Filled with the smell of ginger bread and mulled wine, German Christmas markets are known for their cozy atmosphere. But in Hamburg, organizers of a market near the city's red-light district have spiced things up a bit.
Risque and risky
For the next few weeks, visitors to Hamburg's St. Pauli red-light district can kill two birds with one stone: At the "Santa Pauli" Christmas market, they'll be able to heat up with a mug of mulled wine while watching the odd strip show.
At first sight, the market looks just like any other in Germany. But at closer inspection, naughty phrases adorn the gingerbread hearts, and the glass ornaments and pasta on sale come in erotic shapes.
"There's a great longing for many people to celebrate the holidays with a bit of humor," said Corny Littmann, who runs a local theater and helped organize Santa Pauli.
But the idea for the market also had a more serious reason.
Santa Pauli is staying in Hamburg
The full monty
St. Pauli's businesses missed out on the Christmas trade as people first frequented nearby markets for their dose of Glühwein before coming to the "sinful mile" for their share of you-know-what.
"Now we're offering the full monty," said Littmann, who also serves as president of Hamburg's St. Pauli soccer club and just married his longtime boyfriend.
Santa Pauli's holistic approach includes an "Over-18 Forest," which is tucked into a corner. A Santa Claus with a whip makes sure that only adults enter this special area, where "angels" and "Santa Clauses" disrobe themselves. Erotic readings, fashion shows and a unique type of karaoke, where participants dub a porn movie, are also on offer.
"You should down a few glasses of Glühwein before participating," said Olivia Jones, a well-known transvestite. "It's hard to bear when you're sober."