From Jim Binanti, Guest Blogger of “How To Pick up a Str8 Guy,” It’s “Cruising and Making it in Berlin”

Part I

Due to my work responsibilities I travel on a regular basis around the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia.  I am not one of these guys obsessed with gay life or sex, but when I am passing through a city I like to hop around town and check out the local bar scene. I especially like to do this when I am visiting a city for the first time. In my mind I have this imaginary scale where I rate the gay scene and gay bars of all the cities in all the countries I’ve ever visited.

During a past conversation with RP Andrews I was telling him that I always consider Berlin, Germany, to be at the top of my list for my favorite gay scene. I like Berlin because there are so many diversified bars, and segments of the gay scene are just so unusual, and there is such a lively and diversified gay population, as well as a whole host of other factors. At the top of my list, though, is I like to be surprised and thrill and feel like I am in the secret adventurous gay subculture of my sexual fantasies. I’ve never been a ‘clubber’ and bath houses have never been my thing. So I tend to gravitate to the bar scene.

In the past RP Andrews has asked me to write about the gay worlds I’ve encountered during my travels, and in particular about Berlin. I remember telling him that I prefer not to write about Berlin because I did not want the American gay community to descend on and ruin. I am sorry if I offend anyone with this comment, but American gay bar and club culture is so watered down, and the guys are so different than you encounter all around the world. During the rest of my life I want there to be at least one city where going to a bar on a Saturday night is a throwback to yesteryear.

Recently I was talking with RP Andrews and he mentioned that a friend of his visited Berlin and ‘was not impressed’. I must admit that I winched that that statement. My first thought was ‘wow… maybe I am missing something in the American bars’, but then after thinking of this statement some I decided that maybe this visitor just did not know where to go.

Soon after this discussion I was offered a week of work in Berlin. I decided to return to this favorite city and take RP Andrews up on his request to write about Berlin. In particular, I will write just about my most recent visit to give the readers of this blog a taste of what I find fascinating about Berlin.

My number one rule when traveling

I strongly recommend you do not build your entire visit around attempting to experience the gay subculture. Unless you travel as often as I do, make sure you also visit the major tourist attractions and absorb the culture. While I strongly suggest you visit the gay bars and venues, you should not feel you will be missing out on something critical if you do not make bar hoping a top priority.

Where the gay traveler should stay in Berlin

When traveling to Berlin I would recommend you stay within a 5 block radius around the triangle of formed by the following three U-bahn stations: Wittenbergplaz, Nollendorfplaz, and Viktoria-Luise-Plaz. There are a wide assortment of both business and gay hotels in this area, and within walking distance there are well over a dozen gay bars in this area. The street Motzstrasse is the main avenue where most of the gay bars are centered around. By getting a hotel near these subway stations you are sure to maximize your time while in Berlin by being able to quickly walk in the evenings from your hotel to a bar, and then get home easily at night without the need for a taxi. I found this section of Berlin to be very safe, and I have never had a concern while walking around at night.

Finding out where to go

Before going to any city, use the power of the internet to figure out where to plan your nights out. I remember the years before the internet when visiting Europe and Asia was a crap shoot when finding bars and clubs. Today the internet makes this research so much easier. Especially Google maps which will help you pin-point the location of a bar. In Europe and in Asia, knowing the address of a bar is not always enough. The entrances are not always apparent, so print the Google maps of the bars.

I would also recommend using the hookup sites during your research. I am not referring to the concept of arranging a hookup prior to your visit. While perfectly acceptable (and in my opinion lazy), I have rarely experienced a successful pre-arranged hookup when visiting a foreign country. Although I will admit that hooking up with a bear on a bear website is the exception to this rule.

When I suggest using a hookup site for your research, I am suggesting soliciting suggestions from some of the online guys. First, when doing so do not be a jerk and start the conversation with a ‘Hey, you’re hot buddy’ line. Instead, be a serious adult by being upfront that you are looking for information. Using a hookup site does not always have to translate to sex as the end result. Just be very upfront with the person you are messaging instead of leading them on just so you can get some information.

During my research using hookup sites my first targets are Americans that have posted their location as currently visiting that city. After that I look for guys whose photos show a face or body that I am attracted to. I also only pick profiles that are written in English.

I write my first note as follows: “Hey there… I hope this note finds you well. I will be visiting xxxxxx pretty soon, and I was poking around the local profiles. You look like a cool guy. I was wondering if you could give me some information. I am looking for suggestions as to where to go out. I am mostly looking for a good bar or club, and maybe even something a little different. Do you have any suggestions?” Sometimes I will give my stats, and I always make sure that they can see a face photo of me, even if it means I have to unlock my photos upfront.

From my experience, more than 50% of the time this approach will get you very friendly responses and even some great suggestions. The trick is to be upfront, and to also converse like a normal person looking for information, and not as someone that needs to have his cock sucked.

At the end of the information exchange I always thank the guy, and I always offer to meet him for a beer as a thanks.

One footnote to my suggestion of using the hookup sites for your research. Remember to do the same when someone is visiting your town and looking for information. Just because you are looking for a hookup and this person is looking for information does not mean you cannot be helpful. If it turns into a hookup, great, but have an normal adult conversation first to help the guy out.

Tomorrow: Being Prepared

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