Gevoel: ROKEN EN SEXY
(Translation: Feeling Smoking and Sexy – though not in the self-appreciating avenue)
So – to causing some Amsterdamage.
Of course, one cannot visit the Great City of Sex without at least a small run in (though it is for the most part rather sizeable) with some dick fanny. Ahhhhh, the Red Light District, the real concentration of sex-orientated shenanigans. Walking through the Red Light District (hereafter RLD) is impossible to get through without seeing a least six window displays of dildos, a good three different sets of spread legs and copious numbers of lit up windows, as well as trying-to-blend-into-the-background men behind the swishing shut curtains with fists full of euros. Women of all colours, shapes and sizes parade their wares in a good 301 red-fringed window parlours – thus the whole “red light” titling. So why not get immersed? Get all up in it, so to speak?
Which is just what we did. Sex shows abound around the area, with neon signs blazing with promises of “man and girl”, “girl on girl” and “sex talent show”. Tarryn took a list of who was down to indulge in a bit of perversion (a good four fifths of all passengers) and upon showering and launching into the buffet dinner, we loaded the bus and headed over to the RLD.
And sex. Sex sex sex. It’s everywhere; every second shop, on everybody’s lips, all up in the air.
So, why so? A quickie to give you the ins.
So the Netherlands is insanely famous for its sex trade all over the globe; with prostitution legal and regulated, De Wallen – the best known and largest red light district in Amsterdam – is a major tourist destination as well as a go-to for a good number of locals looking to get the end of the day away.
So during the Middle Ages, prostitution was tolerated all over the Netherlands, being seen as an indispensable way to protect chaste women from rape and sexual abuse. However, the prostitutes themselves were not allowed to marry, as they were seen to be engaging in a dishonourable profession. Governments made attempts to separate it from the “honourable” world but were unsuccessful on account of the reasoning that, “If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on the account of lusts”.
In fact, a decree from 1413 went insofar as to state, “Because whores are necessary in big cities and especially in cities of commerce, indeed it is far better to have these women than not to have them. And also because the holy church tolerates whores on good grounds, for these reasons the court and sheriff of Amsterdam shall not entirely forbid the keeping of brothels”.
The Dutch decided thereupon to keep prostitution out of the city walls, forcing brothels and playhouses into dark alleys and streets, forming the early Red Light District in Amsterdam; however, rather than be a fun playground of accepted screwing, it was associated with a shady underworld of the poor and undesirable – this meant that the prostitutes were kept in a unpenetrate-able (good fitting word there, not sure if it even is one but we are rocking it) constant cycle of debt and enslavement.
The 16th century saw attitudes to sex modifying; with a mass rise of Spanish occupation and resulting Protestantism, sexual activities started to be viewed as only tolerated as within a marriage. As the church and state were not separated, it came to (sorry) be that what was viewed as sinful doings by the church were also viewed as crime by government. Thus, under Calvinist law, prostitution was prohibited throughout the country.
However, Amsterdam started to regulate prostitution, setting certain areas to be cordoned. It was stated that the city bailiff and his servants were allowed to operate a brothel within the city as a “regulated tolerance”, with any others discovered engaging in hand-over-cash-for-hand hanky panky subject to fines and imprisonment. This system gave the local government a fab cash incentive as well, resulting in the erection (it had to happen) of many more establishments.
But then it all shut down for a bit – after the Dutch revolt and the Alterie in 1578, Calvinists shut down the brothels, as well as the “Great Pox” debacle; a mass outbreak of syphilis spread panic and trepidation (as well as STDs). Prostitutes were no longer seen as tolerated sinners, but instead as wicked wretches.
The late 17th century saw the prosecution of sex workers at its height, with a good 5784 people tried in more than 8099 trials between 1650 and 1750. But the Dutch Golden Age saw Amsterdam grow as a centre of economic and cultural diversity, with prostitution experiencing a mass resurgence, all of which was concentrated in the RLD. But this time, the Amsterdam government decided it was extremely important that they enacted protective regulations, mainly aimed at protecting women from entering the shady sex world altogether, with orphans and widows under the responsibility of the mayor and the government.
French occupation in the 19th century saw the lift of prostitution as a crime, with sex workers required to be registered with police and forced to undergo regular STD checks. These were mainly put into play as a means of looking after the French armed forces lads. Hookers needed to provide a red card deeming them “clean” – sort of like a work permit – and free of infectious diseases, before putting themselves up for sale.
The Industrial Revolution meant flash (well, sexily slutty) clothes could be bought at a much cheaper price than of that in the past. Many prostitutes were no longer indebted to landladies, and the trading and selling of “girls” between the bawds hugely lessened. The rise of seeing the tawdry trade as “men’s malevolent doings” saw the shift of blame to males; people no longer saw it as being spurred by women as immoral instigators with men as innocent spectators, but the men as bandying about wanting to – excuse the crassness of the following expression – “get their wangers wet”.
