It wasn’t easy to persuade her to be interviewed for Youropeans.
‘It’s difficult. I can’t show it to anybody. Even though it’s something really nice. Do you understand? Now if I was a hairdresser, or something like that … Because I’m not a whore. I work here, but it’s not who I am. Do you see?’
Who are you?
‘Just an ordinary girl. This is my work, but the rest of my life is completely separate from this. No links at all. I’m not slutty at all; I don’t really like boys all that much. I don’t go out a lot. No drugs. No smoking. I don’t even drink.’
Eva is dark-skinned. Her mother is Surinamese, her father Iranian. She is 30 and she works in a massage parlour in Amsterdam-West. It’s called a massage parlour because in theory you can get a massage there – an erotic massage – but you can also have sex with the girls, which is what most clients are looking for. There are usually 6 or 7 girls on duty, who are introduced to you one by one in the room where you will later be alone with the girl of your choice. A half-hour massage costs 70 euro and for 120 euro sex is included. There are three of these massage parlours in Amsterdam; they open at around 10 in the morning, and are situated in fairly discrete locations.
You have a boyfriend. Does he know what you do?
‘No, no one knows. And when I leave here this place will mean nothing to me. I may think about it now and then, but maybe not even that.’
So you live in two separate worlds, and you can just block out one of them?
‘Yes, and that’s the way I like it. I don’t plan to stay here for long.’
We are sitting in the room, me on the chair, she perched on the edge of the oversized bed. There is a shower, a bath tub, and a television that can be used to show porn. R&B is playing on the sound system.
How long have you been doing this?
‘This time for a year, before that once for six months. Not on a continuous basis. And I’m doing all kinds of fun things now, and once that gets going, I’ll stop.’
What do you plan to do?
‘I design things – children’s fashion and things. They’re already in the shops.’
‘It’s fantastic. And it’s more my world than this.’ She pauses to think. ‘Some girls do this openly, like some of the Romanian girls in the red light district.
Yes, in the Netherlands, but not in their own home town. What would you do if a client came in who knew you? Has that ever happened?
‘No, but it’s a risk.’
Of course you know only respectable people, who would never come here.
‘Yes,’ she says scornfully. ‘Everyone does it. I hope it would be someone with a family, then both us would be caught out.’
Why did you take up this work?
‘Because I wanted to earn money. And this is a good way to earn money right away.’
You said you graduated from an advanced secondary school. If you had gone to work for ABN AMRO as soon as you finished school you could be the head of a district office by now. You could be earning good money there too.
‘ABN AMRO is not right for me. But it could have happened.’
Do you enjoy this work?
Yes. I like it here! The people who work here are fun, very diverse. Maybe it’s so fun because we all keep it a secret.
And the work itself?
‘Yes, that too.’
‘The people. They’re all different too. Really crazy people. Strange, isn’t it, to like doing this.’
The sex too?
‘No, that isn’t it, really.’
But it is your core business, right?
‘Not always. And anyway, it doesn’t last all that long….I don’t necessarily think that men come back because of the sex. That’s the same with every woman. They often say the sex was good, but that they also enjoyed being with me. That helps; not because I do it for the appreciation, but still. And I earn a lot, am never stressed, and I can work whenever I want. How many people can say the same?’
What do you tell your friends?
‘That I work somewhere else.’
Do they never call when you’re working?
‘No, I never call anyone when I’m at work. Who does that?’
I do. But apparently it’s easy enough for you to keep this secret?
‘Look, if I thought I was going to be doing this for the rest of my life, I would tell them. But if I’m doing something else next year, and don’t want to think about this, I know that the people I told would never let me forget it.’
What do you think about prostitution?
‘I have a different impression now than before I had done it. We are taught that it is bad, and that there is something wrong with women who do it. That these are ‘easy’ women who let men do whatever they want with their bodies as long as they pay. That’s not how it works for me, and also not for my colleagues, at least as far as I know.’
Do you know what your colleagues do? Do you talk about it?
‘Only if it’s something really weird, like a client who wants you to pee on him, for example. Everybody thinks that’s weird. We are just ordinary girls, but the outside world doesn’t know that.’
Why do you think they don’t know that?
‘Well, how many people know a whore? Of course all of my friends know a whore, they just know they do.’
There are a few interest groups working to improve your image, aren’t there?
‘Yes, and there are a lot of rules, related to hygiene. And there’s the red emergency button next to the bed. It’s there because people think whores can’t stand up for their rights. And because we’re all dumb. Not self-reliant. But I don’t know any girls like that. They may exist, but far from here. That’s not how we are here.’
And what about Europe?
‘What do you want to know?’
What do you think of it? To start with, do you feel like a European?
‘No, but I don’t feel Dutch either. I’m feel like me. But I do feel at home in Europe.’
Why is that?
Because everything is pretty much the same everywhere. You know that you can trust the police, and drink the water, and that people will keep their word, more or less. I lived in Paris for six months, via the Erasmus programme. Thanks to the EU in other words. I learned a lot from it.’
How else does the EU influence you?
‘Not much in my daily life. It does make travel easier. But I think it’s probably good that we don’t notice it much. Just like a football referee: you don’t notice the good ones.’
‘I learned that from my boyfriend during the World Cup.’
Did you vote?
‘Yes, of course. Don’t look so surprised. I told you: I’m just a ordinary girl.’
What should Europe look like?
‘These are hard questions to ask a whore. But I think we should cooperate more, that it would make us stronger. I think that’s what we need if don’t want to lose out to the emerging areas.’