Sigh of the Times: German Bordello Uses Green Incentives

berlin22-405x303-customBike to work, bike to the workout, and now bike to work it. The world’s oldest profession, once considered recession-resistant, is going green–in Germany at least, and largely out of economic necessity.

The country’s flaccid sex-for-hire industry could follow the example of one flagging bordello in Berlin, the Maison d’Envie (House of Desire) which is offering discounts to customers who pedal their bicycles to the door.

“It’s very difficult to find parking around here, and this option is better for our environment,” says Regina Goetz in an AFP report, a former prostitute who with husband Thomas owns and operates the brothel.

The global economic crisis has slashed the Goetz’ turnover by about one-half in the last year, but the green discount program is proving successful. Under it, 15 minutes in the brothel costs 25 euros ($37) rather than 30 euros ($45). To get the discount clients who come by bike must show their helmet or their padlock key. Those using the bus can show their ticket or monthly pass. They haven’t come up with a way to extend the discount to walkers, however.

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

Quoted in the AFP report, Goetz says the brothel is a “business like any other. In these tight times, we are cutting costs. We’ve binned the tax advisor, reduced the hours of the cleaning lady, and I only buy low-cost cleaning products.”

Indeed, prostitution is big, and legal, business in Germany with some 400,000 employees. Brothels and prostitutes must be registered like normal businesses, otherwise it’s tax evasion. In general police officers are not interested in the clients, but if you’re game bring a photo ID, such as a copy of your passport, with you.

It’s definitely a business with ups and downs, especially in dysfunctional economic times. It also adds a different take on the definition of corporate sustainability. The House of Desire ‘s eco-discount is a win-win incentive all around: biking to a favorite sex spot is great foreplay, so to speak, if done correctly; it helps the environment by reducing pollutant emissions; and it saves gas, meaning more money and energy available for, well, you know.

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

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