Forget the stereotype about Russian woman being big babushkas. Although many older women who lived through the horrors of World War II fit the bill, the younger ones were very different. Russia is full of tall, beautiful, feminine, educated and well-dressed women - and, unfortunately, for them, too few men. All of this glamour was not confined to the big cities, tennis courts, Paris runways or Western fashion magazines. In Russia it was possible to find Vogue worthy women even in the smallest town or on most remote factory floor. Surprisingly, the variety of "devchunkas" or young women varied considerably. There were blondes with blue eyes, red heads, and even women of mixed race. There were even black women who were the daughters of Russian women and African students who studied in large cities. The once ubiquitous plastic socialist sandals and frumpy clothes of the Soviet era were replaced with ultra-short skirts, high boots and the best clothing they could afford.

In Russia, the sexual repression of the Soviet Union had been shoved aside by a sexual revolution on steroids. Not only did women dress in provocative ways, but the game of “getting acquainted” was played with intensity almost everywhere. Every place where people gathered outside and inside was an opportunity. At certain times of the day, there were a lot of people kissing passionately on the streets. Taxi drivers would give free fairs to pretty women, hoping to see them again. Even the police got into the act -they would stop women for identity checks and hope to get a phone number. Talk about a strange pickup line…

Unfortunately for the women, Russia also had a severe shortage of quality men, which make things wonderful for men and pretty awful for many women. Unlike most of the world, a normal guy with confidence can approach a stunning woman and have a chance with her. As a result, any decent looking man becomes a rock star in Russia, especially if they speak the language and are willing to make the first move. Russian guys were used to it, but expats were often spoiled and oddly addicted. I knew of otherwise successful adult men who broke down crying when told they had to leave Russia. One friend ended a promising international career because he couldn’t leave it all behind. Conversely, this meant that dating prospects for foreign women were awful beyond description. Not only were the odds long but the competition was ferocious. Unless a western woman came to Russia with a very loyal guy, lowers her standards or gets stunningly lucky, a stay in Russia was almost a guarantee of celibacy.

All of these forces created some peculiar social dynamics, especially on the Moscow clubbing scene. These places ranged from skanky student dives to ultra-fancy New Russians show-off festivals. Some exclusive places use strong “face control”, which means if the thugs (or the self-appointed cool people radioing the thugs) don’t like your clothing or face, you don’t get in. At the low end were places such as the “Hungry Duck” and “Taxman”. The Duck, with its sticky floors and even stickier bar was like taking a walk into the Id, complete with women who kiss people as a way of saying "hi". Unfortunately, the place got too famous for its own good when it offended some Duma Deputies. It was shut down, the manager was sent on his way and the Duck was opened again under new better connected management. By 2001, it was still a pit, but one full of hippie tourists trying to be cool. So much for the magic.

There was more: Some clubs had impromptu stripping by enthusiastic amateurs, while others left it to the pros. Some clubs (“Hippopotam”, “Voodoo Lounge”) were even more loaded then usual with women while others (“16 Tons” and “Paris Life”) benefited from the fact that music piracy was so rampant in Russia that even famous bands needed to play in small venues.

There were also huge entertainment centers that acted like clubs. One huge place “Tsentr”, which means "Center" had roller skating rings, bowling alleys, bars, climbing walls and a kind of laser paint ball called “Q-Zar”. Many foreigners were drawn to places such "Doug and Marty's Boar House" which mostly targeted to foreign guys and the woman who wanted them. For those fond of “paid entertainment,” there were clubs that offered girls for a few “Ben Franklins”. One club even advertised on the luggage pickup rack in Sheremetevo Airport: “Night Flight” promised newly arrived visitors a chance to, "Do it tonight!"


Note: This is only a partial excerpt of the book, which is available on request.  I will be adding photos to this page in the near future.

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