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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Comrades in Arms

I alluded to being in Belarus in an earlier post. What was I doing there?

Let's wind up the Way Back machine and go back in time to before that meeting...

I had occasion to hook up with a Russian billionaire, Vladimir, who has been moving a lot of his wealth off-shore. He is a fun-loving guy who is looking for certain places to park his money. I actually think it's a way to launder his money but I have no direct evidence, just a hunch. A really strong hunch...

An overriding constraint on all activities is that Vladimir does not want to cross Putin and end up in the modern version of a Siberian gulag (which is what a jail looks like to a billionaire, I am sure). Consequently most of Vladimir's experience in hosting VIPs comes from giving favors to Putin and his family; use of the ski chalet, the yacht, and so on.

I hadn't been to Russia for quite some time, and I had business reasons to be there. So when I next met Vladimir in NYC, I asked him for some references for things to do in Russia. Throwing aside his Muscovite pretentions, he said in his hearty Cossack voice, "No, Zeegmund, my friend, you must come as my guest!"

Now one previous trip to Russia involved having bodyguards, a first for me. If you're going to be in a dangerous zone, I can understand bodyguards. But in this case, the bodyguards were there to protect me from... the bodyguards! Let me explain... it was explained to me that I needed bodyguards. In my analytical way, I asked for actual evidence that this was so. It was then explained to me that the company that provided the bodyguards could also, in essence, sell me to the highest bidder in terms of kidnappers. Buying their bodyguard service would ensure that this unfortunate and entirely preventable event would not occur. Hmm.. in the old days they called this a "protection racket." Today they call it the Russian security services business model.

Keeping this in mind, I took Vlad's offer of guidance. But hindsight being 20:20, I now know what I should have kept in mind was my trip with J.

Spending time in Moscow with Vlad was something like spending time in a drunken hedonistic fog. Four days and nights of continuous revelry. Days spent at a dacha stocked with drink, women, and food (in decreasing order of total mass); evenings spent ferried in limos between private clubs and private rooms in public clubs soaked in alcohol, food, tobacco smoke and perfume; and late nights in drunken gropes supervised by spookily silent armed bodyguards. I was never more than ten minutes away from the nearly-forced company of a woman, who more frequently than not, was not the same woman from the hour before. What started as an exciting and novel experience quickly degenerated into a numbing parade of anonymous flesh.

I had emotionally checked out before I arrived. I mentally checked out around the tenth hour: after that I was just coasting, observing but not really participating. I physically checked out early the third day: after that I was relying on muscle memory to keep me from sleeping.

I will say this, though. The women there were breathtakingly beautiful. A mixture of model looks, very open and willing personalities, sexually liberal, and submissive to men. On the other hand, they were not very sexually skilled. A single evening's encounter was much like masturbating to the photo of a gorgeous magazine model, except the model was really there and would do all the work. Okay, so it's better. But bear with me here while I make my point: but four days of encounters was much like having a room full of those magazine photos and masturbating to them. Not as good as you'd think: visually exhausting, and frankly takes the fun out of it.

I was careful to see if there were hidden cameras or other such paraphenalia around. Not that Vladimir would gain much that way, but, well... you know. Didn't see anything, but I suppose that doesn't mean anything. On the other hand, I didn't do much that would result in a valuable recording. I was also careful about eating and drinking the same things as my host(s). Call me paranoid, but it was quite clear I was utterly and completely at the mercy of Vladimir when I was in an estate about two hours out of Moscow stocked with dogs, armed guards, servants, and women, about a dozen of each, without knowing anybody else around.

After this experience, I made excuses to get back to work. My break with Jill Monroe in Belarus was, by comparison, a true vacation for the senses.


Anonymous Ardent said...

I'm all for the consensual exchange of pecuniary and sexual favors between reasonable adults, so don't take this as an anti-paid-sex rant. But here's the thing:

I pretty much suspected Mr. Potanin would receive a visitor such as yourself in just such a manner. Yes, the girls are beautiful. Yes, they are submissive. Fear will do that to one, and have no illusion but that most of these women live in fear of their pimps, their clients, and their bodyguards. They fear not only for themselves but for their families. These are the facts when it comes to prostitution in Russia, and these facts may explain why the girls weren't really sexually deft: they probably had neither the desire nor sufficient pecuniary incentive to wow you; they were just THERE.

As for Mr. Epstein of your Bahamas blog, I wonder why a really intelligent man would find it fun to spend his relaxation time with stupid or very young and immature women. Fuck 'em and pay 'em, OK, but from your post it appears making fun of them pleased Jeffrey in an utterly frat-boy way.

A Russian phrase sums up both men: "A boot is a boot and will never be a lady's slipper." You can take the pig out of the sty and fly it about in a Gulfstream, but....

8/05/2006 4:02 PM  

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