Sex and Weimar Berlin
Prostitutes are a Weimar cliche’. Every Berlin book is full of them, leering from lampposts, shaking their boots and their whips. I find myself writing in Weimar Berlin in the midst of an economic crisis (thank goodness things like that don’t happen anymore), my character walking down these cliche’-ridden, prostitute-laden streets. I have to decide what she sees, what she hears, what she does.
Berlin between the wars is all jazz and destitution, and quite a lot of sex. I’m slowly working my way through the spate of Weimar history books and novels, trying to figure out how to avoid the many pitfalls that history opens up beneath my feet. See the children stacking worthless German marks like building blocks! Watch die Mutter pimp her daughter! What a wheeze.
It is, however, also the truth. In the worst economic times, women had nothing else to sell. And by the time the 20s turned from starving to roaring, Berlin was selling sex to the world. It remains a hub for sex tourism today, particularly, says the internet, Orienenstr. and Kurfurstenstr. where I recently visited the lovely Cafe Einstein, a former casino shut down by the Nazis. Today’s google brought me to the fascinating Cabinet Magazine, where a recent blog post offers “an inventory of the services offered by the various types of prostitutes working indoors and outdoors in Weimar Berlin.” It is an exhaustive, exhausting list, from Boot Girls to Medicine Girls, Munzis to Minettes . Why not join the tourists and take a look?
It is quite funny how far the stories of Mel Gordon spread and how many rely on them. Nowadays in a world of alternative facts I won’t wonder anymore….