74 percent of Muscovites
questioned by My Plyus
magazine preferred Pierce
Brosnan to Daniel Craig


When it comes to Russian sex symbols, it seems you
can never wear too much fake tan or be too blow-dried.
By Anna Malpas
Published: December 8, 2006

The author Dmitry Bykov wrote an article in Ogonyok
last week arguing that there aren't any Russian sex
symbols, only Hollywood ones. This was a touch harsh,
I think, especially since the writer and his shorts
recently starred in a Moskovsky Komsomolets gossip

Bykov just won the Big Book literary prize for his
biography of Boris Pasternak, but he's also a populist
figure who appears on television and radio shows, and
probably isn't above flicking through Seven Days
magazine. So I can only blame the months spent on
Pasternak for his shocking ignorance about Scarlett
Johansson's love life: Jared Leto was so 2005.

By "sex symbols," Bykov means actors, and he goes
through the possible candidates, discarding them one
by one. He says Konstantin Khabensky wastes his talent
in the "Night Watch" films -- not even mentioning the
ears -- while Oleg Menshikov just looks tired all the
time, and tough-guy Vladimir Mashkov was far hotter
back in the early 1990s.

Arguing about sex symbols in Russia is pretty pointless,
though, as I realized this week when I read that 74
percent of Muscovites questioned by My Plyus magazine
preferred Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. Of course, it
doesn't help that the title of the latest Bond film means
"Casino Grand Piano" in Russian, but still, I fear for the
nation's sanity.

Judging from my less scientific surveys, Russia's main
sex symbols seem to be people like Andrei Malakhov
and Dima Bilan, and even, God help us, Nikolai Baskov.
In other words, you can never wear too much fake tan
or be too blow-dried. Which I suppose explains why
Brosnan goes down well.

Unfortunately, Bykov doesn't dip his toe into the Bond
debate. But then again, if he doesn't know that
Johansson has been going out with Josh Hartnett and
they've put extra sound insulation in their bedroom,
then he has got a lot of Seven Days to catch up on.

I certainly hope that Bykov saw Johansson's swimsuit
scene in "Scoop," since he writes lovingly of her vital
statistics. He's not so keen on Russian actresses. The
only one he sees as a potential sex symbol is Chulpan
Khamatova, but he says that she's unconvincing in love
scenes. It's an unfair comparison, though, since her
period dramas don't give the same opportunities to
wear Lycra.

It seems pretty unbelievable that Bykov can't think of
any other female sex symbols. I mean, have the girl
groups Blestyashchiye and VIA Gra been living in vain?
I used to get the two groups mixed up, but not any
more, since Komsomolskaya Pravda pointed out that --
perhaps counterintuitively -- Blestyashchiye has
breasts, while VIA Gra has legs.

Bykov himself isn't exactly a traditional sex symbol, but
I warmed to him in September when Moskovsky
Komsomolets gave him a massive dressing-down for,
well, dressing down. He turned up at a film premiere
wearing what was admittedly a rather eccentric outfit:
fishing vest over bare torso, denim cut-offs and those
sandals with T-bars that you had to wear in primary

True, the author isn't slim enough to throw this lot
together in a Kate Moss sort of way -- he is quite a
large man -- but MK went after him in the manner of a
babushka on a trolleybus scolding someone with wet
hair or an incorrectly tied scarf.

"The audience couldn't look at the screen or at Dmitry
Bykov without tears," a society columnist wrote sniffily,
zooming in on his dirty toenails. The tabloid also runs a
weekly fashion-police feature, but its two arbiters
refused to assess Bykov, presumably fearing that he
might pollute their finely tuned palates.

In any case, they would definitely have given him two
scowls, their lowest mark. But I think he would have
taken that as a compliment.