Echoing my Consumer Guide for the Sexually Active Auckland Guy, here is the Berlin version. The criteria are the same: these are my private observations, I paid for entry and drinks everywhere, and I give you no guarantee you will have great (or any) sex at all in the venues listed.
We found accommodation via gayhomestays.com in East Berlin, on the 18th
floor of a towerblock, within spitting distance of an S Bahn station, which is handy and good to keep in mind. Gay venues are spread out over a number of neighbourhoods and using public transport is cheap, easy, it runs 24/7 at the weekend and you can take your beer on the trains and trams.
Lab.oratory (am Wriezener Bahnhof, S Ostbahnhof): An extensively laid-out sex club for a non-vanilla crowd. It has various themed nights with more or less strict dress codes. It caters for a leather / rubber / skinhead / tattoo / pierced crowd, although naked nights are common (with compulsory shoe wear). You check in your gear in a big plastic bag and you get a number on your biceps so they can keep track of your drinks consumption. You pay your bill when you leave.
Housed in a former East Berlin factory it shares the building with, although thoroughly separated from, Berghain, Berlin's most famous dance club. The entrance is on the left of the main building. Access times are limited to one or two hours so check before you go or you may not get in.
When you leave in the early hours you will be greeted by an enormous queue of heterosexual hopefuls trying to get past the random door policy by the Berghain bouncers, and you will be thankful again that goddess made you gay.
Inside there is a maze-like structure with various areas catering for different sexual tastes: slings, open sided and platformed cubicles for spectator events, glory holes, bath tub and sewer area. Even a container park outside for those wanting to indulge in some transport fetishes. There is almost nowhere available for private sessions, which explains why the toilet cubicles were constantly in use. All sex here is virtually public sex and the venue can host several hundred of men at one time and that may be just a tad problematic: it results in a lot of jostling, standing around, walking for miles and very little actual contact.
It's hot - the heaters were going full blast on the naked night we went and it was chilly outside - and, common to Germany everywhere, there is a lot of smoking going on inside. Condoms are supposed to be available in little silo structures on the wall but all those I tried were empty. Not a good way to promote safer sex and needless to say a lot of barebacking goes on. I didn't notice any porn screened but the real scenes before you should suffice.
I found it unsatisfying and frustrating at times and wished there had been only 100 men instead of 500. More isn't always better.
Stahlrohr (Paul-Robeson-Strasse 50, S and U2 Schönhauser Allee): A compact bar and backroom play areas on two levels. It tries to attract a younger crowd for sex parties, especially on Tuesday when you can only get in between 9pm and midnight if you are between 18 and 20. After midnight all you dirty old men can have a go at the leftovers too.
The staff were welcoming and you get a locker for your gear. Your locker number functions as your bill account for your drinks.
Sunday, when we went, is a relaxed affair either in or out of clothes, up to you. The backrooms have a few private cubicles and glory holes but also open areas and are dimly but sufficiently lit (I hate completely dark darkrooms where you cannot see the state of the meat you are handling). Three porn screens - all playing very twinky fare - are in the bar area, not in the backrooms, which is unlike Auckland venues.
A likeable venue, good for socialising and getting to know the locals.
Greifbar (corner Wichertstrasse and Greifenhagener Strasse, S and U2 Schönhauser Allee): a local neighbourhood bar open nightly from 10pm. It has been there for ages and it shows in the decor of rusty ironwork and ageing posters around the place. Monday has half-price beers so a few eager punters turned up, including us.
Coat check is just behind the bar and costs €1. There is one porn screen (it played only masturbation scenes when we were there) and a small-ish maze at the back for some action, parts of which are too dark for my liking. Glory holes are most prevalent.
It wasn't my favourite Berlin venue but it seems popular enough.
Triebwerk (Urbanstrasse 64, U7/U8 Hermannplatz): Our Berlin host asked whether we were into Turkish or North African men because this club is situated in Kreuzberg, which is very multicultural. And then, to our surprise, when we went there, only European guys turned up.
It's a small bar with the majority of the venue given over to cruising in three areas, one upstairs and two downstairs in the basement. You get charged a minimum of €9 when you leave, your bill is kept by the bar man and linked to your bag number when you check in your gear (most nights it's nude cruising only). There was only one staff member on the night I went and he had enough time on his hands to cruise Facebook (or GayRomeo) despite there being a good number of punters.
There is one porn screen, and only open cubicles and sling areas, so all sex is public.
CDL-Club (Hohenstauffenstrasse 58, U2/U3/U4 Nollendorfplatz): A small bar with a big two-level split backroom and basement, which organises mostly underwear and naked nights. The ground floor backroom is a series of alcoves from which you can watch some porn and get cosy and comfy. They are big enough for orgies but they are not private cabins. At the back is a smokers' room with separate porn feed. Downstairs is a big maze in a basement with various play areas and slings. There is also a temp bar when business picks up so you don't need to go upstairs to get a drink. There is sufficient lighting including some black lights.
You check in your clothes at the entrance and you get a number written on your body which acts as an account number. You settle your bill when you leave. There is a minimum €9 charge. The staff are friendly and chatty (and speak English).
I went there on "masked party" night. You choose between three coloured balaclava masks: white for top, black for bottom and camouflage for when you feel versatile. It works quite efficiently in the cruise section as you can target your opposite mask colour to hook up. The masks also ensure a good degree of anonymity and objectification of your body. It's quite a frisson being treated literally as a piece of meat, either as fuck toy or as fuck meat and as far as I could see everybody had a great time. I quite enjoyed it as a concept because it works surprisingly well without hassles and delays. There was a whole lot more fucking going on than what I normally experience. Condoms are available and handy and when you are a bottom you must ensure you are lubed up beforehand as gang bangs are common.
Cocks (Greifenhagenerstrasse 33, S and U2 Schönhauser Allee): A small neighbourhood bar and backroom on the ground floor of a residential apartment block. There is a well-lit sign outside so you cannot miss it. It is open from 10:00pm.
Most nights are naked or underwear (watersports on Fridays - beware there are no shower facilities!) so you get a locker. Your number runs an account and you settle your bill when you leave. There is a €6 minimum charge.
There is a small maze including a sling and a bath tub but not much else. No private cubicles. It's rather cramped and it may feel claustrophobic when there are lots of punters. There are three different porn streams, two of them behind the bar. The barman was friendly even though he spoke little English.
In all, not the most riveting of venues but it seems a good local social.