Sexologist, sex shop workers, organizer of fetish / BDSM parties and shibari instructor, swinger, founder of the first hotel for role-playing games - the UNIAN correspondent talked to all these people, asking one question: is sex one of the most taboo topics in Ukrainian society?
The good news is that the trend of sexual emancipation in Ukraine is indeed observed. Moreover, the trend is the topic of sex education. Society is showing increasing interest in the topic of sexual relations and reproductive health. Free online courses appear, thematic round tables and numerous lectures from sexologists and sex therapists are organized.
Sexologist Yuliana Tolkacheva says that today the people of Kiev are showing great interest in lectures on the peculiarities of physiology, on how to please a partner. “This is very cool, I hope that this culture of maintaining relations and interaction will continue to develop,” she notes. Tolkacheva is a co-owner of two metropolitan establishments with a sexual and educational mission - the BDSM-style hookah bar The cage and the Sex.Ed.Coffe art cafe, which regularly organizes lectures by sexologists. The art cafe is located in the basement, the walls are decorated with paintings of erotic content, and the menu uses thematic names ("oral pleasures", "tea caresses", etc.).
The sexologist believes that Ukrainians, in general, have begun to monitor their sexual health more and more often seek advice. “Sexology began to“sound”more often and more. People realized that there are specialists who can be contacted. And there are more specialists - there is a choice. If one specialist has not solved the problem and the task, then you can turn to the next one,”she says. The bad news is that our people still don't know how to talk about sex. The request "how to talk with a partner about sex" is in the first place at the consultations of Yuliana Tolkacheva. This is a response from the Soviet past, because, as we all remember, there was “no sex” in the Soviet Union.
And even though the USSR collapsed more than a quarter of a century ago, many remain hostages of the prejudices of that time. After all, there was no government policy, and nothing was done for public sexuality education. People of the age, for the most part, do not even know how to calmly name intimate organs. Even young people born in independent Ukraine have enough sexual taboos associated with a lack of sex education (their parents prefer not to raise the topic of sexuality in conversations).
They are fueled by myths about sex and many far-fetched prohibitions that arose long ago due to religious dogmas. “My favorite myth is that sex is dirty. Fortunately, this myth has already begun to collapse. With all my activities, I constantly try to show that everything is in order with sex, and that we make it spiritual or immoral,”says Yuliana Tolkacheva. Nevertheless, according to the sexologist, women still often ask her, they say, on which date sex is already possible. Someone believes that they are obliged to keep their virginity until the wedding. Someone is convinced that during intimacy with a partner one cannot be frank, otherwise they will think "how many men she went over before me - a fallen woman."
Many are still unable to tell their partner about their sexual preferences and desires. Men are especially embarrassed to go to a sex shop, because “they will think that I cannot cope myself”, “that I have problems” and so on.
For a vibrator, like a loaf
Alas, in our society there is still a conviction that sex shops are either for single ladies or for patients. For eight years now they have been dealing with the fight against such stereotypical beliefs in the First Sex Shop in Podil - Love Space. He destroys all stereotypical ideas about sex shops from the doorway. Instead of a small room from the 90s (the further existence of which, by the way, the co-founder of the project "First Love Space" Taras Krupa gives a maximum of several more years) we find ourselves in a fashionable erotic art space. Modern showroom, lecture hall with graffiti on the walls. Lots of free space. “When we were first created, my friend said: 'Oh, damn it, everything is smelly and substandard in these sex shops.' You can write that. This was the impression of all sex shops. It was important to change this reputation. And we have been working on this and are continuing,”Krupa recalls.
Love Space was created in 2010 as a classic sex shop. Then an online store appeared, and over time - a showroom. “But we realized that just selling toys is a bad idea. After all, sex is not only a mechanic. Sex is about communication, about what happens between people. And sexual evolution is impossible without knowledge, as well as without practice,”says the administrator Alexandra Sayuk.
So, the idea of transformations appeared. They started with erotic art exhibitions, then began to conduct lectures on sex from lecturers and practitioners of different directions. Today there is a great demand for lectures on sexual health. A lecture on BDSM for beginners is also popular. “She is one of the most popular and most visited. It has to do with the movie, of course (Fifty Shades of Gray). Plus, this is a practical lecture,”says Sayuk (Love Space has a BDSM-equipped room). According to her, the whole point is that "it's a shame to talk about sex for satisfaction, but for education - not ashamed." “Five or six years ago, we would have been simply stoned if we had talked about such topics. But today sexuality education is a global trend that has come to Ukraine as well,”adds Taras Krupa.
