A brothel is one of the oldest terms for an establishment where love for sale is performed or, more precisely, acquired. The translation of the French word means a wooden hut — a clear indication that the buildings in which ladies offered themselves were rather less chic at the time.

Nowadays, we use countless synonyms for brothels. These include whorehouse, erotic centre, running house and many more. The origin of the word “brothel” is fascinating — it comes from an ancient dice board game. The game, which is quite similar to the well-known backgammon, was played almost exclusively in relevant establishments. In fact, brothels and thus physical love for sale already existed in antiquity. In Pompeii, a building known as the Lupanar was excavated from the ashes of Mount Vesuvius and was clearly a so-called whorehouse. It was also common in the military to have brothels for soldiers, or at least the officers. During the Second World War, for example, the German Wehrmacht opened brothels and in Japan, one found so-called comfort women brothels where women were coerced into prostitution with soldiers. Similarly, it was not for nothing that sailors had a maid, and usually a light maid, as lady lovers liked to be called, in every port. It was not uncommon for women in service occupations such as laundries to become prostitutes. The profession of waitressing also had a reputation for being on the borderline of prostitution. This is still the case in many Arab countries today. Prostitution can be found in all social classes. There are also different categories: from luxurious high-class brothels to less glamorous places. Unfortunately, women from socially weak classes or ladies who came from abroad on the off are still forced into prostitution today.

The legal framework under which prostitution and brothels can be legally offered and practised varies from country to country. Sometimes the legal situation is additionally influenced by regional regulations. In Germany, there are several types of brothels. These include date houses, dominatrix studios, erotic centres, model flats, nightclubs, running houses, love-mobiles, brothel streets, massage parlours and nudist clubs. A special form of brothel are flat-rate clubs (also called flat-rate brothels). Here, after paying an entrance fee, there are no further costs for the customers. Afterwards, they can therefore make use of unlimited sexual services.  Brothels where both the clients and the prostitutes are gentlemen are often called “House of Boys”. In the “soaplands” popular in Japan, the sexual thrill is to take an erotic bubble bath with sex ladies. There are also brothel variants without physical love in the original sense. These types of brothels first appeared in Japan, where people spend their time with deceptively real-looking sex dolls instead of live prostitutes. This trend also reached Germany in 2017. Due to the hygienic requirements of the Covid-19 pandemic, normal brothels had to close in many places. As a result, the use of lifelike, humanoid sex dolls rose on the popularity scale in several countries.

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