From Moscow with stops in Berlin, London, Paris and everywhere
5.1. What was a result of collecting matchbox labels
When we lived at dacha in summer, my first real but not deliberate boy friends Yura and Ljonya and I liked to bicycle around. Sometimes near the railway line we found some excellent pictures, which were the matchbox labels. All of us began to collect them. At home we put them in hot water and the pictures were separated from the bases. It was good, because the different passengers threw the matchboxes with labels out of the windows of trains, and it was some element of disinfecting. Surely we didn't think about it and tried to find the labels among the piles of garbage near the railway lines. Only some years later the labels for collectors appeared in sale, and during the World Youth Festival the special packets with excellent labels were sold, while the number of collectors was greatly increased. I was proud that I was one of them.
Due to matchbox collecting I became finally a member of some international and national clubs of collectors, for example, in Birmingham, Hong Kong, India, Belgium and Russia. I received from them the addresses of another collectors in many countries. It was the beginning of my long 10-years correspondence with the people throughout the world, which collected the labels. Just this fact promoted to my desire of studying and knowing the foreign languages. And due to the letters I knew many facts about the life and people in other countries. That was a time after a death of Stalin, when our communist leaders wanted to have or to show some elements of the freedom. But after Khrushchov time "the nuts" were twisted again, I became an engineer and it became impossible for me to write abroad (or softly speaking - better not to do it). Anyway this hobby - my matches pictures, which I keep at home as a very "expansive" or valuable part of my life - added much useful in my knowledge about the world and the people in it.
5.2. My not "matches" correspondence as the impulse for making everything
I have now about 10 correspondents in each from countries: Denmark, Sweden, France, Australia, Norway, Holland, Italy and Canada, about 20 - from England and more than 75 - in the USA and Germany. There are from one to three correspondents in Mexico, Singapore, Butane, Malaysia, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Czech, Estonia, Ukraine, South Africa and some other countries.
Why I mentioned all these figures, because they are so important for me, and behind them there are the good friends, trips and exchange of feelings and facts. Due to this correspondence I found these friends, visited some of them in the different countries and knew so interesting information about other countries and people. One of the most important openings for me was the fact that the gays from different corners of the world independently of their color of skin, religion and nationality are very similar one to another in their characters, interests, hobbies, fates and relationships with the surrounding reality and problems. Probably I repeat it often, but that is the very important feeling of happiness, when you became and feel as a part of so large Gay Community. What was the beginning of my correspondence with the gay world -Our World?
Once I had read in one of the advertising newspapers (probably it was an application to the newspaper "Evening Moscow") that it was possible to join the organization IPF (International Pen Friends). The representative office of IPF was located in Vilnius (Lithuania), while the main IPF office was in London. The cost of post service was very cheap in the USSR and the price of joining to IPF was also low. I wrote there and sent the corresponding money. Soon I received the five addresses of the people of the same age, which wanted to be in correspondence wit me. They were mainly the women.
At the next year I received 10 such addresses. I wrote to everybody, and everybody answered me. Among them there was only one gay - Jim from Australia, who wrote me after some time of our sincere correspondence about it. He was a pianist and liked to play the Russian music and popular songs. I keep carefully a cassette with his piano performance and singing in jazz manner. Jim wrote me much about his personal successes and failures, how his excellent mother died and how he found finally the boy friend among his correspondents in Russia (I was not alone), who emigrated in Australia. As I could understand, this man only used Jim for his first "jumping off ground" abroad. Jim understood it himself very soon.
In the same time there was another obstacle for me to write abroad: the price of postal service in Russia was greatly increased (and is increased more and more). It created the danger to all my correspondence: I began to put in one envelope my writings to some different people approximately in the same area and asked one friend to send my letters. Of coarse nobody liked it. The result was quite sad for me and even couldn't benot foreseen: some my pen friends showed me their displeasure, while another ones tried to be acquainted between themselves and to forget me. At least in the case with Jim it was so. It was a little pity, because we had a long and trustful correspondence for at least 10 years.
As to other my IPF-friend which were mainly ladies, their number was gradually decreased and I am now in correspondence with the most reliable five ladies from England, France, Italy, USA and Australia. I could write many positive things about each of them and they are worthy of it but it is outside of main content of this text. In the same time another (gay) correspondence was began in the way that was so useful for everybody, who wants to begin such correspondence. Probably my example will serve as a thrust for you. I advice you, at least, to follow my example, because in my mind and in the certain period of life, age or circumstances many people need or wish to have the pen-friends to the whole series of very different reasons connected with their life and relations with other people.
5.3. Scandinavians in Moscow and me - in Scandinavia
So, everything was begun to move from a stundstill for me, when the large group of young people from Scandinavia came in Moscow in last years of Gorbatchev's perestroyka. They were the people fighting for the Green World and against environmental pollution. It was the first important thrust for me, and this direction became one of the main in my activity. In those days they asked the Muscovite's (through the media) to help them to have the beds and simple food in Moscow flats. My daughter informed somebody about our possibilities and desire, and the main organizers of this event Brigitte and Thomas decided to live in our flat. Though the event itself continued only a week, they lived with us also for two additional weeks: one - before and another - after the events.
In that time both of them were the students of Copenhagen University in the architecture of parks or, in our imagination, they should become the garden designers. They astonished us with their independence, openness and the absence of any fears or shame. For example, they slept and changed the clothes on one room without feeling uneasy. Surely we couldn't suggest them two rooms (from our three ones), but they preferred to be in one place. They were very accurate, and everything was so clean and nice in my room during their being there.
Some years later, when I was in Germany with my friend Ed, we visited a small city near Munich. I was then not surprising, that all beautiful gardens around the houses were the results of diploma works of local (German) students on the same specialty as my Danish friends had, because it was the main direction of studying in the their universities. I hadn't met such specialists in Russia, but it is probably a lack of my knowledge about such local our specialists. As I knew later on, it was difficult for Brigitte and Thomas to find the work in Denmark. However she worked abroad for some time after graduating university. Now she has a family, three nice daughters and her own company for gardening. Thomas with a wife and a son went to the USA for improving his knowledge and status. In Denmark he became Ph.D. in his gardening work. I visited all of them recently in Denmark and found there their second son with excellent name William.
These kind and nice Danish friends became practically the members of our family during their being in our house, and we solved together so many problems about which we, the people from other sides of "iron curtain", couldn't imagine or presuppose. We were happy that all of us had finally the same approaches.
As I mentioned above, our guests were the organizers of all events, and of coarse they were busy with solving so many problems. First of all, many Scandinavian visitors (a few hundred of them) couldn't find the places in flats of Muscovite's. The large army tents were put for them in our known Gorky Park. They lived there with not so comfortable conditions. For example, they had to use some lavatories of park, and of coarse it was not enough of such places. I remember how the high lanky guys without any shame tried urinating just near the tents. Frankly it was so pleasant for me to see their huge and long cocks that they could also used for another procedures. In these moment I felt how similar are the people in the world in many desires and needs. Probably it sounds a little strange but we were educated in the Soviet time in such way that everything had to be different in the Western world from what we had.
In addition they organized in park the different cultural events. I with my German friend - a post-graduate from Moscow Energy Institute - (surely he was a gay, with whom we were only the friends) had seen with a great interest the performance of student amateur theater from Danish city Arhus. I couldn't imagine then that in some time later I should be in this city as well as in many other places of Denmark. The strange picturesque play was performed just at the huge stage of Green open theater of Gorky Park. I remember well that it was very cold in Moscow in this August time.
With many difficulties our Scandinavian friends managed to organize the environmental marsh of all young people who came in Moscow and the concert. Instead of Red Square, where they wanted to do it, they were permitted by Moscow administration to do it near the huge building of Moscow University at Sparrow Hills (then - Lenin Hills). I've seen it in TV and remember just now how our known TV journalist A.Lyubimov (he worked then in a program VID) conducted the concert and discussion. I was so satisfied that he showed the great sympathy to Scandinavians, which were fighting for the clean world. In the same time it was possible to see even at TV screens the militia (policemen) were quite rude in their desire to make "an order".
However it should be noted that it was the last time of dying communism in the Soviet Union, and just in that time there were simultaneously the terrible events in Tbilisi, Vilnius and Riga. Surely in comparison with them the event near the university was quite peaceful and even democratic. Anyway this Scandinavian event in Moscow was one small link in the chain of a series mentioned and other demonstrations and events resulted finally together with another serious reasons in the collapse of the USSR and all communist system. Of coarse the Danish friend never had such purpose at all: they were the fighters for green world.
On the whole they were pleased with their time in Moscow and the hospitality of Muscovite's. Brigitte and Thomas decided to invite my daughter with her husband and me with my wife to Denmark. In that time it was not real for u at all. Anyway they didn't want to set it aside and went in Danish embassy, which was located not so far from our home and managed to make the invitations for us with a comparatively low price (much less than if they made it in Denmark). My daughter with a husband first visited our Danish friends. They informed me that our poor friends were not able to pay for all or being in Denmark. I decided to tie with some Danish companies, for which I translated at the numerous exhibitions and the Days of Denmark in Moscow recently before it.
One friend Skytte from chemical company promised me to help. Really in some time he informed that the company promised to pay for one week being of my being with a wife in Copenhagen "Park Hotel". Our Danish friend (Brigitte, first of all) recommended us the excellent way to Denmark: by train - in Finland, then by ferry "Syliya Line" to Stockholm, and finally - by train, ferry between Sweden and Denmark and train - to Copenhagen. It was so that our Russian customer men were so crude with a wife and tried to examine all the things that she had in her bag and, first of all, the artificial pearl necklace. But abroad we had no any problems of such type at all. My wife cried when she had seen a choice of goods in the first shops in Helsinki: in that time our shops in Russia were practically empty. I've read about the same reaction of one Russian lady before it in one of stories of our poet E. Yevtushenko, but I couldn't believe that the same case could take place with us.
The city Helsinki was so simple and hospital. We were astonished that even in cold weather the people there tried to catch the sunshine rays and had a very few cloth for catching the sunshine rays on their white skin. Our time at "Syliya Line" was especially good. This real hotel on water was so comfortable in spite of the fact that we had the cheapest places on the down deck. We preferred to be at the open deck and to see the nice open water, green islands with so beautiful fairy-tale houses, trees, flowers and water birds (swans) everywhere.
After it the dream to be again at this ferry occupied me, and at next year I managed to do it once more only alone. The second ferry was even much better than the first one, but as ever the first expression was extremely strong. We met there many nice people from different countries, in particular, one young couple (Swedish girl and English boy) who studied at the Communist school in the old city Russian Vladimir. Later in Moscow they visited us a few times, until he met another (not so rigid in communist points of view) girl from the same school two years later and their union was collapsed.
When the ferry came in Stockholm, we had a possibility to see this beautiful city but the time in Stockholm was shortened to one day, because it was so expansive for us to rent even the cheapest hotel. Anyway we managed to see so many good things in the center of this city surrounded by water. It was also new for us how they used the subway and underground spaces of city (where we found many shops and cafes). Especially good was the king palace as if growing from the water. The speed train in Sweden that took us in Denmark was very convenient, and we were especially astonished that many Swedes carried their cats in the special cages, which these cats liked if to judge in accordance with theyr behavior.
