Category Archives: Berlin

The Anthony Bourdain Memorial Ice Cream Crawl. Cause you gotta have food at a wake.

At the cheese counter I ran at A.G. Ferrari in Berkeley, 1998.

The cool comes from under the trees in the Berlin summer nights, from the leafy plazas and million parks and the green breathing lung of Tiergarten.

You catch a vegetal blast of air that feels almost icy, the way passing the 72nd st Transverse used to feel on CPW in August. We’re pretty far north in Berlin, and it stays light til 10pm. The day Anthony Bourdain killed himself I took the U-7 to Eisenacher Str. at 7pm; the long twilight hadn’t even started.

On the train an American was explaining what Currywurst is to another American. “And the place we’re going is the most famous currywurst stand in Berlin,” she said. I came out of the station by the church and walked along Akazienstr to my favorite Habibi falafel cafe, the one with the strange fountain full of sunken amphorae.

Where the guys are brusque and the line is slow but it feels so much like Mamoun’s.

And the falafel is damn near as good. In 1981 my boyfriend Paul and I used to scrape up change from under our bed and walk from the West Village to Macdougal to get falafel at Mamoun’s. I would ask for “extra, extra tahini” and they would laugh at me but fill my falafel til it dripped creamy tahini sauce. Paul slashed his throat with a razor blade in our bedroom when I was fifteen and was hospitalized at Bellevue. My first suicide attempt was two years earlier.

Before i visited Paul at the psych ward I would go to DiBella Brothers and get a Stuyvesant sandwich and marinated artichokes stuffed with blue cheese and eat them on the lawn of a high-rise in the East twenties. I would sit on the grass in that spring of 1982 with a book – Madeleine L’Engle, I was rereading the Earthsea books – and breathe in the good news that I was alive, still, and could feel pleasure.

The first gateau marjolaine I ever made, in 1992 or 1993.

In Berlin on this summer night I had slabs of roasted eggplant smeared with baba ganoush, cauliflower caramelized at the tips of the florets, cinnamon-scented chicken schwarma, pita dredged in green olive oil.

I breathed in and out in the warm cafe, as people came and went and bought baklava at the counter. They don’t make it there, of course, but it’s so good. Pistachio only, no walnut. Also delicious: the basbousa, drowning in sugar syrup.

I didn’t get any baklava, because I was planning to get ice cream, and i can always come back another day. I ate roasted carrots cut slantwise, soft as sweet potatoes. Mint leaves. Again green oil, soft pita. Again mint.

Fresh mint leaves are the single most luxurious affordable luxury item in the world.

I sat for a bit after I finished eating, looking around, breathing.

Cakes, tarts and mousses I made for a party I gave when my first Star Trek comic came out in 1994.

Hand-sculpted gold-leafed marzipan penguins I made for a wedding cake at Dean & DeLuca in 1996.

My breath is safe in my lungs, moving safely, freely. In 1987 in my tiny bedroom the paramedics yelled into their walkie-talkies, “Put a rush on that bus!”. My boyfriend Richie hadn’t been able to wake me up.

My heart ticks over smoothly. In 1996 in Adams-Morgan I stood up, stepped one step to turn on Victoria’s oven, stepped one step back to the kitchen table, and called the hotline instead.

I was working at Dean & DeLuca Georgetown in 1996, manager of the bread and pastry and fine chocolate departments. I had the most beautiful food in the world at my fingertips.

It was like a museum of food, our store, and I would cry in the bathroom in the basement.

Here in Berlin, I left Habibi’s and went down the street to Eisfee. Eis means ice cream, and Fee of course is “fairy”. I had Berliner Bar, a vanilla eis with karamell and brownies. The flavor is amazing but the texture was a bit chewier than usual. I walked slowly up towards Gotzstr. eating ice cream with the sky still, still light. It seemed like the sun would never slip over the horizon, like the city was holding it against the skyline.

The first wedding cake I ever made, white chocolate with white chocolate buttercream and handmade marzipan roses.

