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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sex in Amsterdam, a Unique Experience

In shopping district, Spiegel in Amsterdam, it wasn't enough to just browse windows. Much damage was done to my wallet but O' how satisfied I am. Scoring a suede pig leather jacket in a pretty pastel green for 100 euros, I am guilt free.

A few canals across, it's a different kind of window shopping. It's a male shopping district.

In Amsterdam, one knows no shame. I unabashedly asked strangers, male and female, where the Red Light District is. Unlike how we immaturely tease each other with Geylang, the Dutch didn't bat an eyelid.
Oblivious to the staunch looking Ang Mohs behind, i am eating in the train!
In my last post, i mentioned i was going to do a prostitute workshop. It was honestly, an attempt to leave some kind of clue where i was and what I'm doing in case i don't return.

Excited at finding an off-the-beaten-track activity, i emailed PIC without hesitation and made a booking. After making a booking, i then remembered to sound out my Dutch friends if they heard about it before. They hadn't.

So i got worried. I worry if this was a trap to traffic girls. What did i just do?!? I just emailed a potential criminal about my arrival and I'm going to land right at their door step!  I contemplated canceling but i tried postponing it to my second day of arrival instead (trying to throw them off guard, and do a scout on my first day of arrival instead). Alas, Marisska replied saying she only has TWO Saturdays free in a year and she can't do it on my second day of arrival. TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS!!

Who has only TWO free Saturdays in a year? I got jittery, but decided to still JUST DO IT.

Which ironically, Nike got their tag line from someone's last words before EXECUTION!

So i set off looking for Enge Kersteeg 3 for my 9.30pm workshop on a Friday.
Very unglam with the umbrella.
I was expecting one main street where illuminated windows will flock left and right but no, there is no one street but it's in corners here and there. Where I least expected it, I'll see the alluring red glow.
The Red Light District in Amsterdam has been around since the 14th century. The oldest workers in the window are a pair of  70 year old twins.
1 has recently retired due to arthritis (can't do some sex positions anymore). I didn't meet them, but i did meet Marisska, former sex worker of the infamous Red Light District in the Prostitute Info Center which turns out to be legit (phew).

I almost gave up looking. If finding Tokyo's roads were difficult, try Amsterdam. After 5 days, i still couldn't get the route back home right.

After an hour of relentlessly and shamelessly asking passer-bys, i finally found PIC and was even 15 minutes early for my scheduled workshop!
In that hour, i could ask Marisska, former sex worker, ANYTHING i wanted. She is very warm and amiable, i instantly took a liking towards her.
How does the Red Light District work?
Unlike other prostitutes found in developing countries, who are a result of abuse, trafficking or low education, the sex workers in Amsterdam mainly do it as a choice. They have no boss (no pimps), start and end any time they want (sounded like the perfect job!).
The sex workers rent the windows from landlords. Halfway through my workshop, Marisska's old landlord (a very old woman) walked in with her bulldog to say hello and have a laugh or two about old times. In Singapore, one would think twice about owning a property in Joo Chiat or Geylang, but in Amsterdam, landlords own a couple of windows and get rich renting them out. 
For 60 euros in the day (12-8pm) to as much as 180 euros for the evening (8-4am), the girls get a window equivalent to a cell. 
Day shift: You see the leg behind a window on the bottom right corner?
In this basic window, you see a chair with a towel and a heater. When there is a client/ action, curtains will be drawn.
A little bit more luxurious, some have a sink to wash up and a ratty looking bed.

Photographs are Not Allowed
because many of the girls have a day job and do not want to be recognized. You may retort, "there's no fool-proof plan because your colleague, school-mate, friend or family may walk past". Marisska insists the girl behind the window will spot a familiar face from afar and draw the curtains before they can even say "i know you!" She was right, as i experienced standing behind the window myself later.

I did not see one tourist whip out their camera, but defiant me found ways to sneak a picture or two. By posing by an abandoned mattress (presumably thrown out from one of the windows).  
Check out the girls in windows behind.
The mattress was SURPRISINGLY HARD, almost wooden.
However, if the girls spot you taking a picture, they will not hesitate to hurl vulgarities at you and if within reach, they may even get nasty.
I thought they would not notice me, with that construction in between us. I snuck my camera inconspicuously (or so i thought) in between the gaps but as soon as i snapped, the girl from the extreme left window opened her door, shouted across the street and flipped her middle finger. SHE WAS FIERCE.
That was the last picture i took of the red light district. Kiasee already (scared of death).

Why do Sex Workers do it?
Marisska did it because she had no money for a dog at 16. She earned enough and she did buy a dog that same day (could even afford 2) but continued doing it because she thought it was pretty easy money and she didn't feel it was shameful.

