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“My first Couchsurfing hookup happened when I was staying with my friend in Miami,” Riccardo recalls. Months later Riccardo got a phone call from the same girl, asking if she could stay at his place in New York City. “I never talked to her again,” he admits, adding, “I mean, we’re friends on Facebook.” Couchsurfing was born after a budget-conscious traveler named Casey Fenton sent out a mass request for accommodations in Iceland and received 50 invitations from students with a free spare futon.
“He has a studio and was hosting two girls from France.” He slept on an inflatable air mattress with one girl, while his friend shared his bed with the other. Fenton soon realized people all over the world might not mind sharing their extra space gratis while making new friends in the process.
In October, layoffs claimed an estimated 40 percent of the staff, and CEO Tony Espinoza announced his departure — giving an opening to competitors like Be Welcome and Hospitality Club.
Although the company has initiated a doubling down on mobile, the experience of users like Riccardo might suggest another path to profitability. The almost decade-old Couchsurfing, which is available in 100,000 cities across the globe, is becoming the go-to hookup app for a certain class of young world travelers.
“I’m telling him it was awesome last night, I had sex and everything—but it was empty sex.” We ask if he’ll stop, since it’s become so unfulfilling, he smiles and shakes his head no. As Maverick Traveler, a self-proclaimed nomad who “roams the earth, seduces beautiful women,” and blogs about his adventures, puts it, “I simply do not know of an easier way for a guy to get laid with exotic women in exotic countries. ” The anonymous blogger is also the author of the popular “How to Bang Couch Surfing Girls—The Complete Guide” (which, after he declined to comment for this article, mysteriously disappeared from his website) and “8 Signs of a Slutty Couchsurfing Girl” (which mysteriously didn’t).
According to his blog, he started using the site in 2009 “as a tool to get to know a city, meet interesting people, and, of course, to bang chicks.” Four years of his exotic lifestyle later, Maverick is sharing the secrets of Couchsurfing as a “gateway to easy lays” — from preparation (“Wash your cum-soaked bed sheets”) to avoiding a negative review at all costs: “Under normal circumstances, I use every trick in the book to get a bang, but with a possible negative looming over my head if things don’t work out, I play it cool with Couchsurfing chicks.” Most of his readers are clearly appreciative of his advice: “Nice post.
Bloggers like Maverick Traveler will help you spot the “8 Signs of a Slutty Couch Surfer Girl” by decoding her profile, and female-centric advice site You Queen has even offered tips on “How to Use Couch Surfing as a Dating Site and Get Away with It.” Meanwhile, a site called Couch Bangs.com, which declares that “Couchsurfing isn’t just for Couchsurfing,” offers a forum for proud couch-cuddlers to share their experiences via short posts with titles like “French Girl in Istanbul” and “Brazilian Girl in New York.” Couch Surfing’s Community Guidelines explicitly warn against contacting other members for dating, noting, “we will consider this harassment” — albeit without stipulating what the penalties are for violating this rule.
In eight months using the service, Riccardo, who is 32 and works for an ad agency, has let eight visitors crash at his apartment, of whom he’s hooked up with five, for a 62 percent “success rate.” If you count the additional two who climbed into bed with him for a cuddle and then fell asleep, the percentage climbs even higher.Today, each of the site’s 7 million members has a unique profile which reads like a personal ad, highlighting interests, locations traveled, details about their accommodations and, most important, references.This system allows friends you’ve made globally or locally to vouch for you and the unlikelihood of you being a serial killer.Members can request a couch, host a traveler, or find new friends to meet up with locally.Riccardo agrees to host only female travelers and stipulates that they be younger than him.