In Copenhagen many lights and neon bright adverts on houses astonished us: we had seen them first in our life. At street one English guy with gay appearance and manners helped us to find the hotel and to bring there our things. The people at reception of "Park Hotel" were so polite and friendly with us, when they knew that a known Danish company has invited us. Soon Thomas came in hotel and he was not satisfied seeing with us the English guy, who was a gay not only in my mind. Thomas asked him to leave us at once that spoilt my mood. Thomas invited us to visit him at the next day. But in that evening we decided to conduct Thomas. Just on other side of the street there was an excellent park with a lake, a bridge over it and many strange men's sculptures everywhere. Then I've seen some of them on the first pages of Danish gay magazine "Pan" issues.
5.4. Gays Copenhagen
"Look, please, at this park, I ask you to be very careful and to know that it is so dagerous to be in the park during the night hours", - told us Thomas.
"But why?" - asked I with all my simplicity and openness.
"That is a place for gays gathering" - answered Thomas with a feeling that it was really bad and even outside of any discussions. Surely I understood it soon quite well, and I was clever not to put Thomas any additional questions. At once after Thomas leaving I said that I would go in the CD shop. Of coarse I went to look attentively all park's corners and understood at once, where there were "our" places. After it I began to visit these park's places regularly, when the circumstances allowed me to do it. Once the young Vietnamese guy approached me at the bridge. He accepted me for a French man and invited me to visit his home place. He added:
"I've never been with a French gay and it was a dream of all my life to be at least one night with such man".
However I couldn't do it by some different reasons. The most important from them was the fact that my wife was really waiting for me in the hotel. But the Vietnamese gay managed to inform me finally that there was a street behind the railway station of Copenhagen with the different sex-shops and saunas, many of which were intended specially for gays. Next day I visited this area, where in one of gay shops I found and bought (after hesitations, because it was expansive for me) the gay guide for Scandinavian countries in a form of newspaper or a simple magazine. From there I knew that not only this gay park was near our hotel: the "Park Hotel" was surrounded by many different other gay places, and the gay-sauna "Amigo club" was so near to it.
This place became one of my favorite gay places of Copenhagen. But when I approached there in the first time I met near the entrance a man, the jeans of whom in the area of his cock had such holes that was possible to see its huge size. I felt that the man was proud of it. Inside the sauna after the stairs to the second floow with extremely nice smelling I went to the casahier's desk and was so astonished with hospital and the final quiet and very friendly atmosphere everywhere. Just here I've received my first matchbox label on the gay theme. Later on I managed to collect more than a few hundreds of such labels from the total world. All the impressions in "Amigo Club" were also very good.
Two guys presented in Sauna, when they knew that I was Russian, invited me to the separate room with a bed, and we had a very nice time three together but I was so nervous and excited that I couldn't do with them everything that they asked me. Frankly everything was new for me in this "Amigo Club". In the different places of sauna there were the screens, where the different gay porno films of six different directions (French and Greek love, S&N, mixed sex, boys and people in age) were shown. There was a possibility for cruising along long three-story building corridors. On both sides of them I found many different rooms and halls with the muffled light or its full absence (the known darkroomsd). As I knew later on, such places were so similar in the different countries and cities and reminded one another.
However my impression from "Amigo Club" was the first and probably strongest, and it was as the first love, to which I was devoted up to the present time. The modern owner of "Amigo Club" Niels is my good friend. Niels showed me also many other excellent gay places in Copenhagen, and I showed him recently many such places in St. Petersburg including the gay sauna "Narcissus". But returning to my first impression, I was surprised that their attempts to find somebody by cruising along the long zigzag corridors the gays had the so high demands for the possible partner. But when they came in the central darkroom at the second floor or in the side dark rooms at the third floor they tried to have sex with everybody independently with whom, as it was impossible to see anybody there. It seemed to me so strange, because in the corridors and the halls with large screens for porno they wanted to show that they were waiting for their "prince" and nobody else.
It should be necassary to note want to note that many people from the different countries of the world visit "Amigo Club" and like to come here. As Niels told me, the sauna wss especially crowded after opening the bridge connected Denmark with Sweden in July 2000. From the gay guide newspaper I knew also about the gay library and club "Pan" located together in one P-formed building and not so far from the "Park Hotel".
In the library I was warmly met by a librarian with a name Frank. Frank was the kind host of library for me, and he became my reliable correspondent for at least ten years as I visited this heartfelt place. In the first time Frank showed me the whole library, where there were many gay books, magazines and newspapers from the total world. Frank suggested me to send the Russian gay publications in the library. In that time we had practically one newspaper "Theme" by Roman Kalinin. In turn Frank promised to publish my ad in their local Danish gay newspaper "Pan". Finally fulfilled his promise. The friendly relations with Frank and other people from library and newspaper allowed me to install the correspndence with many other friends in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and other countries.
Soon the library and editorial office were separated from club "Pan" and were transferred in other place. But before and now the library and the newspaper editorial office are located at the different floors. There was also a place for drinking and meeting, where you might ask a cup of coffee or a glass of excellent Danish beer. In this small cozy rooms downstairs I met some nice friends. Once I met there a gay from the United States. This American guy had the mother was from France, while the father was from Syria. I met him a few times during my next trips in Denmark: he became married and was very happy with his not young Danish boy friend who left his straight family because of it. I knew also another married gay couples, which created the families. These unusual families, which I met visiting Denmark, were so surprising and pleasant opening for me and the subject of my envy.
My advertisement in "Pan" consisted of my wish to be in correspondence with the reliable friends and to exchange the literature and visits. I received after it so many answers including some letters from the gay couples. It was the real beginning of perfectly new relations and contacts for me. For example, I visited during my next visit to Denmark a family of Peter and Claus in their nice suburban house (Peter lived here before with his female wife). In that time I was "ill" by idea or dream to find the second half for my couple. Soon I met and lived with Edward, and I was really and totally ready for it. What was my story, I shall describe in details later. During my visit to the Danish couple Claus and Peter they showed me their huge wooden house and invited me to visitat the first in Copenhagen concert of gay men chorus from Los Angeles (they visited Moscow only in 7 years afyer it).
The concert collected the gays from the total Denmark: I met some of them during my round-the-Denmark trip (Alborg. Odense, Fahborg etc.), before I reached Peter and Claus in their place near Copenhagen. In all mentioned cities I visited the gay centers and had of course the interesting meetings with the different people. It was so nice to meet some of them again at this concert. The chorus showed a very high level of performance of classic works (the first part of concert) and American songs, dances and pieces (the second part, when there was so much humor and neatly gay poses, movements and behavior). I was excited. After knowing that I was from Russia, the guys from chorus presented me a cassette with their singing. A little later I used it for showing the role of musical art at the special gay conference in Moscow.
After my returning home and some time after appearance of my ad in "Pan", the Estonian policeman visited me. He told me that I was so bold man giving such ad. I helped to this policeman to stay for some days in Moscow: he lived in my home. He said that it was impossible to imagine such things before in our country (then Estonia was still a part of the USSR). I felt sldo the reaction on this ad later on in New Orleans (USA). The author of many publications in local gay newspapers said that due to such ads their authors in the former USSR could "melt the ice in Siberia". In my mind both men with such opinions were wrong, because the situation in Russia had been greatly changed and finally the gays became not persecuted. I want to hope that the return to previous communist situation is impossible: many changes are practically reversible in Russia.
So, after my first visit in Denmark and the ad in "Pan" I began to be in correspondence with the gays of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France and other countries. It became finally the reason of my second trip in these countries with visiting so many new friends. I liked greatly these countries, especially Denmark, which is a free Paradise for gay life and activity.
Of coarse, Copenhagen is especially close to me due to its charming spirit, wonderful ancient part with harbor, Botanical garden and parks including Tivoli, and many people on bicycles everywhere. Its railway station, city hall square, pedestrian streets, lakes and the people are always with me and in my heart. I liked the monument to the great taleteller K. Andersen and the mermaid from his tale at the shore of sea. During the first visit I with my wife visited the City Hall, and we were astonished with its architecture and decorations.
But there was also inside the City Hall the exhibition "100 years of erotica in Denmark". Later on the special erotic museum was opened in center of Copenhagen and used many exhibits from this exposition. I was astonished by a number of special postcards and pictures devoted at the exhibition to gays and lesbian themes. It was also strange for my wife and me that we could go everywhere in the building of city hall without any restrictions, while the exhibition greeted everybody coming with a placard showing the huge erected cock.
We visited also their Danish parliament. The kind guide there liked us very much and allowed Irene to sit at the place (armchair), where their charming queen Margaret was usually sitting. We wondered to see that the ancient parliament was equipped with the most modern soft- and hardware. The union of old things with the modern equipment is so typical for Denmark in general. I felt it during many business trips in this country, which I had last years and which were connected with my work at the energy courses.
Once in the end of the first being in Copenhagen I was asked by two guys at the street to show them something on the map of city. They were two Americans from California and they had the same gay guidebook that I've bought some days earlier. I showed to these chaps with pleasure how to find the most interesting places here, in particular the "Cozy bar" (we stood just opposite it), where the gays like to come after 3 a.m., when all saunas and bars are closed, and nobody want to go home. The guys were so astonished with my good knowledge, especially when they knew that I was from Russia. It was pity that we had in that time no such "Cozy bar" and no any gay places of such type in Moscow: they appeared a little later on. In Copenhagen I was glad as ever to hear the compliments on my English. But all gays like when somebody praises them.
5.5. As we became the witnesses of Berlin wall fall and what kind of Berlin
I've seen ten years later
Brigitte, Thomas and the family of a man from the company that rented the "Park Hotel" for us showed many other interesting things in Copenhagen during our first visit to Denmark. Of course many gays places including the parks, toilets, MCC church etc. were shown me during my second visit by another friend by correspondence Gerd. In the first time a ferry to Germany finished our first visit in Denmark. Then we took the train in Rostock and from German coast came in Berlin.
In East Berlin we stayed in the house of our good friends living near city Strausberg (about 50 km east from Berlin). Before I was there alone and also with my family (by car from Moscow through Czechoslovakia). That was a family of my friend Klaus, who was also the power engineer graduating the railway institute (only if I - in Moscow, Klaus - in Dresden). Klaus visited the institute, where I was working, with a group of power engineers from East Germany within the frameworks of activities of USSR-GDR friendship society.
When I was a post-graduate student, my German teacher, who was a nice and very businesslike lady, recommended me to join to our institute to this society that could help finally in visiting Germany. So my institute became a collective member of this society. But it was the only way in that time to go abroad. Really a few groups of my institute colleagues visited GDR, but I was not permitted to do it. Probably one from the reason for it was my nonstandard sexual situation. Only 6 year before the trip with Irene under description I managed to have the first visit of GDR.
After Copenhagen I had the great wish to find some gays in Germany. Before I asked one of my Russian friends, which was a military colonel, how he managed to find gays every where. Nickolai (it was his name) explained me in such way:
"I go at the toilet at the main Railway Station of city and find there the worse male whore. But he is the best for me, because he (she) shows me all the proper places".
I followed his advice during my first being in city Leipzig, where I was in a group. Due to it I knew all local places indeed. It is better not to remember the man from Railway Station with so typical bad gay appearance of a whore. It was wonderful and strange that our hotel was located just near one main in city underground toilet, where the gays were not afraid of one to another and made "everything". I met there a few gays and one of them was a man of my dream - the handsome German man with French appearance. I was together with him only ten minutes, no more, but it was a greatest pleasure of the total life. I remember also another man, who was a driver and lived in the village near the city. My impressions from gays were really bright. However, it was also so that many toilets were closed in Germany, when the AIDS attacked the world and therefore i couldn't visit the same place during my next visits.
