R.I.P. Bruno S.
Bruno S. died in Berlin yesterday. He was the guy who played Kaspar Hauser and Stroszek in Werner Herzog’s movies and ever since it's been pretty much downhill for him. Aside from his little blip of fame in the 70s, he made his living as a street musician in the poor part of West Berlin. Not only do we regret losing an amazing artistic survivor, but also another part of what we like to call "the old Berlin." Here’s a story our German editor in chief wrote about how he got to know the old man and ended up filming an episode of Practice Space with him.
When I first heard Bruno S. play in the Stadtklause, a tiny bar filled with hardened beer lovers and Berlin oddballs, it wasn't really what I was expecting. To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect from a guy who grew up on the streets, disowned by his adoptive family, plucked from nowhere by Werner Herzog to star in his films before being discarded just as quickily.
After hearing him recount his own life story, it seemed very fitting that he spent his days playing out on the same street corners as he had for the past 50 years. Of course, there were the "Herzog years", when he was catapulted into the limelight with Kasper Hauser and Stroszek (he still had the posters and clapper boards on the walls of his flat), before returning to his previous life as the estranged street musican. The effect of this sudden fame no doubt hardened him, and seemed to have driven him even further away from what people who suck like to call "normal society".
Bruno's flat itself was a tiny three-room abode. Junkroom to the left, another junkroom to the right and a kitchen out the back. The entire floor and most of the wall space was overflowing with trinkets and oddities collected during his life on the street. Speaking to Bruno was almost as convoluted as his living space. He went off on bizarre tangents, some of which were actually songs or poems, which seemed to act as a kind of safety valve against delving too deeply into his own past. There were, however, moments where you could really see his eyes light up with the enthusiam and optimism of his younger self, before disillusionment forced him into reclusion. As gay as it may sound, it was a really special moment. I hope watching the show will give people a better idea of who this guy was, and in a more intimate way than some documentary about his life or superfluous interview with Herzog.