Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

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Most discourse about sex workers tends to focus on the women who work in the industry, while their male colleagues tend to be less visible or represented. Recognising how special and ificant these conversations were, he decided to dedicate a whole body of work to portray their stories.

Payboy is a collection of portraits of the male sex workers Peijnenburg spent time with, taken with their collaboration in spaces they would usually meet clients. What is it like growing up in a city where sex work is such a visible part of everyday life?

Mees Peijnenburg: The culture and representation of the Red Light District has changed a lot this last decade. The government has created more regulations and a new set of rules. For instance, they have tried to monitor sex trafficking and avoid exploitation of vulnerable individuals.

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

The culture of the Red Light District has always been very ambiguous to me. It continues to be a manifestation of some sides of society perhaps not so visible in other arenas. On one side it is special and beautiful — a symbol of the progressive state of mind from years ago. But, on the other side, it is a very dark place where numerous sex workers come from specific circumstances and live under difficult conditions. It is not always the safe environment it aimed to be, and the working relationships of this industry continue to be dodgy at best. As a young boy, this world was obviously very exciting, attractive, intriguing, and arousing.

But it has also always been a very strange world to me too, a dark place. The Disneyland-vibe of the Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam has always been very surreal. But growing up, I became more aware of how this circus is a totally out of balance representation of what the Red Light District truly is. You hardly see a male sex worker standing behind a window.

Which is clearly not in tune with how this world actually is. They are their own bosses. What was it about their stories that caught your attention? Mees Peijnenburg: The street view from my childhood in Amsterdam and the image of the industry was always in connection to female sex workers. But during the research for my first feature film, Paradise DriftersI visited numerous youth shelters and homeless institutions. During these visits, I would stay for days and have extensive conversations with many different boys and girls. I was talking about their families, friends, upbringing, and financial structures.

From time to time some of the guys talked to me about how they were active in different forms of sex work, sometimes for pleasure, sometimes purely as a financial benefit. For some guys, it was a personal sexual discovery, a way of expressing themselves differently to who they were towards the world around them. Other guys told stories about how they had been forced, how they had been sexually exploited. Some were very clear about it being purely about the financial gains. Everyone had their own personal experience. These conversations were very Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam.

It was a different perspective that I was immediately intrigued by. Many of the guys really wanted to be heard and to share their stories. Some guys were extremely open and proud about it, others would burst into tears as it was the first time they had spoken about this to anyone. Most of the time there was a level of reservation in the way they shared their story but, at the same time, it seemed like it was important for them to tell it. So there was such a duality about this topic which has so much stigma around it.

I wanted to incorporate these conversations into Paradise Driftersbut I felt it was too big of a subject to simply touch upon in the story. So I started this photography series instead. Are their work environments as well-regulated as their female colleagues? Mees Peijnenburg: Sex work comes in so many different shapes and forms. None of the men in the pictures work behind the windows that the Red Light District is known for, they all work for themselves. They find their clients on the internet and have no regulations or safety net from the government.

But there are places in Amsterdam where they can get medical help, talk to people, or get legal support if needed. Every person has their own skillset or speciality. Some of the men only do massages, erotic massages. Some purely give online performances. Some only meet clients in hotels. Some meet everywhere and always. The portraits feel really intimate. Could you tell us a bit about how you created Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

Did you spend a lot of time with the men you photographed? Mees Peijnenburg: For me, it was very important that everybody who participated with the project felt comfortable. Trust is key for me, and I wanted to make sure that no one felt exploited or wrongly portrayed afterwards.

With all the men I had conversations about the project before meeting. For instance, the participants decided where we would meet, but it had to be a place where they would be with clients. It could be anywhere — indoor, outdoor, quiet places, crowded places, parking lots, backyards, parks, cars, you name it, anywhere. And the last rule, the most important one to me, was that the participants decided themselves which pictures we were going to use. After the shoot, I would make a selection, share it, and they themselves decided which picture they felt comfortable with.

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

It was very important to me that everybody agreed, felt good. It was a very collaborative process. Did you start out with any specific intentions about what you wanted to communicate with Payboy? And did those ideas evolve or change as you worked on this series? Mees Peijnenburg: The main intention was to never ever place the people I portray in a negative context.

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

With this series, I wanted to show a diverse and inclusive picture of many different men who have this work. But above all, I wanted to give a face to a profession that Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam underrepresented and stigmatised by many people with harsh judgment. It maintains wrong that the sex work industry has a gendered image.

With PayboyI wanted to shine a light on an underexposed side of the sex industry for which Amsterdam is so famous. Could you share with us any of the stories, moments or individuals that really stayed with you when you were making Payboy? Mees Peijnenburg: I find it difficult to choose.

To be honest, the whole process has been very special to me. I feel a close connection to all the men that are portrayed, all in their different way. Everyone has their own view on their work ethics and their profession. Working on this series showed me all the beautiful differences we have, once again. Mees Peijnenburg: Consent is key in all forms of sex work.

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

I felt empowered. I wish that everybody who stigmatises the sex work industry would have been with me during the past months. Mees Peijnenburg: I hope people take away a tender feeling and adjust any preconceived judgements they might have about gender, stigma and image of sex workers.

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

Dazed media sites. Mees Peijnenburg, Payboy Scarlett Carlos Clarke captures lockdown motherhood in surreal imagery. How Catherine Opie transformed the image of contemporary America. Intimate and serene photographs of women, nude in their bedrooms. What would you like people to take away with them from seeing these portraits?

Are there male prostitutes in amsterdam

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Tender portraits of Amsterdam’s male sex workers and their personal stories