Readers who follow me on Twitter will doubtless be aware that I often retweet the mischievous, erotic, literary and sometimes cryptic utterances of a shadowy internet figure who calls himself Dr Ernst Gräfenberg (the pseudonym is taken from the man who first discovered the G Spot).
While Dr Gräfenberg is not a pickup artist or ‘game’ or ‘red pill’ personality, he is nevertheless a great writer with his own unique take on masculinity.
His website Casanova (Lost Wanderings) charts his florid experiences with strippers and prostitutes—those who used to populate London’s Soho, and latterly those in Brussels, Berlin and Vienna. His three volumes of travel memoirs Autismus, Lotta (Journals) and The Cold Icy Air of Mountains (Journals) all continue to chart these themes.
While the pickup world is generally agnostic at best about such entertainments, taking a step back it is undeniable that they are a central element of the male experience for many and are therefore worthy of examination.
In a way what Dr Gräfenberg’s work achieves is not far from what I aspire to myself, for he presents a highly poetic vision of the unleashed male sexuality, and of male freedom in general.
At the heart of his writing is the conflict between a powerful desire to be free of the bourgeois ,institutions of marriage and family in favour of sexual adventure, and the corresponding loneliness that such a quest can entail. This is something that I relate to strongly, as I’m sure many of my readers do.
Now that Dr Gräfenberg’s three books are available in paperback as well as Kindle editions on Amazon, I interviewed him to find out more about the man behind one of the most consistently-fascinating Twitter accounts in the Western Hemisphere.
Posting my questions to him via Twitter DM, we got into the weeds about the Berlin-Brussels-Vienna triumvirate of naughtiness, writing, his view on the game, pulling strippers, becoming iconic on social media and the constricting nature of relationships.
1. Your blogging seems to me like a cross between Lord Byron and Sebastian Horsley. How would you describe what you do to someone who’s never read you before?
I am always writing. Barely an hour of my waking life goes by when I am not writing down my thoughts, observations, feelings, fears, etc. And it so happens I like to spend my spare time in the fleshpots of Soho, when there were some, and then as Soho died in the fleshpots of Europe. Inadvertently then my writing from about 1999 onwards has become a record of the fleshpots of Europe and Soho, the porn cinemas, strip clubs, brothels, floozie bars, etc. A way of life that is dying out so one presumes a hundred years from now people might read my journals and be amazed that such places ever existed. Unless things have gone full circle by then, and all these places have risen again. I tried and failed to write fiction, as it always feels too fake, so I realise I can only publish my diaries and my travel diaries. I want to be a recorder. Hold myself on the edge of existence, and record. Like the moth reporting from the flame, even as its wings are burning around it.
2. In a way you are a travel blogger of sorts, but you focus on only three destinations: Brussels, Berlin and Vienna. Why those three cities in particular? Why not branch out, i.e. Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest etc?
I first set foot in Europe in October 1999 with an Interrail pass in my pocket for a “grand tour”, and starting from Brussels I headed to Munich, then to Vienna, then to Berlin, so those 4 places just emblazoned themselves into my soul and psyche, like being branded with a hot iron. Throughout my teenage years I loved the classical music and literature and art of Europe, and therefore Vienna and Berlin in particular were the meccas—I wanted to make pilgrimage to Beethoven, Mozart, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, George Grosz, Otto Dix, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, etc etc etc. My favourite films were films like Bad Timing, The Night Porter, The Third Man, all set in Vienna. Fascinated by Freud, Karl Kraus in Vienna etc. For me travel was 99% pilgrimage to my great heroes and it just so happens that 99% of my great heroes lived and worked in Vienna or Munich or Berlin (also the route that Hitler took of course). So even now to walk literally in the footsteps of my great heroes takes me back to Vienna, Berlin, Munich. Brussels is lovely as it is just 2 hours away from Central London, and such a lovely quiet, cheap city with some wonderful erotic delights. And beautiful curvy women (Baudelaire did not agree).
I have no heroes that came from Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest etc. So have never felt drawn there like a moth to the flame. Whenever I have branched out e.g. to Budapest, Stockholm, Oslo, Venice, Frankfurt, I have always just yearned to rush back to my familiar haunts in Vienna, Berlin, and Munich. I am a creature of habit. I know what I like and I like what I know.
Later in life if I have the money and time I would love to venture further, so many pilgrimages I need to make – a million in Paris alone, to cross the Rubicon—the literal Rubicon—in Italy like Julius Caesar did, to visit the Milvian Bridge where Emperor Constantine had his conversion to Christianity, to visit the Reichenbach Falls where Sherlock Holmes & Moriarty had their epic struggle, etc etc.
