Amsterdam’s Red Light District: RLD


By: Nads


Endless text was previously written on Amsterdam’s sex industry and the renowned Red Light District (RLD). Ho(s)tels-Amsterdam has decided to tackle the issue in a direct approach, no prejudice, no mercy. In order to do so, we deployed our master reporter, Nads in the heart of the RLD with a survival mission to collect all the ins and outs, by all means, of both the area and the phenomenon. The amazing outcome was that the ladies talked to her and told her anything she asked: history, reasons, conditions, pimps. The whole nine yards.


Despite of the light way things are written here, you are about to witness one of the more serious articles about Amsterdam RLD.



 Art work on RLD

What’s so fascinating about the Red Light District in Amsterdam? Help me out here… Every city in The Netherlands has one, so why is the one in Amsterdam so famous?

I asked that question to a few people from different countries, tourists, locals, my auntie…. Here’s what they came up with:

- Americans think like the reason the Red Light District is like so famous is because it’s like legal…and…you know…like, yeah…(oh, and the number one export from the USA isn’t pop stars wearing nothing but bum huggers, right guys?).

- British citizens, well, I tried to ask a group of youngish looking guys at a coffee shop in the District itself, but I didn’t really get much out of them – any paramedics reading this, I think they’re still in there….

- Polish people (by the way, Europe will now be known as ‘UPIW - The Union of Polish Immigrant Workers’), well they think The Red Light District is so famous because their grandfather worked there, and his grandfather, and his grandfather before him…

- Lastly, I asked my loving auntie and I got the answer I was looking for: Amsterdam is where everything started. It’s where prostitution was legalized in the 17th Century and it’s been that way ever since. Amsterdam is the real deal people.


Now, if you do decide to take a trip to the Red Light District, it is considered safe. When I went there we were 2 girls alone, and I didn’t feel threatened or in danger for even a second. The promoters of the sex clubs can be a bit ridiculous sometimes, yelling things along the line of ‘hey ladies, it’s Banana time!’. Best thing you can do is burst out laughing and keep on walking. Besides, they have a job to do as well.

Now keeping in mind the ideas I had about prostitutes back in South Africa, you know, the gap toothed 80-year-old grandma, wearing what a 20-year-old transvestite would not be caught dead in… Well it’s totally the opposite in Amsterdam. The girls working in the windows are really top notch, beautiful, and even cleaner than some of the girls you’d pick up in a normal bar. So when you’re walking along Walletjies street, and finding it hard to put one foot in front of the other, just pour some cold water over the gaping male tourists in front of you. I promise they'll snap out of it…eventually.


Now, on a more serious note, the sex industry in Amsterdam is somewhat of an organized chaos, if you can call it that. Since it is legal in Holland, the government does have more control over it. Say what you want, but the figures prove that Holland has the lowest sex trafficking rate in Europe.

Each of the Red Light Districts of The Netherlands can be divided into more or less 5 categories/topics, and these cover most of the rules, procedures and unknown information about the overall sex industry in Holland.


The Girls


Call them prostitutes, call them slags, call them whatever you like. In the end, they still make a heck of a lot more money than you…

A girl working in Amsterdam’s Red Light District can make up to a €1000 per night. That’s including her regular clients, and if she has a good reputation with the customers.

The best service one of these girls could give is S&F (suck and f***) without a condom   - which rarely happens though, and if it does, it’s only with some of her best clients.

This also means that the industry can be very addictive considering the money that’s made there.

If a girl works in a window for 10 years, if she’s dedicated, enthusiastic, ambitious, don’t use drugs, don’t drink alcohol, live very low key, be serious, be strong, be cold inside, work hard, be completely independent and do everything 100%... she would’ve saved up about…oh, say….€ 3 000 000,00. That’s a nice picture huh? However, these women are not robots and they work in a very demanding, high-risk job. Some of them have been in this business for 10 years or more, now don’t you think that with a job paying so much money, they would’ve been able to retire by now?

