One of gay adult film’s genuinely iconic stars of the past decade as well as a frequent presence in NYC nightlife, the German-born Hans Berlin (aka Florian Klein) has just written the unexpected and epic next chapter of his career.
Thotyssey: Hello Hans, thanks for chatting today! I’m guessing you’re super busy now juggling nightlife gigs, adult film shoots and preparing your new theatrical production!
Hans Berlin: Yes sir… even though my adult film career is a little bit more in the background. I am slowly trying to retire from it. I’m getting too old, lol! And getting my musical Shooting Star ready for the stage takes up too much time.
This is gonna be an exciting transitional time! Before doing adult film, did you have a background in writing and theater?
I came to the states exactly 20 years ago to become an actor. I had worked in acting, singing and TV hosting in Germany before I decided to attend an acting school here in New York. I’ve always had these stories in my head, but I thought I was just a crazy person with all these different voices in my head. When I started writing Shooting Star, I realized that there’s people out there who actually want to hear my stories. The first run in Los Angeles was super successful… and then the pandemic hit.
You’ve had a long career in adult film and there’s probably a million questions I could ask about that, but I’m sure a lot of them are gonna be answered or inferred in the show you’re creating! But I will ask: how did you found yourself in the adult industry, what did you like and dislike about it, and what kind of person do you think does really well in that business?
Well, after finishing HB Studio here in New York, I moved to Hollywood to become the German Brad Pitt. That didn’t really work out too well; I was catering a lot, and didn’t book that many acting parts. One of my biggest achievements was playing the butler in an episode of Joan Rivers’ reality TV show for the WE channel.
So I started gogo dancing in West Hollywood. That was around 2012, when a lot of gay porn was still shot in Los Angeles. I was approached by a couple of recruiters if I was interested in doing adult. Of course my first answer was no… I’m a real actor! At some point, I realized that I didn’t really have an acting career going on for myself… and that it would be awesome to get paid for something I do anyway in the privacy of my own bedroom. So in July 2012, a little over a decade ago, I shot my first scene for Titan. Oh, and of course, all of my Hollywood dreams came true… just a little differently than I had imagined them. I got paid for entertaining people, I got fame, fans and a little bit of fortune.
I was surprised that the porn industry wasn’t that different from Hollywood. The main difference is how society looks at it. I’ve never killed anyone, never robbed a bank, and wasn’t responsible for the financial crisis in 2008… but people immediately see you as a bad person because you do porn. I’ve learned to embrace it. I’m very open about everything — also about my positive HIV status — so people couldn’t really talk behind my back. I learned that honesty is very empowering. Porn gave me a voice to educate about safer sex options, break HIV stigma, and teach people about “U=U” (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) — something everyone should know by now. If not, Google it!
What I dislike about it: it is almost too similar to Hollywood. You have to schmooze, get an agent, and always put yourself out there to get work. But I don’t regret anything. Getting into porn was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because it inspired me to write about it. But I feel the time has come to move on. And yes, I still have my OnlyFans.
And to answer your last question, I believe that someone who treats porn like a real career can be super successful. Someone like Austin Wolf, who should be an inspiration for everyone who wants to get into Adult. I think that guy is a millionaire by now, because of how disciplined he treats his porn career.
You’re one of the best known guys in the business… certainly in New York, at least!
Thank you. Someone called me a legend the other day, and that made me feel really old, lol!
You’ve definitely made lots of people very happy! But is it ever weird to navigate that, like, one in ten guys you meet likely already know who you are, intimately?
I let my hair grow over the pandemic, and I feel less people recognize me now when I go out. I think it’s fine. Also when I work with my musical team — and now that we’re hiring new actors for the show — it’s kind of funny that they all know what I look like when I’m having sex. Even the person who handles our social media needs to know that she or he will see my private parts when they go on Twitter.
Unfortunately, finding the one, my significant other, has been an issue. For many years I had a problem with my HIV status; I contracted the virus in 2001, and with a great therapist I needed to learn how to love myself again. Parts of me felt that I wasn’t lovable anymore, because of me carrying this virus.
