interviews

Insiders – Interview with Hanno Koffler

This month’s interview features our favourite German actor, Hanno Koffler. Hanno is known for his amazing performances in movies like Nacht vor Augen (2008), Freier Fall (2013) and his most recent coup Härte (2015). If you only know Hanno from his onscreen appearances, this is your chance to catch up!

Q: Hey Hanno. Congratulations, you just got nominated as Best Actor for the second year in a row! How are you feeling right now?

A: I’m feeling awesome right now. It’s great to have your work appreciated by the business and colleagues, especially since I’m really proud of the work I’ve done in “Härte”. Playing Andreas Marquardt wasn’t an easy role, it was a really special and intense work, so right now I’m just feeling thankful for all the appreciation shown for the movie.

Q: Did you always want to become an actor?

A: Nah, there were a bunch of things I considered doing when I was younger. I always liked the idea of being a craftsman, like a woodworker or maybe even a gardener. Then again I also thought I was going to be a Rockstar for quite some time… which hasn’t worked out so well.

Q: Hanno the Rockstar, wouldn’t that be something. What’s your favourite band?

A: Hmm… tough question. Back in the days it used to be Nirvana, but I really like the Beatles and I’m a big fan of Elvis Presley. Depending on the mood I’m also into Bob Dylan or even Schubert and Mozart… I think I need a pre-made list with answers for questions like this, it’s really difficult to settle for one.

Q: Becoming an actor is a very profound experience – things from deep inside your soul are washed to the surface, things you maybe never knew even existed. What was the most important thing you learned about yourself in the process of becoming an actor?

A: I guess one of the most profound lessons I learned was coming to realize how acting is not about perfection, but rather about accepting your own imperfections and to let them show on the outside. It’s about finding your own truth and building up your own personality. It’s about finding a quiet and true point within yourself from which you can develop into new directions and adapt to new roles. Then there’s body language, controlling your voice and finding the way to your emotionality. It’s also about learning to let everything go.

Q: Did you already find that point?

A: It’s a constant search, really, and I’m not sure if it can ever be wholly found – however the search definitely has made me aware of some of my hurts. Learning how to act is a never-ending process, because it’s a journey to your own personality, which always transforms, grows and changes.

Q: In “Freier Fall” you’re playing the married police officer Mark, who starts a love affair with a homosexual colleague – very much to his own surprise. The film manages to create an incredible atmosphere and intimacy. How do you prepare for a role like that?

A: First of all, by reading the film script. Then it gets trickier: You have to try to understand your character’s world and try to dive into the depths of his mind. Once I feel I have good understanding of my character, I’m giving it all my passion and emotionality to get engaged with the role and just see where things go from there. 

Q: So… did “Freier Fall”  reveal a formerly unknown passion for the male sex or was it just fantastically played?

A (laughs): It was just fantastically played. 

Q: What about Freier Fall 2? Is it just rumours?

A: I really like the idea, especially since it’s extremely rare for German arthouse movies to have a sequel. We had more than 6 millions views on the trailer just from the US, so the interest for Freier Fall has grown to an international level. We have this huge audience from all over the world and lots of questions that still need to be answered, so getting the funding for a sequel would be great. Max Riemelt and me are definitely up for it if we can take a liking to the script and to achieve that the producers and writers need to raise enough money for developing a great story and for making the whole thing happen. It’s still a long way to go, though and the project needs as much support as it can get – there’ll be a crowdfunding campaign soon, so get involved, everyone!

Q: What was the craziest thing you’ve been through while acting?

A: Well, there’s always the good old house ban. We were in this shabby hotel while filming Freier Fall and had a little get-together after we were halfway through with the shooting. We had a few drinks too many and partied until the early morning… until the hotel had enough and we have to pack our things and get going.

Q: In “Härte” you’re playing Andreas Marquardt – a man who’s been through a life of violence, abuse and hatred. What was it like to play that role?

A: It was extremely intense. Above all it was a very special honour to play Andreas – he’s a very authentic person who’s been through a hell hardly anyone of us can begin to understand. 

Q: What does Berlin mean to you?

A: Home. Family. Friends. At the same time it can also be stressful and create a longing for the countryside. It’s a bit of a love hate relationship.

Q: In what ways did you experience the change Berlin has underwent in the past 20 years?

A: At one point I was gone for almost a decade and realized that lots had changed when I came back. Just a few hundred meters from here my band used to jam in a little rehearsal space in some worn down backyard. Now the place boasts a 24 hours supermarket, a health care center and tourists everywhere!

Q: Which night clubs do you go to?

A: We usually party at someone’s flat and put on a quality DJ set to get us grooving through the night. Apart from that – Kater Holzig and Berghain are good choices to have a fun night out. 

Q: Can you recommend any restaurants for our readers?

A: My all time favourite is Jules Verne on Schlüterstraße, I’ve been going there for years – there’s no way I ever get tired of their Schnitzel. Not too far from here there’s the Antillo – run by real Italians, they cook some great food aswell.

Q: Favourite bar?

A: Don’t really have one. I was having a few drinks at Viktoriabar in Schöneberg the other day, that was pretty cool!

