How much do male sugar babies earn

Sugar babies.
Interview with Kerstin Grether

Kerstin Grether: Sugar babies
Audio book, box set with 3 CDs
Eichborn | Lido 2007

   » amazon

When Kerstin Grether's novel “Zuckerbabys” appeared three years ago, a taboo was broken: for the first time, the subject of anorexia was the focus of a novel that on the surface could pass as a “pop novel”. Protagonist Sonja breaks with inner and outer demands, wishes, dreams and conditions - she wants so much to be a singer, practices devotedly for this goal and yet has to recognize that she lacks a supposedly important prerequisite for being a pop star: she is not thin, not so thin at least like the role models she admired and revered. With "Sugar Babies", Kerstin Grether asks urgent and uncomfortable questions: Is it really the case that girls sacrifice their lives to a questionable ideal of beauty? That they would rather die than get fat? And that ultimately no passion (music, love) counts anymore because the calorie table in your head is superimposed on everything else? And who is to blame? Is anyone to blame - is it the media, the parents, the girlfriends, the boyfriend?

In the meantime, the “sugar babies” have learned to speak and sing: the audio book that has become much more than a conventional audio book and the name has been published by Lido / Eichborn radio play much more deserved. The actresses Jana Pallaske and Nina Friederike Gnädig not only lend the characters in the book their voices, but also let the sugar babies come to life. Bernadette La Hengst and Jens Friebe are also there, Friebe, for example, plays the role of the heartthrob Johnny. Newly recorded cover versions of The Corrs, Pink and Madonna round off the project, which deals with the subject of anorexia, which is still taboo, in a relaxed and index finger-free manner. Kerstin Grether answered questions that arose when the audio book was published, but are "around" anyway:

Kerstin Grether:
Sugar babies

Suhrkamp 2006

248 pages
EUR 8.50
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CM: Topic zero sizes: what do you think, why is the desire to disappear, to get thinner and less and less so strong in many girls and women? From this point on, the question of beauty doesn't have to be asked anymore, does it?

KG: Unfortunately, yes. Because the question of what is beautiful is answered daily by the colorful magazines given these dimensions; and the "serious" public - after initial shock reports about anorexia - latched on with fascinated ridicule. Everything seems so simple! The icons of zero fashion also look light, as if tipsy from a paradisiacal lifestyle, which is a sign of an almost artistic beauty. And they are also considered to be the top party girls, as they float on their public scores: Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, Lindsay Lohan, all light, heavily rich girls who smile, shop, colorful and rock `rolling, every surface of her body planned and decorated with precious odds and ends, glowing from her highly prized photos. In this generation, the will to full life, to exceed the limits, to a wild party is represented by extremely lean, skeletal starved girls' bodies - whatever that should mean for all of us.
Fun? The even thinner ideal is so bad because the starving women let themselves be infected in everyday life by almost every woman who is thinner than them and continue to do it.
And the highly paid photo of the covered-up, retouched excess is the commodity that is traded because the public is excited to find out how the party was "backstage".
To come back to your question:
In the case of these young women, the will to have a wildly retouched party seems to have preceded the will to disappear. I don't think that more and more young women WANT to disappear. Because the pictures show the opposite of disappearance, namely women's friendship and celebrations and consumption and small dogs; ironically, the party girls are also friends with each other. Don't let anyone say they're promoting competition and catfight among women!
It's all so sad and cynical, and has so many different causes: You want to cry about the energy wasted by Zero women. Women who adapt to the zero trend surely still have some personal reasons for this life-threatening starvation that it scares me to think about how girls feel who do not come from loving, stable circumstances and still these sheltered party girls emulate. Many of them may not even emulate the questionable party posers - who one can also take for a job as zeros - but simply adapt their eating habits to their surroundings, to their friends and mothers. Or are too intimidated to deny themselves the trends that they support themselves. In any case, after a short period of communal shuddering about the sick methods of Hollywood, the crazy rich in LA, Zero is now considered an acceptable ideal of beauty !!!

