A New View of the World's Oldest Profession
In Meet The Fokkens, Dutch filmmakers Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schroder profile the Fokkens twins, Louise and Martine, 69-year-old twins who've been working as prostitutes in Amsterdam's red-light district for some 50 years. When they were young girls, they were pushed into the profession by Martine's abusive husband, but they eventually came to see prostitution as the only way in which they could control their own lives and finances. They're been quite successful in their work and they're proud of what they've accomplished.
A Brothel of their Own
Martine and Louise established their own brothel, and were able to remain free and independent of exploitive pimps and to avoid connection with organized crime that runs the sex trade around the world, including in Amsterdam. Martine and Louise also were instrumental in the organization of the first labor union for prostitutes, founded to protect their rights and those of their colleagues and coworkers.
The twins see their line of work as quite ordinary. They've worked hard, but the job has provided them with a comfortable lifestyle. Through their years of plying their trade, the twins learned every trick in the book to make their job easier and to do it more efficiently. They are masters of fakery. They have acquired and use a wide variety of sex toys to speed up the deed.
They have built up an impressive list of clients, including priests and rabbis, and men of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and professions who, for one reason or another, can't seem to find or settle into 'normal' sexual relationships or who have fantasies and fetishes so extreme or demanding that they must hire women to satisfy them.
Overall, Louise and Martine are respectful of their clients, but also have a healthy disdain for them. They see most of their johns and their neediness as frivolous, and are recall their exploits with amusement -- like the client who weighed more than 300 pounds and almost broke Martine's bed, for example. And there are many other hilarious stories, too, that are revealed in candid on camera conversations between the twins.
The filmmakers follow Louise and Martine as they ramble around town, shopping for groceries and complaining about the rising cost of living, helping each other get through the day's assortment of housekeeping chores in their respective apartments, getting together with colleagues and coworkers for gabfests, meeting up and flirting with the now retired police officer who used to patrol their street in the red light district, and other mundane activities -- all of which take on the patina of seeming somewhat unusual because they fit into the context of the twins' professional life. But that underscores the fact that they don't think their profession or lives to be anything but ordinary.
Not So Hidden Talents
There is one exception, and that is that Louise is also an accomplished painter, and the filmmakers cover the opening of her gallery exhibit of canvases depicting life as a prostitute. The exhibit is a huge success, with high praise expressed by all who attend and many of the paintings sold.
The filmmakers also follow Martine to work, where she sits in the display window of her storefront brothel, wearing seductive and scanty costumes and handling the day's selection of seductive props -- ping pong paddles, for example -- to attract new clients. She's well aware that she's competing with younger women, and carries on a bit to try to turn age -- and humor -- to her advantage. We also get a few glimpses of what transpires behind Martine's curtain when it's closed.
Focus on the Fokkens
Martine and Louise are quirky, kind, amusing, forthright, endearing and thoroughly engaging. Structurally, Meet The Fokkens may ramble a bit, but it always focuses on the Fokkens, and they are great subjects for a documentary film. They're refreshingly honest about who they are, but they're also terrific performers -- as is demanded by their job. Their outlook on their work casts quite a different light on prostitution as a profession. Their perspective will undoubtedly be seen as scandalous by people who think prostitution to be scandalous. And, this nonjudgmental documentary may be seen as scandalous by people who expect prostitution to be shown as a sad, tawdry and salacious pursuit. On the other hand, some people will probably seek out and see the film because they expect to be titillated. The bottom line is that Meet The Fokkens is a somewhat surprising and thoroughly refreshing new view of the world's oldest profession.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:
- When Strangers Click
- The Business of Being Born
- Very Young Girls
- Highway Courtesans
- We Live In Public