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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lesbians and the Leidseplein Part Two: The Meat Market

At this point, I can still rely on the complete loyalty of my readership, all none of them.  That's fine, I suppose, expectations for this one blog of millions to be picked up and ran with by some kind of mass following is absurd.  But, curious to know the exact moment that this this anonymous series of postings will generate some response, I have been vanity searching my own url.  I don't believe that this kind of self interest is rare.  I was surprised to find the top search return is an ambiguous ad site that picked up on one word I used in a tweet trying to promote this column.  The word was "sociopath", and I had made reference to this nature being inherent in the playing of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.  It's kind of neat to see one's own words coming up on an unrelated website for the first time, if only on a site that's trolling tweets for key words for their own purposes of supporting sponsored as space.  Even with this, I can't tell whether or not anybody has leaped from this page to my blog even out of remote curiosity.  I haven't the slightest idea how to track my own site hits.

I will keep at it though, and have a perhaps misplaced faith that zero will become one, then two and multiply exponentially from there.  It's not, I believe, beyond what anyone else who starts a blog is hoping for.

My first few nights at the Brinker were relatively decent, I remember downing pints at the Hard Rock Cafe with the English boys I roomed with, but not much sticks out in memory save a couple of details.  The first being the one night that the four of us walked up from the Leidseplein to check out the Red Light District.  I had seen it before, the time I has been to Amsterdam the previous year.  It's a curious place to see coming form a culture of certainly different morale views.  Prostitution exists everywhere, and more than likely if you live in a large enough city, your local knowledge will include where night workers tend to congregate, even if there is no interest personally of making practical use of that information.  The place where my army regiment met for parade nights lies on the cusp of one of these areas in my home town, and while I don't know of any of my army buddies going out to pick up, we would often entertain ourselves by dragging chairs from the mess to the back parking lot to watch the girls as they plied their trade, passing lewd comments and wagering amongst ourselves as to who would be the first of these girls to get a "date".  We were, quite accurately in hindsight making sport of personal tragedy, both on the part of the prostitutes and their johns.

To see this all so overtly on display, and for it to be regulated by the government is too bizarre a concept to pass up seeing.  Going in a group lends an interesting dynamic as you can't help wondering who, if any of you, would drop the analytical pretext and go ahead to enter one of the booths if he were sure nobody was watching.  It couldn't only have been me.

About fifteen minutes of walking through the two or three blocks of the District, and along the narrow connecting streets, all that needs to be seen is.  After that, it's just more of the same and a little wearying.  It's a lot like going to the supermarket just to look at food.  You might even be hungry, but you just can't bring yourself yo buy anything, a tedious prospect that satisfies nothing.

There is however, one or more ways to experience the district vicariously.  One of these, of course is the live sex show.  To get into the theater, a ticket is arranged by a street hustler.  These men, impeccably dressed in tuxedos make quite fluent, if not heavily accented, lurid plugs as to what is on offer on that day's marquee.  Usually it's something along the lines of "Sucking, fucking, pussy taken from behind."  The whole venture is a lot like a mass viewing of pornography with lower production values and no editing process.

I can't remember who among our group suggested it, but a live show somehow appeared on our itinerary.  We bargained with the hustler for a group rate which included a couple of free drinks each and were escorted up a narrow flight of stairs into a cramped theater.

Live sex is a lot like cabaret, three or four unrelated acts separated by a few minutes intermission.  There is usually some attempt at story telling, the one playing as we came in involving a pirate and his reluctant (at first!) captive.  But really, the whole thing is voyeurism en masse, and quite tiring after a bit.  "Oh look, people fucking.  Again."  It's strange how quickly that can become blase.  The only possible element to keep paying attention is the ability to notice that now he's a Sultan and she's the newest addition to his harem.  I was drunk and restless and decided to leave.  Besides, I'd had a far better experience the year before.

When I'd entered the show, an act was already underway (I think I got a discount on my ticket for that), and it was as to be expected, two people fucking in time to a languid beat played out over the theater's stereo.  Then the curtain dropped, the audience applauded and ran to the bar for fresh drinks before the show started up again.

The music that came on was something Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern, chiming strings, a wailing chanter and a hand beaten bassy percussion line.  It was the sort of thing to expect a belly dancer to preform to, but much more down tempo, sultry.  The stage had bee lit by candles and a single lithe brunette melted in from stage left in perfect rhythm.  Her dress was gauzy and black, the top just concealing her breasts, the skirt coming to mid thigh and swaying with every movement.  She crossed back and forth along the stage front, moving her body seductively to the music before falling to the floor in the splits and showing the flexibility of her long, shapely legs.  Soon she was nude, and continued to dance, either upright or crawling across the stage surface, the flicker of candles giving an eerie light to her pale complexion.  She was very sexy, and danced really well, but I recall halfway into it that it wasn't anything beyond what I could see at a strip club back home.

That is, until she picked up a candle.  At first, she just writhed along, pouring hot wax on herself, not something that particularly gets my attention, but y'know, whatever.  She then sat facing the audience, gorgeous legs spread, her sex on display and proceeded to insert the base end of the candle into her vagina.  Once in, the wick making her look like the best birthday cake ever, she went through her ground based gymnastics again, ass end up, balancing on her shoulders, legs parallel to the stage before rotating 180 degrees, then falling into a forward roll, and on like this for several minutes.  She stopped, removed the candle, which had remained alight the entire time, and bowed.  She brought the house down.

But here and now, it was just "Oh look, people fucking," so without a word to my companions I stumbled out onto the street.  It could have been a poor decision.  I'd been drinking all day to the point that my vision was compromised, in what could be a very dangerous area with no idea of how to return to the hotel and dressed in the away jersey of my hometown's NHL franchise.  Too drunk to be wary and so obviously a tourist lit a flare above my head for any nefarious character to rob me while not expending a lot of effort.  Fortunately, I was only taken advantage of by an unscrupulous drug dealer who sold me what I still believe was a popcorn seed in place of the ecstasy he promised.  I have no coherent memory of how I managed to return to the Brinker and find our room, but was heart-warmed by the genuine relief of my new friends when they found me there, my disappearance having caused them alarm and concern for my well being.  I guess I shouldn't mind that one of them still owes me money.

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