21 October 2010

The naked truth

The cheek of it... Berliners strip in protest at city's sky-high rents

The movement is sending shock waves through the normally orderly world of Berlin estate agents: when they show off apartments for rent, their presumed tenants strip off and prance around wearing nothing but Mickey Mouse masks to hide their identities.

The protesters, who paint their naked bodies with slogans such as "too expensive" and "rip off", pose as ordinary would-be tenants and queue up to "view" expensive apartments to let.

Once inside they strip off and dance around to blaring music pumped through loudspeakers while being filmed. In most cases they manage to flee before the police arrive. A video of their protest usually appears on YouTube the following day.

"We want every estate agent and every apartment management company to be aware that if they try to rent out flats at rip-off prices, they can expect a visit from us," one of the protesters, who would only identify himself as Denis, declared on one of the videos.

The rent rise protest is conducted by a group called Hedonistic International which recently gained publicity after its members stormed a neo-Nazi pub. Their demonstrations have so far been confined to the Berlin inner-city districts of Kreuzberg and Freidrichshain. Both districts are being gentrified after providing cheap flats for immigrants and students for more than two decades.

- Independent, 21 October 2010

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