1. Madame Kio
Berlin (West), DE, ca. 1980s
The legendary Berlin drag performer Madame Kio was born Cornél Hédl in 1942 in Györ, Hungary. After dreaming of becoming a ballet dancer, completing his training in 1958 and becoming a soloist at the Budapest Operetta Theatre before his 20th birthday, he enjoyed a prominent career dancing in Leipzig, Switzerland, Düsseldorf (where he met his partner Hermann, with whom he would live until Hermann’s death in 1988), and finally West Berlin. After the end of his ballet career he began making appearances in drag: first, in 1968, in Trojka, a bar under the same management as the legendary Chez Nous; and then at Chez Andre, a small bar on Fasanenstraße. In 1970 Madame Kio opened her own bar, Fata Morgana, where she began to perform and organize elaborate shows. After Fata Morgana closed due to a motorway expansion, Madame Kio ran various drag theatres and founded Kio and the Crazy Boys, one of the largest drag troupes in Berlin. See also: Object 97.
2. Lesbian Knit Sweater
Germany (West), early 1980s
In the early 1980s, the lesbian activist Ulrike Lachmann lovingly knitted together this vibrant wool sweater. Loaded with lesbian and queer iconography, the sweater was worn for many years with pride and conviction. Lachmann includes (and thus reclaims) the pink triangle, a symbol whose origin lies in the identification and persecution of gay men during the Nazi regime, instilling a positive symbol of sexual identity and expression. The Labrys, or double-headed axe, finds its symbolic origin in Greek and Roman mythology, referring to the tribe of matriarchal warriors known as Amazons. Since the 1970’s, the Labrys has been used to symbolize female strength and power. The crescent moons serve as a representation of a woman’s menstrual cycle, while the double Venus interlocks the symbol of femininity, delineating it as a clear representation of the lesbian community. The saturated colors themselves function as a conscientious statement as well. Hearts are deliberately knitted in pink: the color of the second wave feminist movement. The colors distinguish a public symbol of visibility, always with the motto: “Feminism is the theory, being lesbian is the practice.” As a piece of clothing, the sweater is made to present the private as a public political statement.
3. Crisco Sign
Hamburg, DE, 1982
This mirrored neon sign was owned by Stephan R., from Hamburg. After a play party at the home of a set designer in Berlin, where he noticed a similar sign on the man’s wall, Stephan created and designed this sign for his play room in 1982. The red color of the neon plays off the hanky code for fisting. Crisco, a vegetable-based shortening, traveled easily from the Joy of Cooking to the Joy of Gay Sex and was, by the 1970s, a common lubricant for gay anal play. No less an authority than the pro-sex-feminist Gayle Rubin, when describing the legendary 1970s “Catacombs” fisting club in San Francisco, said: “Nothing ever removed the pervasive layer of Crisco that coated every surface… Crisco greased the asshole. It greased bodies. It greased whole walls. It greased the way for smooth and easy contact.” Crisco’s incompatibility with latex condom or glove use led to a decrease in its common use in the 1990s, although in the post-antiretroviral era, it has seen a resurgence in barebacking subcultures. Stephan R., who made this sign, became one of the first people to die of AIDS-related illness in Germany.
Berlin, DE, 1990
The second half of the 1980s brought the advent of the “AIDS artist.” Photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe in the USA or the Frenchman Hervé Guibert (who initially became known as a writer) documented their lives with, and deaths from, AIDS. Given the works’ invisibility, one might almost believe that there had been no comparable work made in Germany. But this is not true. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Jürgen Baldiga (1959-1993) photographed his life and the life of his social circle in the gay scene of West Berlin, circling around the legendary SchwuZ. After his HIV diagnosis, Baldiga pursued a project of radical self-documentation: taking pictures of his wasting body up until the moment of his death. To this day, Jürgen Baldiga’s work has not received the attention that it deserves. Was the trauma from the epidemic so severe that audiences preferred to simply look away? In the course of our new historicization of the AIDS crisis, understandings developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s are now changing. A new queer audience is asking its own questions about that time. Last year, for example, director Jasco Viefhues released a documentary about Jürgen Baldiga, called Save the Fire. And the Schwules Museum plans to make Baldiga’s work as well known as it deserves by supporting research and exhibition projects.
5. Walpurgis in Berlin
Enlarged Black-and-White Photograph
Berlin (West), DE, 1983
Discussions of violence against women were suppressed until the early 1970s, when the so-called second wave of feminist organizing helped break this silence. Consciousness-raising groups helped activists become aware of the epidemic extent of this everyday violence. In 1976, the first women’s shelter in West Berlin opened. On the night of March 1, 1977, 1500 women took to the streets in West Berlin in the first major demonstration against violence against women. At a nationwide women’s congress in Munich a few days later, a call was made for nighttime demonstrations across Germany on April 30; these so-called “Walpurgis Night” demonstrations were part of the feminist activist calendar for the next 20 years. The night of April 30 to May 1 is considered the witches’ sabbath in folklore; the demonstrations thus recall the persecution and burning of women as witches in the early modern era. Petra Gall’s photo of the 1983 Berlin Walpurgis demonstration has become an icon for feminist anti-violence activism. Other feminist successes in the fight against violence against women include the 1997 nationwide prohibition of marital rape (with 138 members of the center-right CDU/CSU, including Friedrich Merz and Horst Seehofer, voting against) and the revision of §177 of the German Penal Code in 2016.
