Evelyn Subbert – "Evi" for short – was born on the island of Rügen in East Germany. Now 59, she grew up in the GDR and fled before the Berlin Wall fell. Today, her pub at Elbchaussee No. 4 - the "Seeteufel" (Sea-devil) - is a haven for seafarers, hockey players and flat-sharing youngsters from the neighbourhood.
Evi, can you play Yahtzee?
We play other dice games here, or cards, Skat. But go ahead. I'm up for anything.
They say people have to earn their place at your counter. Tourists and people who just wander in come under close inspection. Who do you keep out?
The ones with backpacks. I hate backpacks. Awful! It’s as cramped in here as an aeroplane. Limited hand baggage only. A clutch bag, fine, but nothing too big. Unless you've been thrown out at home. The table’s for full glasses, ashtrays, cigarettes and maybe a woman's bare arse. No room for backpacks.
There’s a great atmosphere in here: figureheads, sharks' heads, old nautical charts and fishing nets – you couldn't get a thin eurocent between your wall ornaments. What's your favourite piece?
The map of Rügen over the bog. I got it from my old barmate Thies, who’s now passed on. It reminds me of home.
Don't you think of yourself as being from Hamburg?
I'm really an East German from Rügen. When I came to Hamburg I got sick – hair fell out and so on. Later on I realised it was because I missed the Baltic. I just missed the sound of the sea. The Elbe was just a river to me back then. Today it's all one: North Sea, Baltic or Elbe. I just can't live without water.
What makes a good night at the Seeteufel for you?
For a good night at the Seeteufel you need great people from different origins. My guests are between 20 and 90. It's no odds whether they're green, yellow or black, y’know? Babbling away to each other, not looking at their mobiles all the time, but having a conversation, having something to say to each other, that's what makes a good night!
You're a well-known bird of Paradise in Altona. You’ve been known to roll a beer-barrel up the street in fishnet stockings and red heels. With a plastic sailing-boat in your hair, every fingernail painted differently. What's your favourite outfit?
The Seeteufel is right on the Elbchaussee, quite a posh area. Where do you have to go after work?
Just across the road, directly on the Rainvilleterrasse. I can see the Elbe from the shit-house.
How did you manage that?
Worked my way up on my back (laughs). I started here on the wrong side of the tracks and then moved to the right side to my husband. He arrived at my counter divorced. Then one dark and misty night I moved in. Mum's home, that's what I said. We live upstairs and downstairs, his ex in the middle. It's worked out fine. Ex is ex, Mum is now.
You've had a lot of people from Hamburg at your counter, men and women, in just under 30 years. What do you know for certain about the Northerners?
The people from Hamburg are a very special breed, but also very warm-hearted. Once you've won them over, they won't let you go.
Why is the Seeteufel called the Seeteufel?
You're not serious, you've not read the book? And you're still sitting here? Felix, Count Luckner, nicknamed the Sea-devil, sailor and author. I still have one of his as a first edition. He approved the name in person. Right, sweetie, now bugger off – Mum's got work to do.
Evi, thanks for the round of Yahtzee and ahoi!