Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh / West Germany, 1980):

As the camera pans across a wall studded with queer-kitsch icons, the self-described "normal, jaded, neurotic, polymorphously perverse teacher" (Frank Ripploh) extends his invitation: "Come cruise with me?" Berlin at the dawn of the new decade is a Babylon of roving desire, to the randy rascal every encounter shudders with carnal potential (an evocative early gag finds a gas station hunk checking the oil from behind the protagonistís car and leaving an imprint of his palm on the wet hood). During the day, Ripploh fondly lectures a classroom of munchkins; at night, he dons leather cap and zips through an encyclopedia of gay whoopee, from public-park gropes to lavatory gloryholes to dungeon spankings. He admires women but has no use for the female sex ("I canít cope with it... itís such a labyrinth"), at the doctorís office he strikes up a casually obscene chat with a chubby sex worker and clears the prudes out of the waiting room. Growing into "the old fag who hangs in bogs" is his biggest fear, yet a distaste for commitment keeps him savoring golden showers with strangers while his affable boyfriend (Bernd Broaderup) sulks at home over the cold roast dinner. Ripplohís filmmaking is rough-hewn, exultantly candid, and unafraid of bodies and orifices, in other words just right for his intimate and tart pre-AIDS document, a prankish confessional that suggests Thomas Mannís Felix Krull cutting loose at a bathhouse or a Fassbinder with more friskiness and fewer calluses. Aldrichís The Killing of Sister George is likably woven into the uneasy coupleís break-up at a transvestite ball, which leaves Broaderup in his naval stripes wandering forlornly around a farm while Ripploh heads to school still in odalisque veils, crystallizing the filmís balance of narcissism and self-critique. With Peter Fahrni, Orpha Termin, Dieter Goode, and Klaus Schnee.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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