I have spent the last 5 months walking, running and stumbling past the “women in the windows” in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The questions that ran through my head were never ending and never answered. One day, I just had to stop and ask. This is what one of them had to say:
How did you decide to get into prostitution?
I wanted my own money. Both of my parents have a higher education but we were a poor family. When I turned 18 I knew I could separate love and sex. It was a process of thinking about it and then actually doing it.
I started working at clubs. I quit because I was expecting my daughter and I wanted to pick up my studies. After awhile, I picked up prostitution again. This time I did it for a year and a half out of my house. When I was expecting my twins, I quit again. Now, I only do it sometimes with customers I know that will come to my home.
Your children, are they from a boyfriend? Your husband? A customer?
That is the assumption that some people make. The father of my children is my boyfriend. Pregnancy from prostitute’s clients is rare in Holland. Birth control is very well regulated and condoms are easily accessible. The chance that a prostitute gets pregnant from a customer is very low – maybe 0 – 1%.
What was the first time like?
It wasn’t very special. Some people might think that it would be quite hard. For me it was not. Sex was something I was used to but I just had not been paid for it. It sounds like I was a total slut. But I just thought that I had sex before, now I could just get money for it.
How do you separate sex with someone you love from someone that is paying you for it?
It is difficult because we are all raised with the idea that sex and love come together. I was raised that way as well. If you separate these two things you can enjoy having sex with someone without loving him. If you love someone you give your mind, your body, your soul, your everything. If you just have sex with them – it is just sex – it is more technical but of course you can still enjoy it.
So you enjoy it?
Yes. If you get a hot stud and you have a nice time with each other, of course, it is fun. Then you get people that you would never choose to have sex with in your private time but you can still enjoy that as well. The times you really close up are when people don’t show you respect or don’t talk to you – then you are not there. And of course if you ever have someone that you don’t like or you don’t have a connection with you can always refuse them.
How often do you get the hot ones?
At least once or twice a week, it makes it fun. It makes it ok to keep on doing what you are doing.
How would you describe the connection you have with your customers?
When you work in a club or at home before you go in a room you talk to each other. You talk about what you like with sex. You talk about other things as well – what your hobbies are. It is not only about sex for all customers. They want to know something about the person they are having sex with. When you work behind the window you have to talk with them a little bit, negotiate price and what he can expect for that price. If it feels ok and your instinct is telling you that it is ok – then you have a connection with them.
When you are working at clubs do people approach you or do you approach them?
Some prostitutes approach the customer. Customers like that. Personally, I would wait until somebody approaches me and showed interest in me. But some girls are like “pick me, pick me”. That is the reason why I quit working at clubs. I did not like the meat market – waiting for customers – hoping that they would like you. That is why I stopped and chose to work at home. I get most of my customers over the Internet so I do not have to wait in a bar.
How many of your customers would you say are married?
(Laughing) About 50/50. Maybe a little more.
I am guessing their wives do not know about it.
Some clients tell their wives and some wives are ok with it.
How many times a day do you have sex with people?
If you work in a club you have 5 customers on a good day. When you work in the window, 6 – 10 customers on a good day. When I work at home I prefer three – that is the max.
You work out of your actual home?
Do you feel safe working from home?
When a customer is coming over, I tell someone I trust what I am doing. I tell them how long the customer will be there so after, let’s say an hour and ten minutes I will call him and let him know that everything is ok. If he does not hear from me he will call me and in the worst case he would call the police, but that has never happened. Of course, it is not a guarantee that nothing will happen. But it is important that I communicate well with my customers. Communication is one of the most important things in this industry. You have to be very clear about what your prices and boundaries are. It is also important that the customer knows what he is going to get and what you look like. That is the biggest reason that things go wrong. People don’t communicate well or with respect.
Do your kids know?
No. My sons are one year old. My daughter is seven. They are too young to understand. To my daughter I try to explain that the people working behind the windows are selling kisses. You adjust the story to the age. I am not embarrassed about the way I make my money. It is an honest living.
Would you be ok if your daughter was a prostitute?
