Who's Behind The Curtain
Some sex workers just sell the sexual act while others claim to offer “true love.” But whatever the proposition is, it’s for money. We talked to a prostitute and an ex-gigolo about their work in the Dutch sex business.
Ruby* came to the Netherlands from Romania when she was 18 years old. She is now 24 and has worked in several Dutch cities as a prostitute. Her parents don’t know her occupation.
At 11 a.m. on a Wednesday she was sitting on a stool, her legs up against the window, waiting for a client to arrive. Her room was heated up to approximately 24 degrees. She only wore a tiny black bikini and high heels.
In one hand she held her smartphone and in the other a cigarette. Every now and then she opened the window to throw a cigarette on the street. Next to the continuously mumbling TV was the air freshener but the lavender scent wasn’t enough to eliminate the smell of sex in the room. The thin, brunette, tough-looking girl kept gazing at the street through several thick layers of black mascara to look for customers.
Patrick is from Rotterdam and was a gigolo for five years. The 25-year-old started selling his services after sleeping with a woman who unexpectedly paid him for the act. It was as easy as that.
His confident voice and seductive eyes are only two reasons that helped him to get his job. The brown-haired man also appears as an honest, straightforward guy, who immediately makes others feel comfortable. His thin, tall stature worked in his favor as an attention grabber.
As most people’s only contact with Dutch sex workers is outside their windows, we decided to step inside and get our 20-minutes worth. We reveal the people behind the curtain.
How do you pick your clients?
Ruby: If I don’t like their face or if they don’t look clean, I don’t open my door. I also have regular clients; they always come to me.
Patrick: I never put a profile on the Internet and waited for the customers to find me. I always went to hotels and I found potential customers there, who were always women. So, I could choose whomever I wanted to. If she was not interesting or I didn’t like her I wouldn’t have accepted her as a customer.
How long are your workdays?
Ruby: I work every day from morning to night. Sometimes I don’t even sleep. My window is open 24 hours. Sometimes I spend the night here (points at the bed in the back of the room).
Patrick: I had one customer a day but the date could last from three hours up to three days.
How much money do you earn?
Ruby: I can’t talk about specific prices. But I can tell you I pay 700 euros to rent the window for five days. Sometimes I don’t have anything left after I’ve paid the rent. And I don’t have a pimp, I have to do it all by myself.
Patrick: For two hours my service cost 300 euros. It was quick money. You work for three days a week and earn approximately 1,500-3,000 euros. I am not saying it was easy but it was quick. If you have many regular customers you can live from this work.
How many clients do you have a day?
Ruby: (laughs). A lot! I can’t count them.
Patrick: Most of the time I had 3-5 customers a week. They were customers that hired me for three entire days and I also had regular customers.
With the Internet at hand it’s so easy to have sex, why do your clients come to you?
Ruby: Some girls don’t give their men enough sex. Other men want to try new stuff or they’re just exhausted from their life. For some clients it’s not all about “fucking,” they tell us about their lives. But most men are married or have a girlfriend. Sometimes they are really old.
Patrick: Most of my clients were hardworking businesswomen, who had no time for a relationship. A gigolo is a perfect match for a woman like that. She chooses whenever she wants me to come or leave. But I never worked with really old women, over sixty years old.
Do you have a relationship at the moment?
Ruby: I have a boyfriend. We met here (she pointed at the window), but he wasn’t a customer. He passed by the window and we started talking. We have been together for some years.
Patrick: I have a girlfriend.
How does he/she feel about your work?
Ruby: He has no problem with it.
Patrick: I tried being a gigolo and in a relationship at the same time but it wasn’t successful. When I told my girlfriend in the first week she said, “Ok no problem.” But then jealousy emerged and that’s when the problems started. I can understand if I were in a relationship with a prostitute and she would say: “I am going to work.” Then I would know exactly what was going to happen and I wouldn’t like it.
Do you ever consider leaving your job?
Ruby: Yes. I love kids and I would like to work with them some day. I can also imagine going to school again.
Patrick: I had to make a choice between life and work, because being a gigolo and having a relationship was a bad combination. It was my own choice. It’s been two months since I quit my job. I am happy with what I have but sometimes I miss my job. I miss the money and the lifestyle. Every prostitute knows what I am talking about. I am like on a rehab for a gigolo.
Many people would never consider an occupation in the sex business, simply because they can’t imagine what it is like selling sexual pleasure. But for Patrick, his job was about more than sex. He first had to establish an emotional connection with his clients. “I never sold sex. I am not a woman behind a window. When a woman hires a guy it is a different story. It’s about love, the feeling of true love.”
Patrick continues by explaining that most women want more than just sex. Some of his clients asked him to go on dates, and they even flew him into Paris and London for a few days to spend time together. Of course, his clients took care of the travel costs. This lifestyle stands in stark contrast to Ruby’s.
She believes that no female prostitute is in the business for pleasure. “I don’t feel anything when I have sex. I have no pleasure with clients. Some men even make me feel bad about my job.” She explained that some clients whisper weird phrases in her ears but by now she is used to ignoring them. For this reason, she refused to repeat them, leaving her interviewers guessing.
At the end of the interview, Ruby also had a question for us: “As normal girls, what do you think of us?”
At first we were speechless by the question. After stumbling over our words for 30 seconds out of fear we might insult her, we told her we could never do this job. An honest answer. We can’t imagine selling our body to please a man for 20 minutes and then moving on to the next customer.
*We had to change her name for privacy reasons.
By Valia Papadopoulou and Anna-Lena Sachs
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