The only way for a prostitute to leave the business is when she falls in love or wants a relationship with a normal man. This can be difficult because even though men like it when their women come ready, willing and able for sex…for some reason they don’t want to marry one of them. Haha, and men think women are hard to understand.


Now, contrary to what most people think, in the Red Light District, pretty girls don’t make the most money. Every man has his own specific taste, and let’s face it, if all of the girls were blonde barbie dolls, well… they wouldn’t be making much business at all now would they. In the sex business, pleasure and experience is everything. If a so called “ugly” girl makes more money than a pretty one, it just means she has more sex appeal and of course, gives better blowjobs than an new ‘out of the box’ barbie doll girl.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s hard to find an ugly girl in one of Amsterdam’s windows, but come on now, what are you really looking for? A pretty face resulting in…well….just a pretty face, or a good time, and you walking out there with a huge smile plastered on your face? Think about it…


Most of the girls working in Amsterdam’s Red Light District have Dutch nationality. A few are from some other European countries like Spain, France, Belgium, Italy and the new EU countries like Poland and so on. The are also a lot of girls from Suriname, Morocco and Turkey. So basically, you have something for every taste there, and for a man it’s like walking into a big candy store…ok well except the candy have been replaced by boobs, bums, and whips… Every man’s dream right?


Girls in the windows can also refuse men if they want to, but this rarely happens because they want the money. Many of the girls are self-employed and pay tax just like any other person owning a business. Some of them also have a family to support and sees prostitution as just another ‘normal’ job. To be honest, I have no idea how they can separate being a prostitute every night, with having a normal family life…but some of them do it though, and I think that deserves some level of respect.


Right, the moment every man reading this article has been waiting for: the price!

For a regular S&F a window girl asks €50,00 for 15 minutes. ‘Good girls’ never go lower than € 50, even if it is a hand job, a blowjob or just regular sex. However, there are girls who would go down to €30 for one sexual treat. When you want something specific, just ask for it beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings in the room.

One thing you should watch out for though, is rip offs. You do get a lot of girls who say S&F at the door, but once you’re in, she asks extra money for a blowjob or says the €50 was just an entrance fee! What you can do to avoid these kinds of girls, is to check out some of the websites where the customers review the girls. Note the sites, names and locations of the rip off girls so you won’t be caught out like that. Here are two of the most famous websites to review the girls, and to check for rip offs: (it’s a Dutch site), and 



Windows/ escorts/ amateur in call-outcall/ street prostitutes/ sex clubs


Picture yourself walking in Amsterdam’s Red Light District (for those who haven’t been there yet, just use your imagination) Right, so your walking along Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, your seeing all these really pretty girls in the windows (it’s night time by the way) and your thinking, which one should get your beef in her taco tonight…? (girls reading this, it’s a man’s world hey?), and then, all of a sudden, you hear a promoter screaming “SEX CLUB! Lovely ladies! Come on in!”

Yes, there is such a thing as a sex club, and no, it’s not just necessarily for sex…but you have admit, it’s an interesting concept right.

Sex club girls can’t be compared with any other sex worker in the Red Light District. The clubs do however have ‘relax’ rooms, but mainly, the girls working there only have one job: they have to sell as much alcohol to the patrons as possible. Kind of a bummer when you’re a patron huh? The girls get a 30% profit with every champagne bottle they sell (these can be anywhere from € 150 to € 1500), and believe me, they can sell.

The other big difference with sex clubs is that, even though a guy takes one of the girls to a ‘relax’ room, there wont be much sex going on because of the amount of alcohol and coke (no, not coca-cola) being used there….The little john wont be able to stand up...if you get my drift.


But in any case, sex clubs are all about having fun and enjoying the company of the girls (and they are probably some of the best hustlers you will ever have the pleasure of meeting). The girls working there are independent, and like the brothel girls, they have to pay half of their earnings from the relax room to the owners. Sex clubs are open 7 days a week, from 22:00 till late. Brothels are open from around 10:00 till 00:00 and have no bar – that’s the main difference between brothels and sex clubs.


