City of Lost Souls

In 1983, German documentary enfant terrible Rosa Von Praunheim trained his lens on the trans and gender defying Americans who ruled the nightlife scene in Berlin as cultural émigrés. Scripting the loosest of narratives around their wily New Wave performances, City of Lost Souls follows Angie Stardust, who runs the boarding house and adjacent restaurant, "Burger Queen," where her lodgers earn their keep. Jayne County offers her only feature film starring turn and along the way, the film depicts some of the most honest and alarmingly prescient intergenerational dialogues concerning trans life ever dedicated to celluloid.

Rosa von Praunheim, Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen (City of Lost Souls), 16mm on digital video, 91min., 1983

About the filmmaker:

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Filmmaker and gay-rights activist Rosa von Praunheim is one of the leading figures in gay and lesbian cinema and New German Cinema, although his deliberately controversial techniques, designed to challenge audiences, have sometimes caused him to be criticized by both gay and anti-gay supporters. Praunheim originally studied painting in Berlin and from there was an assistant for such gay filmmakers as Werner Schroeter and Gregory J. Markopoulous. As a director, he made many underground short films on Super-8 or 16 mm stock before going to work in television where he became known for such genre parodies as Die Bettwurst/The Bedroll (1970).

Von Praunheim made his first gay-themed film, Sisters of the Revolution, in 1969. The film was a three-part look at homosexual participation in the early women’s liberation movement taking place in New York. One of his most influential films was 1970′s made-for-TV outing. It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Pervertse, But the Situation in Which He Lives, another example of his usage of negative gay stereotypes to politicize their plight and plea for more rights.

About the performers:

Jayne County became rock's first undeniable transgender superstar, influencing acts like David Bowie, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Lou Reed and The Police. Having performed in Warhol's Factory, County became an international sensation with her songs like "Are You Man Enough to be a Woman" and "Fuck Off," appearances in films like Wigstock: The Movie, eventually publishing her autobiography Man Enough To Be A Woman through Serpent's Tail press in 1995.


Angie Stardust (1940 - 2007), née Mel Michaels, was a singer and drag artist who began performing at the age of 14. She was a staple at the Jewel Box Revue in the late 50s and into the 1960s, when she became the first black performer at the 82 Club, which also served as a transitional venue for the rock acts (County, included) who had performed at Max's Kansas City, before the opening of CBGBs. She was fired from the club after it was discovered that she was self-administering female hormones. In 1974 she moved to Hamburg, where she would act in 4 German-language films, eventually opening her own club.


Joaquín La Habana is a Berlin-based transformation artist and entertainer, whose educated opera voice changes easily from the baritone of a rebel to the soprano of the seductress. Born in Cuba, raised and educated in the US, he is rooted in the Afro-Cuban culture, where he draws inspiration for his works. In USA, he performed in various musicals, was among the dance group in the film “Hair”, acted together with Paul Newman, and in New York, he worked at Broadway as well as in Studio 54. Since 1981, he lives in Europe, where he got known in city theatres and revue houses, for instance in the role of Chantal in the musical “La Cage aux Folles”. 

Rental fees: $100
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