She did enjoy the sex and repeatedly say she CHOOSES who she wants to sleep with. For a very warped reason, some sex workers believe providing sexual service to men is some form of empowerment and liberation. Women can have sex all day long and men cannot. Using that to their advantage, they earn thousands of dollars from men who typically can't say no (they risk their relationship, their marriage, their freedom (jail) for sex) and who to this day earn 30% more than women for doing the same work (in the normal sense). Back in the 80s, the prime time of the industry, a girl can earn as much as 20K euros a month (SGD 36K).
Marrisska answers my questions as i warm up behind the window.
What are the Charges?
They never do without a condom and it costs 50 euros for a 15 minute session. It could be oral sex, intercourse or a bit of both. They use an iPod as a time keeper. When you hear the crescendo? You ought to climax too.
Marrisska also writes books and columns.
Special services and requests other than the norm is usually done at private houses and not in the windows. Windows are meant to be inexpensive quickies. While there may be a little competition amongst the girls, they generally look out for each other (against violent men) and they chat with each other to pass time.

There are less hot girls in the alleys of Amsterdam now (especially with the government trying to clean it up). Instead they are filled with African big girls, coined the Big Mama alley. I have however, seen 5 hotter younger Caucasian girls (one of whom is the one who hurled vulgarities at me). I saw 2 who had a unique selling point (one wore spectacles (school girl/teacher fetish?) and one was in a cat woman suit (dominatrix?)) I saw one balding scrawny Caucasian man behind a window with a rainbow flag (gay) and i was told the windows with blue lights are transsexuals or any other homo sapiens (but i didn't see any blue lights).
Fact finding till Marrisska asked if i was a hard nosed journalist in disguise :P
Standing Behind a Window
It was 8 degrees. I didn't hesitate to strip to my bikini although it felt really strange to not be at a beach in a bikini. "Heels make a woman feel sexier", Marrisska lent me hers. She sized me up and down in my bikini and gave a nod of approval. I was a good student, i followed her email instructions and brought something white which worked beautifully in the UV lights. I stepped up to the big cushioned arm chair in chunky heels, crossed my legs and folded my arms across my chest. It was a defensive move, i felt naked.
The crowd is just warming up.

I don't know how much time have passed but after all the interrogation, i was ready to stand up and expose my tummy. Marisska hid from the street view so that men would approach my window. And they did!!!
Still feeling very uncomfortable, my body is taking the defensive stance.
Marisska then started pointing out how to choose my clients. She asked me to observe and compare men who walked past with their girlfriends (the man walks more relaxed, oblivious to the girls behind the windows) to men who walked past with their mates (brazen and cocky) to men who walked past alone (curious, more polite and genuine).
Trio approaching.
With my arms crossed, I'm not going to attract men. I awkwardly placed my arm on my hips, i thought this is what mannequins do.
Oh, and i sucked in too.
Then, i got competitive. I knew on my left and right, it's the fat mamas who were standing behind the windows in itsy bitsy neon lingerie. I can't lose to them. Me, supposedly an exotic wanton on that street. It must be because i had no tits, i didn't have anyone knocking on my window.

As if on cue, Marisska asked me to separate my bikini to show more cleavage.
She asked me to loosen up and smile. She said i looked too stern.
She asked me to sway my hips to the music and caress myself. 
I tried.
Limp attempt.
She asked me to run my fingers through my hair.
I mechanically followed her instructions but still felt very uncomfortable. Talking to Marisska soothed my fears, I asked her for sex tips (if a condom breaks, drink alot of water and pee it out - really works meh?) , and i asked what was the strangest request (she had to wear diapers and pretend to be a baby. Her client got very turned on when she pees in her diaper). In brief moments of bravery, i looked up to see men in front of my window.
Marisska has experienced enough to generalize races. There are certain races ( i won't mention) that she refuses to work with. She prefers Asians but they usually have very small appendages but alot of hair that she has to rummage through the bush to find it. In my hour, i had 2 groups of 3 men in their 20-30s, utterly dick-heads who waved their 100 euro in my face, darting their tongue in between their fingers shaped in a V and banging on the window ( i hope it's bullet proof!) .

From a mile away, Marisska could already spot trouble. As they approached, she reminded me to not have any eye contact. There is however, a panic button in every window. The landlord or the police will come when pressed. I didn't have eye contact with many men that night.

Then, there were the ones (white haired men in their 40s) who had a kinder expression and they were the ones that Marisska said if i had wanted to, i could open a crack (not ass), negotiate, let them in and draw the curtains. I had a couple of men politely knocking on my window but i would smile and shake my head. Some persisted but soon accepted no as an answer. I actually felt bad for cheating their feelings. Standing behind a window, enticing them but actually not open for business.