Kerstin Grether
Photo: Sybille Fendt
I lived next to a grammar school for a while and was amazed at the extremely thin students; but did not bring the new drought in line with the briefly somewhat “lush” ideal of beauty among pop singers. (Whereby "lush", i.e. the 90s skinny sizes 34 or 36, in the case of Pink or Britney Spears, for example, is of course also a mockery). In the meantime I see an incredible number of 30-40 year old women with children who are child size themselves. What was size 34 a few years ago is now size zero, actually 30.
And yet in the nineties every second woman had an eating disorder! “How sick does it get?” Asks Sonja, a “sugar babies” protagonist, at the end of the novel. Still a good question, I think. Especially since the food industry is now supplying us with ever lighter products - which makes sense in view of the ideal. It is better to drink milk with 0.1% fat than not to drink milk at all. So it might be easier for women to have size 34 or 36 or 38 or 40 or whatever today than it was ten years ago when these products didn't exist. If only it were about: a lighter, better life, a beautiful lightness. And so, of course, this ideal of beauty is not really about beauty, but actually about disappearing light, about absence in presence - like a quarter-day job that you do from home; like the opposite of everything authentic rock that is currently being performed on the rock stages. The new lean sizes apparently no longer feed on the “affluent / abundance society”, as has often been said, but can also be read as a sign of superfluity, perhaps also weariness. A detachment also from individual personality traits: This disease makes you fearful, panic, sensitive to the point of dulling: the total anti-pop! In the maelstrom of hunger and sports frenzy, you can hardly make your own decisions anyway. The trend is no longer external, but also internal, when anorexia is integrated into the personality structure. But it seems that many women in the western world prefer to cling to difficult, rather than simple, ideals, which fortunately still exist. Especially those who do not have 20,000 euros a month for fitness and nutrition trainers who may even earn less than 20,000 euros a year. What women do for supposed beauty: a thigh thumper, and the Paris Hilton jokes are not even about that. And all of this is accompanied by the hypocritical whining, which has resounded again and again for 20 years and is not oriented towards schoolyard reality, about the alleged epidemic of "fat children" who are probably ruining our health system. The children are not always fat, but thinner: the risk of a heart attack is much more likely with anorexia than with obesity, especially in childhood. According to statistics, 1.5% of overweight children get diabetes and 15% of extremely underweight children die from anorexia. Because heart attack is the most common diagnosis in anorexia. To read the heart attack as a metaphor would also be cynical. Nevertheless, one can sometimes complain about the heartlessness of this beauty myth.

CM: How autobiographical is "Sugar Babies"? And do you even answer that question?

KG: I am now happy to answer that, I can admit that I was anorexic myself when I was in my early 20s. “Sugar babies” is not my fate story, but, among other things, a poetic argument on this topic from different perspectives. The question of whether I was anorexic only fits one aspect.

CM: As an anorexic, at some point you are closer to death than to life - does appearance then even matter? Do you fantasize yourself as a "beautiful corpse"?

KG: You suppress death. If you could get the idea, "beautiful corpse", you might get help. Instead, one tries to put on make-up and make it look nice. And since the other It girls are also starving, it feels like the normal ticket to love and life. I have spoken to obviously anorexic women about the subject and they have told me that THEY "have no problem with eating"; and at the same time emphasized how beautiful they find it. that someone speaks to you. And then I - the novelist who presented the topic from all sides and also simply spoke offensively about it with the “affected” - suddenly saw the problem from their point of view.
But it has nothing to do with them themselves, they claim, at best perhaps they know it from a friend, they say, and you can hear their stomach growling, see the absent look, all the frivolity; the symptoms. And if you keep looking at them, it sometimes gives you the creeps; how rushed, panicked, scared, dogged, or at least extremely bad-tempered they often look too. Of course, being cynical, saying it now also has an impact on humor. Starving makes you grumpy! It hasn't been funny for a long time. It's clear when you're about to starve to death. You no longer reinvent stand-up comedy. But what is still possible in this state is, strangely enough, busily and diligently doing schoolwork. I wish the anorexic a healthy fear of death so that they can change something about their condition. And a healthy fear of vegetating in unstable jobs for the rest of your life. You just need a lot of energy to find your place in the current economy or in the family.

CM: Do anorexics feel like they have a great secret or are ahead of others (not having to eat), or is it the other way around? Do anorexics think that non-anorexics can do something they cannot do themselves?

