The History of Sex: Berlin -- Ashamed and Open -- (Chapter IX, Part 17)

No one knows how many homosexuals were killed in the Holocaust: estimates range from tens of thousands to over half a million.

Incredibly, the Nazi version of Paragraph 175 was one of Hitler's few laws to remain in force under the Allies: in postwar West Germany, at least as many men were prosecuted for being gay as had been during the Third Reich.

As a result, many gay survivors were afraid to speak out for fear of being treated as criminals. 

'Germans in general are very good at feeling guilty,' Stephan told me, explaining that in the gay community, this sense of shame often manifests itself in extreme behavior.

He's even seen some gays dress up as Nazis for theme parties or as skinheads wearing jackets over LONSDALE shirts so that the logo looks like NSDAP: the Nazi Party's initials.

'I find it very strange that we would dress up as people who were our predators,' he mused. 'You can be ashamed and open at the same time.'

* * *

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'I Sometimes Wake Up Howling' -- (Chapter IX, Part 16)

In the camps, gay men were usually forced to wear pink triangles, making them targets for their fellow prisoners, as well as the guards and SS doctors, who injected gay men with hormones to try to 'cure' homosexuality.

Pierre Seel was a gay teenager in a French border town when the Nazis overran his country.

Although his boyfriend, 'Jo,' seemed to have escaped, Seel was arrested in 1941 and tortured along with other known homosexuals.

'Outraged by our resistance, the SS began pulling out the fingernails of some prisoners. In their fury, they broke the rulers we were kneeling on and used them to rape us. Our bowels were punctured. Blood spurted everywhere. My ears still ring with the shrieks of our pain.'

Worse came in the camp.

'One day the loudspeakers ordered us to report immediately to the roll-call. Two SS men brought a young man to the center of our square. Horrified, I recognized Jo, who was only 18. I hadn't previously spotted him…'

'The loudspeakers broadcast some noisy classical music while the SS stripped him naked and shoved a tin pail over his head. Next they set their ferocious German shepherds on him: the guard dogs first bit into his groin and thighs, then devoured him right in front of us.'

'His shrieks of pain were distorted and amplified by the pail in which his head was trapped. My rigid body reeled, my eyes gaped at so much horror, tears poured down my cheeks. I fervently prayed that he would black out quickly. Since then I sometimes wake up howling in the middle of the night.'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'Such Nice, Pretty Boys' -- (Chapter IX, Part 15)

However, sex was so much a part of Gad's survival that you wonder whether a straight man in his position would have lasted as long as he did.

One of Gad's saving graces, for lack of a better term, was that he had few qualms about having sex with his male protectors.

He got an office job thanks to some help from his Uncle Paul—'which didn't limit itself to the typewriter:' 'we exchanged intimacy deliberately, intentionally, for the first time… It's amazing when you think that at the time he was pushing sixty.'


And on his twentieth birthday, Gad's German boss took him for ice cream and offered him a place to hide illegals.

'Of course he wanted something in return. He wanted me. I wasn't totally uninterested… I had already noticed he had something to offer in his pants. He was wearing light gabardine slacks that brought out his anatomy nicely.'

One day Gad was told to get in touch with an engineering official named Paul Dreyer who'd helped one of his Jewish lovers escape to Switzerland (another of Gad's unlikely helpers was a middle-aged prostitute who claimed to be an aristocrat).

Ultimately, though, it was a turncoat for the other side who snared him: Stella Kubler, a Jewish femme fatale who hunted Jews in hiding.

The Nazis called Jewish traitor
Stella Kubler 'Blonde Poison'

One of her fellow 'catchers' snared Dreyer in March 1945.

This book was written by one of
Kubler's former classmates at a Jewish school

'He tried to improve his situation during the questioning by claiming he didn't know we were Jews,' Gad wrote.

Instead, Dreyer told his interrogators he'd helped them "because they were such nice, pretty boys."

A few months after the war, Gad saw Dreyer.

'He looked absolutely terrible. They had set two trained dogs on him—specialists in testicles and ears. There wasn't the slightest trace of outer ear to be seen, and he was virtually deaf. With regards to the other body part, he said all that was left was a hole for peeing.'

In the Seventies, Gad bumped into him again.

'He told me—he was around seventy to my fifty-five—that he had by no means given up on sex; there was another spot that had a lot of sensation. I got chills thinking about it.'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'I Don't Even Know What That Is' -- (Chapter IX, Part 14)

Likewise, whereas the modern view of homosexuality tends to focus on anal sex and penetration—one expert on 'Greek Love' dates this 'sodomania' from the Seventies—Beck's memoir is a reminder that gay relationships haven't always been about buggery.