Insiders – Sarah Bowden

Sarah Bowden is an Australia-born actress, dancer and singer. She’s a real globetrotter but lost her heart to our beloved Berlin 7 years ago and we’ve been happy to have her ever since. Here she talks Berlin, the future of the entertainment scene and why Schöneberg is the place for her.

Q: Hey Sarah. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

A: I’ve been on the stage for the past 20 years performing in musicals and carbaret. You might ha-ve seen me on shows like Der Schuh das Manitu, Tanz der Vampire or We Will Rock You. Last summer I played in “Heller Wahnsinn” in the Varieté Wintergarten, now I’m hosting my own show there. I really like the Berlin carbaret scene!

Q: How did you end up performing anyway?

A: I had my first dancing lessons when I was 3 and it kind of just took off from there. My two brothers over in Australia also perform in musicals, but I don’t think it’s in our blood. My mother is a tax consultant and my dad is a construction worker…

Q: When and why did you come to Berlin?

A: I had this job here. We toured Germany and the first place I ended up in was Düsseldorf. It was horrible. I was about to pack my things and get back on the plane, but luckily we were scheduled to play in Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt soon. Those were a little better but still not really that inte-resting… it was only when I got to Berlin that I changed my mind. Berlin was different. I had the weird feeling of belonging here. I mean I was in London, Tokyo, Spain, Canada, New York but no place ever felt like home. Berlin did.

Q: Is there a special reason you’re living in Schöneberg?

A: After watching “Carbaret” with Liza Minnelli I just couldn’t help dreaming of moving to Schöne-berg one day. I’ve always related to the movie’s main character Sally Bowles, who lived in the area.. I’ve even been blessed enough to play Sally Bowles in a musical, so moving here and playing Sally really was a dream come true.

Q: How do you feel about performing in Berlin of all the places?

A: Everyone has this one dream. Some hope to jump out of a plane one day, others want to buy a Porsche, for me it was playing Sally in this city.

Q: How did the enterainment scene change over the last years?

A: It’s not only the entertainment scene, it’s the whole city that’s changed. The range of shows and possibilities the city offers has gotten much wider, so the people are for more open to new ideas. I feel the city itself is growing more commercial by the day. Just look at Ku’Damm today and 7 years back. You wouldn’t recognize it. The entertainment scene is trying to maintain the Berlin hype. The art of Berlin. They’re opening up to new concepts, for example when we did “Heller Wahnsinn” at Wintergarten. It was a mix of Burlesque, Carbaret and Musical.. they’re starting to melt into one performance.

Q: So you’re saying the future will bring some wild mix ups of different performance styles?

A: Exactly! Decades ago each discipline worked for itself. What we get to see now is a mix of Car-baret, live music, Aerial Arts, Hip Hop Dance, Musical,… there’s lots of differente influences. I can’t tell you where we’ll be in 10 years, but my guess is this trend will continue. That’s what makes it cool, the mixture.

Q: What are you up to in the next time?

A: I’ll probably be pretty busy with my new show Sally&Fred, which premieres on the 30th of March in Wintergarten. I’ll be performing alongside with Helmut Baumann. He’s a real god in the theatre scene and has brought countless international success stories to Berlin and adapted them for the German audience. He’s 76 and still rocking the stage!

Q: Where are you headed for a night out?

A: The Soho House has become the place to be I think. And in Schöneberg I’m still hanging out in the same bar that was my first very bar in Berlin: Victoria Bar on Potsdamer Straße. Some things never change, I guess…

Insiders – Stephan Hentschel

Stephan Hentschel is one of the most celebrated chefs in Berlin right now. He’s best known for his role as kitchen chef in the vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream (which scored a very decent 14 points in the Gault Millau) , not-so vegetarian Chipps at Gendarmenmarkt and newly opened Crackers on Friedrichstraße. He’s also co-owner of the Volta gastro-pub, famous for their delicious burgers. We immediately liked him.

Q: Hey Stephan. Us at Berlinagenten, we love meat. Nice and tender, tasty and juicy. How come you’re best known for cooking vegetarian dishes?

A: That actually wasn’t up to me. I’m not even a vegetarian. It’s the Cookie Cream’s concept to only serve tasty, vegetarian dishes and I’ve been up for the challenge for the past 7 years. In most restaurants you’ll get your standard rice or pasta dish when you’re inclined to avoid meat, but we’re trying to create vegetarian meals that are somewhat out of the ordinary. If you’re a meatlover, though, swing by at Chipps, Volta or our newly opened restaurant Crackers and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Q: What’s new about the Crackers?

A: The Crackers is located right below the Cookies Cream, so obviously we went for a different concept there. While the Cookies Cream is about fine dining, the Crackers provides a cozy, leaned back living room atmosphere, where you can just hang out with friends, have some food and enjoy a few drinks while you’re at it. It’s basically just one really spacey room that you enter through the kitchen, a mix between bar, lounge and restaurant. There’s DJ nights on tuesday, thursday and friday nights in the same halls that were once home to the Cookies… it’s not as dead as you might think.

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a chef?