Doing porn also puts a challenge on finding love. My last relationship fell apart because the mother of my boyfriend back then found out that I was doing porn, and she was not okay with it. He was a big mama’s boy, and broke up with me because of it… even though the reason why he wanted to get together with me in the first place was because I was an adult film star.
But I still haven’t given up hope yet. That’s why the main subject of Shooting Star is love: loving yourself, finding a chosen family that you love, and finding the love that lasts a lifetime. Because that’s our tagline! Shooting Star is a musical love story set in the world of the gay adult film industry.
I’m still a hopeful romantic. And I still love sex. That was also one of the reasons why I got into the industry: because I honestly love sex. And can’t get enough of it. Still!
So did Shooting Star’s story basically just pour out of you… and did you really have to think about what sort of details about adult film would translate to a musical or not?
I had a crush on one of my first scene partners, who was actually a singer and did porn to finance his singing career. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel the same way. But, the singing porn star image and finding love in the world full of sex just seemed too good! So one day — actually, one night, around 2013 — the story just poured out of me, and I started writing it down on my phone on my way home from HustlaBall Berlin.
The story itself didn’t really change that much, but with all the research I’ve done over the years — and I’ve done plenty of research — the characters became more three-dimensional. And even though we spill a lot of porn secrets, I always say: if you have an open heart and an open mind, you will see yourself. You will find yourself in one of the Shooting Star character.
So, sex work and nudity are vividly, um, explored in this show?
We don’t mention anything about escorting, even though a lot of porn performers work as escorts, too. I felt it takes another musical, play, or movie, to educate that this part of sex work is real and honest work, too.
Oh, and yes. There will be nudity in the show. It’s up to the actors how much they want to show — we’re not pressuring anyone into nudity. We’re also not against it!
What can you tell us about your main collaborators in the show so far, like your songwriter, fellow producers, etc.?
I wrote the first draft of Shooting Star in Germany in the winter of 2014 and had my first reading in Berlin, Germany in February 2015 at the Gay and Lesbian Museum in Berlin. That’s where I met Thomas Zaufke, my composer. He loved the show so much that he said he wanted to write the music for it. Back in New York later that year, I met Erik Ransom, who rewrote some of the lyrics I’ve already written and added many more of his beautiful words. Both of them are responsible for the crazy idea I once had becaming a full-fledged musical, with songs that the audience will hum and sing along to after they left our show.
For the New York production, Michael Susko is helping me putting everything on stage. I could not do this without his hard work, and his strong belief in the show and me. Bruce Robert Harris came in as a producer. I found investors and sponsors, and we’re starting with a creative/complete new creative team, including Peter Dunn of Gays: The Series. Dennis Corsi will direct. Choreographer Michael McCrary is gonna make our cast dance, and we just hired Brad Simmons as our musical director.
You have no idea how much work it is to put a show up on stage! The difference to the LA production will be that we’re producing the show in a club setting, so the audience will feel like they’re part of the show and not just watching it in a regular theater. It’s going to be the immersive theater event of the year: fourteen performances at Brooklyn’s queerest nightlife spot, 3 Dollar Bill.
Oh yes, and we’re still looking for actors of all types. Email us!
That’s my cue to link to the information about your casting notice:
Is there anything else coming up for you?
I just sold my first TV show concept to Germany… but they didn’t want to hire me as a writer. Because of Germanys tunnel vision, they don’t see me as a writer because I didn’t go to school for it. That’s why I still prefer living here in America. We just have to make sure that Orange Bastard is not gonna come back. Please get involved and vote, or a show like Shooting Star will never happen again. It doesn’t fit into the Handmaid’s Tale future the conservative voices of this country see for us.
One last thing [about Shooting Star]: come early. We open the doors to an adult-themed market one hour before showtime.
Last question: without spoilers if possible, what’s your favorite song from the show?
“Party Like a Pornstar!”
Sounds like a true anthem for all of us! Thanks, Hans!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Hans Berlin’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and OnlyFans. See more of his links here, and Google him to watch his adult film work! Buy tickets in advance for “Shooting Star” here.