What usually happens at a BDSM convention
Nights in the kitkat club : "If you let people in in normal clothes, only normal things will happen"
The interview takes place in the Kitkatclub, on a Friday evening before the Corona closing time. Since 2007 the club has resided in an unadorned complex at the Heinrich-Heine-Straße underground station. Simon Thaur, 59, a wiry bald man with an intense look, and his partner Kirsten Krüger, 53, an awake little woman with a creaky timbre, are sitting on a bench in the crooked basement of the club. The walls are painted with comic sex scenes, on the floor confetti glows in the black light. Construction noise booms again and again from a neighboring room, another dance floor is to be opened soon, a new bar is to be set up.
The party is about to start, many of which won't be there until lockdown occurs - but nobody knows about it yet. Thaur made one thing clear from the start: "You can say, after all, I'm a restaurateur". Kirsten Krüger consistently calls him by his last name, so we do it too.
Thaur, allegedly you have been to the club every Saturday since Kitkat was founded in 1994.
Simon Thaur: In fact, I've only been absent 19 times in 26 years.
Kirsten Krüger: Did you write that down?
ST: I can remember that. Sure, I'm not always there during the week, that was only the case at the beginning, when the club was under construction. But I still look forward to going out on Saturdays.
KK: What I'm really proud of: There hasn't been a weekend since 1995 that we weren't up. Also, I still think it's not wise not to go out. Even if you have children. The contacts are different at night. Otherwise you are really only in day-to-day life, full of necessities, there is a reason for everything. At night there isn't necessarily a reason for what you do. I think that makes sense. To be able to move freely. Once a month, minimum. Otherwise there will be a problem somewhere else at some point.
The unbridled hedonism is what made the club so legendary. An estimated 2,000 people in imaginative costumes, in uniform or leather dress, in vinyl dress or naked, plus electronic beats - whether in Kitkat you only escalate on the dance floor or spontaneously come together on a playground, on a swing, on a gynecological chair for other physicalities , is not important. What feels good is allowed.
Sure, before Corona there were also newer sex-positive parties with a similar concept with Pornceptual and House of Red Doors. In the Kitkat, however, the excess between techno and sex was invented. First, in 1994, in the rooms of the Turbine on Glogauer Straße, later in the Metropol on Nollendorfplatz, in the Schöneberger Malzfabrik - and since 2007 in the rooms of the Sage Club on Köpenicker Straße.
Thaur, you once wrote that you founded the club in 1994 because you wanted to "beat the drum yourself".
ST: Think of it this way: If you come from a small town, there are three bars. It will never occur to you to go beyond what is convention. If you were to take off your clothes, you might be kicked out.
KK: You got kicked out, remember? In Innsbruck, in the early nineties, because you only wore an undershirt.
ST: In Austria, that is of course the prehistory. In my youth they were so narrow-minded that anything that was a little freaky was immediately sorted out. That definitely played a role in what I've put together over the years. What you want to do differently. You usually go somewhere, meet someone, tell a bunch of crap just to get across somehow ...
KK: ... and then you go to the bathroom or home together.
ST: Exactly, step one, step two, step three, until you might end up in bed and then maybe get married or do something else. I always wanted to see it a little cooler, more cosmopolitan. I had a need for unspopular spirits because I was always an outsider myself.
In what way?
When I was just 17 I left home to become a professional musician, everything didn't work out that way, then I wanted to become a comic artist, traveled around the world for years, seven times in India, and also spent a long time in Greece and Israel , Italy and England lived. Later I founded a travel community with the whole classic free love program as an ideological alternative to Stino relationships. But that quickly became too tight for me.
Simon Thaur was born in 1960 in Tyrol into a family of musicians. After years of traveling and founding the Kitkat Club, he ran an alternative porn film label together with Kirsten Krüger from 1999 to 2008, which, with its sometimes borderline extreme films, was one of the largest in Germany. He is currently shooting experimental pornographic music videos for his own songs under the title “Nude Poetry”, weird indie rock - last year he won the prize for the “trashiest video” at the Berlin Music Video Awards with a clip.
