ST. PETERSBURG -- I called a small brothel a friend of mine from Piter recommended. It's in a small apartment in the center of St. Petersburg.
"I'm warming up the sauna right now and there are five beautiful girls awaiting your arrival. There is nobody else here right now, so don't waste time, just get over here," a girl told me over the telephone. Her voice was as chipper as an American secretary on Prozac. The upbeat attitude surprised me, but it helped sell me on the brothel.
My friend Alex and I arrive, enter, take off our shoes and put on tapachki from a tapachki rack. We're taken to one of the apartment's bedrooms. The girls are ushered in one by one. They call out their names, turn 360 degrees and walk out five in all, as promised. But not all five are as beautiful as the girl promised. Alex gets the hottest of the bunch: Sasha, a thirty-one year old with a tight model's body. I wasn't sure who to go for, the rest are all equally mediocre.
[From this point we turn to an unedited transcript captured by Abram's cellphone voice memo recorder.]
Me: Hold on. Let me see if this thing is recording.
Alex: The chubby one's selling her self real well. She looks like she would be fun. [The madame comes in.]
Madame: Nu chto, which girls appealed to you?
Me: (To Alex) Yeah, you're probably right. (To madame) I'll go with Katya... right? (To Alex) What was her name?
Alex: (To madame) The chubby one is Katya, right?
Madame: Yes, that's Katya.
Alex: And I'll go with Sasha.
Madame: Khorosho. That'll be 1,800 rubles for the first hour, for each of you.
Me: And if we want to prolong?
Mistress: Then it's 1,000 each for each additional hour. [We give her the cash.] Would you like some beer, tea, champagne?
Me: No thanks, just the girls.
Mistress: They'll be in in a minute- (Static. Recording missing.)
Alex: We tell them who we are, right?
Me: Just be natural. Don't tell them too much about yourself (Static. Recording missing.)
Alex: Remember, it's my first one.
Me: I know (Static. Recording missing.)
Me: Don't worry, she'll know what to do. She does this for a living.
Sasha: [Comes in with a tube of lubricant, two condoms and a pack of cigarettes.] Brrr, it's so cold. Oi! Why are you wearing sunglasses?
Me: Why not?
Sasha: I don't know, it's not intimate.
Me: That's just his style.
Sasha: Da, da. [Turns on the radio, dance music starts playing in the background.]
Katya: [Comes in, also with a couple of condoms and a tube of lube and curls up on a La-Z-Boy] What station did you turn it to?
Sasha: Don't know. I caught what I caught.
Alex: Let's get some champagne.
Katya: You want to have a real celebration (Laughter breaks up the recording.)
Sasha: Are you going to have the champagne too? Should I bring you two glasses?
Me: Of course. [She leaves; her heels sound on the parquet.]
Me: (To Katya) Why is the place so empty tonight?
Katya: It's a holiday.