53 square meters, 2 tomcats, 1 brothel

LAN Parties And Leopard G-strings

Jeff the photo journalist in Alfred Hitchcock’s film classic does it. Anton Pilgram in his self-portrait in St. Stephen’s Cathedral does it. The neighbor next door does exactly the same: They all look out of the window, observe and inspect what’s going on outside. In our series Window to the City Viennese people report from their daily views out the window, their perspectives and urban insights: from the apartment, the office desk, the taxi, or the tram…

Quite often when I enter our house on a side street of Thaliastraße in Vienna’s 16th district I feel reminded of an illustration from my student days: the Lyon Terence stage. No worries, this isn’t a cultural-historical treatise! It’s just that the mouse-gray façade of our old building is very similar to this stage type of the Middle Ages. At the very top, that’s where the educated reside. Those who have sufficient monetary means to land a modern rooftop UFO on a Gründerzeit building, creaking from the weight above. Down at the bottom, in the slightly moldy cellar, reign carnal desires. Just like the Terence theatre, this is a house of pleasure, plain and simple. Or more crudely: a brothel.

"Strange happenings in the opposite building ..."

But outside of the leopard G-strings hanging to dry in the cellar, one doesn’t notice much as a resident of this corner building. After all, the rather inconspicuous entrance of the establishment is on the side alley. Exactly where three of our four windows face. Especially the old wood casement windows are very popular among our feline housemates during the summer months. Sometimes one can imagine strange happenings in the opposite building. Beside a furniture storage room belonging to a Turkish interior shop at the top of the street is an abandoned hair salon. In the evenings it gets busy there – LAN parties or something like that. At least the neon blue blinking might be an indication of this.

"The beery-malty odor of Ottakring."

Our sleeping room window offers a one-of-a-kind view to the so-called Bizarr Salon, a sado-maso joint. A woman befittingly dressed in black welcomes her pain-seeking male clientele. When they arrive too early, outside of the business hours handwritten on the entrance door, they smoke a last cigarette. Quite similar to the neighbor, who spends his freetime smoking in jogging pants and slippers in the inner courtyard of our house. He belongs to the group living on the floors between the brothel and the attic, the typical Viennese melange of students, long-time residents, and families with a migrant background. It’s evident that gentrification has long since gained ground here in the Ottakring district. Thanks to Yppenplatz, Brunnenmarkt, and the Ottakring Brewery. The beery-malty odor of the latter competes with the chocolaty aroma coming from the Manner wafers factory in the neighboring district Hernals – not only in the air of our street, by the way.

1160 Vienna
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