All my activity in the USSR-GDR society occurred together with Lydia Anatoliyevna, about which I wrote in the section about the old ladies in my life. We were so suitable one to another and successful in this work that our institute received the first prizes for the good activity in the country for a few years. Some events promoted to it too. For example the secretary of this society was Irina - the young wife of known academician V. Kirillin, who was specialist in power engineering. Therefore Irina supported us constantly. (The story of their parting was so terrible: this young lady preferred the young driver of her husband, whick as Otello knew about it). The director of our institute in that time was D. Zhimerin, who was the energy minister still in Stalin time, but after all he was a nice and kind man. Just he accepted me in the Power Engineering institute and promoted to this society. As I mentioned, after good beginning one group of our workers after another one began to visit East Germany. But I was not permitted to do it for 8 years. The main reason for it was the event with English teacher from Italy, after which I became for the long time not "exit" for the foreign trips.
In that time even the dream about coming to the so-called capitalistic countries was practically impossible. But even to travel in in East European countries was not so easy, because you had to receive the conformation of your characteristics from your local chief, trade union, communist party in your institute and the regional communist committee. If you go in a capitalistic country, you had to receive a talking and confirmation in the Central Committee of Party. I had all these procedures in the same year, when I went first to Germany. It was my visiting of the Conference in Dubrovnik (Yugoslavia) on two-phase flows. Before it during five years I prepared all necessary documents many times, but they didn't allow me to leave the country. The interval between my first visit to "foreign" Hungary and the second visit (in Germany) occupied 9 years. Usually the refusal was made in such way. They allowed to prepare the documents at all levels, but when I came to receive the final solution, they told me that something was wrong. The "authorities" of the known level were against it. For me it was a little strange, because they allowed me to work successfully with foreigners practically at all international and national exhibitions that were carried out in Moscow in that time.
After the final receiving of the first permission I visited Germany more than 5 times. During one of first trips with a group I remembered, how Putin was sitting in the restaurant, where we had our food, discussing something with a leader of our group and lloking in my side. I liked him in that time, because I felt that probably just he permitted me to be there/ I had no suspisions that the lists of people in the group were discussed and confirmed by this man with the face that I liked forever. Probably he took the responsibility for my crossing the board and being in Germany. I could never forget this face, which I've seen about 15 years ago and which I recognized at once after such long period. Our group consisted then of 30 people from six different organizations, and there were only 5 people from my institute. The lady conductor in train told us that our staying in Brest (before crossing the border with Poland) would be 3 hours. My friends decided to go for seeing the Brest fortress known as a place of great battle since the time of the Second World War. I decided not to do it, because it was a little raining and I had only one pair of shoes with narrow soles. The colleagues left and very soon the train began to move to the Polish border. I asked the conductor what was wrong. She answered that something was changed and the chief of train decided to follow the timetable.
"Why in such case did you tell us untruth about the timetable?" - asked I her.
There was no answer. So, I stayed alone in a train with the things of five people. The first city that we reached was Frankfurt-on-Oder. Nobody from the group helped me to carry these things from the train to car and from there -to the hotel.
"It is clear, what is possible to wait from science", - told another peple from the group with sarcasm and hostility. They were the workers from the different power equipment factories. When I put the things in the hotel room, a chief of the group suggested me to go instead of supper at the railway station and to wait for my friends.
Thhat was a case that allowed me to feel finally so fluently in the foreign countries. When I reached the railway station, it was getting dark quickly. I was really alone at the platform and didn't know what to do. Gradually and in the first time in my life I began to speak with Germans in German. It was so that my courses in the Academy of Sciences were quite good, because I managed quickly and very easy to enter into the contact with people. They explained me, when the next train from Russia would come. But it was so that the train didn't come at night. Only in morning the Paris train approached to the platform, and I've seen and met two ladies and two men from my institute. The ladies fell out of the train in my hands. It was so that at the territory of Poland the freight train went off the tracks. My friends believed that it was my train, while at the night platform I thought that it was the train with them. The German railway people informed me about the accident in Poland. So it was my first "christening" abroad, after which I became much bolder, because I felt that the people were so similar and mainly kind everywhere.
The visits to family of Klaus, his wife Hanna and children Frank and Kerstin became the best time for me and my family in Germany. Klaus has as well the extremely nice mother (Oma) and aunt (Tante), and all of them are so good friends of mine and my family. We had tigether so many nice moments. Our meetings we were begun in the time of communism. In Germany they could see in that time the TV programs from West Germany. I couldn't forget how happy we were to see those programs, for example, the known American film "Nights of jaguar" with Liz Taylor and R.Barton. Then I visited the city in Western Mexico, where this film was shooted, and just there I remembered again our nice time in Klaus house with these TV-programs.
The German friends permitted me to use the bicycle that I liked so much. I can never forget the words of Oma:
"Imagine only how Vladimir is happy and proud, when he is riding along the German fields and forests alone...".
She was true: I WAS THEN REALLY HAPPY, because in addition all my trips were finished near the excellent lake Mogelsee with its FKK (nudists place) and gays beaches. After so many years, when it was forbidden for me to leave the country, I felt myself as the happiest man in the world, though it was only GDR. It was only the beginning and very soon I visited also Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland, i.e. the East-European countries being in the sphere of Soviet influence. But even there I asked myself usually:
"Am I here or not?"
I really liked many things in these countries and, first of all, the practical freedom for sexual minorities, which they had received some years earlier than we in Russia. For example, in 1965 I saw in Hungary hundreds gays at the main street (Rakozi Uza) of Budapest. I was then astonished with the zipper on their trousers allowing them to open them for getting pricks and having sex quickly as well as quickly to close it, when necessary. The first Hungarian gay from Rakozi Uza was so vivid for me up to now. But thje description of my time and different trips in Hungary demands the special place. I was there three times and anytime l had the good and not forgettable time. I shall describe it in the further chapters.
As to Romania, before coming there I met in Moscow the guy from their embassy, who was very strong but preferred to be passive. He visited me a few times in my second flat of our Moscow house and told me much about their country. He also told me how such people as he (he was a spy) were prepared for such work. He kne the special techniques of fighting and could break a brick with one blow of his hand. And he told me they had many gays in their Romania. And it was really so, and I felt it soon, when I visited this country.
In that time the homosexuality was officially forbidden in Romania, and they had the same severe laws as we had in Russia. Anyway the Soviet chief of Communist Ideology Department of Central Committee Tiazhelnikov was "exiled" as the Soviet ambassador after his affairs with Bolshoy ballet star Alexander Gordeyev (I was acquainted with both of them: Tiazhelnikov visited my music club, while once Alexander and I rushed one to another in underground as the unlike charges). It was so, that the wife of Gordeyev and his dance partner Nadezhda from Bolshoi found them together in the bed at home. She informed police, and this great scandal became known to everybody. Finally she spoiled both ex-husband and her own careers. Alexander was a quite nice and open man in life. As to Tiazhelnikov, during visits to musical club he suggested me "any help", if we would follow his "advises". It was unacceptable for anybody in our club. My Romanian friend knew the stories about this Tiazhelnikov and his life in Romania, and told me only one thing:
"Your Tiazhelnikov is quite satisfied in our country".
If to speak about all East-European countries or the countries of people's democracy, as we called them then, I liked there many quite different people as well as architecture, churches and cathedrals, nature, food and many other things, for example, the swimming pools in Hungary or the Turkish bathes - in Bulgaria, which were so full of gays. I shall tell about it in the special chapter later on.
Now I want you to return your attention again to the days of July 1990, when Irene and I came from Denmark to East Berlin. When we reached the shore by ferry from Denmark, I remembered the feelings that we had two years before it. Then my wife, daughter and I stood at the shore and saw at the ferry from Denmark and were full of good envy to the people, which could do it. We couldn't imagine that only in two years we came here too in the same way and just from Denmark. To come from Denmark was for us the same in that time, as to come from the other side of Moon.
When we three were returning to Berlin by train, we met in train the nice and kind German lady, who lived in Canada and wanted to meet her relative in West Berlin. Our conversation with her was so simple and heartily. The natural things seemed for us as something extraordinary. Another man in train, whom I remember, was a film star from DEFA-film (East-German film studio). He played the main role of scout in the serial film known in that time and shown on Russian TV. Now he came back from Denmark, where he played the main role in the new film. He was so pleased that the people from Russia recognized him and was especially kind with my daughter. Only now I understood that I was a little zealous, because I liked him too. He was very slim, tall and reminded me a little my "ideal" man with French face from the toilet in Leipzig. In Berlin we had to say good-buy to our new excellent or perfect friends, which could create for us so good and relaxed time.
In 1990 I came to Berlin only with Irene in the day of unification of two German states or the day of falling of Berlin wall. I noticed that even the police control in the train was not so strict as before: the policemen were so suppressed and in the same time they were happy. Probably they didn't know what a new fate would wait for them. At least now their situation in their place is better than in Russia after years of perestroika and Elzin. Formally the ideological fall of Berlin wall took place even a little earlier but it continued just a week, and the real destruction took place in the time of our being in Berlin. As ever, our German friends met us at the railway station in East Berlin, and their joy from events was boundless. As during some years of our reliable friendship (we visited them and they visited us a few times) we became as the relatives and were so lucky in that time.
A couple months before it our daughter managed to visit GDR for the short time by the invitation of another my German friend Gunter who was really gay. When Gunter and his wife Evegret had seen our daughter, they were so glad - they liked her so much. They wanted to acquaint her with their son (who was already married with a Polish lady and had a son). Gunter helped my daughter to change the GDR marks in the marks of FRG. The rate of exchange was so good for the citizens of former GDR. We managed to change all possible rubles into GDR marks in Moscow, and the daughter managed to give it to Gunter, who made the exchange in their bank. Due to this "operation" we had finally more than 1000 DM - the money that were not imagined gor us because they were incredibly large for us.
Because of it we felt ourselves as the "normal" people in West Berlin, where we could freely come and therefore made so many visits as we wished. Please, try to imagine that it was the first opening of Berlin wall and we WERE there. The wall seemed to be for us before as a symbol of separation of the world in two parts forever. "But nothing is eternal under Moon", - speaks Russian proverb.. We could take now U-bahn and came to "Zoologishche Garden" . Just from this station we reached the well-known shop KDV, behind which I opened for myself the whole gay city during my next visits.
In my previous visits to GDR I was astonished by the great choice of goods in their shops especially in grocery stores. Oma (Klais's mother) and her sister told me:
"You haven't been in West Berlin: there you could find more than 1000 different sorts of sausages and cheeses instead of our ten".
And it was really the truth for KDV. Anyway when we had first seen it, it was a shock for us. We were astonished by not only by a choice of goods but the manner of their presentation and their design. We couldn't refuse ourselves in buying some sandwiches and drinks at the numerous snack bars that were located at each floor. The escalators, open areas, free access to fish, tea, meat and fruits were so unusual for us then. But now we have in Moscow also the great choice of everything, though not so wide choice as in KDV. What is perfectly the same as in KDV that there are not so many purchases, and the people try to buy a small amount - everything is so expensive for the most part of them.
During my next visits to so-called "capitalistic" countries I was always surprised by this situation: the existance of extremely large choice of goods and a small number of people buying them. The situation is different only in the time of sales. We in Russia very quickly approached to the situation in other countries, when the prices limit your possibilities. Finally the most part of people everywhere in the world have these limited possibilities. However it is not quite clear for the most population in my Russia, because they remember the times, when many goods (having finally the very moderate quality) were accessible for everybody.
