SPRING IN UKRAINE MEANS LOVE IS IN THE AIR – AND IF YOU’VE BEEN HERE DURING THE SEASON BEFORE, YOU KNOW THAT UKRAINIANS TAKE IT SERIOUSLY
Whether it’s the more and more popular Valentine’s Day (which we just celebrated) or the more traditional International Women’s Day coming up shortly, you will find Ukrainian men falling over themselves to impress the most important women in their lives. And why not? Ukrainian women have earned a reputation as some of the most beautiful, charming, and talented on the planet. But that wasn’t always the case.
THE LAND SEX FORGOT
One Soviet professor on a Western talk show famously exclaimed “There was no sex in the USSR”. Of course, she had meant to say that there wasn’t sex in media in the Soviet bloc, but that didn’t change from defining the region as a cold, boring, uninspired land in the bedroom – the land sex forgot.
The Soviet Union wasn’t exactly known for eroticism. Pornography, for example, was taken as a Western decadence. Erotic images were scarce and were confiscated if found; taken to a classified section of a Russian State Library for the exclusive use of party elite.
But one book cracked the communist embargo and has since become known as the ‘Communist Kama Sutra’ – Man and Woman Intimately by East German sexologist Siegfried Schnabl.
THE COMMUNIST KAMA SUTRA
A cold and sterile book on sex from puberty to pleasuring, the work differed from any-thing else in the region for two reasons: (1) it focused on how to please a woman as well as how to please a man; and
2) there were explicit diagrams.Being easily accessible and without much in the way of competition, the work became a best-seller.
Released in 1970, it became the second biggest-selling book in East German history. Translated into a half dozen languages, it then became a hit right across the Soviet-influenced world, from balmy Cuba to the barns of Bulgaria. Most homes had a copy – even if it was hidden away somewhere.
What was it about this book that allowed it to slide past censors and into communist lore? Well, the author speculates that a happy population doesn’t preoccupy itself with political questions. Perhaps this is where the Ukrainian sexual revolution came from.
NOT YOUR CHILD’S ALPHABET BOOK
Of course, this wasn’t the first erotic book in the Eastern bloc. Sex, of course, is as old as man. Among the most mysterious is an erotic alphabet book circa 1931. Put together by a young Sergei Merkurov, a Kyiv Polytechnic University grad, he would later be-come a People’s Artist of the USSR, mostly for his massive statues of leaders like Stalin and Lenin. His graphic alphabet book is an altogether different endeavour. It depicts everything from threesomes with centaurs to creative cunnilingus ideas to erect angels and horny satyrs. Each letter depicts its own unique sexual act. It has to be seen to be understood, and is certainly no storybook for children.
An urban legend says the book was created to help with illiteracy, still rampant in the interwar Soviet Union. More likely, it was just a curious artist dabbling in eroticism and Roman and Greek mythology.
While the communist bloc was known for its stale sex life, Ukraine has developed a reputation for quite the opposite. Ukrainian women are sought-after as models, wives, movie stars and, yes, sexual partners. In fact, Ukrainian women are often considered among the most beautiful and adventurous on the planet. No wonder why Ukrainian men go out of their way to spoil them on holidays like 14 February and 8 March. Ukrainians are comfortable with their sexuality and are becoming masters of artistic eroticism. Stylish books, avant garde photo exhibits, and haute couture articles in some of the world’s chicest magazines around, which is a far cry from the stale days of the Communist Kama Sutra. No, Ukrainian erotic artists are creating something altogether new. Perhaps it could be called the ‘Cossack Kama Sutra’.