What distinguishes a good businessman from a very good businessman: one has a business acumen, the other lacks character, charm and chutzpah. “Handsome Klaus” (Aaron Hilmer) clearly belongs to the second category. As a Hamburg boy from the gutter, he thinks big. He wants a German one in St. Pauli studio 54 open. You should be able to party and fuck there just as well as in the New York model, he says to his girlfriend. It’s the 1980s, and the area around Herbertstrasse and Hans-Albers-Platz isn’t yet a place to go out, it’s the largest brothel in Europe.
The six part series Luden – kings of the Reeperbahn accompanies the young pimp through Hamburg’s half-world and lets the pimp Klaus dream the good old dream of capitalism. Like a neoliberal start-up entrepreneur, he runs his red-light business, including a luxury whorehouse. The aging sex worker Jutta (Jeanette Hain) introduces him to the business and ensures the necessary cash flow, after which it is scaled. The meanwhile curly blond Lude attracts new women who are supposed to work for him. He shows few scruples. If his own girlfriend doesn’t buy enough money, he doesn’t let her into the apartment. He later sends her to an oil rig where even the most experienced prostitutes don’t want to work: too many sex-hungry men, too many rapes.
The series avoids Reeperbahn clichés
“You don’t go naughty, you go easy whore,” he explains to his friends Andy (Henning Flüsloh) and Bernd (Noah Tinwa), then he hires them. They behaved like so-called Hamburg merchants, kept women small, beat up competitors and got into the cocaine trade. They even give themselves a name: the Nutella gang. And that, in turn, is so absurd that it can only be true. The adventures of the beautiful Klaus and his friends are based on real events from the life of the almost 70-year-old ex-slut Klaus Barkowsky.
The series was developed and produced by the Munich company Neuesuper (hindafing). You can tell that the makers don’t just want to differentiate themselves from other films about the “hot mile” St. Pauli in terms of equipment and atmosphere, from Dieter Wedel’s Chauvi show King of St Pauli as well as Fatih Akin’s suitor horror The golden glove. These “sluts” don’t wallow in neighborhood romance, they want to avoid whore clichés. It’s a tough and dirty business between men and women are always on the losing side.
But the men sometimes come across as caricatures, they appear so spread-legged, almost exaggerating the tone of Hamburger Schnack. Rather, the heart of the series is the women, above all the great Jeanette Hain. The Jutta she embodies has seen and been through everything in the neighborhood over the decades. Also the rise and fall of pretentious pimps, whose business dealings are often damaging to business.
Luden – kings of the Reeperbahn. Six episodes, on Prime video.
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