Kabarett der Namenlosen: From 1926 to 2023
Erich “Elow” Lowinsky’s Kabarett der Namenlosen was a cabaret that existed in Berlin from 1926 until 1932. It was staged on Monday evenings at the Monbijou Cabaret (formally known as the Weisse Maus) located at Jägerstraße 18 in Mitte, Berlin. This cabaret was very successful (although critics panned it) but also quite controversial. The basic concept was that anyone could apply (and be accepted) to appear on stage, regardless of experience nor talent. Elow received over 180 replies to his first advertisement. He would present around 15 amateur acts on stage and would pre-select the most deluded, talentless and sometimes even mentally unstable applicants. The acts would be paraded on stage in 10 minute slots each, whilst the audience laughed and jeered. Kabarett der Namenlosen is also mentioned in Erich Kästner's novel Fabian or Going To The Dogs: The Story of a Moralist (first published in 1931). In the novel Kästner refers to the cabaret as The Anonymous Cabaret and Elow is renamed as Caligula.
(Source: Erich Lowinsky – Cabaret Berlin)
The fight for gay rights in Germany started as early as the late 1800’s. Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, a German “sexologist and human rights campaigner for the LGBTQ community, founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in May 1897 as a subset of Berlin's Institute for the Science of Sexuality. Not only was this organization the first of its kind in Germany, it was the first gay-rights organization in the world to lobby for the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, with a focus on legal representation. The anthem Das Lila Lied (The Lavender Song) from 1920 was dedicated to Hirschfield by Micha Spoliansky (under the pseudonym Arno Billing), perhaps fearing retribution and possible arrest. The lyrics are defiant and the music has a “marching” like quality. The song was very popular with lesbians and could often be heard in gay nightclubs.
In 1933 many nightclubs were forced to close, especially queer venues. The Eldorado, aka Tanzlokale für Herrenone (located in Motzstraße in Schoneberg) was one of the largest gay, lesbian and transvestite clubs in Berlin and was shut down nine days after a “Public Morality” directive that gay bars, clubs and cafes be closed. And so began the beginning of the end for thousands of gays, lesbians, drag queens and transvestites in pre-war Berlin. In October 1932, the gay scene was dealt an almost fatal blow when the Chief of Police ordered a ban on same-sex couples dancing in public. It was the end for The Eldorado.
In 2011 Le Pustra staged an initial performance of Kabarett der Namenlosen on the 24th of September 2011 at Die Freche Muse located at the Old Chomeley Boys Club in Dalston, London. Hosted by Baron Von Sanderson, Die Freche Muse was a club night created in the great tradition of European Cabaret: irreverent, decadent, sexually ambivalent & dissolute. Over 4 years later, Kabarett der Namenlosen made its Berlin debut on the 3rd of March 2016 at Ballhaus Berlin (built in 1905). The show was co-produced with Else Edelstahl, creator of Germany's 1920s inspired party, Bohème Sauvage.
In 2018, Kabarett der Namenlosen hosted 2 shows at the Delphi Silent Film Cinema (the film location for the Moka Efti nightclub in TV's Babylon Berlin) before returning to Ballhaus Berlin until March 2020.
The show is set to return for a limited run on the 8th and 9th of December 2023 at Heimathafen Neukölln, known for hosting variety shows, theatre, dance and boxing matches.