Opinion
3 min

Why Berlin was making me feel like a prude

Discovering sex and kink in Berlin’s Schöneberg

In Berlin, the question wasn’t “are you kinky?” but rather “what kind of kink are you into?” Credit: wernerimages/iStock/Thinkstock

I was sitting in the darkroom of Mutschmann’s with Jörg and Albert, my new friends whom I’d met at a bar earlier in the evening. Mutschmann’s was a cruising bar in Schöneberg, the gay district of Berlin. The two had brought me there, insisting it was the most popular spot on Wednesdays because of its two-for-one drink special. It was also a “hard sex club,” as Jörg claimed. Upstairs it was a regular looking bar, but downstairs felt much more like a dungeon. It was gritty, dank and felt Euro-subterranean. Most bars in Berlin have active backrooms like this, promoting a kind of sexuality that makes even someone like myself feel prudish.

The three of us were sitting in the dark next to a series of fuck benches, having a casual conversation about dating life in the Berlin. Jörg, 28, said that it was impossible to find a boyfriend in a city like this because everyone just wants to fuck. Romance is dead, so now he just wants to fuck too. I argued that the same could be said for all cities. It can be hard to find someone special, but they’re out there if you’re open to it.

While Jörg was proving his case with an anecdote about his last boyfriend, someone who was being fucked a few feet away started moaning, “Ahhh . . . ahhh!”

Jörg stopped mid-sentence and turned his head. “AHHHHHHHH!” he yelled back. 

“AHHHHHHHH!”

“AHHHHHHHH!” It was like they were playing Marco Polo.

A larger crowd was forming around the fuck benches, blocking the hallway completely. Albert went over without saying a word and pushed his way to the middle, disappearing into the mass.

Now multiple people were moaning. Albert may’ve been one of them.

“Ahhh!” Jörg groaned again, but this time closing his eyes and running his hands down his face. He was a nice enough guy (to me anyway), and I did find it amusing how casual the whole scene was, but he was starting to get a few dirty looks from the onlookers. It was making me uncomfortable.

“I’m going to go and explore,” I said, excusing myself.  

“Yes. Please, go have fun.”

I immediately got lost as I moved through the narrow passageways of the cavernous basement. There was a lot of sex down there though, mostly in group formations: threesomes, foursomes, a six-pack. Although some men were wearing sports gear, rubber or leather, the sex itself was quite tame.

There was a lot of bareback sex happening, and a lot of bottoms not seeming to care about who, or what, was fucking them. I’ve seen a lott of bareback sex since arriving in Berlin, and it seemed as though they were less concerned about HIV and STIs than we are in North America — publicly, anyway. 

To be honest, a small part of me was jealous that I too couldn’t be as carefree about sex. Even though I’m on PrEP, I wasn’t comfortable enough to bareback in a group setting.  

I went to the main bar upstairs, grabbed another drink and sat at a table by the DJ, who was dressed in soccer shorts and knee high socks. He was tapping his right foot to the hard techno music which was coming out of the speakers. Though most of the patrons were fully clothed, there were some men roaming through the bar with their cocks hanging out, rock hard. 

It suddenly occurred to me why it was that I felt like such a prude. It’s not that they were doing anything that doesn’t happen in North America, but they did it so much more naturally than us. They were unapologetic and completely open.

It also occurred to me that in places like Toronto or New York, kink is seen as somewhat radical or transgressive. But here, it seemed as though kink was accepted as another aspect of human sexuality and, essentially, a given. The question in Berlin wasn’t “Are you kinky?” but rather, “What kind of kink are you into?”