“Business speculation teaches us one critical lesson,” says a instructress. “Always entirely investigate a desires of a consumer. Apply this element when we hunt for a abounding man. On a initial date there’s one pivotal rule: never pronounce about yourself. Listen to him. Find him fascinating. Find out his desires. Study his hobbies; afterwards change yourself accordingly.”
Gold Digger Academy. A pool of critical blonde girls holding clever notes. Finding a sugarine daddy is a craft, a profession. The academy has faux-marble halls, prolonged mirrors, and gold-color-painted details. Next doorway is a sauna and beauty salon. You go for your gold-digger lessons, afterwards we go get waxed and tanned. The clergyman is a forty-something redhead with a psychology degree, an MBA, and a biting smile, her voice high and prim, a Miss Jean Brodie in brief skirts: “Never wear valuables on a initial date, a male should consider you’re poor. Make him wish to buy we jewelry. Arrive in a shabby car: make him wish to buy we a smarter one.”
The students take records in neat writing. They have paid a thousand dollars for any week of a course. There are dozens of such “academies” in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with names such as “Geisha School” or “How to Be a Real Woman.”
“Go to an costly area of town,” continues a instructress. “Stand with a map and fake we are lost. A abounding male competence proceed to help.”
“I wish a male who can mount clever on [his] possess dual feet. Who will make me feel as protected as behind a wall of stone,” says Oliona, a new graduate, contracting a together denunciation of a bullion digger (what she means is she wants a male with money). Usually Oliona wouldn’t even consider of articulate to me, one of those impossible-to-access girls who would bat me divided with a crack of her eyelashes. But I’m going to put her on television, and that changes everything. The uncover is going to be called How to Marry a Millionaire. we had suspicion it would be tough to get Oliona to talk, that she would be bashful about her life. Quite a opposite: she can’t wait to tell a world; a approach of a bullion digger has turn one of a country’s favorite myths. Bookstores are stocked with self-help books revelation girls how to bag a millionaire. A blimp pimp, Peter Listerman, is a TV celebrity. He doesn’t call himself a caterer (that would be illegal), yet a “matchmaker.” Girls compensate him to deliver them to abounding men. Rich group compensate him to deliver them to girls. His agents, happy teenage boys, hunt during a sight stations, looking for long-legged, buoyant immature things who have come to Moscow for some arrange of life. Listerman calls a girls his “chickens”; he poses for photos with kebab sticks of grilled poussins: “Come to me if you’re after chicken,” his advertisements say.
Oliona lives in a small, sparkly new unit with her jarred tiny dog. The unit is on one of a categorical roads that leads to billionaire’s row, Rublevka. Rich group put their mistresses there so they can passage in and revisit them on a approach home. She initial came to Moscow from Donbas, a Ukrainian mining segment taken over by mafia bosses in a 1990s. Her mom was a hairdresser. Oliona complicated a same pro- fession, yet her mother’s tiny boutique went bust. Oliona came to Moscow with subsequent to zero when she was twenty and started as a stripper during one of a casinos, Golden Girls. She danced well, that is how she met her sugarine daddy. Now she earns a elementary Moscow mistress rate: a apartment, $4,000 a month, a car, and a weeklong holi- day in Turkey or Egypt twice a year. In lapse a sugarine daddy gets her movable and dark-skinned physique any time he wants, day or night, always rainbow happy, always prepared to perform.
“You should see a eyes of a girls behind home. They’re lethal jealous,” says Oliona. “‘Oh, so your accent’s changed, we pronounce like a Muscovite now,’ they say. Well, fuck them: that usually creates me proud.”
“Could we ever go behind there?”
“Never. That would meant I’d failed. Gone behind to mummy.”
But her sugarine daddy betrothed her a new automobile 3 months ago, and he still hasn’t delivered; she’s disturbed he’s going off her.
“Everything we see in this prosaic is his; we don’t possess anything,” says Oliona, peering during her possess unit as if it’s usually a theatre set, as if it’s someone else who lives there.
And a notation a sugarine daddy gets wearied with her, she’s out. Back on a travel with her jarred tiny dog and a dozen sequined dresses. So Oliona’s looking for a new sugarine daddy (they’re not called “sugar daddies” here yet “sponsors”). Thus a Gold Digger Academy, a arrange of adult education.
“But how can we accommodate with others guys?” we ask. “Doesn’t your benefaction unite keep tabs on you?”
“Oh yeah, we have to be careful; he has one of his bodyguards check adult on me. But he does it in a good way; a bodyguard turns adult with shopping. But we know he’s checking there’ve been no guys here. He tries to be subtle. we consider that’s sweet. Other girls have it many worse. Cameras. Private eyes.”
