This Week's Guest: Kevin Clarke
What hidden worlds are waiting to be found right under your nose? My guest this week is Kevin Clarke, who grew up in a divided Berlin, so close to the wall he could hear the police threatening to shoot people who came too close. He was eager to leave as soon as he could -- but he was drawn back to the city years later. By then, he was old enough to discover and explore a bawdy underground gay culture that had always been hiding right in his own back yard.
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This Week's Recommendation: Marlene Dietrich Live in Stockholm
Thanks again to Kevin for joining me. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, I highly recommend a trip to the Schwules Museum. And not just if you're Julie Andrews. It's an incredible glimpse into history and it's one of the great wonders of the queer world.
For my recommendation this week, take a look at the work of another great queer icon: Marlene Dietrich. Specifically, seek out the full version of Marlene Dietrich live in Stockholm, a 1963 concert featuring some of her most iconic songs: La Vie en Rose, The Laziest Gal in Town, Lili Marlene, and of course Falling in Love Again.
But the song that moves me to tears every single time is her rendition of Where Have all the Flowers Gone -- a German translated version of Pete Sieger's great anti-war song. The song is moving even if you can't understand the words, in part because of how it's delivered: she stands resolute, staring tall in a single spotlight amidst darkness, and in her gaze into the distance and her beautiful deep voice there's a heartbreaking, mournful pain.
But of course there's pain. This was a woman whose career began in Berlin cabarets, who then watched the city she loved torn apart by war. She renounced her homeland and dedicated her career to fighting Nazis, turning over entire film salaries to funds that helped Jews escape. After the war was over, she learned that her sister had run a cinema frequented by concentration camp officers, and she disowned those family members. And many Germans never forgave her -- when she returned for a concert in the 1960s, she was met with protestors and bomb threats.
But she was absolutely a hero, at times performing for troops so close to battlefields her life was in grave danger. When asked why she would take such risks simply to boost the morale of those fighting Nazis, her reply was "aus Anstad" -- out of decency.
Standing up for what what was right meant sacrificing money, career, family, homeland -- but she did it anyway, and she remained standing even decades later, alone there in the dark at that concert wondering if a day will come when we will ever learn.
Clips of Stuff We Talked About