A good talk with Duif - Martijn's early years
By: Rocco Hosquet
As soon as I think of something I'll have to take with me, I must catch it at once, or else I'll have forgotten it the next moment. "The umbrella," I think to myself and run up the stairs to the kitchen. "Oh yes, feed the cats!" and I run downstairs again. "Put out the coffeepot, take a scribbling-pad with me." Like one possessed I run through the house. It always goes like this when I have an important appointment, certainly during the last quarter of an hour. I look at the small clock of the computer and I see that it's very late and I know that I won't turn up on time anymore. "Hey, Duif! This is Rocco," I say through the telephone to my interviewee, a few moments later. "Oh, hey Rocco, how are you, lad?" he says with a voice that always has a particularly calming effect on me. I certainly can imagine that little boys want to be friends with him! "Uhmm, yeah, I'm quite alright. We'll have this appointment shortly, won't we? Well, er, I just wanted to tell you that I'm still at home, so I'm afraid I'm not gonna make it," I say, hesitating, because I feel rather embarrassed to turn up late. "Ah, that's fine," he says in a neutral tone. I sigh a bit, because I don't quite understand what he means. "Yes, I mean it's quite convenient to me. I've got a few things to do." We agree on meeting each other within a hour or so.
When I'm leaving my house, the blazing sun is shining right into my face. A fresh breeze makes my flesh creep. Anyway, most of the time I'm happy when the sun is shining, whether it is nice and warm or not. As I'm rather late, I run to the tram stop. Luckily, I don't have to stand in the cold too long before the tram turns up. Once again, in the train to Amsterdam, I read the questions I will ask Duif shortly. When after that I'm staring out of the window I see the section of the HSL (high-speed rail link) in construction. The only thing at the back of that, is dull grassland with the ever so well-known row of pathetic little trees along a small road, serving as a short cut most of the time. If they don't want to build on the green heart of the country anyway, let them make a big beautiful wood out of it; that will smell nice too!
With the image of the grassland and the blazing November sun, I flash back to fourteen years ago, accurate to the day. I am a young boy, cycling back home from school. The smell of a chilly, bright afternoon in November penetrates my nose. Again I hear the sirens. Thirteen years old, a bloody end and, after that, emptiness. I get sick at this thought, wipe away a faint tear and try to think of something else. Before I realize, I am in Amsterdam, where I have to change to another train. As soon as I'm in it, two policemen and two guards step into my compartment. Surprised at this action I ask one of the guards for an explanation. "The consequence of social corruption, sir," he says, sighing. Apparently, guards on this section feel so insecure that they only dare inspecting under police escort. This makes me feel sad. When I arrive at my final station I know exactly what that guard means. It is swarming with layabouts hanging around. The noise they make on seeing the policemen almost makes me believe that I find myself in Artis Zoo. It is only a few minutes walk to Duif's home. On my way, I see really very cute little boys playing to my right and left. That makes up for a lot.
The door swings open heartily. Duif (= 'Pigeon') may be a bit of a strange name for someone who does not have hair on his head anymore. Yet it is not that strange, because it is more than twenty years ago now, since he was there at the foundation of vereniging Martijn... At his request, his real name is left out from this article, but that does not matter, because within the Old Guard of the association everyone knows him as Duif.
The original idea of MARTIJN comes from Theo, when he was in prison because of an indecency offense in Den Bosch. Theo thought the penalty he got for "crimes" he committed very exaggerated and he felt very alone. Theo then got the idea to start an association or a foundation to bring together, by means of a publication, pedophiles who experienced or had experienced the same things as he did. So Theo started Martijn magazine (the precursor of OK, ed.) from prison.
In the early eighties Duif was discovering what pedophilia mattered to him and what meaning he had to give to it. He himself was still very young, but from his fifteenth or sixteenth year on he had received Sekstant magazine from the NVSH (the Dutch Association for Sexual Reformation). One day he saw an advertisement from Martijn in one of the editions and he liked the look of it. After Martijn 2 or 3 he ordered the magazine. It gave him a good feeling that he was not the only one with feelings of the sort. After Martijn 6 he decided to get in touch with the people of MARTIJN, because he could strongly identify with them and he had the impression that they knew what they were talking about. He was invited there at home then. The editors of Martijn magazine did not have an office at the time. The magazine was put together by three friends in Hoogeveen. They did everything: from collecting material, writing, lay-outing to even printing. In the beginning that all was going rather awkwardly, because with a few subscribers there was hardly any money. When Duif joined, there were about 25 people who were subscribed to Martijn and the organization had existed a bit longer than half a year. Because of Theo's penitentiary past, the first four numbers had not been published regularly, whereas the advertisement claimed it to be a monthly magazine.
