Walter Crasshole on why those who stay in Berlin over the holidays have the gayest time of all.
The floor was covered in drawings of Technicolor alien torsos and bottles of half-drunk beer, and George Michael was blasting out of my wide-open window at 3am. First “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, then “Freedom” and “Faith” and lastly, of course, “Last Christmas”. Crystal was crying, Billy was babbling and I, well, I was blurting out lyrics and trying to count the number of fingers on my hand. It was Christmas in Berlin, George had just died and our lonely little orphan clan had taken mushrooms to chase away the holiday blues. We were joyfully mourning, or mourning joyfully. It was pretty gay.
This mix of heady debauchery and depressing moments kind of sums up Christmastime in Berlin for me. Particularly for the gays. And I love it. Not just those pockets of togetherness, but the solitude Berlin allows you to enjoy over the holidays. The streets are empty, the lights flash in the grim rain (let’s face it, it never actually snows over Christmas) just for you and the sex is always desperate and satisfying. You either end up sleeping with friends you never thought you’d sleep with, or you pick up one of the (extremely few) poor souls who mistakenly decided to take a trip to Berlin over the holidays.
Even the notorious Invisi-tisch at Möbel Olfe – that large, low- seated corner table that looks inviting but whose position all but insures no one sitting there will catch a flirt – can bring you a presents over the holiday break. One bleak year there, hiding behind my third großes Berliner, a fresh, early-twentysomething French Canadian named Jean-Pierre plopped himself down beside and warned me he was really horny. After a five-minute chat and deciding he wasn’t on drugs, I took him home. He left the next morning and I never saw him again. Isn’t that how Santa works? I’d had my Christmas treat.
Another year, I unpacked my presents over the course of one week. Nine guys in eight days, each individually and without once setting foot in a darkroom or sex club. Who gets this kind of service outside of Berlin? Most buggers who live here until they run out of cash or comforts from ‘Merica and elsewhere never give Christmas here a chance.
This said, it takes a certain amount of strength, and self-determination to stick it out here over the holidays when you’re queer. You often have no family here and you probably haven’t started your own. This year, the queer Christmas togetherness may not be brought on by a gay icon’s untimely shuffle off this glittery coil. And a stray Jean-Pierre coming down your chimney (and allowing you into his chimney) or a holiday parade of men can’t exactly be expected. But you can’t really know this city unless you’re here for its darkest, loneliest time.
So for those of you leaving the city for Christmas, bon fucking voyage. I’ll be spending my holidays here with a bottle, the leftover boys and maybe a few wanks – making my own mirth and merriment all the way up until Silvester. And for that? I’ll get the fuck out of Berlin too.