Many actresses got their start in erotic films in the early 1980's and have
since completely vanished - but you are one of the few who is still around.
How did you do it and what are you working on these days?
I think to stay in business is like staying alive:
Always curious and a moving target.
As I realized that Lolita-time is over and
nonita-time is looking round the corner, I decided to transform into a self-made
bussiness-woman, dealing with art: I work as a writer, a dubber, an
actress, showmaster, painter, goldsmith and singer. At the moment I'll
get ready to play theatre again: I'll be on stage the upcoming year with actor Claus Wilcke in a
play by Moliere. Also I do rehearsals now with the Herb-Runge-Band and Canadian
singer Ilan Green as we appear in several clubs in Berlin in
springtime. I am also writing the synopsis for a documentary My Friend Pablo about migration and
mondialism (I don't like to call it globalization). In private life
I am also a happy person, having a nice son named Alan Leon and a
balanced surrounding that makes all my activities possible.
Let's go back to the beginning of your career: How did you get
started in films?
I grew up surrounded by artists: My Granny Anneliese was running
a school for acting and dancing in Vienna, my mum Evelyn worked as a
songwriter (running the Messengers together with composer
Bernhard Jobski), as an actress and also as the very first German stuntwoman
- so I had no choice with all these influences. My Dad Frank worked as a teacher of economics, but somehow at the age of ten or eleven,
meeting people like Claude Chabrol and photographers like
Jim Rakete or Austrian producer Carl Spiehs [of Lisa
Film - the Lisa Film story -
click here], I decided to work in the
glittering business. And as it is only glittering on the surface, I
of the future and enjoyed learning a lot of things beside. Stepping
was easy: With sexy photos done by famous photographers the
production companies started to notice me, the magazines Cinema and
Stern started to write
about my Lolita-image almost the same time as they wrote about
What can you tell us about your first film, Die
Schulmädchen vom Bahnhof Zoo (1979, Walter Boos)?
mother Evelyn, who did my management, arranged a meeting with
production-assistant Otto Retzer in the Kempinski in Berlin: The famous
producer Carl Spiehs was hiding behind a newspaper taking a glance at me
and decided without casting to give me the responsible main part Petra
- when we where shooting in summer 1978 I was 11 years old, looking like a
sixteen-year-old - which made the harmless nude scenes delicate. Months
later I was asked to be cast for Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo/Christiane
F. (1981, Uli Edel) but when the production-company heard I had
already been in a similiar film about drugs and the experience of first
love they were not amused. I was to be directed by Uli Edel in that movie
- he later moved to LA to do Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989). I met him just some months ago in Munich, when he edited his
film Baader-Meinhoff-Komplex - strange to meet up after thirty
years - but we're still standing! (Schulmädchen vom Treffpunkt Zoo's
working title was Unter den Brücken and it was directed by Walter
pretty soon after that got a role in Schulmädchen Report 13 (1980,
Walter Boos). A few words about that experience, and did anyone at all
back then expect the series to become a sort-of cult item over the years?
This was an outstanding experience, cause the stuff was already cult
when we worked on No
13: All the later well-known actors denied later on in their
careers that they worked in those reports that were based on real
schoolgirls' (and -boys') experiences: Compared to nowadays charming,
stupid and harmless. I enjoyed working with the production and playing a
Greek schoolgirl with a religious background and her own thoughts on
strict virginity was fun. I looked great in those days and I remember
whenever I had to shoot a love scene the producer Wolf C.Hartwig showed up on the set ...
A friend of mine, well-known writer in Munich, just gave the DVD of Schulmädchen Report 13
to me - I watched it a few days ago, and I guess, although the kids nowadays
act cool, they are as innocent as in the Eigthies.
From 1980 onwards, you starred in a string of films
directed by cult director Jess Franco. What can you tell us about working
with that man?
