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Berliners Go Naked to Protest Gentrification

Protestors against increased housing costs demonstrate naked after invading a flat during a public viewing for rental property in the Friedrichshain area of Berlin, Nov. 28, 2010.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Protestors against increased housing costs demonstrate naked after invading a flat during a public viewing for rental property in the Friedrichshain area of Berlin, Nov. 28, 2010.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

A group of Berliners, angered by rising rents in Germany's capital city, are calling attention to their cause in a way sure to shock: by stripping naked, reports AOL News.

The protestors, several groups under the umbrella organization, Hedonist International, use guerilla tactics to promote their frustrations, infiltrating apartment viewings as prospective renters. Once inside the overpriced flat, they put on plastic masks, take their clothes off to reveal slogans painted on their bodies like, "Too Expensive" and "Rip Off", blast techno music and dance--fleeing before the police arrive.

A video of their protest usually appears on the Internet the following day.

Their reason for going in the buff?

"Berliners don't have a lot of purchasing power - some people have to pay so much rent that they can no longer afford clothes," reads the group's website. "That's why on Sun., Sept. 26, we went to another flat viewing in Kreuzberg without a stitch on. Although the apartment passed our party test, we were pissed about the rent of 11,50 euros per square meter - that's excluding utilities and heating costs. Trying to find someone stupid enough to pay that price borders on illicit profiteering ."

The group admits to being inspired by anti-rent activists in Paris and Hamburg who have held similar demonstrations against increasing rents.

While the city is still considered less expensive than other global metropolises like New York, London or Tokyo, rents have increased in recent years, leaving a shortage of affordable housing. Trendy neighborhoods like Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg -- once popular for cheap housing with immigrants, students and artists -- are becoming more expensive as gentrification increases, with housing consultancy Emprica citing a 14 percent rise in rents in the past year.

If anything, their romping around in the nude is more of a nuisance to the apartment viewers and real estate agents than a way to stop increasing rents.

"I don't go to an apartment viewing to see cocks," one prospective renter told German news website, The Local.

"We want to shock in order to get our political message across," one of the protestors told German magazine Der Spiegel.

Protesting naked is a popular protest shock method of choice for demonstrators, with one woman recently stripping nude to protest TSA pat-downs, a group of cyclists going naked to demonstrate car culture in Peru  and Brazilian students donning their birthday suits in support of a schoolmate who was expelled for wearing a mini dress.