6. Beer Mat from SPIRITS: a dyke bar for queers, gender chameleons and other everydeities
Ernest Ah, T Blank, C Detrow, Vera Hofmann
Berlin, DE, 2018
The Schwules Museum, founded in 1984 by progressive gay activists in West Berlin, has taken decisive, if incomplete and controversial, steps in the past years towards becoming a space where not only cis gay men but also women, people of trans experience, and other minoritized (and racialized) people in the queer community can work, curate, organize, and encounter their histories and visual cultures. The 2018 “Year of the Wom_en,” instantiated by the board and co-curated by board members Dr. Birgit Bosold and Vera Hofmann, presented a year of exhibition and event programming (and interventions into the museum’s organizational structure) exclusively by, for, and about women and feminine-of-center queer people. One of the most demanding projects of this year was the transformation of the museum cafe into a lesbian bar – a relational approach to the (re)creation of this iconic safer space in lesbian history. Installations referenced key concepts in dyke history; new tabletops were branded with slogans and signs from WLINT* subcultures, and the opening night was one of the best-attended evenings in the history of the museum. These beer mats were used throughout the year the ‘dyke bar’ was open; they preserve a turbulent and vital chapter in the museum’s recent history.
7. Never Again: War, Fascism, Heterosexuality
Buttons are a creative and often light-hearted way of expressing political opinions. This button is an appropriation of the phrase “Never again war! Never again fascism! (Nie wieder Krieg! Nie wieder Faschismus!)“ a popular slogan that emerged after World War II. This button ads heterosexuality, adding a layer that can be read as playful and deadly serious at the same time: a classic gay, and queer, communication strategy. Is the button making light of heterosexuality’s dominance, is it poking fun at the seriousness of some left-wing protest or activism, or is it, following on the work of thinkers like Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse, declaring the system of compulsory heterosexuality and sexual repression itself culpable for the horrors of fascism and war? The addition of the reclaimed pink triangle, a symbol that was used by the Nazis to designate homosexual men, also refers to the slogan’s original meaning.
8. Heterosexuell? Nein Danke
Germany, approx. 1970s.
The first oil crisis of 1973-1974 accelerated the creation of nuclear power plants in many countries. Nuclear energy offered a way out of the oil crisis – but one that inspired fear and anger in many who opposed the creation of nuclear waste and the potential for disaster. The anti-nuclear power movement in Germany, one of Germany’s most robust social movements, began in the 1960s and flourished in the 1970s. In 1975, Anne Lund, a university student in Denmark, developed the iconic anti-nuclear logo – a smiling, red sun paired with the slogan, “Nuclear Energy? No thanks.” It has been translated in over 45 languages and appropriated for use in several other social movements. This “Heterosexuell? Nein Danke” button quotes the original nuclear-based logo, and was distributed widely during pride parades in the 1970’s. The designers of the appropriated pin added eyelashes and a tongue sticking out, adding to the pin’s playfulness.
9. Johnny Kingsize
Berlin, DE, 2003
Annette Frick, born 1957 in Bonn, studied photography and fine arts in Cologne, where she also received her master’s degree. In 1996 she moved to Berlin and began to photograph subcultural punk and queer scenes. Frick’s photographic works draw attention to people’s self-manipulation and self-presentation around body image, gender, and sexuality: not interested in romanticising her subjects, Frick explores the construction and interpretation of self-images.
This 2003 photograph depicts Johnny Kingsize, who was a member of the Drag King group “Kingz of Berlin” and later also participated in the “Kingz Connection” (see also object 45). While he presents as butch in the photograph, the focus is on his arms, which read “RESPECT FEMMES.” Frick’s photography thrives on the tension between these two elements: Johnny Kingsize uses his own position in the picture to demand respect for the femme position. In FLINT* (Femme-Lesbian-Inter Trans) communities, femmes are sometimes barely noticed, or only understood in juxtaposition to butches. With his pose, Kingsize shakes up the supposed opposition and hierarchy between these positions. About himself he says: “(I) have never defined myself as a lesbian, butch or anything like that. Yet being drag king was only partly playful for me.” And he goes on: “When I look at my life, there is definitely a linear development towards my current life as a trans-something, as a transman.”
In an interview he talked about his own transition and the use of hormones: “They just change the voice, beard growth starts and if you take them for a longer time, then your physical stature changes and the cycle stops and then of course there are two things you have to decide. One is, of course, an intervention in the body, i.e. to intervene in a healthy hormone balance, so you have to think about that very carefully, so that’s one point, and the second point is, of course, the irreversibility of things. That is, if you stop the hormones or something, the voice or beard will remain.
10. Sheets from manifestation of paper stack work “Untitled (Join)” (1990) at NGBK, 1990
Félix González-Torres and Michael Jenkins
Offset Print on Paper
New York, USA, and Berlin, DE, 1990
The Cuban-born American Félix González-Torres (1957-1996) was an openly gay conceptual artist whose involvement in social and political causes oriented his practice around the blending of public and private life. Torres’ quiet, minimal installations and sculptures often used prosaic materials: strings of lightbulbs, clocks, hard candies, stacks of paper. This aesthetic project was, some scholars have argued, similar to Brecht’s articulation of an epic theatre; with an uneasy tension between form and content, with a distancing effect forcing viewer participants to be conscious, and the viewer transformed into an active, reflective observer-participant in the work itself.
The paper stack works of González-Torres, a few dozen in number, consist of stacks of hundreds of sheets of paper, each with a given ‘ideal’ height. Gallery visitors are then invited to take a poster or two home for free. As a stack diminishes, the work’s owner, or authorized borrower, may let it deplete or choose to replenish it. The materials in the stack are listed as being “endless copies.” “Untitled (Join)” features a nude portrait of a man in a sailor hat taken by the artist Michael Jenkins. Is he really a sailor, or dressed up to fulfill a sexual fantasy? What are we being invited to join: a gay dream of the navy, or, possibly, homosexuality itself?
In 1990, the Schwules Museum, which had at that time only been in its first long-term home for two years, co-organized an exhibition of AIDS-related art with the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) in Kreuzberg. Entitled “Übers Sofa – auf die Straße! Kunst und schwule Kultur im AIDS-Zeitalter”, the exhibit was curated by the legendary Frank Wagner, whose groundbreaking and internationally-acclaimed exhibitions (mainly on critical, AIDS, gender, and LGBTQI topics) often brought artists to Berlin before they were internationally known. In addition to Gonzáles-Torres, Wagner also presented the work of artists such as David Wojnarowicz and General Idea in Berlin for the first time.