The year 1896 saw the springing up of a committee to investigate prostitution in the city, with findings declaring that public houses of debauchery should disappear; the industry went flaccid as brothels were officially closed by the council in 1897. But sex workers never fully disappeared – they worked in the wings. A disreputable underworld of violent criminals started to formulate, with pimps becoming prevalent and enslavement growing.
Here came about the idea of the gedoogbeleid – the policy of tolerance as harm reduction. (Also in tune with other “evils” such as drugs and such, thus the “yay” to weed). It was decided that the best way to protect women was to condone prostitution on a local level.
The 1930s saw the development of raamprostitutie, or window prostitution, whereby females would fanny about (yes) in red lit windows in skimpy attire in a bid to entice in the lads. Throughout the 60s and 70s the RLD massively increased, bringing along with it violence, drunkenness and rowdiness.
It was the turn of the millennium where the Dutch government repealed the ban on brothels to enable regulation once again. “Sex work is inevitable and thus should be regarded as a normal profession because, if illegal, it will attract other forms of illegality”. In bringing acceptable forms of sex work into the open and protecting them, other criminal activities such as human trafficking could be dealt with more effectively. It allowed the governments to exercise more control over the sex industry and strictly enforce regulations, and in now being seen as a legitimate occupation, those in the field were awarded the same working benefits as all other employed persons, as well as being subject to tax. (Imagine your tax return form at the end of the tax year – “total in blow jobs taxable”. What would you be able to claim as of being on the job?).
So yes. That’s some very fast ins to what led to selling sex in Amsterdam in particular. And just another nippy tale quick quick – that of twins Louise and Martine Fokken (fitting surname) who retired from the game in 2013 at the age of 70, after having sex with a good 355,000 men between them.
Having become prostitutes at the age of 20 to outrun violent relationships, the two femme fatales spent the majority of their debaucherously down-with-it decades in identical red clothes. However, the end was nigh as of the late 2000s; Louise, a mother of four, said her arthritis was making some positions too painful to bear (apparently doggie was out), while Martine a mother of three, admitted attracting in new clients started to prove rather hard (or limp, as is the case). But Martine says there is one man she will continue to see even in her fade from the game; an elderly gentleman who would come to her (excuse me) once a month. “I can’t give him up,” the long-time lass said. “He’s been coming to me for so long it’s like going to church on a Sunday.” (Not sure what kind of mass she went to).
So. Back to me.
I was actually rather taken aback by the RLD – I’d expected lots of seedy allies and lack of eye contact, but the area was brimming and bustling with wide lanes and people smiling at each other all over the show. And perhaps the most shocking of all, a church – yes a church – standing proudly right in the midst of all the misdoings. The Oude Kerk was built up in the 13th century and is said to be one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam, dedicated to St Nicholas, the city’s patron saint. It’s a pretty deadly church as well, in that inside gravestones are clearly visible – the church was constructed atop an old cemetery, with a good 2,500 graves and at least 10,000 bodies beneath.
And just outside Oude Kerk is a hand copping a feel; that is, the Golden Breast embedded in the cobblestones. It came about in 1993, laid bare in the wee hours of the night when no observers were about, with the artist anonymous to this day (all that is known is that the lad is a doctor, and he has myriad other quirky pieces dotted about the city, with others being a violin player busting out of the floor in Stopera, a man sawing the branch he is perched upon in a tree near the Leidseplein and a running man with no head clasping a violin case in Marnixstraat). Weighed down with a metre large block of concrete, the felt up boob is said to represent the women of the RLD and their work, depicting it in a more tender light (though I feel it appears to be more a grope). When it was first installed, neighbours of the boob complained that when people plodded on the piece the resounding noise was insanely noisy; the city council took it away to rectify, returning it as soundproofed – stamp about as you like, there will no longer be any tit for tat.
After I got a good handful (nice rack on that one) we passed through the Trompettersteeg, or the more commonly known “Skinny Alley”. The narrowest street in Amsterdam at only 100cm wide, the alley is one of the busiest in the city as it leads to the nucleus of all things carnal as the “Disneyworld for degenerates”. And the women are right there so you can engage in a spot of window shopping; just be aware – blue lights mean male mate, so if you’re not after a lady boy, it’s code blue to turn back.
So we sauntered on into a line for the Casa Rosso Sex Show (heralded with a sign of a pink elephant). We were all giddy and giggly with glee, sucking on the lollipops handed to us by the owner policing about – glucose gloried boobs for boys, penises for girls – and told in no uncertain terms that taking photos within was prohibited. Kicked out material. Absolute no cell phones out in any way, shape or form. Then it was all in.