But fetish depends on repetition, so I cannot stop keep going back to Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Brussels. They are my four Stations of the Cross. My four Cities in the Autumn Stars (title of a book by Michael Moorcock who opened my mind up when I was 15 to everything I now love. If I had to take one book to my desert island it would be Moorcock’s The English Assassin. Life changing).
(3) I love your writing because you seem concerned first and foremost with language, its poetry, even though you deal with what might be considered tawdry subject matter. How would you respond?
It is in the tawdry places that I have experienced the sexual joy that made my life worth living; such pleasure that makes the top of your head blow off. How can you not love the women (and men) you find in those places. Strippers and “whores” (I do not use the term pejoratively and I do not mean it so) have given me such pleasure, I will revere all of them always. They have made my soul and spirit and flesh sing. What else could I say that about?
(4) We differ as I write about game and pickup and you are more interested in stripper and hookers. However, there is a similarity in that we are both concerned with the narcotic power of sex, and with male freedom. Do you think that’s accurate?
Yes, that is accurate. Strippers, pornography & prostitution are an opium, and I am a willing addict. It is a fantasy world, a dream world, and the real world seems grey in comparison. Do what you like with your naughty bits, as I think Orton said to Kenneth Williams. When you’re dead you’ll regret not doing what you wanted with your genitals.
5) Have you ever attempted day game, night game or indeed strip club game? If so, what results did you achieve?
A combination of morbid shyness, horror of rejection, and not being particularly handsome apart from my beautiful eyes combine to make game not for me. However, your ground-breaking work has had me recently thinking I am something of a mini-master of “anti-game”. Anti-game meaning doing nothing, but quietly letting a girl know you are attracted, and then retreating to your corner; the mystery gets the better of them and then they are lured in to coming to you, then you have them, hook, line and sinker. So many beautiful girls get hit on all the time by rogues like yourself, maybe it fascinates them when someone does NOTHING to act on his obvious desire for them.
I always think of the kakapo night parrot; there are only about 50 of them left, mainly because the male kakapo is the only creature in the animal kingdom that has a mating cry that is actively repellent to the female of the species, that is why there are so few of them left. I feel very close to the kakapo.
6. Can you give readers and tips on how to pull strippers, either at the club or elsewhere. Also, any tips on how to get freebies from working ladies?
See my previous answer on anti-game. With anti-game, let them know you like them and then walk away. If they are interested they will come back to you. It usually helps if they hate what they do, are not making enough money to survive, and are looking for some half-decent chap with an income who might help them out financially and rescue them from their sordid life. Focus on the strip clubs where the girls don’t seem to be making much money haha. Low-hanging fruit of great ripeness. Some of the great beauties of the age have let me know they were interested in me, and I have no idea why. Certainly not for my money. My ex-wife would say they need to go to Specsavers.
Alternatively, and at one and the same time, don’t beat around the bush. You can be very sexually direct in strip clubs and floozie bars; that is a relief. If you would like to f—k them say so; in that environment they are unlikely to be offended.
Working girls? If you treat them with real tenderness they sometimes respond with real tenderness; same as with anybody else.
(7) Your Twitter feed is extremely entertaining, with continual references to those detractors who are apparently ‘out to get you’. Do you sometimes fear for your life?
I wouldn’t say I fear for my life, no. Though it wouldn’t surprise me. Like Byron I think said, any attacks on him gave a rebound to his spirits. Real or imagined slights are a great source of power. Anyone who insults you or tries to destroy you has shamed themselves; therefore you have the upper hand over them forever more. I like to lure my detractors out of the woodwork so they stand exposed. As I always say, as soon as someone attacks you, then you have got them where you want them. They have made their fatal mistake. Now you can play them like a piano.
If you have no detractors, you must be doing something wrong.
(8) Your three travel memoirs are now out in paperback on Amazon. What’s the thinking there? Are you seeking to commercialise your work more? Would you like to reach a bigger audience.
For me it was just the thought that if I die all my writing was locked on my computer and no one else would know the password so my life’s work would be lost forever. Therefore the wonder of Amazon means I can just put it on the record, so it is now permanently there available to anyone who might be interested. I have no commercial motivation as I do not believe anyone would be interested in it; it is really just about putting it on the record, in the sincere belief however that it will be of great interest AFTER my death.
I always think above all of Pepys—when he was writing who on earth among his contemporaries would be interested in any of it. Quotidien stuff most of it; but now of course, 400 years later it feels like gold diamonds oil coal. That is the thing I believe strongly—if I write a paragraph now, while the ink is still wet it feels like it has no value. When I return to it a year later it has acquired a real value. When I read stuff from 5 years ago it seems even richer. Like dead fish and dead leaves have no value whatsoever now, over the centuries they get squashed and magically turn into oil, coal, gas, etc etc. What has no value now always turns into massive value given enough time.
