5 04 2011


At one of the parties Renate takes me to, I notice an older man, tall and very confident in his schlubby corduroys and sharp Dior jacket.

He inserts himself into the conversation I have with Andre Heller and Erika Pluhar. He stares at me long red dress and asks me where he can buy one like that for his girlfriend.

“It’s complicated. I don’t have a studio or store right now”

“How come? How can a talented designer not have a studio?”

Renate speaks up for me. “She lives in Steinhof, that’s why. But we’re gonna change that soon, will we?” She laughs.

I blush. All eyes are on me. So there is my moment of truth.

“I ran into some legal problems, drug related and they deported me. So now, I work in Dr. Herman’s workshop and hope to get my papers from him soon.”

“That freak – excuse me, but I happen to know him – that creep makes you work for him? By the way, I’m Werner Berndorfer. You’re an interesting girl. Tell me more!” the older guy takes my arm and walks me to an empty table.

“Look, I have an eye for beauty and talent and I think I can help you” he says as we sit down. “No, don’t look at me like that, I’m not an old dude who wants to get in your pants.”

“Well, that’s a relief” I smile. “But why would you want to help me?”

“Just because. Because I want to see you get your chance to succeed, as you no doubt will. And my only selfish expectation is that I enjoy seeing artists like you get to where they should be. I’d like to be part of it. So I can say “I knew her then”.

Renate sits down next to us. “He’s for real, Monah. He’s a saint, well, almost. You can trust him”

Werner gives me his card. “I have a hair salon in the first district and underneath my salon is a huge wine-cellar that stands empty right now. I have no use for it and it needs cleaning up.”

Renate claps him on the shoulder “A hair salon. That’s the understatement of the year. He has THE hair salon, all of Vienna’s elite and wealth go there to get their hair done by him cause he’s a genius. Aren’t you, Werner?”

“I’m doing OK. I can’t complain.” He says.

I look at the card and gasp. The address is next to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the kind of real estate that would Rodeo Drive to shame. This is old-world money, serious wealth and prestige.

“I don’t think I’m in a place where I can afford that” I mumble and hand his card back.

“Who said anything about money? I want you to have it. For free. The building might go up for sale, but not for a few months, who knows, maybe a few years.”

“For free? Why?”

“I already told you why. I see something in you. A light in your eyes. Energy that’s bottled up and needs a place to bloom”

I’m speechless. I know the rent in this street is like 20$ per sift. It’s too good to be true. It can’t be.

“Come by tomorrow in the morning. Tell your “doctor” you have an Immigration appointment, or whatever, get creative and have a look at it. If you’ll excuse me, I have to mingle” He gets up and squeezes my shoulder “I can’t wait to hear your sewing machines down stairs. And I have a few costumers who would LOVE to get worked over by you. Vienna needs a real designer. Those rich bitches dress in tasteless designer cloths and they will lap your creativity up like starved cattle.”

“I will be there, Werner. I will” I grin and stick his card into my boot. Old habits die hard.

When I see the place, I feel like I’m dreaming. It’s an architectural gem. Pillars and rounded ceilings and so much space, bigger then the MC. Mansion my mother shared wither Millionaire husband in Calabasas. There are a few antique barber chairs and built in shelves. The beauty of this place is overwhelming.

It is filthy. Inches of dust and a moldy smell tinged with the slight aroma of old wine. Werner shows me around and totally ignores my impressed shyness.

“I have a room full of costumers upstairs, so if you’ll excuse me. Here is your key. Come and go as you wish. I’m really happy you showed up” With this, he rushes upstairs.

I find a broom and a bucket and start to clean up. Six or seven hours later, I’m still cleaning.

I call my dad. “You would not believe what just happened. Werner Berndofer is giving me this space to work in. It’s unreal. But it’s true. Can you help me move my stuff here? And by the way, I need a sewing machine and a few supplies. Please?”

My dad drops by on his way from the Palace of Justice, just a few walking minutes away and eyes Werner with a bit of suspicion. Werner is his usual slightly grumpy and harried self, but he assures my dad: “Don’t you worry, Mr. DA. I’m gay, in case you haven’t noticed. Your daughter is safe from me. When are you going to bring her stuff over?”

He looks around and is impressed about my cleaning.

“You really mean it, do you? Get to work, little design star”

My dad helps me with the heavy barber chairs and even locates a table, hidden in another nook of the cellar.

“You’re going to need good lighting here. Let me get my friend from my softball team over here ASAP. And the sewing machine? My pleasure.” He hugs me and I can feel his relieve that I’m not lost to the world of drugs – it certainly looked like that to him when he saw me that first day back in Vienna.




One response

6 04 2011

Whoa this is an excellent post. You’ve must have completed heavy research on this subject. This is rather effective so I must show all my colleagues.

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