Saturday 15 January 2022
A clown forever?
The two faces of Horst Lichter
He is known as a Rhenish happy nature. Always a joke on the lips and the “dealer card” in the pocket. But in Horst Lichter’s life, it wasn’t always just sunshine. Now the popular TV chef and “Bares for Rares” presenter is celebrating his 60th birthday.
Anyone who sees a motorbike rattling across the streets this Saturday should take a very close look. Perhaps, yes quite possibly, one of the most famous mustaches on German television will fly by.
Horst Lichter, a prominent cook and junk presenter, does not want to rule out the possibility that he will get on the machine and drive off when he turns 60 that day. “Maybe on my birthday I’ll stay all alone and go out on my motorcycle,” says Lichter when asked about his plans. “If it doesn’t rain.”
Of course, it was thought quite differently. Big celebration, music, 300 guests – his wife’s birthday is also in January. But the times do not allow lavish festivals – keyword Corona. Now Lichter ponders what to do with the day.
Jumped off the shovel of death
A thoughtful man, alone in the street. It’s not exactly the picture one would paint of Lichter just from his shows. There he is the sociable steamy talker. Here a little joke, there a “dealer card” that he slips the candidates of his ZDF junk show “Bares for Rares”. He has a clear profile, also cultivated by means of dialect (“Children!”): “Rhenish happy nature”. However, anyone who has read his books does not find the picture too weird. Dark tones are also part of Lichter’s life.
He was born in Rommerskirchen between Cologne and Düsseldorf. He is training to be a chef, but at some point he gets hired in a lignite factory instead of in a kitchen. He works until the body rebels. At 26 he suffered a stroke, and a little later a second. At the age of only 28, he jumped death twice. He also lost a child.
It was the time when something happened that later runs like a red thread through his life: Lights changed direction. In “an old hall with a dirt floor” he began to build a restaurant. One day he received his first invitation to the “Johannes B. Kerner” show, in which several chefs presented their skills. Lights, “the fun-loving moustache,” as ZDF has already described him, was very well received there – also because of his popular use of butter and cream. He’s been in the television business ever since.
So thick that said television is now even showing motifs from his autobiographical book “No time for assholes!” filmed – with an actor (Oliver Stokowski) as Horst Lichter. The film ran on January 9th on ZDF.
Your own biography, re-enacted by actors and during your lifetime – this kind of thing usually happens more to statesmen and Hape Kerkeling. Lichter also thinks that this is actually an unbelievable thing. “I’m the high school student from the small village who didn’t know anyone who was ever in the newspaper or on TV,” he says. And now that. Even in his emotional emotion he can be very Rhineland.
In terms of content, both the book and the film revolve around 2014, when Lichter’s mother died. “I saw the doctor yesterday, young man. He found something there. In the left kidney,” she told him on the phone. It was another year in which lights changed direction. Among other things, he ended several television engagements.
Always the funny one
“The death of my mother brought me closer to finitude in a completely different way – although I’ve often had to deal with death,” he explains in retrospect. It felt like his mother was always immortal to him. “I thought she’d fall off her bike at the age of 98. I thought she wouldn’t die of an illness.” When it did happen, he asked himself how many summers he still had. “I was suddenly the oldest in my family.”
Since then, Lichter has changed a lot, even if it cannot be said that he has retired from working life. “Bares for Rares” runs up and down, the show is a great success. But also not a day goes by on which he does not think about his parents, says Lichter. Also to his father, who died at the age of 56. “What dreams could I have fulfilled for him, with the possibilities I have today,” he then asks himself.
His mother also left him a sentence on his deathbed that still works in him: “Stop being the clown.” She probably meant that he didn’t need to be funny anymore, Lichter believes – she’s dying now, he should see that. Still, he was shocked. As a clown, he has overcome everything in his life. “When my child died, I made sure that people laughed with me again. I didn’t want to be pitied. When I was in the hospital myself, I joked to make the doctors laugh at me,” he says. He was always the funny one.
Anyone who sees a motorbike rattling across the streets on Saturday, January 15, should take a close look. Maybe a clown is sitting on it. Or maybe not.