Photo: Nina Strasser


HERMES PHETTBERG: “I want to live!”
Photographs by Nina Strasser

Hermes Phettberg’s willingness to share the most intimate details of his (sexual) life with the public made him into a cult figure. At the height of his career in the nineties his TV show ‘Nette Leit Show’ gained up to 250,000 viewers. He conducted intimate conversations with celebrities, from Marcel Prawy to Manfred Deix. In his interviews he never made a secret of his addiction to eating, or his constant search for willing ‘jeansboys’.

To this day the 60 year old is still waiting for a ‘jeansboy’.

But from what once was his trademark, his corpulence (at 150kg the scales broke), only a third now remains. After three strokes the intellectual now finds reading and speaking difficult. In order to wash himself he needs help – as he also does for many other daily activities. Nevertheless, the 60 year old regularly drags himself down three floors to the Gumpendorfer Straße, in order to have his ‘Gabelfrühstück’ (brunch/snack) on the pavement or attend Mass at the ‘Barmherzigen Schwestern’ (‘Sisters of Charity’).



Photo: Nina Strasser

In the photography reportage HERMES PHETTBERG: “I want to live” the sports journalist Nina Strasser documents the life of someone who is not willing to give up living in the limelight, even if he is destitute and very ill. Hermes Phettberg is always at the centre –lonely, but not abandoned. Visitors beware: The photos are sometimes hard to digest.

Born Josef Fenz, he became known in the mid eighties for being the co-founder of the association Libertine Sodamosochismusinitiative Wien (Libertine sadomasochism Initiative Vienna). After numerous stunts and other art events he reached the pinnacle of his career in the nineties as the television talk show host of ‘Phettbergs Nette Leit Show’.

The work of the former bank employee revolved around provocation, using his favoured topics of sadomasochism, homosexuality and Catholicism. His brilliance and provocation came through a radical openness regarding his personal preferences, bodily functions and questioning of others. His work has been awarded various prizes. In 2007 his longtime friend Kurt Palm immortalised him in the documentary ‘Hermes Phettberg, miserable. He still writes the column ‘Phettbergs Predigtdienst’ for the weekly paper ‘Falter’. His thoughts can be followed through Twitter and on his website (www.phettberg.at), where, as so often in his work, food plays an important role.



Photo: Nina Strasser

The reportage remains without commentary from the artist. All pictures were taken with Hermes Phettbergs consent - even more - with his express wish:

“Please don’t forget me.”


Photography exhibition in the FotoSecession Vienna
FotoSecession, Rechte Wienzeile 85, 1050 Vienna

Opening: Wednesday, 07.11.2012, 8pm

Opening times: 8.11. until 14.11. 2012
Monday to Thursday: 4pm to 6pm

Admission free

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