In Germany when I only could, I tried to visit some West Berlin gay-saunas. I remembered as well my first impression from the gay bars in East Berlin, which I visited before in the time of GDR. The atmosphere and people were there so free, kind and relaxed. As to saunas, they were very clean, everybody received the clean towel and a sheet for covering the beds in separate rooms. Of course they have the cruising way along the long corridors with doors to rooms, and the people, which I met there, were the very pleasant gays mainly from East Berlin - the free world has been just opened for them too and they had then no such saunas in East Germany in the first time after unification. I can't forget one man with a mustache in Steam Sauna. We liked one to another at once and went at once in the separate room. We were making there "everything" without stopping and with so many kisses: both of us were hungry of it. Of course and similar to me this nice man from East Berlin needed much relax and tenderness, and we presented it one to another. In some time he was in hurry to leave because his wife and garden waited for him and there was "viel zu tun" (much to do). Among all Berlin saunas I liked this Steam sauna that became my favorite place after "Amigo" in Copenhagen.
Once Klaus invited me to ride along the whole West Berlin by bicycles. That was a fabulous trip, however it was tiring for me in the same time. We came in the center of city by train with bicycles and began our trip near the West Berlin University. Then we went to Sharlottenburg palace, where we had the first stop and eating. I was surprised by seeing astonished to see the very unusual manner of planting the flowers: they were in the large high tubs, the free squirrels and hares in the park with lakes and bridges. Before it I was there with Irene, when we visited all this marvelous museum. Therefore with Klaus we didn't come again inside the palace with its beautiful rooms that reminded me somewhat the museums of St. Petesburg. Klaus and I approached after a long way the world-known Olympic stadium and saw it carefully. Klaus told me about the events during pre-war Olympic Games, the place, where Hitler and other leaders of the Third Reich stood etc. The stones of this unusual stadium created in me the very dual feelings.
Nearby Klaus showed me the places, where there were before 1945 the stations and the lines of S- and U-bahn (surface and underground traffic line). I've seen all of them again in action, when I came there 9 years later. After it Klaus showed me one of the West Berlin TV-studio, which played the so important role in the collapse of GDR and all communist block. It was so interesting for me to see at the simple building, from where we had seen in Klaus house the so unusual programs really made in a masterful manner. But probably they showed the life in West Germany only fron the positive sides, and therefore many East-German people were not so satisfied with the new "capitalistic" reality.
Then we rode to the Weinsee Lake. Before it we stayed near the old tower, and Klaus suggested me to climb on the highest point - sightseeing site of it. I was really tired and just up to now remember what efforts this climbing demanded from me. I rested at the all sites between stairs, and the time of these rests was increased as I climbed higher and higher. Anyway I didn't feel sorry about the torture. At the roof I've seen the unlimited forest around, and it was impossible to imagine that we were still in city Berlin. There I felt again the high level of German culture and the desire to keep the nature for themselves.
When we approached the lake after it, I decided at once to swim to refresh myself and practically got undressed. In this moment Klaus frightened me with a savage cry. I didn't understand what it means.
"Please, get dressed quickly and run to the bicycle", - ordered Klaus.
Here I noticed the fox approaching me quickly.
"You have such beautiful forests in West Berlin with wild animals", - admired I.
Klaus began to swear at me, and before I couldn't even imagine that he could do it at all.
"The fox is rabid!" - concluded he this excellent and so emotional tirade.
I got dressed really quickly (I had only shorts and a shirt). We sprang to the seats of our bicycles and disappeared from the place as the beings from another planetin the fantastic films. Klaus was explaining me during our nonstop now riding:
"The foxes here are often rabid, and it is so difficult to be cured from their bites".
I even forget that I was tired, while the road through the marvelous pine-trees forest took us gradually to the Southern part of Berlin that was before the English zone of occupation. The ways for bicyclists were extremely smooth and good. We stopped near the large self-service grocery store and bought some drinks. Along the further road we have seen many institutions and the large Botanical Garden for plants. Later on (in 4 year), when I was in Berlin with Edward, we lived in the region Shtegliz (from other side of Botanical Garden), and we visited this excellent Garden with huge glass buildings. But during the bicycle trip with Klaus we passed it by and approached gradually Brandenburg Gates and Alexander Plats - the known in history place of gay gathering and meetings. In the time of GDR, for example, the toilet at this square was one of the most visited, crowded and known places for gays. Finally we took the train and went to thr Klaus house.
Now I want to make some additional remarks about collapse of communism in Germany. I has mentioned the programs of West Germany TV that were so interesting for all the people from Eastern block. The different TV programs from West Germany initiated one of the most important desires for me to be again in Klaus house. I feel that just these programs were one of the reason or the push for the citizens of GDR to have or to reach by any way the same life (in all aspects) as they could see on their TV screens at home. If the communist propaganda existed, it was perfectly anti-Communist propaganda, because in the real life at West there were so many different problems and dark sides that were not shown by FRG TV studios. And this propaganda played a special rolea behind the iron curtain or Berlin Wall in East Berlin. It should be noted that the life in West Berlin was especially good, because all the western world helped to this city.
What are another reasons fo dissatisfaction of many people in the former GDR? First of all, the transfer to the free market in all East European countries was so difficult process. Even in East Germany with thes great support from the western part of the country the process is so prolong. My visits to my German friends in ten years after falling Berlin wall showed me that they managed to do so many things successfully. As to Russia, our problems are much deeper, however we have also some real progress. Finally all the people of East block have now a freedom, and the new possibilities were especially opened for the young people. The older people both in Russia, East Germany and other countries are often remembering some illusory privileges that they had from the previous system (the low costs, the cheap transport, social support, the medical and education (training) systems free of charge and so on). They forget that the quality of all these things was mainly not good and enough and taht many "capitalostic" countries organized also the good system of social support of their people.
I return now again to the time in Germany just after falling down the Berlin wall, when Irene and I were first in West Berlin. Our German friends decided "to astonish" us. In Russia we organized their interesting trip to Leningrad (soon it became again Saint Petersburg). In turn they bought the round tickets for Irene and me in Hamburg. Such tickets for citizens of the former GDR were very cheap in those days, and due to friends we used these privileges. The way in Hamburg occurred in nighttime and we were in city one total day. Klaus described it in details (in minutes) what we had to do there and where to go during sightseeing. We felt how much was possible to see, if you wanted it and if you had such friend as Klaus. But what really waited for us in Hamburg?
In addition to the fall of Berlin wall the World football championship took place just in the same days. It was so that the German football team became the winner. Together with the "intoxication" of unification, this victory became the second shock for many Germans. They were really crazy. We felt it at the railway station in Berlin, when all the trains were full of drunken and not controlled people. The joyous cries of drunken fan fellows frightened us. Some guys exclaimed in the drunken fever:
"Germany is exceeding everything!"
We couldn't believe to our ears. In the train we were afraid that the tickets were bought nor for our names but the German lady-controller was very kind with us. Irina laughed over way how i wanted to be to the liking of her . But the most awful impression of this night waited for us in Hamburg, where we came early in the morning. The total city was practically covered by garbage (up to 30-50 cm in height). It consisted of paper, packets, broken glasses and bottles, metal boxes etc. Somebody told us that the store windows of Turkish and gays shops were broken. We have seen it ourselves a little later, when we approached the street Repebahn and surrounding streets. But before reaching this street we saw, how quickly and practically immediately the city was cleaned and accepted its normal and strict view.
From the railway station we passed by the modern shops, old cathedral and monuments and approached to the building in a form of ship near embankment. After it we went taken by elevator to the deep subway under the river Rhine. The huge elevating cabins were filled with some cars and many people. The well-famous fish market (bazaar) was located Near the river. It was especially crowded on weekends. However we were in the usual working day and could see only the great choice of fish products and found only the samples of it in many small kiosks.
Gradually we came to Repebahn, in the beginning of which we were met by many wild rabbits. Repebahn is the street between the port and the railway station and is known as one from a few sexual centers of the world. Irene didn't like it at once, when she had seen only the first windows of sex shops and the people there. She decided to go to the shops on other side of city. We arranged to meet again in the same place in a couple of hours, and I stayed face to face with this result of sexual revolution that took place in the western world about 15-20 years ago.
Surely I decided to visit the gay shops and gay cinemas. They were perfectly the same, as I've seen in Danish towns Copenhagen and Odense. In thess early hours as well as in other places, where I have been (the saunas of London, Brussels, Berlin and New Orleans), the most part of people in the gay sauna were old and there was not many of them. As I mentioned, many shops in the area were closed: their windows were broken after the Varfolomey football night of Victory. The gay cinemas and especially the cheapest ones were located in the basements. I chose one of them that was open and descended through the narrow stairs. I was surprised that such inconvenient place allowed to "pump out" much money.
However the gay business is so good for the enrichment. At least some gays in Russia understood it quickly and in short time I found the same (or much worse) places in my Russia too. And what was true for my country that the first people, who understood and made it, were "the activists" of gay movement. Foe example, Roman "pumped out" money from poor gays in a few discos and in the bar "Underground" located just near our Kremlin and Pushkin art museum. Now it is closed, but of coarse it was "permitted" by authorities. Some newspapers wrote before it that Roman was beaten unmercifully by KGB people. Probably they permitted him to have such business. Now the good bar "Fishes" is working at Tverskaya street between the monuments to poet Puskin and Long-armed Yuri (the founder of Moscow).
Returning to Repebahn's gay cinema in basement, the gay films were shown in six rooms on the different topics: gays sex separately with adult and young people (white and black), leather and S&M, group and mixed sex. Finally it was as in the "Amigo Club". In those days everything was new for me, and therefore I had the great interest to it. I've seen the films in different rooms and found finally one quite young man who was probably a worker or sailor. The sex with him in the special room (there was a few of them for it) was quite tender, but we used only hands and lips for kissing. I was limited in time and had to leave the place soon.
I had met Irene at the arranged place end and we walked along the Repebahn street. Irene attracted my attention to the very good-looking and somewhat awkward lady in the stunning black dress. The women have the very observant eyes, and Irene said:
"That is not she, that is he". She recognized the actor from a company that showed recently in Moscow the known musical "Cats". A little later I received a chance to inflict the "back blow". Irene asked us to change our way, and we decided to walk not along the main "dissolute" street but by the parallel street. Soon we saw the sitting couple with sucking kiss not so far from us. A female part of couple was without skirt, and it was possible to see the large breasts.
"It would be so shamed for her"- said Irene.
"It is fully not shamed for "her", because that is not she, that is he", - parried I repeating her words already spoken at Repebahn.
At this parallel street we had seen many other "interesting" things. First of all, we had seen the advertising of different night shows, if to judge by the pictures in windows. And the alive "actors" sat aside under sunshine. All of them and many other half drunk and half-nude chaps and girls discussed the events of last night, when all of them celebrated the victory of their team in the football world championship.
What was true, that the good and useful purchases finished our way along this sex-firing range. One of them - a Chinese telephone from Hamburg stood and worked about ten years in our kitchen. After it we reached a railway station, from where we returned in accordance with Klaus's schedule in Berlin.
About two years before it another my old and reliable German friend Gunter told me still in GDR:
"I believe that next time you will be and probably live in West Berlin".
In this time, when we have seen so many happy faces of people on the remains of Berlin wall, I remembered these Gunter's words.
Two years before it Gunter showed me from a car all the gay places and cruises of East Berlin. Once he invited me at the religious meeting with a priest who was a lady from West Berlin. At the meeting that took place near the station Lichtenberg I met the people of different nationalities and religions.