The charming streets of Schöneberg are lined with restaurants and cafes, and their outdoor tables were full. People were eating together, waiters were bringing full plates. I smelled fish skin sizzling on iron, and lemon juice, outside a taverna. I smelled cilantro and green curry, and basil crisping on top of margarita pizza in a wood oven. I smelled tandoori lamb, and roasting doner kebab. Berbere and sumac. Cumin, the scent of life.

I walked up to Jones Ice Cream, and waited in the line, which was no worse than the Bi-Rite line on a Tuesday night in winter.

Bûche de noel with meringue mushrooms and crème brûlées, Christmas 1994.

Jan Diekmann at Jones Ice Cream

Jan Diekmann at Jones Ice Cream

Jan Diekmann, who runs the line, saluted me when I came in. I only make it over there every couple months, but I have made it clear how deeply I value the quality of the ice cream. I had a scoop of black sesame ice cream on one of their absurdly good white chocolate cranberry cookies.

It was a serenade of salty, buttery, umami-rich sweetness, yet with a grassy and floral creaminess. I love the way you taste the grass in good cream.

I will go ahead and say Jones Ice Cream has better flavors than Bi-Rite. At Jones each flavor is actually even more superbly calibrated, but Bi-Rite beats them on texture. I ate very slowly, paging through “Sweet Berlin”, a book of Berlin pastry chefs, confiseurs and chocolatiers. When I was done I dodged through the line, and thanked the counter staff quickly, as I often do at such times. “Vielen danke! Sehr lecker, lecker-lecker!”.

And then got out of there, because you don’t take up people’s time in the evening rush.

Gateau mârjolaine with white chocolate gates and handmade marzipan roses, and petit-fours, made for my first wedding in 1995.

I walked up Goltzstr to the St. Matthias Kirche, which is being repaired, like every other fucking building in Berlin. I smelled a breath of lilacs at the edge of the small park there, though it’s past their season, and I saw that among the wild roses there is a little cherry tree, laden with shiny fruit.

There was a tiny path worn through the loose flowering bush, but I left the cherries for the kids who will come to the Markt am Winterfeldplatz tomorrow.

At the Markt am Winterfeldplatz I once bought a handmade praline of milk chocolate ganache dusted with bee pollen; my friend Monique bought flaxseed oil they grind as you watch.

In 1987 I was sitting in the Cocolat cafe on Fillmore st., eating Alice Medrich‘s three-chocolate mousse cake and drinking a split of ice-cold Piper Heidseick I had shoplifted. I was high on heroin and I was still absolutely fucking miserable. I said to myself, fuck, if this mousse can’t make me happy, drugs really must not work for me anymore.

I went to my first recovery meeting just a couple days later. It was another eighteen months before I got sober, but that moment was the beginning.

I went back to San Francisco in 1991, two years sober, and went to that Cocolat and bought Mme. Medrich’s cookbook, Cocolat. It was the first serious cookbook I bought as an adult, and I made that three-chocolate mousse cake for the opening of my first art show at school.

I spent my tweens reading Vladimir Estragon’s Waiting for Dessert column in the Village Voice and Craig Claiborne in the New York Times. But it was Innumerable hours studying Cocolat and The Cake Bible in the 90s that formed the beginning of my professional food career, which put a roof over my head when none of my other skills could.

I walked up to Nollendorfplatz, where I picked a sprig of lavender and sniffed it over and over as I waited for the bus, as the sky darkened at last, as everything turned blue.

Astringent, spicy soapy, floral, herbal – lavender is everything. I can’t believe I’m alive. I am stupidly fucking grateful to be alive. In Culver City in 2005 I was curled up on the floor of the bathroom of my husband’s corporate housing, cradling the phone, holding on to the hotline. I had taken the scissors, the sharpest blade I could find in the place, in there with me.

