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Bother in a Brothel or Discord in Double D

Mosselstraβe, Frankfurt, Germany 2008.

I alighted from my cab in front of my hotel in Frankfurt well past midnight and totally washed out.  Hardly was I on the kerb when an avuncular couple solicited me in front of the Double-D nightclub adjacent to the hotel, Mosselstraβe being, it became obvious, the red light district of the city.1  He could have been my elderly uncle with his shock of grey hair, and she my rotund aunt knitting at the hearth, but here they were, touting their club’s delights in the wee hours of the morning.

City Hotel West and Double D Frankfurt

”A drink sir, nice girls?” offers Uncle.
“No thanks, I’m dead tired”.
”Maybe another night then?” asks Auntie sweetly.
”Maybe another night” I say, and wheel my bag into the small hotel where a Turkish receptionist interrupts his slumbers, yawns mightily and checks me in.

In my comings and goings over the next few days, I developed a nodding acquaintance with Uncle and Auntie, who solicit not five metres from my hotel entrance in front of their club (see pics).  They were almost lovable, like distant family, and every time we crossed paths I felt obliged to drop in.  So on the final night of my stay, dressed in a coat, tie and business suit against the cold, I ignored all solicitations from an assortment of pimps and hostesses in high boots as I strolled down Mosselstraβe to my hotel, and gave my neighbourly codgers – almost family after all – the benefit of their cajoling by dropping into the Double-D.

“Hello, good evening”, greets Auntie in recognition as I walk in. “You came!  Welcome, welcome” she gushes to Nephew.  I’m then led past a U-shaped bar to an area not five metres by five in front of a small, low stage with an enormous motorbike on it.  I had once been taken to Teasers and suspected the bike would later feature in some sort of dancing act.  That’s what happens at Teasers, or used to happen years ago, at least on the night I was taken there against my will, dragging and screaming.  You sat at a table, had a drink and watched the dancers. Here, there were a few low tables with easy chairs around them, all empty.

As I’m about to take a seat I feel a tug at my arm.  I look around to notice I’ve won the attention of a fading blonde with the most enormous bust.  Double-D, definitely.  She’d materialised from the shadows as if instantly created.

“Hello, I’m Svetlana” she coos and playfully strokes my forearm.  “What’s your name?”

“Oh hi Svetlana I’m Alex”, I recover.

“Where you from”, she smiles.  This is always the second question I’m told.

“Cape Town.  Svetlana?  Sounds Russian”.

“I’m from the Ukraine”.

“Kiev?”

“No Odessa.  Come sit down”, she invites, still stoking my forearm.

We sit.  Madam Auntie approaches and asks what I’d like to drink.  “Red wine”, I say.

“Would you mind buying the lady a drink?”

“I’d be delighted to buy the lady a drink”, I ooze, but if truth be told, more out of entrapment than generosity.

Double D

“Thank you”, says Auntie.  Svetlana then takes off her furry topcoat to better reveal her assets, and just then Madam Auntie invites me, too, to take off my jacket and relax.  It’s a choreographed move, I suspect, the timing’s too perfect.

“No thank you, I’ve just got in from Africa and I’m cold”, I say.  I was not to give up my barrier.

“As you wish, maybe later”, says Madam Auntie, and trudges off to get our drinks.

Svetlana now starts to work her punter over.  There’s something unnerving about a woman staring unblinkingly at a man at close range.  It goes against all norms society has instilled in us.  I had hoped to slink into a back table, watch a floor dance or two and then disappear.  But here I was, in a suffocating emptiness and about to enter negotiations in Ukrainian.  I fidget around and feel I must talk.

“Hmmm where were we?  Oh yes, Odessa.  Friends of mine have just returned from there.  It appears that the economy is quite down.  Lots of building sites against the lake, no buyers, stalled construction, everybody glum…  That right?”

Svetlana shrugs.  That’s not the line she wants to pursue.  Damn!  I should have broached literary deconstruction instead.

Madam Auntie arrives with the drinks.  A glass of red wine for me, and what appears to be an iced strawberry juice for Svetlana.

“Would you mind paying for the drinks now?” asks Auntie.
”Not at all”, I say.

“Seventy-eight euros”, says Auntie.
”What?!??”

“Seventy-eight euros”, says Auntie, deadpan.

“Madam”, I’ve been at to a few bars in Frankfurt and the most I’ve paid for good wine is seven or eight euros a glass.  This is a rip-off. What on earth can she be drinking?  Bismarck’s blood?”

“This is nothing.  We have expensive drinks here” she says.  “I can show you the menu if you wish.  Some cost up to 140 euros.”

”For a glass or a crate?” I ask. “It’s ridiculous”.

I once overheard my dad saying he went to a club where the hostesses ordered expensive whiskies paid by the patrons, but that he suspected they were drinking flavoured water.  Like father, like son.  To be had like this obviously runs in families.

“The man at the door said I could come in and look for free”, I protest.

“But then you ordered drinks”, says Auntie.  Svetlana stares a hole through me during the haggling.

“But the most one pays for two drinks at the most elegant bars in Frankfurt would be 15 euros”, I say.  “I don’t even think I have the cash you’re asking on me.”

“Come come, you’re a man of the world, sir”, says Auntie.  “This is a red light district, and you should know that drinks cost more in a red light district than elsewhere”.

“Yes, but surely not that much more!”  It was enough to make me self-conscious.  There I was, all innocent and nerdy looking in my suit and Theo glasses and being called a man of the world.  One could laugh.

