I imagine that’s why, when you arrive at Berlin’s Tegel Airport, you are greeted by a sex shop. A full-on, whips and leather, sheathed and lubricated erotic supermarket.
As you exit Frankfurt’s many terminals, taxis advertising table-dance clubs carry you around the city. I hear it on good authority that during Karneval, Rheinlanders can have anonymous sex with whomever they like, as long as they are in costume. Bavarians don’t go that far in Fasching, nor God forbid, Oktoberfest. Perhaps we have a permanent case of Brewer’s Droop?
Arrive at an airport in Bavaria, and the scene is different. Munich Terminal Two, for example, soaks the atmosphere in cars and beer. Augsburg and Nürnberg, I notice, are the same. Airport sex shops, where you can find them, are tucked away discreetly, showing little but lingerie in their bare windows. Tellingly, you’ll find them near International Departures.
It sends a message to me: if you want to think about sex, in Bavaria, you ought to leave.
Of course, this is ridiculous. Bavarians think about sex all the time. Being human, they have to. How?
To answer this question, we must look to one of our neighbours. A certain Austran fellow, a Dr. Freud. He was a big fan of the concept of sublimation.
What do Bavarians think about when they really want to think about sex.? Where does sex pop up? And what does this do to our culture?
The meaning of passion
Raised a Catholic, I am no stranger to statues of Christ. Christ at the wedding turning water in to wine. Christ teaching children. Christ holding His hand vertical, side toward us, to give us His blessing. It’s tempting tot think that He will make the sign of the cross at us, except the sign of the cross hadn’t been invented yet.
Not until I came to Bavaria, did I see Christ buck naked, quite so often. He is scantily clad on the cross anywhere we find Him in the world, but Bavarians show His nakedness with great enthusiasm, and at every opportunity.
Easter weekend never ceases to amaze me in Bavarian churches. Come Good Friday, Christ is laid out in the tomb like David Beckham selling underwear. The cathedral at Regensburg becomes a temple to Eros, with its mood lighting and tomb that reminds me of a seventies bachelor pad. And a very hunky Him.
In German, it’s easy to overlook this relationship between sex, and the death of our Saviour. In other languages, including my own native English, Passion refers not just to the story of the death of Christ, but to an obsessive love. The German phrase Leidenschaft, which literally suggests an obsessive sickness, has trouble celebrating the sexual dimension in the way the word passion does. The sexual undertones, to me as German second language speaker, take a back seat.
Of course, we almost never see a woman in a suggestive pose in Bavarian church art. Presumably, in the Bavarian Catholic church, women are not required for sexual acts in the same way men are. If you catch my drift.
But this de-sexualising actually robs women, in many ways, of power and personal agency.
I asked everyone I could find for the name of a Bavarian feminist. Surely there must be one.
But no. Not a single person came to anybody’s mind. Even Barbara Stamm, the current President of the Bavarian Parliament, did not occur to them. As a member oft he CSU, she is unlikely to be campaigning for sexual liberty.
She, among a small group of women influential in Bavarian public life, must suffer a good deal of gender invisibility. I am told of the annual general meeting of a prominent Bavarian firm, where some shareholders asked about the annual report. The company did not address the question of its policies toward women, as was expected. The CEO replied with some indignation: they had taken these pages out of the report because the company wanted to preserve the beautiful Bavarian forests.
Bavarians and Boobs. A Love story.
What do Bavarian clothes say about Bavarian attitudes to the bodies they cover? Or fail to cover—for what clothes reveal tells us our true sexual priorities.
For a nation so devoted to sexual restraint, Bavarians have an unholy obsession with boobs.
The classic dirndl, as we all know, pushes breasts to a level of such prominence that it practically becomes a woman’s business card. Several of my female friends from abroad, who come from a less buxom gene pool, bemoan the fact that they cannot get the same result from a dirndl that the local lasses do.
Dirndls are also quite kind to a pair of generous hips, covering them in billows of fluffy linen behind which a stout pair of thighs can hide. It complements the figures of women of all shapes and ages. And to those on the thin side, the tight waist creates quite a voluptuous figure.
In many ways, this defines sexiness in Bavaria. The impression of fecundity. It’s improper to flaunt our sauciness, so let’s flaunt our fertility.
What does the male equivalent, the lederhose, say about our attitude to the Bavarian male? Forgive me if I speak from the heart—as a gay chap, it’s a matter of some interest.
Tracht, for men, is the most bustless form of dress on the planet. It underemphasises the chest. Sweaters and jackets are plain and collarless, and those silly bibs scarcely reach from pectoral to pectoral. From the waist up, male tracht is a non-event.
No, a good pair of lederhosen is all about the legs. What it does for a lad’s glutes and thighs is a joy to behold. And the flap in the front gives every man an impressive bulge…or at least leaves a lot of room, which your imagination can fill in any way it likes.
As I wait for a bag here at the airport in Munich, a gentleman in Tracht bends over to pick up his suitcase, and I’m taking just such a little trip in my imagination. Who needs Berlin?
ERRATUM: Boy, have I been slapped down on this one! First, I made a mistake about the location of the Love Parade. Then I made a mistake about the location of—yes—the Rheinland. And finally, that the sex shop I remember at Tegel has closed. Please find amusement where you can.