This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.
Casa Rosso is an erotic theatre in Amsterdam, home to a 90-minute sex show comprised of nine different performances. The acts are varied, from a woman smoking a cigar using a body part I'm sure you can imagine, to a dominatrix who humiliates a volunteer from the audience.
Two other performers are Erica and Udy, who – for the past 16 years – have been having live sex on a rotating stage in front heckling tourists, Lads On Tour, snogging couples and men with their coats draped over their lap.
The couple's set goes something like this: Udy walks onto the stage and starts giving Erica head. He then gets an erection, and from there they perform a few sex tricks to the rhythm of music. He penetrates her while squatting with his legs spread wide, or she balances on her arms while he swings her into the air. After about eight minutes, the curtains close and the next act comes on. Roughly an hour-and-a-half later, Erica and Udy are back on stage.
Though it looks like they're having delightful sex every day, multiple times a day, it's probably quite difficult work to do. To find out exactly how hard, I caught up with them after one of their recent shows, the first of the night. Udy was a bit grumpy as he got off stage. "He needs to eat something first," Erica smiled. After he'd found a snack, he was in a much better mood, explaining how the pair both arrived in the Netherlands in 1989 – Erica from Liberia and Udy from Curaçao. They’ve been together for almost 20 years.
VICE: So, after three years of dating, why did you decide to do this?
Erica: We always thought it would be fun to work together, like open a bakery or have our own store. But ultimately we signed up to an erotic modelling agency.
Udy: At that time we didn't know we would be having live sex. At first we were asked to be in an erotic soap opera. We were told we had to audition in some Eastern European country, but all that could take months. I didn't want to wait, so I asked if we could do a live show instead. Before we knew it, we were at Casa Rosso on a Thursday night, watching one. We auditioned shortly after that.
What was the audition like?
Erica: Everything that could go wrong went wrong.
Udy: You can't prepare yourself for the moment when you're naked in front of a group of strangers for the first time. I had a hard-on until the moment we had to get on stage. The curtains opened and I was standing in front of a full house when my cock started acting incredibly weird – it was erect, but pulling inward at the same time.
Erica: I was a lot more shy than I expected. I discovered that sex on a stage is very different from having sex at home.
So at home you don't do crazy squats or rhythmic dancing?
Udy: Our bed at home doesn't spin around.
Erica: And the sex at home is way more intimate.
What's it like to fuck in front of an audience?
Erica: Kind of scary. On stage, I'm like a police horse with blinders on: I avoid all eye-contact with the audience – I'm way too shy for that. When someone takes a picture of me I never look straight into the camera. I do hear a lot of things, though, and get really annoyed when women are laughing loudly in the front row.
Udy: I'm a true exhibitionist. I like being looked at, so I look at the audience a lot to see who is looking at me. I do have to stay focused, however, so I don't lose my erection. The other day, there was a couple sat in the front row and the woman wasn't wearing any underwear. Every time I looked at the audience her boyfriend nudged her and she would spread her legs. During a moment like that, I have to focus very intensely to ignore that kind of stuff, because you can't control the audience, and even though we do multiple shows every night it's different every time.
You have sex on stage multiple times a night. How do you keep up physically?
Udy: Well, it depends on how I’m feeling. When I feel good, everything works out and I enjoy it. But when I don't feel good, or haven’t eaten well, or I'm not in a good place mentally, I have to concentrate so much harder. Even Viagra doesn't help me in those moments.
Erica: Udy doesn't need Viagra most of the time. He doesn't walk on stage with an erection, but as soon as he starts to go down on me he gets hard. He's the kind of guy who doesn’t get excited until the woman is enjoying herself. And luckily he doesn’t have an orgasm every single time, otherwise we’d have to call an ambulance at the end of the night.
Do you still have a lot of sex at home?
Erica: Haha, what a cute question – of course we still have sex! Udy: I've always been a monster with a huge libido – I was made to do this job. It’s rare for me to feel like I don’t want to go to work, and on nights I’m not feeling it Erica always motivates me to go on. Luckily we never fight, because that would make the job harder.
Erica: We're together and we have fun, which isn't something you can say for many other jobs. And this job has really been therapeutic for us in a way, because we have to enjoy each other every night and be intimate.
I can't imagine that giggling tourists staring at your naked body is very therapeutic.
Erica: You probably think it’s like a meat market, where you’re being judged, but I don’t experience it that way. If I were a model or walked in fashion shows, I would be judged. But people who come to see our show are looking at something completely different. And because I’m very shy in my daily life, in this I’ve found a way to express myself to the world. I know it's a bit odd.
Udy: Like I said, I’m an exhibitionist; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do this job. It’s the not the kind of work you want to show up for when you don’t feel like it. It’s like I turned my hobby into my profession.
Do you ever feel vulnerable or unsafe on stage?
Erica: No, not really.
Udy: Well, she feels safe with me no matter what. If shit were to hit the fan, I have to be a man and protect her. I might seem good-natured, but I'm not always like this. Co-workers have gotten ice cubs thrown at them in the past on stage. Nobody would dare do that to me.
It sounds like a pretty nice career to have.
Erica: Bloopers happen all the time. I just tell myself that Rihanna and Beyoncé also mess up sometimes.
Udy: There have been times when I wanted to quit, but that happens with every job. And when my son entered puberty, he didn’t want us doing any TV gigs on the side anymore. He would be watching television and suddenly see his dad have sex with his girlfriend. At that point, we stopped doing media appearances.
Erica: We've been doing this for 16 years, and this work has made it possible for us to do many things. It also puts a roof over this boy's head, so he doesn’t get to have a say. As soon as he wasn’t a teenager anymore, I wanted him to act like a grown-up and get over it.
Will you be doing this work for the rest of your lives?
Udy: I don't want to keep doing this forever. But it's different from being a porn actor: you get a good monthly salary and a certain amount of stability. But I’d like to try something different one day.
Erica: I’d still like to have my own business, preferably an online store. Thanks to this job I can save up, so I won’t have to take out a loan when I start the business. For the time being, I’m just incredibly grateful to wake up with a heartbeat every morning.