Their ideas and thoughts were so clear for me, especially after the evening in my musical club. They believed that all people in the world were brothers, while the different religions had so many similar things and approaches. All the participants supported these words of a female priest. Some guys carried the signs of quite different religions: Christian, Orthodox, Moslem and Judaism. I liked it. I met there a very nice couple - a Dutchman Johan and his German wife Annelies, who had two small sons. I was in a very friendly correspondence with them after it and visited then during my next visits to Berliun. Irene and I visited them in their flat near the station "Zoologische Garten" and the monument with the broken chain symbolyzed the separated Berlin and Germany. In two year the friends had "made" the third son, while the embodiment of divided Germany is not valid any more.
As I mentioned in 4 years after described visit of Germany I came there again with my boy friend Edward. We were there by invitation of Karol. First I met Karol in Switzerland at the conference on Organization of Transformation. She astonished me by her huge sizes and the sizes of her girl friend Dorothea. Karol was an exctrasence and tried to heel the people by means of her fingers or energy coming from Cosmos and flowing through the tips of her fingers. I invited Karol in Moscow but my ladies didn't like her. The Ed's mother agreed to take Karol and they became the good friends. Karol visited my institute (in that time Ed worked with me) and tried to heal some people. In the end of her being in Moscow she invited us in Germany.
But when we came to her, she couldn't accept us in her flat located in the West Berlin near the border with East part (Pankow). Karol had many cats, and the smell of one large male cat was really strong. Though Karol prepared one room especially for us, she preferred to send us to other place. It was a flat of her good friend Marianna, who had the same work and method of healing. Marianna lived in the region Stegliz. It was a very calm and green part of the city, not far from the Botanical Garden, which we visited with Edward. Marianna invited us to Zoologische garden ofWestBerlin. Before I visited the zoos in East Berlin, Leipzig, Halle and Rostock. These zoos were excellent and interesting, because each of them was mainly devoted to some special type of animals. Both Berlin zoos had the quite different collections of different animals. We walked along its clean territory and admired with the good conditions and the choice of animals. The conditions for their life there were quite satisfactory. There were the special places for snakes and monkeys. One time we met two boys hugging and kissing one to another.
"There are so many gays here" - said Marianna.
We were shocked. In this day there were also some celebrations in Zoo and the concert under open sky. We were so pleased to see it and to feel the very relax atmosphere, though the rain spoilt a little our good mood. Then we have seen everywhere such things as in Zoo, for example, in Munich, where we went with Ed for visiting the brother of Marianna. She decided us to see this excellent city. At the main street of Munich we had seen many actors from the different counties giving their concert as well as now we have in Moscow at our old street Arbat. We understood also that the underground toilets in Munoch were used by gays for meetings as everywhere. However we were together, and it was a time of our happy love. I don't want even to remember some events when we had conflicts (due to my jealousy and his reaction on it).
In Berlin we met my old friends: the Klaus's family and Gunter. In that time the situation for Klaus was not good, because he stopped working and didn't know about future. As to Gunter, he invited us to visit the gay place behind the former Lenin monument - the most popular gay place in East Berlin. We visited there the open restaurant, while Gunter explained us that this hill was popular for gay meetings and even the actions in shrubbery. One guy approached to us and invited Ed to go with him. I was so angry, while Ed showed some indifference (as I felt he was even proud of it).
This time in Germany was of coarse connected for me more with Ed than with something else. In many aspects it was still the old Berlin, in particular, practically the same East Berlin as in the GDR period. The changes were yet not so bright. I've seen perfectly the New Berlin only in 5 years later. Now I shall describe my new impressions.
How often returning to the country or the city, where you haven't been for some time, you notice that nothing and nobody was changed here. Sometimes it is good, because, for example, in our Russia the last changes and events are often, softly speaking, not so positive. And sometimes they are boring. Berlin, where I was again after five-year interval, couldn't be included in both these feelings. Any time I compared the New Berlin with my new Moscow. I had to tell you that in many aspects Moscow was in advance of Berlin, though the volume of works and changes in Berlin was also tremendous.
From the beginning of XX century and to the time of fascists coming to the power, Berlin was a center of sexual minorities. The name "Alexander Plats", that was called in honor of Russian Tsar, has been always associated with the place for gay meetings. It was also so, that in the times of communist post-war regime this square "restored" its previous assignment. By an irony of fate another centers for gays meetings in East Berlin, which I had just remembered, were the park behind Lenin monument and Berzarin-Plats (Berzarin was a name of the first Russian commandant of Berlin after the war). Now these names of squares are forgotten in Berlin. In all fairness it should be noted, that GDR (the former name of East Germany) was for a long time the only country among east-European countries of Soviet bloc, where the gays were not persecuted, were free and had the marvelous bars and places for meetings.
Today Berlin and all its gay places and points of interest are common and accessible for everybody. Berlin is again the real capital of Germany and one of the main centers of our gay community in Europe and the world. At the former dead zone - a boundary between East and West Berlin you may see now the great constructing works: the new governmental buildings are erected here. The old Reistag kept the former appearance only outside. The tourists can visit it now in the certain hours and see the perfectly new and modern Reistag inside.
My friend Klaus and I came for visiting Reistag a little late in the first time and couldn't come there because of some important visit or event inside of building. It was closed for usual visitors earlier, and my insistent requests and groans (that I was from a far land and from so friendly Moscow) didn't persuade the very likable guards to permit us "to be the last". Next day we came one hour before opening and were one of the first people in the long many-national line, in which the Germans were dominated - many of them try to see, what was now inside their Reistag, which was built 105 years ago.
In twenty minutes before opening the modern Reistag a merry young man full of humor and with microphone appeared on the steps of Reistag and began to tell us its story, in particular, he mentioned the facts, that Russian solders placed firmly their flag above Reistag in the end of second World War. And this nice man of gay type became for me as a good relative, though he spoke in perfect German. I was pleased with myself: it was not in vain for me to study German during my post-graduate course. I was pleased once more, when we passed in Reistag by the extremely beautiful and convenient modern halls and rooms along the corridors, because the builders kept at their walls the signatures of Soviet solders finishing here their so long and difficult fight against fascism.
And again I was astonished to see everywhere the excellent, slim and extremely handsome and polite German guards. When we picked up at the highest point of transparent cupola along the spiral way and had seen all the central part of again single Berlin, the tears came to my eyes, the tears of joy for this town and happy fate after so many ordeals. However I was dampened with the earrings in ears of two guards there. I caught myself with the thought, that I am ready to see "our" people everywhere. But the looks of these guys and especially their movements were so unequivocal: they were gays.
Surely I drove out these thoughts, and moreover it was senseless to discuss these thoughts with straight Claus. After leaving Reistag Klaus and I passed by Brandenburg gate and went to Potsdamer Plats (square). It was the non-stop construction site around. I was astonished by the beauty, transparency, colors and fractures lines of new complex of skyscrapers of "Daimler-Benz" behind the square. At the beginning we looked at it from the roof of red building of Info-Box, where we found the detailed information with the model and diagrams about all Berlin center in the nearest future.
Then we went to this area with new houses, casino, theaters and 3-D cinema. Surely I wanted to visit this cinema, while Klaus couldn't say me "no". Both of us were admired with the stereo wonders at the huge screen with the area more than 100 m2. I was so shocked, that after descending a long stairway when we approached the large and long "street under glass roof" with bright lights, I didn't notice the glass door (German people clean glass ideally) and broke my nose (the combined effect of 3-D and slim guard, which bewitched me). It was such blow in glass, that the people around me emitted a sound of sympathy. I was happy, that the blood flew through my nose, and the results were not so serious. Anyway, please, be careful in Berlin and Germany with glasses of doors and windows: they are so clean that you may not notice them. In some time I was ready to continue our trip.
I asked Klaus to show me the streets, which I liked so much in East Berlin before. We went to Friedrikhstrasse and then to Unter den Linden. I couldn't even recognize the first of them: it was much better, that before. In a couple of day I went here again with Gunter for visiting the restaurant "Planet Hollywood", where we came by the recommendation of his wife Evegret. We had there a nice time anf then Gunter advised me to visit the new gay-sauna located in 300 m from Brandenburg gate behind the former Soviet embassy, which as many other buildings in East Berlin were under reconstruction: they tried to change them into the governmental buildings.
So I found myself in sauna, where Gunter brought me by car. Under the entrance I saw our gay rainbow flag. There was the wonderful friendly atmosphere inside for all young and not so young visitors. In the huge bath I found some sex-thirsty men. I liked one of them, while he had perfectly the same desires. At once we were together, and everything was finished in the same manner as it was begun, i.e. freely and fluently. At the next day I visited the known "Steam sauna" in West Berlin, which reminded me again my favorite "Amigo Club" in Copenhagen with unusually kind and pleasing atmosphere.
In "Steam Sauna" I found that everything was the same as 10 years ago, but there were more young and quite well body-built gays. Generally speaking the Germans are the extremely good- and highly educated people, which are so inclined to all kinds of our gay sex. I was fully relaxed there and began to read after all the last German publications on our theme. O, what was my surprise! I saw the photo from "MANNER actual" (Gay Express), where all guards astonished me were photographed nude in Cupola of Reistag. I felt, that I had "a good taste": without any dress they were even much better. I agreed with a name of material in Gay Express - it was the real "Sex-Attack" in Reistag. Surely I couldn't insist that the sexual orientation of these guys was only "our" and probably some of them were bisexual.
After sauna I devoted all the time of day (first in my life) for visiting the gays places in West Berlin that were behind the shop KDW mentioned above. Though it was the early hour, I visited some bars, where I was friendly met and drank the marvelous German beer. It was the weekend and in some places (for example, in "Blue Boys") I found many gays-visitors. I made many pictures of these picturesque places.
There is a very convenient transport system in Berlin consisting of surface and underground trains (S- and U-Bahn). After Berlin was unified, its advantages became more evident. I liked especially S-Bahn, because you could see at the height from the windows of trains the different cozy corners of Berlin almost in same way as from the windows of two-storyed buses. The general reconstruction of Berlin concerned as well the lines of S-Bahn. The huge underground railway station was constructed under Potsdamer-Plats. Another and probably the largest station in Berlin was created not so far from Reistag. In principle these nearly located stations should substitute the central Berlin railway station fully destroyed during the Second World War.
Another interesting transport (S-Bahn) construction was the third Kreuz (cross) after Ost Kreuz and West Kreuz. It was built in the northern part of city on the former boundary between two Berlins. Two nearby located stations were functioning before independently and separately in two parts of separated Berlin. Now the broken station was connected. In my mind this connection is very symbolic. It reminded me the people in saunas: nobody knows, where you were from, and the people were differed only by their appearance and sizes of cocks, and it was only your right to choose or not to choose somebody. The railways in this Nord Kreuz were the same - you might choose any, which you needed and which you liked more. If you come there, don't miss them, make the right choice, follow to your intuition and knowledge and you will not feel sorry for that.
The large work was made in Berlin and its suburbs for the convenience of cyclists. I used always the bicycle in Berlin, if it was possible. As ever I reached by bicycle the nice place near the lake Mogelsee. This gay place with cozy beach, where you could come down the wooden steps, and the forest, where you could be surrounded by sexual attention and even by gay love, is deserved of an attention of any gay. In last my visit ti Germany my friend Klaus showed me near this lake the museum of Berlin water supply. This museum was really interesting to me as for an engineer. The large Berlin contains generally so many quite different museums.
After visiting the erotic museum in Copenhagen, I didn't believe that the visit to the sexual museum of Beata Urse, where Klaus took me, could be interesting for me. The founder of museum Beata had the sex-shops almost in all German towns and is now one of the richest German ladies. Her fate and life are so interesting. During the Second World War she was the military instructor of pilots in city Strausberg near Berlin, where Oma and Tante are living and where during my being there was a parade of modern private aircraft's.
