BERLIN — The talk here this weekend is all about how the “Fleischpeitsche,” or “meat whip” of a highly respected actor made a not completely shock appearance Saturday night on national television during a German version of a “Celebrity Survivor” type show.
The talk started as soon as the hour-long show The Jungle Camp, or officially, “Ich bin ein Star – Holt mich hier raus” (“I’m a star, get me out of here”) ended, about 11:15 p.m. It had been watched by one of every 10 Germans, meaning about 8 million viewers.
By Sunday morning, news organizations and websites from around Germany were, hmmm, covering the news.
So the “shock” came on several levels.
First, there was the fact that a national broadcast actually broadcast male full frontal nudity. Female nudity, or at least breasts, are so commonplace on German television that they don’t, uhm, bare (okay, bear) mentioning. Naked bits of women are frequently used on billboards and in prime time commercials. By the time the kiddies have allegedly trundled off to bed, the national airwaves are filled with show length sex chat ads featuring nude or nearly nude women. And once they’ve shown up, the Manga animated porn is never far behind.
But this was male nudity. Not that the cameras paid much attention to the rest of actor Winfried Glatzeder’s full front. The debut for came in a long, lingering scene of him showering, or really, washing his penis. This was something he had sneaked off to do before his campmates were awake, apparently for some privacy. Few well-scrubbed penis, or as the German press euphemistically and bizarrely, re-named it, “Fleischpeitsche”, have ever had less privacy, though.
Beyond the first shock was this: the penis belongs to Glatzeder. The Jungle Camp is a collection of mostly of B-list celebs, and when they are not B-List, they tend to C-list, or lower. In this camp, Glatzeder’s campmates include a model, a music television presenter, a soft porn star, a pop singer (not a pop star) and a 1980s Germany Playboy magazine cover-girl.
Glatzeder, however, is a bit of a movie star. In fact, he’s a bit iconic to many Germans. Those many Germans come from the old communist East. Glatzeder was Paul in one of the most beloved movies to come out of East Germany, The Legend of Paul and Paula. The movie, which came out in 1972, is a subtly politically subversive love story set in a divided Berlin. The film ran in one Berlin theater every night for 10 years.
And Glatzeder had other successes. He fled the East and made it to West Germany in 1982, and not long after starred in Rosa Luxembourg, the story of the communist workers hero who was drowned by state security in 1919 in Berlin’s Tiergarten, a central city park. After that, he even spent three years as a detective in one of Germany’s most beloved and critically acclaimed television series, Tatort.
His has been a long and successful career, which brings us the third shock: Just like the rest of him, his penis is 68. It’s a retirement age meat whip.
Which also brings up perhaps the biggest shock for many: Not so much that his penis was on television, but that it was on television during The Jungle Camp, meaning this intellectually interesting actor had agreed to do a decidedly lowbrow show.
Contemporary Germany, however, might have made his reasoning to make such a decision imminently understandable. Immediately, the comments began that showing off one’s penis on national television is simply the sort of thing expected from former Ossies, or East Germans.
This year marks the 25 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led quickly to the collapse of East Germany and unification of this nation. Yet, even a quarter century on, it seems that a favorite sport in the west if mocking the inferiority of those with whom they unified.
Wessies, or West Germans, love to point out that Ossies are always naked. When the sun is out, they’re naked in the forests, lakes and public beaches. There’s a school of thought that goes that with so many freedoms repressed by the communist government of the East, Ossies took what freedoms they could and embraced them. One of those was shedding clothes.
Another, which can be overheard as a positive at cafés where women chat in the East, and an animalistic negative where they chat in the West, is sex. In the East, they’re all for it, not so much in the West.
And then there’s the stereotyped “jammer-Ossies” the whiny Easterners who won’t do anything but complain.
Perhaps more innocently, there is this western notion that having spent decades deprived, since the wall fell, Ossies can’t stop eating bananas. Less innocent is the stereotype that everyone in the east supported the Stasi, the East German secret police and spy organization.
The fact that 25 years on, an aging eastern icon finds himself on reality television, and his penis exposed to a unified nation, might simply be showbiz. But it also might be a sign that a quarter century of unification hasn’t yet unified Germany quite enough.
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