The Berlin Diaries – Virtual Reality Orgy

I know right? Hell of a title, that. Doesn’t it just make you want to dive right into the article and find out what the fuck I’ve been up to? Don’t worry, I’ll let you in on the goss.

My last morning in Come Backpackers was spent lounging around being a bit hungover and not doing much. The night before, I’d gone to some wanky expensive bar in Alexanderplatz with a bunch of French guys from the hostel. I’d had more to drink than I meant to, due to language difficulties. I saw a few people at the bar had little mincey slimline glasses of beer. I wanted to ensure I got an actual pint, so asked for ‘ein großes Bier bitte’. Advice: don’t ask for a large beer in Germany. The barman handed me a bloody one litre stein and charged me a tenner. Ugh. Fine.

So I spent my last day at the hostel writing and not doing a lot. Evening came, and the friends I’d met the week before at the nightclub Chalet; Victoria and Klara, invited me along to some kind of art exhibition nearby. I moseyed down there alone, and arrived on the street corner where we agreed to meet 15 minutes early. They were 15 minutes late, so I stood a long while watching the Berlin streets. They’re… they’re… weird.

There’s a lot of drugs. Everyone in Berlin knows this. The police know this. The mayor knows this. Merkel knows this. No one really does anything about it, because drugs are Berlin. Take them away and watch the city wither. Take away the acid and the weed and watch the art scene die. Take away the speed and the MD and watch techno wilt into oblivion.

The city thrives on its drug culture, and it works – but that doesn’t mean people don’t slip through the cracks. And there are big, big cracks. Homelessness and addiction is a daily sight. I stood on the corner and watched a young girl try to navigate the pavement. She kept stopping every few metres, as if lost, or re-evaluating her route. She was holding her nose and kept bending double, as if about to be sick. Then she turned and ran across the road, across traffic, down a side street. It’s scary to witness, but it’s not uncommon. It’s all part of The Strange. People don’t know when to stop, and they fuck themselves up. Berlin is beautiful and oh so bleak in equal measure.

My mates arrived and we headed into the building, after spending ten minutes trying to find it. Exhibitions here are just held in people’s flats, and random old buildings that look like nothing but apartments. The accommodation here in Berlin is so universally cavernous that any flat can be turned into a huge art space with relative ease. Ceilings are at least four metres high, and the rooms stretch on forever. They’re laughably big to any Brit. Germans don’t see what is so funny, as they sit at a desk that is fifteen metres away from their beds.

We headed into an open door off the street and wound our way upstairs along a grand corridor. On the first floor we found a large, imposing iron door. We rang the doorbell and were beckoned inside by an artsy looking woman – close cropped hair, off kilter fashion, gentle yet penetrating gaze, you know the type.

Inside, we found a huge white room, divided up into different sections by hanging curtains. Upon entering, a suspicion of mine was confirmed. Both the girls and I had read the details of the event online prior to attending, and we both had the same concerns: it might be a sex thing. It wasn’t clear enough to know for definite, as the event’s website had been in German, and my attempts at translation were moderately Neanderthalic. However, the plethora of pornography that greeted us upon entry soon confirmed that, yes, it was a sex thing.

Wandering exhibit to exhibit, we encountered a variety of sex-themed projects. First up was an old wooden dresser, laden with faded pornographic polaroids. The photos showed a mix of the usual fare of 1970s softcore smut – a topless woman bending over to retrieve baking from the oven; a hairy-chested man in a pair of orange budgie smugglers reclined on a horrible sofa; a girl entwined in a length of rope, her hands behind her back. Nothing too shocking. Nothing that would make your Nan drop her cup of tea, and make your Grandad chuckle like Sid James. No, that was to come later.

Next to the old photos was a prop box, and a set of instructions. They informed the reader of how to pose in order to correctly recreate the photographs. As I was staring at this in disbelief, sure enough, two giggling girls began unpacking the box and tying each other up and taking photos.

Okay.

I went to get a beer.

