Mar 10, 2013

Rent Boys

Veteran kraut queer filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim may have directed over 50 films (counting short and feature-length works) before he turned 50-years-old, but he seems to be a much better documentarian than an idiosyncratic auteur of flamboyant fictional films. With his first breakthrough work being the filmic fag-on-fag bashing docudrama/militant movie manifesto It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971) aka Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt, as well as his peculiar poofter propensity for candidly covering gay-related topics that even the most AIDS-ridden of homos would not touch with a latex-covered stick, like in Men, Heroes and Gay Nazis (2005) aka Männer, Helden, schwule Nazis – an innately incendiary and iconoclastic documentary work chronicling the history of homo Hitlerites and their contemporary cock-sucking equivalents – Praunheim has proven time and time again that he is a seedy soldat of cinéma vérité sodomite history and his rather recent work Rent Boys (2011) aka Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo is no less brazen and authentically awe-inspiring. A documentary covering the history of male hustling in West Berlin’s busiest transportation center, Bahnhof Zoo train station – the superlatively slimy and sickening setting of Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1981) directed by Uli Edel – Rent Boys is another explicit and equally inexplicable documentary work from von Praunheim that undoubtedly works more against the queer cause he has dedicated his life to than it does to further fagdom in the public’s eye, but it is an important work all the same. Beginning with vintage news footage from 1965 at Bahnhof Zoo of a nerdy newscaster that looks like he could have been one of the real-life public sex offenders of Tearoom (1962/2007) presented by William E. Jones, Rent Boys soon reveals that the Berlin transport station has been a hotspot for homos and hustlers for nearly half a century. Flash forward to the present and the public prevalence of bought buggery at the Bahnhof Zoo has far from waned as even the German government has now stepped in to provide free sexual contraceptives and HIV tests to the hustlers, even to illegal aliens of the Turkish, Kurdish, gypsy, Romanian, etc. persuasion. Indeed, if anything has dramatically changed over the past couple decades regarding the dick-peddling boys of West Berlin, it is the complexion of their skin and the language they speak. Needless to say, if Uncle Adolf were alive, it would be hard to tell what he would be more infuriated by regarding Bahnhof Zoo; the number of Aryan boys pawning their asses or the number of unhinged untermensch taking over the trade and selling at a discount price. 

 The first central subject featured in Rent Boys is an indigenous German fellow named Daniel – a blockheaded 28-year-old man-boy that bears a striking to kraut queer filmmaker Michael Stock; the writer/director/actor of the nihilistic new queer cinema flick Prinz in Hölleland (1993) aka Prince in Hell – who got into gay-for-pay prostitution after realizing it was much easier to peddle his prick than it was to steal a car or rob a house. Like many of the hustlers featured in Rent Boys, Daniel is a self-professed heterosexual man who came from a broken home where his idiosyncratically insane mother forced him to literally eat the skidmarks out of his underwear as a young child as punishment, thus he naturally hit the streets and the rest is history. A man who lives a double life, Danny boy never let the mother of his child know that he lets old men blow him for a couple bucks on a routine basis. The next fellow featured in the documentary is a nauseatingly brain-damaged ex-hustler of pure gypsy blood with a permanently disgruntled face and narcotic-haze that goes by the name Nazif (“Miro”), who is best known for writing a book about the sometimes highs but mostly lows of the hustler life. Like many Romani children, Nazif was taught by his parents to steal and beg for money from foreigners, but by happenstance, he was approached in his youth by a prominent Berlin pedophile with the more than apt name “Kids Carsten” (apparently, a well known pedo in the Fatherland) who talked the boy into selling his body to him at the mere age of 12, thus ushering in his long career as a popular street queer. Now on methadone and barely mobile, Nazif has had an ostensibly hellish life that includes prison sentences, but while in jail he learned to write and wrote his hit autobiography on sold sodomy, thus he is doing relatively well when compared to his family members, who are more than a bit hostile to their son’s trade. When Nazif’s father learned of his prodigal son’s poofter profession, he forced his son to strip naked, poured lighter fluid on his body, and literally lit his ass on fire. Another gypsy from Romania named Romica came to Berlin and found he was able to support an entire family by going gay-for-pay, even if his wife did not like it at first (he is filmed in the documentary sitting next to his wife and baby son while he talks openly about his faux-fag flesh-peddling). Originally, Berlin just had German and some Turkish/Arab hustlers, but with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the eastward gates opened and gypsy and Slav rent boys began to flood the streets with on sale semen, thus further validating the fact that poverty and prostitution go hand-in-hand as depicted throughout Rent Boys. Ionel is another gypsy who came to Berlin thinking he would be stealing, begging, and/or playing music to earn an income but he became a dollar-an-inch man instead, thereupon earning a ton of bread, which enabled him to support his family and buy hip clothes, but he also faced violence from violent Romanians (Romani and Romanians have a perennial hatred of one another), which almost resulted in death when one stabbed him in the face and chest. Like most of his callboy compatriots, none of Ionel’s friends and family know about his dick-peddling profession as nowhere else in the world is it more dedicatedly decadent and anti-family than the EU, thus foreign people from more 'traditional' backgrounds, no matter how poor and defeated, tend to shun such behavior. Undoubtedly, the most tragic and plainly pathetic individual featured in Rent Boys is an exceedingly effete German fellow named Daniel René, who was routinely anally raped starting at age 8 or 9 by a janitor at a commie Eastern Berlin school. Over time, René became a virtual sex slave in a large pedophile ring (which was not busted until over a decade later) and was pimped out at Zoo station (only getting a 30% cut of the money he earned and giving the rest to his sodomite slave master), but when he became an actual adult at age 18, the poor boy was thrown away by his dastardly homo handlers as they found him to be far too old for their preteen/teen tastes. Out of everything, René was left most broken by the fact that he was eventually rejected by the pernicious pedos as virtually his whole life revolved around these infantile sexual inverts, thus he felt alone and abandoned.  Indeed, there is not a single male hustler featured in Rent Boys that does not have warped idea of friends and family.