Duif set up as a volunteer rather soon then. Despite the fact that he did not live at all in the neighborhood of Hoogeveen, he thought it was no effort to travel up and down just for a week. He used to go there on Mondays and return on Fridays. Usually, he stayed with one of the others then and as it happened, two of them were living in the same street. Very soon there was a situation in which Duif was doing more and more and the others were doing less and less. After some time problems were arising, because Theo pulled out and a new club had to be formed. The 25 subscribers were invited then, and, against all expectations, 23 of them turned up. It was announced that more people had to join the editors and that something of a board had to come into being. Five people from this club appeared to be willing on the board, while two of them went on as editors. "I'll never forget that meeting too. It was so special. So 20 people out of those 25 were unfamiliar to me, but anyhow, out of those 20 unfamiliar people MARTIJN finally grew into what it is now," according to Duif.
The text for Martijn was typed out on an ordinary typewriter at the time and then put under the photocopier. Printing was not possible at the time, because we had to go to Groningen for that and it could simply not be paid with 25 subscribers. In an early stage the copying was done by the first machine that we met, but the quality often left a lot to be desired. After that the decision was made to copy Martijn at a printer's, which resulted in a reasonable quality. Nowadays MARTIJN collaborators think it's rather creepy to make material for the association at the local copy center. At the time collaborators did not really realize that it might be dangerous. In their opinion they did not do anything illegal. Besides, they were not an association yet, but only a small group of people putting together a magazine. At some stage the number of subscribers was increasing rather rapidly from 25 to 130. At that moment the organization was not an association or a foundation yet. With so many subscribers it became necessary to be registered at the Chamber of Commerce. However, it was not easy to find members of the board who did not object to getting to be mentioned by name, address and phone number. Finally this worked out and in November 1982 these people went to the notary. Since then vereniging MARTIJN has existed officially.
The association has been called after the original magazine, Martijn. But why of all names 'Martijn' and not, for example, 'Bert'? When I put this question to Duif he replies that he has absolutely no idea. So we've got a small mystery here, that we cannot solve in a minute, because Duif has not been in touch with Theo, the name-giver, for years. I do not know whether the name of the association was discussed more often in the past, but early 2002 we received a spontaneous letter from an angry Martijn:
| Dear association,|
A simple search on the internet teaches us something about the name 'Martijn': it has been derived from 'Martinus'. That means, translated freely, 'powerful fighter'. In theory a nice explanation, but it is doubtful if this is the idea behind it. However, for the time being we have to accept this. Can you unravel this mystery? Please get in touch with a letter to the editor then!
During Duif's time at MARTIJN all kinds of things have happened, whether positive or negative, that he still can remember very well. Many, many nice things have happened there. "During those years when I was busy there, I met a gigantic number of people who were all the same as me. That may be a reason why I am not feeling unhappy now. There are so many and strongly different people with nice ideas or with funny anecdotes. Many, many people came to stay overnight, more often I was setting off than at home. I always really liked it very much. My telephone was ringing all the time. I was very busy keeping in close contact with people. By that one gets a certain wisdom of life or a certain view of life. There are as many views of life as the people one meets and I picked up my view from them. That gave me a very sound grasp of how other people deal with their inclination. Finally, I deduced from that how I live now. I have always found that very pleasant. The least funny thing, about which I can laugh too, afterwards, or at least get a big smile about, is that one of my boyfriends at the time once sighed, 'do you have to leave already again'. I was to stay elsewhere in the Netherlands for one night. He knew it was for MARTIJN, but he found it very, very annoying. I do not know why, but he got a bit angry and pulled a glum face. Anyway, I'm leaving the next day and of course I won't be there when he comes to my place. The next day I come home late in the evening and he tells me, looking me very deeply in the eyes, "This was the last time you did that, wasn't it?" The way he said that was so straight, I'll never forget that. He liked it that I had a job, but every now and then he did not like it and that was the case at that moment. Those two days to me are not to be separated from MARTIJN anymore. He surely had a tough time!"