Sheets from Gonzáles-Torres’ paper-stack works have sold at auction houses and galleries after different manifestations of these works, even though they are not ‘the works’ themselves, raising questions about the intersection of the artistic strategies of the works themselves with a hypercommodified art market. What does ownership mean when discussing conceptual art? How do we create value? Are these sales, or the coveting, collecting (or archiving?) of these sheets contrary to Gonzáles-Torres’ intention to create an open and participative work? The artist was known to be fascinated by the ways in which materials circulated in the public realm. These sheets are fascinating, tension-filled objects.
Red Rubber Road (AnaHell und Nathalie Dreier)
Digital Color Print
Berlin, DE, 2019
The lesbian artistic duo Red Rubber Road creates funny, almost surreal images: in this, of their two female bodies, only one breast is visible through a gap in a green fabric bag, or tent. It is not quite clear how the two models are positioned inside the fabric bag. Is one sitting on the shoulders of the other? The result shows fragmented female bodies that simultaneously subject themselves to and elude the viewer’s gaze. But what is clear is that they belong together. This living sculpture is placed in the middle of a green landscape to which it seems to belong. The doubled female being thus becomes a mythical creature. The two artists AnaHell und Nathalie Dreier, who have been documenting their friendship since they were 14, are always depicted in their pictures, in which you can never see their faces.
12. Harvey Milk Forever Stamp Pin
Photograph by Daniel Nicoletta, stamp art direction by Antonio Alcalá
Metal Lapel Pin
San Francisco, USA, 2014
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) made history on January 8, 1978; when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man in the United States to win an election for public office. One of Milk’s first initiatives as a city council member was supporting a bill that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill passed, triggering a vast change in the US’s political landscape regarding LGBT rights. On November 27, 1978, after less than one year in office, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by former city council member Dan White, who was later charged with first-degree murder but convicted only of voluntary manslaughter by an all-white jury. This lenient prison sentence enraged the LGBT community that supported Milk so much that it led to the “White Night Riots.” Milk’s political achievements still resonate today. In 2009 President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2014, the White House also issued this special stamp. Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman declared, “Let this stamp remind us of the fundamental truth behind Mr. Milk’s message — that we all have a stake in equality… Let this stamp inspire a new generation to continue Harvey Milk’s legacy.”
13. Providing Educational Opportunities to Sex Workers
San Francisco, USA, 2002
How does female desire become visible in distinction to male desire? Feminist theory has been asking these questions since the 1970s, reading psychoanalysis against the grain. Sigmund Freud could only imagine phallic arousal, and in contrast described femininity as an infinite mystery. Generations of female artists and filmmakers have since investigated the question of how male domination of sexuality and the visibility of sexuality could be broken. The performance artist and sex worker Annie Sprinkle, for example, had the idea of taking male voyeurism about the “mystery” of female desire quite literally. In the early 1990s she toured Germany with a show in which she invited the audience to look inside her vagina with a speculum – a kind of medical telescope. Sprinkle also explored in research the question of what problems female sexual emancipation had to deal with. She was awarded a doctorate by the University of San Francisco for this sociological study of female sex work in 2002.
14. Pelze (Furs)
Lena Rosa Händle
Neon Light, Aluminium Grid, Cable, Chains
Vienna, AT, 2015
(Exhibition copy, permanent loan)
The neon sign made by the artist Lena Rosa Händle (born 1978) refers to the lettering of PELZE multimedia: an occupied squat for women and lesbians in a former fur shop in the Potsdamer Straße in Berlin. From 1981 to 1996, the fur shop, which was run by various collectives, was a meeting place for female artists and activists who also provoked their own feminist scene with their subversive avant-garde art actions.
By manually translating the original typography into a new object, Händle takes up both the (in)visibility and the rediscovery of these stories in the queer-feminist production of knowledge. At the same time, she refers to the femme fatale as a motif in art history associated with the iconography of fur, since the novella Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1870).
The artwork was shown in 2018 as part of the program “Year of the Women*” in the exhibition “Lesbian Visions” at Schwules Museum and has been part of the collection as a permanent loan ever since.
Berlin, DE, 1991-1993
Shown on the cable station FAB (Television From Berlin) in alternation with the gay show ANDERSRUM, founded by Rosa von Praunheim, Lesbian-TV (LTV) was created by a collective of more than 100 lesbian women, who produced over its two years 27 episodes with an audience of up to 350,000 viewers. It was sent to 25 women’s and lesbian centers across Northern Europe on VHS copies for distribution and re-viewing. Each program consisted of three- to ten-minute segments on art, politics, sports, daily life, cultural news, and more. With low budgets and passionate ideals, this community project included work by Sharron Sawyer, Susu Grunenberg, Krisi Barock, Barbara Klingner, Kirsten Lenk, Silke Schlichting, Mahide Lein, Guy St. Louis, and many more. Both LTV and ANDERSRUM were cancelled in 1993; for many years the master tapes existed in the private collection of Mahide Lein before being digitized, archived, and re-released on DVD in 2018.
16. Butch (Diptych)
Berlin, DE and Antwerp, BE, 2008-2018
A photo and video artist living between Paris and Berlin, Marc Martin’s pictures spotlight the dark shadows of erotic play, and confront our notions of beauty and repulsion, of good and bad taste. His images explore a variety of queer masculinities – cis and trans, gay and lesbian – as accessories for the manifestation of queer desire. He says he loves “pigs and flowers.” His exhibit “Fenster zum Klo,” about the erotics and cultural history of toilet sex, was a highlight of the recent exhibition calendar of the Schwules Museum. This diptych explores how queer masculinities can be eroticized by and with a variety of subject positions, featuring two models – Manuela in Berlin, and BRD in Antwerp. These works are new to the collection of the Museum and were a gift from the artist on the occasion of this show.