Though we're conditioned to think of pederasty as a rite of passage, so to speak—even for heteros these days—many of Krafft-Ebing's homosexual correspondents claimed they preferred everything but anal.

That's not to say that sodomy wasn't part of the gay repertoire—Isherwood was an avid butt man, while Auden had to be treated for a 'rectal fissure'—but anal sex was far riskier before the discovery of penicillin (indeed, that's one theory why Judeo-Christians banned sodomy: to keep their 'chosen peoples' clean and infection-free).


Recalling his first love, a fellow Zionist named Manfred, Gad says:

'Whatever we did, it was not much like gay sex as one thinks of it today, but then again, Manfred was not homosexual anyway. With him, as with many of the lovers my age, it was more about joy and fun and sharing hugs and caresses—to feel that the other person was just as aroused as you were… His parents and siblings noticed our relationship, but it didn't have to be talked about. Anyway, there really were other things to worry about.'

Like getting caught.

When Gad was finally captured near the end of the war with another lover, they were both interrogated by the Gestapo.

The officer torturing his friend Zwi taunted them: 'Did you fuck each other in the ass?'

Gad denied it and told him to also confirm it with his partner.

'And the man really did go back in to ask. The door was still ajar, and I could hear Zwi answer, surprised but truthfully, "No, I don't even know what that is."'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'A Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin' -- (Chapter IX, Part 13)

Amazingly, some gays managed to survive in the heart of the Reich.

One of the most extraordinary examples is Gad Beck, whose autobiography has an irresistible subtitle (Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin) and highlights just how much sexual attitudes have changed.

For example, he blithely recounts his first sexual encounter when he was nine or so—with his uncle, who was in his fifties:

'He put me on his lap and kissed me on both cheeks. And suddenly I felt that I was sitting on something! It was warm and firm and felt… well… nice. Nothing else happened. He smiled at me in a special way, mischievous and at the same time loving, which is why I tried to provoke these situations. For the first time, I had erotic feelings in that bottom of mine.'

After messing around with his schoolmates, Gad then had a one-off encounter with his PE teacher at the age of twelve.

'I embraced him and noticed that he was aroused as well. We caressed and rubbed against each other, not even all that much, and then we came, both of us.'

Later, when his mother asked how his day had been, he told her excitedly, 'Really nice. I hugged my gym teacher in the locker room. It was really fun.'

At this point, most modern parents would be on the phone to the police.

But Gad claims his mother 'was not at all upset: "Aha, I thought so," she answered dryly.'

Beck explains her response: 'Relationships between boys and girls were treated much more seriously.'

Mainly because of fears of pregnancy, but also Nazi laws on racial mixing.

'If something had happened with a girl in my class, I probably would have been afraid to say anything. But being affectionate with a male teacher? What could happen?... I came out, as you say nowadays, in a totally nonchalant fashion.'

It seems ironic that even the most liberal parents now, having grown up after both Sexual Revolutions, would act more conservatively than a bourgeois German mother in 1934.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- A Jumped-Up Chicken Farmer -- (Chapter IX, Part 12)

To justify the murders of so many loyal Nazis, Hitler backed up his prefabricated charges of treason by denouncing Röhm as a homosexual and declaring that gays would be expelled from the Party.

On the first anniversary of the purge, the Nazis reinforced Paragraph 175, revising it for the first time in its history.

The new law enabled the Gestapo to arrest gay men not just for 'unnatural acts'—namely, sodomy—but also any 'sex offences,' including hugging and having homosexual fantasies.


By this time, the Nazis' Communist arch-enemies had also turned against homosexuality.

Ironically, Soviet media called it a 'manifestation of Fascist bourgeois degeneracy' and exhorted Communists to 'exterminate homosexuality and Fascism will disappear.'

In hindsight, for gays, this was definitely the time to run.

Whereas Hitler's artistic bent led him to view homosexuality as a sort of supremely bad habit for the master race, the man he put in charge of hunting gays was an animal breeder who believed they were genetic degenerates.

A jumped-up chicken farmer turned head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler took Darwinism and 'survival of the fittest' to its logical extreme.

He established the Lebensborn—or Fount of Life—to encourage 'biologically fit' Aryan men and women to reproduce (and provide maternity care for Teutonic prostitutes), while also telling his generals that the ancient German practice of drowning a homosexual in a bog 'was no punishment, merely the extinction of an abnormal life.'

