Samantha Bee’s Terrifying Interview With Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky

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In yesterday’s Full Frontal with Sam Bee, our favorite talk show host travelled to Russia to find out what the controversial country really has to say about our (gulp) new president elect, Donald Trump. While there, Bee sat down with the leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who supports Trump’s election.

“Donald Trump is what America needs today,” Zhirinovsky said. “And most importantly he is what the world needs.”

“He will not escalate things in a way that Hillary Clinton might,” he continued. “You can tell from the way she looks. She is dangerous. And it is psychologically hard for a woman to make the right decisions…. This nasty woman.”

Other tidbits from the Zhirinovsky: “I would feel nothing but pride if people compared me to Donald Trump.”

“I think that the white race in America and Europe are in danger.”

“It’s very dangerous to hold the rights of minorities above the rights of the majority.”

Watch the frightening interview below.

Eurovision Song Winner Pulls a Beyoncé, Sets Off ‘Culture War’

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The colossal annual Eurovision Song Contest apparently has long had a ban on overtly political lyrics. The hardly-easy-to-enforce edict was challenged this past Tuesday, when Armenian singer Iveta Mukuchyan brandished a Nagorno-Karabakh flag, in protest of Armenia’s occupation of the Azerbaijani region. It set tongues wagging.

But last night’s final in Stockholm may have genuinely served to escalate the ongoing troubles between Ukraine and Russia, with Ukrainian singer Jamala taking the top prize for her song “1944.” It contains the not-so-subtle lyrical pleas, “You think you are gods / But everyone dies / Don’t swallow my soul / Our souls” and “We could build a future / Where people are free / To live and love.”

Before her victory, Jamala had told The Guardian that if she did indeed win, “It will mean that modern European people are not indifferent, and are ready to hear about the pain of other people and to sympathize.” It was a clear reference to the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and the continuing violent struggle that has followed. Russian officials responded to Jamala’s victory with immediate scorn, calling for her disqualification based on breaking the ban on political lyrical statements.

This comes hot on the heels of Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl halftime show in February, which itself set off something of a socio-political firestorm in America. As could be expected, both sides of the ideological divide conveniently interpreted her performance to the specific promotion of their own agendas.

Considering Eurovision 2016 had a worldwide viewing audience of 200,000,000, Russia, surely, can be expected to not just shrink quietly away from this fight.

 

No F*cking Way! Russia Cracks Down on Profanity in the Arts

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An Open Letter To Russia: 

Russia, you’re kind of losing favor in my book. I’m really going to have to think about cancelling my trip to you this summer to see my good friend Edward Snowden. Russia, first you locked up my favorite hot girl band that wears stocking caps, Pussy Riot (only to let them free right before the Olympics as a complete PR move), then, Russia, you marched in and invaded the Ukraine. And now you want to crack down on profanity in the arts.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

President Vladimir Putin signed a law that restricts the use of profanity in the arts, the latest move in a push to reinforce what the Kremlin calls traditional values in Russia.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, covers literature, theater, film and recorded music. It was opposed by some theater personalities, writers and performers, whose works will now have to be issued in special packaging indicating that they include profanities.

The law doesn’t spell out specifically what constitutes “foul language” but sets fines for its use in works of art ranging from 2,000 rubles ($56) for individuals to as high as 100,000 rubles for legal entities. The law also restricts the public showing of films containing swearing.

What a bunch of bullshit, Russia! What’s more offensive: profanity or discriminating against homosexuals with your anti-gay laws? Russia, does enforcing “traditional values” mean turning back to the clocks to long bread lines and religious persecution as well?

Russia, you have a great history of profanity (and borscht as well); some your most prominent works of literature — as far back as the 19th century — include a rich vocabulary of curse words. Russia, you even have an incredibly rich and versatile swear sub-language called mat, which is based on four key stems: two denoting male and female genitalia, one denoting the act of copulation, and a word denoting a prostitute.

Russia, like most cultures, swearing is absolutely embedded in your language. No statute or bill can alter that.

With this new bill, I thank you Russia — for fueling a new generation of Russian punk bands who just wont give a fuck.