17. Box of Porn
(Various pornographic magazines from the collection of the Schwules Museum)
Porn, porn, porn: if there’s anything in abundance in our archive, it’s pornography, especially gay pornography from the 1970s to the 1990s. Before the desirable images of men first appeared on VHS and then later became digitally omnipresent, they were circulated on magazine pages and as fold-out posters. These now-faded magazines, once passionately collected and exchanged, have now lost their practical value. They are hardly used as erotic aids any more. But they still have value as historical documents or for entertainment purposes: a reminder that these furnishings and hairstyles once framed the naked male body! That these body politics defined standardization and exoticization! That with this language one tried to get into the mood! Not that we don’t honor the achievements of porn. Pornography has saved the lives of countless gay men, the British critic Richard Dyer once wrote. But for the archive, this hobby is challenging: the magazines in this box are all things we have tons of copies of: so please, help yourselves.
18. Untitled, probably self-portrait
Herbert Rolf Schlegel
Oil on Canvas
Schondorf am Ammersee, DE, probably 1950s
So far there is little biographical information available about the German painter Herbert Rolf Schlegel (1889—1972), a representative of the romantic version of the Neue Sachlichkeit. But we do have his paintings: quite often depictions of androgynous young men with a penchant for eccentric footwear, like this one. The conspicuous gaiters with high heels that recur in his paintings, indicating, much more than the facial features, that the subject might often be the same person: the painter himself. These colorful self-portraits are framed either by bourgeois interiors or gardens and parks. Savoring the artificiality of their own appearance and of their surroundings, these portraits celebrate queerness as a stylistic self-realization that leaves gender norms behind. The queerness depicted here both strikingly and naively does not easily fit in with cultural histories of drag and cross-dressing. These pictures are a particular, peculiar camp that still demands our attention.
19. For Everard, Vol. 1-11
Anthony Malone (Martin Marafioti)
Black-and-White Print, Photocollage
New York, USA, 2013 – 2019
The Everard Baths on 28th Street in Manhattan were founded as a “public bathhouse” and later became the most famous gay sauna in New York. In 1888 the “Everhard”, as it was called by guests for short, was opened in a former church. Health and general fitness were the mission. But starting in the 1920s it established itself as a gay meeting place. The historian George Chauncey writes about it in his queer history of New York; later, writers like Gore Vidal and Truman Capote were among the famous guests. The entrance fee was five dollars for a closet and seven for a cabin. On May 25, 1977, a fire broke out in the building, killing nine visitors. The fire was a prominent plot point in two foundational gay novels published two years later, both of which were set between Manhattan and Fire Island in the summer of 1977 – Andrew Holleran’s “Dancer from the Dance “and Larry Kramer’s “Faggots”.
After repair works, Everard reopened. In 1986, almost 100 years after its opening, it was finally closed by Mayor Ed Koch along with all other sex clubs and saunas in the city as part of the precautions against the spread of HIV. The artist Martin Marafioti, who named himself Anthony Malone after the dreamy and doomed main character of Holleran’s book, chose the medium of the zine to commemorate the victims of the fire. The dead were identified by their friends at the time, all were men between 17 and 40.
20. Diseased Pariah News, Issue 5 (1993)
San Francisco, USA, 1993
The San Francisco-based zine “Diseased Pariah News” (and its sister publication “Infected Faggot Perspectives”) were two of the first zines published by, for, and about people with HIV and AIDS in the 1990s. It offered a combination of defiant and radical politics, gallows humor, and sound advice to people living at a moment of the 1980s and 1990s pandemic when hope was particularly dim. All of its editors were HIV-positive, some had AIDS, and only one survived until the introduction of protease inhibitors in 1996 made the condition manageable, at least for people with health insurance and access to medical care. The magazine made its mascot the OncoMouse (mice genetically modified to carry tumors for lab research), ran cooking columns called “Get Fat, Don’t Die,” and featured naked centerfold boys and advertisements for AIDS Barbies alongside information useful to sick and dying people. The cover of this issue depicts Roy Cohn, a right-wing political hack and friend of the anti-gay President Ronald Reagan who died of AIDS-related illness in 1986. Cohn was one of the main characters in Tony Kushner’s play “Angels in America”. Next to him is Kimberly Bergalis, a heterosexual woman accidentally infected during dental surgery who was depicted by the media as a virginal “blameless” death from the disease, and who before her death joined right-wing politicians to advocate for harsh measures against people living with HIV and AIDS. The interior spread combines humorous advice for patients at the doctor with an advertisement to buy out life insurance to stop homophobic relatives from cashing in on one’s immanent death
21. Straight to Hell: The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts
Ed. Boyd MacDonald
New York, USA, 1973-1983 (2017)
As a medium, zines (small-format magazines that are produced cheaply) already emphasize their subcultural value: on photocopied and quickly-stapled pages, a group can document itself outside the market logics and distribution channels of professional journalism. Often the work of amateurs in the best sense (amare = to love), they gather lovers of a certain culture as producers and consumers of images and text. This was certainly the case for “Straight To Hell: The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts”, published by Boyd MacDonald from 1973 to 1983. (The most recent issue, edited by Billy Miller, appeared in 2017). At its peak, 10,000 copies were sold. Alongside photos and collages of naked men, the focus was on the texts: letters to the editor, in which men reported their sexual experiences at service areas, in the toilet cubicles of department stores, or with guys they met on the street. Many of these men lived, or claimed to live, a heterosexual life – the pun in the title indicates where you end up when you leave your heterosexual identity behind. Straight to hell, which is, of course, heaven on earth. Zines usually mark a specific moment in the history of a subculture. The queer zine boom since the 2000s—with titles including “Butt”, “Kink”, and “Meat”—has brought new generational life to this medium.