Thaur and Krüger moved to Berlin together in 1993. She sees herself a lot less as a front woman - she has the store and her people, as can be seen on the interview evening, fully under control. But she would actually prefer not to be in public, photos are also uncomfortable for her. Her influence is decisive - she and Thaur have been doing all projects together for 30 years. And the hedonist town, which Kirsten Krüger is currently building on an old hut area in the Harz Mountains - more is just not yet ready to be said - could, with its large outdoor areas, offer a perspective for a time when events in narrow indoor spaces have become problematic.
How did your story start?
ST: At some point it was clear to me: I needed a grown person around me who could think more freely.
KK: Thaur and I met in Munich at the end of 1989. At that time I tried to do my Abitur. In order to finance my living, I worked privately as a nurse for a woman who couldn’t move any of her limbs. I lived with Inge, who comes from the same town in Tyrol as Thaur. She was bald, which he cut her, wore red lipstick and wanted to realize herself as an artist in the big city. I only had one room with a sink, and we slept alternately in one bed for a year. Inge was expecting a visit from Thaur, she picked him up at the train station and disappeared because she had a date that evening. Thaur was standing in my room with his travel bag. And I'm completely stupid next to it. That's how it was: Sex guru and world traveler meets me.
ST: In 1992 we went to Goa together. There were a lot of freaks, we tried to have a no-limit party - actually an orgy. There was a lot of discussion, according to the motto: Actually, you really have to do that, that would be a revolution! But then no one came, no one dared to go out of their way somehow. I tried that a second time, and the third time it even worked because it turned out to be an ecstasy party - but that was too stupid for me.
KK: It's about the leap into the unknown, into a world that everyone actually wants: into fulfillment. If people only achieve this when they have intused some substance - that won't work.
ST: Then that's not a mental, reflected jump. I think it's important to actively expand your stamina, with a clear mind, not carried away by any substances.
What leaps in consciousness did you want to experience?
ST: Psychology and self-reflection have always been big topics for me. And that always includes sexuality. One of my trips was sex in public. We'd been walking around like this for a long time, me in leather pants and an undershirt, Kirsten half-naked in tights ...
KK: That was going out in a daring guise, not naked!
ST: The first time you wore such a black body, which would totally bore me today. At that time we were sweating: Can you do that? In Berlin at that time there was the Red Cross Club, later the Ex-Kreuz Club, in today's Boros bunker. A friend told us about it: Hey, there is a shop where you can have sex. We went there and did our thing. We didn't even notice that the others were relatively cautious. You have to know: The fetish people were not specifically sexual. The biggest thing that happened there was that a dominatrix chained some slave to the wall in his clothes. But I was always very sexualized, I wanted bare meat, and I wanted to experience something, as concretely as possible and thoroughly pornographic. I was the first to take out my genitals in public.
KK: You have to do that first, if you only have an anti-field around you.
ST: After that, people came to me for a year, shook hands and said: You are doing what I always wanted to do.
You have moved a line.
ST: We went one better without realizing what we were doing.
What happened then?
ST: We went out in different shops, in the Far Out, in SM shops a bit more extreme, of course. We met people everywhere we went out. When we had the first party, in the Turbine on Glogauer Strasse, of course they came.
How did you divide up the work?
ST: I was the artistic trigger, but the more a project grows, the more it needs an administration, someone who takes care of the specific things. There is no doubt that Kirsten is the better person than me. I get bored relatively quickly.
KK: In the beginning I threw all the notes in some box and hoped that the tax wouldn't come. But of course some room had to open in the evening. The system has to work, the drinks have to be there, the heating has to be on, the electricity has to go, the DJ has to come.
Did you still have a clear head to celebrate in the club yourself?
ST: Yes, of course. The first year was completely insane, in the turbine. We were open from Monday to Sunday, every day, only Tuesday was sometimes closed. Paul von Dyck and all the famous DJs played with us back then, it was one of the first techno shops. We lived upstairs and went to the club every night, which was our living room.
