How to Speak with a Reeperbahn Prostitute in Hamburg, Germany

Red Light District sex alley entrance
This is the entrance to the famous alley where you can pay your hard-earned money to slam the Black Forest ham.

If you saw our last post, featuring pictures from our recent trip to Hamburg, you know the visit concluded with me accidentally talking to a prostitute in St. Pauli’s Red Light District.

My wife had been showing me around Reeperbahn street, where we looked at all the neon lights and checked out the storefronts featuring heart-shaped signs and wacky dildos. I was very determined to document real, true, no-doubt-about-it evidence of prostitution, because prostitution is mostly illegal in the United States (except you, Nevada, you big silly). Most Americans grow up and live their entire lives associating prostitution with shady dealings of a dangerous and unclean sort. And while not everyone in Germany particularly likes prostitution, it is legal here, and people tend not to brand it with the same sort of stigma we do in the States. Hence my fascination.

Right off the Reeperbahn, my wife showed me a side street with a wooden barrier and a sign prohibiting women and men under 18 from entering. This was the entrance to Herbertstraße, also known as “Herbert Street.” I took a picture of the sign, then told my wife I had all the evidence of legalized prostitution I needed. She politely requested that I stop being a pussy, and urged me to take a picture on the other side of the wall — where taking pictures is strictly prohibited. I nodded in agreement and stepped through the barrier.

I found myself on an inconspicuous street, and I was the only person there… or so I thought. It was freakishly quiet and the sun was setting, so I assumed the naughty business had yet to get rolling. My mind erupted with questions like a sexy volcano: Do the ladies slink into work right when it gets dark, or do they just show up at the office whenever the hell they feel like it? Do they get health insurance in this line of work? Do their business cards read, Ines von Sugarmouth — Purveyor of the Devil’s Candy?

There were half timbered houses running down both sides of the street, ending in a T. There was a car parked on this street, and I instantly knew that car had seen some shit. However, nothing about this place seemed different from average, older German neighborhoods except for the fact that there were no people around.

I raised my iPhone to take a picture, blinking away the setting sunlight as it pierced my eyes, when a window opened immediately to my right. Inside sat a pretty blond woman eating a green apple and looking bored as hell. What follows is a conversation in German and mixed Denglish, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

PROSTITUTE: “You can take pictures outside.”

ME: *Visibly startled, thinking, Holy monkey, you definitely touch boners for money.* “Hi! A very pretty evening to you.”

PROSTITUTE: “You can take a picture on the other side of the wall.”

ME: “I have no idea what you have just said to me. Can you this please slowly repeat?” *Thinking, Wow, you aren’t nearly the flea-bitten hag I was expecting.*

PROSTITUTE: “No pictures here.” *Pointing to the wall behind me* “Outside only.”

ME: “Ohhhh, true. This is very right. My definite wife said… she would gladly have me… look it was her idea, although I can plainly see from the look on your face you couldn’t care less and… I’ll be going now. Have a wonderful weekend!” *Thinking, Dude, ain’t nothin’ wonderful about a weekend spent fiddling beanbags.*


I walked back through the barrier and approached my wife.

ME: “Dammit! I tried to take the picture but I was stopped by a Lady of Ill Repute.”

THE WIFE: “What did she look like?”

ME: “Surprisingly attractive. And she was eating an apple. Just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Stone cold ruining shit for everybody.”

THE WIFE: “You should have taken the picture anyway.”


61 thoughts

  1. There are people in the UK who would like the country to introduce the Swedish model (no pun intended)! under which prostitution is permitted but those who pay for sex are criminalised and, if caught subject to a fine or imprisonment. The justification for this (it’s supporters argue) is that prostitution entails the exploitation of the prostitute and no one should have the right to purchase another person. From how I read your whitty post there is no move in Germany to go down the Swedish route, am I right? Great post as always, Cheers, Kevin


    1. She was absolutely eating an apple. A big green one.

      And that “definite wife” business comes from my understanding of the difference between “Frau” and “Ehefrau.” With the latter, according to my wife, there is no doubt about it. :)


  2. OMG! and I thought I was bad ;) We have the Helenenstraße in Bremen. It was on the sightseeing list for my boyfriend as well. I couldn’t go so my father convinced my uncle to take him. The Helenenstr. is right in the heart of the best, most hip, and intellectual districts in Bremen with old but beautiful houses.

    LG Anja


  3. I went there last year with friends. When we tried to have a look around the corner (or wall.. big fat ugly wall) they threw bottles at us :-)


  4. Dude, you always make me laugh! thanks… This is a laugh for you. My Serb husband says to me yesterday, ” I saw a hijacker on the side of the road yesterday”. He wants to tell me something about that, but I stop him and slowly say to him… “you mean hitchhiker?” He says,” Yeah, I knew it was something like that.” I am still cracking up just thinking about it..


  5. ”Entry for men under 18 and women prohibited.’

    Possibilities of this island:

    1. Entry is prohibited for all men (plural; syn. people) under 18 years of age (male and female individuals below 18 years of age) AND all women (irrespective of their age)
    /0–>18 males and females prohibited on the premises and 18–>+infinity females prohibited on the premises/

    2. Entry for men (plural from ‘male individual’) under 18 years of age (male individuals under 18 years of age) AND all women prohibited.
    /0–>18 males prohibited on the premises and 0–>+infinity females prohibited on the premises/

    Which means this is not evidence of legalized prostitution, but evidence of discrimination of anyone who is of female sex including people who identify themselves as female or partly female basing on whatever they wish (physical constitution, non-physical constitution, both, clothing, whatever they can think of).

    Question to your German wife (no impersonation of your wife allowed): Do you know you are his wife?


  6. I guess she was giving you the soft sell. What if you said, “Here’s a 20 to show me your tits,” and then you took your camera and photographed a cloud instead.


  7. You totally could have got away with taking the picture. Germans are so used to people just following the rules that you get one freebie on breaking any rule.


  8. Thank you for keeping me laughing! I did award your blog with the Liebster Award. If you go to my blog and see my latest posting about the Liebster award, or click on the link to the Liebster awards and see the second award acceptance it will tell you all you need to know. :) Congrats on an awesome blog!


  9. Thanks for making me laugh. It really was funny to read!! I love your blog posts and your honesty in describing funny situations!! Thanks for sharing!


  10. I’ll have to save this as a resource for one of my characters. Don’t know who yet, but they keep popping up wanting their story told. I can’t write fast enough!


  11. Interestingly the Fence was erected (badummtsssh) by the Nazis as prostitution was deemed unseemly but at the same time they wanted to keep it out of morale reason, Hamburg being a port city and all.
    Nowadays its off-limits to women as them entering would degrade the sex workers.
    Allegedly they also keep buckets of vaginawater (I just read your laundry basket post) around to dump on women who harass gawk at them, people who take pictures, and men who only gawk but don’t aquire any merchandise.


  12. Well, they’re a lot nicer about this in Hamburg than they are in Amsterdam! Here they will dump water on you or throw your camera in the canal, and I don’t blame them. If they say no pictures, they deserve a little respect in that.


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