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I Tried to Love a Prostitute

Falling for Amsterdam’s human vending machine.

The following experiences in Amsterdam’s Red Light District occurred during my attendance of a semester-long programme at the University of Amsterdam Law School. You may turn up your nose at the ancient profession, but you shouldn't; we’re all hookers in our own way. I should know. After all, is there anything more prostitutory than selling your sexcapades as journalism?

There are two types of cities – those where everyone makes a point of being nice to each other (LA, New Orleans, etc.), and those where people make a point of being assholes (New York, Paris, etc.). Amsterdam definitely belongs in the second category. Yet, mean cities make up for it by being more physically beautiful than the friendly ones, and Amsterdam is no exception. It's a truly stunning, rarefied maze of cobbled concentric canals radiating outward from the IJ river like sound waves from a speaker. And, at the centre of the innermost canal, a massive public brothel spreads through winding alleyways; the red neon heart of the city. Prostitutes in the Red Light District are divided into loose categories, almost forming their own mini-neighbourhoods. Along the main drag you'll find the mainstreamers; none too hot and none too weird, all decent and slightly beat-up looking. As you jut among the deeper alleys, however, you come across specific subdivisions: Old Blonde Cove, She-male Square, Piazza de BBW. The cobblestoned corner dedicated to large black women is always one of the most crowded. And then there’s Dime Alley.



My first few nights in Amsterdam were plagued with insomnia. One night, fed up with twisting and turning on my scratchy twin-sized IKEA sheets, I left my apartment and wandered towards the red lights in search of an open coffee shop. The coffee shops close at 3AM, and it was 3.10AM. The only thing I managed was to buy a spliff of Lemon Kush off two friendly Italians I encountered outside a hostel. I sparked it and twisted through alleyways towards the RLD. It was crowded. Groups of loud, window-shopping foreigners. Solitary middle-aged Dutch men out on their filthy errands. After 45 minutes of walking, leering at the beauties and not-so-beauties, red cube after red cube, I came to an alley that looked slightly different than the others. It was narrower – probably only three or four feet across – and the stone entryway was covered with colourful graffiti. It was a dead-end alley, and at the dead end I could see neon lights advertising a strip club. The alley became wider as it neared the entrance to the club. The club was closed, but, next to the entrance, I noticed another tiny, semi-hidden passageway jutting off the narrow one I was already in. I entered. It opened up into network of indoor hallways, brown wooden panelling inlaid with more red light windows and hookers smiling inside them. They beckoned as I floated by. I passed a brunette. A flash of turquoise blue eyes under long dark hair. Fair skin and a black bikini. I snaked around the network one more time and returned to her. I looked more closely. Probably 5’6”, small frame, large breasts, flat stomach… flawless. She gave me a sly smirk and opened the door into her little red world.


“50 Euro,” she said, flatly, once the window was shut behind me, curtains closed.

“For what?” I asked.

“Suck and fuck.” She seemed calm, collected. Her face matched her bodily perfection, steady cheekbones, full lips, no sign of ageing. Just fresh and feline. She was Bulgarian.

“For 100 Euro, you can have half hour.” She said, “You want?” I dug around in my pocket. I had 70 Euros.

“I do want, but I only have 70. I’m sorry, that’s all I have.” I shrugged and showed her the wrinkled bills in my hand. “Can we do it for 70?”

“No!” she sniped. “You get only 15 minutes!” What followed was, from a sexual standpoint, probably less pleasurable than masturbation. From the condom blowjob to the three minutes of intercourse, she demonstrated zero emotion or interest, trying monotonously to draw the ejaculate out of me like a sticker in a slaughterhouse. The worst part: she didn’t even succeed. At one point, my glasses fell off and onto the pillow behind her. I looked at her. She giggled. I giggled. Then she said, “Time is up.” I protested, but it was no use. As I dressed, blue-balled and frustrated, I complained about the service: “You know, you could get into it a little bit. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it well.” “No”, she responded, “it doesn’t matter. No one ever comes back to the same girl. People always want new girl, new choice.”

I felt I needed to prove her wrong. THREE WEEKS LATER


I formed a little life in Amsterdam. I rode my bike in the rain. I ate stroopwafels and drank beer at brown cafes. But I didn't forget her. On a benign Wednesday at around 8PM, bored and horny I left my apartment and biked over cobblestones until my wheels hit the glowing red squares once again. Scores of tourist families trudged about as is usual at this time of the day; dads wearing sheepish grins, mums stiff-necked and nervous, brothers and sisters bent over with the giggles. HER AGAIN It didn’t take long to find her. Just a few windows down Dime Alley, there she was. Standing proudly, silently; chest pushed out, legs arched back, ghost of a smirk on her face. I shifted, again, into her little red world. Regardless of the context, it’s a good feeling to go from cold on the street to naked with a beautiful woman in a matter of seconds. I asked her name. Olivia. I asked if she remembered me from three weeks ago. “Oh, well. That is long time, other people have… been here,” she said.

“Wait, you mean you have sex with other guys?” I said. She chuckled.

I was determined to do it better this time, so I offered her 150 Euros, thinking I could buy myself some more authentic intimacy. I was right. She moaned, grinned, writhed, clutched my hands to her curves, batted her neon-blue eyes. “How do you want me?” she asked, now on all fours. She looked like spring, leaned back slightly on her brown haunches, hairless besides the copious black waterfall pouring from her head, perfectly curlicued in soft taughtness. Hormones poured out of my limbic system like salmon through a stream.


“Like that,” I said.

Afterwards, I still had a lot of time left. Of the 45 minutes we’d agreed upon, I’d only used an embarrassing three or four. She said that if I recharged in time we could do it again. We sat on her bed and talked.

I asked her why she didn’t just marry a rich guy. She said it never worked out that way. “Some girls have luck. They meet man, it works. I have bad luck,” she said.

I told her she could make a lot more money in New York. She became very excited at that proposition and made me write down the words “Emperor’s Club”, “Five Diamonds” and “Girlfriend Experience” on a napkin. I added “Eliot Spitzer” just for good measure.

I decided to give it a shot. “So, do you want to hang out? Like, no sex, just get a drink? No expectations? Just as friends?” I asked. Although it would almost certainly lead to either pimp or disease related harm to my physical person, having a gorgeous Amsterdam hooker for a friend seemed like an interesting prospect.

She laughed, then shot me down. “No, because I met you here. I cannot be friends with people I meet here.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because, I cannot.”

We talked for another 20 minutes, lying post-coital on a giant paper towel like two regular lovebirds in their nest. I clothed, gave her a hug, she gave me what looked like a genuine smile and opened the door. I glanced back as I walked away, she waved and winked me down Dime Alley.


On the way home, I stopped at FEBO, a Dutch fast-food joint where you pull fried foods out of a massive wall of plastic compartments. No customer service, no “have it your way” – just a compartmental food conveyor. But, unlike the warm pleasures at that other vending machine of satisfaction, you can take these treats to go.

Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomLynch0

More times we've found ourselves in dark alleyways:

Big, Motherfuckin' Boobies

I Went to Pataya for the Sex, I Stayed for the Steroids

Baghdad Brothel