KK: In the first year we were invited by the artist Falk Richwien. He had come up with a show called Pan's Birthday Party. That's why we had a real billy goat with us, a movie animal that was well-behaved in the corner. Coincidentally, a team from "Wa (h) re Liebe" was filming ...
... this erotic show on VOX.
KK: Then we were invited to Lilo Wanders. Back then it wasn't just techno that got big, it was also new that private television dealt with all these funny things, sex, fetishism, BDSM ... After the broadcast, people from all over Germany came to us, not just Berliners.
ST: Regardless of how you found the programs at the time, they had a relatively high impact on society. Suddenly the secretary could say: I like bondage. It had become socially acceptable to be a little kinky. This also increased the need for going out in this direction - and of course we were the first address.
You've been doing this together as a couple for 26 years.
ST: Even something crazy like the kitkat needs solid structures. You should be able to rely on each other, not play stupid games. You have to be able to respect yourself. And the other should be able to do something too! We have always complemented each other well in this sense.
KK: You could actually tell the story of the chief's wife.
ST: Well: If the beginning of a tribe is the chief and his wife, two opposing poles who agree and thus form a small whole, then you can very quickly get others to join in, which you cannot do individually. At the moment when there are two thousand people in the club, those who would otherwise take ten years to make any jump need maybe only two hours. It helps to see that something is real. People always need a role model. And we were, too, especially in the early days we did a good job together.
KK: Not just in the beginning.
How is your Saturday night ritual today?
ST: I'll let security pick me up from home at midnight. I live in the surrounding area and some of our people also live there. Then I usually go out to eat something, followed by a triple espresso. I don't want to be in the club until three o'clock. Not because it would be boring beforehand, but it's over at nine for me, six hours are enough for me, I don't take drugs.
You will always have a bottle of special water in hand.
ST: I don't like alcohol, coke, or Red Bull, it's all too sweet for me. And I don't like water alone either. That's why I've now bought this apple-flavored stuff, such a stupid sports drink, you can get at my gas station. After 26 years of nightlife, it is difficult what to drink if you don't want to drink yourself in all the time.
ST: The good thing about Kitkat is that everything is mixed up. When I get too stupid to talk to someone, I go dancing. Or I'll tear someone up. Or talk a lot of nonsense. I've also sat in the club and thought about my research, people always ask me why I look so angry, but at that moment I'm just very focused inward.
Simon Thaur is just as charismatic as he is eccentric. He describes himself as a "medical detective". For twelve years, he says, he has been self-taught in biology. He is working on a book about the "astrological influences of the planets on our endocrine system" - he has already written around 3000 pages. Thaur talks about these things in a relaxed manner, it doesn't work
zealous, much more hippie than messiah, obviously likes to talk and explain.
What about you, Kirsten?
KK: I'm more of the flexible type.
ST: Well, you keep everything going. The employees, who plays when on which floor, everything is specific.
KK: I do all this shit on top of that, that's how I would put it. After half past ten I'm out on the street, usually until the line is gone. I have a white plush cat that has a name: Fiat Lux. She was outside with me at the door for years. When you run around with the creature, everyone is happy - because an adult with a stuffed animal is a surprising sight. That puts a smile on almost everyone's face.
The club has a strict dress code. On your website you define it as “fetish, lacquer and leather, uniform, kinky, glitter and glamor, costumes, sackcloth and ashes”. Why is that important?
ST: So that it’s not a Stino party. People say: what should I wear? Or: I don't want to undress, but I still want to get in. The truth is, the more normal you run around the club, the stranger it is to you. Everyone recognizes that you are still from outside. If you let people in in normal clothes, only normal will happen.
KK: You are more vulnerable when you are naked, so you automatically behave differently, more openly. You are more careful when you bump into someone, maybe even apologize. A piece of your security will be taken from you.
A large number of the guests are young and very good-looking - they seem pretty confident.
ST: The new generation has just rediscovered us. What makes the Kitkat for me is the mixture: thick and thin, ugly and beautiful, young and old, rich and poor, everyone is there. That is also the reason why the entry has been the same for 26 years. We also want people in there who have the right spirit, but not necessarily the money.
How does an evening like that go?
