Lola, my whore, came from Severodonetsk, a toxic dump in the Lugansk oblast, the Russified east of Ukraine. I rented her late on Sunday, November 28th -- the same day that the Ukrainian governors of several pro-Yanukovich regions were holding a congress in Severodonetsk, threatening to create a breakaway southeastern Ukrainian republic if the "orange" revolution in Kiev succeeded. It was one of those coincidences that writers invent to give a sordid story some relevance -- but invention in this case isn't necessary. We're talking about whores here, folks. Any john in Moscow knows that Yanukovich country, the pro-Russian southeast of Ukraine, is the snapper-basket of Europe, the white world's most fertile breeding ground for whores, the Golden Triangle of prostitution production.
Lola wasn't my first choice. That would have been Tanya, a brunette with massive size-6 breasts whom I spotted on one of the online iWhore sites. I had a serious jones for huge tits to squeeze and smother -- I guess because I was feeling particularly lonely, after having fought with my girlfriend. But -- to make a long story short -- when I got to Tanya's apartment building and called up to be let in, turned out another client had beat me to the chase. Apparently I wasn't the only e-john who typed "breast size - 6" in the "Advanced search" section of the iWhore site.
But I didn't let that get me down. This is Moscow, where "he who hesitates doesn't masturbate, he just calls another whore." So I phoned Lola. She had size 4 breasts, according to the anketa, and a fine pale body, with a slutty dyed-yellow Cleopatra haircut, and in the photo, her legs opened wide, revealing a lean, clean-shaven body, courtesy of Adobe Photoshop.
Lola didn't have that deadened voice most whores have. She called me "dorogoi" and "solnishko" and "khoroshinki," and offered to be at my place in an hour, all for the price of a date -- $100.
When she entered my apartment, I got the non-Photoshop version of Lola: under her cheap white face powder, you could see the unhealthy, crusty complexion, and a dark formation of a mustache above her lip. It contrasted harshly with her dyed yellow-blond hair. Her face was wide and fat, and her mid-section was lumpy and thick. I broke out a bottle of wine -- she told me that Ukrainian wine is her favorite, better than French. I quickly gulped down my glass and poured another.
When I found out she was from Severodonetsk, I exclaimed, "So Lola, what do you think about being a citizen of a new country?" She hadn't heard about the separatist movement in her region.
"I don't know, I guess it's fine," she said, laughing. "Really, I don't understand politics. We're all Ukrainians. Although...we are also close to Russia. I don't know Mark, I know nothing about this."
Lola moved to Moscow less than two months ago. She lives in an apartment near the three vokzali with another whore from Yanukovich country. She is still amazed by what she sees here -- "Moscow is such a beautiful city," she said. "So big and full of lights and people. Severodonetsk is tiny, nothing goes on at all. It's dull."
"Do you want to go back, or stay here?" I asked.
"I'd like to stay. There's no way to make money in Severodonetsk. I want to go into trade here" -- by trade, she meant working at a store or kiosk -- "but I wound up doing this. This work is only temporary. But oh! Moscow is so expensive! Just the other day I had to pay a cop 50 dollars for not having registration. The cops surrounded us girls, they were scaring us about what they would do. Usually you can work it off for sex, which isn't a problem if he's handsome. It's my line of work, by the way. But these cops wanted money. 50 dollars from each girl. Anyway, I plan to quit this soon and go into trade somewhere here in Moscow."
"What about doing trade in Severodonetsk?"
"Do you know what it's like there? The women who do trade stand out 12 hours every day in the rynok trying to sell stuff, and do you know what they make in profit? 100 rubles -- three dollars -- a day. Three dollars, for standing out in the cold all day. It's not possible."
"You have family there?" I asked.
"Yes, my mother and father."
"They're together, not divorced?"
"Just curious. Mine split up when I was seven."
"Mine are still together, although... my mother's on pension. She's 45. And my father doesn't do much. He's drunk all the time. All the men there are."
"Why's your mom retired so young?" I asked.
"She worked at the Azot chemicals plant. It's the main employer in town, it's very well-known. You've heard of it?"
"Probably, yeah," I lied.
