Dutch granny prostitutes celebrate red-light life

2012-12-06 10:02
Prostitutes Martine (R) and Louise (L) Fokkens, aged 70, walk around the red-light-district of Amsterdam. (Anoek de Groot, AFP)

Prostitutes Martine (R) and Louise (L) Fokkens, aged 70, walk around the red-light-district of Amsterdam. (Anoek de Groot, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Amsterdam - In a busy passage in Amsterdam's red light district a crowd is gathering as fans jostle to have their picture taken with the city's most famous great-grannies: Twins Louise and Martine Fokkens, the Dutch capital's oldest prostitutes.

Decked out in matching red leather jackets and boots, red jeans and crocheted red berets, with Stars and Stripes scarves draped around their necks, the Fokkens cut a jaunty pair as they saunter down alleys with red-framed windows where semi-nude 'working women' put their bodies on display to lure customers.

Locals young and old line up for a chat, while gawking tourists look on in bemused confusion.

"Look it's the 'ouwe hoeren' (Dutch for old whores)," Koen Booij, aged 19, shouts affectionately before running up to Martine who hands him an autographed postcard advertising the sisters' latest tell-all book about Amsterdam's seedy-side, where the Fokkens have been working as prostitutes for the last half-a-century.

Since the early 1960s, first Louise and later Martine have been plying their trade around the infamous "Wallen" (Dutch for 'canal banks'), the world's best-known red light area.

Today there are an estimated 5 000 to 8 000 active sex-workers in Amsterdam - but only a fraction do business from behind the around 370 "frames" in the area, according to the city.

Tell-all books


Now 70 years old, the sisters shot to fame last year when a documentary - aptly titled Ouwehoeren and translated as "Meet the Fokkens" about their lives, played to critical acclaim at Amsterdam's International Documentary Film Festival.

The film was such a success that it was screened again at this year's festival last week.

Two tell-all books - one has already been translated into English, French and other languages - about the sisters' lives behind the red curtain followed.

A regular slot on a late-night sex-and-drugs talk show on Dutch television since October has cemented the twins' celebrity sex-worker status.

Their second book, Ouwehoeren op reis (Old Whores on a Journey) has just been released. Publisher Bertram en De Leeuw said 70 000 copies of the two books have already been sold in the Netherlands, propelling them into the Dutch best-seller list.

The Fokkens sisters - both great-grandmothers several times over - say they have seen it all: In the city where prostitutes have been selling their bodies to visiting sailors and other thrill-seekers since the 15th century, very little can still shock them.

Real deal

"From fathers bringing their sons for a 'first-time experience' to those with a more kinky streak, you get all sorts, " Martine said, sitting on the bed at the back of her "window" on the Oude Nieuwstraat, a small alleyway that lights up in neon red as soon as the sun goes down.

"We have slept with more men than you can count," cuts in Louise, sharing a look with her sister before they both burst into laughter: "We had some great fun with the men."

Two years ago, Louise finally hung up her stilletto boots because of arthritis -- "You can't get into those sex positions", she says, while Martine still works once or twice a week, including Sundays, specialising in soft-core bondage for the older gentleman.

In early October, the sisters became a regular feature on a sex-and drugs talk show called Spuiten en Slikken (Shoot and Swallow) as agony aunts dealing with uncomfortable questions about sex.

"I saw them on TV. I think they are fantastic," adoring fan Booij said as he patiently waited to have his photo taken. "They answer the questions our parents can't."

"They're the real deal," said Jeanine, aged 20, a student at the University of Amsterdam who declined to give her second name, as she asked an AFP reporter to take her picture with the sisters on her mobile phone.

Personal hardship


"They tell guys how to treat women properly," she added.

The sisters themselves seem surprised to have so many fans, but their words on love and relationships ring true - born of their own years of experience.

Despite their jolly demeanour and portrayal in the media as two eccentric Dutch aunts who just happens to be in the sex industry, their own story of personal hardship and abuse is never far below the surface.

"We had no money. My husband told me I had to go and work 'just for two years'," Louise said, her face hardening slightly as she remembers. "I didn't know what kind of work he meant. Now it's 50 years later."

"In the beginning it was really tough. You shut your brain down. In later years, it got better," she added.

No code of honour

Rampant violence and exploitation prompted the twins to set up the first trade union for sex-workers in the area called the "Little Red Light".

Asked whether they regretted anything about their lives, both sisters shook their heads: "We regret nothing except the fact that the red light district is changing."

"There is no code of honour any more, passed from one generation of working girls to the next," Louise said with a look of disgust.

"Today's girls wear almost no clothes. They deal and do drugs. It's about crime and money. No self-respecting prostitute does drugs," she said.

"In the olden days the girls used to look after each other. No more. The human feeling has left the red light district," she said.

Read more on:    the netherlands  |  prostitution
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is hard to keep some sort of balance when the natural rhythm has flown out the window. The best thing to do is try not to keep...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.