Reyes Melendez (American, born 1962)
Before moving to West Berlin in 1983, Bill Van Parys was a self-described “Mr. Corn-fed Kansan Economics Major.” But he experienced a metamorphosis soon after arriving in Europe. Van Parys notes, “I was drawn by its subcultural calling cards: squatted housing, kinky sex, anarchic punk scene, lax police force, perpetual gloom. I dyed my hair and clothes black, changed my name repeatedly, and prided myself on doing nothing… It was heaven.” Van Parys lived in West Berlin until 1988, and his experiences attest to the radical subcultures embedded in the city’s cultural fabric.
In 2009, after a successful career as a journalist, serving as an editor for Details and Rolling Stone, he penned a prototype for
a memoir titled Under the Berlin Wall: From Kansas to Kreuzberg and Off Into the Universe (1983-88), which documents with precision and panache a queer history of 1980s Berlin. With artist and collaborator Reyes Melendez, Van Parys constructs an annotated map of his most storied Berlin haunts and hotspots. Printed to a monumental scale, the map conveys a sense of the divided city’s most fundamental contradictions, provocative areas, and unresolved tensions. Van Parys is currently adapting his unpublished memoir into a television series, described in production notes as “Valley of the Dolls performed by the Baader-Meinhof Gang.”