Apr 2, 2013

Winnetou: German Gay Western

Karl May (1842-1912) enthralled generations of German boys with his tales of Charlie "Shatterhand" (because he is an excellent fighter, and can shatter your hand with one punch).  A German engineer, Shatterhand moves to the Old West and falls in love with the young Apache prince Winnetou.

Literally.  It's not a subtext.  Charlie, the narrator, spends many pages describing his Blutsbroder's massive chest, lean, supple waist, dark mysterious eyes, and his "gentle, lovingly mild and yet so energetic. . .half-full. . .kissable lips" (I left out a few dozen adjectives).

Karl May wrote 30 novels about the homoromantic pair. 300 million copies were sold in a dozen languages (here Hungarian).

Between 1962 and 1968, 11 German-Croatian movies were released, starring French actor Pierre Brice as Winnetou and former Tarzan Lex Barker as Shatterhand.

Brice also appeared as Winnetou without Shatterhand in two tv miniseries:  Mein Freund Winnetou (My Friend Winnetou, 1980), with Eric Do as his teenage "friend," Tashunko.  and Winnetous Ruckkehr (The Return of Winnetou, 1998).

Between 2007 and 2010, a series of German tv movies have recreated the sage for a new, gay-savvy audience, with Erol Sander and Gojkol Mitic (top photo) as Winnetou and Thorstein Nidel and Joachim Kretzer as Shatterhand,

And that's not including the Karl May festivals, held annually in Bad Segelberg, Germany, where thousands of participants dress as their favorite characters and see live performances (you can get tickets for the summer 2013 festival here).

Or the film parodies, or the toys and games. A whole world for gay German kids to dream of.

See also: George Goetz, Gay Dad with a Chest.