‘I don’t think Europe is a good idea. In Slovakia for example, my home country, all the prices have gone up dramatically. They have to pay the same prices for goods as here, for all things, like gasoline. But they don’t make the same money. In the old days we didn’t import goods, but now we do, because these politicians have sold all the factories to the French and the Germans and now we have to import expensive goods. These bastards have become rich, they have sold the country. The future? The EU will break up, definitely, this won’t go on. I hear it, a lot of things are happening.’
Anabela is very European: she is 28, blond and tall. She was born in Slovakia, but lives in Belgium, has a French passport, and works in Luxembourg. She moved here ten years ago to work as a babysitter. Then she waited tables for several years. ‘I worked 7 days a week from early morning till late at night, and I was paid less than the locals. Because, they said, I am used to earning less, because I’m from a poor country. Bullshit. Three years ago I started to do the massages.’
We’re in her apartment, the place she uses to receive her customers. On one side of the living room, behind four little palm trees, is the massage table;, on the other side there’s a sofa and a big bowl with floating candles.
‘The price is 80 euros for 45 minutes, 100 euros for an hour. I’m naked during the massages, yes. Because I start with a normal massage, with warm oil and then I use my body as well and that works better without clothes,’ she laughs. ‘I do massage of the prostate, occasionally I have sex with a customer, but I don’t do the things in leather. There are men who want me to walk funny or to stand in the corner. It’s a game, it’s not serious. I don’t want to hurt people, that I don’t like.’
Enya, or one of her spiritual sisters is singing. Anabela is making tea, while talking – it’s all quite homely.
‘Do you accept all clients?’
‘No. I judge by the phone conversation – if they’re unsympathetic then I don’t accept. When they start immediately about sex, for example, I hang up. They have to be educated and friendly on the phone. I have a strong character and I will conflict with people who are too dominant. ’
‘Do you have a boyfriend?’
‘No, not possible. It’s like that. If he loves me even if he knows what I do, he’s probably a bit weird. And if he didn’t like it he would suffer.’
‘A lot of people think that prostitutes never do this work voluntary.’
‘I do. I pay nobody.’
‘Luxemburg is small; you could run into your customers on the street. Isn’t that awkward?
‘It’s true, I meet customers from time to time and some say good day and others don’t.
Maybe they don’t greet me because they’re ashamed, but that doesn’t bother me. I can understand, especially when they’re with a girlfriend or wife.’
‘Do you parents and friends know what you do?’
‘They think I simply massage – not erotic. I have my diplomas after all.’
‘It’s a secret?’
‘No, but I wouldn’t tell anybody.’
‘What would happen if you told your friends?’
‘I don’t know and I don’t care. Listen,’ she says a little louder, as if to close the subject, ‘the moment I walk out of this door at the end of the day, it’s over. I step out of this world. I don’t think about it.’
‘You become somebody else?’
‘Yes, my character remains the same of course but… I don’t know… it’s different. Outside I’m interested in other things.’
‘Prostitution is allowed in certain streets in this town. What do you think about that?’ Behind the station there are two streets where hookers work the streets at night.
‘It’s bad, it’s bad publicity for the city, it’s not a pretty sight, these women on the pavement.
We used to have a lot of salons where you could get a massage, where they would offer a happy ending, by hand – no sex. But they are all closed. That’s bad, because it was a solution for a lot of men, and now there is more violence against women, because there’s no relief.’
She finished her tea. ‘Do you want a massage?’