22. Sea Monster Series
The Austrian-born Krista Beinstein is an artist whose work is based in performance, lesbian eroticism, and sex-positive feminism. Her photographs, films, and performances explore erotic fantasies, sexual desire, and fetish. Her productions of female lust are among the most radical works in the field of erotic art. In an interview with Claudia Reiche, Beinstein professed, “sex is my medium.” Her first book “Obscene Women”, published in 1986, portrays many women as both the object and the subject of obscene imagery. She is a rebellious artist who spontaneously creates her erotic and S&M photographs and performances. But Beinstein is not only interested in the superficial aspects of sex: her work extends into an existential political struggle regarding the “taboo” of female sexuality. Intimacy and vulnerability are a priority for Beinstein, as she works to reveal private narratives.
23. Pauline’s Hammer
Manfred Dübelt and Jörg Marx (DÜMADISSIMA)
Mixed Media Sculpture
Hamburg, DE, 2018
From the outside an inconspicuous, harmless box, but when you look inside through the peep-hole… dimly-lit scenery, a naked guy ready for anything, and a leatherman at the urinal letting it flow. And what does the shadow on the right behind the mirror mean?
The Hamburg artists Manfred Dübelt and Jörg Marx (DÜMADISSIMA) have created the art project “Pauline’s Hammer”, a model replica of a public toilet with porcelain figures, lighting and water circulation. The project is intended to honor the actor, dramaturg and concentration camp survivor Harry Pauly and the actor and theatre director Corny Littmann (Schmidt’s Tivoli).
In Hamburg, a ban on these so-called “klappen” had been in force since 1961 and compliance with this ban was monitored by police and civil investigators. The responsible official was Helmut Schmidt, later the Chancellor. The ban was enforced by, among other things, police officers observing the hustle and bustle in public toilets through semi-transparent mirrors. Twenty years later, a symbolic act of protest took place. Corny Littmann wrote, of the so-called “Hamburg Mirror Affair:” “‘Pauline Courage’ (Harry Pauly) handed us a heavy hammer, and we went down into the toilet under the Spielbudenplatz, on Taubenstrasse. With the hammer we smashed the mirrors, one after the other.”
24. Posters from Berlin Lesbian Week
Berlin, DE (West), 1989, 1994
The Berlin Lesbian Week was an annual political event that began in 1985. Intended as a week of panel discussions and meetings on crucial themes for lesbian activism, including economics, environmentalism, racism, sex, (dis)ability, anti-semitism, and more, the event became (in)famous for conflict with and between different groups of women. After repeated conflicts about race, identity, and migration (including protests over the use of the word “Volk” by some Jewish lesbians at the first Lesbian Week in 1985, and Black women blocking the entry into the event room to protest their racist treatment at later events), the 1994 event, co-organized by Black and white women, took up the theme of racism as its main topic. Many of the organizers of the 1994 event were inspired by or, like Katharina Oguntoye, had participated in, the publication of “Showing Our Colors” (Farbe Bekennen), a groundbreaking compilation of texts that was the first book published by Afro-Germans and indeed the first book to use the term Afro-German. The compilation was heavily influenced by its authors’ friendship with the American Black feminist Audre Lorde.
25. Die schwarze Botin (The Black Messenger)
Brigitte Classen, Gabriele Goettle, Ginka Steinwachs, Elfriede Jelinek and many more
Berlin (West), DE, 1976-1987
Die schwarze Botin (the black messenger) was a militant, anarchafeminist magazine from the autonomous scene, which was published irregularly from 1976 to 1987, initially by Gabriele Goettle and Brigitte Classen, and printed by West Berlin’s Frauenbuchvertrieb. It shaped the feminist discourse of the time decisively and already positioned itself in the foreword of the first edition as a representative of a women’s movement, “where the sticky slime of female togetherness ends.”
An obituary for Ulrike Meinhof and a harsh critique of the at the same time, more market-oriented magazine Emma are in this issue next to criticism of the new literature on the inwardness of the new German women’s movement. Literary texts, literary criticism and political theory are the central genres and themes of the magazine. While the artist Sarah Schuhmann often contributed picture material, the later Literature Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek was head of the Viennese editorial team of the magazine for many years, which also included the Austrian and French women’s movements topics. Jelinek had her debut in the second edition of the magazine with a text called “The Assembly”, which illustrates the programmatic orientation of the magazine and shows which form of feminism it is created against: “Die Kritischen Tage der Frau in Berlin absolutely wanted to see the myth of the great creative mother connected with earthly and primitive hostility to intellectuals. The woman gives the child the body, the man gives the spirit. The mind is therefore bad.” At a symposium in 2012, 25 years after the last edition, it was stated: “A total of 33 numbers established a critical, satirical-feminist discourse that may be missing today.”
26. Petronii Arbitri Satyricon
Gaius Petronius Arbiter
This book, whose title translates to “The book of satyr-like adventures,” was originally written in the late 1st century AD by the Roman courtier Gaius Petronius Arbiter. The work, one of the two most fully-preserved Roman novels, details the exploits of the narrator, Encolpius, and his slave and boyfriend Giton, a handsome youth. Full of orgies, political satire, scatological humor, supernatural tales, and drunkenness, the Satyricon has long been an influence on homosexual and other avant-garde subcultures in the modern era: in 1969, it was adapted into an omnisexual film by Federico Fellini. This printing from 1629 is the oldest existing work in the collection of the Schwules Museum.
27. “Animals Love Maneaters” (Advertising for the “Lion Pub” in San Francisco)
Richard Roesener aka Dale Hall
Pencil on Paper
San Francisco, USA, ca. 1970
This striking, old-masterly drawing of a lion engaged in coitus with a prone man was one of a series of such drawings produced by the San Francisco artist Richard Roesener. Once the chief scientific illustrator at Chicago’s famous Field Museum, Roesener produced gay erotic work under the name Dale Hall for magazines like Blueboy and In Touch For Men, before his death from AIDS-related illness in 1985. The drawing advertised a Pacific Heights bar called the Lion Pub – a so-called “fern bar” decorated with large plants, and one of the first gay bars to open in San Francisco outside the clusters of bars in the Castro and South of Market areas. Ron Williams, author of the book “San Francisco’s Native Sissy Son”, remembers that “the owner was very horny and handsome…the bar had a rough start because of the competition that was going on in the Castro at the time. They advertised a lot. The lion poster became a very popular icon.” Accompanied by the tagline “Animals love maneaters: where midnite thinking begins daily at 5pm,” the image was widely reproduced on posters and T-shirts.