A: I didn’t even know I wanted to cook in the first place! I originally started working on a construction site, but reality hit me pretty soon. Getting up early, all the while in the cold outside and just a few poorly made sandwiches for the day weren’t really my thing. At all. After that I did a traineeship at a 5 star hotel’s kitchen and realized I wanted to become a chef rather than a construction worker.

Q: Berlin wasn’t really buzzing on the culinary radar of Europe’s cities for a pretty long time. Why do you think that changed over the last years?

A: When I came to Berlin after finishing my training in 2001, there was about a handful of decent restaurants in the city. I think that transformation was due to Berlin drawing young and creative people from all over the world, more than a few of them being chefs. They came here to enjoy life, live their dreams and of course, go partying. The working hours in hotels don’t really fit these ambitions, so many of them took up jobs in restaurants, which eventually led to an increased creative quality on the menues. On the other hand there’s that great supply of organic food we’re getting now, the groceries come straight from the farmers to our restaurants. That led to a big increase of the food’s quality.

Q: Even though you’re still pretty young (33), you’re celebrated as Berlin’s next master chef and the culinary world craves for you creations. How do you handle the hype?

A: To be honest, the hype doesn’t really mean that much to me. I’m just glad I get to cook at my own restaurants and they’re going well, what more could I ask for? Sometimes people ask me if I didn’t want to have a Michelin star, but honestly, I don’t. We’re almost always booked up and having a Michelin star would just mean less guests.

Q: Less guests? I should have thought more guests!

A: Our costumers are a cool, leaned back crowd that come here because they feel we’re still down to earth and carry some of that urban Berlin flair. I feel the same way and don’t care for a star and I think neither do our costumers. Of course, there’s a few Michelin star chefs who are doing a great job at marketing and manage to create their own brand, anyway. In the end, I think the Cookies Cream is one of the top notch restaurants in Berlin, star or not.

Q: Agreed! Is there a dish you can’t stand?

A: I’m really not into food that’s still moving when it’s served. Or blue mold cheese.

Q: Where do you find our inspiration?

A: I just have a look at the groceries, really. There’s about 12 different farmers that I regularly visit and we’re talking through what can be planted or harvested soon and then I just kind of go from there. But my personal favourite is the classic french cuisine. I’m a bit of a potato-boy.

Q: The Cookies Cream is located right above the former Club Cookie. Did you often encounter party zombies that would swing by after dancing a whole night through, seeking to refill their vitamin tanks?

A: Nah, they mostly swung by in the evening, before they became party zombies. Our light fares are a solid choice for a pre-party meal. Lots of vitamins and easy on the stomach, gets you through the night every time. The next morning people are more inclined to pay their tributes to the Chipps, where they can get hearty English meals to deal with the hang over.

Q: Let’s talk clubbing. Do you often pay hommage to the famous Berliner Technoschuppen (techno clubs)?

A: I used to be a real Berghain-kiddo. Even back then, when it was still called Ostgut. I’m a huge fan of electronic music and I’m really into techno and house parties. You’d often find me at Kater Holzig, about:blank or sometimes the Watergate. Then there’s that great underground techno party culture you’ll only find in Berlin… not always strictly legal, but guaranteed to blow your mind away.

Q: Which other restaurants can you recommend? Apart from yours, obviously. 

A: I like to hang out in the Prater Biergarten on sunny days and have some classic Schnitzel along with a cool beer. Hard to beat! Other than that, there’s the Cocolo Ramen on the Gipsstraße, definitely worth a visit.

Alright! Thanks for taking the time, Stephan, we’ll see you soon!

Insiders: Berlin Legends – Lagerfeld von Xberg

Be aware, folks, this month’s interview definitely is the craziest one we’ve done yet. Nothing for the faint-hearted, either. This story’s protagonist has worked on more than 300 films and once planted a bomb in a Paris hotel room. It went off. This interview will take you on a ride – an exclusive behind the scenes ride into a real treasure cave of the Berlin art scene.

It all began at a busy intersection in Berlin Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg = Xberg). Freezing our butts off in the typical Berlin cold of the winter, we were waiting to be picked up by our very special interview partner of the month. All we knew was when and where to wait. No address, no names, strictly anonymous. He usually doesn’t invite guests into his atelier and he usually doesn’t give interviews, either, but somehow we managed to get a hold of him. Don’t ask how.

And then, there he was. Lagerfeld von Xberg. We walked over to his side of the street and were greeted by a broad smile. It wasn’t quite enough to distract from the colourful jeans (self painted), the distinctive hair cut or several scarves loosely tingling from his neck, all in different colours. The friendly wrinkles around his eyes seemed timeless, and though well beyond 60 years, the sparkle in his eyes still burned with energy and curiosity. Eagerly we followed him through the depths of several Kreuzberg backyards, slowly loosing orientation – night comes early in Berlin this time of the year and we found ourselves surrounded by a wall of grey slab buildings.

If what happened so far felt out of place, we were in for way more than that. We entered his flat. Immediately our brains started putting up a protest against the sudden visual impact the blur of colours had on us. The walls and floor plastered with collages of naked women, dressed women, graffitis, paintings, tags, posters, plaster figures. In the middle of the room ten partly molten barbies dangle down from the ceiling, body parts sticking in all directions. The upper body of a plaster figure next to us obviously required a caesarean section, the head of a barbie doll sticking out of its bloody belly. The life sized plaster bear at the opposing wall seems to be waiting. To start pissing in a bucket located right under his crotch. What was all this? It was time to start asking questions, but… where to begin?

