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FotoTV.Classic: Anders Petersen

Stories from the Café Lehmitz

In this film, Swedish photographer Anders Petersen shares his personal stories about the creation of his impressive and infamous documentary classic photo book “Café Lehmitz”, first published in 1978.

Café Lehmitz was a bar located near the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. Open for most of 24 hours, it was frequented by all walks of life, from sailors and cabdrivers to prostitutes and striptease dancers. A woman whom Petersen refers to as Gertrude, introduced him to the place at the end of the sixties and for nearly three years would spend most of his days and nights near the tables, benches and dance floor where life was lived to the full, drinking beer and befriending almost everyone he met there. Petersen compares Café Lehmitz to a church, both being places people met and congregated, with the exception that people were allowed to sleep, amongst other things, at the Café.

The book Cafe Lehmitz is an intimate and sometimes brutally graphic portrait of the patrons of a shabby bar in the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's once notorious red-light district. The book's most famous image is that of a tattooed, pleasantly occupied young man snuggling against a voluptuous, laughing woman. In 1985, it was used on the front cover of Tom Waits' classic album, Rain Dogs, in which Waits imagined a grotesque and downbeat world of American drifters and losers.


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