At a training school in Moscow, rows of serious blonde girls take careful notes. Paying thousands of dollars a week, these young women are here to learn from the best in the business; a forty-something-year-old redhead with a psychology degree and an MBA. Their timetables list ‘business theory’, ‘research’ and ‘principles’ classes; a full schedule of lessons to ensure they are employable in their chosen occupation.
These women attend Oliona’s Training School, one of the many academies in Moscow where young Russian ladies learn the precise tactics of being a successful ‘gold digger,’ an up-and-coming lifestyle for many of Russia’s most beautiful women.
“Never wear jewellery on a first date,” they’re instructed. “The man should think you’re poor. Make him want to buy you jewellery.”
“Squeeze your vagina muscles. Yes, your vaginal muscles. This will make your pupils dilate, making you more attractive,” the teacher says matter-of-factly as the girls quickly take notes.
London-based television producer Peter Pomerantsev went undercover in Russia to reveal the country’s weaponisation of information, culture and money for his latest book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. What he discovered was a world where young women see ‘gold digging’ – or ‘escorting’ – as a serious money-making business.
And it’s a an industry that continues to grow in popularity as Moscow is once again named the billionaire capital of the world — with 84 of the world’s richest calling Russia’s most populous city home, according to Forbes.
In Russia, escorting is not a career to be ashamed of. Many of the girls Pomerantsev interviewed felt empowered and voluntarily shared their unique story with him and the world – something he was not anticipating.
Russian women continue to have difficulty finding employment, so some women feel this is their only choice. Many employers don’t want to hire women as they believe that their work will be hindered by family duties. For those who are ‘lucky enough’ to find employment, their average wage tends to be 60 percent less than a man’s salary, Human Rights House reports.