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Rosa von Praunheim, Berlin, 2008

Rosa von Praunheim (stage name of Holger Bernhard Bruno Mischwitzky born November 25, 1942, in Riga, Latvia) is an openly gay[1] German film director and gay rights activist. He is considered to be an important representative of postmodern German film. Especially with his documentary film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives from 1970, he became one of the initiators of the gay rights movement in Germany.

His films have featured such personalities as Jayne County, Vaginal Davis, Divine and Jeff Stryker.



Von Praunheim was born Holger Mitschwitzki in Riga, Latvia during World War II. He spent his early years in East Berlin. In 1953, he escaped from East Germany with his family to West Germany, first to the Rhineland and moved later to Frankfurt am Main. After Praunheim left the classical language high school in Frankfurt (Humanistisches Gymnasium), he studied at the Werkkunstschule in Offenbach. He then transferred to the Berlin University of the Arts where he studied fine arts but did not graduate. Eventually, he opted for a career in filmmaking.

In the 1960s, he debuted with experimental and short movies, like Samuel Beckett (1969), with which he became soon famous. In the mid sixties, he assumed the stage name "Rosa von Praunheim", a combination of the Frankfurt quarter Praunheim and German 'rosa' for 'pink', alluding to the pink triangle that homosexual prisoners had to wear in concentration camps. Praunheim married the actress Carla Aulaulu in 1969. The marriage ended two years later in divorce.

Praunheim's first big feature film was produced in 1970: Die Bettwurst became a cult movie, which had a sequel in 1973 (Berliner Bettwurst). In the same year, he also caused a stir with his documentary It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives which led to several gay rights groups being founded.

On December 10, 1991, Praunheim created a scandal in Germany when he outed, among others, the anchorman Alfred Biolek, the comedian Hape Kerkeling and wrongly the actor Götz George in the TV show Explosiv - Der heiße Stuhl as gay. After the show several celebrities had their coming out.

In 1979 Praunheim obtained the German Film Award for Tally Brown, New York, a documentary about the singer and actress Tally Brown, and in 1999 the Geisendörfer Medienpreis for Wunderbares Wrodow, a documentary about the people in and around a German village and its castle.

In 30 years, Prunheim produced more than 50 films. Besides homosexuality, subjects were older, vital women (for example, Evelyn Künneke and Lotti Huber) and since the later 1980s the AIDS prevention.

Until 2006, Rosa von Praunheim taught directing at the Film & Television Academy (HFF) “Konrad Wolf” Potsdam-Babelsberg. He lives in Berlin.


  • Männer, Rauschgift und der Tod. 1967
  • Oh Muvie. 1968, Fotoroman mit Elfie Mikesch
  • Sex und Karriere. Rowohlt TB-V., 1978, ISBN 3-499-14214-7
  • Armee der Liebenden oder Aufstand der Perversen. 1979, ISBN 3-881-67046-7
  • Gibt es Sex nach dem Tode. Prometh Verlag, 1981, ISBN 3-922-00930-1
  • Rote "Liebe" : ein Gespräch mit Helga Goetze.. Prometh Verl., 1982, ISBN 3-922-00947-6
  • 50 Jahre pervers. Die sentimentalen Memoiren des Rosa von Praunheim.. Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1993, ISBN 3-462-02476-0
  • Folge dem Fieber und tanze: Briefwechsel mit Mario Wirz. Aufbau-Verlag, 1995
  • Mein Armloch. Martin Schmitz Verlag, 2002, Gedichte
  • Die Rache der alten dicken Tunte. 2006, Fotobuch
  • Die Bettwurst und meine Tante Lucy. 2006, Fotobuch

Selected filmography

  • 1969: Schwestern der Revolution
  • 1970: Die Bettwurst
  • 1970: It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives
  • 1973: Berliner Bettwurst
  • 1973: Axel von Auersperg
  • 1972-76: Armee der Liebenden oder Aufstand der Perversen
  • 1980: Rote Liebe
  • 1981: Unsere Leichen leben noch
  • 1983: Stadt der verlorenen Seelen
  • 1984: Horror vacui
  • 1985: Ein Virus kennt keine Moral
  • 1987: Anita - Tänze des Lasters
  • 1989: Überleben in New York
  • 1992: I Am My Own Woman
  • 1995: Neurosia - 50 Jahre pervers
  • 1999: The Einstein of Sex
  • 1999: Can I Be Your Bratwurst, Please?
  • 1999: Wunderbares Wrodow
  • 2001: Tunten lügen nicht
  • 2002: Kühe vom Nebel geschwängert
  • 2002: Pfui Rosa!
  • 2005: Dein Herz in meinem Hirn


  1. ^ Haggerty, George E. (2000), Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, p. 753, ISBN 0815318804  
  • Kuzniar, Alice, The Queer German Cinema, Stanford University Press, 2000, ISBN 080473995

External links

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