So I’m sure you all know what an escort is. You also get a lot of these in Holland, and usually their agencies advertise them in the local newspapers, websites and magazines. The escort company receives a call, and sends out the desired escort to the client’s hotel/house/car…wherever. Escorts are, unlike window girls, there for the whole night. Most men prefer this because the escort can be whoever he wants her to be - his girlfriend/his wife/his 5th grade math teacher…  

Escorts have to pay half of their earnings to the agency, and normal taxes on top of that. So you can imagine why they don’t come cheap.


Brothel girls on the other hand are not independent, but by law they are. The reason I say they’re not independent is because they have to stick to the rules of the brothels, and in a lot of them you get rules like blowjobs and sex without condoms. If a girl wants to keep working in a brothel, she has to adhere to these rules. The owners of the brothels are (in the law’s eyes) landlords, but in reality they’re actually semi-pimps. Some of the owners treat their girls badly, and the girls are always in a way ‘their’ property. The Dutch word for brothel is ‘privehuis’, which means private house. It’s a very old form of prostitution where the customer comes in, chooses a girl he likes, then they go to a separate room, have a few drinks, and then get down to the nitty gritty.

The owners take so called ‘rent’ money from the customers, but in actual fact it’s half of the girl’s earnings. Yeah, those brothel owners do their best to keep the right side of the law as ‘landlords’…and strangely enough, they get the green light from the government.


Ever heard of an amateur incall-outcall girl?...Neither have I…

Well, before now of course. Amateur incall-outcall girls, are usually housewives or career women wanting to make some extra money and spice up their sex life. They work independently from the flat they rent or their own house (incall) or go to clients houses without the use of an agency (outcall). These women advertise themselves in local newspapers and free amateur portals on the web. However, they first have to ask for a license at their local community centre, especially for incall, and from there on, they have to pay tax like any normal person. The reason it’s called amateur is because the women usually do it for extra money, or just a bit of fun. This is even riskier than window sex or going through an agency, because they never know whom they’re letting into their home, or where they’re going to.


Street prostitutes in The Netherlands are few and far between. There used to be a ‘tippel zone’ (a legal area where sex-workers could sell their services) in Amsterdam, but this was closed down due to an uprising of drugs and violence in the area. Now you can find them in Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. These zones are usually outside the centrums, and in the more industrial areas of the cities.


Ok so… the winning question: Are escorts better than window ladies?

For the customers, the service of an escort, brothel girl, amateur or club girl is much better. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and the ladies tend to be nicer than the ones in the windows.

But for the girls, there is not better game than the windows, and it makes the most money by far (remember what I said, €1000,00 a night)

Here’s a phrase that pretty much sums it up: ‘There’s no biz like sexbiz, but there’s FOR SURE no biz like the window biz!’


Pimps/ Lover boys/ Sex traffickers/ Boyfriends


Everything in life has a good and a bad side. Take going to the movies for instance. The screen’s bigger, the sound’s better, you can throw popcorn at old people sitting in front of you, BUT… with that comes long lines, grandma’s and grandpa’s who succeeded in escaping from the old age home, and annoying kids who keeps throwing popcorn at you (yeah I kinda busted myself on that one).

So like the big screen, the Red light District also has it’s good and bad sides. We already know what the good side is right? Now the bad, and not often seen side of the Red Light District, are the men controlling it.

Either a pimp, loverboy, or a sleazy boyfriend manages most of the girls in the Red Light District.


Lover boys – They are handsome, popular men who make young, vulnerable and insecure girls let them believe he loves her. He buys her gifts, show’s her the respect and attention she’s craving, and gives her a sense of security that she maybe never had in life. At a certain stage in their relationship, he comes up with financial problems and tries to get sympathy from the girl. He asks her to work one or two nights in a window so all his problems would be fixed. Of course, he mentions he loves her, and in fear of losing this ‘amazing’ guy and all the security that goes with him, she goes at it for a few nights. But obviously those two nights aren’t enough and his financial problems continue, so he asks her to work more. After a while the girl realizes that this whole relationship is a setup and she’s just being exploited by the lover boy, so naturally she’ll want to quit. But then it will be to late. The lover boy will use blackmail and violence to force her into prostitution, and she will work 12 hours minimum a day, 7 days a week to make the € 1000,00 every single night. The girls are also obligated to refuse the nationality of the lover boy out of respect for him (and if she doesn’t, that means BIG trouble), but if she makes less than a thousand a day, he will use violence (beating and cutting) to get his point across. Although these girls started out just helping their so-called ‘boyfriend’ out, they are still being forced into prostitution a 100%.


