Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

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david hare
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Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#1 Post by david hare » Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:18 am

Was just cruising (so to speak) and saw this entry from last year at OLFC website. On its first release in oz 1982 this was cut by a couple of minutes, as it was originally in the UK, but passed uncut here in 2007 (as it was in the UK 2005.)

The really fascinating, and mysterious thing, however is the name of the importer: note the line marked "applicant"

What were they doing with it? Using it for officer training on bog baiting for agents provocateurs? I am totally mystified and would love to hear an explanation from the SA Attorney general who, I'm sure would otherwise have banned the movie outright.

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Cinephrenic
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#2 Post by Cinephrenic » Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:14 pm

Some homophobic guy saw the film, perhaps?

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Zazou dans le Metro
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#3 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:37 pm

It may be something as mundane as that he police in SA are responsible for processing ratings for material with dubious content but it did remind me of a story that I heard from a colleague with whom I worked in London in the nineties.
Before his current job in advertising he had trained for 6 months at Hendon police college. At the time it was apparently standard procedure to be attached to a specific department for 'specialist training', which of course invariably meant the most menial and boring low responsibility tasks.
Well, our hero here gets seconded to the Vice squad. His particular crime busting activity being to supervise hours and hours of taped footage from a video camera secreted in one of London's more infamous cottages on Islington Green. (A favorite haunt of Joe Orton apparently).
Anyway, after hours of non-eventful trawling through all this stuff his ears pricked up (pace Orton) when a particularly spruce and dapper middle aged city gent ,complete with pin stripes and brief case entered one of the cubicles. Mr Pinstripe takes down trousers and pants, squats on the throne and puts his briefcase on his knees. Clicking open the locks he takes out two slices of bread, a knife and a pat of butter and carefully starts to compose a sandwich. Satisfied that his slices are perfectly and symmetrically smeared he stands up, wipes each slice around the underside of the bowl, places them back together and cuts it into perfect squares. The confection is munched appreciatively and appetite whetted he pulls up trousers and leaves.

If nothing else it proves that the English public school system has a lot to answer for and the Metropolitan police had it down on You-tube a decade or so ago.

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david hare
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#4 Post by david hare » Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:53 pm

Rolling on the flooor at that! An old friend (now long dead alas) used to tell the story of his first trip to Munich in which he cruised a particular facility in the U-Bahn at Marienstrasse and picked up a hunky and heavily built hairy"master" who took him home. Jerry had been a grad student from Reading Uni and had both a smattering of Germanand a taste for SM, anyhow the guy disappeared momentarily to "change" and came back fully decked out in lace panties, bra and girdle, and stilettos. He then said to my friend "Bist du pervers?" Jerry fled.

Your story kind of echoes the opening scene of Taxi in which Frank is correcting his students' work in the stall of a local bog while peering thru the glory hole at an assortment of masturbating cocks and spread buttholes. Frank sniffs derisiviely at one leather gent's spreadable display and stuffs the glory hole shut with a student's paper! Presumably a failed student.

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antnield
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#5 Post by antnield » Sun May 29, 2011 4:10 pm

Following its brief theatrical run in the UK, Peccadillo released the film restored uncut onto DVD this week. The Digital Fix reviews the disc.

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colinr0380
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#6 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:28 pm

An interesting film - while the New German Cinema gets mentioned in the extra features, while watching I was reminded of those early Lasse Hallström films, particularly A Lover And His Lass (which is that rare heterosexual relationship film that starts with a guy visiting a Sexual Health clinic). However while it is obviously culturally significant, I'm not entirely sure that I buy the central disintegrating relationship, which feels in a rather conventional mode of your standard bickering couple, just with two guys. It also pushes the viewer away from really caring about either character as, while in the interviews on the disc the film is (rightly) held up as an example of showing gay life in the raw rather than idealised, it seems impossible to care about the characters - Bernd seems naive in the extreme, and silly for having stuck around for so long when he is obviously on a hiding to nothing, while Frank seems like a petulant arse in every aspect of his life, from the way he complains about letting a woman who has been beaten stay in his flat overnight, to the way he complains about being drawn into a bourgeoise faux-straight relationship of meals, a house in the country and cosy chats by Bernd. The ending is both impressive (for not ending with a gay-cinema cliche of death or suicide) and rather annoying (in the sense that it doesn't really show either character facing up to their issues, despite the train argument and Frank's introspective monologue at the end). I suppose in a way it is good that both characters end up seeming rather unattractive, since it doesn't allow the audience to side with one or other of them to an overbalancing extent.