Himmler condemned convicted gays to Level Three concentration camps, described by one historian as 'human death mills reserved for Jews and homosexuals.'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Hitler's Gay Righthand Man -- (Chapter IX, Part 11)

Still, like most of the population, Germany's homosexuals managed to delude themselves into complacency and occasionally even allegiance to the regime.

After all, Hitler's righthand man was gay—he was even a member of the League for Human Rights.

Ernst Röhm was a scarfaced brute who'd done time in jail with the Führer and was one of the select few allowed to call him by his first name.

Röhm had transformed the brownshirted stormtroopers of the SA into Hitler's private army, an odd beast made up of beer-swilling, Communist-bashers who were buggered by their commanders as they ascended the ranks.

Tragically, just as leftwingers had tried to bring down the Kaiser by exposing gays in the government before World War One, it was a socialist newspaper that outed Röhm by publishing his love letters to another Nazi.

Despite the party's official condemnation of homosexuality, Röhm wrote that he was happy to be gay and argued that Paragraph 175 should be repealed.

Goebbels, Hitler and Rohm

Hitler's own attitude to homosexuality seems to have been ambivalent.

Though he publicly condemned it, he also seems to have understood it—possibly intimately, if you believe the scuttlebutt that he'd been a street hustler in Vienna.

Whereas his allies believed the Nazi Party had to be purged of homosexuals, Hitler tolerated sexual 'perverts' so long as they were useful to him.

By the middle of 1934, though, he'd decided that Röhm's ambitions threatened his own bid for power.

So Hitler purged the SA.

During the 'Night of the Long Knives,' he personally oversaw Röhm's arrest in a hotel near Munich.

In the same raid, the SS caught Röhm's deputy in bed with an eighteen-year-old troop leader.

Hitler had both of them executed on the spot.

Later, Röhm was given the chance to commit suicide; when he refused, the SS shot him dead, too.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'We Knew Too Much' -- (Chapter IX, Part 10)

But the sniping from his own side must have been even more hurtful.

While young foreigners like Isherwood admired Hirschfeld as a 'heroic leader of his tribe,' many of the doctor's one-time allies had begun to view him as a liability.

From the safety of his own closet, the writer Thomas Mann dismissed 'Hirschfeld and his ghastly Committee,' and the leader of Germany's largest organization for gay groups—the so-called League for Human Rights—even started quoting Nazi propaganda against him:

'It is clear that The People's Observer newspaper'—a Nazi mouthpiece—'does not aim to damn homosexuals universally, but instead by and large is striking out only at Jews (especially Magnus Hirschfeld).'

Which made it okay, then.


However, soon after Hitler took over as Chancellor in January 1933, his 'Campaign for a Clean Reich' shuttered gay clubs and newspapers.

In May, the Nazis stormed the Institute of Sexology, carting away and torching most of its collection and ceremoniously throwing a bust of Hirschfeld onto the bonfire.

Fortunately, the institute's founder was out of the country lecturing at the time: he had the surreal experience of seeing himself burnt in effigy on a newsreel in a Paris cinema (to this day, the stock footage of the infamous Nazi book burnings is usually from the ransacking of the institute). 

Who knew?
This Nazi was probably throwing sex books on the fire

Hirschfeld died two years later in exile.

The Nazis had branded his research center 'an unparalleled breeding ground of dirt and filth.'

However, one official at the institute had a much more intriguing theory: 'We knew too much.'

As the only place for counseling about sexual disorders, the center had treated people from many walks of life, including goose-stepping Nazis.

'Not 10% of the men who, in 1933, took the fate of Germany into their hands were sexually normal,' the assistant director said.

'Many of these personages were known to us directly… and of others we saw the tragic results: a young girl whose abdomen was covered with pin scratchings through the sadism of an eminent Nuremberg Nazi; I refer also to a thirteen-year-old boy who suffered from a serious lesion of the anal muscle brought about by a senior party official and to a youth from Berlin with severe rectal gonorrhea…'

'Our knowledge of such intimate secrets regarding members of the Nazi Party and other documentary material—we possessed about 40,000 confessions and biographical letters—was the cause of the complete and utter destruction of the Institute of Sexology.'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'Berlin Meant Boys' -- (Chapter IX, Part 9)

Among the countless foreigners attracted to this milieu was Christopher Isherwood, who'd heard about Berlin from his friend, Wystan (WH Auden to the rest of us).

Writing in the third person, Isherwood made it clear why he moved to Germany in 1929: 'To Christopher, Berlin meant Boys.'

Auden had introduced him to his favorite rent-boy bar, where another regular recalled that the blond Aryans wore 'extremely short lederhosen which showed off their smooth and sunburnt thighs to delectable advantage'—with the pockets cut out for ease of access.

