City in Lights. Red Lights.

imagesLondon’s National Gallery now features its own bit of Amsterdam Red Light District. The Hoerengracht is a life-size installation of some winding streets by Ed and Nancy Kienholz.

But ironically in Amsterdam itself, it’s more about dismantling the Red Light District in the name of frumpification — in particular in the area directly around the Old Church (famed for its massive organ). For example at Oudekerksplein 20, Super Sex Cinema Venus’s days are apparently numbered and that inspired the excellent FOAM to put on an excellent exhibition by photographer Jan-Dirk van der Burg on the subject (picture). It’s a shame that this cinema, the oldest in the district, might be bought out by the city since it is very old school: playing very old Super 8 films for an even older trench coat-wearing clientele.

192This place also used to be one of my two standard stops when hosting visitors who desired a quick taste of the Red Light District. Because I had seen it all often enough, I strove to make these tours as short as possible. My technique was simple… Upon entering Venus, I’d lay out some Dirk van der Broek shopping bags, I had especially brought to protect my guests’ bottoms from whatever nasty germs may have gotten into the chairs. I would then quickly rationalise the watching of these colour-faded Super 8s as an excursion into global kitsch. After all, you haven’t seen wallpaper until you’ve seen the stuff that decorated the walls of Danish hotels back in the 1970s where a lot of these flicks seemed to have been filmed… And the German over-dubbed grunts worked a treat as well…

And then as sure as clockwork, within seven minutes my guests would greet my suggestion to move on with great enthusiasm. I would then lead them down the incredibly narrow alley Trompettersteeg which has traditionally always tended to specialise in anorexic-types. While this action can be interpreted as kicking someone when they are already down on the ground, afterwards my guests would then actually be grateful when I asked them if they wanted to move on to another neighbourhood with a more traditional brand of dive bar.

In the end everyone was happy. My guests had their Red Light District story and I didn’t have to spend more than 10 minutes there. Win-win.

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Posted in Uncategorized 11 years, 3 months ago at 5:23 pm.

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