Posted on: september 17, 2015
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In September 2015, we met with Lyle Muns, who is a male sex worker in Holland’s capital. We met each other at this coffee shop in the Red Light District. Lyle is 21 years old and does sex work part-time. The rest of the week he’s busy studying Political Science. It was really interesting to hear his stories and experiences to gain a better understanding of prostitution in the Netherlands. Here’s what we asked him:
Three years ago. Now I’m 21 so I started when I was 18.
I was born in Maastricht, in the South of the Netherlands. When I started working as a sex worker, I lived in a small village in Belgium and was going to school at the same time so that’s pretty contrary. I worked for a couple of months as a prostitute to save some money and alternated with traveling in South-America. Since one year now, I live, study and work in Amsterdam.
There’s a big difference! In Belgium, there are no rules for prostitution. It’s legal, but there’s no prostitute legislation. The Netherlands has very stringent rules. You have to be registered at the Chamber of Commerce for example. There’s a lot more discussion on the subject in the Netherlands compared to Belgium. So there’s also a difference in political landscape. Besides that, I noticed a difference between the city and the countryside. In the small village in Belgium I had a lot of clients who were married or were not open about their homosexuality. They visited me because that was the only way for them to have sex with a man. In the Netherlands my clients are mostly wealthy gay men who already came out of the closet. They visit me for their own convenience and not because it’s their only option.
No, unfortunately there are only spots for transsexuals or transgenders. They usually stand behind the windows with blue lights in the Red Light District. I’m a male sex worker who works as an escort and I visit my clients at home – which is also legal.
Lyle Muns on the main street of the Red Light District.
A lot of people ask me this question. Homosexuality used to be unaccepted back in the days, so I think that the visibility of homosexuality has always been a difficult issue. The Red Light District started as a place where sailors arrived after long periods at sea. They craved for sexual gratification with women and that’s how the Red Light District arose and evolved. Male prostitutes were not a part of this. I have no idea why transgenders nowadays are on the Red Light District and male gays are not. But I think prostitution worldwide has always been mostly concentrated around streets and parks. Also the internet is being used as a market place nowadays, instead of brothels.
Personally I prefer being an escort instead of a window prostitute because it costs a lot of money to rent a window. Currently I’m a student so I don’t have that much time to earn enough money to pay the rent of a window brothel. Furthermore I don’t prefer sitting behind a window all day and ending up with having only 3 clients. I guess sometimes you have to wait for a long time, so I think I would get bored. Usually I get a call from my clients and then they hire me for one hour. The rest of the day I can do whatever I want.
My clients can call me anytime during the day but if I’m not available I don’t answer the phone. I’m a student in politics and I engage in political activities in my spare time. Usually I make appointments with my clients, but if I’m not busy and a client wants to have sex at that moment I’m very flexible.
I discovered I was gay when I lived in Belgium’s countryside. I didn’t know any other homosexuals in my neighbourhood, so I searched the internet to meet other gays when I was 16. I was a member of a shady chatbox and sometimes older gay men offered me money to have sex with them. At that time, I thought those men were gross, so I blocked them. But my opinion changed when I started to engage in political activities. I didn’t have enough time to do a part time job. Moreover, I hated my job in the supermarket and became sexually active. I remembered the sexual offers I got when I was younger and started to reconsider it. I was very scared of the emotional and the physical risks but my curiosity won out. I entered the chatbox again and that’s how I got my first customers. After all I felt really comfortable with being a prostitute.
I was very nervous that something bad would happen, because of the negative rumours on prostitution and its customers. Surprisingly, I noticed the client was even more nervous than me which calmed me down. I discovered a client is also a very vulnerable person who has its own sexual needs instead of a dirty person who’s aiming to hurt me.
