Tuesday, July 15, 2008

INTERVIEW WITH FRENCH WEBSITE WWW.SECONDSEXE.COM. JUNE-AUGUST 2008

Here you can find it in French: 

http://www.secondsexe.com/magazine_dossier.php?id_theme=35&id_article=247


1/ Could you introduce yourself briefly (who are you, where do you
live and work…)

My name is Vera Svechina. I'm from Russia. My first book - "Last train
from Roppongi" published in Russia in 2005 and I'm looking for
producers to continue to shoot my first feature film, based on my
book. For last 8 month I was taking photos in "Hustler" club in SF.

2/ Could you start with a short thematic introduction to your work?

In my work I like to mix reality with fantasy. I think it's very
interesting combination. Because there is many layers of reality and
for everyone it's different. It's very interesting to me to capture
some of them, knowing that there is many things left that I don't
know. But the best is when you can capture the unknown.

3/ Which photographs inspired you?

First of all - Photos of Jean Pigozzi. Seeing them, long time ago, I realized that one can do anything he wants in his life. It's very inspiring.

Then I remember I was really shocked when I sow first time the book of photos by Nobuyoshi Araki: The photos of tide up with ropes woman touched something inside me. That time I was traveling all over the world a lot, but intuitively I knew that something was still tide up inside of me and that is why maybe those images resonated.

Then in Japan, where I used to live, I sow another book - by very young girl named Hiromix. Her photos were strange. They were kind of free of classical understanding of what photos should be. I could tell that they were very pure. For some reason it resonated with me too.

4/ When do photography appears in your life ? Since when do you feel the urge of creating images?

Now I remember that I always was attracted to photo and film cameras. Even now when I go to camera shops I feel very nervous. When I grow up, we had everything at home for taking and making b/w photos, we used our bathroom as a dark room and with my brother helped our father to develop photographs. It was fun! I liked the red light that was there. But it was very hard to keep darkness, because someone from our family would need to use bathroom and would accidentally turn on the lights.

We had a few cameras at home, but those old Russian camera's were very difficult to use. So I never did.

Then when I came to study film in SF, I used to go to Japan to work as a hostess in the summer. I had new Japanese camera and I would take photos of things I liked and some of them were just incredibly beautiful. I had no idea what am I doing and how it was happening. It was magic. And I liked it! I made photos of hot springs, that I went to.

Then, also in Japan, when photo camera's came out on the phone - I started to take pictures with my telephone and I made Russian publishers design the cover for my book with them!

And then when I start to work in Hustler, I was smitten by so much
beauty of girls and pole dancing! I knew right away, that the images
from place like that would be beautiful. So, one day I just couldn't
not do it anymore and I started to take pictures in a dressing room.
And I got caught and suspended for a week. Then I came back, but it was impossible for me not to take photos again. They came out so great! Thanks to girls who were very cooperative. Now, after some of the photos I took, managers liked the idea of my photo book very much. They were very impressed, when they sow my photos.
So I guess I feel urge to create images when I see something beautiful.

5/ Your first series of photos were dealing with body and food in a very sensual and erotic way, what brings you to such a Practice?

I had my last semester in film school and I already took all motion pictures classes possible. I didn't know what classes else to take and I decided to take introduction to photography class. So ones we had an easement - to photograph opposites. It was the time in my life when I was starting to be very interested in understanding my sexuality, I grow up in very conservative family and place, and had a lots of conflicts inside me.... One of them was about sex... About "Love", relationships and "Sex" and how they all feet in life. Anyway.... I had new friends - Russian couple who've been together for long time and who were painters and swingers. I had idea for my homework - I wanted to photograph their privet parts side by side, representing opposites - Man and Woman...

My friends were beautiful together and very open and I was so exited to work with them, that for my final easement for that class I wanted to take more naked photos. I would come to their apartment in the day time, they would undress and lay on the bed by the window. We experimented with staff that we would find around... That how fruits and vegetables came to the photos. Then I printed pictures in dark room in school. The magic was there again. My teacher would look at my prints and say "I don't know how do you do it." I didn't know ether... The photos were just happening. I wanted to take more photo classes, but it was time for my graduation.

6/ As a women is it easier for you to approach the strippers and to get involved into their intimacy?

As a woman yes, but more as a woman artist it's easier for me to approach them. I dance myself and I worked in the club for
2 years, before I started taking photos. But even then, girls started to trust me only after they sow my pictures. I understood also that it is a responsibility and that I can't brake girls trust in me. Because it's a very sensitive subject.

I see a lot of beauty in strip clubs. And I want to share this understanding with others. And I feel like I was very lucky to work
there and to have camera with me and a chance to photograph such a beautiful moments! But I also see that man could do it too, if he would be working there as a house mom and always be present in the dressing room.

