By Selina Marx
As a business model, it's a win-win formula: Two potential partners set out to profit from a mutual transaction. That must be how the three business students from the University of Mannheim in southwestern Germany, who call themselves Oskar, Christopher and Julius, imagined things to be when they decided to offer their services by creating what could best be described as a free brothel. They offer stressed-out, female students uncomplicated and anonymous one-night stands.
As future marketing experts, the students know that business ideas with at least a pseudo-philosophical foundation are often the ones that are best received. They call their project Bib:Love -- a reference to the first letters of the German word Bibliothek, meaning library -- and the slogans which they have plastered on posters around the university's campus promise "Good Grades through Good Sex." The young men claim that their project is about emancipation in a broader sense and that their initiative should be recognized as more than a mere coital campaign.
"We are focusing on female students in particular, because they generally come out badly after one-night stands," says 21-year-old Christopher. "What's more, girls who just want to have some fun are often labeled as sluts." According to the three men, that's unfair. The idea for Bib:Love came to them during an alcohol-fuelled night last autumn.
'Good Grades and Good Sex'
When other students see the signs for Bib:Love, they often joke and roar with laughter. "Good grades and good sex: I could use both," says one student standing in the university entrance hall, triggering laughter among his friends.
This type of reaction is a frequent one, says Oskar, but ultimately students want to know more about Bib:Love. Lately, the men say, they've been getting numerous emails from students looking for more information. Oskar and his partners then reply: "Many students are too stressed out during exams to go out at night. This leads their sex lives to languish." But armed with the knowledge that regular physical exercise brings health benefits and helps with studying, the young men behind Bib:Love are more than happy to provide support. Female students who spend their evenings drained and fatigued in the library and are in the mood for a little closeness and intimacy are encouraged to send an email. Then one of the three men will meet with them. If the circumstances are right, the meeting ends in sex.
The guys behind Bib:Love present themselves as service providers with a sense of humor, but at the same time as young men who are fighting for female sexual emancipation. Given that sex is involved, they also get something from the project. Though they may fancy themselves in the role of sex-saints, it is also possible they are trying to mask their own insecurity. In any case, Christopher and Oskar appear incredibly casual as they address their fellow students about their huge plans in the L3 student café at the University of Mannheim. The two could be brothers. Both have short brown hair, green eyes and an athletic build and both scrunch up their eyes when they laugh. The two are attractive enough young men, that they probably wouldn't really need the Internet to find girls.
And yet the two hide behind their pseudonyms, preferring not to have their real names published. After all, there is no way of knowing how professors and fellow students would respond. This is where the façade of the supposed "emancipation project" crumbles to pieces. The young men don't want to reveal too much about themselves and want to stay in control. It appears these future economists are simply playing the role of Casanova.
82 Queries, Five One-Night Stands
The men claim they have so far received 82 messages at the Bib:Love Hotmail. Some are searching for intimacy, some crack jokes and others are simply curious. Of these messages, nine have resulted in bookings. The meeting point is always the L3 student café on the University of Mannheim campus. "The L3 is the perfect spot because there are always a lot of students here during the week," says Oskar. "Then you can meet and have a beer and check to see if the chemistry is right." The young men reserve the right to withdraw their service should a girl's appearance be unpromising.
The young men claim that five one-night-stands have taken place so far. Lisa, 23, became the first. She refuses to provide the journalist with her real name, although she says she has nothing negative to report. The evening was unusually enjoyable, she says. It was the classic scenario: They went for a beer, chatted and then continued to his place. But does it champion female emancipation, as the men claim it does? Not according to Lisa, who sees the whole thing as no more than a nice way to meet and have a good time together.
University officials and the student body association are primarily viewing the campaign with a sense of humor. "I think the project is funny," says Rosa Reichenberger, a member of the student body's board. Still, she's very skeptical of claims it might help lead to better grades.
"I never expected we would get such a big response," says Christopher. The trio have also received inquiries from students in other German college towns, including Tübingen and Ulm, with interest in opening up their own franchises of Bib:Love.
Brothel comparisons aside, the Bib:World project is not as wild as one might think. Unusual sexual practices are not catered for, admits Christopher. Bib:Love is confined to that which students like to do on a typical Friday night: meet someone in a bar, spend a night with the student from next door -- foreplay and breakfast the next morning included if desired. Bib:Love is essentially the typical one-night stand, albeit a much better-marketed one.
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