Soon after his arrival, Isherwood visited the world's first Institute of Sexology, founded by Hirschfeld a decade earlier in a grandiose building in the Tiergarten.

The doctor's much younger lover—and later Hirschfeld himself—took him on a tour of the center, where Isherwood giggled with embarrassment at the menagerie of 'sex in every manifestation.'

Photos of hermaphrodites decorated the walls, and live specimens were on hand for inspection—including a young man with 'two perfectly formed female breasts.'

Hirschfeld dubbed cross-dressers 'transvestites' and ended up counseling the first sex-change patient, a Danish painter (Einar Mogens Wegener / Lili Elbe) who died after his final operation—a failed attempt to transplant a woman's ovaries into his body so that he could become a mother.

The same year that Hirschfeld opened the institute, he'd also produced and starred in the world's first gay film, shot in the Schöneberg district.

Different From the Others (or Anders als die Andern) was released in 1919 and told the highly didactic tale of a gay man driven to suicide by a blackmailer exploiting Paragraph 175, with a star turn by Hirschfeld as a sexpert.

Classic dowager line at 29:29 -- 'If that boy's completely normal, then I'm a virgin.' Hirschfeld himself appears at 30:50 in this hour-long clip.

The silent film had been banned in the Nazi stronghold of Munich, as well as Vienna, where a gunman fired into the audience.

Hirschfeld himself had been attacked by anti-Semites in Munich in 1920.

'He was so beaten that his eloquent mouth could never again be kissed by one of his "disciples",' a Nazi noted.

Nevertheless, the fifty-two-year-old doctor had bravely returned the following year—and received such a hiding that some papers ran his obituary.

Hirschfeld survived, however—only to be shot at during a lecture in Vienna.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Splitting the Third Sex Into Two Camps -- (Chapter IX, Part 8)

The first gay-rights activist died in self-imposed exile in Italy before he could see the culmination of his life's work.

On May 15, 1897, a nucleus of friends in Berlin founded the world's first gay-rights group to lobby for the abolition of Paragraph 175, the Prussian statute outlawing 'unnatural acts' between men.

Over the next decade, the Scientific Humanitarian Committee's petition collected 6,000 signatures, including those of Krafft-Ebing and many other heterosexuals.

However, infighting soon split the movement into two camps, so to speak—a divide that's still detectable today.

The Scientific Humanitarian Committee headed up the main group, led by a young doctor who advocated the third-sex theory.

Although noticeably effeminate—his friends called him Auntie Magnesia—Magnus Hirschfeld never publicly acknowledged his homosexuality for fear it would make his (already dubious) research look biased.

The fact that he was also Jewish was not lost on his enemies.

Magnus Hirschfeld,
the 'Hero of the Day'
campaigning to do 'Away with Paragraph 175!'

A widely read work on Sex and Character (written by Otto Weininger, a suicidal Jew in Vienna) equated Jewishness with femininity and blamed Semitism for the decay of Aryan culture.

Meanwhile, an erstwhile ally of Hirschfeld's launched the world's first successful gay magazine, Der Eigene—a word meaning 'self,' 'same' and/or 'different.'

Adolf Brand was what we'd now call 'straight-acting,' the ringleader of a radical minority of gay supremacists, many of whom were anti-Semites to boot.

Adolf Brand
is the one in the upper righthand corner

Styling themselves the Community of the Special, Brand and his followers resented being portrayed as 'stepchildren of nature' by eggheaded pansies.

On the contrary, they argued that pederasty was a lifestyle choice that separated truly macho men from the boys.

Romanticizing both the ancient Greeks and Germans, they painted homosexuality as a higher form of love, contending that they should be free to bugger their fellow men while using straight women to further the Aryan race.

In the blank-slate euphoria after World War One, Hirschfeld hoped that Germany's fledgling democracy would follow the lead of the new Soviet Union and legalize homosexuality.

Instead, the ensuing turmoil fueled a degree of hedonism rarely seen since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.

For the next fifteen years, Germany became a magnet for sexual 'perverts,' with homosexual magazines sold openly on newsstands, thousands of people around the country joining same-sex associations and more than a hundred gay bars operating in the capital (many of them owned by German Jews, as Hitler noted in Mein Kampf).

The History of Sex: Berlin -- The Problem With Being 'Born That Way' -- (Chapter IX, Part 7)

Whereas buggery had been legal in France since the Enlightenment, gay sex was still very much against the law in Germany.

An effeminate lawyer from Hannover was possibly the first man to 'come out' in the modern sense of the term.

