Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades was a stalwart of Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz bar and nightclub scene.
From 1929 to 1932 he was a regular transvestite door-host and ‘taxi-dancer’ at the famous Eldorado club on Motzstrasse. Customers could buy tokens at the bar to exchange for dances and at the end of the evening the proceeds were divided between the ‘girls’ and the musicians.
He is almost certainly one of the people featured in the now-iconic series of photographs ‘Transvestites at the Eldorado’ held by the Bundesarchiv.
When increasingly anti-gay legislation was put in place in 1932, the Eldorado was forced to close – there was now a ban on same-sex dancing – Ossy found a job as a barman at the Dorian Gray bar in nearby Bülowstraße. This was to be short-lived as gay bars and clubs began to be raided and closed-down across the city, and the Dorian Gray was no exception.
In 1933, he moved to a job in the ‘safer’ surroundings of the DéDé Bar in the same street, a well known men-only venue. Despite being part-owned by a Sturmabteilung (SA) Lieutenant and, by 1934 renamed the Bülow-Krug, the protection offered to this controversial gay bar was not extended to Ossy.
He was constantly arrested, interrogated and beaten for dressing in women’s clothes and by the end of 1934 he had been deported to Lichtenburg concentration camp. This camp was one of the first and housed mostly political prisoners and gay men.
He died there in 1938, aged 36.