Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the story of Hansel, a boy living in East Berlin after World War II. As a child he is already fascinated by American rock legends that he listens to over the radio. As he grows up, he can't quite fit into society and dreams of
Luther telling Hedwig about the sex change
leaving east Berlin. One day, he meets an American G.I. named Luther, who he falls in love with. Luther, taken aback by Hansel's female appearance even though he is biologically a male, promises to take Hansel with him, given that he undergoes a sex-change operation, to bypass a "medical examination" that has to take place before they can get married and move to the U.S. Hansel, with the approval of his mother, undergoes the operation, in which his penis gets severely mutilated into an "angry inch".
After Luther and Hedwig have moved into a trailer park home in Junction City, Kansas. Luther leaves Hansel, whom from the operation on is referred to as Hedwig, the name and identity he took over when accepting his mothers passport. Luther however abandons Hedwig, for another young gay male. Hedwig is completely destroyed, but begins to pick herself up by working various different jobs and starting a band - a band that later becomes known as Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
While Hedwig is beginning her band career, playing mostly in small restaurants, she meets the son of a pastor: Tommy. They fall in love, and with Hedwig's help Tommy undergoes a complete transformation from a shy and reserved teenager, to a rock star:
Hedwig gets to know Tommy
Tommy Gnosis. Hediwg and Tommy are somewhat successful, and write a lot of songs together. One day, however, Hedwig and Tommy get drunk and in the heat of the moment, Hedwig sticks Tommy's hand under her skirt. Through this, Tommy is confronted with Hedwig's mutilated genitals and leaves her in fear. But through the efforts and songs they wrote together he rises to become a nationally known rock-icon, while Hedwig is left behind.
Hedwig now tours with The Angry Inch, composed of herself and immigrant workers, to discredit Tommy, and to reveal that the songs he is playing were written by her as well.
In the process of this Hedwig loses most of her band mates due to money issues and is forced to prostitute herself. By chance, a drunken Tommy picks her up, however when they both drive drunk together they suffer a car crash. This car crash makes big
Hedwig is confronted with her male gender identity, yet again.
headlines and Hedwig is now being made famous to expose her story. However it seems she can't leave her feelings for Tommy, and conflicts with her new found gender identity behind, leaving the ending and fate of the main characters open to interpretation.