Holding on to the hotline like a subway pole. The hotline was the only dignity in my pain, the only justification for my existence now that I was discarded by my life partner. I was experiencing the worst emotional pain I had known since I got sober, and I wanted so badly to be dead, but the hotline held me. They told me I had value when every particle of my brain was telling me otherwise.

Halloween cake with hand-sculpted marzipan and royal icing bat, raspberry mousse heart and vanilla Bavarian brain for Halloween, 2001.

When food doesn’t make me happy, I know I’m depressed.

Gateau Marjolaine I made for my 50th birthday, Berlin 2017.

I don’t mean pleasure; as a libertine, a person with lifelong disordered eating, I can use sugar and carbs to get drug-like comfort even when I’m deeply depressed. I mean happy – that sense of exhilaration and wonder, at the alchemy of flavor.

At the mystery of how the elements of the food come together.

For me, eating is reading a story, thinking about where the food comes from on the planet, the food traditions of the culture. About the antecedents and variations of the dish.

I never eat pasta without remembering my training at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley in the late 90s.

Coulibiac of saumon made for Daria’s 30th birthday in 2017, recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible.

We learned that microscopic corrugations in the surface of the century-old bronze dies give the best extruded pastas their sauce-grabbing power. We tasted forty-five-year-old balsamic, syrupy thick, and Cowgirl Creamery fromage Blanc made that day, and there was always Acme Bread.

The cheese period of my Pasta Shop education was especially precious. I trained with a Neal’s Yard cheesemonger. She taught me how to break an 85 pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, and taste the first flake from the heart of the wheel. The head chef at the Pasta Shop was a joyful grey-haired Deadhead who ate kimchi for breakfast every morning. She was wonderful. Amazing food women have guided me all my life.

The summer I was 24 I worked as a cook in a restaurant on a boat on the Mississippi River, with a group of other women. We would bake off the night’s desserts in the hot afternoons, music playing, the windows of the boat all open, cutting whole flats of ripe peaches, until everything smelled like ripe peaches. Cooking with those women are some of my most cherished kitchen memories, even though one night a body washed up in the inlet next to our boat.

Making flourless chocolate cake for Daria, 2017.

When Spalding Gray’s body was found in the East River in 2004, I thought it was a sign.

Depressed people think crazy shit like that. I had been so depressed for so long, it just seemed like I couldn’t possibly find the strength to keep going. I thought, what is the point of making it another decade and then giving up anyway? I thought, he fought it all that time only to lose in the end. I was tired of calling the hotlines, of hiding how I felt from everyone. I felt like I would get better, then get worse, and each time I was sick I was more exhausted.

But then I got to leave my toxic job, and I started painting again, and I got on Wellbutrin, and by 2005 I was doing great – until my husband left me. Between that, the Great Recession, losing my house and losing my art business, I was down for the count until 2011. And yet, that wasn’t the end of the story. I thought my story would end like Spalding Gray’s, a long battle, the appearance of making it clear of the weeds, and then losing after all. That isn’t the story I got.

The story I know today is the story of the miracle of not being depressed.

My story today is that I have been in true, complete, uninterrupted remission from my lifelong depression for almost six years. It is the story of smelling green curry from a cafe table and feeling it as a celebration of life and human magic. Instead of feeling it as a rebuke.

Once in 1995 I was standing by a pond in a park in Hartford, looking at some ducks on the water. My comic book had been cancelled, I had no apartment and my stuff was in storage, my first marriage was coming apart, my student loans had just defaulted and I had been severely depressed for a year. I felt really pissed that there was this beautiful scene, that I was supposed to appreciate, when all I could think about was how many Tylenol it takes to kill yourself.

It seemed like a cruel cosmic joke, those fucking ducks. That’s how the world feels, when you’re depressed. It affects every part of your worldview. I remember the relentless negativity and hopelessness of most of my life quite clearly. But I’ve never operated from that system of feelings, despite dwelling within it for the majority of my time on the planet. I’ve always, always proceeded as if things were gonna get better, as if I would be ok someday, no matter how bad I felt.