In the ernd of the Second World War when our Russian solders had already approached to the airdrome, Beata managed to take off on a small airplane with her tiny son and to reach Kiel. Then her life was divided in two parts. In addition to sky, she loved the sex and had created the real industry of sex in Germany. The whole section in her museum located in central Berlin was devoted to this both sides of her life (to sky, sex and, additionally, to business). The museum itself, where the exhibits from the total world were collected and where the special large attention was devoted to unisex, astonished me with its sizes, exhibits and the numerous cabins for seeing sex films including the gays ones.
Klaus showed me also some other museums, among which I liked the new museum of building materials in Rudersdorf. That was a museum under the open sky, and over 750 years the limestone was here extracted. For example, all the building materials for Brandenburg gate or Sanssouci Palace were from here. The museum is located to the East from Berlin. I was surprised to see the kilns (Rumford furnaces). The trip on a small jeep with the open quarry was especially interesting. The deposit of talt had four kilometers long, one kilometer wide and 70-meter deep. The prisoners from the local jail worked here During GDR time. Now the jail was closed. The trip in jeep beneath was unique and interesting. The impression were so large that in this place, where some Western films were shooted, though I didn't break my nose in trhis case as before, I forgot my eyeglasses in jeep (they failed out my jacket pocket during shaking and sharp turns of jeep). Next day Klaus rang up in museum: my glasses were found and we received them finally with the thanks to so accurate and obligatory German people.
On the whole there were many interesting and new things in Berlin The city became again the capital of the country as well as of the large gays community. It was so nice for me to see New Berlin and in the extremely quick process of its development and renovation. I managed to visit the numerous gays places scattered along the total city. Berlin looks now as a very young city!
Anyway I found for myself many new gay places in Berlin. As ever, first of all, I visited my favorite gay beach near Mogelsee. At the usual places I found there many gays from the total Berlin. I met some of them in both saunas (Steam sauna and the new sauna near Brandenburg Gate). At the beach, for example, I met the former acrobat from circus, whom I met 5 years ago, when I was near Mogelsee together with Ed. This acrobat was extremely glad to see and to hug me and to have so friendly talking. There were many gays in the forest near the lake and even much more than 5-10 years ago. I remembered the gay twins, whom I met after it in Steam sauna: there they were sitting both in one room and, as somebody told me, they liked to be with one man in the same time. The twins liked at the beach near Mogelsee "to disappear" separately in the forest.
Once I met in the forest two gays. To feel two cocks in your mouth simultaneously was so unusual and great. I stood on my knees, while they kissed one to another. One was a house painter (if to judge on his trousers) and was solidly built man with very large and hard cock. The second one, who first invited me to be three together (at the beginning I was only with him), had a metal ring in the base of his trunk surrounding also his balls. He had the appearance of a man of free specialty (probably painter). They were very kind with me and it was pity to finish the process of sucking two excellent trunks simultaneously. But everything has the end, and finally I went again to the lake, as the main hero of known ancient novel "Satiricon" by Petrony went to the sea. During last my visit to Germany I was a few times at this beach near Mogelsee, where I rode always by bicycle.
Due the gays of Berlin I felt this city as the single one without any boundaries and walls. Really, the gay community can greatly promote to the friendship between people and create some very positive things and events in this world. At least I felt at the beach and saunas that the people of different nationalities and from the different places can give one to another so much positive energy and feelings. And it is freat!
5.6. A little more about those, with whom I was and I am in correspondence
and how it effected on my travels and trips
Thus, after the publication of my ad in Danish newspaper "Pan" and Swedish gay magazine I began to receive the letters from these and another countries. Olivier from French Cannes was one of the first my reliable correspondents, and he helped me then to publish my ad in some French gay publications.
Furthermore I gave some ads in Germany and USA. I had a prolonged correspondence with Ronald Konopatsky from West Berlin, who printed my ad in his German issue: he had a special company and publications for organizing the gay contacts. Due to it I began to be in the correspondence with many German gays as well the gays from USA, France, South America countries and even from South Africa. I have now more than 350 correspondents in the gay world, and with some of them I am in friendship already for some years.
I could speak and write much about the problems, interests and good features of these friends of mine. Everything, about what they write me, is in my memory and my mind. Of course, it is quite possible that somebody of them doesn't want me to write here about their intimate life, difficulties, emotional or sexual life and experience, because they shared with me as with the close and intimate friend. Therefore this information is only for me and I can't share it with another people. But I shall try now to give the collective or summarized image of three-five my pen friends representing probably up to 300 of them in general.
For example, all my friends by post from Singapore, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela or Kenya have the age of 23-35 years old, are working on their specialty and are the doctors, teachers, hotel managers, students or programmers. They like their job and fulfill it with pleasure, and they try to get into it. All of them like traveling, new friends and impressions. And they keep a very kind and respective attitude to Russia in spite of all our local difficulties and problems.
The second type of my foreign correspondents is from Europe or the United States. They became sometimes crazy from what is doing in Russia. They (or better to say - he) feel sorry and a little nervous in this matters relatively to me. He is generally a man with the great experience in relations, but he has no acquainted people in Russia. Sometimes I feel that he needs me for increasing his "collection". It is quite possible that he has no success at home among local gays and he relies only on the new far and not so spoiled, in his mind, friends.
The third type of my pen friends is also from Europe and United States. The interests of such men are diverse, though in accordance with the words of everybody he is devoted to his business. Anyway he tells me: "If I win one million dollars, I shall leave my crazy working place". And I begin to doubt in the sincerity of his words about his devotion to his work. In the same time this man has the interests to literature, cinema, theater and music. And those, which like music, became my friends at once: classic music or jazz, vaudeville or pop songs or romances. All gays love music as a rule. Therefore everywhere in the gay places, discos or saunas, in the beach or even in bath, where the gays prevail, you can hear one or other type of music. If to speak in general about the friends of this third type, all my friends are comprehensively informed and know everything about everything. Anyway they try to know more about my news, while my multi-faceted life surprises them sometimes.
"Vladimir, you know about gay life in the United States probably even more, than somebody here", - wrote me the priest of G&L MCC church from Florida. At least I know some people in church indeed, and I translated into Russian some brochures of this church about its purpose and activity, about their desire to support everywhere the people in our community, especially when such people have difficulties, for example, are HIV-infected or ill. The separate part of my correspondence was connected and this MCC church and the people devoted to it.
The type of a man from Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway or Finland) is very specific. The inside world of such gay is a little different from that for the people of other areas. Anyway as many other gay of Planet, such Scandinavian gay wants to know, especially in sex, the people from another corners of the world. Such man is proud that his fight of many years for the gay rights succeeded in his country. In particular, they can now validate their marriages and want to solve the problems of children in such families. It is so that the AIDS came in these countries too, and after some years of "infinite happiness" this stroke of bad luck took them completely from the state of euphoria. The economic paradise that came here some years ago, was turned out with the high process, unemployment and the terrible behavior of emigrants, especially from the Middle East, for whom some years ago the former socialistic government opened all doors.
In addition, there is now a problem of emigrants from the states formed after the former USSR. I shall give only one my my own examples of such type. My Danish friend Gerd showed me Copenhagen. He showed me their G/L MCC church, the park, where many gays liked cruising and finally the central part near Parliament House. There was there the demonstration of people. My attention was attracted, because the slogans on the placards that they hold were in Russian. It was written there that they demanded from Danish government to give the the rights to live and work in Denmark. I approached to them (it was a group of 12-15 people) and asked what are their real requirements. They explained me that they came in Denmark with the temporarily invitations, liked the conditions here and decided to stay here forever. They added that they couldn't receive the positive solution of Danish authorities. When I translated the context of these demands to Gerd, he said:
"We were creating our life and conditions during 200 years of hard work. These people want to use our privileges at once without doing something useful. If they are so clever, I advice them to go back in Russia and to create the same good life there and for themselves and for all their own country".
I thought much about the meaning of these words. Of coarse, everybody may live in the place, where he wants to live. In the same time the modern Russia needs the young, clever and active young people. But now they should create their life and conditions themselves and not as before in Russia, when practically nothing depended on you. I have two Russian friends, which emigrated abroad. They are: Maxim living now in London and Serge living in Paris. I shall tell about them in the last section of this chapter. They were also my correspondents and you will fell some details about them especially about Maxim, with whom I was in the long correspondence, that was begun, when he was still in Russia.
I can tell you about each my foreign gay pen friend no less that about Maxim or Serge. Finally everybody is to a certain extent outside the general description of some general characters or groups, which I gave above. All of them are really different, distinctive and want to know at least something about the gay life in Russia. The correspondence with each of them is always a joy of communication and the opening of something new and warm for my soul. That is why I continue my correspondence in spite of my being busy with a hundred matters, the difficulties and stresses in work and my private life and in spite of the high for me cost of postal service for me and everybody in Russia today.
I am happy now that e-mail and Internet greatly improved the situation. Though I am using it not for a long time, I feel its advantages noticeably. Of coarse the letters have some advantages and special spirit. For example, practically all my foreign correspondents like to exchange the photographs, stamps, postcards and different parcels (the last concerns especially my friend in the United States Mark R.Gilette). And practically all letters reached me, probably only some letters with money disappeared. And of coarse I've lost some correspondents, because I didn't receive their answers to me. But it depends not on us.
I keep all the letters, many photos, the post cards and matchbox labels sent to me. The photos and post cards are kept in the very thick albums. They are similar to the albums with pictures of family, and therefore I feel them, my dear pen friends also as the very close people or relatives. That is of coarse only my feelings, and anyway they are so wonderful feeling!
5.7. Londoner Maxim from Samara and Parisian Serge from Leningrad
Olivier from Cannes la Bocca was the first and up to now my most reliable correspondent in France. As o mentioned he helped me to put my ads in some French gay publications, while I made the same with his ads in our old gay publications - Thema, Risk and 1/10. Olivier is a student of many years in Nice, and he visited me a few times. Once he decided to look for gay photo models in Russia. When he was in my house, there was no end to the telephone calls from those, who wanted to become his "models". Olivier is a man with a good sense of humor and it helped him successfully to contact to my family. I showed him the gay beach in Stroguino, some discos and other places.
At one of discos, where we were together with Ed, my boy friend got dresses as a woman, and Olivier called him "madam Eduard". Olivier is an eternal student in philosophy, he is a tall man of Caucasian type covered everywhere with black hairs. In Moscow he liked to visit the places, where he could buy the clothes of Russian military forces, especially of generals. For it he visited the old street Arbat and the known market in Izmailovo. I understood the reason of it, only when he brought and showed me the film about large international gay discos in Cannes. Olivier in his general form with a special stick-baton was a symbol of event and a center of attention. He liked the Russian guys and was due to ads in correspondence with many of them from the different cities. One of them was Maxim from Samara.
Due to Olivier I became also a friend of Maxim. At those times Maxim was a student of Samara University in French. Maxim believed that his relations with Olivier were serious and anytime when Olivier visited me, he also came in Moscow. I didn\t know then his far plans for future. Soon Maxim understood that he was for Olivier one from many models and dreams. Olivier also told me that he didn't like Maxim. In that time I sympathized to Maxim in his "failure". Maxim installed the correspondence with many gays broad, one of which was French gays including Frank. As to me I took seriously the relations and problems between Olivier and Maxim and tried to console a so "killed" and a little provincial Maxim, as I only could. I was myself in the similar situations before, when the people didn't accept my friendship, for example, Yura from my railway institute.
"I don't like this foolish and ugly guy from Samara", - told me Olivier finally.
