“They often talk about it: the standing and waiting to be noticed by the men strolling by, wondering which ones are likely to tip well, and which not. From their glass windows they watch the lives outside, especially the men’s. It is easy to tell those who have stumbled on the Schipperskwartier by mistake. Tourists with their cameras slung around their necks, mostly Japanese tourists who do not know Antwerp, seduced by the antiquity of the city and deceived by the huge cathedral, wander off and then suddenly come face to face with a line-up of half-dressed women, different colours and different shades of those colours. They look and, disbelieving, take another look. Quickly. And then they walk away with embarrassed steps. Not wishing to be tainted by the lives behind the windows.”
Prostitution was part of it all. There were two red light districts in Liege, one near the Gare Liege-Guillemans and the other, at the back of the Rue Leopold near the footbridge to the Outremeuse. The one near Guillemans was the upmarket option: young European women in catalogue lingerie, with plastic stickers of accepted credit cards near the doors. The other place was far more gothic; haggard vixens draped in leather and torn fishnet, idling for an impoverished cash-only clientele.