Vegan chocolate cake with vegan chocolate mousse. Photo by Daria Rein.

Vegan chocolate cake with vegan chocolate mousse I made last month. Photo by Daria Rein.

I was always blessed with a dunderheaded amount of what has turned out to be, surprisingly, justified faith.

Thanks to my extremely high resilience score, and the love and support I’ve been blessed with all along, I believed a possible future without depression. But I felt the pain of that worldview most of the time, and the pain and pressure of it were unbelievable. It’s only now, having been released from it for almost six years, that I can begin to understand how pervasive and relentless and exhausting it was.

I fought like a lioness to save my body, my soul, my work, my love.

I would never say I won, because I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. Luckily, I already had pretty good skills for taking chronic illness a day at a time when I entered remission from depression. Twenty-nine years of sobriety, and three rounds of cold turkey heroin withdrawal before that, have given me certain abilities. One of them is the ability to be fucking grateful not to be in pain. SO grateful it’s like a whole emotion, like being in love. Another is the ability to relish reversals of fortune.

I never imagined I could be this deeply, consistently, profoundly happy.

It can get better, and statistically, it just plain WILL for some depressed people. Happiness has a U-shape for many and you can age out of depression, or get better through treatment, or heal. I have no idea how to share that truth with those who are suffering, to get it in under their aching chests where it can grow.

Suzanne Forbes photographed at home by Mirella Frangella May 2018

Suzanne Forbes photographed at home by Mirella Frangella, May 2018

I only know my story, the story of walking around on a summer night so glad to be alive I feel like I won the lottery. Eating ice cream.

I wrote here about how Longterm Remission from Severe Depression  is Fucking Possible.

And here about how Depression is a Disease, and Most of Us Aren’t Doctors.

More writing about my fancy-food career here and converting US recipes for Europe here (Guerilla Peanut Butter Pie) and here (Five-Car Fender-Bender Flapjacks, GF).

Resources:

In Berlin,

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, the Berlin Crisis Service (Berliner Krisendienst) offers telephone and in-person help in English at nine centres throughout the city: www.berliner-krisendienst.de/en/

The NHS.

The National Suicide Prevention Helpline.

Rob Delaney’s amazing post on depression and getting help.

The Trans Lifeline.

Moving to Berlin in 2018: a trip to the Zoll.

Schoeneberg Zollamt by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018The Zoll is where packages from America are held for ransom, if they don’t get lost.

I finally had to go there a while back, due to the error of an Amazon seller. I had scrupulously avoided it for three years!

Of course I made a drawing. Everyone there was perfectly nice, contrary to the yelp reviews.

If you are planning a move to Berlin, do not mail yourself anything or have anyone mail you anything bigger than a postcard.

The Zoll will open it and charge you duties on it probably even if it is a gift or even if it is your old clothes from college. It’s just not worth it to wait a million years for your package to arrive, then get a letter from the Zoll, schlep over to the Zoll, take a number, wait in line, go through the scary mystery door, and experience your package being probed before you pay at least 18% duties on it and probably also 18% on the cost of shipping.

Items under 20-25 euros including shipping are exempt, but the exact amount seems to be variable and they still take FOREVER to arrive. If you must go, follow this excellent protocol from yelp user Karim S.:

Both eBay.com and Amazon.com have a “Duties/Import charges” function that sellers can use. If your checkout includes those, and you pay them, your item will arrive fine.

This is the only exception to shipping stuff from the US. eBay’s International Shipping Program is fantastic and now even ensures items from the UK make it here, as previously they never made it. They would just disappear or be returned. (See my post on my hatred of the German postal system here).

Schoeneberg Zollamt detail by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018Etsy’s function for this doesn’t seem to work properly, etsy sellers aren’t aware or made aware of Germany’s duties, and etsy stuff will be lost in the void or Zoll’d.

Amazon.co.uk also works fine, much better than an ebay.co.uk transaction without the International Shipping process.

