Creator: Silver Screen Collection | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2016 Silver Screen Collection
When I was a young man I watched the movie Cabaret and fell in love with Sally Bowles played by Liza Minnelli. On stage Sally exuded self confident sexuality but off stage she was sweet and vulnerable. I was so taken with the world the film portrayed that I began to read the Chistopher Isherwood books it was based on. The city described by Isherwood was living on borrowed time and the Nazis destroyed that freedom and in the years that followed the Soviet Union imposed a drab authoritarian regime on half the city while the western half was an isolated outpost of capitalism.
If I had been a time traveller I would have headed for the Berlin of Isherwood but in the real world all I could do was watch the film again and again and fantasize about Liza/Sally (I’m sure that is where my love of a woman in stockings and suspenders started) And then the wall came down and the city came back to life.
In the years after I had to visit the city often for work and explored it’s bars, cafes, galleries, museums and inevitably its brothels. There was an enlightened view of sex work that meant it was legal and well managed. There were numerous brothels which had none of the seediness that was common in London and the women who worked there were treated well.
I had only a little German but most of the girls spoke English and I had some wonderful relaxed afternoons that made me love the city even more. Many of those brothels have gone and there are now some mega brothels in their place. I haven’t visited them myself and they have no appeal to me. I have it on good authority, however, that if you are young and enjoy sex there are plenty of places where you will find like minded people. Sadly I while I enjoy sex and still love pushing my limits an apparently respectable old man is unlikely to be welcome in such places.
The extraordinary Templehof airport in the city centre where we used to land and walk straight to our hotel (and where the planes flew in during the Berlin AirLift) is long gone and the city itself has changed at a staggering pace though it still retains some of its charm and some extraordinary historical reminders. Sitting in the national stadium watching Hertha Berlin play just a few yards from where Hitler had addressed those huge crowds was a strange experience.
I rarely visit these days and when I do my wife is with me. But I do miss the sex. Having illicit sex felt like I was honouring the tradition of decadence that Berlin had for so many years. One of the old style brothels does survive though. Liberty rather splendidly is just behind the famous KaDeWe department store on the Kudam! When we visit that store I hope my wife doesn’t notice the wistful look on my face. I keep hoping that something will come up requiring me to visit the city alone one more time - even a day trip so I could relive one of those afternoons of 30 years ago would make an old man happy!.
An old man called Mike remembers sex in London before the internet, rants about the hypocrisy of today's society and shares some links to the best companions around today......