F/X On-line Newsletter - Special Reports
SEX & DRUGS in AMSTERDAM
BY L. Michael
In any society, there are two things that have always
been with us - prostitution and drugs. Prostitution, the "world’s
oldest profession", has been with us since the dawn of time. Drugs have
been around as long, thought the drug of choice has changed over the years
and some are even socially acceptable (alcohol and nicotine).
Most societies have sought to eliminate these "vices"
by criminalising them and even declaring a "war on drugs" or using
entrapment to arrest prostitutes and clients. This drives the activities
underground and makes essentially victimless crimes into court-clogging
The Dutch have adopted a more pragmatic view. They
recognise that these things will always be around so rather then attempt to
suppress them, they tolerate them, bringing them into the open where they
can be controlled, inspected and taxed. Prostitution, while not technically
legal in Holland is taxed, and prostitutes have been represented by a union
since 1984. Prostitutes are required to have regular medical examinations
and always practice safe-sex.
Sale of marijuana and hashish is permitted at the
numerous coffee-shops in Holland. One may partake on the premises or take
away a small amount for personal consumption later.
For those who find such things distasteful, the answer is simple - don't
go to the red-light district or to the coffeeshops!
Red Light District
|| A walk through Amsterdam's red-light district
is a fascinating experience. The cobblestone streets are flanked
with charming, narrow, old houses. On the ground floors, red neon or
fluorescent tubes can be seen over many windows and glass doors. The
lights cast a warm glow onto the streets and the boisterous but well
behaved, mostly male crowds.
Behind the glass, women (called "hoertjes"
in Dutch) usually dressed only in skimpy bras and panties, are
available to fill the sexual needs of the passers by. Some sit and
read while others pose provocatively or "shake their booty" to
entice customers. Occasionally one will do a little dance or a
mini-strip-tease exposing more flesh then before, which beings the
milling crows to a standstill and garners hoots of encouragement.
Rates are negotiated individually and vary between 50
and 300 guilders. Men open the door and stick their heads in to discuss the
rate. Once they reach agreement, they disappear inside, the curtains are drawn
and they re-emerge 15 to 20 minutes later all smiles.
There are also "sex clubs" where one may go to see live
sex shows or hire a prostitute. There are two types; the low-entry fee type
and the flat-rate type. At the low entry fee type, one can enter and watch
the show - usually a strip-tease followed by self-stimulation and ending
when a male comes on stage for intercourse. If any of the 'girls' take one's
fancy, one can negotiate a deal with them and retire upstairs to consummate
it. At the flat-rate type clubs, the entry fee is high but after the show,
one has one's pick of the 'girls' and usually free drinks during the show.
Interestingly, I did not find any area devoted to male
prostitutes who service women or gay clients - it would appear to be
entirely a heterosexual male phenomenon.
| Along the winding streets are many small, smoky
coffeeshops - I even saw one located on a barge moored in a canal.
Most have small painted signs but some have glaring neon signs that
would put major stores to shame.
Coffeeshops vary from ones with multiple TVs and
loud music like typical sports bars, to quieter venues where the
conversation of patrons and the clinking of cups provide the
soundtrack - all are filled with the fragrance of marijuana smoke.
Both the Dutch Ministry of Justice and the Amsterdam
Police Department proudly point to the coffeeshop scene as a system that has
reduced drug-related crime and limited the number of people who abuse hard
drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Toleration is an important word here,
because none of this is really legal.
| Under the current law, the 1976 Opium
Act, the importing, trafficking and possession of cannabis are illegal. But
possession and selling of amounts less than 30 grams are classified as
misdemeanours and given minimal - read zero - police priority. The law
remains in place so that police have the power to close down coffeeshops
that annoy the neighbours or where problems occur.
One laserist, who works for the Dutch department of land,
agriculture and water, told the author that grass is now the third largest
crop in Holland. He told me that the government is concerned that the
quality of the crops be as good as possible!
Depending on the coffeeshop, there is a printed menu or a
chalk-board with (sometimes fanciful) names and prices on display. One
simply asks for what one wants (or points to the menu) and it is either
weighed out on the spot, or handed over in a small baggie. Prices are
reasonable, quality high and most places also carry a selection of pipes and
papers - some even have 'bongs' available for the clientele's use. Many
offer "space cake" and ‘space muffins' - confections baked with
grass - for the non-smoker. "Space coffee", a cappuccino laced with
powdered hash, is another popular alternative for non-smokers.
A group of us visited the Twilight Zone coffeeshop - the
logo features a flying bird smoking a large joint - they even offer a
frequent customer card with a discount on the 11th order! After we had made
our selections and purchased coffee and juices, we sat down in the front
window to enjoy and watch the passing street scene.
The most interesting moment occurred when a police car pulled
up and parked across the street and two police offers emerged and went about
their business. The patron's immediate reaction is to hide the evidence - but
this is Amsterdam where tolerance and openness are the order of the day. It
is a truly surreal experience to get a friendly smile from a passing
policeman as patrons sit in the front window one sits with smouldering joints in hand!
Holland is to be commended on this bold attitude of
tolerating these "vices". In the almost 20 years since they adopted
these policies, drug-related crimes and arrests have DROPPED dramatically.
Similarly, sexual crimes and rates of sexually transmitted diseases have
also DROPPED dramatically while tourism and tax revenues have increased.
It is to be hoped that all societies will soon come to
their senses, stop wasting taxpayer dollars and police resources on
essentially victimless crimes, and follow the lead of The Netherlands.
NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are those of
the author and may not represent the views of LaserFX.com
In order to present as many pictures as possible, we have broken
this special report down into a number of pages to speed access:
SPECIAL REPORT -
Introduction and Background
6 Nov - PUG MEETING
7 Nov - ATW (Advanced
7 Nov - Canal ride and Dinner
(NOTE: Large page long download time)
8 Nov - Meeting, Seminars and
9 Nov - Seminars and Awards
ILDA Trade Show - A
(NOTE: Large page long download time)
ILDA Trade Show - B
(NOTE: Large page long download time)
Candid Camera (NOTE:
Large page long download time)
Essay: Sex and Drugs in Amsterdam
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