Somehow I bumped into Jess: We met in Alicante in one big
filmstudio, but I was on the set of Kalt wie Eis and he was working
next door. But as I have this mediterranian look he soon overtook me into
his Spanish crew - Antonio Mayans, Lola Gayos, all those great characters,
who more or less played themselves ... so authentic, that I feel working
with Germans or Americans is very, very different. Mostly we had great
food, fun and hotels and beside this we did a nice film (mostly he made
three out of one) and he has a great ability to make the experience very
entertaining, giving all the actors the freedom they wanted, cause mostly
there was no script, but a treatment. As he also did the film music, being
deep involved with Jazz-music, he is a real multitalented artist: Some
call him the King of Trash, but I call it art.
One of my favourites of your Franco-movies is Diamonds
of Kilimandjaro (1983). What's it like to make a jungle film the Jess
At first I must confess, playing Liane in Diamonds
of Kilimandjaro was quite an act, cause I am far away from being
sportive. Mostly I was frightened acting like being a female Tarzan,
so I was thankful that he added some scence where I looked seductive or
was fighting with my hunters - anything, but my feet on the ground. We shot
on the Canary Islands in a natural resort and I enjoyed being in the
nature, having a comfortable hotel nearby. Mostly we shot during the
summer-holidays, cause Jess always respected me being a schoolgirl.
Katja Bienert and Jess Franco
Lilian (la Virgen Pervertida)/Lilian the
Perverted Virign (1984, Jess Franco) has gained some notoriety for
being the first Spanish hardcore porn film. You didn't take part in any of
the explicit sex scenes though, right?
If you consider my age those days [Katja Bienert was merely 16 or 17 when
filming this movie] ... the producers would have risked to go to jail -
especially in a catholic country like Spain.
Does it bother you at
all to be associated with a pornmovie?
As I am a shy person
it bothers me a little. I must admit though that I like to watch some
kinky stuff - so somebody has to be in those movies ...
In 2002, 15 years after
your last film with Franco, you starred in another of his films, Killer
Barbys vs Dracula. What was that reunion like?
Like a big fiesta, party - however: when Jess Franco is coming back to
your life it's always pleasure. Andreas Bethmann and Carsten Frank
were part of the reunion, and Jess was surprised that I hadn't changed
much after all those years. He invited me to Killer
Barbys vs Dracula playing a journalist - something that I worked
as on Zeitzeugen/Spiegel-TV in real life. So
he always chose the characters close to their natures. I also met Dan van
Husen again who worked with my mum several years ago on Tinto Brass' Salon
In 1991, you
starred in the erotic comedy series Schloss Pompom Rouge, a series
that it's nowadays hard to even find information about. Would you at all
care to say a few things about it?
Pompom Rouge was done by Michael Zens, who is still directing comedy
stuff: The main part was played by wonderful Elisabeth Volkmann and I
- as usual - played the mistress of her husband: all the series was shot in
the big studios of Tempelhof, Oberlandstrasse and the company run by
Gabriele Walther put a lot of money into it, millions over millions -
they built a Rokoko-castle-set, hired the best technicians and well-known
German actors, the best make-up specialist (Hasso von Hugo, who did all the make-up for
Der Namen der Rose/The Name of the Rose [1986, Jean-Jacques
Annaud]) ... - but somehow it was no big success: I guess the time was not
Germany to mix history, erotic tales and comedy, it was just too much,
even for RTL ...
You did your first nude
scenes when you were still very young. Did it ever bother you to take off
your cloths in front of a camera, and can you still remember your first
As I looked like a grown-up already at the age of eleven, taking off the
cloths was like a freeing theraphy: I was full of complexes over my
voluptuos body ... but I've been prepared, cause before I've been already
posing for photographer Lutz "Lucky" Stark and Jim Rakete, so
I could see that men were somehow attracted to me - so it wass all
about flirting, feeling sexy and attractive.