Q: Hey Lagerfeld. Who are you and… what is it you’re doing here?

A: I’m a living being. I’m Lagerfeld von Xberg. You know, Lagerfeld of Paris loves Chanel, Lagerfeld of Xberg loves Chantal.

That much was obvious. His shirt depicted a woman with a mask on, pulling down her shirt that said “Chantal” in the direction of her bare vagina. Lovely.

Q: Right. And why do you call yourself “Lagerfeld”?

A: I once worked for Karl Lagerfeld and I think he really is a great, inspiring person. An idol of human nature. But me, I never chose to be Lagerfeld. Apparently I talk a lot like him. I mumble a little, so folks started calling me Lagerfeld. I also really liked Dennis Hopper. He had that aura of greatness and was a great guy to work with, very professional.

Q: I see. So how did all this begin? What are your roots?

A: When I was 7, a military doctor removed my tonsils by force. He tore them out, no anaesthesia. When I was 10, I was put in a nunnery with deaf and retarded children… the problem was, I was neither. I spent 10 years there, involuntarily. After I survived that, I became a window shop decorator for the KaDeWe

Henrik and me shot ourselves careful sight glances. That was some heavy stuff. But it didn’t explain how he ended up here, or how he had done 300 films, or destroyed a hotel room in Paris.

Q: So how did you end up in the film making business?

A: There once was this group of film makers sitting next to me in a restaurant. They talked about some issues they had with the special effects and pyrotechnics for their movie, so I offered help. Next thing I know, I’m working on the requisites for a movie by Fred van der Kooij. After the movie was released, Studio Babelsberg called me and asked if I wanted to do the special effects for a big cinema production they were making. But there was a requirement. They asked me: “Have you ever done cinematic movies before?”. So I replied “Hell yes I have”.

Q: But that was a lie, it was only your second movie!

A: Of course it was. I never actually said I was pyrotechnist either, they just thought so. Technically I was always very close to hearing the prison door slam shut behind me, but things never went wrong.

Q: Luckily! Like that one time, when you set off a bomb in a Paris hotel room. What was that all about?

A: I received a call, asking if I could detonate a hotel room in Paris. Hotel Marceau was planning to renovate their premises and they came up with the idea to allow several artists to reshape the interior of the rooms and create something unique before starting the renovations. Nah, I said, that’s a little over my head. I mean, come on. Then Gregor Hildebrandt came up to me – he was one of the artists given a room to express his vision – and had me convinced I was the only person for this job. So… I built a bomb. And took it to Paris.

Q: Jesus. Did you inform the authorities that you built a bomb for an art project?

A: Well… I meant to, really. But somehow that didn’t work out, so I smuggled the bomb to Paris on a train. The authorities in Paris never knew there was going to be an explosion, so I made my escape right after it went off. Just to make sure I wouldn’t be arrested.

Q: Good thinking. So… what are all those barbie dolls doing here? 

A: They were requisites for a movie we made. My daughters handed me their old dolls and I decapitated them, melted them and tore them apart. For the movie of course. Went okay, they don’t scream, don’t mind anyway and never once complained.

Q: So you didn’t do that because you think that Barbies are bitches or something, right?

A (laughs): No, my bitches are over in the kitchen. Cut them out of calendars. My cooking bitch, my dish washing bitch, my shoe cleaning bitch and my turn-me-on bitch. But the turn-me-on bitch is sitting in the corner as I don’t want her to turn me on all the time.

At first we thought it was all a little (read: very) astonishing, but listening to this old jolly soul tell his story, all the while with an amused twinkle in his eyes, you couldn’t help it but to like this guy.

Q: What does Berlin mean to you?

A: Life, I guess. But for me, Berlin – that’s Kreuzberg. You can be whoever you want here, no one is going to judge you. You can be a human here, no games, no pretending. I worked in the KaDeWe and was always glad to come back home, I was in trendy Mitte and was always glad to come back home, I visited my grandchildren in the Schwarzwald and was always glad to come back home. The people in the other districts, they’re destroying their city. They’re just not human anymore. Of course you can reside in other districts, but you can’t really live there.

Q: Do you have a few tips for going out in Berlin?

A: I’ve never been much of a clubber. Last party I went to was the Berlinagenten anniversary party, but that was an exception. Do you like coffee, though? Every day I have one at my favourite Italian restaurant, Il Casolare or the Bistro Bar Bateau Ivre, an artists’ coffee bar at Heinrich Heine Platz. They’re very good and all know me by name. The owner’s name is Lauren.

Q: Thanks for the tips. What are your hopes for the future?

A: In my heart I always felt I really was a woman, so I’m looking to have an operation soon, where I get my… well, they’re going to cut something off. I know I’m 64, but I’m starting a new life now. I’m also working on my own project now, a movie about my fate. It’s still top secret, but you’ll like it.

