Germans draw no distinction between Good, Evil, Person, Place or Entity when deciding on whether to bestow a nickname. If it’s famous enough it gets a nickname. And it’s always the same nickname.
In Germany you know you’ve truly arrived when they slice off the last few letters of your name and cauterize the wound with an “i”. The obvious ones of course are the right wing political persuasion “Nazi”, and the former GDR’s ubiquitous secret police unit the “Stasi”. “Kotti” and “Klinsi” are two more. The former signifies Kottbusser Tor, where smack deals happen in East Kreuzberg. “Kotti” is a byword among Germans who have never visited Berlin, and used by them, along with “Marzahn” (not Marzi. Yet.) in rambling explanations for the imminent collapse of Life As We Know It.
“Klinsi” is for Jürgen Klinsmann, one of the country’s all-time best loved goalscorers, and all-round Good Egg. His natural successor in terms of well-lovedness is Lukas Podolski, who probably not unrelatedly has an “i” at the end of his name already. His fans have chopped him lovingly back to “Poldi”
But even very heavily used nouns and phrases can sometimes get upgraded to the “i” class. “Prominente Person” (celebrity), for example, becomes “Promi”.
Prominent, incidentally, has a shared etymology with Menace. and the cutesified “Promi” is a word you hear a lot if you have a radio or television switched on with any sort of regularity. German telly, while short on promise, is long on “Promis”
And much as everywhere else these days, all cheaply makeable reality formats like house hunting, dancing contests, quiz shows or opening a shop sooner or later get a “Promi” upgrade.
Sadly there aren’t enough letters in the English alphabet to convey how far down the Food Chain of Fame the protagonists of any show with the word “Promi” in its title tend to find themselves. But I gather Sanskrit has 53, and using its last one could get us close with-
|” ह – Lister”|
(Sounds like the throaty “h” of coughing up lodged mucus)
Anyway, one such show is Das Perfekte Promi Dinner, which unlike most “Promi” shows very occasionally has a proper, bona fide famous person take part.
The nobodies version is just called Das Perfekte Dinner, and plays out Monday to Friday, one one-hour show per day, each contestant hosting dinner for the other four on their given nights. The obvious downside is if Monday isn’t thrilling, you’re hardly going to watch the rest of the week. And if you miss Monday… well, what’s the point, you know? The Promi version gets blasted out in a two hour marathon Sunday nights, and while it can sometimes drag, at least you have your closure inside two hours.
Which is all by way of saying that assembled to cook dinner for each other over the course of a week in Hamburg and Berlin recently were Paul, Claudia, Wanda and Florian.
Paul starred earlier this year in The Bachelor, sorry, Der Bachelor, over the course of which twenty young ladies prostrated themselves before him in a series of gossipy, mind-gamey and even flat-out slutty attempts to win his heart.
Paul is dyed blonde, and has a strangely shaped mouth. He managed the neat trick throughout the Bachelor series of portraying himself as a man of almost old fashioned moral values, but as a man more importantly trying to source his Soulmate, while simultaneously managing to avail himself, with an apparently clear conscience, of any hand jobs that were going from the more forthright females in the group.
Unfortunately, l’Amour remained elusive, but he now qualifies by general consent as a Promi.
Claudia is a lady in her fifties who makes lots of money selling expensive things to other ladies in their fifties. She spends this money on shoes, sparkling wine and new dresses. She also admits that a portion of her wealth gets used to entice young men to eat dinner and, for all we know, maybe even have sex with her. Having sex is a subject close to Claudia’s heart. Other than the spiritual enrichment to be derived from Shopping, there doesn’t seem to be much else she likes discussing.
Wanda finished fourth in Heidi Klum’s modeling reality show some years back and still gets a bit of work doing all sorts. Underwear, voice overs, appearances. Her boyfriend is perhaps a photographer.
Florian is an actor, from a family of actors, which by rights should give him some kind of Promi Royalty status in Germany. I had never heard of him before, but he was the only one of the group you felt might have wrestled with the proposal from his agent that he do Promi Dinner. Although as noted, Promi Dinner does land the occasional Big Fish, so he doubtless reconciled himself to the gig by casting himself in this role.
The tone was set from the off as Claudia scattergunned racy mouthfuls across the table on the first evening at Paul’s. Unsure at how to proceed, Wanda and Paul looked to Florian for guidance, from whom none was forthcoming. Half heartedly they attempted to breezily deflect or politely ignore base statement after base statement, but Claudia wanted replies in kind.
Depending on the day of the week, she liked either Paul or Florian. Paul’s youthful energy was held up as her Ideal on the Tuesday, but by Wednesday evening he was so much stripling to Florian’s cultured, Bond-like cigar aficionado. Then she liked Paul better again. Wanda was under her radar.
Florian tried to keep out of things, prepared only to hazard a guess that maybe sometimes Claudia cried in private. Wanda thought a person who talked so much about sex couldn’t be getting any. Paul was intrigued and repulsed in equal measure by the whole business. His chief complaint was that Claudia insisted on continually crossing the line of good taste that separates Acceptably Smutty Banter from I’m Just Going To Get My Coat.
Of course Claudia couldn’t have known Paul’s precise threshold for such stuff, but she had surely seen an episode or two of his show. One of Paul’s suitresses, Katja, had made it to the final three with a similar Modus Operandi-
Intrigue, Repulse, Jack Off In A Beach Hut.
Across the table in Claudia, Paul could once again see his Past Errors made Flesh, Katja with a few more miles on the clock, this time passing him the veg and trying to play Footsie under the table. And when we saw him turn away in seeming disgust at yet another crassly formulated come-on from her, surely all we were seeing was his mind replay some regretted, tawdry slap and tickle episode, and the realization on his part of his inability to know that if push became shove, he’d be spiritually strong enough to say-
“Claudia, kindly take my penis out of your mouth”.