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Feature Story April 16, 2004
Facial Humilation
By Jake Rudnitsky Browse author Email
Page 4 of 5
But before I could continue our conversation, I noticed Dima Shalya, our Minister of Information and Ne Spat' editor, standing on the other side of the barricade. While I was taking my rejection in stride, Dima was fuming. It seems he'd arrived (along with Irina, an editor at Go!) with an invitation, and still hadn't managed to get past the second echelon of face control. Not just Dima, but whole crowds of people whose companies had sponsored the event were denied entrance that night. The very people who forked over the cash to bring over this Calderone character were left standing outside with their dicks in their hands. Face control is like the fine old Russian tradition of medical leeching: voluntarily attaching a bloodsucking parasite to the club. It doesn't take an economist to figure out that when these moron art directors refuse account executives and journalists entrance, the club will lose its sponsors. No sponsors, no big name DJs from New York. No New York DJ, no reason for chicks like the one I talked with to stand outside like sheep. No sheep, and the club will fall out of favor. It's just an amplified version of the same idiocy at News Pub.

Soon, though, I had other worries. We'd moved on to Infiniti and, as we approached, one of the bouncers glanced at the guy doing the door. He'd shook his head slightly and, before I could slip through, I found myself staring at two ugly ties. We weren't in hip hop gear, but still. we could see part of the crowd mingling in the foyer, and it wasn't like they were that well dressed. I lobbied for an explanation, but they were totally mute. So I tried the silliest trick in my repertoire: taking out my eXile card. Not only did it expire a year and a half ago, but recently it hasn't even been able to get me into McCoys. That's right, I'm not ashamed to admit that I was recently denied entry to McCoys. Not surprisingly, my card didn't move the Infiniti people to speak, or even blink. We had a brief glimmer of hope when in full view of the bouncers my friend exchanged a few words with a CSKA ballplayer he knew, but even that wasn't enough to get us through the door.

Next stop was Ministerstvo. I remember when it opened, Ministerstvo was a happening club for a few months, but that was a couple of years back. For some reason, it's stayed open, and even pays a giant Samoan-looking guy and another bouncer to stand guard. Now, there are several ways to gauge a club's liveliness from the outside: the amount (and quality) of traffic, how many people are standing outside talking on gaudy cell phones and smoking, the size of crowds trying to get past face control, the number of taxi drivers offering to give you a ride. And you can pretty much assume that if none of those factors exist, the club is totally dead. Ministerstvo was dead. It was about three, and there wasn't a soul outside. Cars weren't even driving by. And yet, the Samoan told us, "Entrance only with a club card."

Now, when a club is as over as Ministerstvo, it can't even afford a guy to man the door, so it relies on the bouncers. Their judgment can't be trusted, so they're given rules like that. There's no point in arguing, because they weren't hired for their decision-making capabilities. But as we were leaving, my friend asked him, honestly, if there was anyone inside. We knew the answer, of course, was no and yet the guard answered, "Enough." And so goes the logic of face control: better no one than a couple people without the right connections.

Something about Ministerstvo took the wind out of us; the egos were starting to get bruised. Dan was thinking about heading home, while my other friend wanted to change into a black Chinese coat he'd bought specifically to impress art directors. We decided to let him get changed, have a quick drink to fortify ourselves, and stop by Night Flight for a little reassurance before we attempted to get into a priori, Moscow's best after party.

But when we learned that Night Flight was already closed, Dan couldn't take any more failure and decided to bail. Then, in what seemed like a good omen, a red Merc picked us up. What with the Chinese coat and the car, we figured we.d definitely beat face control. The Chinese coat, by the way, is a brilliant strategy; bizarre clothes catch art directors off guard. They fear not knowing the latest trends, and therefore let all sorts of fashion mistakes slip by just in case. But we couldn't find the club. We drove down Povarskaya three full times, not realizing that there was another street between it and the Arbat. Ultimately we gave up and headed to Garage instead.

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