A couple of days ago I was in Dam to do another of my ground breaking lectures (LOL) to another group of students. I felt like shit but I was at least walking in sunshine; it feels like summer has arrived. Actually, it was a bit too warm to be ill, but there you go. I’d made it out to Amsterdam when earlier in the week I was simply looking forward to making it out of bed and walking around. I read more of Comey’s book on the way out. I’m in it for an insight into the 2016 American election and its aftermath. So far all I’ve got is what a wonderfully tall, upright and honest Joe Jimmy Comey is.
Anyway, on arrival I was able to check in straight away. I was also given an upgrade, probably because I’ve used the place a lot in the last year. I hit the street soon after and made buying a 24-hour tram card my priority. I boarded, paid, stayed on for one stop and then walked all the way from Leidseplein up to the Nine Streets. And that is one hell of a walk for someone who’s ill and who’s just bought a tram card. I took a route which included The Dam, where I stopped off at an exhibition of photo journalism. As I entered I reflected on the fact that a while ago I would have been headed to the red light district.
It was cool in there in both senses of the word. We’re talking photos which are both Story and Art. And perfect composition. The exception was photos of The Westminster Bridge terror attack. These had obviously been included because they fitted a theme. They looked like they’d been taken by a passer by with an iPhone.
Back in daylight I resumed my trek. For a while this was behind three middle aged Arabs who were speaking Egyptian Arabic. I caught words and phrases but not the whole story: “It’s nothing … not a problem … it’s good.” My objective, however, was a second hand record shop. I’m increasing my Nick Cave collection and since there’s a lot of it to collect I’m taking the opportunity to pick up cheap copies. No luck on this occasion. Too few and too expensive. Then it was time to turn the world upside down.
I backtracked and went to a nice cafe at the back of Central Station for coffee and a huge helping of chocolate coated meringue threaded with heaps of whipped cream. Then I photographed the mirrored ceiling of the retail area. No one seemed to notice.
Back at the hotel I rested for an hour or so before going out for dinner. That went well. The waitress remembered me from when I was in Dam in February, remembered what I ordered last time and poured me very generous glasses of wine. When the bill came I saw that the main course had been priced at €0.00. I’d commented that it hadn’t come up to expectation. It’s possible that taking notes and photographing each course had something to do with it, I suppose. I left and checked out the red light district.
The place was busy but not as busy as I’d expected and I got the impression that there were fewer windows open than usual, so I did a count. That involves walking the whole area once without repeating any streets and counting the number of open windows. There were 117 girls on display. If we assume that 10% were busy with clients, that puts the number at 128, which is actually a good average for the area – so my assumption was wrong. I found myself wondering what would happen to all of those new cafes and snack joints once the windows have been ripped right back and there are no tourists.
I also photographed the graffiti of the the three girls. These get defaced regularly and the artist restores them from time to time. These looked fresh. Although recognisable as the originals they are very ‘dark’ and the Russian girl is looking positively evil.
On my way out of the area I passed the PROUD office. It used to be the PIC (Prostitute Information Centre). There were some girls sitting outside drinking coffee and there was a sign on the door saying ‘closed’. And another sign saying, ‘Don’t save us, save our windows’. I asked the girl nearest to me if she knew when it was ‘open’. Her friend answered: ‘Monday to Saturday, 12 to 5.’ I’m pretty certain that they were two very hot South American Ladyboys. If so, the area around Bloedstraat really has had a facelift.
By this time I was fucked. And all I’d been doing was walking and breathing. I went back to the hotel, went to bed and had a very restless night.
T H E D A Y A F T E R T H E N I G H T B E F O R E
I asked for an alarm call at 8.00 am. It never happened. Nevertheless, I got up around that time but feeling very sleep-deprived. I sucked down medicine for nose, throat, chest, cough, sneezing, headache and temperature and then went down to breakfast. I managed to get a table near a window which overlooked the street. I grabbed a copy of the New York Times and a coffee and settled down.
The breakfast is a continental buffet. It’s not great but no one will starve. While I was eating I got a text from a couple who were planning to pick me up from the airport and take me to a gig that they would be performing at, about a hundred miles away from where I live. I had to text back that I was going to have to cancel; my recovery hasn’t been fast enough.
