Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Christiane F.

Go To

Christiane F. (Original German title: Wir Kinder von Bahnhof Zoo (translation: We, Children from Bahnhof Zoo note ) is a 1979 autobiography by a young teenage girl who became a heroin prostitute in Berlin during the late 1970s. Her story was compiled by two journalists who met her when she testified in a court case, who dubbed her as Christiane F. to protect her identity. The book caused a stir in Germany and was translated in many languages, even made into a 1982 movie, featuring the music of David Bowie.

Today, Christiane is still alive, but not in good health. For decades she tried to quit her habit, but always she eventually rolled back into it. She also contracted hepatitis C from an infected needle in the late 1980s. A follow-up to her book, Mein Zweites Leben [My Second Life] was published in 2013, chronicling her life after the release of Christiane F. with the intention of clearing all the false tales and misinterpretations about her life since then and trying to make people aware how she doesn't recommend what she did and what happened to her over all those years at all. In 2014 she publicly announced that she was more or less at death's door and didn't expect to make it much longer. However, as of 2022, she is still alive.

The book and the film provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Christiane's father, until she's about 11 years old. She takes this as normal, though, because most of the fathers in Gropiusstadt are this way.
  • Dirty Old Man: Most of the clients, to varying degrees. Remember, some of these girls are as young as 12, and most under the age of 15.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Averted with Christiane, but not her friend Babsi. Babsi overdosed at the age of 14, the youngest victim of Berlin's heroin epidemic.
  • Functional Addict: Christiane attends school during the day and spends her afternoons in her junkie activities.
  • Germanic Depressives: It could be read this way, but the characters are really just moody teens. The setting, however, is pretty depressing, with its pavement and highrises. Christiane hates it, too.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Several examples, throughout the book. An unusual case, in that "cold turkey" refers not just to quitting drugs and getting clean, but the withdrawal symptoms (dry mouth, etc.) that signal the junkie needs to "fix."
  • Hookers and Blow: Most of the story, of course.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Christiane loves animals and tries to be a good girl until her addiction takes over.
  • Only One Name: All of the young people in the book are known by their first name and last initial, apparently because of the rules of the German press regarding minors.
  • Parental Abandonment: Christiane's father divorces their mother and the girls don't get along with their stepfather. Their mother works a lot and doesn't seem to notice what her kids are doing until it's too late.
  • Pushover Parents: Christiane's mother, who believes the lies that Christiane tells her. Averted with Kessi's mother, who finds the girl wasted in a subway station and delivers a slap before dragging Kessi home.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: The original intention of publishing Christiane's life story.
  • Shout-Out: Christiane attends a David Bowie concert in the book. In the film version David Bowie actually agreed to make an appearance to recreate this scene, performing two of his hits— "Station to Station" and "'Heroes'"— from around that time period. Thanks to the film they became even more popular.
  • Situational Sexuality: Many of the boys, including Detlef (who is in a heterosexual relationship with Christiane) work as homosexual prostitutes, despite being basically hetero. It's a point of conflict for Christiane, because she and Detlef need the income but she is uncomfortable with his being "queer."
  • Streetwalker: There are two main areas where the young girls work: outside the discotheque (these are called b.p.'s or "baby prostitutes" and provide their services for the price of admission and a pop) and in the Zoo (subway) station. An unusual example of the trope because these are very young girls age 12-14, not the stereotype of the hardened druggie that appears on the trope page.
  • The '70s: And how. Discotheques, platforms and high-heeled boots (on boys), David Bowie and all the music of the era, long straight hair parted in the middle. The list goes on and on. Despite being an Unintentional Period Piece, the book has stood up and is as relevant today as it was nearly forty years ago.
  • Those Two Guys: Christiane refers to Babsi and Stella together most of the time. Also Detlef's roommates Axel and Bernd, and the "two Tinas."
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Christiane refers to "foreigners" (from the Middle East) as "wogs" and displays a casual racism and homophobia throughout the text.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Christiane and her friends are fascinated by Playboy magazine because it shows a world of "clean" sex with no johns, no drugs, and so on.

Alternative Title(s): Christiane F