The newly released monograph Peter Berlin: Icon, Artist, Photosexual began with the following interview for issue #21 of Apartamento. In 2018, during our time together, I told Peter that it was a terrible disservice to culture that there was no way to see all of his groundbreaking images in one place. ‘People always say that, but no one ever returns with a book deal’, he shot back. Today, I’m proud to say that his new book, edited by me, designed by Apartamento Studios, and published by Damiani is available. Finally, the full range of Berlin’s work can be seen, understood, enjoyed, and celebrated.
From the early ‘70s to the late ‘80s Armin Hagen Baron Freiherr von Hoyningen-Huene pursued a lifestyle that very few had attempted before or have attempted since. Armin dedicated all his time exclusively to the pursuit of sexual satisfaction and streamlined every action, decision, and all creative output to be in the service of that mission. This unique endeavour was armed with a handsome face, a blonde, pageboy haircut, a slender, muscled physique, and a wild intellect. Upon moving to San Francisco in his early 30s, his super-powered libido, spectacular narcissism, and a lust for exhibitionism came together in a perfect storm to create Peter Berlin. From then on, he lived his life as his sexual alter-ego, and he took on his new identity with militant dedication. Normal clothes were not sheer enough nor tight enough for his needs. He started designing himself looks that simultaneously concealed and revealed everything. He felt so incredible in these outfits that he needed to document them, producing a collection of thousands of photographs that caught the attention of all the major artists of the day: Andy Warhol (who silkscreened him), Robert Mapplethorpe (who photographed him), and Tom of Finland (who uncharacteristically accepted a commission by Peter to create a now famous collection of drawings that feature him). His activities culminated in two landmark erotic films: Nights in Black Leather (1973) and That Boy (1974). The success of these films burned his identity into the psyche of gay men all over the world and empowered them to embrace their own sexuality. On this rare occasion the now camera-shy 75 year old invited Apartamento into his home to reflect on his outlandish life. I’m delighted to learn he’s every bit as radical as he was in the ‘70s. His values are unchanged: anti-capitalist, anti-work, pro-drugs, pro–sexual satisfaction. He’s eager to share his many philosophies on style, attraction, and desire, and our one-hour session accidentally becomes five without either of us noticing.