I was due on stage at 11.00 am and to make sure I was on time I went to check out at 10.30 am. In front of me was a young couple arguing about city tax. They’d paid up front so why were they being asked for more money. The discussion was in English, which was clearly not their first pick of a second language. Eventually, the receptionist got the idea across and the girl spent five minutes excavating the contents of her handbag in order to find two €10 notes. And then the receptionist ruined it all by asking for a credit card deposit of €60. The conversation went into another tail spin. I mean, ‘We’ve already paid! And we’ve paid the city tax!’
At 10.50 am I was given leave to check out.
‘Good morning. I’m checking out.’
I gave my room number. A few keyboard clicks, a perusal of the screen.
‘Nothing to pay, sir. Have a nice day.’
I checked my hand luggage into the room here they store hand luggage and then set off for the venue, which luckily is close-by. I made it with a couple of minutes to spare.
A T A N G L E O F A N G L E S
Well, I could give you a blow by blow account of what happened next but I figured I’d settle for just a few angles. I guess the first angle is that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it at all; I hadn’t spoken more than a couple of sentences to anyone for nearly a week. And when I had it was scary because my voice had dropped by at least a couple of octaves.
It’s booked in as a two hour session; the first hour is me making a presentation and the second hour is a Q & A. Truth is, I have more that I want to say than the hour permits and the best I’ve been able to do is to hone the content to maximise the input. Honing has reached the point where I’m looking for places in the script where I can halve the length of a sentence or make space by combining two sentences. Or sometimes I just have to junk stuff.
I’m pretty certain that a lot of the audience would like to rehearse the notion of rich white male privilege but I sense that they’re too polite, or maybe the organisers have instructed then to keep it toned down. I’d intended to open the door for it but in the excitement I forgot. I often seed the Q & A by throw away remarks and that would have been one instance. Next time, maybe.
The show-stopper came early on in the Q & A. I forget the exact words that the girl used but it was something like: ‘Hi, I have an observation and a question. I wrote my philosophy paper about you.’ You can assume that took me by surprise. It seems that she’d started thinking about sex work and then about it from the point of view of the participants, not the commentators and moralists. And that had led to consideration of prostitution from the point of view of the clients and that had led to a bit of Google – and there I was, trussed up and ready to be dissected. Fascinating. Obviously, I would like to read this stuff.
‘I don’t think you’ll like it.’
Even more fascinating. But philosophy paper is less daunting than psychology paper.
‘Oh. So what’s your question?’
‘Why did you decide to monetise your blog by publishing the content as eBooks?’
‘Well, like I said, the original blog had over a million visitors and the feedback was good and they were reading millions of pages of diary and commenting positively and I couldn’t help thinking about how great it would have been if each of those readers had parted with a dollar.
I expect you get the idea. My guess is that if those readers could simply have tossed a dollar into a hat, with no strings attached, they would have done so without thinking about it.
I’m also conscious of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. That started as an eBook. And the author got lucky. An influential reader (a publisher) took a liking to it and it led to regular print publication. So, The Amsterdam Diaries eBook is available for an influential reader to stumble over. Having said that, I haven’t ruled out the possibility that the person of influence might prove to be someone attending my Dam lectures. Who knows what connections these guys and gals have.
I’m very mindful of the need for a bit of luck in these things. Here’s an example.
The biggest selling single of all time is Rock Around The Clock, by Bill Haley. Bill wanted to record the song. His manager said no. Bill changed managers. He talked a record company into letting him record it. They said yes on condition that he first recorded something else. He agreed. Well, because he got stuck on a ferry (the engine stopped mid crossing) he was late for the recording session. There was just enough time to record the record company’s first pick. And there was just time for one take of Rock Around The Clock. The vocals sucked. Bill pleaded to do it one more time. There was a compromise. He was allowed to record the vocal while listening to the backing track. An engineer married the two and Rock Around The Clock was put on the B side,.
And both songs sank into oblivion.
And that should have been that. However, there was this fourteen year old kid who collected songs by groups with groovy names (see the A side) and he picked the disc up for a song in an independent record store.
