Book details

264 Pages
Publication date: October 2017
Imprint: ecoWing
Theresa Bäuerlein Ilan Stephani

Dear and Costly

Everything I Learned About Life in a Brothel

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Ilan Stephani worked as a prostitute in a Berlin brothel for two years. Curious, this young woman from a respectable family investigated this marginal area tabooed by the rest of society. In doing so, she stumbled on something astonishing: she did not find a strange world, but one that would be more familiar to most people than they think.

Instead of whores and johns in the shadows, she experienced the brothel as a mirror of society and her work as a school of life: »I have learnt so much, know so much about the world, about men and women, and the problems we have with each other – for all this knowledge, I’d do it again,« she says.

In this way she interweaves individual experiences and situations from her everyday life in the brothel with reflections on the state of society: about our upbringing, our understanding of the roles and the demands we make on ourselves, life and love. Her analysis does not represent the attitude that sex work is liberation, nor is it necessarily a slave market. Above all, says Stephani, prostitution is the symptom of a bewildered society. If that were understood, it would be better for everyone – not just in bed.


»The result is a book that has caused a sensation with good reason: contrary to other stories by former prostitutes, Stephani transcends mere description or voyeurism. Not only does she try to deliver prostitution, and sex workers and johns with it, from the seedy shadows, she also analyses prostitution as a phenomenon at the center of our society, as a symptom of blatant deficiencies in the relationship between the sexes.«
Der Tagesspiegel


English manuscript

Sample Translation


Ilan Stephani

Ilan Stephani, born 1986 in Berlin, grew up in Lower Saxony. During her training, she discovered the opportunity to experience something outside her middle-class background at a woman’s breakfast of the prostitute organization Hydra. For two years she worked in a brothel alongside her studies. Today, Stephani is a body therapist and author.