“Kinski Uncut” by Klaus Kinski

klaus

By Ray Sawhill

For Klaus Kinski, the star of such films as Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo,” over the top was never close to enough, and in “Kinski Uncut” (Viking) he produced what is probably the most outrageous actor’s autobiography ever — less a memoir than a hyperbolically pornographic performance piece.

The book, which was a scandalous best seller in Europe, was on its way to American stores in 1988 when Random House’s lawyers grew alarmed and had it recalled — though enough copies got loose to make it an underground mini-classic. The version that has now been released by Viking has been trimmed of a few pages — “There was too much monotonous sex with chambermaids,” says the book’s editor — but includes new details about Kinski’s final years in California. Initials now disguise a few potentially litigious figures.

What made the book a cult sensation are its portraits of film people and its horror-comedy accounts of sex. It’s the cheerful relish Kinski takes in his own egomania that earns the book a place on the camp shelf, alongside such wonders as “Hollywood Babylon” and Anaïs Nin’s unexpurgated diaries.

© 1996 by Newsweek, Inc. Reproduced by permission