KG: They think that they have what it takes, that they know how to do it. And pity all those who just don't get it, who just don't know how to do it, how to turn it, the thing about being underweight. At the same time, they feel that the great starvation they perform is of course something special and should also remain special - and they do not want to demand this exertion from everyone. Deep down, of course, they are jealous of the “normal” women: don't they have to trample themselves off? Are they just loved like that? Do they have other things that define themselves that are important to them? The starving feel that the "normal" women have a better, nicer, more imaginative life than they do themselves. That makes them puzzled and jealous - but they believe that they are just different types, that existence makes this test, this ideal, necessary for them. And don't even want to swap with the normal, because then it wouldn't be them anymore. In direct contact with "normal weight" women, they are mildly anxious, mildly tolerant, not to let it be seen how fat they think they are - because they also permanently consider themselves too fat. This is one of the reasons why they are so friendly as to cover up their own sick eating habits. Nevertheless, their hard-won tolerance does not prevent them from looking at women from top to bottom often and happily and appraising them. I know that from my own time as an anorexic - these looks "happen" almost automatically. Anorexic girls and women want to find support in the physical presence of others; Make sure of your hunger progress and constantly find new comparables. If you see a living person who is thinner than you feel for yourself, you sometimes feel great pain and tend to imitate it, according to the motto: I can still achieve that, so it works after all, you can do it that way. Almost all anorexics have these characteristics, no matter how nice people they are. It's the same with every addiction: from a certain point on, all junkies or alcoholics are supposed to be the same. And anorexics too. It is pathetic competitiveness and those affected cannot really help it because they are trapped in the disease, often psychologically as well. They tend to be pensive when they realize that many men like "ass and tits". In principle, they cannot really explain that. They are so far removed from having breasts that they prefer to whine / stand by their small breasts, in extreme cases even have silicone inserted, than simply eat healthy and normal again!

CM: Who do you want / have to reach with your book? Do you get letters from anorexic women who read the book? What are they writing?

KG: I wanted to write a high-quality literary novel that would take the subject of anorexia out of the corner of the youth room and describe it with all its aspects and embellishments for what it is: one of the great human tragedies of our time. Which of course also says a lot about our time. Just like "the bell jar" by Sylvia Plath in the 1950s. The bell jar was one of my model books; as a more idyllic, more optimistic counter-model, I was influenced by Banana Yoshimoto.
The readers who write to me find it exciting to read a novel that is psychologically motivated on the one hand, but also sees the causes of eating disorders in the media world of images - and on top of that has lyrical qualities. The joke is precisely that the protagonist Sonja sees through the beauty and pop swindle and still wants to participate. And of course in the story of Sonja's girlfriends, told at the same time, who deal with the challenges of growing up in an amazingly creative way.

CM: Your book will primarily be placed in the "pop novel" corner - is that okay with you or does the reception area narrow?

KG: The idea was to sell a serious novel as a pop novel. That was nothing new either; the pop novel didn't just exist since the 90s.
When I finished the book, I quickly realized that I had to take care of the image myself. While writing I still felt what most debut authors feel: once it's done, there will be enough people who will take care of everything! All this childish, helplessness. You think you have a buffer between yourself and the world. It would be asking too much as an artist to also take care of the marketing! Any experts will recognize the genius and guide it into the right channels. Of course it's all nonsense!
It was a great relief to realize this and I was happy to break away from the defensive stance and decided to really get involved in the difficult work of marketing. It would be better to become a fictional character and thereby retain the greatest possible control than to be defined in a stupid way. I can even understand that people think, "Pop novel, this is easy reading, this is not right". I rather think that it is not right if it is always “only” inwardly, only “father-mother-child-oedipal”; So I felt it the other way around.At that point in time there weren't that many drawers for young authors either: the “Judith Hermann drawer”, the “pop novel drawer”, then perhaps the “women’s novel” or “city novel” and then the “no pop novel” , so possibly serious, but not exactly white man not ”drawer. That's where I found pop novels to be the most appropriate. Especially since there were mostly male author stars in the pop novel drawer. And I thought, that's where I'm going, it'll be fun! And the still exciting Judith Hermann drawer was related to melancholy and inwardness, and the pop novel drawer served the external attributions. And since there is so much darker inner monologue in “Zuckerbabys”, my heart leaped for joy at the thought of going where it is supposed to be about “externality”. Because in “Zuckerbabys” I wanted to describe how the images penetrate people's bodies, and on the other hand, how comparatively great the music is that is played, I felt somehow happier in “Pop”. In addition to the usual areas of friction such as friendship, sexuality, profession, vocation, I just add media reality, its new form of appearance work, for example. I think you have to portray it in its starkness. Even if women historically represent the avant-garde of beauty projections, that affects men too.

