# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Flatmates - Part 11

  by Martin Whitehead

published: 13 / 1 / 2002



Flatmates - Part 11

intro

Chapter 23: Going kinky in Hamburg Two nights later we were playing the last night of the tour in Hamburg. Since the Beatles had their residency in Hamburg it’s been a place of fun and frolics for


Chapter 23: Going kinky in Hamburg Two nights later we were playing the last night of the tour in Hamburg. Since the Beatles had their residency in Hamburg it’s been a place of fun and frolics for British bands. It must be said though that these fun and frolics centre largely around the Reiperbahn, and therefore Hamburg is probably rather more fun for musicians who are male and preferably single. Our hotel was about 2 blocks away from the Reiperbahn and, we were informed, all the decent bars were over the other side of it. The Reiperbahn is a wide main street where every other shop is a sex supermarket and the term isn’t inappropriate. The shops would have shelves stacked with assorted creams and jellies and baskets stacked high with dildoes, which my spellchecker suggests should be "diodes" or "dillies" begging the question - what are dillies? Unlike British sex shops the supermarkets of the Reiperbahn are comfortably open in carrying on their trade, and often their goods would be stacked up on wooden trestles on the pavement, like the way British convenience stores pile their limp fruit and veg outside where kids can squeeze them and dogs cock their legs on them. Many of the supermarkets advertised "peep shows" at the back, generally down a dimly lit corridor. Our travelling fanbase Mark and myself decided to investigate for ourselves what a "peep show" might consist of. Wandering into a dimly lit corridor we turned a corner to discover the corridor continued with about 10 cubicles either side of it in a black painted and even more dimly lit room. A man stepped out of a cubicle, closed the door and walked past us. Could an entire "peep show" be hosted in one of these lavatory sized cubicles? We stood in the corridor and pushed the door open. In front of us was a vinyl chair and above it a television set. We stared at this surrealist creation of what appeared to be a bog with overhead cistern, something we later discovered that Yoland, singer of the Rosehips had a phobia of, due to a cistern detaching itself from the wall and falling on her when she was a child. Next to the right hand armrest was a money slot that accepted various denominations of Deutschmark coins. We’d learned so far that a peep show consisted of a seat in a cubicle in a dark room, which probably required the payment of money into the slot machine, and a totally inconveniently placed television set. We stood and stared at each other in utter confusion and at the bizarre arrangement of audio visual devices that greeted us. One or two more men had come in, stared at us in utter confusion and entered the cubicles, locking the doors behind them. We figured that in the pursuit of cultural exploration we would have to put a coin in the slot and see what happened. We both squeezed into the cubicle together pushing the door closed behind us and put a 2 DM piece in the payslot. The TV turned on and 2 blonde women inserted vegetables into each other. We’d thought the shop next door was a genuine greengrocer, but maybe on the Reiperbahn things are not what they first appear and every shop is a sex shop of some type. After 15 seconds or so the TV turned off again. No wonder it was deemed a peep show. Bring a bag full of change or blink and you’ll miss it. The essence of a peep show was now clear to us although we were still bewildered by the arrangement of the cubicle. We’d after all had to stand facing the TV to see anything. We turned to leave and noticed what we’d missed on entering the cubicle. On the back of the door was a mirror which, when the door was shut, the viewer seated in the chair could watch the TV in. Now it all became clear to us - as did the dollops of "mayonnaise" on the back of the door. Having seen all that was necessary Mark and myself left the cubicle at the same time as the occupant of the opposite cubicle, who stopped in his tracks, looked at us, and hurried out. Not knowing the German for "It’s not what it looks like - honest" we left and rejoined the others in the bar we’d left them in off the main street. Walking towards the bar we noticed that unlike Britain, the German’s thought it commercially expedient to have cigarette vending machines on street corners. It’s something I remember in England from when I was very young, but they soon became the object of vandals attention, either after the cash or 10 Woodbines. Yet here they were, and on every street corner too. On closer inspection they weren’t cigarette machines but condom machines. One of the most obvious buildings on the Reiperbahn is the police station. Despite the presence of police, prostitutes and punters and customers of the sex shops go about their business in a relaxed atmosphere. Northern Europe has a more grown up and responsible attitude to sex than Britain. Even at the close of the 20th century the British still treat sex as something to be done by one consenting adult to another, preferably during the hours of darkness and ranks along with lavatory functions or major surgery as a topic for polite or serious discussion. There is obviously every bit as much demand in Britain for "personal services" as there is in Europe, yet those providing the services in Britain trade from street corners or rely on the "protection" of pimps. The Reiperbahn has an atmosphere like a theme park. Euro-gasm with the role of Donald and Mickey being taken by girls in pink and blue ski-suits who want to hold your hand and take you to a magic kingdom, rides starting from just 50DM. Earlier that evening, on the way to finding a bar, we’d walked though a beaded curtain into a dimly lit room. There was a solitary drinker in one corner and a circular bar in the middle. The barmaid was naked from the waist up, but as we had stopped in the doorway to take in this scene, that’s all we could vouch for. This isn’t what we were looking for, so we turned and tried another place. The latter was full of student types, drinking beer, fully clothed, as were the bar staff. A thankful break from the non-stop exotic cabaret that fills the Reiperbahn and surrounding side streets. From the bar we could still see the prostitutes in their regulation ski suits picking up clients, but all that was at a safe distance. When we left the bar we noticed that just around the corner was a street, partitioned off with a high metal barricade. Martina explained that entry was forbidden to women. That was naturally all we needed to feel compelled to enter, just for research purposes of course. Every building in the street had several windows at pavement level. Most of the windows had girls sitting on stools in them. Some of the girls had their windows open and were talking to men in the street. Some windows had just a stool in them and the light turned off, nothing on offer at present. This was the street of speciality services and punters got to view the dishes before ordering. I can never pass a sushi restaurant without being reminded of that street in Hamburg. We walked up one side of the street and down the other, but we’d got the picture. We headed back to the van and onto that night’s gig. Although we walked in a group together, Mark got separated off and surrounded by 3 multilingual girls in skisuits. Being a polite, well brought up lad, he was easily ensnared in conversation which rapidly took a turn along the lines of "Will you be my friend?" Yes, of course he would. "Would you like to keep me company" Well, if you’re lonely. By now we were halfway down the street and could see that Mark was uncomfortable yet too polite to simply walk away mid conversation. Finally his English education crumbled and he turned and sprinted the length of the street shouting out to us "wait for meeeeeeeeee" then had the nerve to blame us for abandoning him. It was a lift to the end of a tiring 12 days and a relief after the low point of Mannheim, and the problems with lost leads and overlooked carnets.




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