Model and artist, Vlad Turanski, collaborated with photographer Eleonora Drykina joining the homophobia conversation with the photography series Violent Youth. The story sees a young mob discover his love for another man while beating him up. We caught up with Vlad to continue the converstation.
Hi Vlad, please tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from.
I’m from Russia and was born in small Tambov back in 1990. I consider myself an artist and model. When I came back from spending a horrible summer in the US waiting tables, I decided to change my life and to take the challenge. I always knew that I’m good looking, and also I knew I was interested in politics and gay issues around the world. The outcome is simple – to mix this up and become an outspoken model, making shoots focusing on gay problems. I also would like to mention my very close friend here Asya Ignatkina. She’s a photographer in Tambov and she was extremely supportive and frankly speaking she opened this world for me, cause you can’t do shoots without a photographer, and trust me, this is really a miracle to find such a good one in a town like Tambov. So I’m really grateful to her for everything.
In 2013, Putin banned gay “propaganda” in Russia, how has the past few months been?
Seems like it had happened in 2012 something… Anyways, the talks around this ridiculousness started in 2010, exactly when I started making shoots, and the first one was called Suck the Kremlin, where I’ve been sucking a Kremlin-shaped lollypop right on the Red Square, and then the story was posted online at Kaltblut Magazine. I truly appreciate what Marcel (Kaltblut Editor in Chief) did and continues doing for me. We’ve become kind of close friends lately, despite having just met once in Berlin, but I feel his support all the time.
As for the situation with that law right now, once Kaltblut relaunched their website the shoot was taken down, and actually I’m pretty happy about that. The situation is getting worse, and I really have reasons to be afraid of criminal charges for what I do. On the one hand Mr. Putin is definitely an authoritarian politician, and he wants to control everything, even the private lives of everyone. On the other, there are people, who are extremely homophobic, and now their homophobia is supported by law, you know what I mean.
What was the LGBT community like this past decade before the ban?
I can’t say there is really much of a difference… But well, I could hang around the Red Square with 6’’ pumps on and a make-up. Now I will be arrested. I mean it was easier in that way, but people were as violent as they are. Now they just don’t hesitate to express this.
What exactly is happening with the ban? I read that trans people can’t get driver’s licenses.
Hahaha. Yeah I saw this article at Dazed. Honestly, I’ve never seen any cases of trans people were denied to get a driver license. You know, you have to clearly understand that this law is not that “real”. This all was created to have an official reason to jail irritable people and divert attention from real problems.
People are unhappy, they are angry, the crisis is going on and the payments are less, it’s really hard to get work, so everyone starts to accuse government, and then BAM – they get the enemy. An abstract gay man who’s in charge of all this. Like LGBT people were told to be the preachers of European lifestyle on the news, and also there is the EU, who tries to make problems in our country, hence this is LGBT who brings all those miseries to Russia. I mean, actually no one really cares if you are gay, unless you answer the interview questions for the magazine.
Its like the right wing in the States trying to control women’s health, prevent marriage equality, meanwhile places like the city of Detroit become bankrupt while we send money to Israel. What is Putin so frightened of?
To loose power.
What is Western Europe’s and America’s biggest misconceptions about Russia?
I’m afraid most of them are true. I mean I DO really love my homeland, its nature and history, but unfortunately yes, most unpleasant things that foreigners think of us are true. And it seems like just 2% of the population is nice, well educated, tolerant and worth being called Russians.
Well Americans love their guns, cheap gas, and food, but again its not all of them. What’s your opinion on homophobic Nazi skinheads that have been making the press this past year?
Again, people have to do something, to think over something, and whether you don’t have enough intelligence to write a book or at least do something helpful and useful you start to fight with LGBT or whatever. Because it’s for them just boring to sit at home.
With current oppression, I would imagine that a lot nightlife and subcultures are pushed more underground. What is the nightlife like in Moscow?
Definitely most of gay spots are closed, and definitely it went more underground, but you know, to me there is kind of separation. There are clubs for fucked up animals and their bitches, but there also are some techno spots, like Vanilla Ninja or Arma 17. Those are not gay clubs, but it’s really comfortable to be there and you can look as you want, meet your friends and have fun. I would say the atmosphere is intelligent there.
What type of music and DJS are you listening to at the moment?
You know, sometimes I think I’m not well or something, because I listen to EVERYTHING, but it’s like different music for different periods of my life. I used to listen to Russian pop a couple months ago, and rap and trap and everything. Currently I’m really into which house, I love Crystal Castles and I’m very sad about their separation. Techno is cool, but not too heavy. I mean I like more dreamy tunes.
I just discovered trap. I listen to everything too, but every type of music has different listeners. I’m really into minimal, but I love the techno crowd because they are so open. You don’t often see that variety anywhere else. How would you describe the current creative scene?
It is complicated and I can speak on it for hours, but I won’t reveal anything, because I’m working on a huge project for Kaltblut, where I interview owners of Moscow clubs to know their opinion about this and of course to make conclusions. So read it there!
Finally, tell us a little secret.
I’m gonna have my dick pierced this week.
Photographer: Eleonora Drykina
Models: Vlad Turanski & Alexey Saveliev
Stylist: Irina Firsova
MUA: Viktoria Matrosova