In 1862, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published The Riddle of Male-Male Love, expounding his theory that homosexuals belonged to a congenitally different 'third sex' that deserved the same rights as the other two.

Ulrichs argued that the male homosexual had the disposition of a woman in a man's body—a precursor of the modern 'gay gene' theory, in the sense that he believed sexual 'inverts' didn't choose to be 'perverts;' they were born that way.

But it's not that simple...

In retrospect, the major problem with the third-sex argument was that it was based on false assumptions.

At the time, even the most forward-thinking scientists believed that men were naturally promiscuous and women passive; that was the only way to hold civilization together.

'If a woman is normally developed mentally and well-bred, her sexual desire is small,' Krafft-Ebing wrote. 'If this were not so, the whole world would become a brothel, and marriage and a family impossible.'


Confronted with the Rigid-v.-Frigid division, you can see why many men (and women) must have felt like misfits, simply because they didn't conform to either stereotype.

With his third-sex theory, Ulrichs tried to win the public over by contending that homosexuality was entirely natural.

Unfortunately, after Darwin, the claim that homosexuals were biologically distinct could also be used to justify their extermination.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- 'The German Vice' -- (Chapter IX, Part 6)

Like history, for instance.

Sooner or later, while slogging through your umpteenth tome on the erotic past, you realize that practically all modern sex histories share one unquestionable underlying assumption: namely, that Sex Is a Very Good Thing Indeed.

Tossing off any pretences of objectivity, even the driest academic works tend to portray 'sexual progress' as being synonymous with 'more sex,' while the only 'good' kind of sexual control is birth control.

As an outsider, it's probably no coincidence that I first noticed this bias while trawling through the literature on homosexuality: I think the book that finally clinched it for me was a university hardback entitled Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600.

By one Helmut Puff.

It was then that I realized: if history is written by the victors, you can practically hear Freddie Mercury caterwauling 'We Are the Champions' when you open your average 'queer studies' text. 

Oddly, though, the genre often overlooks one believe-it-or-not fact: contrary to what I would have guessed, the gay-rights movement didn't begin in New York or London—or even Paris or Amsterdam—but in Berlin at the end of the nineteenth century.

As a matter of fact, it was a German émigré (Henry Gerber) who later founded America's first gay organization, naming the Society for Human Rights after the groups he'd been involved with in Berlin.

Some also credit Germany's gay-rights movement with pioneering the term 'activist'—amid a slew of other world firsts.

And not for nothing.

If spanking was le vice anglais, the French called homosexuality le vice allemand.

Homophobia and chauvinism aside, there were many reasons why the Continent's Germanic core became the home of gay emancipation in the nineteenth century.

Perhaps most importantly, Germany's activists had something concrete to kick against.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Well, Blow Me! -- (Chap. IX, Pt. 5)

As with the S&M tea in Paris, I was a little nervous about wandering into a basement of biker types where no one could hear me scream.

But Stephan assured me: 'If you don't want to do anything, all you have to do is turn away.'

Though he's Bavarian, Stephan speaks English like a wisecracking New Yorker, having acquired the accent from his first boyfriend: a Sephardic Jew from Brooklyn.

While we were at MORE, surrounded by men with their mothers' smiles, Stephan announced that he'd found a US publisher for his Sex Tips for Gays, though he wasn't sure it would sell.

'It has photos of men being fisted up to here'—he measured an imaginary arse mark at his elbow—'and of a penis with sperm flying everywhere. It's not something you ordinarily see in American books.'

It's not something I ordinarily visualize over dinner, either. Particularly not over Königsberger Klopse—meatballs smothered in cream.


But then Stephan isn't a mainstream writer.

His author's site includes a photo of him posing with his hand down his pants: you certainly don't get that on

Swallowing another spoonful of creamy potato soup, Stephan informed me that he's also written several novels, as well as individual volumes on anal and oral sex, entitled Bend Over! and Blow Me!, and he's now hard at work on the third in the series, a guide to masturbation called Do It Yourself!

Not your usual DIY manual

'I've had to do a lot of research,' he said with a straight face.

Personally, I was amazed he had any strength left to type.

But I couldn't resist asking: 'Masturbation? How much is there to write?'

'Lots' was the inevitable reply. 'It's such a huge subject. Because everybody does it. It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight or married or single.'

Sadly, as a veteran of Europe's first Masturbate-a-thon, I reckon I could tell Stephan a thing or two about wanking.

When it comes to gay sex, though, I'm a virgin.