Thank you, Lagerfeld von Xberg, I’m sure we will. We’re glad to have you around. Stay as you are!

Insiders: Berlin legends – Britt Kanja

Berlin always drifts somewhere between left and right, rich and poor, success and failure. We’re a city of thousand faces and maybe the most prominent face over the years has been that of our nightlife. Ask anyone who’s been to Berlin and they will gladly tell you, the never-ending parties are beyond good and evil. Some might even tell you about the many stars and legends that have once shaped the surface of our nightlife to what it is today. One of those stars is Britt Kanja and we talked to her about the craziest parties in Berlin, the meaning of life and the secret of her seemingly everlasting beauty.

Q: Hey, Britt. As you know we have many international readers who might not be so familiar with the Berlin nightlife and its history, so let’s start from the bottom. Could you tell us about the infamous 90° club that you and Bob Young founded in the 80’s?

A: Bob and I were both very life-affirming and full of joy. But no matter where we went, it was never quite what we longed for, so it wasn’t long until we began throwing our own parties. In the beginning it was just a theme party called Tanzstelle in various different locations, but eventually it came as it had to come and we founded our own club, called the 90°. Life was very intense back then. Our parties went on forever, the nights became days and days became nights again. The vision of beauty united us and we were always glad to find like-minded spirits. The kind of people who realized that fame was just a game and you’ll only ever be a winner at it if others win as well. 

Q: You toured Europe as a professional dancer and lived in San Diego for five years before coming back to Germany. Did that have an influence on your idea of giving birth to a new nightclub?

A: I really had a cultural shock when I got back to Berlin in the 80’s! Many people had left the city and others moved in, often from smaller villages. They moved in for financial and political reasons, to study or to avoid being drafted. I studied nutritional science back in the US and I looked like blossoming life itself when I returned, but that really wasn’t en vogue here. It was cool to look sick and broken and walk around with your nose high up in the air, feeding on your own arrogance. So the vision of beauty that we brought to the table was something completely new.

Q: So where did you find your inspiration?

A: Berlin was the gay center of the world in the 60’s and the nightclubs and coffeebars were buzzing with life. When I returned home in the 80’s, it had changed into a city with a very low spirit for community. That was the time I figured that any place I came back to, people rejoiced and told me how everything had fallen apart while I was gone. It was right then that I realized I have always had the gift of connecting people and bringing them together, so founding a nightclub was an easy choice to make.

Q: You must have seen some really, really wild parties over the last decades. Which of them were really off the hook?

A: The style of our parties always was something between genius and chaos. The guests were a mixture of all ages, hetero, gay and androgyne. You know all these bad taste parties people always go to and have a blast? We were the first ones to pull that trick out of the hat. 20 years ago we threw the first „Bad Taste Is Back Again“ party in Berlin and it was mindblowing! Celebs from around the globe joined in. Unforgettable memories, especially since everyone was dressed up like in the 70s, no matter which background they had.

Q: That does sound marvelous. Are there any oth-

A: Wait, I remember an even better party! Berlin, 1995. All the stars and politicians were invited to the unveiling of the Reichstag and half of Europe’s Royalty booked flights to Berlin to become part of this legendary happening. And so we threw an immense party the night before in Café Moskau. The theme was Indian night and all the celebs were dressed up as Indians, turbans and everything. That might be one of the most legendary nights I remember.

Q: So you’re saying Berlin’s most popular public figures got totally wasted and the next day it was off to the historic unwrapping of the Reichstag?

A: Yes, exactly! And just think of it, everyone wearing those hilarious indian costumes.

Q: At the unwrapping?

A: No! At the Café Moskau, the former club-restaurant for priviliged people during the communist era. We were the first to bring back life into the venue after the political turnaround, the fall of the Wall. The army had to clear the place of wiretaps first, though. The place was Honecker’s entertainment „palace“ in the GDR, featuring many private séparées and hidden rooms. I can only imagine what kind of things Honecker did at the Café back then. Hence all the wiretaps! Then we found the biggest surprise yet. The basement was filled with pineapple tins, up to the ceiling. Hundreds of them, no, thousands! What a view that was!

Q: Haha, maybe Honecker was secretly undertaking pineapple experiments in the basement. But enough of the parties – you’re a woman of many talents. What else do you do?

A: I designed a collection for a knitting manufactory, I did the choreography for the fashion show as well as the production of the fashion catalogue. After I retired from working in the 90° club I started studying graphics- and film cutting programs at a media academy and did a traineeship at the Circus of Now. Nowadays I spend a lot of time painting. I am currently working on an art exhibition – each piece consists of three pictures and covers a whole wall and there’s five all together. So far it has me a 3/4 year and it’s not even finished.

Q: That sounds great, you’re still going strong! How did you manage to stay so fit, mentally and optically?

A: Life offers us nuts, but cracking them is up to you. Everyone faces their challenges and some people become desperate over time. That’s bound to make you old, grey and bitter. You’ll only get in trouble if you run away from your challenges instead of facing them and I prefer clarity over bitterness. I’m constantly trying to broaden my horizon and I feel I’m expecting less and less and am able to give more and more. We’re living in tough, exploitative times but it’s up to you to make the best out of it and stay fit.

