The Women of Weimar
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Published in: January-February 2003 issue.


Adapted from essays that appear in the forthcoming volume, The Hot Girls of Weimar Berlin, published by Feral House of Los Angeles, CA.


IF PARIS WAS historically the city of love, 1920’s Berlin was the metropolis of “Girlkultur.” Girlkultur, a curious blend of German and American fantasies and fashions that surfaced after the First World War, was one of the psychic forces that transformed a dowdy war-shattered Berlin into the modern Sapphic citadel of free thinking, freewheeling female behavior that it became. Dietrich sang of “Naughty Lola, the wisest girl on earth” and “charming alarming blonde women.” The American actress, dancer, and model Louise Brooks, who was the sultry amoral icon of Girlkultur, broke the hearts of countesses and businessmen alike. The New Woman of Girlkultur added American boldness to the Old World model of sexual sophistication. The variations of female desires that were indulged behind closed doors in New York and Paris were boldly displayed in Berlin, whose tourism-boosting slogan was “Everyone once in Berlin!”

Drawing by Erich Goldmann
Paul Kamm, illustration from Booted love (by Hanns von Leydenegg)

Among Berlin’s four million inhabitants in 1930 was a vibrant “Third Sex” community of homosexual women estimated to be between 85,00 and 400,000, depending on your preferred source. Estimates have been derived from magazine subscriptions, club memberships, travel agents booking sex tourists, and sexologists who meticulously categorized the spectrum of female intimacies flaunted on the streets. These “girl friends,” whether they were stenographers, revue dancers, scholars, or shopgirls, had money in their pockets and claimed Berlin as their sexual Shangri-La by the Spree. Wrote Ruth Roellig in 1929’s Lesbians and Female Transvestites:

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Barbara Ulrich is an independent filmmaker living in Manhattan. the Hot girls of Weimar Berlin is her first book.


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