Madam shuffles off and Svetlana tries to soften matters by saying that drinks cost the same everywhere in Mosselstraβe.  She’s got to keep me onside.  I swallow hard.

Strained silence.

“I thought a show would be on?”

“Only at 4AM”, she says.

“Nothing like an early start”, I say.

“So how long have you been in Frankfurt”, I ask and sip my wine, which mercifully isn’t too bad.

“Eight years”, she says, bored by my diversionary ploys.  Then more to the matter:  “Why don’t you take off your jacket?”

“I’m cold”, I press.  “It’s summer in Cape Town.”

Svetlana grills me further with the silent stare of her profession.  It’s really, really unsettling.  “Why don’t you order a bottle of champagne?  It’s only 300 euros”, she says by way of a bargain.  “We can then have a room at the back all night.  It’s nice and private.  Much better than here”, she says.

“Look, I’m staying at the hotel right next door, and I just popped in for a drink”.  She shakes her head, thinking what a loser.

Madame then approaches and repeats the house pitch.  “Sir, why don’t you order a bottle of champagne and take Svetlana to the back and have a good time?”  Svetlana gyrates tensely in her chair.  “You’ll forget all your troubles.  She’s a beautiful lady and you’ll dream about her for days”, she says, fixing her gaze on a point in the sky from which our sweet dreams drop.

Don’t frighten me, I think.

“I’ll think about it”, I lie.

I start berating myself for not having gone to the Rough Diamond nightclub instead, which was advertised in a brochure at the Hilton Hotel.  I had earlier attended a conference there.  The Rough Diamond brochure boasted loads of space and a floor show every hour.  Which means you could watch the show far from the action, as one could at Teasers on the occasion I was taken there against my will, as I’ve explained.  The Hilton wouldn’t send its guests to rip-off dives like the Double-D.  The Rough Diamond, that’s the place to go clubbing in Frankfurt.  But here I was, in a dip in the Double-D.

Madam leaves and Svetlana sustains her lead.  “If you don’t want to go to our rooms at the back, I can come to your room in your hotel”, she offers.

Hmmm.

“Why sleep alone if you can sleep with someone?” 
What a knock-down line.  Full marks!  With that she showed she could reason, and reason well.  She immediately rose in my estimation.  But I resist.

“I’ve become used to sleeping alone”, I say.

Madame approaches again with further talk and hard sell.  Then, sensing I might flee, offers me another wine on the house.  I readily accept as it cuts the unit cost of drinks from folly to exorbitance.

“You don’t seem to know how these places work”, scoffs Svetlana.  Madame arrives with another glass.

“Sorry, I’m really quite naïve”, I say.

“Very”, she says.

“Some would even say stupid”, I impart in a dripping sarcasm that’s not lost on either.  A silent concurrence flows between them.  I had fallen from a man of the world to a bumbling naïf in minutes, but perhaps not all that naïve.

Madame leaves again and Svetlana stares me down silly.  I close down, cross my legs, fold my arms and stare back.

Silence.

“How many women work here”, I ask.

“How many women do you want?” she retorts tartly.

Foxy Ladies, Frankfurt

The seasoned hooker starts sensing this one’s slipping away.  She’s onto a lost cause here.  A co-worker with the most enormous cleavage walks by.  I can’t help gazing at it.  What abundance.  Double-D is clearly a specialist boutique.  Faint muzak wafts in the background, and there’s a low chatter at the bar.  I revert to my starer, who starts to disengage.  She flops her back into her chair and her tremendous tits flow away after it.  For the first time I notice she has passably good legs as well.2,3

I down my wine.

“Well”, she says, “If you don’t want anything then you sleep alone.

“Drat, I never learn!”

“Then you suffer!”

A bouncer, a “heavy” I think they’re called, shifts closer to me at the bar, so I sour and pay the bill.  The ho gets up to leave.  “Goodbye”, she sneers, and settles into a nearby bench where a fellow prostitute is scoffing down food.  “Goodbye, Alex” would have been more polite.  I gather my coat and take to the exit which takes me past the two hookers.  “Goodbye Svetlana”, I teach.

I’m done with whores for the night.  At the door, Auntie Slut beams with the smugness of those who know they’ve done someone in.  The bitch.  I leave the cathouse seventy-eight euros poorer without having the courtesy of leaving a tip.  Outside, Uncle Kant is still soliciting.  It’s been barely twenty minutes since I went in.  Like the others he, too, knows I’ve been had.  “Good naaight!” he grins.  “F_ck off” I muffle.

View 2 from Hotel Room - Red Lights in Frankfurt

A few paces away I shove open the door of the hotel, where the Turk at reception stifles a massive yawn and ponders yet again whether I’m in room 503 or 505.  He still hadn’t got it after three days.  I now really had reason to be furious.

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Notes.

  1. You know how it is, you book a hotel on the Internet within your budget, looking for a central place close to both the station and your conference venue, and you end up at the City Hotel West at 35 Mosselstraβe…  Nobody tells you anything.
  2. Crediting “champagne” costs to harlotry and mentally comparing prices with Thailand, the undercover economist in me notes that proxy price of sex is roughly the same, except that the Thai merchandise is younger and less jaded.  My Ukranian prostitute, for it was obvious that the Double-D is not a nightclub but a brothel, would no longer cut it in the better houses in the city.  But things are much bigger at the Double-D.
  3. Price for a night?  Around 400 USD, I presume negotiable as always.
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