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Thus the Gold Digger Academy, a sort of adult education.“Oh yeah, I have to be careful; he has one of his bodyguards check up on me. The guys are known as “Forbeses” (as in Forbes rich list); the girls as “tiolki,” cattle. And then you realize how equal the Forbes and the girls really are. The oil geyser has shot them to different financial universes, but they still understand each other perfectly.
But he does it in a nice way; the bodyguard turns up with shopping. It’s a buyer’s market: there are dozens, no, hundreds, of “cattle” for every “Forbes.”We start the evening at Galeria. And their sweet, simple glances seem to say how amusing this whole masquerade is, that yesterday we were all living in communal flats and singing Soviet anthems and thinking Levis and powdered milk were the height of luxury, and now we’re surrounded by luxury cars and jets and sticky Prosecco.
A roly-poly pimp, Peter Listerman, is a TV celebrity.
He doesn’t call himself a pimp (that would be illegal), but a “matchmaker.” Girls pay him to introduce them to rich men. His agents, gay teenage boys, search at the train stations, looking for long-legged, lithe young things who have come to Moscow for some sort of life.
In return the sugar daddy gets her supple and tanned body any time he wants, day or night, always rainbow happy, always ready to perform.“You should see the eyes of the girls back home. “‘Oh, so your accent’s changed, you speak like a Muscovite now,’ they say. As a director it’s my job to catch her out, find a chink, pull the emotional lever where her façade crumbles and she breaks and cries.
Well, fuck them: that just makes me proud.”And the minute the sugar daddy gets bored with her, she’s out. I left town.”Oliona’s relationship with the Pushkin-loving Forbes didn’t last long. But she just turns and twists and smiles and shimmers with every color. If she loses her sponsor she’ll just start again, reinvent herself, and press reload. the clubs get going properly; the Forbes stumble down from their loggias, grinning and swaying tipsily.
Galeria was created by Arkady Novikov: his restaurants are the place to go in Moscow (he also does the Kremlin’s catering). A workout bench: they would lift weights in between sessions.
The winter air is rent with cries from thousands of puffed up lips, begging to be let in. Kept me there for a week.”Oliona keeps on sipping the sweet Prosecco. The apartment is on one of the main roads that leads to billionaire’s row, Rublevka.Rich men put their mistresses there so they can nip in and visit them on the way home.But I know he’s checking there’ve been no guys here. Opposite is a red-brick monastery leaning like an ocean liner in the snow. When the other went for more vodka he let me go.”“When I told him what happened he raged, promised to kill them. And though many westerners tell me they think Russians are obsessed with money, I think they’re wrong: the cash has come so fast, like glitter shaken in a snow globe, that it feels totally unreal, not something to hoard and save but to twirl and dance in like feathers in a pillow fight and cut like papier-mâché into different, quickly changing masks. the music goes faster and faster, and in the throbbing, snowing night the cattle become Forbeses and the Forbeses cattle, moving so fast now they can see the traces of themselves caught in the strobe across the dance floor.Outside the restaurant black cars are quadruple parked up the narrow pavement and onto the boulevard; scowling, smoking bodyguards wait for their masters, who sit inside. The guys and girls look at themselves and think: “Did that really happen to me? With all the Maybachs and rapes and gangsters and mass graves and penthouses and sparkly dresses?
They have paid a thousand dollars for each week of the course.