The main thing I thought of was the way that this relationship feels quite similar to the one between Tomas and Tereza in The Unbearable Lightness of Being - a relationship where the promiscuous partner is both unwilling and threatened by the idea of settling down but is still obviously in love with his partner, which is really what has thrown him into such a crisis after having been so used to loving and leaving.

In a way this plays neatly into the explicitness of the film - while their initial meeting involves full on sex, Bernd soon moves into a domestic, comfortable almost asexual mode of commitment. Frank's encounters meanwhile become more and more extreme as if in (unconscious?) rebellion at the possibilities of commitment, security and monogamy that he perhaps feels that Bernd is pushing him towards.

This I think is also paralleled by the disintegration of Frank's job as a teacher - or is it a disintegration at the end? A gay man's carefully segregated world falling apart as his lifestyle and his sensitive job working with children clash in the way that it had threatened to throughout the film? Or a liberation for both Frank and the children under his care? (He has given them licence to do whatever they want but that results in wholesale destruction. Perhaps Bernd is right that some order is needed, if only to rebel against) The film seems to subliminally raise all of those rather prejudiced questions about the appropriateness of a gay man in charge of children only to contrast them against similarly flawed and sexual outside of work heterosexual fellow teachers and useless parents thinking nothing about giving their children a Valium to 'calm their nerves'. The film seems to be setting up a troubling situation (explicit sex scenes contrasted against scenes of Frank teaching children) in order to emphasise the obvious argument that every adult (even teachers!) has a sexual life, with that, and their sexuality, not affecting their ability to teach children.

I particularly like the "Short History of Taxi zum Klo's release" documentary on the Peccadillo disc as the contributors make a lot of interesting points. While I don't really agree with the idea put forward by Archie Tait (ICA Cinema Manager at the time of the film's UK distribution) that the love story balances out the sex (I think the love story is perhaps meant to play in a cliched manner to heighten Frank's contempt with that potential lifestyle choice. For goodness sake, there is even a scene where Bernd has spent ages cooking the evening meal and Frank, when he finally arrives, doesn't appreciate it!), Tait does talk about the film being sent to the BBFC and the way that they considered making edits to the film before abandoning that idea because that would dilute the film too much. I agree with this although not just for the impact of being able to see explicit gay sex, urolagnia and so on, which is what I think Tait is meaning when he says this. I think the explicit content is crucial because it is the 'real' and unfaked set against the idea of playing at being an 'average heterosexual couple' that Bernd is unconsciously submitting to and Frank is rebelling against.

This is only compounded by the round-robin editing in two late sequences in which mundane conversations are intercut with the most explicit sex. The first is Bernd's long, excrutiating chat with the travel agent about a possible holiday he will take Frank on, crosscut with Frank escaping from hospital and taking a taxi to the local cruising ground for a quick hook up. The second is Bernd chatting with a workmate about the frustrations of being in a relationship and how relieved they each are when their partner leaves and they can be on their own again, which segues into a discussion of the workmate's home furnishings. That sequence gets very heavily intercut with Frank's meeting with the petrol station attendant, being whipped with a belt, snorting lines of cocaine and eventually getting urinated on as almost the ultimate form of Frank's loss of self.

The key here isn't just the chance to see gay sex in detail for the first time. The point is made in the extremely intricate intercutting instead between the oppressively mundane and the transgressively transcendent, if only for a moment. Even more than just not wishing for censors to interfere with films (and based only on having seen this uncut DVD), I get the impression that you couldn't cut the contentious explicit material out of the sequences without utterly destroying the point of the scene. At the very least altering it would affect the key point of the entire film.

The other contributors to that documentary also make important points too - Jim Macsweeny has a great point about the way that, while a previous classic of gay cinema, Sebastiane, is a great film, it is one that is much more safely ensconced in the past than the extremely contemporary setting of Taxi zum klo.

I know that they are supposed to be incredibly bad but it was great to see the brief clips from Ripploh's later films during the interviews on the disc. Can anyone tell me more about Miko or Taxi nach Cairo? Are they available anywhere or worth tracking down?
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#7 Post by david hare » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:57 pm

Colin Taxi nach Cairo is really not worth losing sleep over. It tries to recap the "zany" "madcap" strain of Klo but with Frank playing a "bisexual" man (unconvincingly) and with no explicit sex. It feels totally uninspired or original. Out of breath rather than breathless.