Pepys’ diaries turned into gold after 400 years. I believe my work now, even if published in paperback on Amazon, has interest to hardly anyone; I equally believe 400 years from now it will be an EXTRAORDINARY record of life in the fleshpots of turn of the century London and Europe. I am writing for posterity and in that long time scale I am convinced of my worth and the value of my “work”.
Of course if by some miracle it became popular now, that is a bonus! But I will not give up the day job.
(9) Do you have any tips and advice for readers who might want to write themselves?
Get a nice Moleskine notebook, and jot down a thought or two when it comes to you; close the notebook & go on with your life. Next thought that comes to you, jot it down in your notebook; close the notebook & go on with your life. By end of year or end of notebook you will look back and it will be an incredible rich resource. Again, like coal/oil just the sheer passage of time will give value to what seemed of little value when the ink was still wet. So fill a second notebook, then a third, then what an amazing treasure trove it has already become.
10) Similarly, any tips for those who are trying to build an online brand—-or personality cult?
Not a clue. Be naughty. Become a scandal. A bad reputation is a good reputation, etc.
11) Have you ever thought of trying the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, where you make a living solely off your writing and travel with the proceeds?
I don’t make any money except pennies from my writing, so I would not get to the end of my road. Would be lovely. I have no desire to own my own home; my dream is to live for a few months in Brussels, then go and live for a few months in Vienna, Berlin, Munich etc. If someone would pay me to do that, they are welcome to do so.
12) You have often said that the ice is melting across Europe. Can you expand on that for new readers? Plus is there any hope for today’s debauched gentleman traveller?
Well, it is about the closing of all the great naughty places where I had some of the highest nights of my life, erotically speaking, therefore spiritually speaking. Those “high nights that persuade us to put off suicide”. In London there is now not a single porn cinema, in Soho alone since 1998 I have lost the Astral, Soho and Sunset Cinemas. Carnival Strip. Boulevard Strip. The strip pubs closed down one by one, Queen Anne, Victoria, Flying Scotsman, White Horse, Robert Peel, etc. In Brussels, California peep show and videokabins gone, Paradise peep show and videokabins gone, Cine ABC gone, the street girls of the Alhambra outlawed, etc. In Berlin Stuttgarter Platz, the 10 clubs I used to enjoy back in 2004 now reduced to 2. Indeed, the club where I lost my Berlin virginity has gone. The club where I lost my Vienna virginity is gone.
So the obvious analogy is with climate change; whether you believe it is man-made or is just the natural cycle of the planet, it is obviously happening. The glaciers are melting, the polar ice caps are shrinking, the mountains are losing their ice. Therefore I make the analogy with the great polar explorers, great erotic explorers. Great erotic explorers to the great ice fields and the poles and the great icy mountains of Eros, but now the ice is all going.
Hope? It is dispiriting when with each year that passes another of my favourite places closes. And as fast as I discover new ones that I did not know of before, within a few months they have closed down as well. But there are still some places left, you just have to enjoy them while they are there. Just have to travel more and faster.
The debauched gentleman traveller is a man who really knows the difference between a bosom and a buttock, and will never tire of seeking them out.
13) Another question, very important: What is your opinion on marriage and relationships for men? You were married at one point yourself? What happened?
I have always been a wanderer, in the German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich sense, but then I became so cold and lonely, weeping for someone real and warm and permanent. Then when by some miracle I found that person, I immediately missed my wandering. I always want the opposite of what I have got.
My wife used to joke a woman assures her man he can have his freedom at the start but then bit by bit tightens her coils around him like a boa constrictor. If you submit to this constriction, it makes you incredibly sad every day; if you insist on your freedom it makes her incredibly sad every day. Even if I did indulge my freedoms, such as travelling back to Europe on my own sometimes, I felt such incredible guilt and shame from the SECOND I left the house and started my journey, and such worry that she was going to be OK without me there to “look after her”, so I derived no pleasure from indulging those freedoms whatsoever. I missed her too much.
So I spent the whole time twisted up in these knots, and I discovered being totally in love with the other person did not make those knots easier, but even harder.
I discovered that for me a real relationship is like climbing Mount Everest or going to the Moon, something you should definitely do once in your life, but once you’ve done it there is no point doing it again. What she was though for me was a monkey off my back. I had suffered depression all my life but the love she gave me blew away that depression forever. She cured me of it. On my deathbed my best memories will be of her and how loved she made me feel.
Check out his website: Casanova (Lost Wanderings)
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