On Friday night, a comedian named Ari Teman rented out his Manhattan apartment on Airbnb to a man named David who said he was looking for a place for his family to stay while in New York for a wedding. What Teman accidentally discovered later was that his apartment was being prepared to host an orgy.
According to Teman, he handed the keys over to David late Friday afternoon. Then, he left his suitcase with his doorman and went to dinner before planning to head out of New York. When Teman returned to his building to retrieve his bag, he saw David in the lobby and overheard him telling others that "they're shutting us down."
Teman asked what was being "shut down," which he said brought a look of mortified recognition over David's face. Concerned and suspicious, Teman went back upstairs to his apartment, where he attempted to figure out what was going on. He opened his computer and Googled the Gmail address and phone number David had provided him during their correspondence on Airbnb. The search of the phone number brought up this tweet from February that advertised a "BBW Panty Raid Party" in New York.
From there, Teman discovered the Twitter feed of @TWINN_GREEN, who was advertising a "XXX Freak Fest" on Friday night at the location of Teman's building.
By that point, Teman had also already noticed damage to his furniture — some of which had been overturned — and musical equipment, as well as bags of condoms and liquor lying around that he said weren't his. Cops from the NYPD's 10th precinct were eventually called to clear the apartment.
When reached at the number listed in Munch Da Mouth's tweet, a man who identified himself as "David" insisted that he did nothing wrong. According to David, his rental agreement with Teman stated that he could have up to 50 guests (a claim Teman disputes), but he denies that he was having a party, anyway.
"I'm in no way, shape or form worried about this particular situation," David told me.
But David did confirm that he had agreed to rent the apartment from Teman, and he did answer the phone connected to the number advertising the "XXX Freak Fest" at Teman's building.
Teman said he's now in a discussion with his landlord over the future of the apartment, for which he has retained an attorney. But this isn't really a story about Ari Teman, David, or New York's XXX Freak Fests. And it's not really about our brave, new, tech-driven world — in which we can stay at strangers' apartments, catch rides in their cars, or merely shit in their toilets with a few taps of our phones — either.
To its credit, Airbnb's response to Teman was quick, almost absurdly so. Within 24 hours, per an email provided to Gawker by Teman, Airbnb had sent a locksmith to change his locks, made plans to put him up in a hotel for a week, and wired him $23,817 (of which Airbnb itself is insured, but nonetheless). Airbnb has apparently learned from its mistakes, which included hostile reactions from company backers to a woman whose apartment was pillaged by an Airbnb renter in 2011.
Really, this is (yet another) story about the power of social media in our everyday lives, just with a twist of BBW orgy. Had Teman Googled David's phone number before handing over the keys, he probably would have cancelled the agreement and saved everyone the trouble. If David's number wasn't plastered across Twitter, he and whomever wanted to pay $20 to enter his party could have fucked all over Teman's apartment in peace.
Instead, Teman ended up stuck in New York and displaced from his apartment. David did not get to throw his Freak Fest. They both have spent the past 48 hours entangled with lawyers and policemen. What a weekend it could have been.
UPDATE: Gawker has received the following statement from Airbnb:
Over 11 million guests have had a safe and positive experience on Airbnb and problems for hosts and guests are incredibly rare, but when they happen, we try to help make things right. We were appalled when we learned about this incident and we took immediate action to help this host. The individual who rented this space has been permanently removed from our site. We've reimbursed the host for damages to his apartment and ensured he has a new place to stay. In the days ahead, we'll continue to work with the host to assist him with his additional needs and we will work cooperatively with any law enforcement agencies that investigate this matter.
[top photo via Getty, first screenshot and photo of overturned couch via Ari Teman. You can read Teman's account of the situation on Tumblr.]