Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Linda

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Lately a book came out called Wie is er bang voor Linda - bekentenissen van een SM-meesteres [Linda - confessions of a dominatrix] written by Linda and Ruth Kolba (2010).

It is a very sad story. Hopefully, an exception within the world of prostitution.

She is a jewish woman born in 1969. She started working in the sex industry at age fourteen (so that must have been around 1983-1984). She actually came from a rich family. But it was a broken family. Father was not there, mother was not nice to her, and her aunt and uncle were rich and made sure they got all they needed. She lived in a very protected environment. Her sister also worked in prostitution starting very young, she was a heroin addict who later in life unfortunately became infected with HIV.

Linda at first worked in window prostitution, and much later also in several clubs. In the clubs she started to do SM, which gradually became her speciality. She later started to work in window prostitution again, and after this, in her own home.

To me it is always interesting when I buy a book written by a prostitute, what the prostitute tells about the world she lives in. For some strange reason I always hope that they will tell negative stories. Perhaps because in my mind women are innocent or sacred, and cannot possibly like sex. I'm a real hypocrite now, because I visit prostitutes again nowadays.

And yes, my sad wishes are confirmed, Linda confirms all the horrible stereotypes about Dutch brothels and Dutch prostitutes. First of all (page 14) she confirms what has been said often by prostitutes, that (translated from Dutch) "when you are behind a window as a new girl, you are immediately approached by pimps. They think something like: 'Hey, that is a beautiful girl. That one should work for me.' This approaching goes in a nice way. Not what you would expect. They want to take you home, tell jokes, give you presents, and more of these things. That's how it begins. A pimp infiltrates in your life in a very shrewd way. They make you dependent. They help you with little things. Until you cannot do without them anymore.'

She has worked in several clubs (all before 1999, after which she started to work behind windows again). She names the Satyricon in Amsterdam (owned at that time by Willem Holleeder and Cor van Hout, later it became the Club Mayfair), the Princess and the Yab Yum (owned by Theo Heuft at first, then by the Hells Angels, and then it was shut down). She also confirms that there is an excessive use of cocaine in clubs (page 79): "Also at the Princess you couldn't work when you didn't sniff [coke]. It could, but then you didn't earn anything, then nobody went upstairs with you. Also here the manager sold coke from behind the bar. Or there was a house dealer. So those blokes earned double on the girls. On average per evening you bought two to four grams of coke. Simply for the full price. It was really a beastly mess."

About the Satyricon she tells that (page 57): "regularly we were so sniffed up [by coke] that we didn't want to leave the dressing-room anymore. Then we sat there with all these girls. The manager called: 'Come on ladies, now to work. There is a client.' We couldn't stop laughing."

About the Satyricon again (page 69-70): "During these evenings I was always totally under influence. When I close my eyes this period is like a dream. Everything evolved around using drugs. I stood up during the afternoon and already rolled my first joint so to speak. During the evening I sniffed one line of coke after another. That had to be, or else you weren't allowed to work in the Satyricon. The manager sold it himself. You hade to use coke together with the client. That was an unwritten rule. I remember that girls who didn't want to sniff [coke] were forced to leave within no time. Also in other clubs this is commonplace. All these girls had to sniff coke, else you can't keep up [doing this work]. Only in the Yab Yum coke above the counter wasn't allowed."

At one point (before she worked in clubs), she was out of prostitution for a period of time, when she stopped using coke, and then returned to working behind windows (that must have been around mid nineties). She tells (page 53): "That first time behind a window again, what a feeling. I'll never forget it. My first client was a true nightmare. A dirty and completely drunk guy. As if it couldn't get any worse, the condom also ripped apart. A terrible experience. I hadn't been doing this for over ten years. At one blow I was back in my old life: panick, nerves, pimps who approached me. That particular evening I used coke for the first time in a long time. That's how it goes in this world. It is expected from you that you join in with a couple of lines [of coke]."

So, these are very nasty stories. But I knew that already. It is also confirmed in this post on my blog. Even Jo Doezema tells about the heavy drug use in clubs, that there were more drug addicts in sex clubs than in street prostitution, and that clubs were really just fronts for drug trafficking.

But, maybe the situation has changed for the better now. This reports gives a more positive image:
De sociale positie van prostituees 2006 (Dekker, H., Tap, R., Homburg, G., WODC, Regioplan Beleidsonderzoek, 2006)

If you look at table 5.1 (page 47), it turns out that 5% of the prostitutes use hard drugs. Prostitutes in clubs and privéhuizen use more often. Prostitutes in window prostitution, escort and massage parlour use less. There's another website which shows how many children aged 12-19 regularly use hard drugs:
Druggebruik, hoeveel mensen gebruiken drugs? (nationaal kompas volksgezondheid).
That percentage is 2.3% for boys, and 1.3% for girls. The prostitutes are above that. But in my opinion, this is not dramatic. Actually, the level of drug use by prostitutes look like those of people in special groups. Like people who visit cafés or trendy clubs. Look at table 3.3 (page 67) of this report about coke use:
Nationale drugsmonitor - jaarbericht 2009 (Trimbos-instituut, Utrecht, 2010)

It is like, 14% of visitors of trendy clubs who regularly use coke, 12% of visitors of festivals, 6% of visitors of the catering industry, etc..... So the prostitutes really don't stand out!

Perhaps it is really getting better in the Dutch sex industry. Or it is getting worse in the rest of society.

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