It is to laugh…

I LOL’d at this article. Why? Because I can almost picture it as a fairy tale of sorts complete with villagers armed with pitchforks and fiery torches. Yet the castle that will hold the beast and bring forth the beauties has the last laugh.

Austrian brothel owner has last laugh after nine-year planning battle
In 2002 a former wrestler, Norbert Sendlhofer (aka “The Beast”), decided the 770 inhabitants of St Andrä needed not another pub but a place to buy sex. He put in a planning application to turn an old hunting lodge on the outskirts of the village into what locals quickly called a den of iniquity (cue collective *GASP*)

The mayor was horrified and, backed by his outraged constituents (aka “The Villagers”), began a campaign to thwart Sendlhofer’s ambition, exhorting every law they could think of to stop the sex trade from coming to St Andrä. Commercial law, property law, criminal law, health and safety regulations – all were tried. Prostitution is legal in Austria, but they were determined to keep their village prostitute-free.

For years, planning experts and officials trooped in and out of Villa Erotica (aka “The evil enchanted castle”), asking questions and taking measurements. The Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported that in July 2005 St Andrä authorities informed Sendlhofer that his application had been rejected on the advice of the local public health officer, who claimed there were “inadequate sanitary facilities” for “business transactions which specifically deal with the excretion of bodily fluids”.

That wasn’t all: an operation like Villa Erotica could “impair the moral, religious and psychological” life of the village” said the rejection letter, according to Der Standard.

Sendlhofer was undeterred. He installed new showers to meet hygiene requirements, and when the council criticised the quality of drinking water at Villa Erotica, he dug new wells.

In 2007, increasingly desperate to find reasons to reject the application, one resourceful local (villager) hit upon the notion that prostitution could be classed as “physical labour” and as such was subject to special health and safety regulations.

A medical expert wrote a report for the council, claiming “prostitution is heavy physical work which is carried out in all possible postures(LOL). They reached the conclusion that the ceilings of Villa Erotica were too low for suitable work spaces for prostitution and there were too few cubic metres of air to give sex workers the “volume of air” needed to carry out their duties(ROFL).

The ploy worked – briefly. Alas for the burghers of St Andrä, a higher court in Salzburg last year quashed the verdict and Villa Erotica was given the green light. Ironically, it was the brothel’s red light which caused its next problem: apparently, you need special planning permission to install unusual external lighting.

When the brothel finally opened for business recently, Sendlhofer had the last laugh. The fuss of the previous nine years resulted in enormous press interest, and he was able to goad his opponents by telling TV cameras there was “no better location in the whole of Austria” for Villa Erotica.

Ain’t that something? Yet can you not totally picture that happening? Even if a brothel were located MILES from the nearest “village” some would still think it too close.


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