Undress to Express – A Conversation with the Berlin Strippers Collective

Undress to Express – A Conversation with the Berlin Strippers Collective

photos: Megan Auer

Berlin is undoubtedly a hedonistic city. It’s known for its wild sex clubs, indulgent late-night food culture, excessive drinking, and the legalization of sex work. Despite this sinful reputation, sex workers in Berlin still face much of the same stigma they encounter elsewhere. Berlin Strippers Collective (BSC) is an organization of strippers living in Berlin, working to tell their stories through art and events, while always advocating and fighting for their ultimate goal: decriminalization. Read on…

Women Share their Thoughts on International Women’s Day

Women Share their Thoughts on International Women’s Day

photo: Lindsey LaMont

Growing up, the meaning of March 8th has changed a lot for me over the years. When I was younger, Women’s Day was simply when my father would bring home flowers for my mother, myself and my sister, a Soviet tradition my parents had brought with them from Kazakhstan. 

Later as a teen, it was to feel a sense of sisterhood as I texted my best girlfriends  “Happy Women’s Day!” and exchanged with them words of encouragement after yet another day of navigating high school sexism from boys in our class. 

Now today as an adult, March 8th reminds me to take a moment to reflect on women’s issues I care about, whether personal or systemic, while also celebrating myself and the women around me. 

Read on…

15 Fantastic Projects & Places by Talented BIPoC in Berlin

15 Fantastic Projects & Places by Talented BIPoC in Berlin

La Case Paulette. photo: Vitaly Soroka. 

Celebrating and empowering Black communities should not just be limited to Black History month, but this is a good time for us to reflect on how we as individuals can help dismantle institutionalized racism in the spaces we occupy. 

To keep the conversations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement from 2020 alive, it’s important to continue to do our part in uplifting BIPOC communities going forward. One way you can do so from your own home is by supporting Black-owned businesses and donating to community organizations. Needless to say, any contribution is particularly valuable during these times due to the negative financial impact of the ongoing pandemic.

To get you started, here is our curated list of Black-owned shops, restaurants, and organizations for you to get to know. Make a donation, share their pages on your social networks, enjoy a delicious takeaway meal or find your next favorite clothing item from our guide below.

Read on…

They’re Queer and They’re Here: 185 German Actors* Coming Out Together

They’re Queer and They’re Here: 185 German Actors* Coming Out Together

Even though queer people are an integral part of the performing arts all around the world, their careers are in danger when it comes to coming out and they are advised to stay in the closet to keep their roles. We now embrace a new revolutionary move from 185 actors and actresses in Germany, who collectively came out as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, or nonbinary with their #actout Manifesto.

185 cultural workers came out in the SZ-Magazin to create a revolution. They want to fight against stereotyping, discrimination, and hiding. Even in today’s Germany, where being queer is widely tolerated, granted protection, and civil rights, certain groups still feel hesitant to come out for various reasons. As Markus Ulrich, the spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany (LSVD) reports, homosexual actors are often not trusted to play heterosexual roles authentically. The idea is that a heterosexual actor can pull up a queer character if he is feminine enough or she is butch enough, obeying anticipated stereotypical portrayals of LGBTQ+ people. But a queer person can only act in queer roles. Ulrike Folkers, known for her role in Tatort Ludwigshafen reports, “I was cast for a mother role, but when the director found out that I was a lesbian, she turned me down. That’s discrimination. Of course, I can play a mother.” She asks “How does it feel when you can’t show yourself off on the red carpet with the woman you love? What roles does a non-binary person dream of? And how does the television, film, and theater industry have to change?”.

Read on…

Stop the Music: How the Nightlife Makers of Berlin Are Dealing with the Pandemic

Stop the Music: How the Nightlife Makers of Berlin Are Dealing with the Pandemic

photos: Kseniya Apresyan. 

Berlin’s nightlife and music scene are holding their breath. And they have been doing this now for close to a year. What is usually the number one reason for people to come to Berlin from all over the world is now in a strange limbo the city has never seen before. Clubs and bars are closed – or at best turned into Covid test centers – stages are empty and all the people who normally come to these places to dance and celebrate are most likely at home – hopefully not alone.

