3. Prostitution was like a candy shop – whatever you wanted, you could find it on the streets of Berlin and in the city’s cabaret bars
Nobody can say for sure how many women turned to prostitution during the days of the Weimar Republic. What is almost certain is that the majority of them, and not just in Berlin, were women in their 20s or 30s who had been made widows as a result of the First World War and so were desperate to make some money any way they could. However, these were by no means the only ladies on offer to men happy to pay for sex. Indeed, the history books show that, when it came to prostitution in Weimar Germany, almost anything went.
A whole new vocabulary emerged in 1920s Berlin, for example, with specialist words and terms for different girls and different sexual services. A man might want to enjoy the company of a ‘half-silk’, for instance, that is a woman who worked in an office or shop by day and then sold her body on occasional weekends or evenings. Then there were the nuttes, boyish teenage girls who often turned tricks after school, or even munzis, heavily-pregnant ladies who would wait for clients under lampposts on the street. There was even a market for so-called gravelstones, women who didn’t fit the accepted definition of beauty. A man could pay for a woman missing limbs, with severe burns or with any other deformity. Again, thanks to the Great War, there was no shortage of gravelstones for men who got their kicks this way to choose from.
For the more discerning ‘gentleman’, there was a variety of high-class hookers to choose from, almost all of them working out of clubs or hotels rather than making a living on the streets. So-called Fohses (the French word for vagina) would advertise their services in newspapers and magazines, while ‘half-beavers’ were ladies of good breeding who worked in high-class brothels during the afternoon or early evenings, but never late at night. But it was in the dance halls and cabaret venues where things were really crazy. In some establishments, if you booked an expensive table for an evening, a table-lady would be included in the price. Almost always the most beautiful girls – and, invariably, they were also chosen for their cultured demeanor as well as their looks – in the venue, these would be yours for the whole evening.