Oliona’s personification fields are a constellation of clubs and restaurants designed roughly exclusively for a purpose of sponsors looking for girls and girls looking for sponsors. The guys are famous as “Forbeses” (as in Forbes rich list); a girls as “tiolki,” cattle. It’s a buyer’s market: there are dozens, no, hundreds, of “cattle” for any “Forbes.”
We start a dusk during Galeria. Opposite is a red-brick nunnery disposition like an sea ship in a snow. Outside a grill black cars are quadruple parked adult a slight cement and onto a boulevard; scowling, smoking bodyguards wait for their masters, who lay inside. Galeria was combined by Arkady Novikov: his restaurants are the place to go in Moscow (he also does a Kremlin’s catering). Each grill has a new theme: a Middle East, Asia. Not so many pseudo pastiche as meaningful hints during someone else’s style. Galeria is a collage of quotations: columns, chrome black tables, panels with English paisley fabric. The tables are illuminated adult with cinema spotlights. The seating devise is such that we can see people in other corners. And the main subjects on arrangement are women. They lay by a bar, clever to usually sequence Voss H2O and so incite a Forbes to entice them for a drink.
“Ha, they’re so naïve,” says Oliona. “Everyone knows that pretence by now.”
She orders a cocktail and sushi: “I always fake we don’t need anything from a man.That gets them in.”
At midnight Oliona heads for a latest club. Worming cavalcades of black (always black), bullet-proof Bentleys and Mercedeses pierce solemnly toward a entrance. Near a doorway thousands of stilettos trip and trifle on black ice, somehow always gripping their unblemished balance. (Oh republic of ballet dancers!) Thousands of platinum-blonde manes brush opposite bare, perma-tanned backs wet with snow. The winter atmosphere is lease with cries from thousands of puffed adult lips, vagrant to be let in. This is not about fashion, about cool; this is about work. Tonight is a one possibility for a girls to dance and peek their approach over a customarily unfit barriers of money, private armies, certainty fences. For one dusk a week a many divided city in a northern hemisphere, where a mega-rich live fenced off in a separate, silky civilization, opens a little, slight sluice into paradise. And a girls raise and lift and yield into that tiny sluice, meaningful full good that it will be open for one night usually before it shuts them behind out in a meant Moscow.
Oliona walks easily to a front of a line. She’s on a VIP list. At a commencement of any year she pays a bouncer several thousand dollars to make certain she can always be let in, a required taxation for her profession.
Inside, a bar is built like a antique theater, with a dance building in a core and rows of loggias adult a walls. The Forbeses lay in a darkened loggias (they compensate tens of thousands for a pleasure), while Oliona and hundreds of other girls dance below, throwing used glances adult during a loggias, anticipating to be invited up. The loggias are in darkness. The girls have no suspicion who accurately is sitting there; they’re flirting with shadows.
“So many eighteen-year-old girls,” says Oliona, “breathing down my neck.” She’s usually twenty-two, yet that’s already nearby a finish of a Moscow mistress’s career. “I know I’ll have to start obscure my standards soon,” she tells me, amused rather than appalled. Now that Oliona has taken me into her confidence, we find that she’s zero like we suspicion she would be. Not hard, yet soft-drink bubbly. Everything’s usually play with her. This contingency be a tip to her success: a room feels fizzier when she’s there. “Of march I’m still anticipating for a genuine Forbes,” she says, “but if a misfortune comes to a misfortune I’ll settle for some millionaire blockhead who’s come adult from a provinces, or one of those lifeless ex-pats. Or some sinister aged man.” But no one knows what a bullion digger’s destiny unequivocally holds; this is a initial era to have treated this arrange of life as a career. Oliona has a mafia mining city behind her and god-knows-what in front of her; she’s giggling and dancing over an abyss.
Back during a academy a lessons continue.
“Today we will learn a algorithm for receiving presents,” a instructor tells her students. “When we enterprise a benefaction from a man, place yourself during his left, irrational, romantic side. His right is his receptive side: we mount to his right if you’re deliberating business projects. But if we enterprise a present, position yourself by his left. If he is sitting in a chair bootlick down, so he feels taller, like you’re a child. Squeeze your vaginal muscles. Yes, your vaginal muscles. This will make your pupils dilate, creation we some-more attractive. When he says something, nod; this nodding will satisfy him to determine with you. And finally, when we ask for your car, your dress, whatever it is we want, cadence his hand. Gently. Now repeat: Look! Nod! Stroke!”
The girls intone behind in unison: “Look. Nod. Stroke… Look, Nod, Stroke.”
