three pairs of lovers with space

RUSSIA IN BOYS FOR SALE

 

The following is from Boys for Sale. A Sociological Study of Boy Prostitution by Dennis Drew & Jonathan Drake, New York, 1969, pp. 89-91.

 

RUSSIA

Theoretically, there is now no prostitution in the Soviet Union. During the Bolshevik Revolution, boy-love and other forms of sexual activity were winked at. Immediately afterwards, the “free love” period radically changed the Russian sexual climate.

Earlier, boy prostitution was quite common in the big cities and in Muslim areas and summer resorts. It has been suggested that the way the sons of the poor were “used” was a major grievance of the poor people against the rich nobility. Especially handsome youngsters were impressed into service at resort hotels where they became bell-boys and grooms with prostitution thrown in as part of their job. They were instructed to “Do whatever is required by guests for their pleasure and comfort.”

Four Boys by Alexander Ivanov, 19th century

In the Caucasus, Middle Eastern customs prevailed with lustboys openly flaunting their charms at hotels and baths, according to Bernard Stern in Geschichte der öffentlichen Sittlichkeit in Russland, (1907).[1] There were brothels with boys only and those with both women and boys. The latter were designed, not so much for choice, but for customers who wished both at once in a variety of ways.

Anti-semitism often took cruel forms in Russia, and one of them, as in North Africa, was the rape of Jewish boys as the first step in forcing them into a life of prostitution. Stern says that Jewish boys, especially those separated from their families, were commonly handed over to pimps for exploitation.[2] If an orphan Jewish boy was lucky, the authorities placed him as a bell-boy in a resort hotel; if unlucky, the records showed that they sent him to an orphanage but the “orphanage” was really a brothel. There was a popular poem or song which sang of obscene pleasures. It went: “Nothing is so delightful during intercourse as the feel of a Jewish tongue on the anus.”

Stern records a number of such songs and poems as popular “folk culture.” It is more likely, however, that they were songs and poems recited by youngsters to arouse their guests in the brothels.

When the cock is full of beer
Better stick it in the rear,
This throbbing cock so gay and bold,
Don’t keep it out there in the cold.

Stern says that young schoolboys also sang songs like these and gives examples.

In St. Petersburg, there was traffic between upper class men and ballet boys. A wealthy man often was a “patron” to a youngster at ballet school, sponsoring him and paying his fees in exchange for sexual favors. But this was hardly prostitution any more than the sexual intercourse between master and servants in wealthy households.

There were agents who procured such boys for brothels and hotels, and as servants. Some even arranged special “Greek love” liaisons. These men were pretty much the same. They were called “shellfish dealers.”(We are not sure just why.)

During the pogroms, when all Jewish families were forced to leave Moscow, they found that educational opportunities for their sons were non-existent. Some ambitious Jews, anxious to secure education for their offspring in spite of the difficulties, bribed officials to allow their youngsters to remain in Moscow boarding schools to complete at least high school. These boys were then cynically made available to the older boys and to the staff of the school. They had no other recourse. They could not complain to their parents of this forced, amateur prostitution. Ironically and cruelly, no matter how hard they worked at their studies, when they graduated, these boys were usually presented at graduation exercises with a certificate qualifying them as male prostitutes instead of the diploma for which they’d worked so zealously. The better looking boys were then sent to brothels while others, rather than face their families after their lives of shame, committed suicide.

 

[1] See the article on this website, “Greek love in modern Russia”, for a full quotation of what the book referred to actually said. The Caucasus was indeed part of Russia when Stern was writing, but it had not been so for long, nor was the southern part, where Greek love was most common, to remain so beyond 1917.

[2] There is nothing about Jewish boys in the book by Stern already cited, Geschichte der öffentlichen Sittlichkeit in Russland, so this must come from another of his many books.