On a film set - which was Schulmädchen vom Bahnhof Zoo -
it was a far away from feeling comfortable, cause in the most intimate
moments you are surrounded by the crew. If you'd already worked together for some weeks, it's less difficult to
ignore them. It will get more difficult if you're only able to undress and get
stimulated IN CASE a filmcrew is around (ha,ha!).
Would you consider undress on camera nowadays and
on what conditions?
If it makes sense and is part of the story and someone sets up gentle
lights ... as I do a lot of sports, I still fit into the shoes of a
As a change of pace (in more ways than one)
you also had a guest role on the immensely popular daily soap Gute
Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten. How would you compare doing daily soaps to
The more people are involved without a passion for filmmaking but
thinking on their paycheck, the less exciting the whole thing gets: You
can do daily soaps only for
quick money and calmer living conditions ... it is far away from theatre
work or great movies or Jess-Franco experiences.
By the way: One of my
uncles in Australia was in that scriptwriters' pool of The
Restless Years, where Kilye Minogue started her career. I used to
dub part of the series, which was at first copied as a licenced production
in Holland (Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden). Somehow somebody from the
realized that dubbing the series was more expensive than redoing the whole
soap, and then the county of Berlin also gave some extra money - so
that is how it all started, with mostly unknown, unexperienced young
Katja Bienert in an episode of
In the 1990's, you started your association
with the Gator Group and their Unhappy End series. How did
this come into being and what can you tell us about the series?
I met producer/cameraman Michael Huck (of Gator Group)
[Michael Huck interview -
click here] after he had sent me a strange,
interesting treatment, and I worked with him on a short movie - and soon we
became cooperative partners. So on one hand, I'm still working as an actress
for Gator Group
MrAlGator or www.myspace.com/MrAlGator),
but also as an executive producer.
Although I always try to get Michael away from his bondage-trip, we
managed to start a succesful business - just started selling Unhappy End
in Japan and America. And most of the
actresses/actors we have cast went on to be famous afterwards.
Still from Full Moon
Unhappy End, you also made your directorial debut, Immer
Vollmond/Full Moon. A few words about that one and what's it like to (also) work
behind the camera for a change?
I love to compose, write and analyze people. Somehow if I have a
strange encounter with other artistic people, I like to write down my
experience. Immer Vollmond is such a story: When I fell in love
with a painter, who used to run around as a beggar but was quite a wealthy
man with flat sin Berlin and New York, my relationship with a longterm
friend was in question. So one person influenced my balance to free me
from this unhappy (!) situation; I'd started to write a script, using all
the dialogues and funny situations I got into - I misused the reality
(maybe I don't have a lot of imagination...).
I did my
very first comedy cause of longing for my lost love; but also to give
Michael Huck another view on filmmaking. We hired a lot of wellknown
actors, I was responsible for the story, the set, the make-up, the food,
playing the main part and directing, so I had to be busy. It was a kind of
catharsis, but I loved it.
And with the elements of the comedy, on which more than 32 people
worked on, I felt like conducting an orchestra: as I am a very strict,
demanding person, directing is perfect for me.
Directors who have influenced
you as a filmmaker?
Bigas Luna, Tinto Brass, Jess Franco,
Tarantino ... I seem to be more into Spanish/Italian/American artists ...
Would you ever consider directing something
Indeed. I enjoy being demanding and I did another
documentary called Bonjour, Benin! about Westafrica.
In 2000, you had a role in German exploitation director
Andreas Bethmann's film Dämonenbrut - Insel der Dämonen
2. A few
words about that film and its director?
We shot that movie around the Lago di Garda - very
close to Verona, the city of Romeo and
Juliet, but far away from this
rosy mood: I coulnd't have visualized myself as a female devil/evil -
my friendly face and personality - but with the help of a great young
make-up artists and all those special effects I'd looked quite scary.