(“They consider they’ve won something when they get a dress out of us,” one millionaire familiarity tells me when we tell him about a lessons during a academy. “I let them win sometimes. But come on: What could they ever, ever take from us we didn’t indeed let them?” “You know what my word for them is?,” asks another. “I call them gulls, like sea-gulls, encircling over rubbish dumps. And they sound like gulls, we know, when they lay and report in a bar together. Kar-Kar! Kar-Kar! Gulls! Funny: isn’t it?”)
As we investigate a uncover we get to know some-more graduates from a academies. Natasha speaks decent German. She works as a translator for visiting businessmen. The interpretation group usually advertises for girls with “no complexes”: formula for being prepared to bed a client. Everywhere we see advertisements for secretaries or PAs with “no complexes” combined in tiny imitation during a bottom. The word somehow transforms chagrin into an act of personal liberation. Natasha is operative for a German appetite boss. She hopes he’ll take her behind to Munich.
“Russian group are totally spoilt for choice; Western group are many easier,” she says earnestly, like one carrying out marketplace research. “But a problem with westerners is they don’t buy we presents, never compensate for dinner. My German male will need some work.”
Lena wants to be a cocktail star. In Moscow they’re famous as “singing knickers”: girls with no talent yet abounding sponsors. Lena knows ideally good she can’t sing, yet she also knows that doesn’t matter.
“I don’t know a whole thing of operative 24—7 in some office. It’s degrading carrying to work like that. A male is a lift to a top, and we intend to take it.”
The red-haired instructress with a MBA agrees: “Feminism is wrong. Why should a lady kill herself during a job? That’s a man’s role. It’s adult to us to ideal ourselves as women.”
“But what about you?” we ask her when a students are out of a room. “You work; a academy creates we money.”
The instructress gives a tiny grin and changes a subject: “Next I’m opening adult a hospital that will assistance stop aging: Would we like to come and film that, too?”
The category continues. The instructress draws a cake draft on a white board. She divides it into three.
“There are 3 forms of men,” she tells her students. “The creatives. The analysts. We’re not meddlesome in those. The ones we wish are ‘the possessors’,” and she repeats a tell-all, prison-intimating phrase, “a male behind whom we feel like behind a wall of stone. We all know how to mark them. The strong, wordless men. They wear dim suits. They have low voices. They meant what they say. These group are meddlesome in control. They don’t wish a forceful woman. They have adequate of that already. They wish a lady who’ll be a flattering flower.”
Do we even need to discuss that Oliona grew adult fatherless? As did Lena, Natasha, and all a bullion diggers we met. All fatherless. A era of orphaned, high-heeled girls, looking for a daddy as many as a sugarine daddy. And that’s a humorous thing about Oliona and a other students: her deceit comes with fairy-tale fantasies about a tsar who, currently or tomorrow or a day after, will jet her off to his stately Maybach kingdom. And of march it’s a President who encapsulates that image. All a shirtless photos sport tigers and harpooning whales are adore letters to a unconstrained queues of fatherless girls. The President as a ultimate sugarine daddy, a ultimate guardian with whom we can be as “behind a mill wall.”
When we see Oliona behind during her prosaic she brings out a book of Pushkin. She met a Forbes during a bar a other night who is lustful of literature. She’s training whole stanzas of “Eugene Onegin” by heart:
Whom to love, whom to trust in,
On whom alone shall we depend?
Who will fit their debate and on,
To a measure, in a end?
… Never pursue a phantom,
Or rubbish your efforts on a atmosphere
Love yourself, your usually care… .
“I’ll trip them in, usually when he’s slightest awaiting it.” She winks, penetrating to uncover off her cunning.
The Forbes has already taken her on a float in his private jet. “Can we imagine: we can fume in there, splash in there, chuck your feet adult on a seat. No chair belts! Freedom! It’s all true, we can unequivocally have a life; it’s not usually in a movies!”
She met a Forbes when she went adult to a VIP room.
“He’s large as a God,” Oliona tells me, murmur with excitement. “He was giving out hundred dollar bills to girls for blow jobs. Kept going all night. Imagine his stamina! And those bad girls, they don’t usually do it for a income we know; any one of them thinks he’ll remember them, that they’re special, so they try additional hard. Of march we refused when he offered: I’m not like THEM… Now we’re saying any other. Wish me luck!”
The one thing Oliona will never, ever consider of herself as is a prostitute. There’s a transparent distinction: prostitutes have to have sex with whomever a caterer tells them to. She does her possess hunting.
“Once, when we was operative as a dancing girl, my trainer pronounced we had to go home with one of a clients. He was a regular. Influential. Fat. Not too immature either. ‘Do we unequivocally have to go home with him?’ we asked my boss. ‘Yes.’ we went behind to his hotel. When he wasn’t looking we slipped some Ruffinol in his splash and ran off.”
Oliona tells this proudly. It’s a badge of distinction.