It’s very exciting! Of course I’m not always attracted to my clients but I always find the atmosphere exciting. I’m very focused on the character of my clients instead of their looks and age. Usually I start a conversation with my clients at the beginning of each session which never lasts shorter than one hour. My trademark is to really get to know my clients. I try to find the beauty in someone’s character and get excited without always being physically attracted. So I’m always able to get excited but sometimes it’s caused by thoughts of other sexual experiences or by focusing on my own bodily arousal. I’m lucky to have this ability. Of course, sometimes it’s hard for me to find beauty in a person but I’m always professional and give someone a great time.
Lyle Muns in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
There are several pros. For me it’s important to feel useful. This need wasn’t met when I worked in a supermarket several years ago. Also, I get in touch with many people and get a lot of appreciation. I get along with my clients in a respective and personal matter. Besides that, I earn a lot of money in a short amount of time. For me that is a big pro because I have a lot of other activities and don’t have the time for a part time job. And the rent and tuition fees should be paid I also love to travel so these things together cost a lot of money. Next, I love the freedom the job offers. I decide my own rates, working hours, conditions and I’m able to pick my own clients. I am very independent. Also, I acquire a lot of knowledge of human nature. I get access to a part of the society lots of people don’t know about. It may sound weird, but as a politician it’s very interesting to discover about the hidden parts of peoples sexuality and their well-being. Everyone deals with their sexuality in a different manner and a lot of people struggle with their own sexual identity. We find ourselves very open minded and transparent about these subjects but actually a lot of civilians find it hard to express themselves. Those are the people I meet and for me this is an important education. I think that’s the biggest pro of my job. I learn to deal with different kinds of situations.
It’s not an option that is possible for everyone. You have to have sex with people that you didn’t choose. Of course I have my own conditions like sexual boundaries and safety precautions which I tell my clients beforehand. For example, I ask my clients to tell if they have a STD (sexually transmittable diseases) so we can deal with it in an appropriate manner. So in that way I can be selective. But that doesn’t mean that I can personally select all my clients as sex partners. So sometimes I have sex with men I’m not attracted to or who are annoying. Therefore it’s really important to be assertive. Most of my clients have good intentions so for me the prejudice that all clients have bad intentions is not true. A lot of my colleagues agree with this. But still there’s a minority of the clients wo you need to pay close attention to and define your boundaries. They may not even have real bad intentions but try to cross your boundaries. So, if you can’t handle these kinds of people the job can be risky. You have to be very transparent in your do’s and don’ts. It helps a lot to communicate and make agreements beforehand. Another con is that the weekly income fluctuates a lot. Besides that, it offers a lot of flexibility because clients also call me the moment they are horny and want to have sex immediately. Like I said, I also attend a lot of other activities so I’m not always available. But sometimes I have to compromise because not every client prefers to plan an appointment beforehand.
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My clients are only men. They are very diverse in age, education, culture, marital status, physical well-being…. Some people are very upfront about that they pay for sex, others aren’t. Some are married to a woman, some to men, so I meet a lot of totally different men and that’s what I love about my job. Everybody has his own story. My boyfriend loves those stories and said he could write a book about them.
Yes, he does. He can’t imagine doing the job himself because he has other thoughts about sexuality. But he is totally fine with me being a sex worker.
Almost never. It only happens when someone else approaches me on Grindr. I strictly use it for my own sexual needs. I never ask people if they want to become my client. I think they have to approach me because it intervenes with your personal life. I don’t want to force anything, it’s up to them.
I have a profile on an escort website, www.boys4u.nl. I have a profile with pictures and my rate and conditions. Men can contact me if they’re interested. I also have a profile on planetromeo.com, a gay dating website. It’s a website for gays to meet each other with the possibility for an escort service. I did a lot of interviews about my profession last year so nowadays I also get approached on Facebook by men who saw me on television or read about me and want to plan a visit.
No, sometimes they book me to go out for dinner, to stay the night or it may happen that a planned sex session turns out differently. I always take the time to get to know my clients and to let someone feel comfortable because a lot of clients are nervous. Of course it depends on the client’s preferences, but most of the times we don’t have sex immediately. And most of them want to have a conversation as well. I guess it’s a big difference with clients at the Red Light District. Those clients pay per 15 minutes so they need quick sexual gratification. An escort is a broadened package which also includes taking time for each other and providing company.
