Slain Munich designer gets national funeral
21 January 2005, HAMBURG - In what is being hailed as the biggest public funeral since Willy Brandt died in 1992, millions of Germans will be watching on Saturday when a flamboyant Munich designer, strangled by a male prostitute, is laid to rest as his pet Yorkshire terrier looks on. Four national television networks will devote live air time to the funeral procession and interment of Rudolph Moshammer, whose sensational murder climaxed the high-profile life of the be-wigged and be-jewelled man who has bee
21 January 2005
HAMBURG - In what is being hailed as the biggest public funeral since Willy Brandt died in 1992, millions of Germans will be watching on Saturday when a flamboyant Munich designer, strangled by a male prostitute, is laid to rest as his pet Yorkshire terrier looks on.
Four national television networks will devote live air time to the funeral procession and interment of Rudolph Moshammer, whose sensational murder climaxed the high-profile life of the be-wigged and be-jewelled man who has been described as "the only genuine eccentric in Germany".
Traffic along Munich's showcase Maximilian Strasse will come to a halt as the funeral procession pauses in front of Moshammer's boutique before heading for a celebrity cemetery where the designer will be entombed next to his mother - and next to an earlier pet Yorkie.
In a way, it seems only fitting that the funeral of "Mosi" (to use the nickname Munich residents affectionately called him) has become a national media event.
He and his Yorkshire terrier Daisy were fixtures at every glittering social event, whether the Bayreuth Opera Festival, the Vienna Opera Ball or Munich's Oktoberfest beer party.
José Carreras, who once bought some neckties from Moshammer's fashionable Maximilian Strasse boutique, would perform at the Munich Opera House - only to be upstaged by Mosi and Daisy, alighting from a horse-drawn coach.
Mosi and Daisy appeared in McDonald's commercials. They were on billboards for rental car agencies. Advertisements claimed they never left home without a certain major credit card.
A frequent talk-show host, they also made guest appearances in television series and even on the German version of the "Big Brother" reality TV show.
Everywhere Moshammer went, he was instantly recognisable with his raven-black hairpiece bizarrely coiffed into a style reminiscent of 19th Century Bavarian "Mad King" Ludwig II.
A champion of male facial makeup, Moshammer brazenly ladled blusher and bronzer onto his round face and rimmed his eyes in thick mascara. His arched brows and a broad black moustache gave the appearance of having been painted on.
His penchant for silks and brocades meant he was decked out head-to-toe in flamboyant, self-designed outfits which often echoed costumes of the 18th Century - the period into which he said he had always wished to have been born.
He would arrive in a gleaming Rolls-Royce driven by his faithful uniformed chauffeur, who also doubled as the butler at Moshammer's million-dollar home in the upscale Gruenwald suburb.
And always at his side, usually in a satin-lined Yves Saint Laurent basket or cradled in his bejewelled hand, was his ever-present pet Yorkshire terrier Daisy, a white bow tying her fur up and out of her eyes.
He even auditioned on national TV two years ago to become Germany's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest - as a singing duo with Daisy in his arms. They were not chosen, but their picture was on the front pages of every tabloid in Germany the next morning.
So it was only fitting that his strangulation murder at the hands of a 25-year-old immigrant Iraqi toy boy whom he had picked up at the Munich railway station would dominate the news in Germany for days.
The suspect, linked to the crime scene by genetic fingerprinting evidence, has admitted wrapping a phone cord around Moshammer's neck and strangling him to death after he claimed the designer refused to pay EUR 2,000 for a sexual tryst at Moshammer's suburban Munich mansion.
In the days since Daisy was found whining beside the prone body of her dead master, lurid details of the 64-year-old designer's sex-for-hire habits have filled the tabloids. Even close friends had been unaware of his penchant for Persian and Arab young men.
But Germans have also read of his fairy-tale, rags-to-riches story. His alcoholic father had succumbed to cirrhosis, leaving Mosi and his mother Else penniless in a wretched cold-water flat.
That trauma created a strong bond between mother and son, and Moshammer not only lived with her the rest of her life, he made her his inseparable companion at Munich social events until her death in 1993.
He subsequently wrote a book about their life together, unabashedly titled: "Mama Und Ich" (Mama And Me). He penned a number of books and they were nearly always best-sellers in Germany, among them the "intimate diary" of his dog Daisy three years ago.
Desperate to extricate themselves from poverty, Mosi and Mama ingratiated themselves with a wealthy young millionaire, Walter Kaessmeyer.
"The Moshammers had an ambitious dream," Kaessmeyer recalls. "They wanted to open an exclusive boutique and become rich and famous. I thought they had the chutzpah to pull it off, so I gave them the start-up money they required with no strings attached."
Kaessmeyer bankrolled the Moshammers' boutique on the fashionable Maxilian Strasse, never asking for a return on his investment because, as he puts it, "I figured the fashion world is so volatile that I'd never see any of that money again anyway".
It was in the late 1960s that Mosi began creating the outrageous image that would make him a celebrity. Though unable to sew a stitch himself, he began designing gentlemen's evening apparel aimed at Munich's nouveau riche film and TV personalities.
His style, derided by some fashion critics as "Alpine Pimp" consisted of expensive fabrics and furs in often garish colour combinations. The most outrageous designs were donned by Moshammer himself, making him a walking advertisement at soirées and cocktail parties among the Munich glitterati.
He would strut to work in some over-the-top outfit with a pet cheetah on a rhinestone-studded leash and - presto - he was on the front page of every newspaper in Germany the next morning.
His Carnaval de Venise boutique quickly established itself as an outfitter to well-heeled Europeans and celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, tenor José Carreras, illusionists Siegfried and Roy and actor Richard Chamberlain.
As long as he lived, Moshammer would never be absent from the tabloid front pages again. And he would never forget his origins. Under terms of his will, made public Friday, Moshammer leaves the bulk of his estate to his one-time benefactor Kaessmeyer, now 76.
Moshammer's will stipulates that proceeds from the sale of his boutique, his limosines and other possessions go toward charities for the homeless - so that no one ever need die on the streets as his father had.
And it stipulates that his beloved Daisy be cared for the rest of her natural life by his faithful butler and chauffeur, who also receives a large condominium apartment and a pension-for-life.
Subject: German news