It confirms, as does your response above my fears that Taxi just doesn't survive the decades of change, including AIDS, and now the embourgoisement of gay life since first release, or my initial memory of it. After buying the Brit disc I started to watch it again two years ago, then got interrupted by something and I've never finished the viewing again - sheer disinterest I'm afraid. I suspect the kind of encyclopedic way Frank gets into more and more wayward sex like the golden shower, while Berndt almost ceases to register as a character simply doesn't lead anywhere, although one hoped it would, in terms of the "happy couples" issue. But I don't get the clear feeling either their relationship, or even Frank's career as a teacher are necessarily meant to look shipwrecked. It's a kind of not very satisfactory "life goes on" shrug from Ripploh. But everything in the film is, notwithstanding a couple of tougher moments of characterization from some of his secondary players.
Going back to that 80s era I would much rather watch Rosa von Praunheim or Lothar Lambert both terrifically interesting filmmakers. And more recently, and not even a gay artist, the late Christoph Schlingensief.

Jonathan S
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#8 Post by Jonathan S » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:32 am

The only time I've ever seen Taxi zum Klo was in June 1984, definitely in the UK, on 35mm and I'm pretty sure at a major arts cinema in the Midlands. The screening I attended seems to contradict the BBFC's case study which implies that the film had been completely pulled from even UK club screenings in 1983 and that the film's distributors had cut two scenes even for those screenings to comply with UK law. The two scenes described (the German public info film and the watersports) were definitely in the print I saw - not only do I remember them, but I mentioned them in the review I wrote at the time!

I don't know what I'd think of it now, but 30 years ago I found it a refreshingly confident, exuberant and witty film, contrasting it favourably to the reticence and solemnity of Ron Peck's 1978 Nighthawks also about (what was then perceived as) the "double-life" of a gay teacher. Part of Taxi's appeal then for gay men in the UK was undoubtedly its sexual explicitness; at the time, it wasn't generally possible even to show an erection, let alone penetration or the non-vanilla activities depicted. I recall that some gay men were rather disgusted by the latter and the cottaging, fearing it would also reinforce the negative stereotype of the "promiscuous homosexual" (widely referenced in the 1980s during the "AIDS crisis"). My only misgivings about it in that area were that the film tended to reinforce the common and dubious distinction between wild sex and romance, as if they are mutually exclusive.

It appears that the screening I attended was supported by Genet's Un chant d'amour which I think was also uncertificated in the UK then. There may have been some sort of "club" formality to go through. A few years earlier when I saw Salo the university film society ink-stamped our hands as we entered, making us feel a bit like one of the prisoners in the film!

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david hare
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#9 Post by david hare » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:19 am

Jonathon the censorhip history tells us too much but too little.

I first got to see this uncut in Paris in May 1982, at a left bank cinema agter it had been banned and then released with the voluminous window posters and news info on the walls of the cinema which advised us all of the unholy fights with Jack Lang and various levels of French bigotry and total misunderstaning of this as a pedo film. I recall half the audience walking out during the Water Sports moment. My companion for the screening was a very old (Childhood in fact) hetero woman whom I had known since the 1950s. ThenI saw it cut to ribbons about six months later in Syney. The Distrib for this sneakily made VHS for sale tapes available at the candy counter which were uncut.

In any case I think the film has a more interesting censorship history than a gay one. But I happily hold my voice on that. Apparently one of the old cunts who was a censor in Oz for it (literally some old twat from the Salvation Army, those vile loonies)insisted they could leave the spread arse shot through the glory hole in, but that they MUST cut the erection. This is true.

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colinr0380
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:13 am

There's a great half hour documentary on the film's censorship in the UK on the Peccadillo disc Jonathan, which gets into the initial attempts to get it passed, which appear to have come to nothing. But then the Film4 chap interviewed talks about first seeing the film uncut in the early 80s whilst at that University of Warwick, so it must have been around as you say in cinema club circles. Although I might also take issue with the Film4 guy's statements about the resubmission to the BBFC and showing of Taxi zum Klo uncut on Film4 in 2005 not attracting much tabloid 'shock horror' comment as a sign of society having moved on. Film4 was still a monthly subscription channel at that time, not becoming free to view until mid-2006 (and it definitely was when they showed Salo, Romance, In The Realm Of The Senses and Seul Contre Tous back in 2000!) and so I guess that immediately limited the scope of the audience and thereby interest from newspapers than it would if Taxi zum Klo were to be shown on Film4 these days

I'm kind of on the fence regarding the film. It's a frustatingly, willfully ambiguous film, but that ambiguity allows me to in some ways overlook the annoying central relationship (and let me see it more as a comment on falling into heterosexual modes - Bernd even gets used as a footstool for Frank's exercises at one point!), or the lack of conclusion to either the relationship or the job as a teacher that lets us leave Frank at a moment of maximum crisis/liberation from the shackles of conventionality without having to show what decision he is going to make, but that is perhaps an easy filmic way of avoiding any consequences that will inevitably come after that point!