Manifesta 10 Set To Hit Russia This Summer, Despite Political Climate

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After previous stints in Rotterdam, Ljubljana, and San Sebastian, among other places, the Manifesta biennial is coming to the Russian city of St. Petersburg this summer. Curated by Kasper Konig, the event should be one to watch: Just think, a few months ago the main worry was about the country’s caveman-style legislation regarding the LGBT community. That was before chaos in the Ukraine and Russia’s ongoing takeover of Crimea, all of which set off a media frenzy about ‘the new Cold War.’ (All I can say is that I imagine getting a Russian visa will be even more entertaining than it normally is for American visitors).

No matter–organizers insist the show will go on, with a wealth of names including Thomas Hirschhorn, Vadim Fishkin, Elena Kovylina, Timur Novikov, and drag artist Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe (responsible for the excellently defaced portrait of Gorbachev above). Joanna Warsza is curating a public program that includes pieces by Ragnar Kjartansson, Slavs and Tatars, and others. A trio of painters will be shown in the Winter Palace: Nicole Eisenman (a stand-out of the last Whitney Biennial); Marlene Dumas; and Maria Lassnig (who currently has a solo at MoMA P.S.1). Perhaps to prick Putin’s backwards stance on alternative lifestyles, Dumas is contributing portraits of the likes of Oscar Wilde and Jean Genet (“notable cultural figures,” according to the press release, “whose achievements can be celebrated above their identification as homosexual men.”)

During a recent press release, Konig (who is based in Germany) reflected on the ongoing friction between Russia and the rest of the world. “In response to the comments I have received regarding the current geopolitical circumstances, I would like to stress that obviously I am very concerned with the escalating crisis, and because of it I do believe it is and should be our goal to continue to make MANIFESTA 10 happen,” he said. “It is itself a complex entity, to prompt its artists and its viewers to assume their own strong political positions, to pose questions and raise voices. To neglect and quit, would be a sign of resignation. There is vulnerability in this situation, but also a challenge and we shall have a courage to go on, a decision backed up by many Russian colleagues. It is upon us not to be influenced by prejudices against minorities or nationalist propaganda but to reject it. It is more important than ever to continue our work with courage and conviction for the local and international publics. As someone who has worked in many and various political climates and challenges, the experience tells me to stay calm and continue to work on the complexity and contradiction, that art has to offer and on how it can engage, and oppose the simplifications of our times. I support all efforts – both in art field and at large – in that direction, and I am sure that the presence of critical contemporary art in Hermitage and in the city will contribute to pluralistic and healthy debate on for complexity, and artists’ beauty.”

Visit the Manifesta 10 site for more information on what to expect from the biennial, which runs June 28 through October 31.

NEWS BITES: Polar Vortex, King Tut’s Penis, Loan Sharks, and the Olympics

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Russia Launches Security Clampdown for Winter Olympics

Even freeing Pussy Riot hasn’t stopped terrorist attacks in Russia. We’re a mere weeks before the Winter Olympics.

Seinfeld Teams With David

Larry David is once again teaming up with Jerry Seinfeld, this time on a “mystery project.”

Experts Mystified by King Tut’s Mummified Erect Penis

New study suggests the anomalies may have been attempts to make King Tut appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld.

4 Degrees in NYC Breaks 1896 Record

OK, it’s not funny anymore. Can the cold weather please go away?

Slain Slumlord Owed Over $1M to Loan Sharks

His partially burned body was found in a Great Neck, Long Island gas station garbage bin on Friday.

Michael Bay Storms Off Stage At CES

Transformer director Michael Bay had a blockbuster meltdown over a stuck teleprompter at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today.

All I Want For Christmas Is Free Pussy Riot

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Here’s an early gift: Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been released from prison. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova served two years in prison for staging a “a punk prayer” protest performance against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral. Their release was two months earlier than their sentence was scheduled to end.

Tolokonnikova shouted “Russia without Putin” following her release from a Siberian prison. Meanwhile, President Putin appears to be on his continuing PR extravaganza leading up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Just last week, oil baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky was also granted an early release early from prison for his role in criticizing Putin. Holy PR spin! All Putin has to do now is retract his statements/policies on gays and human rights abuse and we can all enjoy watching the bobsled team careen their way to the gold, guilt-free.