If an Amazon.com seller doesn’t list duties/import charges for an item over 20 bucks, they didn’t set up the item sale properly and your stuff will wind up at the Zoll. Don’t risk it.

Just ask your friends to bring you your stuff when they visit. *cough* or your mom who might heroically bring an extra suitcase just of your stuff.

Or buy it from the UK, til Brexit. The equivalent of Target here for cheap good value basic clothes and household furnishings (but only online) is bonprix.de. You can get a LOT of amazing stuff on the eBay.de free classifieds, ebay kleinanzeigen. There are Facebook groups for free stuff and “sell your stuff”. Avoid craigslist, it barely works here. Also, IKEA delivers. Other Nature, the lovely queer sex shop, sells US brands of toys, harnesses, packers etc. which *they* pick up at the Zoll and pay the duties on, specifically so you don’t have to have a creepy violating experience ordering the intimate products you like best.

Just don’t ship stuff from the US.

Well, if you must, you can use MYUS.com, which is a shipping service. You get a shipping address in the States from them, you ship your items there, and they ship your items to Germany. (Or anywhere, I think?) The items arrive at the one FedEx office in Berlin, which is out somewhere near the Zoll, and then FedEx ships them to you. And THEN, a week or a month later, you get a big bill from FedEx for your duties! Which if you don’t pay, will promptly be referred to collections, which you can’t really dodge in Germany, and you’ll pay another 50-75 euros in fees! Not that I know anything about that. Cough.

My Moving to Berlin series:

Basic Needs on Arrival.

Happyfuntimes at the Foreigners’ Registration Bureau!

How to move to Berlin in 2016, Part 1.

Finding a flat in Berlin, in 2015.

How to move to Berlin in 2016 or 2017, part 2: Registration!

Things I HATE about Germany.

Work in progress: Painting Shakrah, while being photographed by Mirella Frangella!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Shakrah and I had our second sitting for the new portrait the day before I was in a bus crash.

Work in Progress portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes June 2018It was very lucky timing, as we had also scheduled with amazing portrait photographer Mirella Frangella.

Mirella is a career photographer whose personal work focuses on intimate character studies.

My friend Miss Natasha Enquist met her when Mirella’s photos of gauchos in South America were exhibited at The Ballery.

Mirella did a shoot with Miss Natasha, and was looking for other artists to photograph. Natasha suggested me!

Mirella came to the house and photographed me in fancy clothes the week before last.

She wanted to do another session, while I was actually working, so we set up a time with Shakrah, who I had recently started a second portrait of.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

I love Mirella’s work and her way of using available light and her handheld flash to capture a close and realistic view of her subject.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

We were so relaxed and comfortable with her presence as she worked.

During the sitting, at one point Shakrah was lounging elegantly on my boudoir chair while Mirella shot some close-ups of me.

I looked up and saw her and I yelled, “THAT is the look!” and grabbed my brush to make superfast big changes to the painting.

I changed her pose from standing to sitting in about ten minutes!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

As you can see, I changed the painting quite a lot. I don’t often make such big changes between the first and second sittings, unless some new aspect of my model just captivates me. Or I accidentally painted my model standing on the wrong leg, like in this portrait of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Ramon!)

WIP Portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes first and second sittings 2018Somehow I feel like you have more of a sense of Shakrah as a singer in the new version even though I haven’t painted the mike in yet, like she’s pausing by your table in the cabaret.

You can hear Shakrah singing vintage jazz here and see Mirella Frangella‘s beautiful portraits here.

We had such a lovely time working together with Mirella, it was amazing. Once my hand is healed enough for the cast to come off Shakrah and I will reconvene and finish the painting!

You can see our first sitting here and the previous portrait Shakrah and I did together here. Thanks so, so much to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to tell women’s stories and collaborate with women artists!

Berlin summer days on the KuDamm.

Roxy the dj at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018This is Roxy the DJ, she was so nice!

