Brussels/Berlin 2023

Sunday 23rd July 2023 – A Sex Tour of Berlin

After a very lazy morning and early afternoon a really had no particular plan to do anything specific. However, a browse of the “Pride Month” brochure revealed a tour that sounded very interesting indeed: “Berlin’s History of Sex in Augmented Reality”. Money paid, I ventured to the meeting point.

On the way I took coffee and “kirschküchen” and the “Englischer Garten” in “Tiergarten”. This was a rather pretty spot in the middle of the huge park in Berlin. The garden was made in the 1950s with plants imported from England, hence the name. I then continued my journey to “Schloss Bellevue”, the home of the President of Germany.

The guide for the tour was called Jeff. He was part-time student, part-time worker for an HIV/AIDS support organisation, and part-time tour guide. He had made the tours himself having studied much of the queer and sexual history of Berlin. An interesting addition was the use of “Augmented Reality” via. his iPad. A few button presses would bring up on the screen some of the characters he was describing, in the context of the area we were standing in. We could even have our photographs taken with them.

The tour started with nudist culture before discussing Magnus Hirschfield’s “Institut für Sexualwissenschaft” and the subsequent raiding by the Nazis of his premesis. Jeff then discussed Nazi oppression of LGBT+ people and, after a bus to Schöneberg, sex work in Berlin, and the club culture of the 1920s and early 30s. Christopher Isherwood was mentioned as we passed his residence as was the “Eldorado” club before a final discussion of sex club culture in the modern age.

The tour was fascinating and very well written and researched. Some of the content I knew having read Christopher Isherwood’s work and watched the “Eldorado” documentary on “Netflix”. However, facts were clarified and expanded on and I learnt a lot. I was particularly shocked at the extent to which sex work was prevalent in the early 20th century and the wide variety of options that were available. I would recommend the tour highly if you happen to be in Berlin and are interested in such things.

After thanking Jeff very much indeed, I caught the U2 and U6 lines back north and visited a grocery. This was no mean feat as most such establishments are closed on a Sunday but with a few essentials purchased I was able to return to the quiet day I had planned and enjoyed dinner on my balcony.

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