I have not worked for MARTIJN for such a very long time, but of course I have heard a few things about the collisions of the association with the judicial system. Of course I am curious to know what Duif has to report about this. "Something in which MARTIJN was involved anyway, was OK number 8. MARTIJN had or has members in surrounding countries too and at the time the OK's were sold as single issues here and there in Germany and when we dispatched that edition, it was confiscated by Dutch customs as being illegal material. Then it was called child porn as well. To the crunch, justice took offense mainly at the strip of images that had been reduced to 5 mm high and had been laid out by us on the bottom of the pages. It originated from sex magazines like, let's say, 'Piccolo' and 'Boy', which were free available until some time before that. We made a nice little comics out of it. That package of OK's was confiscated then, after which, of course, the danger had been created that the copies we distributed and still had in stock, would be confiscated. Of course, as an association we had a directory and that can be screened from the outside world as best as one can, but if justice wants it really bad, they will get it in possession, it is as simple as that." Nowadays we bolt the directory, but at the time that was not yet an option, of course. "We lodged a protest against that confiscation and eventually it never got beyond that confiscation. Those copies were confiscated by customs and by justice and it never got beyond that. However, it was added explicitly toward the association anyway, that we were not allowed to distribute the remaining copies of OK any longer. On that condition the charge carried through then. No judgment was passed about being it child porn or not. So there was no criminal prosecution." On the cover of OK 8 there is a little boy with an erection, so I always thought that that was what it was all about. "No, because that was from a legal photo book that is still freely available. It was only about the tiny comics with reduced porn magazines and naturist magazines. That made all the difference. If you would put a magnifying glass onto it, you would only see black and white dots. The name 'Piccolo' was still readable and at the time it was a well-known sex magazine and that was not permitted anymore or something like that. Otherwise, as regards legal problems, not in my time."
Neither Duif, nor anyone else he was working with within the association, had judicial problems as a result of his ties with the association. This despite the fact that his real name was mentioned in Martijn. "Yes, at the time I was just in it with my own name. Twenty years ago the freedom to express oneself as a pedo was, nevertheless, a little bit greater than it is today. One could also say that one was a pedo more often and more open, without a hectic or mad reaction. We just gave lectures too at secondary schools. That all was possible without being wham bam broken off with a 'you're all a bunch of pigs'. People just listened. It went wrong since 'Oude Pekela' (Dutch town, in which a child abuse-scandal took place in the eighties). In my time MARTIJN was also an active participator in Roze Zaterdag (Dutch Gay Parade). We also walked nearly up front in the pink parade one time with a banner. 'We won't take it any longer', that was the slogan. This illustrates once again too that at the time more things were possible than now."
When MARTIJN was founded, its main purpose was to be a relief group. Pedophiles had to get an opportunity to exchange experiences, not just judicial experiences. To get people in touch with each other has always been a very important aim. Thus, since the time Duif joined meeting days were organized at least two or three times a year, and they were visited by many, many people, to everybody's surprise. When out of a 100 members 80 turn up, it gives me something of a shock," according to Duif. So, apparently, there was a very great demand for days like these. Furthermore, there were ideological aims as well. MARTIJN wanted to inform members of Parliament and the press about pedophilia and above all it wanted to make clear to the man in the street that pedophilia is not something scary. Especially the idea that pedophiles are child molesters, standing in the bushes with sweets, had to be cleared away. It had to be made clear that pedophiles are just people out of flesh and blood, who have a certain preference, just as homosexuals, heterosexuals, transvestites, etc. So, in the beginning MARTIJN sent Martijn to all kinds of politicians too. The Christian-democratic party (CDA) refused to receive Martijn; they used to send it back neatly in the same envelope again. Martijn was always sent for free to all kinds of people from left wing parties (PvdA, Groen Links and D'66). Sometimes we received a reaction to that in return, but this was exceptional. To MARTIJN that meant a small victory then. By that the collaborators were confirmed that they were doing alright.
There have been plans too, certainly when MARTIJN was getting more members, to send Martijn for free to all libraries in the Netherlands. However, due to lack of time and to lack of sources this remained restricted to libraries in the big cities. By doing things like that as an association, we are pleading in the defence of our case in a socially active way. Papers used to be written to every now and then when some ridiculous article had been written, like during the 'Oude Pekela' and 'Bolderkar' affairs (Bolderkar is the name of a day care-center in which sexual child abuse was presumed to have taken place in the eighties). As a reaction to that the association wrote letters to all kinds of editors of newspapers, both national and regional, with its stand on these cases. In contrast with the 'Dutroux'-case, the 'Oude Pekela' and 'Bolderkar' affairs were nothing more than fabrications. Dutroux is not exactly someone I or any other pedo could identify with in the first place, so he drops out. Does not mean that as an association we can react to such an affair, by distancing ourselves from that fellow and distancing ourselves from the facts he committed," according to Duif.
