The first and only start-up pimp.
What if an app could act like a pimp? That's the question for one Berlin-based startup that's looking to to find a more streamlined way for customers to find male and female sex workers to hire for the night. Designed very similarly to the popular hookup app Tinder, the new app Peppr.it allows potential clients to browse through escorts available near their current location. It's the red light district boiled down to a few swipes.
Not only is Peppr a quick way to find a sex worker (under two hours, it boasts), but it also allows for refining filters that Tinder just doesn't offer. To ensure clients get what they want, the Peppr offers selections for body type, skin color, and any special services that might be in the Peppr's repertoire (think: kinks and preferred pubic hair maintenance).
According to Pia Poppenreiter, the app's founder, Peppr was created for more practical purposes than one would expect. She told The Local, "I was walking down Oranienburger Strasse [Berlin's red light district] — I know it sounds cheesy, but it's the truth — it was chilly and I saw the poor girls on the streets, and I thought, why isn't there an app? It's not efficient to wait outside."
Use of the app is completely free for sex workers, but the app collects a $7-14 booking fee from the clients, some of which is shared with the escorts. Just launched this April, one of the aims of Peppr seems to be not only about the fair treatment of escorts, but about repackaging the way we think of sex work. Giving something a sleek design, clever copy, and hip functionality — the kind we've been seeing on mainstream dating apps for years — is certainly a way to usher sex work into the instantaneous smartphone era.
It makes sense for such a daring program to be piloted in Berlin. Prostitution is legal in Germany and in 2002, saw serious reform when a law issued that prostitutes could obtain regular work contracts. While Poppenreiter says she's received positive feedback from sex workers using the app and is coordinating with established escort services to find new Pepprs for the site, the issue that sex worker apps could raise is that, though potentially safer than the streets, they still come with all of the risks all anonymous hook up apps have. It's also potential that men and women who have entered prostitution involuntarily could also end up on Peppr with just a few keystrokes. This might be the most sophisticated way to find a sex worker that we've ever seen, but "safer" remains to be seen.
Image via Peppr.it.