New prostitution museum in Amsterdam called Red Light Secrets offers look behind the curtains

The Associated Press

In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, the entrance of the 'Red Light Secrets' prostitution museum is seen, right, in Amsterdam. On any given evening, thousands of tourists stroll down the narrow streets of Amsterdam's famed Red Light District, gawking at ladies in lingerie who work behind windows, making a living selling sex for money. Now a small educational museum is opening in heart of the district that aims to show reality from the other side of the glass. Organizer Melcher de Wind says the Red Light Secrets museum is for those who want to learn more about how the area works without actually visiting a prostitute. (AP Photo/Evert Elzinga)

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How do you know who's just coming to look and who wants to do business?

"Eye contact," she said.

THE PROSTITUTES THEMSELVES

Very few women who work as prostitutes ever earn more than a middle class income at best — and usually it's worse, according to Stakelborough and Van Doeveren.

Stakelborough says it's not the prettiest or youngest girls who get the most customers or earn the most. And escorts and high-end brothel prostitutes don't necessarily do better — they have fewer customers, longer sessions and lots of costs, for taxis or splitting profits with brothel owners, she said.

A window typically rents for 150 euros ($202) for a half-day. Given the standard cost of about 50 euros ($70) for a 15-minute session, their take-home pay before taxes is only 150 euros after seeing six clients, or 250 euros ($338) after eight.

Approximately 75 percent of the women are from poorer countries, often Romania or Bulgaria.

"Almost all the women who are here are here 'voluntarily', in the sense that they come knowing what they're going to do," van Doeveren says. "But you can ask yourself what their other options were."

At the end of the museum there's a wall of quotes from prostitutes.

"This job is not for the faint-hearted," wrote Eva from Holland. "I have become much harder."

"It makes me feel lonely my mother doesn't know what I do," wrote Carmen from Romania.

Visitors can write down their own sexual secrets in a mock-up confessional booth before heading back out onto the street.

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If you go:

The "Red Light Secrets" Museum of Prostitution is located on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60-62 in Amsterdam. The museum is open daily from noon to midnight.

Admission cost: 7.50 euros.

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