Q: Truer words have never been spoken! Last question – could we please get an insider tip for a wild night out in Berlin?

A: If you’re a little crazy and tolerant and maybe a little gay, too, then I know just the spot. It’s an underground party called Chantal’s House of Shame and it takes place every thursday. As excessive and uninhibited as it gets these days. There’s a wild mix of gays and heteros and things can go from normal to hunky-dory in a split-second. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you are, everyone’s welcome.

Q: Any last words?

A: There’s hope for humanity. You. It’s in each and every one of us. Fill up the treasury of your beauty. Only when the power of love overcomes the love for power, this world will find its peace.

Thank you, Britt! We wish you the very best and we hope to see you in Berlin’s spotlights for many years to come!

Insiders: Bastian and David from Berlin Dreamboys

This month we have two of Berlin’s finest high quality men strippers with us – Bastian and David from Berlin Dreamboys. They’ve successfully been rocking the business for a while now and offer shows that aren’t only sexy but add some artistic flavor. 

Looking at you guys makes it apparent why so many women (and men!) are delighted you two became strippers. Are your girlfriends just as glad?

B: You only have to find a woman who’s confident enough to cope with the job. One of us already found that woman, the other one’s still looking for the right one.

When did you decide to perform professionally and what made you choose pole dancing?

D: I’ve been into sports for as long as I can think, really. I started doing breakdancing when I was 14, which was bound to lead into the nightlife sooner or later. Young Bastian and even younger David eventually figured they would need money, too, so making the step towards stripping was an easy choice. But don’t get me wrong, it was never only about the money! It’s always been important to us to incorporate our shows with charm, acrobatics and of course, dancing.

What was your biggest success in your career so far?

B: After two years of hard work we were given the chance to perform in Las Vegas, alongside with the famous Chippendales. And David here actually won the german pole dancing championship not too long ago!

What does „sexy“ mean to you?

D: I feel like I’m mostly finding things sexy that seem just out of reach. I mean, a lot of things can be sexy. For example our lifestyle! How you interpret that is up to you.

To get a well-trained, thoroughly muscular body like yours, you surely have to spend a LOT of time in gyms. How often do you work out and what do you do to stay fit?

B: Daily exercise is anchored as firmly into our daily lives as brushing your teeth is for others. But it really isn’t about how many hours a day you work out, continuity and efficiency are much more important factors. The possibilities are virtually endless. Summing it up, I’m doing fitness, dancing, breakdance, acrobatics, wakeboarding, snowboarding… the list is long. 

Straight up – at your shows you probably meet a whole lot of slightly intoxicated ladies, who’re keen for more than just a men strip. Have you ever considered committing a folly?

D: We have a reputation to lose. It’s important to stick to your morals. If you’re willing to do this job professionally, that’s a no-go.

I’m sure with the uninhibited and enthusiastic atmosphere that comes with your shows, you surely have some amusing anecdotes in stock. Care to share?

B: Well, now you mention it, taking a closer look it surely is funny that we’re the last ones the future bride on a bachelor party has the chance to get laid by… with permission! And by laid I of course mean the part where the lady is positioned on a cloth so we can do a handstand on top of her.

Due to your profession you often get in touch with other well-trained, good-looking men… ever though about switching sides?

D: I think you’re either homosexual or you’re not. It’s definitely not the case with me so I haven’t given attention to that thought. But in our scene it’s actually a totally normal and well accepted topic and dancing for men isn’t something out of the usual for us.

No one here wants you to ever quit dancing – but do you have other wishes and dreams than stripping for the future?

B: Well, that’s quite a list. We’re actively following one big goal at the moment: We’re creating Europe’s best men strip group. It’s called „SIXX PAXX“ and will be featured on German television soon („Supertalent“ on RTL). See what surprises are in store.

You’re from Berlin – what’s Berlin’s essence for you?

D: We both agree on that one: Berlin is a lifestyle. And at the same time the most awesome city in the world… period!!!

Are there any clubs, bars or cool restaurants you can recommend in Berlin?

B: We don’t really have any favourite clubs, the coolest club is Berlin itself. If you’re keen for some good arabic food check out Marooush near Kurfürstendamm. We’ve also had some wild parties in the Kitty Cheng Bar… but if you’re just looking for some quality time with friends and want to have a beer at a really nice location, check out the rooftop terrace of the House of Weekend!

Thanks for taking the time. We hope to see you perform (again) soon!

Insider fashion: Sevil Uguz from LNFA

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As it is Berlin Fashion Week from July 8 to the 13th, we have chosen to feature a young woman tasked with getting Berlin’s fashion’s hippest and brightest out in the world. Sevil Uguz runs the fashion-forward store and PR agency LNFA (Live Networking for Fashion & Art) that champions young designers in their fabulous store/PR agency in the funky Bikini Berlin. She started her career as a editor in chief of a Blogzine named Bloggers Melting Pot.

Here’s Sevil to fill us in her concept and Berlin Fashion Week.

Tell us about your company and what you do?

We’re run as a shop, event platform and agency for young fashion designers. The LNFA Shop cherry picks the best designers such as  Esther Perbandt, Ewa Herzog, Aurelia Paumelle, and Trippen. We support young fashion designers with our work in sales, public relations and advertisements.