The film might be talking about the excitement of gay activity, yet that also shows rather detached and empty encounters, and that final whipping, cocaine and peeing scene goes beyond everything else, perhaps to finally even uncomfortably confront even a gay audience. On the other side, Bernd becomes more and more homely until he is doing cliched things like seeing Frank off for a night of cottaging like a mother making sure that their child is neat and tidy and has everything they need for their day!

Neither of those sides are really appealing (the wet blanket versus the wild man going off the rails), and that ambiguity means that the film can't really reach any particular narrative climax one way or the other. (It is also that ambiguity that seems to be allowing elements such as the screening of the child abuse film contrasted and intercut with Frank home schooling a precocious young boy the opportunity to get misinterpreted). If it did I think it would be a much less powerful piece of work. As it stands now it raises a whole range of issues and thrusts them into a film to at least portray them on screen. It can be frustrating that the film doesn't really seem to have a clear point of view or obvious argument to make, but showing that kind of disordered confusion without any real solution to it being readily apparent is perhaps closer to many people's approach to life, or maybe closer to a portrait of Ripploh's life at the time. At least Ripploh is not afraid to portray Frank as being flawed and rather unsympathetic throughout!

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GaryC
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#11 Post by GaryC » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:39 pm

Taxi zum Klo was in 16mm distribution in the UK in the 1980s (maybe 35mm as well) without a BBFC Certificate. Southampton University showed it, prior to 1984 (when I arrived there).

I saw the film at the Scale in London around the end of the decade. The watersports and info film sequences were in there, but had particular shots cut. In the case of the watersports scene, you could see him being pissed on but not someone pissing - unless I blinked at the wrong moment!

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david hare
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#12 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:09 am

No you didn't blink. THe shot starts with the Mechanic (or whatever he was) starting to piss and tracks down the stream of amber fluid to the ecstatic writhing body of la Ripploh. All in one take to prove no one was pee shy!!

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gcgiles1dollarbin
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#13 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:45 pm

david hare wrote:amber fluid
Hydration is in order.

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colinr0380
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#14 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:18 pm

I'm just impressed that, as an Australian, david hare shied away from what seemed like an inevitable "Amber Nectar" pun!

I must admit that the most disturbing thing about that entire sequence wasn't the act itself but that I couldn't really tell if they had put down some plastic or at least easy to wash sheets before they did it (I assume since the characters were taking cocaine just beforehand that making proper preparations didn't really factor into it!) Just think of the mess that they were going to have to clean up after, and that mattress was probably ruined! [-X

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david hare
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#15 Post by david hare » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:55 am

Listen mate, yastoopidcunbtfukin pommy bastardcunt:

It's amber "nectar". Not Fluid.

We al know what "FLUID" is/am don't we maaaaaates?

LIke the Honeypot to the fuckin' Bee!

Stone the fuckin' CROWS!! GALAH GALAH GALAH!!!!!

MAYTTTTTTEEE . (Insert Juliar Gillard Bogan Adeliadetripthong here.) (Preferably between consonants. Between vowels may become inadvertently impressive!!)
Now darlings aint that enough to get banned?

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gcgiles1dollarbin
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#16 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:22 pm

David, you are ban-proof in my book.

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GaryC
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Re: Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh 1981)

#17 Post by GaryC » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:10 pm

david hare wrote:No you didn't blink. THe shot starts with the Mechanic (or whatever he was) starting to piss and tracks down the stream of amber fluid to the ecstatic writhing body of la Ripploh. All in one take to prove no one was pee shy!!
Thanks, I thought I hadn't blinked. If my memory serves me right, the start of that shot had been snipped in the version I saw, because I remember wondering if the shower had been faked for the screen. I hadn't at the time been aware that anything had been snipped from this on legal advice. (There must have been some legal thing about onscreen urination - the BBFC snipped a second from Patrice Leconte's Ridicule for that reason, a very different film! I also remember an early 80s piece on censorship - Sight & Sound? - where James Ferman of the BBFC referred to what he might be able to pass at the then-proposed R18 certificate and mentioned this golden shower sequence as something that he thought he would still have to cut.)

I had been aware that there had been a shot snipped from Christian and the Stamp Collector Friend - at least one review at the time mentioned the irony that a genuine public awareness film intended for young people had had to be cut under the Child Protection Act.

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