The reader who subscribes to a women’s magazine is usually offered a large choice of welcome gifts: Umbrellas, travel bags, beach towels are all standard items in a magazine’s marketing department. Now the summer is coming, the gifts might become a little bit more cheeky. Today, a Dutch magazine goes a little bit further and taking the gift tradition to a new and almost indecent level. On the occasion of its 69nd issue, the monthly Linda offers new female subscribers the opportunity to spend two hours with a gigolo. To obtain such a rendezvous, simply to signing a check for a one year subscription will not suffice. The clients must motivate their desire to spend time with a professional Don Juan. The subscription can be done for your mother, a friend, or even a neighbor… There will be 25 winners, the other subscribers will be offered a leather bag. Probably less funny, but more convenient because they can keep the bag. After the frolicking, the magazine will anonymously interview the new readers to collect the stories of their experience.
The editor in chief Linda, Jildou van der Bijl Jildou explains: “The theme of this issue is adultery. With this promotion, we wanted to break the taboo of women who pay for sex. Why is it permitted for a man to go see a prostitute, while for women it is much more rare?” The journalist added that within the editorial staff (which also includes men), the idea was immediately well received. “No one had any moral nor ethical objections.”
Sex as a promotional tool is nothing new to the Kingdom of Batavia: women’s weekly Viva has been giving a vibrator to new subscribers for years. At one point the offer was so popular, that almost every Dutch female has a Viva-dildo on her bedside table. This marketing campaign is therefore hardly original and can almost be seen in the long mercantilist tradition of the Netherlands. In the Low Countries, prostitution is considered a service, so there is no legal difference between a prostitute, a lawyer or a plumber, as long as everyone respects the rules.
“It’s stupid! What do they want to achieve? It is exploitation of these men.”
But the peripatetic workers themselves are less crazed. Metje Blaak, spokesman for the union of prostitutes “The Red Thread” (De Rode Draad) in Amsterdam, is adamant: “It’s stupid! What do they want to achieve? It is exploitation of these men. It’s seems like the magazine is promoting prostitution. And a prostitute should always be able to refuse a client. What will the gigolo do when he has to service a 103 years old lady?” Yet, according to the editor in chief of Linda, the sexual free agents may very well refuse clients: “The winners will be contacted by the escort agency who will then clearly explain the rules to respect. Including the gigolo’s right to refuse the clients.” The cost of this pleasure? A whopping 450 euros for two hours of pleasure.
The offer caused the temporary breakdown of the website this week, but so far there are few new subscribers: “Until Thursday afternoon, we received seven letters from candidates for the gigolos,” admits Van der Bijl sounding a little bit disappointed. “Maybe they do not dare… “
There remains a gray area to clarify: The fact that the magazine seems to be taking advantage of procuring prostitutes, which, unlike prostitution itself, is severely punished in the Netherlands. Asked about this issue the Linda’s editor in chief reacted surprised: “Oh yes… In fact, we have not consulted with our lawyers. I’ll do that right now to be sure that we are respecting the law!”
Linda sells 175,000 copies each month. It carries the name of Linda de Mol, a well known TV presenter in the Netherlands and Germany, also sister of John, the founder of Endemol and the inventor of shows like ‘Big Brother’. Linda de Mol is on the cover of each issue. In the Netherlands many personalities have their own monthly bearing their first name. The trend of egoglossies started a some years ago and are a big hit.