Sex Flagship Sinking Hamburg's Oldest Bordello Set to Shut

When it comes to whorehouses, Hamburg's Reeperbahn is the stuff of legend. But changing laws, tastes, times and technology have done a number on the area's once bustling bordello scene. The oldest one, in fact, is shutting its doors in April.


Hamburg's famous Reeperbahn red-light district will be losing its oldest brothel come April.
REUTERS

Hamburg's famous Reeperbahn red-light district will be losing its oldest brothel come April.

The news is bittersweet and will bring a nostalgia-infused sigh to many a sailor the world over, but the truth is out: Hamburg's oldest whorehouse will be closing down come April.

The Hotel Luxor has been a mainstay on the Reeperbahn, the port city's famous red-light street and district, since 1948, but will now be sold off to an investor.

"You can't make good money in this area anymore with real sex," Waltraud Mehrer, the establishment's madam, told the Hamburger Morgenpost. "The only things still up and running are the table dance clubs."

According to Mehrer, a number of changes over the years have killed the city's once thriving bordello-based flesh trade. The main issues seem to be economics and, perhaps even more so, the way people get their jollies these days.

"These teenagers aren't our clientele; they just couldn't afford it," Mehrer told the paper. "The Internet is also a real competitor," she added. "Many men prefer to download porn and gratify themselves in that way."

Another reason, according to Mehrer, is that many men prefer a nice hotel and a call-girl over a busy bordello. Lastly, Mehrer blamed the swift changes happening to the Reeperbahn itself. "The discos on the street have ruined our business," Mehrer told the paper.

But it's not just the discos that have "ruined" the area. For one, local authorities have been waging an ongoing effort to clean upthe street and the alleys feeding into it, for example, by persuading some kiosks and gas stations to stop selling alcohol after 11 p.m. and banning all weapons in the area.

Mostly, though, it would seem to be about the changing nature of the shipping business whose sailors used to keep the area humming. Technological advances in the industry have diminished crew sizes and allowed ships to leave port much earlier.

Since this bordello's heyday in the 1970s, things have only gone downhill for the family-run establishment. Back then, the doors were open seven days a week with a 12-woman crew. Nowadays, it's down to four prostitutes working four nights a week.

One of the remaining women, who identified herself as "Nicole" to the paper, is not looking forward to the changes: "The end won't be easy for me. I've been in the business since 1988. I like to pole dance and get guys excited. But in all the other striptease clubs, the dancers aren't allowed to weigh more than 60 kilograms (132 pounds), and I'm clearly a good bit over that."

"So, I'll have to go on a diet first," she added, "and then I'll hit the pavement."

jtw/ap

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