Which brings us to Duck Dynasty: The arrest of Pussy Riot had drawn international denunciation of Russia’s human rights record; the band members prosecution and relatively stiff sentences represented a brutal repression of free speech. Sure we’re outraged (but are we really surprised?) by the anti-gay comments from Duck Dynasty reality star Phil Robertson. (It’s a reality show and he was giving us a real taste of his reality.) Should we take the side of American’s right to the First Amendment or should we wish he were locked up in a Siberian Gulag? We should be happy that we live in a country were complete fucking idiots have the right to speak their minds rather than be imprisoned. (Though in America, a hell of a lot of people are being fired from jobs for asinine things they post on Twitter.)

The members of Pussy Riot might think their release was a PR stunt, but hell, they should be very happy for this PR stunt rather, otherwise they’d be slaving away in a prison camp for expressing their views.

So, again, enjoy the Olympics.

Main image: masked supporters

God Save the Queens: Star-Studded Benefit for Russia’s LGBT Community

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The new Secretary of State at the Vatican, Pietro Parolin, said the other day that the subject of celibacy within the church is open to discussion. Responding to a question during an interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the man regarded as "the most powerful official at the Vatican after the pontiff," said, "Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss [it] because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church."

"The efforts that the church made to keep ecclesiastical celibacy, to impose ecclesiastical celibacy, have to be taken into consideration," added the 58-year-old prelate from Italy. "One cannot say simply that this belongs in the past." (Now if i can only get this guy to talk to my girlfriend.)

The world is changing. Amid the usual doom and gloom, skirmishes, war and all the tragedy our media shows us, there are movements forward. I was the best man at a wedding between two women the other day. Rights and fair play are at least discussed. Society is more forgiving. Lindsay Lohan will get another chance. And we almost forgave Weiner and Spitzer—which is destined to be a talk show…OMG a reality show! How fun!

But then we have Russia. Vladimir Putin—who looks like the gayest man alive in every photo I’ve seen him in—is leading a regime of oppression against LGBT citizens of his beloved homeland. An event to raise awareness and loot to support our oppressed friends over there entitled "God Save the Queens" will light up XL Nightclub on Saturday night beginning at 7pm.

Lyle Derek and Noah Valentyn have put this shindig together and they should be rewarded for their efforts. By all means attend and tell everyone you know about it. Things can be done! I mean is any gay bar or club selling Stoli anymore? Shouldn’t all the clubs take a stand on this? I say fuck ’em in the wallets…It always works with my girlfriend.

A star-studded benefit for Russia’s LGBT community, God Save the Queens! To Moscow, With Love, will feature performances by Katrina Darling, Joey Arias, Miss Guy, Sherry Vine, Mistress Formika, Tina Burner, Dallas DuBois, Maddelynn Hatter, Michael Cavadias and Cher Noble.

Miss Guy will also DJ. I am assured there will be some surprises as well. It’s $20 at the door, shows at 7:30 and 9:30. The gala is hosted by Mudhoney Salon and Any Old Iron. Your door dollars will benefit the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, which is working to stop the violence in Russia.

Lyle sent me this:

Hi Friends:

I hope this finds you well. I am producing a party next Saturday that is a real labor of love! This party is supporting a friend’s organization called the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance which is working on the sad situation in Russia for our LGBT brothers and sisters.

Of all my events over the years I am so proud of this one. And it really needs your support and I would love it if you could join us and get tickets for this wonderful group who are taking direct action. Let’s all come together on this night and celebrate and send Moscow lots of love!

I would truly appreciate it if you would get tickets to this one and if you cannot go please spread this around on Facebook and emails, etc. Let’s show Russia some real New York love!

And the show is one of the most exciting NY line ups in ages—and we have some real surprises in store too! I hope to see you there and share a Pink Russian with you!

xoxox

Lyle

I had a chance to ask Lyle some questions.

What is the situation for LGBT people in Russia?

We have spoken to some of the queens in Russia and as we all know, it is rough for them, but they have a thriving gay scene and drag scene despite it all. Russians are a very strong and resilient people, but I am by no means an expert on this issue. Like many, I am just concerned and this is a sad state in this day and age. We have come so far and had such a great year here and it’s like the dark ages there.

What do you hope to accomplish with this event?

