At 66-years-of-age Wulf Beleites has decided to become a journalistic entrepreneur. His cause is a minor one. It’s neither culturally profound, politically correct, tacky to the point of being bellicose nor sexually perverse. So it won’t make much money, he insists. Always talking about not making money, Mr. Beleites is. Beleites shouts that he leads a noble cause. “Dog are evil!”
After calling a press conference at his office in the Eimsbüttel district of Hamburg, Beleites has set up an elaborate bulletin board full of Power Point profundity. Dogs are responsible for feces in your park’s sandbox, barking all night, and your deep psychological fear of being bitten. There are many people, he says, a silent but plentiful minority, who despise man’s supposed best friend. What they lack is a voice. He wants to be that voice.
The magazine he plans to launch will be called Kot & Köter, a phrase that roughly translates into Poop & Pooches. It has a subtitle, too… “The magazine for dog haters.”
There is, according to Beleites, a malicious journalistic imbalance. He shows off pile after pile of magazines, journals and printouts from the Internet. All of it dog lover media – Dogs Today, Der Hund (“The Dog”), Partner Hund (“Partner Dog”), Dog’s Avenue, Mein Hund & Ich (“My Dog and Me”), and, naturally, for the discipline-obsessed Teutonic soul SitzPlatzFuss (“Sit, Stay, Heel”). And, truth be told, check out the average magazine stand in Germany and you will indeed see that there is a dog-lover’s mania up there with the usual fashion and teen idol propaganda.
“It all started for me when I was a child,” he says. “I was bitten by my grandfather’s Pomeranian.”
Now, though, it’s piles of dog poop in schoolyards, pedestrian areas, and playgrounds and an American-led epidemic in the anthropomorphism of dogs. Yet he does not see himself as a fanatic. It’s all in good humor, he insists. “I announce my aversion to dogs with a wink and a nod.” Indeed Kot & Köter will be loose and humorous, atypical topics will include “Slutty poodles and lewd dogs: The role of dogs in the sex trade”, “Abandonment tips” and “What is ‘playing’ and what oversteps ‘the bounds”.
Yet these kinds of jokes often fail to amuse. There are five million dogs at least in Germany and ten million people live in homes where there is at least one dog. That’s ten million folk he can really irritate, and many of them wasted no time in voicing their irritation to DDW, a German news network, after it broadcast a light puff-piece about him. Supposedly more than a million watchers called in their protests. Beleites is savvy, that’s for sure, but if you’re of a certain age he’s old news already. Between 1992-1998, although he has never published a single copy of his proposed magazine, Beleites made himself a television talk show star. “The enemy of all dogs,” he came up with a formula for the amount of excrement a dog produces: “Body weight times three divided by 50.” This led to his becoming a celebrity and charging 1,000 instead of 500 deutsche marks for an appearance.
Yet he quit talk shows in 1998 because he “couldn’t go out to a public breakfast without being threatened.” There were hundreds of ‘anonymous threats.’ He was afraid when he left the house with his small children. Now Beleites is back and, he insists, he is serious. He has started an appeal for donations on the journalism crowd funding website Krautreporter with the aim of raising EUR 7,000. Once the donations are forthcoming, he will produce the pilot edition of Kot & Köte.
The deadline for donations on Krautreporter was November 25, 2013. By the evening of Monday, December 2, the total was only EUR 445. Beleites is still an optimist, however. There’s no market research, he told Der Spiegel, but, “There are enough dog enemies, opponents and haters who would be pleased if there were a magazine for them.”
There is a rule of thumb Beleites tells everybody: “It’s possible to make money out of shit if you use it well!”