They're using Airbnb for WHAT!??!!?

Savvy sex workers in the Big Apple are adding their own little entrepreneurial twist to Airbnb, the controversial but red-hot home-sharing site, by renting out apartments for quickies, nooners, and afternoon delights.

Why, you ask? The bottom line, of course.

According to the New York Post, hookers are busily turning “prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels.”

One escort service is even saving a bundle by renting Airbnb apartments instead of hotel rooms for clients’ quickies, says a 21-year-old call girl who works for the illicit business.

“It’s more discreet and much cheaper than The Waldorf,” said the sex worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Renting online from Airbnb not only reduces a working girl’s accommodation expenses, giving new meaning to “pay to play.” It’s also a lot more discreet than using a hotel where a prostitute and her john could risk having to deal with a doorman, a snoopy front-desk clerk or even a private security guard.

As the sex worker told the Post:

“Hotels have doormen and cameras. They ask questions. Apartments are usually buzz-in.”

The prostitute, a buxom brunette who charges up to $500 an hour, said her escort service generally rents an Airbnb apartment in the Financial District or Midtown West for up to a week at a time — then cycles numerous hookers through the place for trysts around-the-clock.

The agency flies under the radar by having its workers secure the apartments through their own Airbnb profiles, then has them pay the rent with prepaid debit cards. The apartments usually cost between $200 and $400 a day.

“[They] probably save $200 to $300 a night by not getting a hotel,” the sex worker said. “It’s really good for business.”

The budding practice is not going over so well with some of the folks who use Airbnb to rent out their homes. The Post spoke with publicist Jessica Penzari, 29, who used the service to rent out her place for a couple of days last month. She wasn’t happy when she found out what it had been used for by the woman who contacted her:

“She told me that she was in the Army and needed a place to hang out before she got shipped out,” Penzari said of her Airbnb “guest.”

“She said she was being deployed that week. She was asking for places to go out with her friends.”

But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the West 43rd Street apartment over the price of his “massage,” Penzari got a call from cops.

When she returned, Penzari was shocked to find telltale remnants including baby wipes and “at least 10 condoms.”

It didn’t take long for the Post story to prompt criticism of Airbnb from outraged politicians. According to a post in Business Insider:

New York State Senator Liz Krueger issued a statement saying a New York Post report published Monday that described escort services using AirBnB shows how the startup dedicated to letting people rent their homes and apartments to guests could fuel illicit activities.

In addition to prostitution, Krueger claimed Airbnb could also lead to gambling and drugs.

“The outcome of this, predictably, has been constant streams of tourists disrupting residential buildings, and other inappropriate, even illegal activity floating from building to building,” said Krueger of the company’s services. “Today it’s a prostitution ring, tomorrow it could be an illegal gambling ring, and maybe next week it could be a drug operation.

And then maybe the week after that it could be . . . oh well, you get the idea.

Photo: Julia Roberts and Richard Gere star in “Pretty Woman,” a movie about a prostitute. (Bay Area News Group archives)

Patrick May Patrick May (331 Posts)

With more than 30 years on the front line of daily American journalism, I'm currently a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury News, covering Apple and writing people-centric business stories from Silicon Valley.