I would have a hard time with it for two reasons. The idea that your daughter is having sex with all kinds of men scares every parent and of course I understand that now more than ever. On the other hand it is still stigmatized. Some people have the idea that the girls or guys working in this industry are not educated or have mental problems and of course with some that is the case. We are not all the same. But, you have prostitutes that are very strong independent women that choose to make their money this way. But it is still hard and that is the reason that a lot of girls have a double life.
What do you mean by prostitutes leading a double life?
They don’t tell anyone what they are doing. One day they are at school and the next they are a prostitute.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about prostitution?
The biggest misconceptions are that every prostitute is a victim because they make their money in this industry and that all the girls are forced into it. Of course with ‘force’ you have to look at what that means. Does that mean forced with a gun to her head or forced by circumstance because they do not have any money or because of a situation they are in. But there are also people that choose to do this. They are ok with the fact that they make their money this way.
Do you think you would do it if it was illegal?
Yes. It is the oldest profession in the world. It will never go away. If you have people that need prostitutes you will always have prostitutes.
It is interesting that we live in a culture where it is ok to pay for boob jobs but not blow jobs.
People understand changing something about themselves but not everybody can understand being a prostitute. People cannot relate to that which they cannot understand especially because prostitution is a very gray area. It is not out in the open so people have all kinds of ideas about it. They think that prostitutes are on drugs, that this is criminal behavior, that they are impoverished. People do not want to think that people that work in this industry could be like you. That is quite a scary idea – that you could be somebody that could do this and I think that is why people want to keep their distance from it.
Do you kiss your clients?
No, but I don’t like kissing in general. But a lot of people that work in prostitution do because that is an intimate thing for them.
Have you ever found yourself falling in love with your clients or have feelings of intimacy towards them?
Not falling in love with them, no. Of course there were some I really liked and I always enjoyed myself when they came over but for me the moment someone comes over and pays me – they are a customer. We can have a great time and a lot of laughs but they are still a customer.
I have heard that the women live in the rooms behind their windows, is that true?
No, that is not allowed.
Have you ever been asked to have sex without condoms?
Yes. Of course, we are not holy people. We all make mistakes. For me that is going too far but of course I have done stupid things. If you work professionally and you think about what you are doing you don’t do that. We don’t live in utopia. We all make human mistakes.
When someone asks you outside of work what you do, what do you tell them?
Working in prostitution is not the first thing I tell someone. If someone asks me if I work in prostitution I will not deny it. I am not ashamed.
Would you say that you are proud of it?
Proud is a very big word but I am also not embarrassed or ashamed of it either.
What are the stranger things people have asked you to do?
To pee on them, which I am ok with. If they want to get peed on or pooped on I am ok with that as long as it is not me and as long as they pay for it.
Have you pooped on someone?
I have. He puked afterwards, but that is his problem.
How do guys you have dated react to you being a prostitute?
My first boyfriend had a hard time with it. He couldn’t handle me having sex with all of these other men. My current boyfriend is ok with it. He understands that it is a job for me.
How often are you tested for STDs?
If you work on a daily basis then of course it is important that you get tested at least once every two or three months but you have to do it on a regular basis.
Do you get worried when you get tested or are you pretty confident that you will be ok?
I am confident. I am careful. I think you have less reason to be afraid when you work professionally in prostitution than when you pick up guys at a bar – then you are more careless.
Why do you think guys come to you?
(Laughing) Because they like my type. There are all kinds of reasons. There are guys that are single that don’t want to spend all night in a bar buying girls drinks and then they have to wait to see if they can have sex with them. There are married men that want something exciting besides their wife. There are also people that have never done it before and are afraid to pick someone up, so they do it with a prostitute.
How much do you charge?
At the first club they charged 150 Euros (about $225) an hour but I had to share that money with the club owner. At the other club I worked in it was one of the most expensive clubs in Holland and customers paid 750 Euros (about $1125) an hour. When I work at home I charge 150 Euros an hour but that is all for me.
Do you think you will stick with it for awhile?
It is a little bit in me still. I don’t think I will stop for awhile.
Do you see yourself doing something very different five, ten years from now?
Yes, I am studying at the moment to be a social worker. I only have one year to go and then I will focus on that.