His dad was Glen Ford, actor, and star of Blackboard Jungle (a teen movie in the mid 1950s). The Director was Richard Brooks. When the film was completed, Brooks visited Ford to chew over ideas. Brooks needed some songs to make up the soundtrack. They needed to be edgy and have teen-appeal. Glen admitted that this was not his bag.
‘However, my son listens to a lot of this stuff and ……’
Glen’s son was sent off to his room to gather up some maybes. Despite being a B side on a failed single, the boy had a thing for it. He included it in the batch of records.
And the rest is history. See what I mean? You don’t?
Here’s a little known fact. According to Google Analytics (and they know a thing or two about tracking people), 46% of the visitors to the original website were women. That surprised me when I saw it. It does square, however, with the feedback that I received. I guess I’m saying that the audience for this stuff is ….. diverse.
S M A C K I N G R L D G I R L S ‘ B U M S
Look, I’m not into hurting women. I’m into pleasing them. And some women are pleased by having their bum smacked (that includes 75% of the bums in the photos above). I mentioned this in passing and fifty women (maybe it was forty-nine 🙂 projected a shock-horror facial expression.
Let me explain …..
Women seem to divide into threes groups: those who like it, those who like it a little bit ….. and those who don’t like it at all. The ones who like it? It’s always the same. That smack on the bum produces a tingle on their clitoris (a sensation which exceeds any negative impact from the slap). But, I guess, until you try it, you don’t know.
to be continued ……
But before I could continue I received a mail via the contact form:
Comment: Thank you for explaining how the female body works. I didn’t know that a smack on the bum creates a tingle in my clitoris. I had no idea before I read this blog. It’s very interesting you feel the tingles without having a tingle yourself. keep up the good work!
That made me laugh (more like these, please!!!). I mean, what’s mansplaining for if not for this kind of thing:) Look, it’s a neurological mess down there. You’d think that all women were wired the same. They aren’t. The neurological pathways are completely random – which makes every woman unique. Which is a challenge for guys. Above and beyond all the other challenges! I mean, FFS, life is difficult enough!!!! And my scientific evidence? It’s a bit thin but when you hear the same thing from different women who have never met and who have no interest in colluding over the issue, I’m inclined to accept their experience.
However, it made me think that maybe I should provide a Trigger Warning – I’m just covering my arse, you understand.
Guys, don’t try this without asking. That can be construed as common assault. At the same time, she may not know if she likes it, so we’re talking moderation during experimentation. The aim is pleasure, not punishment. At the same time, you can expect this to hurt your hand, especially if it turns out that she likes it, so have a belt handy.
Yeah, her arse got slapped too. I’m pretty certain that the girls (who do this) wouldn’t do it with just anyone; at the end of the day it’s about sex-play with someone you trust, it’s about not overstepping the boundary.
And sometimes there’s an element of BDSM (behind those red light district windows).
Yeah? Really? Where’s your evidence?
G I V I N G U N S U S P E C T I N G G I R L S O R G A S M S
I’m not sure how this came up. Maybe I commented that I like doing it. It led to the, ‘Maybe you’re delusional,’ question. It takes various forms but on this occasion it was, ‘How do you know that the girls are actually having orgasms?’
Well, there are indicators, and I rehearsed a couple of these on the day but there is one foolproof test, which I occasionally use when I’m not convinced. You put out your hand as though you intend to touch her clitoris. If she jumps like she’s being attacked with a long, razor sharp, pointed knife, it’s 99% certain that she did have an orgasm.
Meanwhile, from time to time you do have to trust people (although hardly anyone seems to trust what prostitutes say). Take the time, not so long ago, when I was just about to leave the room. The girl clearly felt compelled to make a comment (of course it may be just more good acting). She said (and remember that by this point she doesn’t have to say anything, she’s got my money and I’m on my way out of the door):
‘I’ve never done that before. Well, I have. But not here. Not with a client.’
She was, of course, referring to the orgasm she’d recently experienced. You can assume that (a) it’s not the first time that I’ve heard this and (b) that I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I couldn’t resist going for one more compliment.
‘Really? But there must be other men who want to give you an orgasm.’
‘Oh, there are. Lots. But they don’t know how to do it.’
