Photo by Viktor Richardsson
A gay day out in Motzstraße, Berlin’s unapologetic man-lovin’ mecca.
Berlin’s always been ground zero for swaggering homosexuals. Case in point? The world’s first gay rights demonstration happened in 1922 on Schöneberg’s Nollendorfplatz. Almost a century later, Nolli and its surrounding streets remain an epicentre of gay Berlin... albeit mostly for men. While the alternative queer scene remains firmly grounded in Kreuzberg and Neukölln, sprightly gay men can take a nostalgic trip down Motzstraße and its surroundings for a look at gay life that seemingly hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. And one thing is at the centre of that gay life – sex, and lots of it.
Without setting a combat boot into any establishment, you’ll see that mainline Motzstraße wears its identity loud and proud even in its Apotheke window displays. Condoms and protein powder, anyone? But before buying your rubbers, you can pick another type of rubber (or latex or leather) at any one of several fetish and sex shops. Bruno’s directly on Nolli is by far the most known, both for the rainbow Berlin bear signaling its existence, and for being bigger and slightly ‘classier’ than the others. No poppers here, boys.
But for the more adventurous, the pride parade down M-Straße is unending – Butcherei Lindinger (Motzstr. 18) for a brighter selection; The Military Store two doors down (not specifically sold as sex, but come on); Mister B (Motzstr. 22), where you can indulge in accessories for Berlin’s newest gay craze, puppy play (they even have their own house catalogue for it, Fetch); English import CloneZone (Kalckreuthstr. 14); and next door Gear Berlin for your next SNAX party at Berghain adjunct Lab.oratory. Make sure you’ve got a wad of cash on hand, as being a stylish Schwein doesn’t come cheap.
If the smell of fresh latex is a little overwhelming, switch it out for fresh coffee at Romeo und Romeo (Motzstr. 20), a charming café where gays of all stripes can get off their feet and chat with locals of all ages. Proving Schöneberg isn’t immune to local eating tendencies, pick up some bio snacks and a bit of history further down M-Straße at Speisekammer, an organic market proudly situated in the former Eldorado, Berlin’s infamous Weimar-era gay nightclub.
While you’re out and about, grab a free copy of Schöneberg’s own Boner magazine for an exciting cruise on paper. It’s practically porn with editorial and event previews. Get a little more literary at the Prinz Eisenherz bookstore (Motzstr. 23), where the Berlinale’s coveted gay film award, the Teddy, was born. Along with a charming selection of gay and lesbian books, magazines, comics and films, there’s a gallery in the back to peruse some typically sexy art. For more visuals, new gallery The Ballery (Nollendorfstr. 11) is pumping fresh blood into the scene, exhibiting younger artists in its mediumsized space with a frequently gay focus. Visit them – and us – on November 4 for Exberliner’s November issue release party!
By now, you might be feeling like mixing it up with the nightlife. Finding any place without a darkroom may be a bit difficult, but for a nice neighbourhood feel off Motzstraße, Prinzknecht (Fuggerstr. 33) mixes tourists with locals and men with, gasp, women – and has a darkroom anyway. And we all know that’s what gay Schöneberg’s about. For a glorious (hole) late-night fix, options include Connection Club (almost next door to Prinzknecht) or Tom’s Bar, the longest-running gay club in Schöneberg (Motzstr. 19; motto: “For successful cruising”).
Last but not least, the adventurous can take the you-know-what by the horns and visit the 24/7, 365-days-a-year Bull (Kleiststr. 35). While you’re enjoying the fetish bar’s, erm, perks, keep in mind that the place has history – as the classier Kleist-Kasino, from 1921 till its closing in 2002 (with a break during the Nazi era, of course), it saw a regular cast of star-studded guests, like the RAF’s Andreas Baader. Yes, even the anal sex in Schöneberg has a whiff of nostalgia.