The clients at First Love Space are very different. Of course, there are those who are embarrassed to say why they came. A "fun game" begins: "This is for me, well, this." Young people mainly go for lubricants and condoms. But they also often experiment - they buy anal toys or vibrators (they always check the documents of young people - they have no right to sell anything to minors here). Women go for vibrators or masturbators. Often couples come and buy something for two. Among them there are both experienced, who clearly understand what they need, and those who first come to lectures, and only then go shopping. “There are couples who come to our lectures and then say:“What fools we were all this time”. Then they come to see us regularly. I've seen such people often. By the way, this is our audience,”Taras emphasizes. According to Alexandra, it's also nice that the topic of sex has ceased to be a taboo for older people. “Women came to us, bought vibrators for themselves, were satisfied with the purchase and later bought vibrators for their mothers,” she says.
Love Space toys are the USA, Europe, high-quality China. Smart toys are very popular today. The application allows you to create vibrations yourself, control your voice, work at any distance, choose the power. Almost all paired toys work on applications: vibrators, masturbators, butt plugs. The world's most popular sex toy from this series is the We-Vibe. “In 2016, more than 4 million units were sold worldwide. We have thousands in Ukraine, but this is also normal. It is a steam room, for games at a distance, not by letters, as it used to be, and not by phone sex,”explains Taras Krupa.
There are no Ukrainian sex toys yet. But the guys say that, perhaps, a Ukrainian brand will appear in a year. But devices for BDSM are produced in Ukraine.Accessories "made in Kyiv" are even available in the local BDSM room. The guys emphasize: it is they - a team of eighteen people - who create the market demand for quality. They say that they are planning to open a branch, because they believe that Ukraine is still heading for a sexual revolution. “And it will happen when the word sex shop becomes, firstly, fashionable, and then - everyday. I think that in a year or so it will become fashionable,”says Taras Krupa.
No place for decency
Sexologist Yuliana Tolkacheva is convinced that one of the main problems of our society is the perception of sex exclusively as an animal act. At the same time, despite the fact that instincts and reflexes are really inherent in humans, our sexuality is still, to a greater extent, in the imagination. “They say that love lives for three years, but it is not. Hormones live for three years, falling in love, and love comes over the years. Relationships need to be worked on. There is nothing more unstable in life than relationships. The wrong pattern: you started a family, gave birth to children - that's it, you can calm down You need to take care of the relationship. Spending time together, going on a date, coming up with something interesting,”she says. Recently, it has become much easier for Kiev couples to come up with something interesting.
Handcuffs A hotel for role-playing games has been operating in the Ukrainian capital for just over half a year. “Let's imagine the everyday situation of an average Ukrainian family,” Olena Solovyova, founder of Cherry Twins, the first and only hotel in Ukraine for role-playing games, begins our conversation. - Two-room, three-room apartment, mom and dad, two children. As a rule, there will still be grandparents. We have to behave decently even at our own wedding. We cannot moan loudly, walk naked. This does not promote passion, trust, communication in a couple. " Cherry Twins is a different world in which there is no everyday life, and no one will break into you for sure. The hotel has seven rooms in the style of different erotic fantasies ("queen's boudoir", "Moorish harem", "torture room" and others).
Each room is very atmospheric, thought out to the smallest detail. You can choose from era to mood. Romantic rooms cost 1.5 thousand hryvnia for three hours (the minimum time of check-in at the hotel). BDSM rooms - 2 thousand. According to Elena Solovieva, everything is possible here, moreover, it is much easier to realize desires. After all, if, for example, romance at home can still be arranged, then BDSM in everyday conditions is difficult to implement. Firstly, the devices are not cheap (the price for a good flogger (lash) is from forty euros). Secondly, it is not so easy to store the kits at home (you need to store the same flogger in a hanging position). And, often, all this still needs to be hidden from children or other relatives.
The hotel does not ask guests for documents, except in cases where there are questions regarding their age (guests at Cherry Twins can be people at least eighteen). Phone number registration figures suggest that about half of the couples come to the hotel again. “Once they get in, people understand how fun and important it is to discover other facets in themselves and in a partner. Basically, this is a sexy Disneyland - Disneyland for adults,”says Elena Solovieva.
“This is the place for relationship sex therapy. When they arrive at a hotel, couples learn to trust each other. If we are talking about a couple who have not talked for ten years, our hotel will not help them, of course, a psychologist should work here. We're talking about a couple who have communication and sex life, but they want to diversify it,”she adds. Solovyova hopes to turn Cherry Twins into a chain of hotels: several in Kiev, plus, in cities with a million. In addition, it plans to open a sexology school.
“I would like to create a normal educational platform where the average couple can get answers to their questions without hesitation,” explains Elena.
To date, the hotel is already giving lectures on sexuality education.These activities, like the hotel itself, are focused mainly on couples. The audience is different. But, as a rule, intellectuals are 35+. Many return to lectures again. Topics about BDSM culture are especially popular. According to Elena Solovieva, there is nothing surprising in this. “We live with you in the BDSM subculture, the world is built on a culture of submission and domination. There is nothing strange about this being carried over to sex. Plus, if we are talking about some kind of sexual practices, then these - spanking, wax, shibari - are the most spectacular. It's beautiful and emotional,”she notes.