Who are your clients and bit about them?

We have a mix of clients - young and older, hipsters and tourists, who love seeking out new fashion. For some, it’s first time they discover this kind of designer clothing. We serve the kind of people  who love a lot of diversity in their wardrobes. We give them the option to jump on board with the young designers before they get too famous!

Is there a Berlin style?

The three words I’d use are brave, innovative and always changing.

Tell us a bit about your store at the Bikini House and how it came about?

I was asked to open the store. We have lots of events and the idea was to build a platform to showcase the newest trends and fashion designers.

How has the fashion scene changed over the last few years as Berlin has become a fashion hub?

The Fashion scene is getting harder. As a PR Agent I know there is a huge amount of talented competition. The biggest problem is that building the scene when many the upcoming designers leave Berlin for London, Paris or New York. For example, Achtland and Patrick Mohr. Fortunately though, it’s such a creative city there are new fashion unknown designers in the wings.

What are you most looking to at Fashion Week?

I can’t wait to see the Marina Hoermanseder & Esther Perbandt shows. And of course, the parties!

What is the best party?

When you’re working it’s hard to say which is the best party.  We usually only get a sneak peak of every party, as there is always another event waiting.

Has there been an influx of worldwide interest in the last few years?

There’s definitely a lot more interest from other countries and their fashion press. I meet a people from all around the world, during the last fashion week. With a lot of hard work, Berlin could be the next Paris for fashion.

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Insider – Niko Thomas, Model Booker

Meet Niko Thomas, head-booker for McFIT Models. Here he talks fitness, models and staying out late.

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Berlin is known for its partying, rather than its gyms, how important is working out and keeping fit to Berliners?

As a real Berliner, I can tell you that I’m seeing a change in Berlin’s approach to sports and fitness. There seems to be more of shift towards keeping fit now and this is a change from the years before when more of a focus was on going out and getting wasted every night. I will accept that this may just be my age, but nevertheless, I’ve noticed it.

What is your favourite Saturday night out? 

My perfect Saturday night would start with meeting up with my close friends and heading somewhere for dinner, such as Beef Bar, Soho House or Grill Royal (I can thoroughly recommend all three). After a good meal, it’s normally on to drinks at Bar Saint Jean or somewhere similar and we see where the night takes us.

So you’re head booker at McFIT MODELS. What does your job entail?

Essentially my work involves liaising with both models and the clients that want to book them, using my skills and expertise to help form an agreement from both sides. I also need to assist in the negotiations for the budget and rights involved in each campaign. Naturally this budget needs to be reasonable and I have to ensure every cost is justified. I have to communicate with other departments to think of ways that the company can become stronger, better and more innovative. It’s a very hands-on role that means I have to be personable at all times. I need to be approachable to everyone in the booking team to ensure the company gets the best out of our department and the resources at our disposal.

Tell us about McFIT MODELS concept? The concept is pretty simple. The only criteria for modelling with us is that you are a member of McFIT, look after your body and look healthy.

Do you practise what you preach? How many times a week at the gym or sports, are you? 

Personally, I really enjoy going to the gym and working out. You’ll usually find me there 3-4 times a week. I really do feel that you need to lead by example but not only that, I want to reap the physical and mental benefits of exercise. In moderation, there can only really be benefits to keeping fit.

What is your biggest campaign that you’ve booked?

I don’t really want to give preference to a certain campaign by calling it bigger than the others. Every campaign counts and we feel proud with each and every campaign we run. Of course, one day we would love to have world famous clients such as Gucci or Nike, but we have already ran campaigns for some of the biggest companies, Reebok for example. We also assisted in the latest AXE campaign, which was very exciting to be part of. On the whole though, the impetus is on finding the right models for the right client. That is our main aim.

Where would we find you on a Sunday morning at 9am? At a fitness class or at Berghain? Be honest!

To be honest, at 9am on a Sunday I am definitely going to be in my bed. I am much more of a night owl than an early bird.

Have you got a tip for something extremely fit and healthy to do in Berlin? For example, indoor climbing wall or a cycle ride around your favourite park etc?

Well, I just bought a new bike a few months ago and I’m really enjoying using that to explore more of the city. I normally start in Prenzlauer Berg – where I live, in the north of the city – and head south East through Treptow. Berlin is a city with lots of open public spaces, lots of lakes and parks and in the Summer the greenery really takes over. This is the perfect scenery for a bike ride in my opinion. The snow in winter may make for some pretty photos but if you’re planning a trip to Berlin, nothing beats summer time.

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Insiders – How do you do Nina Queer?

The world loves a drag queen, hence the stunning victory of Conchita Wurst at the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend. Germany’s own Conchita is the legend that is Nina Queer, who moved to Berlin in 2000. She is the name behind the bar ‘Zum schmutzigen Hobby’ and the monthly club night Irrenhaus at the Comet Club. Nina is also a pop star, who released the album Discopony, a DJ, an author and TV presenter. What can she not do?

First off, girl, how did you get to be so fabulous? What is your best tip for being gorgeous? 