San Francisco, USA, 1983
The flagship publication of the subcultures surrounding gay ‘leather’ and S/M sex, Drummer began in 1975 as a gay-liberation newsletter, always had a political edge, and was one of the few gay porn publications of the time to be independently owned and operated by gay people. Its covers were shot by photographers ranging from unknowns to Robert Mapplethorpe, its pages featured art by Tom of Finland and many of his contemporaries, writing by leather luminaries such as Larry Townsend (author of the “Leatherman’s Handbook”), Jack Fritscher, Gayle Rubin, Samuel Steward; and farther-out writers like the famed erotic thriller scribe Anne Rice. Although the magazine presented itself as being “for the macho male,” its view of masculinity was often far more complicated than might be initially assumed. In this fascinating 1983 letter exchange, a reader writes in seeking to ally himself and his bigotry against effeminate gay men with the magazine. The editors, having none of it, respond with “a little history (because it’s your history too),” invoking the presence and leadership of street queens and effeminate gays at Stonewall and other watershed moments in gay liberation, and concluding that “leathermen have a lot more in common with ‘queens’ than it is perhaps comfortable to acknowledge.”
29. MSC Berlin Patch
Berlin (West), DE, ca. 1980s
The leathersex movement, a subculture of queers centered around the erotic semiotics of leather and other forms of fetish gear, began to organize into coherent communities in mid-20th century urban centers in Europe and the United States. Gay motorcycle clubs were one of the primary modes of organization for leather communities throughout the 20th century; the first gay motorcycle club in the United States, the Satyrs, founded in Los Angeles in 1954, is still active. Gay motorcycle clubs provide an outlet for socialization – and often for sex. While midcentury gay bikers eschewed the stereotypical gay male effeminacy of the era, their events often featured pageantry and camp of a different sort, including drag shows. While early gay motorcycle clubs were men-only, some lesbians also embraced the lifestyle, forming women’s clubs such as the “Moving Violations” in Boston (1985) and the “Sirens” in New York City (1986). This patch, from Berlin’s Motorcycle Club, is a great example of the classic gay motorcycle aesthetic.
30. Le fléau social (The Social Scourge)
Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire
Paris, FR, 1972
“Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire” (FHAR) was a loose movement founded in Paris in 1971, a union between lesbians and gay men. Its members included the writer and theorist Guy Hocquenghem, the communist and coiner of the term “ecofeminism” Françoise d’Eaubonne, the materialist feminist sociologist Christine Delphy, and the French anarcho-communist Daniel Guérin. Breaking with older and more hidden homosexual groups, they demanded the destruction of the bourgeois and hetero-patriarchal state and society. Their slogan: “Workers of the world, jerk off!” The group remained united only for a brief time, before breaking apart due to criticism from lesbian participants that the men were only interested in flirting with one another, and tactical and political disagreements between various other factions. The newspaper “Fleau Social”, meaning “the social scourge,” began to be published in June of 1972 by members of FHAR including d’Eaubonne, Pierre Hahn, and Alan Flieg (who became its main editor); strongly influenced by the situationists, this collective denounced left-wing political organizations mired in the “manure pit” of heterosexuality and began to denounce the growing gay commercial ghettos in urban areas as representing “the submission of the libido to the law of value.”
31. Sex Graffiti, TU Berlin
Berlin (West), DE, ca. 1980
For gay men, public toilets were often meeting places for sex. So-called “Klappen”, part of the backdrop in Frank Ripploh’s film “Taxi zum Klo” (1981), however, are becoming less and less common. Dating apps have made these venues for mostly-anonymous encounters almost superfluous. Instead, gay men now spend hours in front of the screen looking for sex. In the Klappen back then, the waiting time was used creatively. Doodles with names, sexual preferences, and telephone numbers decorated the walls, but also pornographic drawings: asses, dicks, sex in all positions. Out of boredom or to keep the mood going, erotic fantasies were here immortalized. In some places you can still find the faded remains of them, traces of a subculture that has disappeared, from another age. Wilfried Laule took this picture in 1980 at the TU Berlin’s cafeteria; that toilet was famous for offering many passing men the chance for a quickie in between classes.
Fabric, Costume Jewelry
San Francisco, USA, date unknown
Jose Sarria (1922-2013), also known as The Grand Mere, Absolute Empress I de San Francisco, and the Widow Norton, was a prolific gay rights activist, who made history as the first openly gay person to seek political office in the United States. Born in San Francisco, Sarria served in the US Army during World War II. He was a frequent visitor to and performer at the “Black Cat,” a gay bar in North Beach, San Francisco, and began performing extravagant drag shows there throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Sarria was known for singing satirical covers of popular songs, and would often plead for Black Cat’s patrons to come out, proclaiming, “United we stand, divided they catch us one by one.” In 1961, Sarria ran for Supervisor of San Francisco. Fearful that he might win, the Democratic Party leadership recruited nearly two dozen candidates to run against Sarria. Sarria ultimately placed ninth in the election results. However, his loss did not prevent him from engaging in political activity. In 1960, he was a large supporter of the “League of Civic Education,” an organization dedicated to changing laws that made it illegal to serve alcohol to LGBT people. He raised money for the “Society for Individual Rights,” one of the first gay rights groups, and laid the groundwork for the “Imperial Court,” an international charity group that raises money producing drag shows.
