The Queen of Berlin works at a hairdresser in Prenzlauer Berg. She’s not the delicate flower with stocking-seam tattoos who does my cut and color, but rather the statuesque woman who shampoos. She has a shaved head—a note of irony I appreciate in an apprentice hairdresser—and her neck and upper chest are covered in black and red tattoos: a dragonfly, dahlias, some words. Her nose ring hardly seems worth mentioning, but her trademark look is black culottes and orthopedic-looking black sneakers. At first glance she’s easily mistaken for someone who could cut your heart out and eat it for a snack, but when you talk to her she is sweet, almost childlike. A Carrie Bradshaw-style gold necklace spells out her girlfriend’s name. “Cheesy, I know,” she tells me, “but I like it.”
Recently my husband and I were sitting outside a café at a busy intersection when she strode up on her bicycle. (I know you can’t stride on a bicycle, but whatever the two-wheeled equivalent is, she was doing it.) She was wearing her black culottes and an asymmetrical red PVC bolero, and in that moment she owned all of Rosenthaler Platz. “I know her,” I whispered to my husband. There was no need to point out whom I was speaking of. We both sat back and admired her, an urban incarnation of an equestrian queen.
Today at the hairdresser I was too timid to ask if I could take her picture, but drop me a line if you come to Berlin. I’ll send you to have your hair done with The Queen.