Atlantis (brothel)

Atlantis was one of the largest German brothels, located in an industrial area of Altenstadt, some 30 km north-east of Frankfurt am Main. It was opened in the fall of 2000 and was closed by authorities in March 2004 because of charges of large-scale tax evasion, pimping and trafficking in women. It was reopened in October 2004, but closed again a few days later. After protracted legal proceedings, the brothel was finally closed down.

The brothel was a converted spa, with indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzi, three saunas, professional massage parlors, and a free bar (serving only non-alcoholic beverages). Pornographic movies are shown on several TV screens. Men walk around wrapped in towels, women are nude (enforced by house policy). The working women and men both paid the same daily entrance fee of 65 euros.

About 30-60 women sold sexual services. The standard price was 50 ? for half an hour of sex which normally included french kissing, oral sex without a condom and sexual intercourse with a condom. The money was paid directly to the woman, after the act. She got to keep it all while the brothel itself was financed from the entrance fees alone.

This is the legal framework on which this brothel as well several other German brothels base their business model. They present a facility where consenting men and women can meet each other, what takes place between them is their business and the club supposedly has nothing to do with it. The club however sets up and generally enforces a price structure and house rules, with disputes settled by club management.

A woman can expect to average about 200 ? a day after the cost of the entrance fee. Legally, the women have to pay taxes on this amount, but few do since it is a cash-only business.

There were early and late shifts, and women generally worked 3-6 days a week. They are free to come and go as they please, within the shift structure.

Atlantis had an attached hostel where women could stay for 15 ? per night, sharing a room with three others.

There are no pimps on the premises, but some of the women have pimps or boyfriends who take a cut of their money and who pick them up after their shift ends at 4 AM. Some of these pimps use other women in the club to spy on their women in order to gain a good estimate of their earnings.

The majority of the women working in Atlantis were foreigners, mainly from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Thailand, and Africa. Some of them lack legal work permits, and this is why the police occasionally carried out raids in Atlantis. Prostitution itself is legal in Germany, so the legally resident prostitutes and the customers face no consequences during these raids (except embarrassment), unless they carry illegal drugs.

Mandatory health checks for registered prostitutes have been abandoned by the German government since January 1, 2001, but Atlantis required regular STD and HIV tests from the working women.

In March 2004, police raided Atlantis and closed the club. Some 17 women were arrested for immigration violations. Two operators of the club were arrested under charges of tax evasion, pimping and trafficking in women; a third operator who was not present at the club during the raid fled to Spain and was arrested there soon after. A policeman was also arrested: he is accused of having informed the Atlantis management of police raids ahead of time.

As of 2005, there are three other clubs in Germany that operate like Atlantis and have a similar size: FKK Oase and FKK World, both located in the area north of Frankfurt am Main, and Artemis in Berlin (opened in Fall 2005). The two Frankfurt clubs have different owners; ownership of the Berlin club is unclear. Several dozen comparable but smaller clubs exist all over Germany. They are typically advertised as "Sauna clubs" or "FKK clubs" ("FKK" abbreviates the German Freikörperkultur which means "free body culture" or nudism). The first of these clubs was opened in Hennef near Bonn in the 1980s; the model is apparently based on the Brazilian brothels known as termas.

Most German brothels operate quite differently.

See also

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