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Everyone Once in Berlin
March 24, 2011 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Since the fur-coated Boot Girls’ particular services were suggested by the iridescent colors of their calf-length, patent-leather boots and shoelaces, suitors had to be intimately familiar with their semaphore-like advertising before accompanying them to nearby apartments. Naturally, only devoted aficionados could decipher such specific messages with confidence. Other potential clients had to buy special primers, where Berlin’s complex street semiotics were thoughtfully decoded for the uninitiated. - Sex tourism in Berlin during the Jazz Age, along with some illustrations from the period. (Racy rather than obscene, but somewhat NSFW)
posted by Slap*Happy (16 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool to see Tenebrous Kate on the Blue.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2011


Fascinating! I especially loved the boot translation bit. But god help the guy who accidentally hits up a girl in scarlet boots when he meant to seek out someone in brick-red!
posted by chatongriffes at 11:27 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had no idea there was a forerunner to the hankie code!
posted by hippybear at 11:32 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what kind of evidence there is for the boot code stuff? It seems like an urban legend, the way it's so absurdly specific. Like you have to go to a different person for every slight variation of your kink, you don't have one woman who would offer more than one of these extremely similar services?
posted by phoenixy at 12:00 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tough times for someone with a mere boot fetish.
posted by GuyZero at 12:06 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder what kind of evidence there is for the boot code stuff?

Apparently there's a 1932 book, Stiefelmädchen: die sadistisch-fetischistische Prostitution, vol. I of Der Sadismus in Einzeldarstellungen by Theodor von Rheine, published by Sexualwissenschaftliche Verlags-Anstalt, Berlin.

That seems to be the primary source for this. I've only found references to the book, however, and couldn't tell you what it actually says.
posted by hippybear at 12:12 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, hippybear, that ones going on my amazon wish list. Thanks for the sweet post, Slap*Happy!
posted by jtron at 12:24 PM on March 24, 2011


Would you like to touch my monkey?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:26 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a new BBC film with Dr Who's Matt Smith about one of the more famous "sex tourists" to the Berlin of that era: Christopher and his kind. (a little video feature.)

"It was a journey that took Isherwood to Berlin in the 1930s, where he was able to embrace his homosexuality in a way that was almost impossible in Britain. Exploring this part of the character was a very different experience for the actor best known for Dr Who."
posted by ts;dr at 12:30 PM on March 24, 2011


"The Hot Girls of Weimar Berlin " reviews; a little more.
Voluptuous Panic, The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin has some interesting photos.
posted by adamvasco at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Paradise regained
posted by adamvasco at 1:21 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Much like the much-touted flower code of the Victorian age, and the hanky code, I wonder to what extent this actually occurred, and to what extent it is urban myth (or crap made up to sell books).

Historians love to codify and categorize. Humans diversify, by nature, with little care for categories in their actions.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:30 PM on March 24, 2011


or crap made up to sell books boots.

FTFY.
posted by GuyZero at 3:34 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Much like the much-touted flower code of the Victorian age, and the hanky code, I wonder to what extent this actually occurred

I came out in 1990. I can tell you the hanky code was alive and well for at least the first decade of my gay life. And it still is to some extent, although the need for subterfuge has disappeared in the more recent decade.

I can't even count the number of men I've had sex with based on me flagging one color or another while at the mall or farmer's market or whatever during those years, but it's not insignificant. Certainly more than my fingers and toes combined.
posted by hippybear at 3:45 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, hippybear.

Now, off to find a 130-year-old gentleman from the upper crust for the "flowers meaning" trope...
posted by IAmBroom at 4:50 PM on March 24, 2011


I assume that all of this was basically because of the horrible economic times in Germany after the first world war. All this with the boots sounds so amusing, but probably wasn't especially thrilling for many of the women involved (since it seems likely to me that the number of women who enjoyed prostitution was probably much smaller than the number involved, given the many many women involved.) And the little girl prostitutes!

If I recall my Weimar seminar correctly, Koln made an effort to build a sort of barracks street for prostitutes and force them all to live there where they could be monitored by the state....it was sort of a neue sachliechkeit thing, something about modernity and rationalization. It didn't work very well and the prostitutes didn't like it.
posted by Frowner at 8:22 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


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