In my mind, Maxim was not so ugly, though he took more in his appearance from his simple mother with rugged features than from a Jewish father with a quite clever and insollent face of Zhirinovsky type. I judged about it by means of their photos and some impertinent visits of mother to me. After some scenes between Maxim and Olivier I became a friend of Maxim and we were in correspondence that continued for many years and even after his leaving Russia.
Accordingly constant complain Maim gay nature didn't find any support in his place, he gasped for normal breath and had in Russia no friends beside me. Only later I knew that it was a semi-truth: in particular, when he began to live in London, he helped to one his former lover from Samara to come and to stay there anticipating the events. In that time Maxim had already the problems with Frank, but his sexual life with boy Samarian friend in London continued only a month.
In the mentioned time I supported Maxim in my letters (I believed him in all his tittle-tattles). Once Maxim informed me in a letter, which came from France that he went to Frank as a guest. But Frank lived already in London. As I remember, Maxim had already the invitation from Frank's friend in France. What was finally true that Maxim and Frank began to live together in London.
In his letters Maxim asked me if to make decision to stay in England and abroad or not. I didn't know then that he had already made this decision a long long time ago. I wrote him that even in the case, when not everything was good in Russia, at home even "the walls" helped you. Another problem for Maxim was the fact that he didn't know English. But in my mind, he had one important advantage: he was very young for the beginning of new life, i.e. he was in age, when it was possible to begin everything from beginning. Frankly speaking, I couldn't imagine that all Maxim's words were serious and honest: he wanted simply to escape from Russia.
I don't know how Frank managed to take Maxim without proper documents (from France in England). But they made it and began to live in one "wet", as they said, and not so convenient room in the London's center. Of coarse Maxim couldn't find any work, because he had finally no rights for it. Frank and he began to live with money Frank managed to earn. I don't know the real reasons, and probably Maxim needed Frank in the first time or "played the role but their relations were first good.
Maxim began to study English intensively and visited the special computer center, where many similar people not only from Russia tried to improve their language and their situation. I found Maxim and Frank just in such situation, when I came first in England by the invitation of my good friend Nick. I met Nick at the conference on "Organization of transformation" in Hungary one and half year before it. Nick astonished me with his deep and wide thinking, the boldness and openness, with which he told about his gay experience. And that were so unusual for me in that time.
Nick was a doctor-psychiatrist and worked in the USA in the hard years of AIDS spreading in the country. In his work with such patients he tried to find the special psychological methods of heeling such people. He wrote the very important book "Healing within yourself" about it, and we decided that I should translate it into Russian. The discussion of details was one of the main reasons, why Nick invited me in London. I didn't know that Nick was suffered of AIDS himself. He was subject to the special courses of curing. I think now that they discussed it with Maxim, to whom I gave Nick's telephone, and therefore they came together in airport Heathrow to meet me. Because of absence of free time, Nick asked Maxim to take up my free time and practically for two full weeks I was mainly with Maxim. When it was possible for Frank, he joined us too. In daytime Frank was usually busy with his work in McDonalds restaurant.
I noted that the relations between Maxim and Frank were extremely warm and precautionary and stayed so even during my next visit to London, when they were already physically not together, though they continued to live in one place. Both of them felt and took me as the best friend. During my first visit they invited me often in the gay center functioning near the underground station "King cross". In the dining hall of gay center my friends and I had every time a good and very cheap food. In center many single gays and lesbians and the couples had a good possibility for relaxation. Just up to now I feel myself as if being near the stairs descending to the disco in Gay Center Club and as if it was yesterday. There I noticed many different advertisements on the walls similar to those that I've seen on the stairs to gay library and "Pan" editorial office in Copenhagen.
Many people stayed the papers with ads at walls showing that they wanted to find the friends and looked for new acquaintances and meetings. I've read also some sharp words about Rome Pope, who said something against gays.
The dances in basement reminded me the evenings in my student club in Marjina Roshcha (where my institute was located in Moscow) with the well-staged dances. And the gays danced in the excellent manner similar to the dances in the known film "Westside story". Some dancers were pleased seeing my genuine admiration from their movements. I could compare the dances in the Gay center (or club) with the Square dances, which I knew later on due to my work with the corresponding dancing group from USA in Moscow and my visits and meetings with participants of this group in the USA.
By regret this cozy place in London was soon closed because of financial difficulties, and in the second visit to London I couldn't by regret visit theses dining hall and basement with disco, where I was a few times with Max and Frank.
I remember better than other events in London my first evening in London, when Nick and a couple of my friends showed me the gay place in Soho not far from Piccadilli square. They showed me some bars, some of which we visited. Though I was before it in the bars of my favorite Copenhagen, anyway I was astonished by the very friendly atmosphere, a good service of barmen and the friendly indifference (or hidden attention) of gays to another guests in bars. The name of one bar was "Village". This place finally substituted the mentioned closed club and I visited it also a few times alone or with Max during my visits to London. Though all gay bars were different, there were some common elements in them. Everywhere there were many free places, the gays preferred to stay alone or in-groups drinking beer on some cozy corners. Anytime you could meet there the people from the total world, especially in the weekends, when many gays from France and Europe came here. During weekends all these places were overcrowded.
During my first evening in London Nick invited us after visiting the bars for dinner in his house near the station Barons Court. Just now I feel the taste of excellent wine and chicken with vegetables prepared by Nick and the extremely good mood and a spirit of friendship in his place.
Nick had to visit some curing courses outside of London. Before leaving me alone in his flat, Nick gave me some money for translating his book and showed me another gay center of London around the underground station Ells Court located not so far from his house. Finally as I understood, Nick chose himself his dwelling in this second gay center of London with its hotels, bars and discos.
If I visited the gay center near King Cross with Max and Frank and we had unforgettable evenings, I visited always the places in Ells Court alone. Only once Nick invited me to the gay restaurant, where we had the extremely good food and where he knew everybody and everybody knew him. I understood that he had the sexual relations with many local gays before his work in the United States. The situation in the clubs or discos of Ells Court was the same as in other gay discos of Moscow, Seattle, Basel or St. Petersburg, where I have been. And anyway everywhere you feel the local spirit and this spirit was so good in places of Ells Court. For example, the barmen in one club had the white blouses and nice shorts showing their excellent legs.
But in times between bars and disco, I was most with Maxim, before I began to visit the power engineering companies. Maxim decided, first of all, to show me the language center, where he and other foreigners studied English. There were here also a good dining-hall and the library with many computers free for everybody. I used them a few times for writing the letters to my pen friends.
Maxim showed me also many shops in the city including such the high-class ones as Harrods near station Knightsbridge. I was astonished that not many people made some purchases: the prices were not for everybody. But the shop itself reminded me the museum. I was especially admired to see the piano playing a quite good music without any pianist. Of course some software was used for it, while the impression was so, that somebody invisible played on keys of instrument. And it was really good performance.
We walked along the city streets and met a Russian guy, who heard our Russian and decided to speak to us himself. He came in England from Ukraine for a short-time work (probably, for harvesting) and decided to stay here forever. He was busy with a repairing painting works in the houses of some rich Englishmen. Maxim was so polite and even tender with this man. I felt the he had a dream to find a Russian friend in London that was practically impossible. I knew that the English authorities decided to send out of the country many Russian gays, which wanted to stay here forever. Maxim came in England a little earlier and he explained to English authorities his desire to stay or to emigrate in England by his nationality (he was semi-Jew) and his nontraditional orientation that was still persecuted in Russia just in the time of his coming here.
Two years later I visited Maxim again and stayed in his house a few days before and after the conference in "Gaunt House" (Poole). Maxim still lived with Frank, though practically all their sexual relations stopped. Their new and dry (comparatively with the previous one) flat consisted of two independent room and a kitchen. The flat was located now not in the center of London but in its eastern part, where I came by using the red line of London tube (underground). I slept in the small room on sofa, while Frank slept nearby on the floor. That time I was in Moscow with Ed, and even a thought to be with somebody else was impossible for me. Maxim hoped that we could sleep together with Frank. But in the same time Frank had an English boy friend, which was a pianist.
Once we went all together to the Village along the surrounding streets. This pianist invited his mother, and all of them had a great desire to use for drinking and eating my money, because I was for them a foreigner, and all the foreigners had money for journey. Frankly I didn't want to disappoint them and we five had the nice time in some gay cafes and bars. This mother invited me to visit them in Oxford, where she lived. Her son wanted to go in the United States for performances and concerts. He and Frank were really the lovers: all of us accepted it at once, because they were a happy couple. Indeed it was a time of "London Paradise" for me.
As I testified, when I was for a total month in England during my the first visit and lived for two weeks in Nick's house, all my daytime of the second week was devoted to visiting the different English companies, and as I couldn't schedule all my time, I shortened my time with Max and Frank. Then in free evening time I began to visit the gay discos in Ells Court. I was so pleased to see that the gays and their manner of behavior and dancing were perfectly the same as in the same places of Moscow. Of course the decoration of these place and the bright laser rays in dancing place, the dark walls, convenient seats and tables, the cloth of waiters were much better that in Moscow in those times. But now you will not find any differences even in lighting and decoration..
Many gays in these London discos wanted me to pay for their drinking and food. I don't know why they decided that I was a rich man and probably my age made them to think in such way. This "na khaliavu" (in Russian it means to use everything free of charge and by the money of other people) was the same as everywhere. I met once a nice young gay working in museum, but his desire to use my money was so great that I left him as soon as I could. Another time I met in the corner of disco hall the Indian guy, who played in jazz and wanted to be with me. The remained part of night we were together in the Nick flat on the wide sofa that Nick suggested to me. Finally the feeling I brought somebody in house of my ill friend.was shamed for me, and though we tried to test all possible actions (the jazzman was perfectly passive) I was perfectly not satisfied.
Another time near the underground station "Hide Park's corner" I met in the known toilet for gay meetings the tall and huge Negro. I asked him to help me in visiting some shops, but he preferred to use his knife and to take all my money. I was astonished that he knew all secret places where I kept money (behind a cover of notebook). He took practically all money that Nick gave me for translating his book. This event was so terrible for me that I didn't want to remember all the details, though they were so didactic and instructive (I shall do in other part of these notes). At the next day, when I went to the company located at the northern direction from London, I met this Negro again: he worked as a ticket collector at the main railway station and I recognized his ugly shoes at once. I remembered his last words a day before:
"You will hate now all the black people".
If to be frank, I had really such feelings at that time at railway station. I didn't want to become dirty of him, while he disappeared at once as a coward as soon as I noticed him. I had only a wish to leave this place quickly. The train was already near the platform and took me to the company that I needed. I remember that my negotiations at that company were very successful and then the local engineers invited me to launch in restaurant of their small city. We were alone there in the huge hall, because it was a time of changes in England, which came soon in my Russia and when the people had no money even for such simple events. But in two years after it, when I came in England again, the situation was perfectly different. And my evening with Max, Frank, his new friend with mother and me was also on of evidences of these quick changes. It was also true that the situation in Russia was changed in this direction also quickly and successfully.
When I was in Nick's house I used often the telephone and called even in Singapore and USA. Nick became finally crazy, when he received the bills. Another bad thing that was desire to wash some things in the bath of Nick's flat, in particular the raincoat, which another my friend of OT conference presented me. When I put the raincoat for drying over bath, a part of water fell on floor and spoilt it. Could you imagine the reaction of Nick? He came back after a coarse of curing and found it... Anyway just Nick paid finally for my participation in two OT conferences: in Stoss (Switzerland) and Poole (England), which took place correspondingly in one and two years later. I evaluated this Nick's kindness as his private love to me, his devotion to our friendship, and the reality of our gay brotherhood and me, which was demonstrated to me in England by Nick, both Max and Frank and many new gay friends in England.