7/ What is your project, do you have some political views regarding the strip clubs legacy?

I don't have any political views and I don't know much about strip club legacy... In Russia strip clubs are not part of pop culture, as it is in the USA. But I think that improving strip club image and accepting it as a positive part of society would be fare. Because strip clubs are helping to the society to have good times! For example I see there often American solders who just came back from Iraq. Some of them don't have girlfriends so they come to have fun! And girls are there to dance with them and welcome them back home. It's also true for people with disabilities. I've seen a lot's of customers there in a wheel chairs.

Also I met there a lot of doctors, lowyers, fire fighters, scientists, teachers, computer programmers, movie directors and movie stars, music and sports players, business man, students, policeman, writers, producers, film festival people, journalists, people who work for governments. I met all America there! And a lot of foreigners too. Basicly the all world! And I'm not talking about how popular bachelors parties are in a place like that! Would man and woman come to celebrate one of the most important events in their life - MARRIAGE, in a bad place? I don't think so. I see a lot of woman, couples and gay people there as well.

Also every Christmas we do Charity dances and collect money for toys for poor children. I think it's great! But some charities didn't want to accept our money. When in reality children wouldn't care where toys coming from, as long as they given with love. I grow up not having much toys myself, so I know.

Indiana.  stage name melinda.

Also for entertainers... It would be great if working in a place like that could be a part of sexology degree at Universities. So girls could become doctors and teachers, after working in a strip clubs if they would want to. Or better even to make it mandatory for students of those professions to work in a strip club for a year or two. Why do you think nurse costume is so popular in places like that?? For people involved in politics it would be good as well. There maybe would be less scandals and that would improve work.

8/ Do you think sexual rejection of those sex structures such as clubs comes from a lack of awareness from governments?

I think it's coming from lack of education about sex. Mostly about accepting ourselves as sexual beings. We should embrace sexuality in us and sex industry in our societies and make it safe playground for everyone who wants to enjoy it or work there. And we should let ourselves as a society to benefit from it. And sure, governments could defiantly help by making "the low" to improve that education. And we, artists can help. And we also should remember that strip clubs are not about sale of sex. It's about entertainment, sexual fantasy and fun.

I propose to put a special day on our calendars - LOVE GAME'S DAY! On that day all sex clubs (platonic and not) all around the world would open their doors for free to people. It would remind us that adult entertainment can be part of our everyday life and that education about sex and sexuality is very important. It would remind us to enrich our sexual life's and hopefully being busy with that, there would be less war and more peace in the world and in every family! It would remind us to respect adult entertainers and see how important their role in our lives!

9/ You also made a book and get involved in making movies, could you explain us your way to think about movement and sexuality?

I think what is sexy is diferent to everybody in diferent times of their life. For example robs of S&M could be sexy at one point and not at another. But what I think what is always sexy is honesty. Now I think that maybe it is not a coincidence that I started to work in Hustler. Because Hustler stays for "Freedom of Speech".

I started my creative life with a pen when I was very young. And I wanted to write many books. My family and I red a lot. My father was a writer himself, but he never got published. I always liked to write something as well, because it was the easiest way for me to express myself in good and bad times. My first book came out of it. It was my dream, then something magical happened and it got published and now it's reality.

When I came to Japan for the first time in 1993, I knew nothing about making movies, but for some reason the first thing I thought after spending few days working in a Hostess club - that it would be a great place to make a movie! That thought brought me to the USA to study film. It brought me to "Hustler" and to photos of Strip dancers, that were my dream at one point, but now, something magical happened and now they are reality too.

Movie is an illusion, many still frames are moving and creating the effect of "motion picture"! And it's magic and it's reality. And making it is reality and a dream for me: I'm still dreaming about making my movie, but one day it might become reality, as it already happened ones, when we started our production in Russia.

So, maybe beauty in strip clubs is an illusion as well? Or is it a MAGIC? Or it's reality? We all can decide it for ourselves, after looking at my photos of dancers!

10/ you seem to be very present in the blog, Internet community is it
a way for you to share with a larger audience?


After I didn't get money for my film - I didn't know what to do with what I think, feel, see and make. So I made a blog that turned into website www.russiangeisha.com. I'm very happy that I have free Internet now and I can share my visions with people there. Thanks to Google who makes programs like "Blogger", and others like "Facebook" and "Odniklassniki.ru" ... I would love to find other venues to share my vision with other people in the future... Thank you for helping me!

11/ Are you working on some exhibitions right now?

Yes. I do.

Questions asked by Saskia Farber.

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