 Needless to say, the life of a hustler is no life at all, and the same can certainly be said of the Johns that patronize them. Surely, one of the most interesting aspects of Rent Boys is interviews conducted with high-profile Johns, the most famous being Austrian actor/director Peter Kern, but a neo-leather-fag who wears a gimp mask is not far behind. The first artist/trick interviewed is a German photographer named “Master Patrick,” a flagrant fag photographer who claims to have an archive of over 100,000 candid photos of nude men (many of whom are hustlers) and who always wear a trademark leather S&M mask, thus never revealing his true identity, at least in the physical sense. Master P lives in the same neighborhood as the gigolos he buys sex from and his daily life seems to be the dream of a smutty queer romance novel, thus acting in stark contrast to the perennially lonely Peter Kern. A man who has starred in around a hundred films, including works directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Daniel Schmid, Walter Bockmayer, Christoph Schlingensief, Werner Schroeter, and Ulrike Ottinger, a director of films starring none other than Helmut Berger, and a popular cult figure in his homeland of Austria, Kern is not a fellow that one would assume was eternally unloved and plagued by loneliness but as he states himself in Rent Boys, “Who wants to sleep with a monster like me? I was always…Whether I weighed 140 pounds or, like now, 350, I was always the fatso.” As should not be a surprise to anyone who has seen his films, Kern rather bluntly confesses, “I made Gossenkind [“Gutter Child”], a film in which a father is married and has a son, but he has a penchant for boys. Good, the one he likes is 15, so he’s really a youth. The tabloid press wrote: “Peter Kern, Child Molester.” As soon as you touch the subject, you get pigeonholed. I can’t say I’m into children, but I can say I’m into youths between 16 and 22 years of age.” As an unmistakably morbidly obsese man whose bulging belly extends a couple feet blow his crotch level as if he were a gigantic human beanbag, Kern quite valiantly, yet vulnerably and pathetically, admits, “I’m so lonely, so alone. I long for a relationship. When someone just rests his head on my shoulder, I’m in seventh heaven. I want the moment to last forever. Just his head and quiet conversation…That’s not offered to me; I have to buy it. I have to pay someone to rest his head there. For another hour, 50 or 100 euros more…For me, it’s not about fucking anymore; I’ve had that.” Judging by Peter Kern’s rather recent film Blutsfreundschaft (2008) aka Initiation, it seems like Kern would like nothing more than to take in a derelict neo-nazi skinhead boy from a broken home and convert him to 'spiritual sodomy' and vapid LGBT politics. 

 Ultimately, Rent Boys is a work that proves that in any consumerist capitalist society where people put commerce over community and flesh over family, everything has a price, including one’s personal dignity and sexuality. The fact that someone would be so decidedly desperate as to ritualistically pawn their body to a papa poof for a small monetary profit yet still claim to be heterosexual is the height of senseless self-degradation and desensitization in a city suffering from a malignant sickness of the soul akin to spiritual syphilis.  Another interesting and insightful element of Rent Boys that I am surprised that Rosa von Praunheim decided to include is the sad and sordid personal story of pedo-ring victim Daniel René as it indisputably proves that, indeed, there are certain groups of homosexual pedophiles and pederasts who aggressively and criminally seek to ‘recruit’ and create members of the poisonous ‘preteen-penetrating tribe,’ thus proving that some segment of the gay male population may not have been born homosexuals but were reared into it via ravaging of the rectum at an early age by a pedophiliac sex predator as depicted in Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin (2004). Undoubtedly, if one learns anything from Rent Boys, it is that the life of a hustler is not nearly as ‘romantic’ as homophile auteur filmmakers like Gus van Sant (Mala Noche, My Own Private Idaho) and Bruce LaBruce (Super 8 ½, Hustler White) would lead one to believe. A mutually pathetic transaction between two equally pitiable people – one so desperate for money that, as a straight man, they will let a horny homo blow them for a couple bucks, and the other so sexually and/or romantically desperate that they have to buy it from shady street people that are oftentimes criminals (and have killed Johns and vice versa) – the realm of renting boys as depicted in Rosa von Praunheim’s Rent Boys is not only that of a very real yet semi-secret Sodom, but also an age-old part of human history that no one wants to recognize, not even many of the participants themselves. 

-Ty E

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