A Berlin brothel is claiming the title of Germany's first "green" sex establishment after offering clients eco-discounts if they can prove they arrived by bicycle or public transport.
The concept has been dreamed up by the Maison d'Envie (House of Desire) brothel in the city's fashionable Prenzlauer Berg district where Germany's Green party won 46 per cent of the vote in last month's general election.
Regina Goetz, the former prostitute who runs the establishment, explained yesterday: "The environment is on everyone's lips around here and it's pretty hard to find a parking space, so we came up with the idea of an eco-discount of €5 (£4.60) for anyone who leaves the car at home."
Ms Goetz, 56, said that the recession had cut the brothel's turnover by almost half, but the introduction of eco-discounts has proved so successful that business was virtually back to normal again.
Under the scheme clients are given a €5 discount for a 15-minute sex session, which normally costs €30, if they present their bicycle helmet, padlock or bus ticket to the cashier at the reception.
The brothel has around 12 prostitutes, though several work only part-time. One revealed that her day job was a dietary counsellor in a gym; another said she was a nurse, while a third said she was a housewife trying to earn some extra cash. The clients were said to come from all sections of society, the oldest being 86 years old.
The eco-discount scheme is the latest attempt to attract custom to Germany's legal, but recession-hit, sex industry which has some 400,000 employees. In an initiative last year several brothels announced they were offering discounts to social security recipients and pensioners.
Ms Goetz and her girls insist that the brothel has "great neighbours", but whether the Maison d'Envie's scheme is welcomed by Prenzlauer Berg's increasingly well-heeled residents is another question. The district is home to Germany's largest organic supermarket, and house prices have soared in recent years.
Its former mix of bohemian and working-class East Germans has been replaced by professional couples in their late-thirties and forties, most of whom came from the west of the country after the fall of the Berlin Wall, leading to the district's gentrification. Superficially at least its inhabitants seem more concerned about children's playgrounds than prostitution, even when it comes at a discount. The brothel keeps a low profile on these prosperous streets; a brass plaque engraved with "The Little Sexy Address" is the only clue to its existence.