My 12-year-old and 10-year-old sons are visiting me in Amsterdam right now. My oldest, asked me about my art project and about the Red Light District. Today, I took both of my sons to one of the “nicest” streets in the district so that they would have a better understanding of the area and my project.
In concept, they both understand how my project is about the relationship of artists to prostitutes. They know what a prostitute is. They certainly know what an artist is. They are aware of the law that was passed in Amsterdam and how artists initially benefited from the closing of brothels and how my project talks about this. They also know that I did a performance in the window of the Prostitution Information Center, a place where you can get free information on sex and prostitution. There, is where we began our tour.
I showed them the window where I sat, then I showed them the sculptures behind the old church, and yes, we even passed some of the ladies. Because I know the area so well, I was sure to let them see only the “nicest” windows. The few women who were working this morning had on either a bikini or a very very short dress. Frankly, you can see as much on the beach in Santa Monica, CA.
We were not the only family there. The Red Light District is full of town houses, cafes, clothing stores, bakeries, etc. There is even an elementary school a block from the window where I sat. If you want to know more about the Red Light District, besides the sex part, you can log onto http://www.iamsterdam.com.
As we made our way out of the area, we passed the famous condom shop. Both of my boys know what a condom is and they have a book at home tailored to their age group that talks about sex so neither were taken aback by the display in the window. They were a little confused, however, as to why a man would want to put a condom on that had the head of Homer Simpson!
One of my writer friends said to me recently, “The problem with having an open mind, is that you have to have an open mind.” I have always talked to my kids frankly, and directly, and they come to me with every question imaginable. To them, this was just another day. My youngest commented “Mom, we’ve seen, like, how many naked statues in Rome? This is, like, no big deal, really.” We then made our way over to the canal paddleboats after picking up some chocolate croissants from a Red Light District bakery. Now, my project is to try to get my son to stop using the word “like” in every sentence!