Marianne Kohn, known for her extraordinary lifestyle and career, is a genuinely Viennese power woman. Since the 1980s she has been the epitome of avant-garde and worked in renowned Viennese Clubs such as U4 where Falco used to party. For the past 25 years, Marianne Kohn is Loos Bar’s boss. The legendary Loos Bar – an American Cocktail Bar designed by art-deco star architect Adolf Loos. Apart from being Loos Bar’s boss, Marianne Kohn also runs a fashion label called “Povera Gschertindien”.
Before Corona, we were welcomed for a cup of coffee and got excited by her extraordinary stories about the Viennese nightlife, Andy Warhol, Blondie, New Wave, Punk, and her love for the Madonna while being Jewish.
Good morning Marianne, thank you for meeting us for an interview.
Yes, but wait, I have to put on my crown first. It is a Halloween crown, and I always wear it because I simply love the fun look.
It looks great! It seems like you never leave your house without accessories and jewellery. What is your favourite piece?
This crown, of course, and yes, I love jewellery. Most of all, I like pieces with crosses and roses, although I am not a Catholic.
You also have countless tattoos, which one was your first?
The first one was a Winnie the Pooh tattoo that I got in New Orleans. I decided to get this tattoo because I find Winnie adorable. I also have tattoos with my dogs and grandchildren’s names but thanks God, no names of past partners (laughs).
What would you do if one of your grandchildren asked you for a tattoo as a birthday present?
That would be super cool! One of them already wants one because she is a little bit like me. With her eleven years, she already has a punk lifestyle, I would say.
I am annoyed by questions about my friendship with fashion designer Helmut Lang. I can no longer hear it because our friendship ended, and I no longer speak with him.
A lot has already been reported about you, mostly about your past – which question annoys you the most?
I am annoyed by questions about my friendship with fashion designer Helmut Lang. I can no longer hear it because our friendship ended, and I no longer speak with him. Our friendship drifted apart, that’s life. Or the “Was Falco your best friend” question. So what? He is dead, so why are they still asking this question, I don’t get it.
Good to know, so we leave out the Falco question at this point. You have been Loos Bar’s boss for 25 years now. As a child, you had the dream of working there as a cleaning lady, how come?
I have always loved the Loos Bar, and I thought that working there would bring me closer to the Loos Bar. Back then, my grandfather used to make furniture for Jacob & Josef Kohn, and they also made the furniture for Loos. Thonet later bought the company.
I partied a lot, and I have seen and experienced a lot of what God forbade. But I have always been behind the bar, and I have a great time with people.
How is a typical night in your life?
Not as intense as when I was young – I start working in the bar at lunchtime, and at 02:00 in the morning I go home. I let my dogs into the garden, and after that, I go to bed. I partied a lot, and I have seen and experienced a lot of what God forbade. But I have always been behind the bar, and I have a great time with people.
What is it like, working in the nightlife as a woman for so long – have you experienced sexism and sexual harassment?
It has always been there. Once, when I was going home, someone came towards me in the house, and he obviously wanted something from me. Then I shouted at him in the most vulgar way, and he just ran away. I screamed at him so loud; I guess he still has depression from it. But in all these years, this was my only experience.
And have you ever had to kick someone out of the bar?
Now the guys are taking care of this, and sometimes I kick unfriendly people out myself. But this barely happens.
What kind of outfit does a typical Loos Bar visitor wear?
There is no specific Loos Bar outfit. Backpacks, shorts and slippers are forbidden. Shorts in summer don’t work at all; there are such cool linen trousers available. Shorts just look deppat und scheiße*.
*stupid and crappy
Nix, passt eh!* But as I said, Vienna is more boring now.
Where did the “Cool Kids” hang out in Vienna in the 1980s?
There weren’t many places, but the Monte, U4 and Schoko were good clubs. The U4 was a Heuriger* in the past. And it was so underground, but now, when you see the U4, you get sick by looking at it. It looks like a Saturn* with all those screens and mirrors. In Schoko, for example, I met Andy Warhol, I remember he went in with a backpack and his secretary.
*typical Viennese tavern
*Austrian electronic retailer
How has the nightlife in Vienna changed?
I think it has become more boring. There are so many places, and so many of them are scheiße*, they keep opening and closing. The best clubbing happened in the 90s when, for example, more than 4,000 people partied at the Technical Museum of Vienna. That was the best clubbing in the world, I would say. So in the past, the scene was much better because there was the art scene as well. Unfortunately, many of the young artists leave Vienna today.
In addition to the nightlife, you are also very active on Instagram. Have you ever thought about becoming an influencer?
What are you talking about, what is that?
You present yourself and your lifestyle on Instagram and advertise suitable products from companies.
No, I definitely wouldn’t do that. What should I advertise, products for older people like tooth glue? No, really, what am I supposed to do there at my age (laughs).
You also run your fashion label “Povera Gschertindien”. Can you tell us more about it?
Well, that is not a fashion label for me; it’s an art project. But I like it, and I am always happy when young girls tell me that I look cool, because they could all be my grandchildren. Mostly, I create hats and dresses with phrases on them and give the pieces away to friends.
What do you want to express with the symbols and phrases on the clothes?
The past inspires some phrases, or I want to leave a message for society. For example, in the 1980s, Vienna was called Totes Wien* because there was not much to do in the city. I put this phrase on a dress. I also made a dress with the saying “Save the animals”, which was worn by Angelika Niedetzky at the Romy Gala.
If you could, what would you change in Vienna?
Nix, passt eh!* But as I said, Vienna is more boring now.
*Nothing, it is ok.
Please note: Loos Bar’s boss, Marianne Kohn, communicates in a cool Viennese way and therefore we left some parts of the interview in German with an explanation attached.