These are unusual times, we have to completely rethink so many things. But while party kids and concert-goers will just find other ways to spend their time, it’s quite a different story for those people behind the scenes and on the DJ decks and stages of Berlin’s nightlife. They are all facing an uncertain future, many are out of work or have to start completely different careers to make a living, some even had to leave the city going back to their home countries. It’s a tragedy to think that those who build up Berlin’s reputation of having one of the most thriving and influential nightlife and music scenes are left with practically nothing during this pandemic.

Read on…

Kinky Creativity: Learn the Art of Shibari Bondage in Berlin

Kinky Creativity: Learn the Art of Shibari Bondage in Berlin

Shibari Study, photo: Viktor Herak

Berlin is known for a lot of different things: the history and the wall, Berghain and techno, döner and currywurst, just to name a few. But two elements central to the culture in the capital are sex and art. These two intriguing aspects of life in Berlin perfectly unite in Shibari, a type of Japanese bondage that focuses on the aesthetics of the bound body. Although we’re in the middle of a pandemic and sex clubs and museums are closed, Shibari is a great way to satisfy your craving for something both kinky and creative. There are a number of organizations and instructors still offering workshops and courses about the art of Shibari during the pandemic.

Read on…

Black Brown Berlin: A Platform Empowering the BIPoC Community

Black Brown Berlin: A Platform Empowering the BIPoC Community

photos: Roger Sabaté. 

In 2020 –– despite all its setbacks –– the Black Lives Matter Movement and its fight for justice and equality for BIPOC* has gained new momentum, not only in the US but in Europe as well. Yet, while education and awareness around colonial crimes, racism, and xenophobia are a global affair, change begins right in front of our doorstep. 

So –– do black lives matter in Berlin? Do black/brown people, and any other marginalized group in Berlin –– no matter its identity, sex, or ethnic background –– get the representation, recognition, and protection they deserve? In a post-Hanau Germany, our eyes need to be wide-open to the realities of racism today, and the rise of new fascism presenting itself as an electable “Alternative”. In recent polls the “AfD” passed 10 percent even in Berlin; that is Europe’s self-proclaimed capital of freedom and excess. 

Read on…

The Black Universe of Esther Perbandt – An Interview with the Iconic Berlin Fashion Designer

The Black Universe of Esther Perbandt – An Interview with the Iconic Berlin Fashion Designer

One of the major highlights for me this year was watching our good friend Esther Perbandt, the iconic Berlin fashion designer, succeed on the new designer competition show Making the Cut by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. It was the first time for me to see someone I personally know on a hit TV show and it was such a thrill to follow her through the lens of American reality TV.

Those of you who have been following us now for a long time, know that Esther is very closely connected to us as we organized one of her early runway shows with our sister project Designer Scouts back in 2010 and co-hosted the two aftershow parties of her spectacular Volksbühne fashion shows in 2014 and 2017. She also curated one of our city guides for us showing her favorite places in Berlin. It is always so amazing for us to become part of her black avantgarde universe and we feel so proud of all of her accomplishments as a designer in all those years.

Read on…

How Americans in Berlin Experienced the 2020 Election

How Americans in Berlin Experienced the 2020 Election

Caitlin Hardee, an American who’s lived in Berlin for almost 10 years, slept badly beside her laptop on Tuesday night awaiting results she knew would not come by morning. With the presidential election still undecided until Saturday, Americans in Berlin haven’t slept much at all last week.

Because Donald Trump hinted he would declare victory before all mail-in ballots were counted, Democrats Abroad, the overseas chapter of the Democratic Party, organized a “Rally in Berlin for free and fair elections in the United States” in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday to demand all votes be counted. Around 50 people attended the rally with little commotion, but police were present to ensure social distancing measures were followed. Emily Lines, the vice-chair for Democrats Abroad, said that only two counter-protesters came to the rally. One of the counter-protesters was not an American, but still chose to support Trump and was not wearing a mask.

Read on…

The Queer Tattoo Scene of Berlin

The Queer Tattoo Scene of Berlin

Berlin is known as the LGBTQIA+ capital of the world, with its reputation dating 100 years back. The city welcomes all types of people, making it the perfect place for otherwise marginalized groups to feel not only at home but also celebrated and – why not? – normal. Its nightlife is famous for being open to all sorts of experimentation. 

In the 24h+ parties, people from all walks of life express themselves freely and expansively. Everybody can exist, take up space, and move however they feel comfortable.

Read on…