Love & Sex

The Amazing Photos From Russia’s Wild Sexual Revolution

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"The iron prudery behind the Iron Curtain."

The Cold War wasn't just cold, it was frigid. Amid the liberating bacchanal of 1960s Europe was little Soviet Russia, quaintly refraining from the bra-burning, free-loving, and general gallivanting of its contemporaries. "There is no sex in the U.S.S.R." was a popular satirical slogan of the time. Since 1922, government-enforced prudishness and communal urban living had sheltered Kremlins from surrounding sexual mores. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then came the Russian sexual revolution, stumbling in three decades late, clashing with a culture that had pretty much ignored the act for decades.

Russian photographer Yevgeny Kondakov documented Russia's peculiar emergence into the world of stripping, prostitution, roadside erotica, and sex saunas. He recently spoke with The National Turk about his groundbreaking new collection and, as the newspaper puts it, "the iron prudery behind the Iron Curtain."

"People have always had sex of course, but it was not lawful to speak about it. Many things were banned. You could not buy Playboy, if you looked at erotic film director Tinto Brass' work you could go to jail. A man and a woman could not take a hotel room if they did not demonstrate that they were married," said Kondakov.

NSFW below.

"There was the Kommunalkas, Soviet communal apartments, where many Russians lived in the big cities. Several families shared an apartment, but each inhabited only one room. A mother who lived with her ​​son once told me that she always went to the kitchen when his girlfriend came. There she was doing laundry. This went well until the neighbors from the other rooms began to make jokes about her compulsive washing," Kondakov told the Turk.

"In the West, the sexual revolution was marked by the struggle for women's rights. In Russia, it was a men's revolution," says Kondakov.

"There's a big difference between the West and Russia. The sexual revolution in Europe came along with a steady increase in living standards. With us, the opposite was the case, the economy drifted apart. The masses lost their savings, a few were very rich. This led to the commercialization of sex," claims Kondakov.

Grammar has been corrected in translation.

Images by Yevgeny Kondakov via National Turk