33. Clitoris Pictures: We’re Making A Picture Of Ourselves
Dorothee Linde and Marianne Heinke
Enlarged Photographs (Reproductions of Calendar Pages)
Hamburg, DE 1978
(Archive loan by Ulla Fröhling)
These reproductions are selections from a calendar that was produced in 1978 by a group of lesbian activists led by Dorothee Linde and Marianne Heinke. Self-representations of female genitalia and the reclamation of those genitalia as a source of pleasure and self-knowledge have been central parts of womens’ and lesbian movements. Here is an excerpt from what the women wrote as the introduction to this calendar: “We are four lesbians. Our group was formed when one of us noticed while masturbating that she could not get a clear picture of her own clitoris. She tried to draw it and finally came up with the idea to take a picture of herself. A few days later she showed us the pictures. We found it incredibly exciting to see a clitoris enlarged from this perspective. None of us could remember ever having seen a picture of a clitoris. Marianne could not believe it: ‘Very different from my clitoris. I’m sure you were holding the machine wrong.’ It wasn’t until another woman took pictures of herself that she was convinced. Different again. We stood in the darkroom and could hardly contain ourselves with joy at each new photo… We feel more and more how our whole self-image changes: we become more self-confident.”
34. Snap forms filled out by visitors from the exhibition “Love at First Fight!”
Berlin, DE, 2019-2020
In the context of the exhibition “Love at First Fight! Queer movements in Germany since Stonewall” visitors were asked to share their “snap moments”. “Snap” can be the sound two fingers make when snapping or the snap of a branch that is under tension and is suddenly released. The feminist activist and scholar Sara Ahmed uses these images to describe moments in people’s lives when they realize that it is “enough” – the moment when something that may have been building up for a long time is released, and whose forerun has gone unnoticed. In the exhibition, an overwhelming number of visitors shared their personal snap moments. The result is a collection of resistant, humorous but also sad stories, a selection of them is presented here.
35. Cartoons about gay marriage
Klaus Stuttmann – Die Tageszeitung
Dieter Zehentmayr – Berliner Zeitung
Berlin, DE, ca. 2000s
Is homosexual marriage a powerful instrument of normalization that propagates a heterosexual lifestyle for lesbians and gays, or the exact opposite, namely a queering of the ideology of couples and a threat to heterosexist domination? The political and queer-theoretical debate on homosexual marriage went something like this. The fear that homosexual marriage heralds the end of heterosexuality is also evident in many of the cartoons on the subject. The threatening scenes that are humorously sketched here have not yet materialized, however. Heterosexuality still exists. Queer promiscuity also exists. Does this mean that the matter should be considered pragmatically in the first place? If you want, you can get married.
36. Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes (Homosexuality of Men and Women)
Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld
(Paragraph 175 Collection)
Berlin, DE, 1914
Petition to the legislative bodies of the German Reich (An die gesetzgebenden Körperschaften des Deutschen Reiches, Petition des Deutschen Reiches)
(Paragraph 175 Collection)
Berlin, DE, 1897
Speech by August Bebel in the Reichstag
(Paragraph 175 Collection)
Berlin, DE, 1898
Together, these three sources document the theory and practice of the Wilhelmine and Weimar movements for homosexual emancipation in Germany. These sources document a movement that, according to the historian Laurie Marhoefer, created “a particular type of sexual freedom, one that liberated a majority of people while curtailing a disorderly minority.” Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jewish sexologist and doctor, was an outspoken activist for homosexual and transgender people. His magnum opus, this book, laid out a theory of “sexual steps in between” that affected both what we would now call “sex” and “gender.” This theory was replaced by sexual orientation-based models that were more separated from gender by most homosexuals in the mid-20th century and has recently been reappraised both positively and negatively by queer theorists. Hirschfeld’s “Scientific-Humanitarian Committee” organized petitions to the German parliament signed by many notable figures; among his supporters was the revisionist social democrat August Bebel, who delivered this speech to the Reichstag in support of decriminalizing homosexuality in 1898. This movement almost became successful in 1929, when the Reichstag came close to decriminalizing sodomy but proposed sharper penalties against male sex workers; while Hirschfeld supported this compromise, some allies with closer ties to the Communist Party, like Kurt Hiller and Richard Linsert, decried this compromise and opposed the proposed bill.
37. Costume from “It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives”
Rosa von Praunheim
Berlin (West), DE, 1971
Rosa von Praunheim’s film “It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives” arrived explosively on West German television in 1971. A sardonic, critical depiction of gay culture in all its pleasures and faults, the film shocked and angered some conservative gay activists. “Gays don’t want to be gay, but be as bourgeois and kitschy as the average citizen,” goes one particularly memorable quote. “Because gays are regarded as disturbed and inferior by the philistine, they try to be even more philistine in order to lessen their guilt feelings with an excess of bourgeois virtue. They are politically passive and behave conservatively in return for not being beaten to death.” Today, conflicts within gay communities and institutions continue along many of these same lines. Rosa von Praunheim’s films, part of the “New German Cinema” movement, have received numerous awards, and screened films at festivals including the Berlinale and Tribeca Film Festival.
38. Following Yayoi Kusama
Textile Object with Brass Chain
Stef. Engel was born in Hamburg in 1969. She studied art with Marina Abramović, among others. Engel works in various media, from pencil drawings to video installations, often on gender issues. With the work presented here Stef. Engel orients herself towards the works of the artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929). Kusama is one of the most important Japanese artists of the post-war period. Kusama’s trademark work is polka dots painted on canvases, sculptures, and people; as well as phallic fabric bulges, which she places on a wide variety of objects. Engel was inspired by this gesture: in this work, you can see two small fabric bulges – one could also say dildos – one flesh-colored, as if covered with small veins, and the other golden. In the creative process of the artist, the symbolization of the male sexual organ becomes its own autonomous object, an expression of female lust playfully and artistically independent of the male body.
