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Jingle ALL the way with Olivia Jones and Eve
Jingle ALL the way with Olivia Jones and Eve
Carsten Eberts

HAMBURG – A chocolate penis – with bite marks – hangs around an angel’s neck. Olivia Jones breaks out in a loud, naughty laugh at the sight of it and declares it awesome. Hamburg’s most famous drag queen is wearing a Dalmatian coat and enough red glitter to deck out a whole Christmas tree.

"I wish you a hot and erotic Christmas!” she roars.

Welcome to the St. Pauli Christmas Market. The "Santa Pauli" market, as it is known, is open every day until December 23 in the heart of Hamburg’s St. Pauli red light district. Instead of beeswax candles and wooly hats, here you will find dildos and vibrators. And instead of Christmas carols -- strip shows.

The angel wearing the chocolate penis is called Eve. Eve Champagne. An erotic dancer, she is scantily clad with heart-shaped pasties covering her nipples. "It’s a good thing it’s not so cold this year," she says at the official opening ceremony – although she’s not saying no to two glasses of nice mulled wine to warm her breasts ("Mäuschen" and "Hopsy") for the TV cameras.

Does any of this cause a sensation? Not in St. Pauli. No other German city has a district where sex is flaunted quite so openly. Sex workers can solicit openly on the street, even opposite the police station. Nobody around here is going to get upset about a sex-themed Christmas market.

"Eve, ring your bells," Olivia Jones calls out, and Eve obediently puts down the glasses of Glühwein and shakes her breasts energetically. Ding-dong! It sure is tacky, but it’s part of the fun and the public loves it.

Jochen Bohnsack, 38, organized the first erotic Christmas market seven years ago and it has since become an institution. With around 40 stands this year, it’s bigger than ever – and not all the items are erotic: The local soccer club, FC St. Pauli, is selling its fan merchandise here.

Hand-carved vibrators

Other Hamburg Christmas markets such as the big one in front of the town hall are hopelessly overcrowded – one of the reasons people say they prefer coming to the less-crowded St. Pauli market instead, although Bohnsack doesn’t have any actual visitor statistics. He draws thousands on weekends, he says, and this year he estimates he’s getting about 20% more visitors – locals and tourists both -- than last year. The Glühwein costs 3 euros, a little more mit Schuss (with a shot of brandy). The same as in any other large German city.

Anybody who wants to rent a stand at the "Santa Pauli" market is carefully checked out before Bohnsack gives his agreement: Not everybody is suitable, he says, for various reasons. He had to tell one man, who really was going to sell beeswax candles, that it wouldn’t work out. On the other hand, he also refuses big names in the sex toy industry. "Small but select," is his motto.

He means stands like "WaldMichlsHoldi," right across from the striptease tent, where wooden vibrators, “hand-carved in a family manufactory,” as the WaldMichlsHoldi website boasts, are sold. Stand holder Elmar Thüry says he normally displays his wares at the big sex fairs or at Christopher Street Days (a German and Swiss equivalent to gay pride parades). The first time he came to the “Santa Pauli” market was five years ago, and since then he’s been a regular, staying for the whole four weeks.

Thüry doesn’t want to talk sales figures: He prefers to explain the virtues of his sex toys that cost between 39 and 109 euros. His best-selling item is the “double bumble bee” at 125.90 euros, a vibrator with “two balls on the top” that is guaranteed to leave users “flying high.”

Many people, he says, come to the stand for advice, then order via the shop on his website. Sales are good, enough to support his family well.

This year, there are two novelties at the market. One is a New York burlesque show – “very trashy,” says Bohnsack, "but not hardcore,” adding that “hardcore is not something we want to tax our visitors with.”

The second novelty is porno karaoke that takes place in a tent where porn movies – “quality” films as well as downright “terrible” ones – are shown with the sound off. The audience is asked to provide commentary to the scenes on the screen. It’s a howl, Bohnsack says, the laughter doesn’t stop.

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