KK: When people think of kitkat, they only think of sex. Everyone is fucking here? No they don't!
ST: These are all people who come together there, they get to know each other in a completely normal way, only in a wacky condition. The introductory talk is then also completely different. You talk faster, without all the talk orgies, the conventional hurdles are not there.
Overall, there is a lot less sex going on than the legends suggest, right?
ST: We are not a swingers club. We are a fruit-bearing mixed forest, not a monoculture. After six o'clock it usually gets more intense. It heats up naturally. First people dance, and at some point it discharges, sometimes more, sometimes less. Even after all these years, I can never predict how it will be.
KK: One can only try to prepare the ground in such a way that something can happen.
What's the trick in preparing the ground? The candy counter? The bowls of fruit on the counter?
KK: A hundred thousand little things. Basically, it's like having a party in private. You can set up the buffet, make an effort with the food.And then you can pray that the right people will come, that the DJ will put on the right music, that everyone will be in a good mood or that they haven't done the wrong drugs ...
ST: Even the basic condition that you are allowed to have sex is already providing opportunities that you do not have in a conventional shop. People will automatically face each other differently, if only because the topic is in the room, and everyone wonders why the others are all there ...
Do you have watchdogs who notice when limits are exceeded, when there are attacks?
KK: Yes, of course.
ST: The good thing about Kitkat is that there are so many guests who have been with us for a long time. The community works. People go to the counter themselves and say, hey, someone passed out. Or: That guy seems strange to me. Then the person is sorted out.
How often does this happen?
ST: Fortunately only rarely, there are aggressive incidents every jubilee. Most of the time someone argues with his wife. That's actually the cool thing: a kind of spiritual bond has developed. People are all aware that something special is taking place and they also want something special to take place. Some of them met their life partners here and even got married. That is a very special social framework. You could also inflate it: How about if an entire city were like that?
You once said that you see the club as a social experiment.
ST: It is undoubtedly a social-alchemical experiment.
KK: I just think that stupidly it wouldn't work on a large scale.
ST. Yes, even if there are a lot of people in the store, we are still not mainstream. Kirsten does this sorting out.
KK: It is actually a protected space, probably more protected than anywhere else.
How do you protect that?
KK: By not letting the idiots in. The people who actually just want to suck up something, don't want to give anything, who don't want to show anything themselves, but only consume.
How do you know?
KK: I'm old enough to talk to people. I try to ask questions that humanity does not expect, each time something different. And then I see how they react to it. If you can't react to the unexpected and then stupid sentences come up, then I know: no. After all, things will happen inside that you don't expect.
ST: There used to be this formula that we wrote on all flyers: "Do what you want, but stay in communication." That is still the basic principle. You want the cow to fly - but in the right way. It doesn't always have to be the very concrete sexual things.
KK: It's probably a matter of level. Someone with a wider range in their mind will make things happen. I want people who want more than just sex - and more than just dance. The dancers are the safe ones, the sex topic polarizes more strongly. That's why I often ask: Do you dance too? Nope? Then that would be a no.
ST: The club is not there to tap into something or to gaze at it. When someone is in my territory, I expect that there is an intersection with my mind. If this were just a commercial project, it wouldn't matter. Then whoever pays would come in.
What is the club for you guys today?
ST: A project like this is similar to a child that you watch grow up. And you try to influence positively, similar to a good upbringing, so that it goes its own way.
KK: If a child is something that you put energy into so that it grows, yes, then the picture fits. But is it a child substitute? No. I never wanted to have children except when I was seven years old.
ST: The club also includes the ideal condition that you can maintain long-term relationships and at the same time have the opportunity to get to know and meet people in a much more interesting way than usual. I could have had several relationships here over the years.
Oh. Kirsten, how is it for you when you hear that?
KK: Not weird. But Thaur, you are actually a noble person at that point. With you, things always have a philosophical background. It is not about one or the other - it is an extension of one's own. You can use that or you can leave it. And it has advantages and disadvantages, like everything in life.
Are you jealous sometimes?
ST: No, that was never an issue with us.
KK: It's a matter of habit. You don't always have the same desires at the same time. Where do you get that?
