A secret sex museum in Amsterdam lets you be the girl in the window

An audio tour also takes you through the various ‘departments’ of a typical brothel in the city - the Office, a BDSM room, even a lost-and-found.
The street-facing windows of the Red Light Secrets museum in Amsterdam.
The street-facing windows of the Red Light Secrets museum in Amsterdam.
Updated on Mar 08, 2020 11:07 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByKarishma Kirpalani

To start with, Amsterdam’s Red Light Secrets museum is beautiful. It is housed in a one-time brothel, set against the city’s picturesque canals and brick houses. The audio tour is voiced by Inga, a Russian prostitute. Her commentary blends her experiences with the history of the profession in The Netherlands’ capital city.

Prostitution is legal here, and subject to strict rules and standards. Sex workers pay taxes, get health coverage and are eligible for unemployment benefits, Inga tells you.

Her tour will take you through the various ‘departments’ of a typical brothel in the city. The Office is where the deals are done between the prostitutes and brothel operators. A room can cost as much as €300 a day, depending on location, size, decor and frills such as free champagne for guests.  

Then there’s the Window, that quintessential element of Amsterdam’s red-light district. Here, you can play the part yourself – looking out onto the street and posing (if you like), for a sense of what it is really like to be your own brand, product and marketing executive. It’s a chance to get a rather rare photograph too, since across the city, photography of such windows is prohibited, unless they are empty.

The Workshop is the prettiest part of the museum. This is the sex worker’s private space: typically, a high-end bath and dressing room full of enough make-up and toiletries to rival the airport’s Duty Free section. Then there’s the Masochism room, which looks straight out of Fifty Shades of Grey.

A sombre exhibition room reminds you of the dark side of the trade. Over 100 prostitutes are murdered at work in Amsterdam every year, Inga tells you.

The Lost and Found department will make you want to laugh and cry at the same time. What do clients leave behind? Everything from dentures to walking sticks.

A Confession Wall lets customers leave reviews. There are sex museums all over the world, but this one is less biology and more cultural experience. It’s a celebration, of sex, commerce, and free will. And a place to make memories unlike any you’ve made elsewhere in the world.

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