A Dutch judge has ruled that peepshows are a form of theatre. The (erotic) nature of the performance does not alter the fact that it is a performance attended by a paying audience.

In The Netherlands there are two VAT rates, 6% and 19%, as of this writing. Theatre performances fall in the 6% category, so for the proprietors of peepshows, the ruling makes a big difference.

It's an interesting ruling. Various theatre directors have explored the aesthetic of peepshows. These days you may also find more nudity and more daring photos in fashion magazines than in old issues of Playboy.

I found it amusing that, in the days after the ruling, various newspapers carried a story by a journalist or columnist who had visited a peepshow. I guess they must all have thought they were doing something very original, unaware that some of the other attendees they described in their articles, may well have been journalists like themselves. And of course, it was a good excuse to finally visit a peepshow and write about it.

Update 5 December 2008: The Dutch government had appealed against the decision on the grounds that a peepshow does not involve a "cultural performance" (whatever that may be), but the Dutch High Court has now ruled that peepshows are a theatrical performance and therefore belong in the 6% VAT category. However, as of 1 January 2008 the law itself has changed. It now includes a line saying that peepshows are to be taxed with the high VAT rate.