39. Pornographic Sculpture
Cast Metal and Twine
Berlin, Germany, 1994
Tom of Finland’s drawings (like the sketch also shown in this exhibit) belong to gay mythology: sailors, cowboys and policemen: men in uniforms proudly displaying their pneumatic asses and bulges. This sexual self-representation was typical of this moment in the history of gay liberation: the appropriation of stereotypical masculinity as a sign of sexual self-determination. This principle has been popular for decades, and become a gay classic. In real life, as in art, it has found many imitators, including this sculpture. Engaged in a lively threesome, the guys display lust beyond all guilt, they are shameless exhibitionists. In three dimensions, Tom’s iconography becomes even clearer. We see improbably pneumatic male bodies, as though the entire man has become the phallus: but this phallus aims not for power, but for infinite pleasure of all varieties.
40. “Just Sophie…” and “Sophie at the Farm…,” from “The Farm” series
Signed and Numbered Offset Print (original: Ink on Paper)
New York, USA, 1979
In 1971, the feminist author and artist Kate Millett (whose life and career are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this exhibit; see object 59) began to buy and restore property in the Poughkeepsie, New York area. She ultimately turned that land into “The Farm,” a women’s art colony and tree farm. She financed the creative retreat by selling Christmas trees. The colony provided a place for women artists to work undisturbed. In 2012, the colony became a non-profit organization and was renamed the “Millett Center for the Arts”. Millett produced many drawings for her “Farm” series. Each was unique, but shared similar qualities. They are clean, subtle, and distinctly abstract figurations of a woman’s body, paired with written poetry. These sensual images and the accompanying texts suggest comfort and care, affection and intimacy; the creation of a lesbian erotic and romantic world.
41. Sketch of a Male Torso
Touko Laaksonen aka Tom of Finland
Pencil on Paper
Los Angeles, USA, ca. 1980s
In this sketch by Tom of Finland (1920-1991), feathery and tender and light, we see his hand begin to find the form of the drawing to come. Known for his highly stylized, hypermasculine homoerotic work, Tom of Finland’s image vocabulary was co-constitutive of major shifts in gay subjectivity in the 20th century. He worked in advertising for most of his life, which was no coincidence: his images, which became popular in the 1950s and 1960s in pornographic magazines, helped sell gay men the idea that they could be the objects of their own sexual desires. Like all good advertisers he sold pure fantasy: unattainable bodies, extreme fetishes, faces blank enough to allow the viewer to project himself into the image. Tom’s men were always proud to love one another, and always smiling, always looking at one another in the eye, always enjoying one another’s company along with the erotic game. These images became part of a politics of sexual utopia, a politics that imagined the spaces where sex was practiced and the practice of sex itself as a kind of temporary autonomous zone in which the oppressive relations of the outside world could be ecstatically overcome. This sketch was presented to the Museum as a gift by Durk Dehner, the former lover of Tom of Finland, of the Tom of Finland Foundation in April of 2018.
42. Letter, with accompanying photographs, from Roland Loomis (known as Fakir Musafar) to Albrecht Becker
(Albrecht Becker Collection)
Black-and-White Photographs and Typed Letter
California, USA, August 16, 1964
This letter was sent to the German production designer, photographer, and actor Albrecht Becker (1906-2002) by Roland Loomis (1930-2018), better known as Fakir Musafar. Widely influential in the body modification, S/M, and “modern primitive” movements after becoming involved in growing gay leather, S/M, and Radical Faeries movements in the 1970s, Musafar was still, when this letter was written, working as an executive and documenting his growing interest in body modification rituals in self-portraits like these. These documents reveal early transnational links in the body modification movements, links that would later become more visible through internationally circulated leather magazines, like “Drummer” (which is also on exhibit in this show, see object 28 and which also published articles about Mustafa and his work). Musafar, and other primitivist body-modification practitioners, have been heavily criticized by some scholars and activists for their appropriation of Black, Indigenous and other non-Western rituals that they often combined, disrespected, and/or misunderstood. Other artists and practitioners of color collaborated with and looked up to Musafar and his colleagues.
43. Two Drawings on Photographs
Felt-tipped Pen and Ink on Photograph and Colored Print
Hamburg, DE, ca. 1970s
Albrecht Becker (1906-2002) studied stage design and taught himself photography from a young age. Arrested for sodomy under Paragraph 175, he was imprisoned in Nuremberg from 1935 to 1938. From 1940, he worked for the Wehrmacht and was deployed in Poland and Russia, taking photographs of comrades. During this time Becker also became interested in tattooing, first on his own body. “That’s how I discovered tattooing as a substitute for missing sex,” he later said. After the war, Becker moved to Hamburg. The documentation of tattooed bodies was now the focus of his photographic project. His own body was gradually covered by tattoos; he was also interested in the tattoos of his friends and lovers, as this picture of his gardener shows. Becker’s procedure also included covering the pictures with ornaments and patterns afterwards, as here in the case of an idyllic love scene, which Becker rudely eroticized.
44. Porn Album
Berlin (East), DE, ca. 1975-1985
The Piske Collection was one of the first whole bequests the SMU inherited, it was dedicated to us by a person, who was seriously ill and who was looking for, and found, a place for his collected life. From KPM-tableware and hand-embroidered tea towels to copper replicas of Greek athlete statues to nine moving boxes full of porn videos, Piske surrounded himself with a myriad of things. Art historian Boris von Brauchitsch wrote: “In Siegmar Piske’s apartment, the picture of an entire, gradually dying generation, coping with a lifelong dream between aesthetics and desire, emerged.”
Siegmar Piske, an administrative employee of the GDR Protestant Church, spent many hours cutting out pictures from papers and magazines, collating them upon things, upon the walls and in albums, adding characters and their stories to them which were never made for the public but for him with great meticulousness. These homemade porn picture stories à la “Bravo” photo stories, full of obscure names and descriptions and in a bizarre linguistic style, are an almanac of the sexual desires of gay men of his generation and of the history of post-war German sexualities.