Literary Bodice Rippers For a Good Cause: Viennese Sex Hotline to Help Library

A novel idea for municipal fundraising involves an Austrian actress reading from works of erotic literature.

For the benefit of lonely people who hide with old books in the rear stacks -- or anyone who likes literate smut -- Vienna City Hall now runs an "Eros-hotline" to benefit its main library.

Through May callers can pay €0.39 (53 US cents) per minute to hear an actress read from classic and modern erotic literature. Anne Bennent, an Austrian stage and film star, reads passages from the library's so-called "Secreta" collection of erotic fiction from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Callers will hear hot and heavy passages from German-language writers like Hans Carl Artmann, Annemarie Weber and Ferdinand Lasalle; or writers in German translation like Anas Nin.

"So far 158 people have phoned up," Vienna Library spokeswoman Suzie Wong told an Austrian news agency on Monday. "They've spent around 660 minutes on the phone."

The hotline has been in operation since April 4. The idea is to raise money for an expansion and remodelling of the city's main public library.

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