'Hedonism among gays is tragic,' he told me. 'Berlin has a very big party scene. You have 10, 15, 25 sex parties every day where you can do everything you could ever imagine. You can have sex round the clock, 365 days a year. What is true about Berlin is that you go out and get what you want and don't care much about anything else.'

* * *

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Morning, Noon and Night -- (Chap. IX, Pt. 4)

Depending on your fancy, you can find different theme parties every night of the week: 'Naked & Underwear Sex Parties,' Turkish/Oriental 'Gayhanes,' Slave Markets and 'Candlelight Fuck,' transvestite shows and queer ballroom dancing and one-off spectacles like 'Gay Night at the Zoo' in Berlin's Tiergarten and the 'German Mr. Leather' Contest held on Easter Sunday.

The tourist info also directs you to the most popular public toilets for cottaging and hotspots for naked sunbathing, as well as a gay B&B service, numerous porn emporia with cruising areas and private cabins, and saunas and massage parlors offering male-to-male 'anal and prostate massage and fisting.'

There's even a Café PositHIV serving up tea and sympathy and a rainbow-flagged stand selling curried-bratwurst outside Berlin's landmark KaDeWe department store.

An anti-Putin rally in Berlin in 2013

In short, Berlin seems to prove the envious theory of many a straight man that when it comes to sex, gay men have it easy: without any women involved to say 'no,' the boys must be at it morning, noon and night.

Or, to quote my bilingual gay guidebook, 'Ficken klappt die ganze Woche'—'Fucking works all week.'

Now, I like to think I'm as gay-friendly as the next guy—my best man was…—but one immediate revelation in the home of homosexuality is just how little I know about the scene.

I had no idea, for instance, of the ubiquity of der Darkroom.

The idea of a purpose-built, darkened room for guy-n-gal orgies has yet to catch on in most straight clubs—no doubt for fear that the authorities would shut them down before they could say 'pass the lube.'

In many gay clubs, though, sex rooms are standard, according to Berlin From Behind (certainly a novel way of taking in a city for me): 'Darkrooms have almost become part of the basic equipment for gay bars in Berlin.'

It's also become clear that I know nothing about darkroom etiquette.

Take the fat cueball in the leather bar with his hand up the other guy's backside.

If one wanted to join in, how would one go about interrupting them?

Would you tap one of the wankers on the shoulder and say, 'Excuse me, would you mind terribly if I stuck my finger up your butt?'

Or is Igor actually employed to go around and offer extra services to customers: 'Tickle your sphincter for a fiver, guv?'

The History of Sex: Berlin -- A Polysexual Party Capital -- (Chap. IX, Pt. 3)

It was while I was over at MORE that I got some useful bondage-bar guidance from the author of Sextips für Schwule Männer, or Sex Tips for Gay Men.

Stephan Niederwieser had recommended the restaurant, which is on the main drag in the gay district, right around the corner from where Christopher Isherwood wrote the stories that became Cabaret, which in turn spawned its own gay icon: Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy 'Dorothy' Garland.

Stephan had given me good advice when I told him I wanted to see a darkroom.

'You shouldn't go in there with those shoes,' he said, glancing under the table at my feet.

In truth, I'd expected as much—I may be in the ancestral land of Dr. Scholl, but comfy, Velcro-strapped sandals probably aren't the footwear of choice in gay clubs, even on a hot night in Berlin.

'Is that because there's a dress code?'

'Well, that—and you might step in something. Sometimes there are pissing games down there.'


My immersion into gay culture has just begun.

In recent years, Berlin has recouped its reputation as a polysexual party capital.

The city's first openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, outed himself in 2001 (before the press could) and has since been re-elected, appearing in public with his partner at events like Pride Week and shocking the tabloids by going out of his way to welcome a hardcore S&M festival to the German capital.

The city boasts not one but two monthly queer-listings magazines, including one named after the Victory Column, or Siegessäule, erected to celebrate Prussian military conquests but now an adopted symbol of triumphant gays.

While Germany's overall birth rate has hit rock bottom—like many European nations, the Germans are effectively dying out—some estimates claim that one in four adult Berliners is homosexual.

An entire queer infrastructure caters to this affluent minority, concentrated in two main districts on both the western and eastern sides of the city.

Berlin's central tourist office offers advice for gay visitors, but the city also has two designated information centers—one for men, the other for lesbians.

Listings advertise bars, shops and dance clubs for cocktails or 'beer-fueled male raunch,' with monikers like 'Le Moustache,' 'ABBA, hallo?!,' 'Boyz 'R' Us' and Ficken3000—Fucking3000—as well as a gimp-mask establishment flogging videos called Cum Hungry and Fist Pigs alongside tins of Crisco, an American-as-apple-pie product that apparently has a whole range of lubricious applications outside the kitchen.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Into the Darkroom -- (Chap. IX, Pt. 2)

As in most gay bars here, though, the real action takes place in the all-important darkroom.