Next project was a jigsaw of a naked man. Only the top was assembled, and it seemed to show a man in a considerable degree of ecstasy. Klara and Victoria spent the next 30 minutes assembling the jigsaw with painstaking dedication. I joined in for a while, then got bored and looked for something else weird to ponder over. In the centre of the room I found it: a large canvass tent suspended from the ceiling. You could see inside, but the canvass obscured any real details, leaving outlines and shapes.

Inside the tent there were three men. Naked men. Very, very naked. I only realised the extent of their nudity when one of them stood up from where they were lounging bare-arsed on cushions, and turned profile, and I saw the silhouette of his dick. This was a shock. I didn’t expect to see any dicks tonight. In fact I’m not sure I have ever expected to see a dick. Never in my life have I been allowed adequate preparation time before being met with the sight of a man’s cock.

As I watched, another artsy looking, cool woman approached the tent, took her shoes off, and headed inside. The naked trio greeted her warmly, and she sat with them on their cushions, seemingly completely at ease and unaware of their nudity. I grew curious and wanted to enter myself to see what the hell was going on in there. Before heading inside, I asked the girls if they fancied it. I don’t remember their exact phrasing, but the general gist of their answer was “fuck off no way.” I finished my beer, took my shoes off to be polite, and headed in to the unknown.

A smiling naked Asian man lifted the canvass for me, and I ducked inside. Immediately, the nudity was far more real. Gone were the subtle shadow-cocks of yore, here was reality, here be pubes and nipples and everything in between. The foremost thought in my mind was: my word, don’t penises vary a lot. One was very small. One was very large. Some were more aesthetically in line with what you’d imagine a penis to look like. Others were way off the mark. It was actually quite nice to see how human everyone is, and to see that, when it comes to bodies, there’s no such thing as normal. We’re all so, so different.

I was guided to my cushion by a very Zen older guy with grey hair and a giant wang. As I sat down he handed me a virtual reality headset and a pair of headphones, and politely asked if I would like to also remove my clothes. I politely answered that I would quite like to keep my clothes on, if that’s okay. He smiled and nodded, and told me to put on the headset.

“This will reveal the reason we are naked. Watch, and perhaps you will want to be naked, too.”

I gulped, wondering if I was about to spend 15 minutes being hypnotised into a hippy naked stupor. I put on the visor and cranked the headphones.

I found myself beamed into a large, whitewashed warehouse, with sun streaming down through huge skylights in the roof. It was airy, and pleasant, like someone built a house out of summer clouds. All around me white sheets were billowing. I gazed all over, trying not to move too much in real life in case my roving hands stumbled across a rogue scrotum, or my frantically swivelling head accidentally found its nose planted firmly between two arse cheeks.

Back in virtual land, the blustery sheets slowly descended to reveal six naked people: three guys and three girls, although due to the sheer vertigo of it all it was occasionally hard to tell which was which. They were all staring straight at me, this disembodied pair of eyes floating in the middle of them all. Looking down, I saw I had no legs. I looked back up and the scene had jumped forward; suddenly they were all lying around me in a circle, gently caressing one another while still looking at me.

The scene morphed again, and every time it did, it took me a couple of seconds to readjust and figure out where I was. I kept reappearing in different locations within the warehouse, watching from new angles, which I suppose is totally natural in cinema and television, but in virtual reality it feels like being suddenly teleported, without being notified first. You’re constantly flummoxed as to where the devil you are.

The participants were now directly below me; I was floating above, staring straight down at them as they crawled over one another and generally had a good time. No one seemed to have any preference of partner, swapping freely and often. It was all very sensual and relaxed, not exactly sexually charged. It was more your Sunday morning orgy, rather than a frantic Saturday night shag-a-thon.

The orgy gained intensity, as did the music; an ambient mixture of didgeridoos and mystical sitars, and as I sat watching everyone bonk from the benches like a prom night reject at the most debauched prom ever,  the group sex reached its crescendo and I was transported away from the white warehouse into a fleshy hell shagfest. Imagine being locked in a prison cell, and every inch of wall is covered in porn. Now imagine that porn is moving. I was floating alone in the centre of a parallel universe, and that universe’s name was Fuck.

