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.”