East Germany’s policy of decoupling taboo from sexuality succeeded in unshackling inhibitions and increasing satisfaction.
Credit: CARL COURT

BERLIN, Germany — The Berlin Wall might be long gone, but Germany is still a divided nation — at least between the sheets.

In the communist era, East Germans would famously strip naked on beaches and in public parks with anti-bourgeois gusto. Today, their penchant for bodily exposure has crept into the bedroom and is available for the world to access, stream and share at the click of a button.

According to a survey by one of Germany's biggest market research institutes, TNS Emnid, amateur internet porn is the provocative new frontier between the eastern and western sides of the country.

Commissioned by amateur porn site, mydirtyhobby.de — which boasts a database of 356,000 homespun porn videos and 3.7 million explicit photos — the survey found that 14 percent of East Germans film their own sex tapes.

Meanwhile, in the West, modesty reigns. Not a single Bavarian respondent owned up to filming a sex tape, while just 1 percent from the über-conservative Baden-Wurttemberg region in Germany's southwest confessed to taping themselves in flagrante delicto, the survey found.

Although born in western Germany, "Peter," a 32-year-old who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, is now firmly in the eastern camp when it comes to sex and exhibitionism. He savors his "exciting" affairs in trendy Berlin, where he has lived for the past six years, and is determined to catch his next escapade on camera.

"I don’t have a problem being naked in front of people, I like it," he said, adding that he occasionally works as a nude life model for artists. "So, I thought, 'Hey, I could do a porn.' I wouldn’t have a problem with people watching me have sex. I just imagine a wild kick to it. Some people want to go skydiving or bungee jumping before they're 35. But I just want to act in my own porn one time.”

The divide between East and West likely stems from the communist state encouraging openness among East German family members on topics that their more religious counterparts in the West might demur from discussing, including intimacy, explained sex therapist, Maya Dufner.

A study from 1988, published in a German research journal, "Newspaper for Sex Research," indicated that the East’s policy of decoupling taboo from sexuality had succeeded in unshackling inhibitions and increasing satisfaction. According to the poll of East and West German students, East German women reached orgasm twice as often as their sisters in the West.

Twenty-five years since the poll, the sexual preferences between East and West appear to remain — a sexually uninhibited and satisfied East versus a tightlipped, frustrated West.

"I have the impression that people who grew up in the East simply have a much more natural relationship to their sexuality, that having sex is just like eating," said Dufner, who hails originally from southern Germany but has lived in the former East German Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg since 1996.

In contrast, Western-bred men and women are often self-conscious even in the throes of passion.

"Most people who come to my practice are very often occupied by performance — of being good,” said Dufner. “They have very clear ideas about how things should go or must go. East Germans, I find, don’t feel this external gaze as strongly."

A sex researcher and blogger for the online erotic shop, Orion.de, Anja Drews, said West German resistance to all things erotic harkens back to Germany’s Catholic Church and austere Protestant faith. Neither encourages sexual experimentation. East Germany, meanwhile, is one of the least religious places in the world today.

But Drews called into question whether the survey really captured the sexual habits of puritanical West Germans who were likely disinclined to share their sexual peccadillos.

"I definitely think that there are people in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg who film themselves having sex," Drews said. “They just won't admit to it.”

Statistics suggest Drews is right. Germany was crowned the world's porno king in 2014. Around 12.5 percent of the country's total website traffic goes to porn sites, according to website traffic tool, SimilarWeb, and German hunger for X-rated stimuli outstrips Americans’ traffic, at 8.3 percent, and the global average of 7.7 percent.

Peter was dating a woman casually when the urge to capture their sexual encounters first gripped him. He read an advert online enlisting couples to feature in an amateur porn film.

“It wasn’t a relationship, but I was seeing her and we had this kind of sex affair,” he said, describing a typical love connection in the youthful Berlin capital. "Sex with her was really, really good. I started wondering, 'What would that look like on camera?' But she didn’t want to."

Undeterred, her rejection has only hardened his determination. While that relationship is now over for "non-porn reasons," Peter regularly posts advertisements on Craigslist waiting for the right woman to respond.

“It is kind of a fantasy for me, but it isn’t just for me. I want someone to share it with,” he said, adding that he had only one rule that would bar a partner. “Definitely not a porn actress.”

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