I went to an event called Berlin Classic Days, a car show/street fair that happens in our neighborhood.

Dancer at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018Here’s a dancer who was working with the street art crew.

The folks from Murales Berlin art collective had some of their graffiti/calligraphy/art-transformed cars on display.

Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 1My friend Miss Natasha Enquist was performing and I very rarely draw outside, so I wanted to take the opportunity.

Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 I was sitting in the shade in the tent with Roxie so I was drawing MNE from a new angle, her very lovely and hard-earned posterior!

I was intrigued by the way the straps of the accordion delineated her shoulders. An accordion is such a heavy, breathing instrument; I love to draw the way people play with their whole bodies.Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 2

I especially like the fashion-illustration style of this last one.

I was gonna be a fashion artist before I discovered superhero comics. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can draw live again or use a pencil/brush pen, because of the bus accident I was in. So these are the last new drawings for a bit! But my orthopedist says I should heal up just fine. Meanwhile, I’ll be finishing up other things and doing other kinds of art 🙂

When the ladies play the blues.

Rah Hell and Alfred Ladylike perform with Vintage and Used by Suzanne Forbes May 29 2018I returned to the delightful Art Stalker Berlin to see the first Donut Heart reunion.

Alfred Ladylike and Rah Hell were performing with blues band Vintage & Used. Rah says I am getting better at drawing the drums! It was interesting to draw her arm and wrist movements playing the blues vs. playing punk with Baron and The Erinyes. Her axis of movement was much lower. You can see what I mean by that, with the sharper angle of her forearms, in these drawings from the Sekrit Rehearsal Space. You can see my previous visit to Art Stalker here!

Vintage & Used is the other band Baron Anastis is in and they were great. Greek guys can totally play the blues!

Vintage and Used at Art Stalker Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 24 2018

You can see dozens more musician drawings here on flickr.

As always, I am so grateful to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to document the Berlin music scene!

 

 

Dancers at Berliner Kultursalon, April 30, 2018.

dancing at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2018I drew some amazing dancers at a cultural and artistic venue newly opened in Berlin, the Berliner Kultursalon at Forum Factory.

Hoop dancing at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2018Hoop-dancing, Burning Man style!

I love to draw hoop dancing and it’s been ages since I had a chance.

Dancer at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2018

Fusion bellydancing, to German folk music.

I’ll update with these performers’ names shortly! You can see the previous post from this event here.

As always, thanks so much to my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you for making it possible for me to document Berlin life, culture and art.

Anyone can help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month!

 

Woman-fronted bands at the opening of the Berliner Kultursalon!

Das Fluff at Berliner Kultursalon April 30 by Suzanne ForbesA new cultural and artistic venue has opened in Berlin, the Berliner Kultursalon at Forum Factory.

I went along to see my friends in Das Fluff perform, and caught two other bands with powerhouse frontwomen. Das Fluff, above, was the final act.

Two Times Twice at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2018The opening band was Two Times Twice.

With a fierce, howling frontwoman!

Feline and Strange at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2018The middle act was Feline and Strange, a steampunk two-person band.

Also with a fierce, howling frontwoman! Hell yes.

There were also some wonderful dancers and I made drawings of them which I will post soon! Holy heck this has been a busy, amazing, productive month!

Mixed media portraits of women.

Portrait of Anna May 3 2018 by Suzanne ForbesA fellow New Yorker came over to visit and was kind enough to pose for several hours so I could make a careful study of her beautiful face!

Portrait of Anna May 3 2018 by Suzanne Forbes detailI can hardly believe it was less than a year ago I was so scared of adding color to my drawings that I thought it was a big deal to buy one pink pastel.

Now I am routinely adding color. Not a lot, not every time, but I keep gently pushing myself to experiment.

The drawing below is of my Beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Monique Motil, who came here to spend her birthday with me and her sister Marie!

We were dining at Restaurant Lutter & Wegner sei 1811, an amazing Charlottenburg treasure.