As arguments against pedophile relationships it is often brought forward that the child is not ready for it or that he or she cannot say 'no'. Duif thinks that that is rubbish. "Yes, I've always thought that that is rubbish, so I've never cared about that. It is as simple as that." This really is an ostrich attitude! I cannot imagine that he never wonders if he is right, when the great majority says that pedophiles are wrong and sick. "I cannot do anything with that, because that is not the case with me. I'm just a human being, initially, and I love other people and above all I love boys. Whether other people like that or not. If they like it, that's pleasant, then we can start a friendly relationship, if they don't like it, then they certainly don't want to have me around and I don't want them either. I've got nothing to do with people who think that I am sick, except for the constant confrontation with the restriction of my freedom in that and of the expression of my feelings." In my opinion I have touched a tender spot there, maybe he finds it hard to cope with his feelings. "I don't find it hard to cope with them, in the meantime I've reconciled myself to a society that is hardening in that sense. But of course in my life also things have happened that made me less happy than I could have been. I have been condemned too because of relationships I maintained. These relationships did not harm anybody; that is not only my feeling, but also the people's who were directly involved. I have been condemned because of that, though, and a thing like that has left its mark. Personally, it makes me consider three times first if, at starting new relationships, I really want that, or if it is worth to me to start a relationship, knowing that one way or another my head can be cut, as it were. In the sense of: you can be put behind bars for that." So, this means that those laws do have effect. "Yes, but whether this is positive or negative, that is just the question. Look, I'm not a character who's taking a ramming line next and is therefore just going to follow any indiscriminate little boy that he likes, which is what the avarage Dutchman thinks. Indeed, I feel that my freedom is restricted by those laws and by the attitude of society towards pedophilia. I really can live with that, because there are more things in life that can make one happy. Having good friends is one of them, for instance. Or similar people, pedophiles with whom one can have a good talk. My life would be unhappy if I would not know any other pedophiles whom I could talk with about my feelings and ups and downs considering boylove. If I would not have that anymore, if that outlet would be shut off too, then I would feel deeply unhappy. But now I have enough friends around me with whom I can go downtown easily or go on holiday or do whatever-what and to whom I just can say something like 'Gosh, wow, isn't he a hunk."
Maybe MARTIJN could fulfill a role in bringing pedophiles together, but I think that much of this has been taken care of by the rise of the internet. Duif qualifies this somewhat. "The difference between the association and the magazine and, apart from that, the internet is, that behind the association there are people out of flesh and blood, whom you can personally speak with. In my opinion, when the association organizes meeting days, or, for example, participates in the organization of International Boylove Day (IBLD) or takes up a somewhat more active position to bring people together, then as an association we fulfill an important social function. Internet is and will always be a medium that people can consult individually at home. And of course one can't compare making contact through internet to making contact between members of the association. Just, purely see whom you are talking to." Duif tells that in his time meeting days and meeting weekends were organized and sometimes there were members who wanted to take someone with them. "Initially that was permitted, because we knew who that person was. At some stage those rules were a bit too supple and that's why there were people coming with a somewhat different impression of such a meeting day, and they caused all kinds of trouble. And than I express myself carefully. Look, that's not what we need. If one goes to a meeting day with the attitude 'I'm going to meet people there who've all got a boyfriend' and then one is going to bother other people with that in an active way, for instance 'what's your friend's name, where does he live, what's his age, what do you do with him' etc. etc. If one's only doing that during the whole weekend, then one ruins the atmosphere considerably. Meeting days were especially meant to get people in touch with each other. We are the same kind, so if we walk along the street and I see a beautiful blond little boy, then just being able to say that, is still somewhat different than going to such a meeting day with the idea 'I'm going to get off with little boys."
In Duif's time about one quarter to one third of the members turned up at the general meetings (ALV's), depending on what was to be offered. The meeting days were more popular and usually took place in youth hostels throughout the country. The programme consisted of getting acquainted and, in the afternoons, for example a movie. Besides that there was the book-stand, just as is now the case at the ALV. It was made full use of, because it was a unique service that MARTIJN still can offer its members today. "It was one of the few places where you could get legal 'boy-material'", according to Duif. It is obvious that Duif is a boylover, but how in his opinion should MARTIJN deal with girl lovers? "Well, I think that girl lovers should write their own magazine." The main reason to him is that boylovers and girl lovers differ as much from each other as men and women.