“But what about love?” we ask Oliona. It’s late; we’re taping an speak in her apartment. We’re celebration sticky, honeyed Prosecco. Her favorite. The jarred tiny dog snores by a couch.
“My initial boyfriend. Back home in Donbas. That was love. He was a internal authority.”
Authority is a good word for gangster.
“Why didn’t we stay together?”
“He was during quarrel with another gang—they used me to get to him. I was station on a corner. we consider we was watchful for a tram. Then these dual guys, large guys, squeeze me and start putting me in a car. we kicked and screamed. But they usually told passersby we was a dipsomaniac friend. No one was going to disaster with guys like that. They took me to an apartment. Tied my hands to a chair. Kept me there for a week.”
“Did they rape you?”
Oliona keeps on sipping a honeyed Prosecco. Keeps on smiling. She’s still wearing a sparkly dress. She’s taken off her high heels and wears pink, feathery slippers. She smokes thin, aromatic cigarettes. She talks about all matter-of-factly, even with amusement: a story of a unequivocally bad, yet somehow somewhat funny, operative day.
“They took turns. Over a week. Occasionally one would go out for preserved fish and vodka. The whole room melt of preserved fish and vodka. we can still remember that room. It was bare. A wooden table. Dumbbells. A examination bench: they would lift weights in between sessions. we remember there was a Soviet dwindle on a wall. we would glance during that dwindle during a sessions. In a finish one of them took empathize on me. When a other went for some-more vodka he let me go.”
“And your authority?”
“When we told him what happened he raged, betrothed to kill them. But afterwards he done assent with a other gang. And that was that, he never did anything. we would see those group often. One, a one who let me go, even apologized. He incited out to be a good guy. The other would always smile when we saw him. we left town.”
As we container adult Oliona is as courteous as I’ve ever seen her: “Actually could we equivocate what happened in that room in your program?”
“Of course. It could be dangerous.”
“Dangerous? No, it’s not that. But it would make me seem, well, sad. Depressing. we wouldn’t wish people to see me that way. People consider of me as bubbly. That’s good.”
I feel bad for creation her pronounce about what happened. “Look, I’m contemptible we lifted all that. we didn’t meant to. It contingency be awful to move it all adult again.”
Oliona shrugs. “Listen. It’s normal. Happens to all a girls. No biggie.”
Oliona’s attribute with a Pushkin-loving Forbes didn’t final long. “I suspicion during initial he wanted a bitch. So we played that role. Now I’m not sure, maybe he doesn’t wish a bitch. Maybe he wants a good girl. You know, infrequently we get confused, we can’t even tell that one we am, a good lady or a bitch.” This isn’t pronounced dejectedly yet as always gently detached, like she thinks about herself in a third person. Whenever we demeanour for a capillary of unhappiness in Oliona it melts away. As a executive it’s my pursuit to locate her out, find a chink, lift a romantic push where her façade crumbles and she breaks and cries. But she usually turns and twists and smiles and shimmers with any color. She’s not frightened of poverty, humiliation. If she loses her unite she’ll usually start again, reinvent herself, and press reload.
At 5:00 a.m. a clubs get going properly; a Forbes event down from their loggias, grinning and relocating tipsily. They are all dressed a same, in costly striped silk shirts tucked into engineer jeans, all dark-skinned and plump and lustrous with income and self-satisfaction. They join a cattle on a dance floor. Everyone is wrecked by now and bounces around sweating, so quick it’s roughly in delayed motion. They sell these sweet, elementary glances of mutual recognition, as if a masks have come off and they’re all in on one large joke. And afterwards we comprehend how equal a Forbes and a girls unequivocally are. They all clambered out of one Soviet world. The oil stream has shot them to opposite financial universes, yet they still know any other perfectly. And their sweet, elementary glances seem to contend how comical this whole masquerade is, that yesterday we were all vital in community flats and singing Soviet anthems and meditative Levis and powdered divert were a tallness of luxury, and now we’re surrounded by oppulance cars and jets and gummy Prosecco. And yet many westerners tell me they consider Russians are spooky with money, we consider they’re wrong: a money has come so fast, like shine jarred in a sleet globe, that it feels totally unreal, not something to store and save yet to whirl and dance in like feathers in a sham quarrel and cut like papier-mâché into different, quick changing masks. At 5:00 a.m. a song goes faster and faster, and in a throbbing, snowing night a cattle turn Forbeses and a Forbeses cattle, relocating so quick now they can see a traces of themselves held in a strobe opposite a dance floor. The guys and girls demeanour during themselves and think: “Did that unequivocally occur to me? Is that me there? With all a Maybachs and rapes and gangsters and mass graves and penthouses and sparkly dresses?”
Excerpted from Peter Pomerantsev’s new book, Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart Of The New Russia (PublicAffairs, Nov 11).