When Esmee Schenck de Jong (1992-2023) came in, you couldn’t ignore her

When Esmee Schenck de Jong (1992-2023) came in, you couldn’t ignore her
When Esmee Schenck de Jong (1992-2023) came in, you couldn’t ignore her

She coined the scabrous word “pussy sommelier” and wrote about her sex and love life without embarrassment. But she was also a journalist, a children’s book seller and the pivot in a large group of friends. Esmee Schenck de Jong died last week at the age of 31.

Lorraine van GelderApril 7, 202307:00

The first time Emma Mendez Correa met the then eighteen-year-old Esmee Schenck de Jong is etched in her memory. What she was wearing, what she said: Mendez Correa remembers it exactly. She was sitting at the bar in Café George where Mendez Correa worked, in a super-tight latex dress and immense platform heels. “I didn’t know what I saw, I was wearing very high heels myself. Esmee said ‘Nice shoes’ and I said ‘Yes, but they hurt’. Then she replied: ‘Better beautiful with pain than comfortable and ugly’. I came from Amstelveen, and until that time I had never met anyone who was like that in life.”

Esmee Schenck de Jong was an appearance. When she came in, you couldn’t get around her, say friends and acquaintances. With her two piercings above her lip, her quirky style and humor, she made an indelible impression. That, combined with her interest in books, movies, art and her own penchant for writing, made her a beloved young woman. On Fridays and Saturdays she worked in De Kinderboekwinkel on the Rozengracht and, thanks to her knowledge of children’s books, she has been a member of the jury of the picture book prize Penselen since this year.

Sweet, naughty, happy, chaotic

Born and raised in The Hague, the daughter of a librarian and a former dentist, she moved to Amsterdam when she was eighteen. In search of adventure and freedom: a common thread in her life. She studied media at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and graduated last year. She also worked as a journalist.

She was also someone who stood out in The Hague. Childhood friend Tristan King recalls hanging like a contortionist in the jungle gym as a five-year-old. “Later she was a trendsetter in how she dressed and the music she listened to.”

In Amsterdam, Schenck de Jong immersed himself in a world of parties and new friendships. Anna van Delft met her at an illegal techno party in Westpoort. “She was like a sister to me,” says Van Delft. “I don’t know anyone who was as thoughtful as Esmee.” She became a linchpin in a large group of friends, to whom she regularly sent very personal cards or mementos. Mendez Correa: “She was sweet, naughty, happy and chaotic in a very positive way.”

Sex book and children’s book

At the beginning of this year, Schenck de Jong made his debut as an author at publishing house Prometheus with the short story collection Because my body wants it. In it she describes her experiences at kink parties, during orgies or on sex dates. She then coin the term pussy sommelier (a connoisseur, so to speak). She writes without embarrassment, but in the foreword asks the reader to ‘postpone his judgement’. Emma Mendez Correa was her editor. “She was always a writer, it just started to take shape.” At the same time she made a children’s book for her graduation. “I said to her; so funny that your first publications are a sex book and a youth book. The contrasts in her seemed great: but didn’t feel like opposites.” Because my body wants it sold excellently. “Yet I saw that she could hardly feel that the book was doing so well.”

Schenck de Jong had a bipolar disorder. Since her childhood, she suffered from periods of severe depression – a subject she did not shy away from. ForVice and de Volkskrant, but also for magazines, she regularly wrote about mental vulnerability. As exuberant and full of life as she could be at good times, she was so withdrawn when she was depressed. “She closed herself off because she didn’t want to burden others,” says her childhood friend Tristan King.

Last week she took her own life.

Anna van Delft: “I wish Esmee would now see that everyone has come from everywhere especially for her. From Berlin, India, New York, from far and wide we come together, for her.”

Are you thinking about suicide or are you worried about someone? Talking about suicide helps and can be done anonymously via chat or by telephone: 113 or 0800-0113.

The article is in Dutch

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