Amsterdam’s Red Light District consists of street after street, alley after alley lined with windows occupied by women of every age, ethnicity, and body type.
The girls are on display behind doors with full-length windows illuminated by a red light. Different sex workers have different approaches to getting their clients. Some girls have their asses in the air while others stick their tongue out and point at you. Some knock on the glass in front of them and others are on the phone with what I would like to imagine as their boyfriends or parents. Some of them are in a room together just talking to each other.
I wanted to talk to one of these girls. I wanted to hear her story and learn about what it’s like from her end. I had to know how it worked. What these women in the windows thought.
I asked one of the sex workers if she would allow me to pay her for a ten-minute interview. She seemed confused by the request but ultimately agreed. She sat on the bed, told me to take a seat and we started to talk.
How did you got into prostitution?
I was alone with three children. I was working at a store and it closed. I had to turn to this.
How long have you been a prostitute?
You start to work early.
I start my day at 4:30 in the morning. I come here and clean. Then I start working. I prefer to work in the morning because there is not so much paparazzi, not as many tourists taking pictures of me.
How does it feel when people look at you in the window?
Very badly. It is not just me. All of us feel this way. There is an older lady that is 65 in the window next to me. Her whole family knows that she is a prostitute. Her son comes here and helps her clean. He brings her food. We are a curiosity for people all around the world. I understand that, but when they see us, they laugh at us. I came here to work and they are laughing at me at work. They are laughing at me.
How much do you charge?
50 euros for 50 minutes. For something normal and quick, but not all of them want sex.
What do they want if they don’t want sex?
(She holds up a bottle of baby oil)
Yes. Or they just want to masturbate or they pay to massage me. A lot of people do not want sex. I get married people a lot. They are married but they are in the Netherlands alone. They tell me that “I am married but I am in Amsterdam and I have to come here. I had to enter here, be with a lady, do nothing, but I had to come here. I had to do that.”
Is there anything you would not do?
I wouldn’t be anything without protection. I wouldn’t do anything without a rubber. If he is drunk, I charge more money.
Have you ever fallen in love with one of your clients?
Twice I have in ten years. I had relationships with both of them. I am not dating anyone now. Both times I ended the relationship.
What do the people you date think of you being a prostitute?
The first guy was a drunk and he did not care. The second guy did not want to talk about it. He only thought I did it once a month.
It is hard to have sex with someone you love?
No, prostitution is different than sex. I rent my body. I rent my time. I rent my time and my body. I offer social service. Sometimes people come just because they want a friend. They only want to talk to me.
What do they want to talk about?
One guy wanted to talk about his wife and his children. Another wanted to tell me about how his ex-girlfriend left him for another man but he was still in love with her.
Do you ever get any virgins?
Yes. (Laughing) Once I know they are virgins, I don’t want to think about it. I hope it goes quickly. I don’t feel good about it. That happens to all of us and we all feel bad about it. It is not very often that it happens. None of us want to do it.
Do you ever get couples?
Yes, but they both do not want to have sex with me. The man just wants to have sex with me. The women just want to watch. Women love to watch.
If there was something you wanted to tell people about prostitution, what would you tell them?
We are not as bad as they think. I do this because I have to work.
Our time was up, I thanked her for talking with me and we walked back downstairs to the street…..