The difference between rich and poor

The gay, uneducated, untrained carnival performer Franz Biberkopf loses his act as "Fox, the Talking Head" when the carnival owner is arrested for fraud. Franz swindles some money, using it to buy a lottery ticket. Then he actually wins the lottery: half a million Deutsche Mark. Through a friend he winds up at a party visited by a cultivated, well-to-do gay crowd.

Among them the handsome, but disingenuous Eugen, son of an industrialist. Initially shunning the unsophisticated Biberkopf, Eugen quickly changes his mind once he learns of his fortune. Eugen immediately leaves his boyfriend Philip and easily manages to entice Franz. Poor, naïve Franz is slowly taken for a ride.

Homosexuality plays an important, though not pivotal role in the film; it is rather about the painfully large gap between the common man and the arrogant bourgeoisie. Fassbinder himself plays the lead role of Biberkopf.