Blab February 2003
Published Feb 01, 2003San Francisco? That was so long ago it seems like a previous life. I do recall capriciously smoking a joint with Yaroslav and his Brazilian boy-toy du jour on the ferry to Alcatraz, but that's about it. No, since then the Muslim has moved to Africa and returned, I've survived several quasi-serious health crises, and then there was that little matter of shooting a terrorist porn movie in Berlin...
Monday, October 21. I arrive in Paris on a balmy day at Charles DeGaulle airport, whose main terminal looks like a giant worm from Dune. I rush around in a tizzy, unable to find the gate for my connection to Berlin until I realise that my confusion arises from the fact that my seat and gate number are the same. I barely have to flash my passport at customs here (and not at all when I will arrive in Berlin), and they don't even run it through a computer or anything, which gives me great confidence that my plane won't be hijacked and flown into the Reichstag. The guy sitting beside me on the flight is a strapping German lad with blond dreads and hands like oven mitts. I can't stop staring at those big, genetically-superior hands, which could easily crush my scrawny neck with little effort. I'm getting a hard-on.
At the luggage carousel in Berlin I realise that my brand new used suitcase a hard Samsonite affair in battleship grey bought on sale at the Bay for 70 percent off hasn't arrived with me. I track down Soren, as in Kierkegaard, a straight blond German lad who has improbably worked on my last two pictures, and who has come to pick me up. He directs me to the missing luggage department, then drives me to my friend Arne's, with whom I'll be staying, on KarlMarxstrasse in Kreutzberg, a few blocks from Hermannplatz and the Karstadt shopping mall, the very chain store that offers to carry Petra's designs in Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. I'm extremely bagged, having read for ten hours straight on the plane. I re-read my script for The Raspberry Reich, the porn movie I will be shooting here, plus the background material on the Baader-Meinhoff Gang that I got off the internet, plus the Sunday New York Times, including a startling article about the death of the middle class, and one on the new U.S. national security statement, which makes it sound like the world is going to be at war for about the next 300 years. Oh well. I can't worry about that. I've got a movie to make.
After three hours of sleep I'm rudely awakened by my oldest Berlin chums, Basti, Louis, and Arne, former residents of Tutenhaus, the infamous gay squat, who whisk me off to a huge AIDS benefit that Basti has helped organise. It's being held at an opulent old theatre now used exclusively for musical extravaganzas of the kind that Chechnyan rebels have currently created an impromptu intermission for in Moscow by holding the audience hostage. The entertainment includes an unintentionally kitschy East German dance troupe who perform to that catchy Kylie Minogue song that goes "Na na na Na na na na na" over and over, featuring a hot lead Romanian dancer with an impossibly huge Jean-Michel basket. They also do a version of the French Can-Can. Apparently they're the dancing Menudo of East German TV. Other entertainers include a modern dance duo who perform a tromp l'oeil act by sliding in and out of each other's suits of opposite colours, a guy who looks like a Pierre et Gilles photo of Jean-Paul Gautier as a sailor doing a very acrobatic, come-hither hula hoop routine, and a few numbers from the current Berlin production of Hedwig, which seems more like an amateur road production of The Rocky Horror Show. There's also a strange and dramatic reading by a spooky Eartha Kitt look-alike that threatens to turn into a Ronee Blakley-style meltdown from Nashville. It's all very German dinner theatre campy cabaret.
At the after party I have my eye on the muscular thighs of that dancing Romanian Romeo, but I'm not quite as desperado as I used to be so I don't bother to put the moves on him. Louis, who is short, keeps on running over to the open bar to provide us with a steady stream of cheap German beer, to the slight consternation of his boyfriend Arne, who is tall. You see, their best friend and sometimes sex partner, a droll French chap named Pee Wee, has just committed suicide five days ago by injecting himself with an overdose of morphine, so Louis is trying to drown his sorrows and us along with them. We end up getting loopy lou, and the next day I will have the worst splitting headache of all time, which seems a little strange, considering the number of hangovers I've had in my life, but which will soon make all too perfect sense, considering my mysterious condition.
Tuesday, October 22. Split head notwithstanding, my usual producer, Jurgen Bruning, aka Jurgen Anger, picks me up and dutifully drives me to our main location, a Soviet-era apartment building in East Berlin with huge expansive balconies and a perfect view straight down to the big space needle/ television tower that dwarfs this part of the city. I immediately meet Stephan, my art director for the picture, with whom I've already had a big fight on the internet and tried to fire.
Before I fill you in on the gory details, I should explain that the movie, called The Raspberry Reich, concerns a gang of would-be terrorists led by Gudrun, a hot East German chick who patterns herself after Gudrun Ensselin, one of the four main members of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, the Red Army Faction, a terrorist organisation that emerged in the late '60s in Berlin out of the student protests against American imperialism and the Vietnam War. ("The Raspberry Reich" is another term for the "Schili," the German bourgeoisie who, despite their middle class values, which were anathema to the RAF, were oddly sympathetic to these glamorous terrorists.) The charismatic Gudrun, whose followers, including her boyfriend Holger, are all straight young males, hatches a plot to kidnap the son of a wealthy industrialist to draw attention to their anti-capitalist cause. Gudrun also believes that heterosexual monogamy is a bourgeois construct that must be smashed in order to achieve revolution, so she makes her male acolytes have sex with each other, including Holger who, when he protests that he's her boyfriend, is told in no uncertain terms by Gudrun: "Don't be ridiculous. The revolution is my boyfriend!" (I unapolagetically stole that last line from the Hidden Cameras, who have a song called "Music Is My Boyfriend.")
Anyway, getting back to the fight, I had suggested to Stephan in an email that as part of the decor for the gang's apartment we cover the walls with huge blow-ups of famous terrorists, prominently featuring the grandaddy of them all, Osama Bin Laden. Stephan fired back an email saying that this would be in bad taste, what next, blow-up photos of the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq? (Well, you're getting a little ahead of yourself, buddy, but hey, not a bad idea. Mental post-it.) He's right, of course, but I can't have someone telling me what is or isn't in bad taste in my own movie (otherwise I would never had made one at all), and I email him back as much. He apologises and oh, it's just a big mess. Now that I meet him in person I'm a bit plucked because he is cute as a button and very demure and soft-spoken, but also smart as a whip. And he's assembled the most impressive collection of RAF memorabilia and Marxist propaganda posters imaginable, most of them original and authentic, from the archives. There's a great "Meinhoff Murder" poster in red and black (my primary colours for the movie), images of Angela Davis, Bin Laden, hunger strike posters for the RAF, lots of Che Guevera material, etc. Now I feel like an idiot for having yelled at him, if only electronically, especially since he's so cute. Jurgen says hands off anyway, since he has a crush on him or something.
Next month: The shooting diary continues.