When MARTIJN was about five years old and had many members, the need of a qualitatively better magazine within the association was growing considerably. Martijn was always published on medium-size common paper and the photographs did not always show up nicely and beautifully. A small group of people, experienced in the printing industry, stood up then. Martijn 35 or 36 was a first attempt to improve. Some time after that, the first OK magazine as we know it now was published. OK magazine had a professional lay out and had a completely renewed style that could not be compared to Martijn. It was more expensive, but because of the great number of members, that was sensible to do. At that moment Duif and the other editor decided that the new blood was capable enough and that it was time to hand over the helm. Later the members of the board followed their example. Duif adds that he still remembers that "on a meeting day we were looking for a new secretary to get the board complete again, because the former secretary withdrew." "And on that day we addressed M. because he seemed a nice boy to us and a week later he said that he wanted to do it. Nowadays he is still taking care of Persfocus. At that rate the continuity of the association has been secured and since then no one of us, as far as I know, had had something to do with the association anymore. But I'm sure that a number of people of the Old Guard has always been following the developments within the association more or less."
According to Duif, MARTIJN's essential points have been changed, certainly during the past ten years. In the beginning the most important aim was to publish a magazine every month. Very soon the association realized that without a magazine you don't keep members. During the first three years the magazine was published monthly, after that bimonthly, although qualitatively with a somewhat better lay out. But, precisely as a result of the regular publishing the number of members was increasing more every year. "During those five years that I did it, the magazine was still called 'Martijn' too and we were growing from 25 members when I came there, to a good 600 when I left there," according to Duif. "As a result of having so many members, more and more people are coming who want to do something and that makes it easier to generate the contents." In the initial period there were two editors. When there was not any copy, a part of the many letters to the editor was published. Every now and then there was a search for people who could write a more serious little article. Thus, people like Frits Bernard and the late Brongersma contributed too. These are people of the Old Guard with a certain background. Duif emphasizes the importance of illustrations in the magazine. "However innocent, but without photographs we don't have an attractive magazine. At the time we just managed with photographs from people who were prepared to give up photographs."
Duif thinks that the association does not have to blame itself for the not particularly progressive battle for acceptance. "I think the association, though for a limited group of people, is a good club to end up with and there is nothing wrong with that. MARTIJN still fulfills a function, if it were only in favour of all the young people finding out now that they are pedophiles. MARTIJN is the only association in the Netherlands from which one can get help just like that." The NVSH used to have a great number of study groups on 'pedophilia'. They have almost disappeared. In Rotterdam it is running quite well, though. There have been discussions between the NVSH National Board and MARTIJN, to investigate if the pedophile study groups and MARTIJN could both preserve those open evenings, or if MARTIJN could mean something to the NVSH in some other way. According to Duif it has become much more difficult, as a result of the hardening of society towards anything that has to do with sexuality and children, to express oneself as a pedophile in the first place. "It is just becoming more and more difficult, because actually we're only getting criticism from the outside world. We used to be paid a compliment by someone every now and then."
At the moment MARTIJN has more than 250 members. That is less than half of the number the association ever had. Many a person is concerned about the question how MARTIJN must survive in the present time. Let's see what Duif has to say about this. "I think to MARTIJN it is just important to concentrate on the small group of people who are members now, and do all what is possible for them. It should not strive so much for more members or do more than it can cope with. It will have to cope with the people they have got. That has always been the attitude of the Old Guard Martijners. We owe the increase that MARTIJN went through during the first five years, principally to the regular publication of the magazine. That has always been priority number one to the board and to the editors. Things have been put aside for that. Why do people become a member of the association? That's because of the magazine and because of the pictures that are in it. At least, that used to be an important criterion to become a member. (Sorry Duif, but our ideals extend to a bit further than that. R.H.) In principle, MARTIJN says, 'five times a year we just let you know that you are not the only one who has these feelings' and then only three numbers are published. Of course people get disappointed. As a board and as editors we do have wider ideals to change society and to inform, but those members really don't have such ideals. There are a lot of consumers among them. They consume what we produce. But certainly when the number of members threatens to become critical, we'll have to approach things just businesslike and then it is nice to have ideals and they really have to remain, but just put them aside for a while anyway. It's my idea too that if MARTIJN will have 25 members again, to invite them all then and to call something like 'Either we stop with it and then we decide that all together now, very democratically, or we go on, but then we must do it together."
I thank Duif for the talk and the trust placed in me and, with good courage, I walk into the darkness for a walk to the office of vereniging MARTIJN for the editorial meeting. We go on!
source: Interview 'A good talk with Duif - Martijn's early years' by Rocco Hosquet; OK Magazine, no. 83/84; January 2003