When you hear the words “sex show” what do you expect? Like, do you expect actual sex? I guess maybe I hadn’t overly thought about what would be on show. So when I took up shop on my red velvet fold out chair and looked at what was being performed a mere 10 metres ahead (fitting) I almost gushed out my glass of red wine.
Penetration. I mean full on, peeny in fanny, hip pumping fanfare. With a guy and a girl engaging in fellatio, actual intercourse and a fair bit of fiddling, all whilst taking up position (multiple too) on a revolving table so you can see from every angle.
And the impassive faces! I think that’s what struck me most. Like, they’re in the middle of the most sensational (in the “feel” definition of the word) act possible, yet their facials remained expressionless canvases of vague.
This went on for a wee while, a soundtrack of heavy rock paired with it. (Somehow I think the leading lad would’ve been more suited to some Akon or less “thrust” sounding tunes – he had not a chance of keeping up with the beat). Upon their finishing (I mean in the sense of their stage time, not of any ends away – he was most definitely on Viagra and I feel she wasn’t on the cusp of – apologies – coming) a disembodied voice announced, “Thank you to Magic Marina and Michael. Now, onto Sultry Suanna.”
I wasn’t at all impressed with “Sultry Suanna”. She sort of trolloped around the stage leaning on poles and starring at the audience. Things looked up when she did a sort of shimmy thing and sort of half-heartedly plucked at the waistband of her “skirt” (not that you could call it that; the flimsy piece of shiny black fabric actually reminded me of one of those large black rubbish bag that you rip a bit of the top off to tie around it when full), but it was about three minutes of non-engagement before she ripped a cigar from her bra (then took that off too), whipped off her bottoms, lay on the floor and had a puff – out of her vagina.
Brings a whole new meaning to bum puff.
After old Suanna there was another lass who was a bit more into her act, getting one of the boys from our group – new oldmate Jag, no less – up to cavort about with her on stage. She proceeded to take his shirt off, then got him to lie on the floor as she wrote “DICK” in black vivid across his chest – with her fanny.
Another sex couple (this one were more on point and believable with some faces going on), of which I got a bit of commentary on the go. “Look at his BALLS!” I bellowed, as the ball-owner in subject went to town in time with his chosen track (some Pitbull, much more timely to tune to). This guy was mesmerising, as his bum looked like a flapping monarch butterfly and he pumped away as the table turned.
Then up came a fellow in a full on tuxedo-like police uniform, who asked for a few females from the audience. Of course, two wines deep and always one for being the centre of attention, I was first up followed by Sheridan, another new oldmate, Laura and two others.
Well of course he got us to strip him – the first three got his jacket, pants and belt, leaving him in a zebra-patterned G-string like thing with a matching singlet top. I assumed that was my que to take it off but no; instead, he made me face the audience with my arms out and look ahead, with no looking from side to side.
So when I felt an extremely hard long and rounded object making its way along the length of my arm, who could deny me the reaction of shrieking aloud in shock? Especially when in attempting a desperate looking-out-the-corner-of-my-eye all that could be seen was a dark rod-like “instrument”; I honestly thought the lad had his member out and was swishing it about my appendages.
When I was finally allowed to move from my static stance I was very relieved to find that it was in face nothing more untoward than a baton of some sort. I got off lightly.
Sheridan however did not. She got caught in the way of a fly ball, when upon being instructed to remove his underwear he helicoptered into her face. Luckily she had the forward thinking to turn cheek and his mickey caught her on the side of the forehead rather than a full frontal.
We returned to our seats to see the final act; some sort of Jungle Jane romping about the stage. She called up a few males, of which new oldmate Matt (a NZ hailing lad from Wellington, no less) ended up having to eat a banana from her flaps.
A fun filled night for all!
We spilled back out onto the street after the curtains went down laughing into the night. After a quick tipple at the local Bellushis Bar, we headed to Bulldogs – one of the many infamous Amsterdam coffee shops on offer.
Now, a common misconception about the Netherlands is that marijuana is legal; this is not the case. Rather, it is decriminalised, meaning allowances are made with certain limits and specifications. It’s all in line with the gedoogbeleid policy of tolerance, in letting a little of the bad in to keep a lot of the very bad out. So certain places are designated to have a casual spliff and amount of bud, perhaps in space cake form. Thus, the coffee houses; not cafes you see, but coffee houses that sell aplenty of magical, ar, coffees.
So we trotted up the tall, steep steps, a little gang of six. We ordered a couple of “long blacks”, proceeded to guzzle them back and wait for the sense of the funnies to overtake. When nothing had in 20, we ordered a couple more and took them takeaway back to our hotel to indulge in our jammies.
Unfortunately, the “caffeine” never seemed to catapult me. But I can wholeheartedly check that off the to-do list and know I at least attempted to do Amsterdamage.
And from here forth with? I’m all about getting all gedoogbeleid. I mean, all in moderation, correct?