While many of my readers might know who I’m talking about, I will refer to him as The Ruski and he can decide if he wants to identify himself.
I met The Ruski at the Medieval re-enactment and performance club where I taught the newbies how to sword fight, both stage and combat. He distinguished himself early by:
- always leading with his head, resulting in several scars around his mouth
- leaping into combat, making it impossible for him to avoid any point aimed at him
- bringing an enormous short cutlass that was too slow and heavy to be practical for anything except cutting ropes
- tragic romances. I think he arrived chasing a lesbian…
… but he had a great stage presence.
When he applied his method acting to LARP (live action roleplaying), leaping off a balcony as only a vampire could, he failed to land like a vampire would and broke his ankle. I think that was about when people turned his name into a verb, to describe hurting yourself whilst doing something awesome and enthusiastic.
At his 21st birthday he introduced me to good vodka, and then assured me that it was part of the experience to also drink the pickle juice – that made me sick. Soon after he moved out of home to move in with me and my daughter. His family was appalled: Russian men are apparently not supposed to leave home until their thirties.
Moving in together, we had a plan: I technically had money, and no time, so I bought the food; he technically had time and no money, so he cooked the food; and my daughter technically did the dishes. That turned out to be a huge technicality… Anyway, I asked him if he could cook? He said “Yes, yes… I am lyearning” (after 20 years in NZ he still has an appalling Ruski accent). It turned out he could make mashed potatoes, but the skin was still on, so they were lumpy, porridge, and if he was paying attention the sausages would not be raw. We were in the last stages of putting on our first show, so I had absolutely no time to teach him, and we survived our first 6 weeks or so on lumpy mashed potatoes and half-cooked sausages. I remember the day when some friends from a vegetarian flat, afraid that we would die of scurvy, came round to show him how to cook vegetables. As I got home from work he was standing proudly in the kitchen doorway, gestured grandly at the stove and said “Look! I have smoked the wegetables”. I said “You smoked the vegetables – I hope it was good for you”. He meant steamed…
He’s come up with some good malapropisms around me. I also remember the time he came back from a LARP and was enthusiastically described the sumptuous settings, with velvet drapes “…and a smoking brassiere in the corner.” He meant a brazier.
He loves acting, and performing, and entertaining, and he’s very good at it. He’d LARP, and perform circus and burlesque acts with us, and he was a star. He was trying to be an academic – he loves literature and philosophy, too – but he sucked at that. It made him very unhappy, to fail in his studies and let his family down (Russians take tertiary education very seriously). His decision to give up on academia and pursue a career in performing arts was hard for him, but he hasn’t looked back, and his classic Russian family have accepted that they now have an artist instead of a scholar, which is respectable enough.
…So long as they don’t look too closely. He’s Mr Burlesque NZ, and spends a lot of time taking his clothes off in public. I once asked him what’s the difference between a burlesque dancer and a stripper? He said “Strippers get paid more”. He once came into the lounge where I was and stripped his shirt off very deliberately, then said “Can I give you rent next week?” I should have held out for the pants… It’s not as though I haven’t seen it before, in practice, on stage, and drunk at parties, and I got to make his chainmail boxers and cock-sock… I was there when, after supporting a stage show called “Whore” (presenting stories from fringe sex workers) his mother called. She had seen pictures of The Ruski wrapped in cling wrap and trussed up in Japanese rope bondage on Facebook, and even though the whole conversation was in Russian I could tell exactly what was going on, as she was freaking out, and he was trying to reassure her that it was both a valid piece of contemporary art and he wasn’t actually working in that industry.
I’m so glad I met him – I don’t know any other man like him. In public he’s a flirt and a tease, and with his confidence very sexy, but it doesn’t go to his head. In private he is very different: tragically romantic, waiting for the perfect girl, to get married and have children and live happily ever after – he does not do casual sex; philosophical, intelligent, open-minded and honest; courageous, disciplined, and passionate. You should know that about Satanists: they can be strong and social free-thinkers, building their self-control, self-respect and personal responsibility on valid philosophical and ethical foundations.
We are friends, not lovers, but occasionally people mistake us for a married couple. It has been nearly 8 years living in the same house, and I sometimes wonder what it means that I think so much like a Satanist Russian male stripper, we do so much alike. Except he hates disaster movies, and I love them. Going through a box of old things I found a forgotten piece of paper from a fortune chocolate: “You will find a faithful and constant friend”. Go figure. It was right.