A door at the back of the pub marked FRONTIER ZONE opens onto a staircase spiraling into the basement, where men in various degrees of undress are having sex in concrete cubicles.

As humid as it is upstairs, the darkroom is a sauna of sweat, urine and alcohol.

Club Tropicana it ain't

A bearded staff member breaches the darkness with a small torch, discreetly flashing the light on the floor to collect dead beer bottles.

In one cubicle, a couple in leather police gear are kissing each other's nipples, while across the way, two skinheaded guys with their trousers down are snogging and masturbating, as a bystander turns their ministrations into a ménage a trois.

Bald and obese, the third man wears a dirty T-shirt over his pale, fish-belly skin, his tongue lolling around like Uncle Fester the Molester or Igor of the Darkroom.

Whether friend or freelancer, he's a bottom-dweller in every sense of the term, fingering one of the men's sphincters as he, too, wanks himself to completion.

Meanwhile, on the video loop upstairs, the male-maiming seductress is licking the blood from her fingers and masturbating, while across the street, at 'the gayest restaurant in Berlin' a liquid-crystal display flashes up paintings by the Old Masters, including Michelangelo's Adam languidly fingering the hand of God.

The History of Sex: Berlin -- Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Phallus: Queer as Volk since 1897 -- (Chap. IX, Pt. 1)

Chapter Nine
Queer as Volk since 1897

'Oh, if only you had never gone to Berlin!' 
--the sister of gay-rights pioneer Karl Ulrichs, 
when he publicly 'came out' around 1862

It's one a.m. on a sticky summer night in Berlin, and the annual Gay and Lesbian Street Festival is still going strong, marking the first night of Pride Week in the gay capital of Europe.

Over in the postcard part of town, between the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate, the mainstream 'Love Parade' has long since come and gone, a techno-bacchanalia full of whistle-tweeting kids.

The Prussians erected the Victory Column, or Siegessaule,
to celebrate their military conquests;
it's now an adopted symbol of Berlin's triumphant gay community

But here in the leafy bits of Schöneberg, or 'Beauty Hill,' the party vibe is much more relaxed—grown-up, even.

Men, women and those in between are cavorting under the streetlights to salsa, disco and allsorts.

And if you venture into one of the many bars radiating off Nollendorfplatz, the atmosphere suddenly becomes very adult indeed.

In one hardcore hole-in-the-wall, the de facto dress code is rubber and leatherwear.

Guys with shaved heads and facial hair slug beer and eye each other up, surrounded by black bondage gear strung across the walls.

Handcuffs adorn the wood-beamed bar, along with a plastic statue of a man wearing a dog collar and an erection.

And if you tire of admiring that, a screen above the liquor is showing a cartoon of a clean-cut blonde playing with himself on a sofa while a couple of hard-bodied uniforms deliver a new PC.

The blonde guy climaxes just as they're walking by, and a splodge of ejaculate happens to hit one of the deliverymen in the face.

Rather than beat their customer to a pulp, he and his black co-worker start beating each other off.

The blonde begins taking it in turns to fellate the black guy and the brunette, and the trio end up humping in a daisy chain, with cartoon cum rocketing across the screen.

And if you turn your head—or, in my case, avert your eyes—another TV shows a live-action film of a woman slicing off a man's ear.

Larry Flynt Was My Fleece (or How a Book about Sex Turned Me Into a Christian)

by JR Daeschner

In the end, it was the lies that got to me.

I was in Pompeii, you see, researching what I hoped would be my next big book, a History of Sex that would venture between the past and present, revealing the origins of our notions about love and romance.

Besides the obvious reasons, I'd picked Pompeii because of one little-known fact: the Roman ghost town is the site of the first known reference to the word 'Christian,' dating from around the time that the Apostle Paul visited nearby.

Even more intriguingly, the house that contained the 'CHRISTIANOS' graffiti stands across from Pompeii's brothel (and may have been a whorehouse itself).

But what struck me most was an offhand remark by Pompeii's chief archeologist as he tried to explain the exponential growth of an obscure Semitic sect just a few decades after Rome had crucified its leader like a criminal:

"No religion had ever spread so rapidly in such a capillary manner before."

And that got me wondering why.

Having been raised a Christian, I'd turned my back on the faith partly because I believed the lie that Christianity was anathema to knowledge--I thought that the more you learned about the "real world," the less faith you inevitably had.