Being fabulous is money thing. Wear the expensive shoes and get the rest for free…..

When and why did you come to Berlin? 

I was working as a waitress in Austria’s mountains. Every evening I was fucking around with German tourists. One of them had an unbelievable penis, so after his holidays in Austria, I visited him in Berlin in 2000 and never left.

How has the scene changed?

The big drug times are over. What the people want and need is LOVE now and they really love classic pop music at the moment.

You host many events, what is your secret to being so confident on stage? 

Always drink AFTER the show! That’s all. On stage, you have to be a star and not a victim.

Tell about the album you released? 

I do all my music work with DJ Divinity. He is a great producer for all the big German acts at the moment. Our thing together is maybe his project with the most art in it. Most of the times, I sing pervert German lyrics to extraordinary, exclusive house tracks. Like my hit ‘Bukkake’.

You are a girl of many talents. You’ve also released a book. What is it about? 

It’s a book about Berlin sex stories. If New York is the city that never sleeps, Berlin’s the city that always fucks!

You’ve had lots of celebrities at your events, such as Justin Timberlake and Heidi Klum, got any secrets for us? What were they like to work with? 

They were such easy guests! They came without any special wishes. Justin was a little bit shy – it’s 10 years ago that he visited me, so -he was very young this time. Heidi is like always very professional and friendly. The most fun I’ve had was with Beth Dito, Jürgen Vogel and Robbie Williams. We did things I’ll never talk about!

What kind of men do you like? 

Men with big dicks.

What kind of men like you? 

Men with big dicks.

Who is sexier, a man that is funny with a small penis, or, a man with a huge penis with no sense of humour?

Men with big dicks.

Any tips for a straight single girl like me to get laid in Berlin? The straight boys are so shy. They never approach me. Help!  

Get a lot of gay friends and go to straight parties with them. All the other boys will ask “Who is this bitch with these 7 hot boys?”

Thanks, right I need to get my gay on, right now. 

Insider … Rolf Scheider

He’s a very familiar face on German television with over 100 television shows, including Dancing with the Stars and Germany’s Top Model, under his belt in the last six years. Rolf Scheider invited Berlinagenten to his beautiful new Mitte penthouse apartment to get the inside scoop on Berlin, the social scene and Heidi Klum!

Welcome Rolf. Wow! Beautiful apartment you have here. How long have you been here?

Just two months! I’m in the middle of getting everything ready, as I’m appearing on the German television programme. You’ve should have seen it before! There were cartons everywhere! I moved to Berlin four years ago after living in Paris for years. I’d always spent a lot of time in Berlin, but now was the right time to move here. I feel very comfortable living in Berlin.

So prior to your TV career, you were a casting agent? 

I still am! I’ve been in the casting business for 35 years. My company has offices around the world - Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and Milan. We’ve cast for over 4000 campaigns across the world. 

How did you end a celebrity then? 

I’m not a celebrity really, darling!  If it was A to Z, I’m like X! When I was 50-years-old, a friend of mine told me that they were launching Germany’s Top Model and looking for judges. I’d been a model years ago, but hadn’t been in front of the camera for 20 years. She kept pestering me to go to the casting. Instead, I made a video of myself and then the day they received it, I was whisked off to the production office to audition and then I was cast. At the time, I didn’t know I’d even have to speak!

The show was a cultural phenomenon here in Germany. How did it your change your life?

It changed my life completely! It was like living in a bubble for two years. It’s easy to lose touch with reality. I got to travel all over the world from Singapore to Australia to Hawaii to Miami. People are very friendly and come and say hello, which is good for your ego, but naturally it was very strange to be on the U-bahn and suddenly be surrounded by people wanting to take your photo and post it like a trophy to Facebook! However, I just have to remove my glasses and nobody recognises me! It’s easy! On the negative side, my long established clients in Germany would think that I wasn’t in the casting business anymore. They’d seen in Australia on the television the night before and not realise it was shot months before. 

We often see you in the social pages on Berlin’s red carpet events. How do you have the stamina! 

For the first three years, I used to go out all the time. I felt like I had to go to every event, but I’m much more selective now. I get so many invitations that I could go to two events every night. I go out because I really like people. I like seeing my friends and experiencing new things and people. Berlin is a great city to go out in. 

Where do you go to relax?

I don’t relax. I don’t like to relax!  I think of television as my hobby. I was a judge on Austria’s Top Model. It was like getting treated like a star for seven weeks, which is very relaxing!  My normal day isn’t like this, so I really enjoyed it. I was put up in a suite in a beautiful hotel. I even had a chauffeur. My life partner lives in Paris and I find it a really relaxing city. I have my apartment there, so we go to the cinema, French restaurants and we also have a week in Brittany in the summer.

What is your favourite restaurant in Berlin?

I love a little restaurant in my neighbourhood called Der Hahn Ist Tot.  It’s great value at 20 euros for four courses and the people that run it are very friendly. I also frequent Borchardt and Grill Royal.

Where can we catch you having a drink? 

The terrace by the pool at Soho House in the summer or at the Paris Bar, which reminds me of being in Paris!

Sounds lovely, we’ll check it out. Thanks for your time Rolf. Kisses! 

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