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Yab Yum -- Theo Heuft: the man who founded a world-famous brothel
Posted: 2024-06-11, 10:55 am

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Theo Heuft: the man who founded a world-famous brothel and sold illusions


IIn this time of #MeToo, it will not be considered appropriate to lay flowers in front of the most famous and luxurious brothel in Dutch history. Otherwise, nostalgic souls would have spontaneously paid tribute to the deceased owner of Yab Yum there on Monday.

Theo Heuft died last week at the age of 89 in France, where he ran a bed and breakfast in Burgundy. He lived there with his third wife Monique Rusch.

Heuft became a famous Dutchman thanks to the international success of his brothel. Brothel owners generally did not aspire to this, but Heuft saw himself primarily as a top manager. It didn't matter that it was a brothel. He called his biography, published in 2009, with the modest title Yab Yum: the most famous brothel in the world, a management book. It was not only about beautiful women, wealthy customers, extortion and tough crime, but also about brilliant marketing. He was proud of what he had achieved. 'Illegal things have always appealed to me. There is something fishy about all the big money. Drugs and crime are not my thing, but I feel at home near the borders. "I would be seriously offended if people called me the best boy in class," he told Het Parool .

Hero and anti-hero
He was both hero and anti-hero at the same time. When de Volkskrant interviewed him in 2012, readers were moved. The newspaper should not have paid any attention to this scoundrel under the headline 'Gentleman brothel owner'.

A musical and a television documentary have already been dedicated to him. And a television drama about his brothel is in the making. "The history of Yab Yum has so many beautiful, special and at the same time bizarre and horrifying stories that no screenwriter could think of it," Heuft said.

The names and jersey numbers of the people who frequented the brothel will not be disclosed. 'What happens in Yab Yum, stays in Yab Yum' was Heuft's slogan. According to some, so many prominent people came that Heuft had a network with which he could have had a shot at the list of most influential Dutch people.

Hot tubs and chandeliers
He didn't like words like brothel and sex tent. Yab Yum was a gentlemen's club . No sexual excesses were sold, but illusions. Those who went to Yab Yum did so for a fun evening out. "Have a nice chat with each other and then maybe go upstairs to make out a bit in the hot tub," he said at the twentieth anniversary in De Groene Amsterdammer . Because he too could not ignore the phenomenon.

The 'girls' were hostesses, not prostitutes. They not only had to look beautiful, but also have to be able to communicate well. "Talking is the main thing, sex is the side issue," says Heuft. They were there to 'entertain' the customer and realize his 'fantasies'. He rejected every allegation of oppression of women. 'They work with their bodies. But plumbers do that too," Heuft said.

Theo Heuft was born into a Roman Catholic family in Amsterdam-West. His father was a lemonade manufacturer and beer merchant. After only six months of trade school it was clear that education was not for Heuft. He went to help his father. At the age of thirty he wanted to start his own business and bought a trendy café on Sophialaan in Amsterdam South.

Due to gambling debts, he soon fell into ruin, started selling wigs and cosmetics and eventually decided to become a pimp for a club opposite De Nederlandsche Bank. He soon walked in. The next step was the exploitation of Yab Yum. It was opened in 1976 in a beautiful 17th-century building on the Amsterdam Singel, some distance from the famous red light district so that there was no nuisance from tourists and onlookers.

Hot tubs, chandeliers and golden Buddhas gave the brothel an exclusive image, as did the sky-high prices. Already in the early 1980s, the entrance fee was 75 guilders and a bottle of champagne cost 500 guilders. Mainly businessmen, sports and film stars, stock market traders and penoze came.

Politicians, movie stars, singers and criminals
In Anna van 't Hek's 2021 documentary, one of the ex-prostitutes says: 'I've seen them all. Famous politicians, movie stars, singers, major criminals, you name it. I even received an entire football team that had just become European champions. We had to stand in a row with the girls, while the coach picked some of us out. I was there too. We waited in the bedrooms until the whole team came in.'

But already in the late 1980s, notorious criminals also visited the building. Heuft wrote in his biography that one of the bodyguards of the later murdered Klaas Bruinsma once put a gun to his head when he did not immediately respond to the request to put on a Pink Floyd CD instead of Frank Sinatra. The next day Bruinsma gave him a thousand guilders as compensation.

Criminal settlements took place instead. Sometimes the entire contents were shattered. In 1999, Heuft said he was forced to sell the establishment after extortion by criminals Sam Klepper and John Mieremet. The new owner was Hennie Vittali, who paid 4 million guilders for it, while according to Heuft it was worth 10 million. In 2007, Yab Yum was closed by the municipality because it was allegedly used for criminal activities.

It was to be operated as a museum for some time, but that was not a success.
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