I discovered this beautiful little gem of a traditional German resto when I was hired to live-draw at a birthday party there earlier this year. This time I had Spargel for the first time, with sauce hollandaise.

Although Spargel looks like zombie dildoes or White Walker penises, it is absolutely delicious. Monique and Marie by Suzanne Forbes West Berlin May 12 2018

Seeing my beloved Monique and spending time with her and her amazing sister was a glorious time.

yes this is miniature and yes I own it thanks to my mom who I shipped it to and who sent it to Monique so she could bring it to me.

She is a cherished friend, fantastic human, AND one of the most gifted artists I’ve ever known, as well as one of my longest-time collectors and Patrons.

She brought me fantastic art treasures as well as the miniature LEDS and miniature defibrillator for the Dollhouse Underground Laboratory.

I was able to go out and do things with M&M, in the daytime (!!!!!!), thanks to the wonder of the HRT treatment I’m taking for my menopause symptoms.

You don’t have to settle for a shit quality of life, uterus/ovaries-having women of a certain age. You can be stronger, clearer-headed, better rested, full of energy.

Aren’t you worth finding out if HRT is for you? It’s working for millions of menopausal women in the UK and Europe and for so many trans women every single day!

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin delivers a gangbuster show for Berlin Burlesque Week!

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 second lookAnd I brought the drawing magic.

Check out Betty Fvck from Finland! Seriously, I am doing some of the best drawings of my career to date at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.

Trixie Tassels 2 at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 detailThe superb models, the wonderful sets and music, and the gorgeous setting of Ballhaus Berlin all come together to inspire me profoundly.

Trixie Tassels, above and below, is a former professional life model.

She combined classic life modeling skills with her bombshell looks and amazing costume. What a fabulous treat!Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

This show had more than fantastic showgirls- it had live singing by some of the best cabaret singers I’ve ever heard.

Among the many performances was an unbelievable version of “Fever” by Rachel Von Hindman, absolutely stunning. She sang classics from Cabaret too, with house-on-fire power!

Rachel Von Hindman at Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Maya Full Power steampunk queen at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018I found Maya Full Power exceptionally lovely.

I was crazy for both her costumes, a steampunk princess and a hardcore full-on peacock look.

Maya Full Power at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

And Betty Fvck had three different looks!

Sadly, I was only able to draw two of them.

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018But I knocked it out of the park for both of them!

Mad kudoes to LalaVox and co-producer Syren Joey for this wonderful, wonderful time.

And I am so profoundly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you so very much for making this sweet life possible by funding my art.

Anyone can help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month!

 

A portrait of E in pastels, on a Sunday in Berlin.

E Pastel Portrait by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 detailMy muse these last thirteen years was here this weekend.

We had a portrait sitting, and brunch. There was crying, as there often is, and evil laughter, and then we got to work. I had told her we would try the pastels, on dark paper.

I said that with her lilac hair she would “emerge from darkness, like a lily from a lake of blood.”

E by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 WIPI have always found E tirelessly interesting to try and make a picture of. I have been trying since I met her at the Folsom Street Fair in 2005, where she was wearing a vintage slip and white flowers in her masses of tentacley black hair.

I was so struck by her I went home and drew her from memory, something I very rarely do with portraits. In 2006 and 2007 she had more free time, and she sat for me often.

Then she got an important job and an athletic hobby, and has since become progressively more busy doing good, important work. In the intervening years our lives have been set on fire repeatedly, and we have survived the fire.

I have made so many pictures of her, and I would happily make a hundred more.

But for now, this one. E Pastel Portrait by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 edit

You can see my watercolors of E from summer 2016 here, and a drawing of her in Kreuzberg in 2015 here. And you can see the many, many paintings and drawings I made of her in the Bay Area here, and the story of our great collab “Defending the Electronic Frontier” here.

Or you can hear me talk about “D.E.F.” at Maker Faire in 2008 at the 4:32 mark in the video below.