Gay Life in Russia: Interview with Pavel Petel
What a thrill it was when my second-favorite Russian, Pavel Petel, agreed to talk openly about something that everyone right now seems to have an opinion about but few have any direct insight into: gay life in Russia. The dazzling Pavel entertains in clubs, on the streets, in parks — wherever his imagination takes him and his bodybuilder’s physique and model handsomeness play perfectly at odds with his vast collection of wigs, thigh-high boots, and lipsticks. No more a one man riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma, Pavel spoke briefly with me via email just before the opening of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
MARK ADNUM: With the current situation in Russia, do you think your kind of pop-art has drifted into an area of political statement — protest?
PAVEL PETEL: I’m risking when I tell the truth. Everyone asks provocative questions, but no one is ready to provide real financial and legal help. I live in Moscow, Russia. I love life. I’m an actor! I am used to entertaining people and creating positively charged performances. I’m not interested in politics. I am a kind, trustful, naive and sincere person – there is no place for me in politics! I will benefit the world by entertaining people, not by organizing political protests.
However, I don’t have enough money to make all my creative ideas come to life. Recently an American digital magazine addressed me with a request to make them a free photoset and video with exclusive rights on the publication. They praised themselves to be the most popular digital magazine in the USA, but couldn’t send even a pair of shoes and wigs for shooting. I have a large audience in the West and my dream is to move to the USA. But I don’t want to lose Russian admirers either, so I will continue to communicate with them through my new project on YouTube.
MARK ADNUM: Your act is so delightful but there’s an undercurrent that you’re risking attracting very much the wrong kind of attention. What are your thoughts?