As a new ongoing series, we have a chat with Berlin residents who live the vintage lifestyle or are inspired by our city’s past.
We are very pleased to present you Le Pustra, an enigmatic artist who is one of Berlin’s latest acquisitions.
I have known Le Pustra for about 10 years, since the night we met at an underground London dive called Barden’s Boudoir, in Dalston (pre-gentrification: it is now a pulled pork and craft beer kind of place), for a club night called One for the Lovers. Paloma Faith was playing there that night and Pustra & Vileen and myself got booked for the following month. It was 2006 and we were in the MySpace era. Fast forward several adventures later and our paths cross again in Berlin. I am a big fan of Le Pustra’s work: weird, evocative, melancholic and very stylish!
VBG: Who are you?
Ich bin Le Pustra: Vaudeville’s Darkest Muse. I am new in town and moved here in April with one suitcase and an empty bank account.
VBG: How would you define your work?
(Takes a deep breath) Ok let me make a pot of tea first as we are going to need it…
People often say to me “Oh my God you look great” and then they pause before asking: “But.. what do you do?”
Sigh. Lord have mercy.
I am an artist. I used to be a painter and always had an affinity for colours. I just love bright colours (I wear only black in Berlin though). So yes, I am an artist. I am also an actor, a model, a director, a musical saw player, a tarot reader, a muse, a stylist, video editor, a singer and most important of all – a dreamer. So I guess an artist is the easiest way to sum it all up. I pretty much do my own thing and it seems to work for me. People have been very supportive of Le Pustra and his journey and evolution.
VBG: What made you move to Berlin?
I was planning to move to Paris but ended up in Berlin which I am grateful for. Lada Redstar, Burlesque star and force of nature, opened her beautiful home to me and I had a very warm welcome from friends and colleagues. But the truth is, I needed a change in my life and it was time to jump off the cliff with no real plan. Best decision ever. It is scary to start over or just take a leap of faith but it sure makes you feel alive. This city has a lot to offer and I believe Berlin is a sort of haven for lost and broken people, artists, weirdos and lost souls. At a first glance, Berlin is not the prettiest city but there is a special energy that lures and hypnotises.
VBG: What do you like about Berlin?
This town is full of weird and wonderful characters. I love seeing all these strange people going about their business and I feel I fit in. I like discovering old buildings, the rich history of Cabaret, frequenting beer gardens (Schleusenkrug in Tiergarten is a good one – and with an interesting history) and spending summer in the parks and lakes with friends. Oh and cycling through Schöneberg. Berlin keeps surprising me, I feel good here.
VBG: Where can we find you? What are your favourite haunts?
I live in the beautiful Viktoria-Luise-Platz area amidst elegant buildings that survived the Second World War where famous stars like cabaret artist Claire Waldoff, film director Billy Wilder and silent film star Asta Nielsen lived. Down the road there is the famous Eldorado nightclub from the 20s and of course Nollendorfstraße where Christopher Isherwood stayed during his time in Berlin. The LiteraturHaus in Fasanenstraße 23 is one of my favorite restaurants (Thanks, Paolo Alei) and also Cafe Kalwil in Motzstraße with its antique furniture, beautiful decoration and delicious homemade cakes.
VBG: As such a unique artist, how welcoming has Berlin’s art scene been for you?
Berlin is a city where you can reinvent yourself which I think is the main appeal for artists. In September I directed and performed in a fashion show for my friend, Ivana Pilja during Berlin Alternative Fashion Week which was the highlight of my year. What I like about this Fashion Week is that you are given total artistic freedom to create and express yourself with no restrictions, unlike the ‘regular’ fashion weeks. It was a real challenge for me to direct but we triumphed and had an overwhelming response.
“Ivana Pilja and Le Pustra created one of the best shows in the fashion industry this year! Jaw dropping!” – BAFW
Artists like myself can really benefit from these type of events so I hope more opportunities will arise. I have also been singing in an Art Gallery near my house (The Ballery in Nollendorfstrasse) and have met many interesting artists, musicians designers and performers. And the feedback has been very flattering. However I do feel you have to work really hard in Berlin and be extremely motivated. There is opportunity here but you gotta go out and find it.
VBG: What are you working on? What are your plans for the future in Berlin?
At the moment I am working on a new show entitled ‘Kabarett der Namenlosen’ which will premiere in March 2016 for 3 nights only. I am collaborating with Bohème Sauvage to bring a dark theatrical ‘Salon’ style show to Berlin. I love producing and creating visual imagery so this is a natural step for me to take. Kabarett der Namenlosen was a notorious Cabaret from the mid 1920’s till mid 1930’s and was originally a very cruel concept – very much like today’s TV talent shows where humiliation is the dish of the day. But my approach and vision is very different so I’m very excited to see the results. I am also in school to learn German and working on my coffee table book called “Creating Le Pustra”.