Bethmann is driven by strange fantasies and I didn't want him to add
some nude scenes that didn't show my beautiful body ... but anyhow,
he did the same that Jess did - who will actually get the GOYA 2008
upcoming February in Madrid -, and finally Bethmann was also responsible
for the reunion with Jess Franco.
Besides acting in
movies, you can also be seen on stage every now and again. What can you
tell us about that aspect of your career and which sort of acting do you
Being on stage is a totaly different feeling, you're so close to the audience
you can feel
their expectations and get a more immediate respond about your performance: You
can physically feel if they like or dislike your character. During X-mas
time I'll do some rehearsals of The Hypochondriac by Moliere, with actor Claus Wilcke
playing the role of the hypochondriac. We'll be on tour
in springtime, visiting all Germany - although I would rather like to
visit my friends at Leonard Cohen's tour in Australia, which is the home
country of my mother Evelyne.
Apart from that, you are also an occasional writer
I wrote a lot for youth-magazines, that were edited by Alfons
Schnarrenberger, the husband of our former minister of law, Mrs.
Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger - unfortunately that sweet personality died
two years ago. We irst met fto do advertising for the famous Hollywood-Star-Diet with the Golden Pineapple,
and I still keep
parts ot the diet to stay slim. In Schnarris surrounding were people
like Will Tremper, who used to write, but he also directed films.
people like documentarist/writer George Stefan Troller impressed and
influenced my life: I write treatments, scripts, poetry, everything about my documentaries
(Bonjour, Benin!, Passionate People etc).And all the
questions to the people on Zeitzeugen I developed myself.
Also my srapbooks are available on www.katjabienert.de.
Some actresses (or actors, in fact) who have really
The young Brooke Shields I liked to watch cause of her beauty, and
once I met her in Spain, I guess it was in Palma de Mallorca, she was
tall, impressive. Otherwise I like George Clooney making fun about his
characters, and Omar Sharif made me cry in the film based on the book 20,000
Leagues under the Sea... I guess they all caught my attention for
being attractive, but not so as great actors. I get inspired by real
life and average people, never copied somebody.
Are there directors you would really love to work
with, and why?
Once more with Jess Franco, cause he is
going to receive the Spanish Goya award 2008 in February 2009 in
Madrid - I am very proud! And also with Lloyd Kauffman of Troma,
cause he seems to be a strange, funny fellow; also with Oskar Roehler; I
just saw the preview of Lulu & Jimi - marvellous!
And the Coen-brothers ... You see, there is a lot to do.
What kind of films do you like, and your
Gandhi was amazing and Ratatouille, also Black Cat, White
All kinds of films that give me new perspectives, make me laugh or cry.
Some films you really hated?
All American blockbusters,
cause they don't have a soul.
future projects you would like to talk about?
The future is going to be bright. I just send some lines to the Peace
Museum in Samarkand, they asked me to write something about how I figure
out the world would be peaceful
I'll continue living in creativity ... One new project is called My
Friend Pablo - a documentary about migration and mondialism, a nicer word for
globalization. I just asked for some support by the culture ministry - if it works out, I'll start to film right after my theatre
play of Moliere, which ends up in March 2009. Also I'll continue my
work with Michael Huck and Gator Group.
Anything else you
are dying to tell us and I've just forgotten to ask?
It seems that somehow my life and working plans go into the
direction of the UK and Los Angeles, but not on purpose, only by accident. And
singer Leonard Cohen - to whom I've listened sto ince forever - seems
to be part of my destiny. I'm here today in Manchester at the MEN-Arena,
listening once more to his seductive voice (I also love Carla Bruni as
a singer), as I was invited also to London, Vienna, Berlin and Hamburg. And
it only began cause I needed the permission to use his music for
Rolf Eden performing his song First we take Manhattan ..., which we turned into
Wir erobern Deine Schönheit, dann erobern wir Berlin (from
the CD Tribute to a Playboy).
Life is a box of chocolate!
Thank you for your sweet questions.