I know, it sounds like I’m bragging.
S U G A R D A D D Y S U G A R B A B Y
I get asked why I don’t go for sugar babes. The bottom line is that it’s too complicated and too expensive. However, I always forget to explain that I am, indeed, a sugar daddy. I regularly send money to a girl, to support her, her daughter and her mum. I rehearsed this with four girls who stopped off to talk to me after the Q & A. Three of them told me that they were making podcasts. I have no idea if these are just an exercise of if they will actually be broadcast. The thing is, although I didn’t identify the woman concerned by name I did give enough information for her to be identified by someone who lives in her area. I have my fingers crossed that the girls won’t try to use what I told them because it could have detrimental, unintended consequences. Me and my big mouth!
D A M N E D R I C H W H I T E M A L E P R I V I L E G E
Post-talk discussions with members of previous groups indicates that this expression is background noise. However, it’s only been put to me once in the past. It came out as, ‘Do you think that your views on prostitution are simply a function of your rich, white, male privilege?’
Truth is, I didn’t have a response. Truth is, I didn’t understand the question. I understood all the words but not the use of the word privilege in this context. I had to ask for the question to be rephrased. However, since then I’ve had a chance to puzzle over it. If I’d been asked today, my response would have gone something like this.
Let’s start with Peggy Mackintosh, an academic feminist who published a paper in 1988 entitled White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work on Women’s Studies. Quite a gob-full as titles go. The thrust of the paper was that you can’t talk about racism without talking about privileges enjoyed by white people and you can’t talk about gender inequality without talking about men. That seems fair.
What’s less fair is the way that feminists have extricated themselves from the nasty side of this by coining the phrase White Male Privilege out of the original title. And then heaping everything bad onto the shoulders of white males and using it as a shorthand for, ‘Your views don’t count because you are a patriarchal tyrant.’ It’s like check mate in chess; you aren’t expected to have a response.
To be honest, I had two initial thoughts when I was asked the question. The first was that I would never use a person’s race (ethnicity/nationality/culture) and/or their sex to position them in an argument or to challenge their views (partly because the former is inherently racist). Secondly, it immediately moves the debate from one about prostitution to one about personal traits, a couple of which I have absolutely no control over.
Let’s dissect it.
I’m not rich. I’m not even a little bit rich. An examination of my bank account would testify to that fact. I do have disposable income, maybe more than friends and colleagues who are supporting a wife and four kids, but that’s all.
White? Guilty. I’ve tried to do something about it but nothing works.
Male? Yup. Born that way and I’ve no aspirations to chop and change.
In effect, two birth-characteristics and an assumption about my economic status are used to corner men in an argument. I found myself wondering how this would play out if I was part of the BAME identity group (black and minority ethnicity). Yeah, it only applies to white males.
Then there’s that horrible word privilege. It means unearned advantage. Well, I can’t rehearse my history here (for obvious reasons) but if I did we’d see that it was the direct opposite of unearned advantage. And if this ever came up again, I would, on the day, give some insights.
In summary, I view the white male privilege trope as a lazy way to not have an argument and to dismiss any argument that might exist.
I suspect that to some extent the use of white male privilege is another take on the asserted power disparity in prostitution: rich male tyrant/poor female victim. That’s something I undermine with logic and reason when it comes up in the Q & A. This time it didn’t arise as a question. Shame, especially since I seeded it.
H O W W A S I T A S A N E X P E R I E N C E ?
Pretty good. As always, the audience was alert, attentive and seemed to display genuine interest and curiosity. Is there a downside to these things? Only that I don’t get to talk to enough individuals on a personal level.
I can see how one or two of my comments might feel a little bit abrasive but that definitely wasn’t the intention. I think it’s fantastic that these guys and gals are taking this issue so seriously, and any questions which made me sit up and think are, by definition, good questions. Only wish I could interact more over the issues.
I was advised that Felicia Ana was due to perform later in the day. Would like to have seen that. I can’t think why I didn’t ask to be allowed a backstage pass. What I can say is that client and prostitute on the last day (after a succession of trafficking fetishits) is pretty cool. Yes, that was a spelling error but it was so good I decided to leave it in.