"Of course you have, everyone knows Azot. But it's harmful to work there, so they let you retire much earlier. I would have worked there myself."
"I'm a chemist by education. But they don't allow you to have children while working at the plant, and you have to wait nine years after you stop working before it's safe to have a child. That would be such a problem because I want children."
I thought: so instead, you became a whore, which is something your child will thank you for. Cuz you know, nothing keeps a womb fit 'n fertile like having its walls pounded by drunken strangers twelve times a day...
Here is a description of the Azot chemicals plant from the web: "'Azot' is one of the largest producers of nitrogen fertilizers. It produces more than 60 items, including ammonia, carbamide, methanol, acetic acid, formalin, catalyst, acetone, polyvinyl-acetate glue and emulsion."
So those were her choices in Severodontesk: either poison herself in a toxic factory in shitsville, or leave and become a whore. As Sam Kinison said, "Thanks for the big menu, God! Thanks a lot!"
I asked her if she had a boyfriend or husband.
Her expression turned slightly pained. "Not anymore," she said. "I was with one guy for four years. I was sure he was the one. I loved him and he said he loved me. We planned to marry. I was studying chemistry, and he got work as a truck driver. He'd make trips to Moscow. He wound up staying longer and longer. One time it was 4 months, one time he was gone for 6 months -- or no, the one time was 2 months. Then I found out all that time he had another girlfriend. I was crushed. I couldn't believe it."
"Were you faithful to him?" I asked.
"Yes, I never once cheated on him. I never even thought about it."
"Now I do this work. I never thought I would, but it's ok. I just want to be nice to people. I consider myself a nice person, Mark." It was sad, in a 19th century literary way -- loyal provincial girl gets her illusions crushed by an unfaithful childhood lover, turns to prostitution in the cruel big city, and we all know how it ends.
"So how do you like the people in Moscow?" I asked.
"They're...different types, I would say. Many of them are nice. But for example, I had this one client who was horrible. He was drunk and not attractive, but that's not important. When we undressed, he tried to get me to do it without a condom. I said, 'Nyet!' And he said, 'It's okay, I'm a married man. I don't have sex with anyone but my wife, and we haven't had sex in years.' And I said, 'But how do I know you haven't had sex with anyone?' and he said, 'Because I'm married! Look at my ring.' I said, 'You could have affairs. You could have had unprotected sex with other prostitutes. And how do you know where I've been?'"
I must have grimaced because she stopped and said, "Oh, I'm sorry Mark, is this story bothering you?"
"No, no, no, go on."
"He tried to force me without a condom, so I kicked him and ran to the balcony and started to scream. He got scared, said, 'Dyevushka, what's wrong with you?' After that, he agreed to have sex with a condom. I agreed to continue because I'm nice, I'm a nice girl. I believe you should be nice to everyone. Afterwards, he called me and said I was his favorite and he wanted to sleep with me again. Of course, I didn't. And then another time, not long ago, I was with two Italian men..."
At this point, I started to tune out, thinking about structural problems in my new book that I'm currently editing, and something I should cite in Part IV, chapter 8. Ten minutes later, she was still rattling off the catalogue of her clients, ruining that delusion you need as a john, where you can will away thoughts of all the other kilroys that have been there before you.
"Okay, okay, why don't you stop and get into the shower," I said, cutting her off.
"I was wondering when you were going to ask me," she said.
She emerged five minutes later. She opened her purse, took two cheap table napkins (the kind with birthday party prints) and three condoms out, and lay them down by my pillow. She pulled off her towel, folded it and laid it on the dresser. Her body was strange: her ribs and pelvic bones were pushing out, barrel-like. The rib cage had expanded so much that her breasts, even if size four, looked out of place, like two little balloons resting on a barrel edge. It was as if she was undergoing some kind of skeletal metamorphosis, like in those 80s horror movies, like The Howling, when the human transforms into a beast, and during the transformation, you hear what sounds like the splitting of trees and bark. Friends have often asked me, "What happens to Russian women, how do they go from those beautiful 20-year-olds to those 30-year-old babushka beasts?" In Lola there was a clue, like a rare moment captured in a nature film: she was in mid-transformation, and now, I was going to have to fuck her.