I love Germans. They’re really transparent and straightforward. They don’t believe in closed doors or window shades; what you see is what you get. They’re also really freaky. Sexual decadence is deeply ingrained in their cultural heritage. That’s how a cute harbor city like Hamburg ended up with a mile-long stretch of Red Light District.
The Reepherbahn is a large street in the St. Pauli District of Hamburg, somewhere between a nice residential neighborhood and the bustling business district. Because people need to live, work, and get a hand job from a hooker during lunch on occasion. It’s full of strip clubs, brothels, sex shops, and for some reason, doner kebab restaurants. I guess watching naked women dance really gets you in the mood for a gyro.
Like any Red Light District, it has its share of seedy characters. You’ll find scores of homeless people, guys standing on street corners looking for someone to scam, and dudes passing out flyers for the sex show nearby. But no one is really disrespectful or in your face. They’re just trying to enjoy their beer and see some titties.
Visually, the Reeperbahn is amazing. It’s full of graffiti and over-the-top facades, showcasing the debauchery within. It has all the characteristics of a seedy motel, but flashier and more public. You’ll find more murals of naked women, neon, and vanity lights than you’ve ever seen in one place. It’s all a little run down, like a sex theme park that hasn’t been renovated since the late 80’s, where people discard their cigarette butts and empty beer cans on the street. Like I said, it’s pretty amazing.
There’s one famed street called Herbertstraße, where prostitutes sit in windows, reminiscent of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, but a little grimier. This street is blocked on either side by a large metal gate with signs that read “Entry for men under 18 and women prohibited.”
I have conflicting feelings about Herbertstraße. Technically, it’s a public street so they can’t really throw you out, but the implication that I am not allowed somewhere because I’m a woman is a little offensive. In fact, telling me I can’t do something for any reason just makes me want to do it more out of spite. But specifically, as a woman who is interested in other women, there shouldn’t be a stigma about me shopping for sex like my male counterparts.
On the other hand, I understand how obnoxious women are in situations like these, and I can see why they would want to protect the girls inside from gawking, giggling idiots who are not there to actually pay for sex. Either way, let’s be honest here, there is nothing sexy or interesting to me on the other side of those metal gates. I rather masturbate in front of a mirror; it’s hotter, free, and you’re not surrounded by desperate, horny men.
Overall, the Reeperbahn area is not to be missed. It’s one of the most interesting parts of Hamburg. Even if you’re not in the market for a tranny sex show or a blow job, it’s a great place to walk around, have a drink, and enjoy the sinful life on display all around you.
Get the GPS-guided version of this and other Hamburg guides on GPSmyCity here.