I ask 100 euros an hour. But sometimes I give some discount if a client books me for a whole night, because otherwise I would get rich while just sleeping (laughs). In that case I ask around 300 euros for example. Sometime clients try to bargain because they are low in cash. I don’t meet those requests and find it annoying because I want to control my own rate. If people don’t agree with my rate, that’s totally fine but that means there is no deal.
Want to get the female perspective on sex work? Read this interview: Interview With A Dutch Red Light District Prostitute.
It depends but I guess around 1000-1500 euros.
Yes, I’m registered at the Chamber of Commerce so I pay tax like any other entrepreneur. I am not registered as a sex worker like it used to be. There have been a lot of demonstrations of protests against because the registration at the Chamber of Commerce can publicly be seen. A lot of sex workers are operating in secret so currently our branche is registred as personal hospitality instead of sex woker.
Quote male sex worker in Amsterdam: People relate prostitution to themselves to form an opinion. They criticise prostitution because they wouldn’t want to dit themselves. They can’t imagine that someone else would like the job.
First it’s because it’s a taboe subject. Sexuality has always been seen as an activity which only should take place in a marriage. Nowadays the ideas are more open minded because having sex before marriage and even among gays is been increasingly accepted. But still some issues are not accepted, like prostitution and it will still take a while before it will be fully accepted. Second, people relate prostitution to themselves to form an opinion. They criticise prostitution because they wouldn’t want to do it themselves. They can’t imagine that someone else would like the job. I personally think sexuality is very personal and differs among people. So I do understand why people wouldn’t want to be a prostitute but that doesn’t mean there are others who do enjoy the job, like me. People project their own sexual believes on others and that’s a reason for the misunderstanding.
I have no idea how many people are forced into prostitution. Research shows a big range of numbers with percentages from 5 to 95. It provides opportunities to cherry pick because the supporters of prostitution will tell a percentage of 5 is forced and the opponents use the percentage of 95 percent is forced into it. It’s very much a grey area and still a taboo. Furthermore, it’s hard to conduct valid research. Also, there’s not one definition of human trafficking. So there are lots of complications in investigating the true number of forced prostitutes which makes it hard to even estimate a percentage. I don’t know people who are forced by others to prostitute themselves out but I do know people who only do the job because they have problems, like a drug addiction or financial problems. They need the money that the job offers but actually hate the work itself.
Yes, for several reasons… Everyone should have the right to choose what happens to his or her own body. It should be someone’s free choice to be a prostitute. Neither feminists nor politicians have the right to tell you otherwise. There’s a need for a government which facilitates a safe environment for prostitutes. Besides that, not legalising prostitution increases the chances of human trafficking. In that case prostitution becomes a branch in which the prostitutes and/or its clients are criminalised and the government will of cours fail in controlling it. In this situation, victims of human trafficking are left alone. So I think legalisation of prostitution will give the government the opportunity to better control the whole situation, which will increase prostitutes’ well-being.
Last year prostitution has been downsized by the local government and all over the country prostitution licenses were withdrawn. The brothel owners at the Red Light District are an easy target for the local government to close down brothels. On the other hand, escort services on the internet are being ignored by the government while it’s a booming business. For me it’s very strange that the small visual part of prostitution is being downsized and the big hidden part on the internet is being ignored. That should be changed. I think it’s a good thing that brothel owners are checked to avoid criminal activities but the active downsizing of prostitution while it’s legalised at the same time seems contradictory to me. To give you an example: The mayor of Amsterdam complains about the high window rates for the prostitutes but that’s a result of the strict regulation. That is why prices increase because the brothel owners also have to make some money. The local government itself created scarcity by closing down window brothels which led to higher rents, that’s what happens in markets. So the regulation is very contradictory. A solution would be for sex workers to get involved in making a policy.
Yes, I’m involved in several projects. This month the first professional journal for sex workers “The Sex Worker” will be launched. I was part of the advisory council of the editorial staff. I am also involved in the law making proces for a self-exploitation project for sex workers called “Eigen Raam” (“Own Window”). Besides that, I’m involved in a gay health organisation called “Night Nurse” which tries to make sexual gratification better accessible for the elderly.
Every 3 months at the Health Center of Amsterdam. It’s free for prostitutes to get tested In my professional life I’m not afraid to get a STD or AIDS because I take a lot of preventative measures. But in my personal life it’s definitely an issue because I don’t use a condom consistently. But currently I have a boyfriend so when we don’t use condoms it’s not a big problem.
I notice that older clients test for STD’s less often than younger clients. I wouldn’t exactly know why but maybe it’s because they don’t have sex that often or some still aren’t aware of the risks. On the other hand, some clients are very afraid of STD’s and ask for my test results or only want to have or get a blowjob because the risks of transmitting a sexual disease are much lower. But the risk still exists…
Yes, almost always. Except when the client is not interested in my orgasm but it’s very important to most of the clients. And for me it’s no problem of course.
In Belgium the percentage was higher than in Amsterdam. I guess 50 percent in the Netherlands have a relationship? It’s just a guess really. Most of the times my clients tell me when they’re married, especially when they are regular customers. I don’t specifically ask but it’s mentioned often while we have a conversation during a session.
One of my clients has a nose-picking fetish. For him it’s essential for his sexual experience that he picks my nose during a session. I had to get used to this request but after all I didn’t have objections. So I allowed him to pick my nose. This is an extreme example but after all everyone have their own sexual fantasies which you can call fetishes.
They have to think about it wisely because it could have a big impact on their lives. Some experiences could be hard to deal with. If you have a vulnerable personality it can be dangerous. Also, you have to be confident and well informed about STD’s. Furthermore, you should be very upfront about your conditions. I would advise everyone to let clients pay in advance. And call your clients before you plan a session to make sure you both have the same expectations.
I don’t like SM or pee/poo sex. But I don’t make a list with my don’ts beforehand because there are a lot of different sexual activities. I tell my clients in advance that I don’t do extreme sex but most of the requests are made during the session. But after all, most of the clients want to have a conversation and tenderness. Some of them like anal sex, like I do. But in general I don’t get lots of extreme requests.
I would ask the world to be open minded about prostitution. What I love about the new magazine “The Sex Worker” is that it reveals both positive and negative stories about prostitution. It shows the true diversity of the whole branch instead of having an extremely positive or negative viewpoint. I think a lot of tourists also have a very preconceived opinion about sex workers. I would advise them to talk with several sex workers to form an opinion.
Lyle Muns is one of the 22 experts in our app Amsterdam Audio Tours. It’s an audio book in which 22 specialists share their knowledge about things related to the Red Light District, which can be listened to in Amsterdam or from home.
Here’s a little preview of Lyle’s story in the app:
“…being a sex worker in Amsterdam is particularly enjoyable because there is a lot of support from the government. They offer health services that are freely available, such as std-checks. There are social services that help you out when you’re having emotional issues. And, most importantly: it is legal. You won’t find any police harassment like sex workers experience in other countries. And I am really grateful for that.”
I really don’t know how that will work out. I do think that I took a big risk by being open about what I do. But I think that was the better choice over keeping my profession a secret with the risk that everything would come out later. Additionally, I’m proud of my profession and I don’t want to have any secrets. If I become a politician I want to be very transparent as well and express myself the way I am. If people don’t like me, they shouldn’t vote for me. This is who I am so take it or leave it. I took a big risk by telling the world I’m a prostitute but it was a conscious made decision. It may have closed some doors but it definitely will open others. My story might have inspired some people and gave them a feeling of commitment. And fortunately it helps that my political party is very open minded.