In the second my visit to England I found Maxim working as an advertising agent in some Russian company in London. To find a work in English company was practically impossible for him as well as for the most Russian emigrants. And all possible for them companies worked for Russia and were mainly advertising. Maxim after some first success in work and the consequent dissatisfaction began to dream about his parents' house in Samara and old friends and Russia. I couldn't imagine how glad he was to see the issue of the new Russian gay magazine "Argo", which I brought to him. The result was so strange for me: Maxim began at once to call from London in Russia trying to install ties with the gays who gave the ads in this magazine.
As I told the appearance in London of one Maxim's former Russian boy friend, whom he invited, had only one result: Maxim broke in full his relations with Frank. As to parents, they decided also to immigrate in England, especially his mother after some visits to Maxim in London. Maxim began to hate these visits and her, because they limited his gay life and activity. A few times his mother visited my home in Moscow. Of coarse I was very polite and kind with her. But Irene hated her, and once, when I was absent, they had the great quarrel. Sometimes it is so difficult for the ladies to find the common agreement, especially when their interests are so opposite. Of coarse, it concerns both the gays and straight men.
Returning to the unforgettable evening with Max, Frank and his new pianist with his mother, we conducted it in the bar not so far from the bar and gays club "Village", I remember that I found so many common things between myself and this pianist, which wanted to continue his activity in the USA and would leave England on the next day. By regret his mother, which always liked to be with the new boy friends of her son, was too meticulous and wanted to show from the beginning her knowledge on any questions. I was new for her and all her "information" was intended for me and was emptied on me. Therefore our time and the final my friends and her son's support of me made me feel happy with them. In the same time both Maxim and Frank showed me that such situation and her behavior was normal for them, and it was important for me.
When Max, Frank and I came back home, they showed me a film about Frank's visit to the country house of Max parents near Samara. It was the excellent place near Volga river, and it was so funny and a little terrified for me to see, how Maxim's parents and other relatives tried to ingratiate with Frank (even so, if it was made specially for filming). I've seen with pleasure, what negative reaction on it had quite clever Frank. Sometimes the people in Russia try to worship foreigners. In this case they wanted to use these "ties" for making their life in future. And it was in spite of the fact, that Frank lived in London as a beggar, or "Bomzh" in Russian, had only temporarily and low-paid work. But these relatives spoke about the wealthy Paradise at West in this film, and all their words and behavior were so false and unnatural.
Unlike to Frank, Maxim felt himself as a "millionaire" in London: he bought a couple of rather expansive for him things (a suit jacket and the shoes) and was so proud of it. The film about Frank's visit to Russia with so frank behavior of his parents and their dreams to join him in England, cahanged greatly the Maxim's dream to come back home and probably was the last straw that forced him to make decision to stay at West. In his flat Maxim had many CD's with recording of his favorite Spanish singer Hulio Inglesias. Maxim even tried to sing imitating him. I had doubts that Maxim could have any success in this direction with his voice and Russian-Zhirinovsky face. Of course I didn't tell him about it.
And Maxim became finally a part of so free, interesting and saturated (from the first look) gay life of London, which was the crossroads for the gays from the total world. In the second visit I found Maxim full of dreams about new adventures, in particular about "new novel" with a rich Italian painter (began to study Italian), but not about new visits to him of his "dear" parents.
"I shall never send them the new invitations", - told he.
I don't know about the real truth of these words up to now, because my correspondence with Max was finally stopped.
Of course, the life, desires and behavior of Maxim and other Russian gay immigrants were so clear and evident for everybody, that all gay organizations gave me at once the negative answer to my suggestion about informing them about gay underground situation in Russia in that time. Due to Maxim and other "guests" they knew it quite well.
In addition to the mentioned problems, Maxim had the additional oe connecred with mutual misunderstanding of the Russian media representatives in London, with whom he tried to install the contacts, but had the constant skirmishes. The local English circles with very tolerant and good-natured features knew sometimes only the cleft pelage of immigration, wanted to become firmly established by anyway from this new and sometimes boorish local Russian immigration and tried to be isolated from them. I met the similar situation during my visits to Denmark, the United Stated and France, where I met Serge, about whom I shall remember a little later.
The desire of many Russian gays, especially the young ones, to come at West especially in England was so great, and their presence met the corresponding negative reaction of local authorities, and they made everything not to permit them in settling there. When I've seen this situation, that was so sad for me, in particular, with the Maxim's information about desires of English side to deport from England some dozens of Russian gays, I was shocked. The gays asked to grant them the political right of asylum only because of their gay nature and their persecution in Russia. But about which persecution is possible to speak, if Russia changed its legislation and abolished the notorious article 121.
Now I want to remember my Paris friend Serge. I was a few times in Paris. The first one was connected with the groups of dancers on ice. The French dancers visited us in Moscow and one of them Carolina lived in my house. When I was in Paris, I lived in the flat of her father in the Paris area Belleville. I had practically no any free time to be alone in city - our nice French ice-dancing friends so intensively scheduled the program. After it I visited Paris a few times as an expert on power engineering from East Europe. During my second visit to Paris as an expert I had some free time and was alone some days before and after the Round Table at UNESCO conference on the general problems of power industry transformation in East Europe and, in particular, the ecological problems. I was an author and translator of the materials of the Council unified the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS states) for some such Round Tables.
When my friend by correspondence Ray from New Orleans visited me in Moscow we met some people from gay media in Moscow, among which there was Dima Lichev - a editor of newspaper "1/10". Ray was a journalist of travel magazine "Our World" and helped me to publish there some articles about my travels. Ray liked Moscow and my Moscow friends and decided to invite the group of Russian gay papermen in the USA. Finally he didn't manage to collect for it the necessary money. I was alone in the USA and finally only due to the support of another my friend by correspondence Robin.
Anyway when I was in New Orleans, Ray managed to collect some money during my meetings and speeches, when I spoke about new situation in Russia, before the activists of gay movement and gay media people of New Orleans. Ray asked me to transfer this money to Dima, whom he liked after the meeting in my Moscow place. I made it, and Dima was really pleased, because he needed money for producing his papers. After it Dima began to give me all new issues of his publications freely in the amounts, that I asked him. So I took many issues of his "1/10" and the magazine "Dimka", when I went in the USA in the second time. In particular, I gave them to the gay tourists at the ship that took 1700 gays from all parts of the USA from Loa Angeles and back.
When Dima knew, that I had to fly in France, he asked me to transfer some materials to his friend Serge, who lived in Paris. As I knew, Serge wrote the articles for Dima's newspaper and tried to sell "1/10" in Paris. This activity had not successful for Serge, because the people in city gay shop didn't return him money for the sold issues of "1/10". But the message from Dima became the reason of my interesting meetings with Serge. Serge told me about all his life. He lived before in Leningrad and was a defender of political rights during bad last agonical period of Communism. Serge demanded from Soviet authorities to permit some dissident people to immigrate at West. And they gave this right... to Serge. He was expelled from the country in the very short time. He managed to settle in Paris, where he wanted to find some constant work. But his attempts had no success.
For many years Serge tried to write articles for the newspapers. I've read the large and interesting article about gay Paris in one Russian newspaper before coming in Paris. "Could you imagine what interesting materials about gays of France we began to publish", said I to Serge and began to set forth the content of article.
"Do you know, who is the author of this text?" - asked me Serge. "It's me!"
It was so that I didn't know before it the Serge's family name, while he wrote really interesting texts both in the usual and gay editions. But such publications were very seldom for Serge. As Serge told me, Dima, for example, didn't want mainly to publish him and used Serge only as the chain for selling his "1/10" in France. During my visit Serge discussed with me the possibility of installation of gay travel agency for organization of Russian gay groups visiting France. He wanted also to organize the selling of French gay perfume in Russia. By regret my weak efforts to do it in Russia had no results or success - I was a bad businessman.
When Serge came first in Paris, he was already not so young man and had many problems with the new gay friends. In the time of my coming in Paris he had the young black lover and much sufferings and jealousy due to it. By this reason he couldn't help me with a room. The French organizers of events in UNESCO gave me as well as to another participants a certain amount of money. But, of coarse, I wanted to save money and not to pay for the hotel. By regret Serge had only one room.
But Serge was a kind man and a good friend. He managed to show me during my free evenings all interesting gay places of Paris. We visited the gay bars and shops in the central area of city not so far from Louvre. First of all we were in the bookshop, where Serge had some problems with selling Russian materials. As I mentioned, they sold the materials, but forget to return to Serge his share of money. But just in the day of our visiting the shop the owner gave him some money, while Serge brought them the new issues of "1/10" that I brought from Dimmer. Serge showed me in the shop the different departments with the great pride. First of all he invited me to the place with albums containing quite different gay pictures and events. Though I had visited the similar bookshops of Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Basel, Vancouver, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and Washington DC, the Paris proved to be really the best and richest one due to the excellent collections of pictures, books and films. It was so pity that I had not enough money for buying at least some of them. Nevertheless, the owner of shop was not so kind as the owners of a shop "Two sisters" in Canadian Vancouver, where some extraordinary interesting books were presented to me. Finally I had some present if Paris too.
In another department of shop Serge showed me a collection of new gay fiction films.
"What of them do you know? "- asked Serge.
I've seen attentively at films and said: "Practically nothing except one English film, which my Swedish friend Evgueny showed me in Stockholm in his house".
In this moment I remembered an album of colorful pictures that Evgueny showed me. It was a collection of about 300 gays, with whom he had the sexual and friendly relations.
Serge became upset, when he knew about the lack of information about many really interesting in his kind films. We left the shop with some regular French newspapers and magazines and advertising materials, from which I knew about the festival of gay and lesbian films in Paris. Serge was informed about the festival beforehand, and when he knew about my desire to see the new gay films, he tried to do everything for my being at this festival. He proved to organizers that I was a correspondent of magazine "Our World" and they permitted me to see the films free of charge.
Though I visited two such festivals in Moscow, the Paris festival that was organizes in the American cultural center of Paris was so good and interesting for me. First of all, I met there the great collection of gays of blue Paris. It was so funny to see the gays with the colors of hairs with all spectrum of rainbow. At the great reception before the opening of festival there was a good choice of different food and drinks and the good choice of French gays. I acquainted with one of them, which was an apprentice of the known mime Marcel Marco and also performed as a mime. I had a so nice talking with him after one film show, and we left together and used the same line of Paris metro. I lived near Unesco and UN buildings, where I worked.
The collection of festival films from the total world was really interesting. I remembered the films about one German actor who went through the terrible fascist time and the film about American black gays and their bar, which was destroyed by homophobia people.
Serge was with me only at the opening of festival. He was busy all other time with the preparation of materials for Russia, which he sent with me in Moscow. Therefore I visited the festival mainly alone. My last meeting with Serge took place at the underground platform near my hotel. In this place the underground line goes through a city as S-bahn in Berlin - high off the ground. He came with the great delay, because he carefully prepared the materials till the last moment. Serge decided to conduct me in the airport of Paris with its long escalators and moving stairs. We were really good friends in Paris, but I never saw him again, though met some his Russian friends in Moscow.
Recently my friend Olivier called me from Paris, where he moved for some time from his Cannes la Bocca. Olivier became as well a friend of Serge (the world is so small and round), and both of them were anxious of the fact that the search of "1/10" office in Moscow was conducted recently. I know only that Dima preferred last time to live abroad (in his Chech's Praque) with all his friends from newspaper.
© 1999 Автор
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