Pimps – So lets get one thing straight, a real, honest to God pimp, is an urban myth. You used to have them in The Netherlands, but today there are only 2 or 3 of them left (and now I’m talking about true, honest pimps who actually gives a sh** for the girls they manage). However, you can smell a ‘semi – pimp’ from 100 km’s away…they are smooth, Casanova types who DO NOT force the ladies into prostitution. They do however use manipulation skills to make the girls work harder and be more serious about their job. But, contrary to what you might think, these girls know exactly what they’re getting themselves into, and they stand 100% behind their choice.

The reason they choose to have a pimp is because they are in love with him (not the same as the lover boy though), or they’re just impressed by his smooth talking and the fact that so many girls ‘made it’ in this game thanks to him. Most of the time the girls are not good in handling so much money in such a short period, so they spend it all in a week or so and after a few years, they end up with no investment, no savings, and no security. So when a girl finds herself in a situation like that, her pimp would come to her rescue, letting her work for a few more years so she would not walk out of the business empty handed. We have to remember though that pimps are not charity workers, and usually they make some sort of a deal with the girl e.g.: he gets to keep 50% of her earnings, or some keep a 100%, and then pays the girl back after a certain period. In return, he will manage her, let her work very hard and let her make as much money as possible for her benefit (but actually, it’s mostly for his). Emotionally he supports her if she has a breakdown, and gives her the kind of attention she needs to go on with the business, and make as much money as possible. But of course, I am now talking about the honest and ‘real’ pimps I mentioned before. Most ‘semi – pimps’ would walk away with their money, or cheat them in some way or the other. It’s strange to think though, that most of these pimps start out as honest and true to their girls, but like any other man, power and money changes them. And just like that, they’re no different than the lover boys, or sleazy, lazy boyfriends.

What you might not know is that there’s a code of respect between the girl and the pimp. Once she’s worked with one pimp, she will always be ‘his’. She can never do business anywhere else without him (I’m not talking about opening a vegetable stand or something). If she does however decide to go at it alone, being the influential pimp that he is, he WILL use violence… no questions asked. Yeah people…this aint no pretty woman story…


Boyfriends – Ever had one of those boyfriends who just sit in front of the TV all day…drinking beer…and sms’ing his mother? Yes well, multiply that by ten, then you’ll understand what kind of men I’m talking about here. These guys are just lazy parasites. They expect the woman to bring in the money (they don’t force her into prostitution though), and they have no problem with her being sexed up by 20 penises a day. Just as long as she has some money to pay for the growing of his very attractive beer belly. So in the end, this type of boyfriend is even worse than a pimp (at least a pimp has the decency to identify himself as one).


Sex Traffickers – These men are almost non-existent in The Netherlands because of the legalization. What traffickers basically do is they buy the girls from poor, non-European countries, and then take them to the west for full exploitation. They usually lure these girls by saying it’s an audition for a dancing job or job interviews for bar work in a very big city (most these girls are from poor, small towns). And when they get ‘selected’, they hope to go to the west and earn some money in a respectable job. This is the opposite of what actually happens. When they arrive in one of the western European countries, they get sold off for € 20 000,00 to dealers, and are then forced into prostitution. They work for more than 12 hours a day, get the minimum amount of food, live in very unhealthy and hazardous conditions, and they end up not getting any percentage of the money made. No woman can hold up like this for long, so when she tries to escape out of this horrible situation, the trafficker gets mad and threatens to end her life, or one of her family’s. Escaping this kind of situation is none-existent. Most of these traffickers are doing their dirty business in cities with very good economies and where sex is illegal, cities like Dubai for instance.