CM: The audio book with the prominent speakers and musicians clearly places "sugar babies" in pop culture - do you want to achieve that anorexia is discussed more openly?

KG: Yes. Because it couldn't have been the shock education of the tabloid media.

CM: So it becomes a topic of pop culture, so to speak?

KG: It's about the public, anyway, about pop culture topic. It's crazy, by the way, that anorexia hasn't long been a pop culture discourse topic. You have to explain it to senior editors and journalists over and over again. And people are amazed at what it's worth, maybe to suppress it further, maybe because they don't see the scope of the topic.

CM: How did Jana Pallaske get on board?

Jana Pallaske had read texts from me in INTRO, the interviews with P.J. Harvey and Peaches. And already heard of the book. She herself has a lot to say about anorexia, also about individual aspects. She then bought the book herself - after all, she's not one of those little dolls who let themselves be guided by external PR consultants; but very self-made and cool and very cute - and she then read through “Zuckerbabys” in one day and absolutely wanted to speak “Sonja”. Of course, we really wanted her to do it. It is really a stroke of luck to find an actress who can match the voice of the protagonist so precisely. Even more precise and idiosyncratic and beautiful than you would have imagined!

CM: How did the recordings go? Was there a lot of talk about anorexia / own / other people's experiences or was working in the studio a normal job for those involved?

KG: Everyone involved did more than just a normal job. Your identification with the book and its language was a great compliment for me, and sometimes almost eerie! They made it come to life, because parallel to anorexia, the counter-story is told, which is one of rock`n`roll and friendship. Laura Osswald, Bernadette Hengst, Nina Friederike Gnädig and Jens Friebe also contributed with passion and wit - and, like Jana, also made the songs they sing their own! I'm not saying this now to praise us all. It was really an inspired, euphoric atmosphere in the studio. We had already talked a lot about anorexia in the preliminary talks. There was lavish catering in the studio. The actresses are confronted with the "thinner-than-thin" terror on a daily basis. The ingenious actress Nina Friederike Gnädig, who read the role of “Melissa” incredibly well - and always gets extra applause in her dubbing courses, for example - only recently told me on the phone how sad she is that it is in her job is no longer about the job she has learned. At the location, practically all of the attention would be focused on ensuring that the actresses are as thin as possible - the camera makes four pounds "thicker" - and that they eat as little as possible. So nobody should tell me that anorexia is primarily a psychological problem, which has to do with a lack of communication in childhood or love. Perhaps you should look at it the other way around: only when you have processed the experiences from childhood (psychotherapeutically) can you get the problem that is brought to you from the outside under control. Many people who actually had better things to do with their time make these pictures ready for therapy! But therapy is only one possible answer to that. Art, no matter what genre, would be another alternative. And then you have to send pictures of yourself out to the public again ...



VIVA dedicates to the sugar babies on July 9th One hour! VIVA Live, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Guests: Jana Pallaske, Nina Friederike Gnädig, Laura Osswald.

READING KERSTIN GRETHER (& presentation of the radio play), with guests (Linus Volkmann, Jens Friebe)
Thursday, 08/16/07 Frankfurt - The Bed / Klappergasse 16/60594 Frankfurt /
Start: 9 p.m.

READING KERSTIN GRETHER (& presentation of the radio play, with guests, Doktorella (Sandra, solo)
Fri, 08/17/07 Munich - Vereinsheim / Occamstr. 8/80802 Munich / start:
20.00 h / VVK: 6.00 euros

READING KERSTIN GRETHER (& presentation of the radio play), with guests (Jens Friebe and others), playing Doktorella
Sa, 08/18/07 Konstanz - canteen tbc

More dates will follow!