A thousand jiggling arses filled my vision everywhere I looked, everything was a gently writhing mass of flesh and soft moans, and the music was going mental. Remember that scene in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? That one where they sail down the chocolate river into that black tunnel, where Gene Wilder goes full Ahab at the helm and shrieks a demonic poem while the Oompa Loompas row like they’ve been honking crack and awful things flash around the boat, spinning faster and faster, and just as you think this nightmare is eternal and that Willy Wonka is surely the devil incarnate, and all I’m going to be able to see forever is tits and arses, an infinite spiral through countless eons of raw sexuality… it stops. Ding, please exit the boat carefully.

My vision went black, and a gradual white light faded back in. I was back in the warehouse, and all around me lay six smiling, satisfied people, gently and affectionately stroking one another. They waved at me, beaming, and I began to drift away, like the end of a horrendously fucked up episode of Teletubbies. Bye bye, sweet orgy friends. Credits rolled before my eyes.

Breathless, I began to take off the headgear, ready to get back to sweet, sweet reality, dear normality. I took off the headset and found myself eye to eye with a massive floppy cock. Oh yeah. Almost forgot. I handed the headset back to my nude guru and thanked him for the experience. He asked me if I would like to change my mind about taking my clothes off. Ah. Well I’d love to old boy, but, er, no thank you. All the best to you, though.

I patted him on the shoulder and ducked out of the tent. It was strange. I’d been around the universe, visited parallel dimensions and seen every dick in existence, and two metres away Victoria and Klara were still doing the jigsaw. They were just finishing as I came over.

“You went in the naked tent?”

“Yeah.”

“How was it?”

“It was pretty wild.”

“Cool.”

And back to the jigsaw. Turned out it was an image of a naked guy sitting holding a watermelon in front of his genitals. The actual guy from the jigsaw was in the room, and he approached us when we’d finished it, thrilled. He told me he had been inspired to create it by the first ever porn film he saw, which featured a man shagging a watermelon. Jesus, dude. Most of us start with a novelty deck of cards or something. I smiled vaguely and floated away.

There were a couple of less-overtly sexual exhibits. One was a live-show of a man slowly cutting out orange circles from a huge spool of slowly unwinding orange plastic. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was making one of those orange fences you see around roadworks and building sites with hundreds of identical holes in them. He explained the project: the fence makes something private, but it’s see-through, so it’s not private, and he was… making it by hand to… highlight the fact it was usually… machine made… and this meant… something. I dunno I couldn’t get my head around it and zoned out, slapping him on the back at the end and telling him it was an excellent project. He seemed happy.

There was also a couple of performance art pieces. One was a Lady Gaga-esque gang parading into the middle of the room semi naked, performing a silent, pad footed dance on the concrete floor to a hushed, attentive room, then trooping back into a changing room while everyone looked on, bewildered and feeling slightly cheated.

The next was two girls wearing red sheets who flailed around and made grotesque shapes under their covers. They pulled the sheets tight over their faces, so you could see hollows for their eyes and mouths, and wandered through the crowd in silence. They moved at odd speeds, slow and floating and then fast and spidery, jittery, like every macabre creature in a horror film. As they brushed past me, standing still and baffled clutching a beer, one of them threw back her head and let out the most shrill, horrifying, piercing scream you’ve ever heard. It was right in my fucking ear and gave me a heart attack, and not for the first time in Berlin, I felt rising panic in my throat as I was enveloped by The Strange. I swallowed it down and reminded myself these awful contorted girls were only humans doing a performance.

Their performance went on for ages, and they eventually ended up with their sheets off, baking a cake. We walked away at that point. That’s enough art for one day.

After, we went for a calming few pints in a nearby bar with a couple of bands on. A bar in which everything is glued to the ceiling and the whole thing is completely upside down.

There is nothing normal in Berlin.

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