These men can be seen as some of the most dangerous men walking the earth. Not only because of what they do, but because there are SO MANY of them out there.

Luckily, in Holland cases like these are becoming less and less. You can say that Holland is pretty much the safest place to work as a sex worker.


The Red Light District/ Sex Shops/ Live Sex Shows/ Fetish


Smile if you’ve ever been in a sex shop…yes, I KNEW it! No need to be ashamed though, walking into a sex shop in Amsterdam is like walking into any other department store (only difference is, you sometimes get horny staff who calls you ‘lekker ding’)…yeah, life’s tough when you’re blonde hey. Now these sex shops can sell anything you ever dreamed of (concerning sex of course). Normal dildo’s, rabbit dildo’s, pump up dildo’s, see through thongs, sex dolls, kinky lingerie, whips, chains, cuffs, flavored condoms, normal condoms, condoms with weird buttons on them… believe me…ANYTHING.


Now the Red Light District isn’t all prostitutes and sex. You can also find a few decent restaurants as well as coffee shops in the area (the famous Bulldog coffee shop is on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, right in the heart of everything). You can also find the Cannabis college there, and if you walk along a bit further, you’re smack bang in the middle of Chinatown.

Two main things you should NOT do in the Red Light District:

-       Don’t take photographs of the girls (if you do, you’re going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble with either their pimp, lover boy, or a very big arnold Schwarzenegger look alike).

-       Don’t buy weed from dealers on the street…chances are they’re selling you dried up teabags, or grass they mowed from their lawn 2 weeks ago (it may still have some dog poop in for the flavor).


Right, so because I work in a hotel, I get this question very often: “uhm…uh…I know this is going to sound weird and all…but…do you know where we can see a live sex show?”

And that sentence usually ends with a “I’m only asking because my friend wants to know…honestly”. Well, to be honest, in the beginning I had no idea what a live sex show was! But the name is basically self–explanatory: It’s a show, where you can see real, live people having sex. So you’re probably sitting there thinking: ‘DAMN, I need to get myself to one of those!’. Well, you can find the theatres all over the Red Light District. Two of the most popular ones are Casa Rosso and Moulin Rouge (Apparently Moulin Rouge is much more cozier and up close and personal. It comes….ahem…highly recommended).


Everybody has fetish. DON’T you deny it. Whether its making love to a vacuum cleaner, spanking your 6th grade geography teacher, or having sex with a big fat lady…you can always find it in the Red Light District. That’s also how window girls make the most money, they engage in their client’s wildest, most bizarre fantasies. You also get a lot of fetish parties in Amsterdam, but not really in the Red light District itself. These are real sex parties, where everyone has sex with everyone, reinventing the term ‘free love’. Don’t think of finding a window girl here though, these parties are only for people with weird and bizarre fetishes that can’t be satisfied otherwise.




Unfortunately, for all us women out there, there aren’t any hot Johnny Depp look alikes working in the windows. However, once every year they have a special day that celebrates prostitution (31 March), and then the men gets a chance to stand in the windows. It’s really more of a fun attraction than a serious business.

There are also a lot of agencies who provide male escorts for male or female clients, and there are 3 clubs in Amsterdam who only have male (gay) sex workers selling their services.


Ok believe it or not, but there are actually a lot of transvestites working in the windows as well. He he, now some transvestite have a really female bone structure, and its hard to tell the difference between them and a normal girl right? Here’s how you do it: Tranny’s in the window’s usually have a black light (the red/pink light is switched off). Haha now, those are the honest ones hey. You do get some who don’t turn off the light and when you’re, well, not really into surprises….I suggest you ask at the door.


To sum it all up: this is probably the most informative piece you will ever find on the internet about Amsterdam’s Red Light District. No other travel, Wikipedia or educational site would be able to give you the information I just did. This is what’s been happening, and still is happening in the sex trade today in Amsterdam and all over the world. Some of the topics can be taken lightly, and others should be taken with respect and seriousness….but whatever you think of this article…it’s a whooooole bunch of sex packed into one!