When she was still working (she retired from the sex trade after 6 years, knowing she can't lead this life forever), she never kisses her clients as she keeps that for real lovers. There is a code of "honour" amongst the workers to not orgasm but she found that hard to do because it's a woman's natural body reaction. Not many of her boyfriends could accept her job. They would at first but soon turn jealous. She could however, separate emotions from sex and genuinely believed sex with prostitutes were merely transactional. 

Today, Marisska is divorced with a teenage daughter. She married an Indonesian Malawi man who lived in Amsterdam. Ironically, they divorced because her husband visited prostitutes which she accepted in the beginning (understanding it's merely transactional) but couldn't later. She has an estranged relationship with her parents and believes they blame themselves for not giving her money for the puppy. Despite Marisska advocating the sex trade and her choice of career, if her daughter ever follows her path, she would be heart broken. However, Marisska gave a weak smile and said her daughter is a total opposite of herself. "She is a strong headed girl who values her body very much." I saw love and hope in Marisska's eyes. 

I could tell the age on her face and the beaten soul within. Since quitting the trade, Marisska has become more romantic and her fantasy (she still has them despite doing everything imaginable with clients) is to have outdoor sex. In the woods, on the beach or in the water.

There is life after Sex
There's always the stereotype that after being an air stewardess, you can't find another job prospect. Life after a sex worker could be caring for the old or any job dealing with people as the ex sex worker will be well versed with reading body language.

Whilst it may seem like the people on the street are watching the circus behind the window, the sex workers thinks its a circus out on the street instead. They have enough self respect to ask a smelly man to go away, or expects a man to have the basic respect to shower before coming to get laid. 

It was pretty exhilarating standing behind the window. I had a very enjoyable time chatting with Marrisska. I admire her bravery to step out, tell the world she is an ex sex worker and even turned it into HER life after sex.

It dawned upon me that despite how advanced society has become, how women fought fiercely for equal rights, we will never win the gender war. I shudder at the thought of my man visiting a prostitute, and I'm disappointed at the very primal instincts of men. It is always a perception that sex workers take ANY men who comes, but how gravely prejudiced we are.

Suddenly, i felt cold. My hour was up. So i put on my clothes, paid 35 euros and gave Marisska a big hug. I walked out enlightened, a different person.


Anonymous said...

YOU ARE AMAZING. I admire your guts, this is so fun to read. And you're incredibly yummy too!

Kelvin said...

This is definitely your best post ever. Unlike the others in blogsphere that single mindedly talk about mundane stuff. You really break out of the mould to bring in such inisightful perspectives on the sex trade. Thank you for enlightening me

Katrijn said...

Oh, I knew the PIC existed! Prostitution has always fascinated me, so I've come across Mariska and her organization before. But I've never met her or visited the Center.

I admire your guts, this is a very brave post, almost as brave as the actual act of standing in the window dressed in (very nice) bikini!

You really do break the mold - and then some!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for leaving a comment, it means alot :)

Anonymous said...

U are an inspiration


Anonymous said...

I don't patronize whores, but seeing you in your bikini and your taut figure, yes, I would have knocked on the window. For an hour or 4 15-min sessions, yes, I would have paid you in cash. Yes, I would have taken you in your room, missionary, 69, doggie, the works. Excuse me for being blunt but I want you to know the effects your fotos had on me.

Estelle Kiora said...

OMG I can't believe you did this! Yet i'm not surprised one bit. I think it's awesome that you did this workshop and yes, you could have landed yourself in some trouble but you would have definitely taken a lot from this experience. You crazy, curious bunny rabbit! Love you xx

Anonymous said...

I would be more impressed if you had actually performed for one session at the least, most respectful if you had spent the weekend servicing clients. By taking the workshop and not taking real clients, you are helping to mock the sex workers ... as in 'I have a choice to take in pricks or not to, unlike the rest of you.' Think of the writers George Orwell and Henry Miller - they actually lived for years in poverty to find the experiences to write their books on the down and out of life. BTW, if I met you in a pub, club or someplace, I would pick you up for a ONS, with your consent of course.,

Anonymous said...

con't ... What I meant is I would approach you with every intention of picking you up for a ONS. If rejected, I just go home to a cold shower and solo handjob, otherwise maybe staying back for brunch the next day exchanging knowing looks and pausing at significant moments in the conversation. Avec plaisur, mon amour.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the experience. I get to live off you!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this and I must say thank you for opening my eyes to the other side

Anonymous said...

Hey, something wrong with your blog? Re-post old stuff.

Jo said...

I came to visit after the panel discussion u did at SPH and i must applaud you for being really entertaining and writing so well and witty.

Jan said...

Best read in the last few months!

William Manson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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