ST: But it's also a question of attitude. When one person has a great experience and the other does not, of course there is a fear of loss. But I would always have the right to stand over it. And you quickly learn: Yes, you want to be spontaneous and experience something. But whether there are other frequencies besides this spontaneity with another person is an open question, just because you find yourself attractive at the moment.
KK: For me it's like this: I don't want to be responsible for someone else's happiness. So I have zero problem. If you forbid something to someone, if in doubt you have to offer it yourself.
ST: I've never been interested in going home with a hundred thousand people either, not even before. This selfish enforcement. It's enough for me if I have experiences in the club. I would like to have them, they are an asset to me - but I don't necessarily want to have them all hanging around at home. That would then cost me too much emotional attention just to satisfy my ego, it wouldn't be worth it to me.
Is there anything that only you as a couple have together?
ST: Of course no one is interested in me catching a gonorrhea and bringing it home. The relationship of trust was always up front. I'm not a guy who goes on a solo trip, I even understand jealousy. When one person claims any freedom for himself without encouraging the other person to be able to do the same. Kirsten always knew that I would do this or that.
KK: Of course there are intimate things that you don't have to talk about here either. But that also has something to do with the length of the relationship. After 30 years we know each other better than anyone else. I know things about you that a lot of people don't know - and vice versa. And of course we have seen more together than you will probably experience the rest of your life with whoever you are.
Do you love each other
KK: Oh god.
ST: Difficult question.
KK: I personally don't think so.
ST: We hate and we love each other.
KK: That is also true.
ST: There is immediately the problem with the cliché, you immediately have mental barriers, although the core principle is not a problem - I would put it differently. Maybe that's what I call frequency, you swing the same way. At least in theory, you can have this frequency with several people, with whom you also have a certain loyalty band, and with whom you then have more to do than with others and also for longer.
KK: I would split the question. There are many things that I still love about him. And then there are now more things that I hate. But there are also not so few that I love. But I would rather replace the word “love” with the word “appreciate”. I don't believe in love relationships in the romantic sense. There are things that I appreciate, that I like, that I have respect for. There is definitely still enough. For me at least.
ST: For me, too.
KK: To endure yourself after so many years ... But I am also damaged by my parents, who are still together, at 83.
ST: They're still fighting.
How is the Kitkatclub going now? The closure was last off the table.
KK: We're not closing.
ST: When in doubt, we go somewhere else.
KK: We have a new contract. How long we can stay is still not certain because the property could be sold at any time. We shall see what happens.
In fact, the current situation of the Kitkat - like that of many other clubs - appears to be much more dramatic than at the end of 2019. According to the club commission, the corona-related closings endanger 9,000 jobs in the industry. DJ sets are streamed live via www.kitkatclub.tv every day from 8 p.m., in cooperation with two other underground clubs. Artist friends have donated works that can be bought there in the shop.
Thaurs und Krügers Club does not participate in the “United We Stream” alliance initiated by the Club Commission. The Kitkat cultivates a certain outsider role - which is also reflected in the fact that Simon Thaur regularly shares links and videos on his private Facebook page that speak of "virus madness" and suspect a corona conspiracy. Thaur is also getting headwind from his community. He personally presents himself in long statements as at least peaceful and open to discussion.
Subsequent question in isolation times: How do you deal with the closure?
KK: We started archiving the contact details of all guests right from the start. We have had disinfectant dispensers for years. After the first person infected with Covid was in a club in Berlin, the closure went very quickly. We started our streaming on the first Saturday afterwards in order to be able to generate any money at all. I immediately spoke to my house bank to get an overdraft facility - but “due to the global economic situation” they are currently not allowed to issue loans. And of course not if there is no income. Advancing the short-time work allowance is currently a big problem. We have 60 permanent employees who don't know how to make a living either.
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How much longer can you hold out?
KK: We feel like everyone else: actually no longer than a month. Even if a club is very well attended, the running costs are substantial. Nobody drags the money out anywhere in bags. It won't be long before we will really have a club death. As a compulsive optimist, however, I assume that we can think of something to get through this madness.
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