The best way to find a working girl in Budapest is to go online, at least that’s how I got in touch with Vicki. The list of girls to choose from is extensive, and categorised by neighbourhood, price, age and services. It doesn’t surprise me that there are so many: first of all Budapest is a large city with almost two million inhabitants, secondly the country is quite poor, and thirdly Hungary is renowned for its sex industry. In fact, the country is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of pornography. By 2005, 300 of the 1,200 pornographic films produced in Europe were made in Hungary. The reason for this is said to be a ‘favorable combination of camera-compatible women, laissez-faire government regulation, fin-de-siècle scenery and low production costs’.
While Vikki hasn’t acted in any of these movies, she was the only woman prepared to talk to me about her business. In German, because she lived and worked in Germany for two years, as a sex worker.
In what city?
‘Almost everywhere. And I arrived in Budapest only a week ago.’
‘Because people are richer there.’
And why did you come back?
‘I was homesick, to be honest.’
You missed your friends?
‘I don’t have any friends.’
But your family?
‘They live in another city.’
She is 26, she would tell me later. Small, not more than 1m65. She welcomes me in a studio in a shabby apartment block, in the northern part of the Budapest city centre.
‘I started doing this for the money, also because I like it. I especially like to play with clients, to do role-playing. I’m quite dominant.’
Do other people know what you do?
‘Nobody.’ And because she is afraid that the neighbours in the room next door would find out about her she had given me her address on the third floor, number 14, but said we couldn’t talk in the corridor and should enter quickly.
But what do you tell people when they ask you about it?
‘I tell them I’m a masseuse.’
Is Vikki your real name?
‘No, my real name is Judit,’ she says laughing. ‘I have two lives. Two names. Two phones.’
‘No, just one. I live here too.’
And yes, I see now that the studio has a little kitchen. Her glasses are on the sink, there is a pair of black Uggs in the corner, some fashion magazines lying next to the bed. ‘Two lives: this one and an ordinary life. I cook, watch TV, listen to music.’
What are your plans when you’ve finished here?
‘That’s my dream.’ She doesn’t want to tell me what it is.
Do you need money to realise this dream?
How much more time do you need?
‘Maybe two years. I’m saving, but not as fast as in Germany. Things are expensive here!’
More expensive than in Germany!?
‘No, but my prices were better there too…’
Her rates for normal sex, not for the role playing thing, are 10,000 Forint, about 30 euro.
What do you think of the EU?
‘The politicians are all arses. They steal. In Germany, in Hungary, everywhere.’
But wasn’t it easy to work in Germany?
‘It wasn’t easy to work in Germany.’ I’m not asking the right questions…
Were you independent there?
Do you feel European?
‘What do you mean? No. Not at all.’
‘No, I don’t belong to anyone. I’m free.’
Her phone rings, the business one. I have to leave.