As I began to discover, though, that wasn't necessarily true.

If anything, I came to realize that Christians have nothing to fear from learning--while the secular world has a lot to lose from an unbiased look at our past.

I soon learned, for instance, that it was Christ and his followers who gifted the concept of redemption to Western culture--the revolutionary promise that even a prostitute could be redeemed (as opposed to the once-a-whore, always-a-whore ethos of the ancient world).

And it was the early Christians who fought to stop Roman infanticide (making the modern Church's stance on abortion remarkably consistent), while it was Christ's gender-neutral character that enabled women to identify with Him and call themselves Christians--or 'little Christs.'

Contrast Jesus with Mohammed--a celibate pacifist versus a warmonger with a harem--and you can see why feminism took root in traditionally Christian societies.

Whereas polygamy inherently devalues women, it was Paul--the supposed source of Christian "misogyny"--who officially broke with Jewish custom and made marriage one-to-one, mandating that each Christian leader have only one wife and (contrary to Roman practice) actually be faithful to her.

In other words, it's very likely that the only reason Western women dare to demand monogamy from men now is because of centuries of Christianization.

Yet somehow the world continues to slander Christianity as "sex-negative"--and misogynistic to boot.


The cognoscenti will tell you that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, is largely disregarded now, while blithely overlooking his pervasive impact on pop culture and the wreckage it's caused.

For instance, thanks to Freud's declaration that all children want to have sex with their parents (the Oedipus complex), many of his followers dismissed actual cases of sex abuse as wishful fantasies.

And it was one of Freud's disciples, Wilhelm Reich, who helped inspire the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties and Seventies, a period that most documentaries depict as an eminently groovy time to be alive.

But have you ever heard them mention its seedy side?

At a time when erstwhile "perversions"--homosexuality, sadomasochism, etcetera--were being declared perfectly normal, many "revolutionaries" argued that pedophilia was just another avenue for sexploration.

After all, who was to say that consensual sex with children was wrong? Or, as a Dutch magazine for gays put it in 1969, "Why Not Go To Bed With Your Son?"

Modern "pedophile activists" still regard those as the good old days. In the Netherlands, I interviewed the co-founder of an ultra-fringe political party trying to legalize pedophilia.

Who did he blame for putting an end to the child-sex movement? An alliance between an all-but-extinct branch of feminism (they wouldn't have called pole dancing "empowering") and--you guessed it--devout Christians.

That was a truth I heard repeatedly, be it from a dodgy Russian biznesman in Venice or an American pimp in Prague: Christianity acts as a check on decadence.

And time and again, I came across Westerners who were having to relearn history's lessons the hard way.

In Amsterdam, I met a former prostitute turned politician who led a crackdown that shut much of the Red-Light District.

"If you're a Christian organization, people don't want to hear (your views on prostitution) because you're Christian," she told me. "But it's new when a politician from the leftwing says it's not good!'

As for pornography, I interviewed one of the makers of the "Max Hardcore" franchise in LA, a man who's filmed some of the worst violence against women outside of warzones.

"With the sex business, you gotta keep ratcheting up," he said. "It's kinda like violence in movies. You gotta keep ratcheting up. People get inured at a certain point—it's gotta be more, greater, nastier. Filthier."

Funnily enough, that's just what porn's (Christian) opponents say.


Meanwhile, the media routinely hail Hustler founder Larry Flynt as a hero of the First Amendment, a martyr to free speech.

But did you know he once claimed to be a born-again Christian--and that during his conversion, he had a premonition of himself in a wheelchair?

I asked him about it at his headquarters in Beverly Hills. He admitted that if he had closed Hustler after his conversion--rather than continue defending it in court--he might never have been shot, and he wouldn't be paralyzed today.

Up close and in person, rather than a hero, Flynt looks like just another casualty of porn, a man who's made millions but lost everything that counts, including his "soulmate" and much of his family.

All of this eventually resonated with me.

Lie after lie, I kept coming back to the faith whose truths had been proven over centuries: rules and values that built Western civilization, not because God is a god of arbitrary demands, but because "God so loved the world."

Sure, I also experienced some personal and professional disasters (it's surprising how low some of us have to go before finally surrendering).

But ultimately once I realized the truth, the inevitable question became--what do you do with it? Or "who do you say that I am?"

Some may question my decision to publish The History of Sex.

Well, all I can say is I prayed about it. A lot. And Larry Flynt was my fleece (but that's another story…)

For those of you who struggle to reconcile faith with the "real world" (particularly sex), take it from someone who's had to learn the hard way: the Truth really will set you free.

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