We hope to raise awareness for the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, and some funds would be great too. They are friends of ours and we want to help them. They are from Russia and working in Washington now on this issue directly. They will be at our event Saturday and will speak about what is going on and they know much more about what is going on than I do, so we hope everyone comes, we all get the facts and the night makes an impact.

What is going to happen at the event?

"God Save the Queens" is really a drag spectacular with Mistress Formika doing a rare drag appearance. We have the legendary Joey Arias and Sherry Vine and many more who will do numbers in the theme and spirit of our event. The scandalous Katrina Darling who ruffled the real queens’ feathers last year with her Playboy spread will open the show with a sexy burlesque number and Miss Guy is going to close the night with his new track "God Save New York," which he did with Debbie Harry.

Are you excited about doing this at XL?

Doing this at XL made so much sense as they are the epicenter of gay culture and are doing it with such class. A lot of venues wanted this show but XL at The Out Hotel just made perfect sense to us and we will be doing another God Save the Queens right before the Olympics and in London and Los Angeles to continue to help the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. The one thing this is doing is bringing the global LGBT community together and that is good. It’s going to just grow before the Olympics.

Is there hope?

Of course there is always hope. Look at the great year we had with the Supreme Court. It was a long road to that victory. And Russia will be next.

What do you feel is appropriate regarding the Olympics in Russia? A ban? A boycott of advertisers? An armband of solidarity?

We need to take our anger to the Olympic Committee and the government, not companies that have nothing to do with Putin or his policies. I think the blogger Dan Savage was very irresponsible by putting false information about Stoli out there and started this boycott. All of our performers find that a waste of time and Stoli has been supportive of LGBT events for decades and continue to be. We should all stand together, not have this animosity for folks who our on our side.

Are Russian gays eligible for political amnesty in the USA?

I am not sure if they are, but after Russia took in Edward Snowden, I hope our country would welcome the queens from Russia. Gays never give up secrets.

Get "God Save the Queens" tickets here!

 

image of Joey Arias via

$50 Million Belgian Diamond Heist Needs to Become a Movie Right Away

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Stop, I don’t even care how this one ends. Just tell me that someone is getting to work on the research and copyright and various logistical preproduction tasks necessary to turn what happened at Brussels’ international airport last night into a blockbuster action flick starring—is Jean Reno still around? Jean Reno.

Listen to how daringly badass this was:

In a meticulously planned heist that took barely five minutes to execute, armed men disguised as police officers drove onto the tarmac at the international airport in Brussels Monday night and stole diamonds worth around $50 million as they were being loaded onto a plane bound for Switzerland, officials said.

Oh man. So you mean … ?

“This was not a random robbery. It was well-prepared—these were professionals,” said [a] spokeswoman, Anja Bijens, adding that the robbers had worn police uniforms and carried submachine guns. No shots were fired and no one was hurt.

Hell yes: top-tier professional thieves, flawless execution, millions in stolen goods—diamonds, for god’s sake! Who steals diamonds but a hopeless Hollywood-style romantic antihero? Right now we’d be in Act Two of this movie, when whoever was going to fence the gems tries to double-cross them, and the whole plan falls apart. I’d hate to be an innocent bystander on the streets of Antwerp when the high-octane chase scene goes down.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Russians Just Now Getting Angry About ‘Lolita’

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Our great frozen uneasy ally has got to be experiencing a fifty-year tape delay. I know it took a full decade after the publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita in France and the U.S. for a Russian translation to surface, but still: you’ve had the better part of a century to get upset about this. Why trash St. Petersburg’s Nabokov Museum now?

Well, if you’re part of the “St. Petersburg Cossacks,” a morality-obsessed but myopic right wing fringe group (hey, we have some of those too!), you might derange yourself into thinking that Nabokov was defending pedophiles. Or was one himself. Or is, at this moment, a pedophile ghost. The various attacks are all rather confusing:

A report from January 10th stated that “A lone vandal broke a museum window with a bottle on Wednesday night, escaping unhindered. A note stashed in the bottle threatened the museum with ‘God’s wrath.’”

Pretty sure God punished Nabokov when he allowed Knopf to print The Original of Laura. Hiyo! I just slammed a dead guy for the quality of his unfinished, posthumously published novel, and it felt great. Got a hunch that these criminals are just book reviewers who ran out of cutting barbs. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter