Little droplets of rose-colored scented spray cascade slowly, diluting my view of the woman’s black lingerie. This was the moment I had been waiting for. I was finally in a semi-deserted space and holding eye contact with one of Amsterdam’s sex workers. The statistic, “the average Amsterdam sex worker sleeps with 30 men a night,” looped in my brain.
What was I thinking, that a mostly-straight white girl like me might have the balls to nab myself a female sex worker in Amsterdam? I had less than 24 hours in the city before heading stateside, an extended tour to visit home. I’d spent the past year living in the UK, where I struggled to develop my queer identity abroad. Bored with men and terrified of women, I was stuck in semi-conscious bisexuality. Planning my trip to the famed city of sex, I had the thought: Maybe a sex worker was the super-charge I needed? Plus, who doesn’t want a hot girl to do anything, and everything, for zero commitment?
My research came up empty handed. My friends and Google really had no idea if the sex workers in the red light district serviced lesbians. But everyone figured that enough Euros would probably do the trick. What’s a girl to do but hit the streets, then?
Yet when I arrived in Amsterdam I felt like Sir Francis Drake before the Spanish Armada: I was too early. I had dropped my bags off in the Christan Hostel, cleaned up, and changed by 7PM. I figured that any respectable purchases of sex would wait until at least 9PM to blag a hooker. Searching for my own veritable game of bowls, I putzed around the hostel for a while. Apart from the check-in process, where I received pamphlet on Christianity from a clean-cut white American boy and stern British girl, the hostel did notreek of priests. On the plus side, it was cleaner, free from stray cans of beer stalking dusty corners, and I rejoiced in the prospect of sleeping in a group hall sans snoring. Other girls in the women’s dorm seemed the typical hostel-goer: Poor and from across the globe, sitting on the ground in circular groups over the cheapest snacks on the market, discussing when their money might run out while folding and re-folding their clothes. From metal hoop earrings to dream-catcher-size bracelets, they represented all type of nomad. I assumed that they had chosen this hostel for the same reason I did: Cheap and clean. The way we hoped our prostitutes would be.
The first blow to my imagined balls was when I realized I carried no slutty clothes. Slithering in and out of my wardrobe on the top bunk, all of my garments were function over fashion, sanity over sexuality. And I still had a couple exploring hours before bedding a bird. So, I layered: A skirt under a long shirt with lots of necklaces meant that, when the time was right, I could strip off my bottom half, revealing white, unshaven, most likely goose-bumped legs for the willing woman to trace with her red fingernails. Like Brits to Michael Jackson, these ladies wouldn’t be able to say no. I hoped.
Make-up, that’s the trick! I thought. Recalling years of Cosmopolitan magazine tutorials in “smoky eyes,” I tried to line my eyes and highlight my, what’s that part of my eye called…lid? When finished, I resembled a fifteen-year-old-gypsy on her first date. That’ll do, pig, I thought.
Famished after so many feminine foibles, I perused hipster Amsterdam cafes until I found a candlelit tapas bar with low wooden tables, quietly buzzing with the type of ambience that I thought might help me ride this wave of imagined-sex adrenaline to the tipping point. After all, it was nearing my bedtime; I needed to stay pumped up. To my despair, the server was an incredibly sexy Australian stead, seating me in a plush green table with a view of the room, whisking over my glass of red wine like a tray-full of chocolate strawberries, and cooing in response to my unabashed flirtation. Maybe he takes Euros? I mused until reminding myself of my goal: Must. Learn. If. Gay!
Paying the bill for dinner was another blow to my horny composure. Suddenly I understood why poor couples are more likely to divorce than rich. But I stayed the course, eventually ending up in in front of the red-trimmed window of a sex worker that I might just possibly make mine. She wasn’t as young as some of the girls but she was here in this relatively quiet corner. I stutter-step closer, licking my lips, what next? Somewhere behind me brays a laughing man. My eyes dance past her face tothe towel on her bed. I snap out of my reverie, smile at her, turn on my heel, and bounce out of the alley. I’m too pussy for pussy, I giggle.
En route to my hostel, something draws my attention to a non-descript black metal door in the wall. Around it are plastered Dutch show posters. I see two boys step out to light cigarettes. Thoughtlessly I cross the street and swing open the door.Inside is a pop-up punk-rock venue. Tonight’s show supports an anarchist lesbian organization. Three holey-jean wearing lesbians grin at the door. “We’re accepting donations for…” they start to scream. “Here!” I shout back, tossing every Euro cent I have on their table. The bartender hands me a cheap beer. Clutching it, I take a walk around the room. My Cornish wool jumper renders me white-sheep in a herd of jovial black.
Soon the headliners come on stage. They are three Blondie-style chicks playing toy instruments and one tambourine-player that I perceive to be a cross-dressing boy. She coyly wears a draped scarf. The ladies commence to screech, strum, and stomp covers that I equate to Bjork after a shot of tequila. They are atrocious and perfect.
Then, something wholly unexpected happens. The band pauses, our hippie in drag oncenter stage. The hippiewrithes, performing a dramatic peep show. She reveals taped breasts, then pierced nipples. Is she transgender?She tucks a huge black dildo playfully into her boy shorts. Suddenly she rips herunderwear to reveal a perfectly smooth vagina. Jumping offstage, she runs through the wildly cheering crowd. Back onstage, shethrows on a shrunken jean vest, her only clothing for the duration of the show. The energy in the crowd is lush, the most loving of mosh pits. One girl punches her friend shouting, “I’m so fucking happy!” Her friend responds with a frantic push, grab, and hug.
I finish off Blondie’s set and my beer. I know I could stay to bag myself a lady. Alas… I cross the threshold into the temperate Amsterdam evening.
Not too much later I climb the bunk bed ladder in my women’s-only dorm of a Christian hostel, again giggling at the irony. Laying, I face the bunk bed across from me. Not one but two heads poke out of the white top sheet. The girls’ chests breathe as one, softly lit by moonlight through glazed windows. They look so sweet, so peaceful. Turning away, I marvel at this chain of lesbian experiences. I believe the entire gambit of Amsterdam encounters presented itself to me tonight. And here, at the end of the evening, is exactly the type I would choose. I fall into an easy sleep, alone, content, and somehow more woman than when I arrived. Oh, Amsterdam, what was I thinking.