Aktueel

An article in the Aktueel on the experiences of a journalist after a ‘kidnapped’ interview with no. 1 escort agency Women of the World. In September 1999 Jeroen Mantel wrote an article in the Aktueel about his experiences after De Telegraaf, ignorantly, copied an earlier interview in the More! with high class escort agency Women of the World with photographs and presented them as the first pictures of Crown Prince Willem Alexander together with Maxima Zorreguieta, his then-to-be wife.

One week ago: The phone’s ringing in our editors office. “All hell has broken loose! That Maxima Zorreguieta is a whore. And from the sheer terror of it all, Prince Willem-Alexander is now a journalist at Aktueel!” De Telegraaf had gobbled up a fake photo and choked on it. ‘Maxima’ was actually a Dutch call girl named Jesse from Amsterdam. And the ‘Crown Prince’ was Jeroen Mantel (28) from Haarlem, a journalist from Aktueel Newspaper. He explains how it feels to be the future King of the Netherlands for a day. Text by Jeroen Mantel.

“For a day I was the Crown Prince”

Prince Willem-Alexander looks like the twin of Aktueel Newspaper’s journalist!

Of course, I’ve been told before that I look like Crown Prince Willem Alexander. Drunk students shouting in the pub late at night: Hey Alex, where’s Emily? Little incidents and remarks, sometimes a couple of times a week, then – if I’d just been to the hairdresser, for example – not for a couple of weeks. But as crazy as that Thursday, the 2nd of September when I became a celebrity Dutchman for a day due to a misstep of De Telegraaf, no. It had never been as crazy before.

What had happened exactly?

As an employee of the new monthly magazine More! I had proposed to report about students who earn extra money in the evening as call girls. That was a great idea for the More! Editors. After a long search I found the Amsterdam escort agency Women of the World willing to collaborate on the interview.

Three students working for Women of the World wanted to tell their story anonymously and one of them was even willing to be photographed unrecognizably. A photo of a call girl alone was rather meaningless, so I asked a male model to accompany her on the photo. When that model suddenly cancelled on the day of the photo session however, we had a problem. How could we get a new model so quickly? Fortunately photographer Mike Wennekes could see me as a potential client of an escort agency. With a neat suit, I would be perfect for the photoshoot. Let me first of all say that it was never my intention to be photographed as a look-a-like of Willem Alexander, as some people claimed.

Big Headline

When More! number five appeared on the market at the end of August, I was addressed by acquaintances and friends who found my debut as a model quite comical. Ten days had passed since the new More! appeared when I got a call from former professional cyclist Jan Siemons on Thursday morning at half past seven. “Jeroen, dude, your photo is on the front page of De Telegraaf!”, Jan said excitedly. Another silly joke, I thought at first. But Jan knew for sure: “They took that picture from More! of you and that escort girl!”

It was not surprising that Jan Siemons called. The Siemons family from Zundert has its own brothel called Sauna Diana. I had first approached him for my article and asked him to interview some of the girls working there. But unfortunately they couldn’t help me. Jan did buy the More! with the article about escort girls and saw the photo. Then it dawned on me what had happened… I put on my clothes and went looking for a copy of De Telegraaf. And indeed, there I saw myself under the big headline on the front page. “Mom, this is the one…” it said in huge letters above the picture. Well, it certainly wasn’t. That girl was not the Crown Prince’s new girlfriend, but a call girl from Amsterdam. And that man wasn’t the Crown Prince, it was me!

To make things even crazier

To make things even crazier, written under the photo stated that tourist Rolf Timmermans had taken the picture whilst on holiday in New York. Anyway, I did not end up working much that day. From eight o’clock in the morning the phone was ringing non-stop and at two o’clock in the afternoon the battery of my mobile phone, which normally lasts a couple of days, was completely empty…

Who called me? News station after news station: Omroep Brabant, Trouw, De Volkskrant, De Week van Willibrord, Het Journaal, RTL Nieuws, Het Algemeen Dagblad, Laat de Leeuw, het Haarlems Dagblad, Radio 3, TMF… And of course many friends, acquaintances and colleagues. My mother was ironing clothes when she heard on Radio Noord-Holland that I was on the front page of De Telegraaf  and was so frightened the iron fell from her hands. My father phoned, startled, to ask what I had done now. Then the editor in chief of More! called if I could come to the editors in the TMF-studios in Bussum to discuss what we were going to do. Quickly we decided that I would make an appearance on the TV program of Willibrord Frequin and speak to the newspapers, to at least explain that I myself did not know how that picture ended up in De Telegraaf.

The whole day remained a madhouse

The whole day remained a madhouse. It was not until the end of the afternoon, after the shooting for Willibrord’s Week, that I could finally breathe again. But not for long. Once I had appeared on the TV news channels NOS and RTL, and after Willibrord’s Week, the phone calls started rushing in again.  More friends and more acquaintances, people I hadn’t spoken to for years, wanted to know everything. Even Wim Rigter of the Arbeidsvitaminen was asking if I wanted to announce my favourite top 3 the next day on Radio 3. I fell asleep from exhaustion. You would expect that the publicity wave would decrease the next day, but it only got busier and crazier. With the exception of De Telegraaf itself, all major newspapers opened with the huge misstep of the biggest newspaper of the Netherlands. I was sitting with a cup of coffee in my office, reading the news, when a butcher from Meppel called asking if I wanted to open his new shop that afternoon for 500 guilders and travel expenses.

I am who I am

But it got crazier! Secretary of State Rick van der Ploeg had cancelled to officially open the new studio of Radio 3. Did I happen to have time that afternoon at four o’clock to cut the ribbon? Of course I didn’t do any of that. I am who I am, and I want to keep it that way. I never accepted requests to play a Willem Alexander look-a-like, despite being asked every now and then. Last Thursday, I didn’t intend to. That someone – nobody still knows who exactly – just cuts out a picture from More! and that De Telegraaf was so careless to print that picture on the front page, that’s not my fault, is it?

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