

"Times are tough for us too," said Karin Ahrens, who manages the Yes, Sir brothel in Hanover. Revenue had dropped by 30 per cent at her establishment, she said, while turnover had fallen by as much as 50 per cent at other clubs. "We're definitely feeling the crisis. Clients are being tight with their money. They're afraid. You can't charge for the extras any more and there is pressure to cut prices."

Germany has about 400,000 professional prostitutes. In 2002, legislation allowed prostitutes to advertise and enter into formal labour contracts. It opened the way for them to get health insurance, previously refused if they listed their true profession.

Annual revenues are about £12.3bn, according to an estimate by the Verdi services union. Taxes on prostitution are an important source of income for some cities. Prostitution is also legal and regulated in the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, in some parts of Australia, and the US state of Nevada.

Berlin's Pussy Club has attracted media attention with its headline-grabbing "flat rate" – a €70 admission charge for unlimited food, drink and sex between 10am and 4pm. "You've got to come up with creative solutions these days," said club manager Stefan, who requested his surname not be published. "We're feeling the economic crisis, too, even though business has, fortunately, been more or less OK for us so far." Stefan, who runs other establishments in Heidelberg and Wuppertal besides the Berlin club, said the flat rate had helped to keep the 30 women working in each location fully employed. Other novel ideas include loyalty cards, group sex parties, and rebates for golf players. Hamburg's GeizHaus is especially proud of its discount €38.50 price.

Anke Christiansen, manager of the GeizHaus, said the effects of the economic crisis were clear. "The regular customers who used to come by two or three times a week are only coming by once or twice a week now." A client, who gave his name as Pascal, said: "Naturally, we're all feeling the effects of the crisis." He added that he could no longer afford his usual two or three visits a week. Günter Krull, manager of the FKK-Villa in Hanover, agreed: "The girls are complaining, too, because business is bad and I worry that it's all going to get even worse."

Ecki Krumeich, the manager of the upmarket Artemis Club in Berlin, said he had resisted pressure to cut prices, although senior citizens and taxi drivers already get a 50 per cent discount on Sundays and Mondays. "Our philosophy is we provide an important service and even in a recession there are some things people won't do without," said Mr Krumeich. "Other downmarket places might cut prices but we decided we won't do that."

Stephanie Klee, a prostitute in Berlin and former leader of the German association of sex workers, said that even if some luxury brothels were weathering the storm, many more were struggling. "If the consumer electronics shop comes out with rebates and special promotions, why shouldn't we try the same thing?" she said. While she might have had five or six clients per day a year ago, she added, that had fallen to one or even none.

Some suggested that more women were turning to prostitution to make ends meet. "More and more women are moonlighting on the weekends," said Ms Ahrens. "They're not able to get by with their main jobs and are in pretty dire straits."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam