Friday, July 15, 2011
Red Light District tour
When coming to Amsterdam, one of the main tourist attractions and appealing factors is it's red light district, a location where sex is the prominant theme and patrons can visit a number of places to buy it, view it, even purchase souvaneers having something to do with it. There are actually three red light districts in Amsterdam, with one main strip, and two smaller ones, which are frequented by locals. The main red light district is mostly frequented by tourists, all hoping to get a glimpse at the legal sex workers in windows, something that is unique to this city. At night the street is full of intoxicated men of all ages, musting up the courage to step into the doors of one of the ladies while their friends chant and hoot.
Let me try to paint a picture of what the red light district looks like. There is a canal, with two busy streets and many adjoining bridges with people crossing back and forth from each side to get a better look of what the area has to offer. There are a few cafes and bars, mostly filled with tourists sitting and staring at their surroundings. Signs advertising sex shows pop up every few buildings, with well dressed men standing outside coaxing people in.
A "sex show" can mean a number of things, mostly depending on the price paid by the customer and what are the offered features, which can consist of some sort of public sex show with solo women, women together, and some man/woman lovin. There are also private sex shows, which is like a peep show, but with different features, and possibly some touching rules.
In the district are also sex shops, similar to my former job, that vary from the gimmicky, to the high end quality toys. I have frequented most of them, and have found that the brands that are most commonly carried are Fun Factory, Lelo, and We-Vibe. Some of the stores have really fun display windows, with fucking machines jabbing at the air, and maniquins dressed in sexy costumes.
Here's a picture of a display window where the Statue of Liberty is holding a Lelo vibrator. Sorry for the unfocused image, my camera was being good that day.
Inside the stores are just aisles and aisles of sex toys, costumes, dvds, and other devices. Sometimes there are floggers hanging from the ceiling, in others there are display models of the toys for you to test out. And in quite a few there are masturbation and viewing booths in the back, near the porn dvds. I've had an interesting time exploring the porn sections, finding various boot legged videos of people that I know in the adult industry. Kink.com, for example, is extremely boot-legged here, with cheap looking dvds that are being sold for 20 euros a pop.
This is a boot-legged copy of a Hogtied.com shoot featuring Minx Grrl http://www.minxgrrl.com/
Probably the most popular feature of the red light district, besides the sex shows, are the windows. All around the district are windows (actually doors with large glass windows with red curtains) and legal prostitutes standing behind them. A typical window will consist of a woman posing in a particularly seductive/skin showing outfit, waving or winking at people walking past them. Some of the workers have chairs that they sit on, others stand for hours. Some of them talk or text on their phones while in the windows, and once I saw a woman sitting and eating a bag of potato chips (I gave her a thumbs up and she smiled and laughed). An important thing about the windows to understand is that these are legit places of work. Therefore, they are to be treated with respect. There are many signs warning that you are not allowed to take pictures of the windows, and security cameras watching the areas to make sure no one is messing with the ladies. There are also police on patrol, and in every sex workers window is an emergency button that will call them over if needed. If the prostitutes are working with "pimps", they usually stand on the corners watching the windows to make sure that no one is messing with their employees. NOTE: Any pictures I post of the actual windows I took from the internet. I did not take any pictures of the workers without their permission.
The red light windows are split into demographics. This is due to the price to rent out the window space. Each window is rented for a certain amount of hours, and the ones on the main street are much more expensive. So sex workers that are more popular and attract attention are able to afford the main windows. These workers are usually young and typically thin, though I've seen some big ladies rent a section of windows together and create a BBW (Big Beautiful Women) area.
There are lots of alleyways and streets off the main strip where more specific workers reside. Behind the old church you can find a large section of ethnic sex workers, and in another alley are older women. There is also a section called the "blue light district" where the prostitutes are males presenting as females (transexuals, transvestites, drag queens, etc). This is a very popular section, and can be found just off the main strip. There is also one window advertising fetish sexual practices.
From my few experiences walking past the different windows, depending on the day you get varied interactions with the workers. Some wave and wink, as I said, but others will glare at you if you appear to be staring too long, or look but don't intend to buy. A few ladies will hide themselves behind the red curtains if you appear to be a tourist, especially in the blue light district. Some of the workers, if they see a potential customer, will come out of their windows and shout various things. Others will come out to shout at people taking pictures. This happened to me, since I took my camera out to take a picture of the building. I tried to explain, but the woman was furious with me for even having it out. Many people do take pictures anyways, even go so far as to hide them sneakily under their jackets.
Here is the picture I took, of a very thin alleyway in the district, where you can see the doorways, but not the workers.
Sex work and sex in general is seen as something normative in society. There is a red light district information center where former window workers answer questions and give tours. There is also a statue in the church square commemorating sex workers, called "Belle".
Okay, that's it for today!
Ps Incase you were wondering, there are male prostitutes, but they work through escort services, not windows.