Red Traffic Light District: Used Car Dealership Rebrands as Auto Brothel

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A yellow vehicle is parked with a stoplight overlayed.

TOTTENVILLE, NY — A struggling used car dealership in New York City’s southwesternmost corner is attempting to attract new clientele from across the five boroughs by rebranding itself as “a brothel for cars.”

“You don’t have sex with the cars,” said owner and manager J.P. Laudermilk. “I just want to make that as clear as possible. We’ve had a couple icky dudes come by and try to fuck the cars. That’s not what we’re about. Please don’t try to fuck the cars.”

Laudermilk’s dealership, Tottenville Used Autos, was founded by his grandfather in 1948. It was the go-to dealership for residents of Staten Island and even Perth Amboy and South Amboy across the Arthur Kill until the 1970s, at which point more dealers opened in more accessible locations. Sales came so infrequently that, by the time of the Great Recession in 2008, Tottenville Used Autos was barely keeping afloat; Laudermilk had to lay off most of his staff—even his own mother.

“She was upset,” recalls Laudermilk. “We haven’t spoken since—partially because of the firing, partially because she died in 2014.”

Laudermilk was facing bankruptcy when, one day this past April, inspiration struck him.

“There were all these ads on the internet, every website I went to, saying there were hot, single, lonely, divorced women in my area, and I thought, ‘If only people were horny for used cars the way they are for used women,’ and that’s when I realized there was nothing stopping me from marketing them the same way.”

Since he’d be drawing customers to one location rather than meeting them piecemeal at motels or bars, he applied the terminology of that world to the showroom he was accustomed to:

“It’s a brothel, but for cars,” he explained. “You can come in, pick your favorite model, and take her for a spin—a test drive. I encourage it! Take her in your hands and give her a feel!”

With brothels being illegal everywhere except Las Vegas, Laudermilk wanted to be sure the city knew he wasn’t opening a traditional brothel; he also wanted to be sure he could legally call it that.

“Nothing in the city codes says you can’t call a business a brothel,” he said. “I checked—I triple-checked—and it just says you can’t open a brothel; there’s nothing against calling a business one. You could call an ice cream truck a brothel and they couldn’t do jack-shit about it so long as you didn’t have a woman in the back giving out oral.”

Laudermilk has applied other nomenclature from the sex industry, as well.

“I refer to my pre-owned vehicles as divorcées; newer ones are MILFs, older ones are GILFs. They’re well-traveled, they’re freaks in the streets, and they like to get low—APR, that is!”

Laudermilk hired his nephew to design web ads featuring middle-aged women—scantily dressed and making evocative faces—pasted in front of popular SUVs, sedans, and trucks from the past two decades; the text accompanying them reads “Hot, lonely, older models in Staten Island. Click here to learn more.”

“It’s legit. It’s marketing. Sex sells.”

His courting begins once the customers have pulled into his parking lot. He’s even traded in his business suits for tracksuits, giving the impression that he’s a stereotypical pimp from the outer boroughs. He leads with enticing phrases that coax the customer indoors.

“I can show you several svelte beauties that have racked up plenty of miles but don’t show their age,” he’ll say, “and you can score big by taking one home tonight.”

Once inside, they realize they’re actually shopping for used cars.

“I’d say about 95% of the men who come in are disappointed. The other 5% shrug and start browsing, and about one in five actually buys.”

That might sound like low figures, but it’s not if you compare it to the figures of the past few decades.

“I had been selling about one car a month for many years. I’m now getting so many people in the door that, even if only one in a hundred guys buys a car, I’m still selling about one car a day. I’ve been taking home so much money that my wife is willing to consider reconciliation! She’s been porking the guy who runs the bodega in Midland Beach, but I think she’ll move back in with me before the end of the summer. I haven’t seen my son in six months. I miss him so much.”

To make his strategy change official, Laudermilk intends to change the name of the business from “Tottenville Used Autos” to “Red Traffic Light District.”

“Although I’m afraid we might get some confused hipsters coming in here thinking we’re some kinda Amsterdam-themed nightclub,” he said. “Then again, I don’t think they ever come this far south.”

He’s hoping this article will help set the record straight.

“We’re a car dealership. We sell used cars—hot, sexy, used cars—but for driving. We’re not a place where you fuck the cars. I’m asking you to please not try to fuck the cars while you’re here.”

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