Thekla Reuten, babes of Holland

Inge de Bruijn

Dutch Olympian Inge de Bruijn

Holland has a reputation for being one of the most liberal and tolerant nations in the world. That tolerance extends to matters of bodily intimacy, as seen by the world's most famous red light district, and soft drugs, which are bought and smoked openly in Amsterdam. John Fordham left his wife in the Midwest to find love in the Netherlands.

I always wanted a woman who looked like actress Famke Janssen, the Dutch screen star who played seductive life coach Ava Moore in Nip/Tuck. Janssen looks like a model, in fact she was a model until the early 1990s: prominent cheek bones, slim, leggy and very tall at 5 ft 11 inches.

Famke Janssen

I liked Janssen in Turn The River too. Working class gal, a bit worn at the ages, struggling to make a living hustling guys at pool. She slept on the pool table but still looked sexy, crumpled but sexy, a strong woman who might like a strong guy to look after her.

Thekla Reuten and George Clooney

Thekla Reuten. Crossed legs beauties

Thekla Reuten

Thekla Reuten. Crossed legs beauties

Famke Janssen

Famke Janssen. Crossed legs beauties

Doutzen Kroes

Doutzen Kroes. Crossed legs beauties

Miljuschka Witzenhausen

Miljuschka Witzenhausen. Crossed legs beauties

Jill de Jong

Jill de Jong. Crossed legs beauties

Inge de Bruijn

Inge de Bruijn. Crossed legs beauties

And despite that beaten-down, blue collar look, we know Janssen will clean up well. Put her in high heels, black stockings, a tight skirt, and she's one of the hottest women in Hollywood.

Thekla Reuten

Speaking of Dutch beauties, I've also got my eye on Thekla Reuten. The name might be unfamiliar but you'll have seen her in The American starring George Clooney and directed by Dutchman Anton Corbijn, formally a stills, rock photographer.

In The American, Reuten is an assassin -- what could be hotter? There are fantastic scenes where Thekla is standing with Clooney and wearing a tight dress, her body almost popping through the fabric. She's got these beautiful high boots over fantastic toned legs.

That's the type of woman I wish I was with, the type of women we all dream about being ours.

Suburban nightmare

Trouble is, most of us end up with a woman who loves to go to church, gets all dreamy about the bake sale, and can't even be persuaded to travel out west on a skiing trip. Most of us live the suburban nightmare. Our only escape is watching women like Famke Janssen and Thekla Reuten in the movies.

I was stuck like most of you are, trapped in a boring job in a boring marriage in a boring subdivision. I wanted out, and I wanted a sultry woman. I wanted excitement. At 43, I deserved it.

I made the unusual step of telling my wife I needed a break, a long vacation in Europe. I wanted to travel alone, leave the wife at home to focus on her bake sales, rethink my career, and maybe never come back.


Two weeks later, I flew out of O'Hare, landed in London, spent two days there, mostly in Mayfair and Belgravia, then headed to Amsterdam looking for women who looked like Famke Janssen.

Amsterdam's a great, anything-goes city where you can fit in just fine without putting on an act or pretending to be somebody you're not.

Red light district

I checked into an inexpensive hotel, room no bigger than a big closet, within walking distance of the red light district. Yes, I visited the red light district, spent a few evenings and nights walking around, checking out the women in the windows, watching the drunken tourists going in and out for b-jobs or whatever it was they wanted.

It didn't appeal to me -- well in a way it did because it wasn't like home; it wasn't boring, wasn't safe and predictable, but sex for sale wasn't what I was looking for.

Grolsch and Bols

Instead, I explored the surrounding streets, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and galleries on foot, ducking into a place if it looked promising, ordering a Heineken or Grolsch, a bols aperitif, maybe some food, then sitting back in the dark rooms, read a book or a paper and just watch life go by.

I was at an outdoor market, a place selling vinyl records, sunglasses, bric-a-brac from Africa, and alternative clothes when my shoulder was nudged, and a young, dark-haired woman asked, You're American, aren't you?

American crime

For some Europeans, being American means we're loud, bullies, uncultured, untraveled, don't know our way around the world unless we're running or occupying it with military might.

There's a lot of people who know that Americans get easily riled by having their country mocked, which makes us easy targets.

I don't let that stuff bother me, so I told the young woman, Yeah, I'm American, is it that obvious? She pointed to my Nike sneakers and UCLA sweatshirt, Very obvious, she said. In America, grown men like to wear kids' clothes.

That jibe stung. I swore I'd never wear that sweatshirt again and promised myself to buy a pair of black, lace-up shoes. I did not want to stick out like a sore thumb. I wanted to disappear into my surroundings.


I'm guessing you're a schoolteacher, I told her, pointing at her canvas shoulder bag and black beret. You have the teacher look.

Not bad, she said. I'm a lecturer at the university. I teach undergrads. English literature.

Does that include American literature? I asked. Or are we too much like boys to get included alongside the men? That seemed a bit combative, but what the hell.

No, American lit is not my thing. But sure, it's taught in my department.

She asked what I was doing in Amsterdam and I told her I was escaping from my dull American life and my dull American marriage. I'm looking for Famke Janssen, I told her.

Famke's in Hollywood, she said. You won't find her here.

I just did, I told her. You look just like Famke.

My name is Tessa, she said, but I am happy to be your Famke for a few days if you want me to.

No, I said. Tessa is perfect. Be my Tessa for a few days. And she was.

Tessa's apartment

For a full week, we were inseparable, going on long bike rides in the city, walking along the canals, visiting tiny cafes, bars, and bistros, spending nights together in her small, central apartment overlooking the red light district.

It came to an end not because we wanted it to, but Tessa had to return to work at the university, and I, not wanting the love affair to fade into dullness, caught a train north to Copenhagen. My week with Tessa was the happiest of my life, and it is why I decided to leave my wife.

By John Fordham