Yulia Vasilieva is an organizer of fetish / BDSM events in Ukraine and an instructor in shibari (the Japanese art of aesthetic bandage, - UNIAN).
The girl has been practicing Shibari for eleven years. When she first became interested in this art, in Ukraine, in principle, there was no information about it yet. Only a few English translations could be found (everything else was in Japanese). Therefore, we studied the photographs and tried to repeat at least somehow the picture visually. We began to collect people little by little. Shibari workshops took place mainly in Europe. “Shibari is part of this“scary”acronym for BDSM, which everyone gets very scared of. But, in fact, it's about trust, about caring. I would like to transfer control, to feel my body deeper,”explains Vasilyeva.
The girl comes from Kharkov, where she had a bondage studio, in which parties and shibari lessons were held on an ongoing basis. Now Yulia Vasilieva lives in Kiev, she does not have her own studio yet, but she plans to open it. In the meantime, halls are rented for group shibari classes, ropes and mats are brought, the place is "pumped up" with energy. By the way, against the background of the rest of Ukraine, Kiev and Kharkov are the most advanced regions in terms of the popularity of this Japanese art. Vasilyeva goes to teach shibari in other regions and says that in Dnipro this art is not represented at all, but in Poltava they are trying to develop it. Classes and shibari evenings are completely open. There is nothing illegal in them - there is no sex or pimping at such parties and meetings. You can always come just to see, there will be a desire - next time come with a partner and try.
“People are all individual. There are those for whom it is enough to imagine how it would be with him in order to feel whether something responds inside or not. Do you want to go to the experiment or immediately feel discomfort and you don’t need it,”says Yulia Vasilyeva. In the capital, for the most part, people aged 30+ are interested in shibari, who already have some depth of internal sexual experiences, and now they want something brighter. The younger people are less interested in such practices.
Usually, about two hundred people gather, there are always many of those who came for the first time. Julia is convinced that the principle of word of mouth works. “You can even not advertise. Some general trust is important, the new person must be sure that it will be safe there. And this feeling can only be given by a close person who will say: “Yes, it's great there, we were, everything is fine,” “she explains. Demonstration actions take place at parties - they choose masters who demonstrate various BDSM practices in order to better acquaint guests with the BDSM subculture. You can look and understand: yours is not yours. The top BDSM directions that are most interesting to Ukrainians today, according to Yulia Vasilyeva, are shibari, spanking (spanking on the buttocks) and femdom (when the roles are very clearly indicated: the upper woman and the lower man). One of the most common stereotypes, according to Vasilyeva, is "at a party I will force you to do something."
But this is not the case. Anyone can come as a guest and just watch. “I am absolutely against violence within myself. You don't need to carry BDSM to every home. And shibari too. For some it’s a thrill, but for others it’s not, this is normal,”she says.In general, BDSM is based on three pillars: voluntariness, safety and rationality. The organizers are always watching the action, there are guards at the parties. Even before the event, communicating with those wishing to come by phone, Vasilyeva always asks whether there was a guest before or not, why he wants to go, etc.
“From time to time people confuse us with a swinger party, but we don't have sex at parties. Full nudity is also prohibited - we enjoy themed treats. But even if people confuse something, there is nothing wrong with that, we just tell them about it at the party. We had no problems with inadequacy,”she says. Vasilyeva notes that Kiev, of course, is still far from the conditional Berlin, but the situation is definitely improving. Moreover, in her opinion, it is much more correct for us to go at our own pace and not try to chase after European parties. In general, interest in BDSM among Ukrainians is actively growing: characteristic clips appear, latex appears in fashion trends. Six months ago, an erotic showroom S39 was opened in Kiev, specializing in handmade leather accessories in the direction of BDSM. Its founder Konstantin Savvopulo started out as a nude photographer. This project is a continuation of his work.
Domineering woman Savvopulo notes that those who decide to purchase leather handcuffs or percussion elements will not be able to find quality accessories so easily in one place. And here they present a unique product, both in terms of fixation options and in the design itself. However, such accessories can be worn over clothing; this does not have to be a fetish attribute. And, in general, the guys say, they say, they want to go into fashion more than just selling erotic toys. So far, for the most part, the showroom works for a foreign audience - the bulk of S39's clients are from the USA and Europe. This is due not only to the low culture of sexual emancipation among Ukrainians, but also to the high cost of products. However, according to Savvopulo, their main idea today is to inspire people not so much to buy an accessory as to talk about their relationship with a partner. “We want the paraphernalia presented here, firstly, not to frighten people, and, secondly, to make it possible to diversify relations. Or at least it was just an excuse for a conversation,”he says.
Sexologist Yuliana Tolkacheva also notes how important it is to learn to talk, to enjoy life and communication, in particular, with yourself. “It's very important to be honest with yourself. If a couple wanted something new, then it is not necessary to run to a swing club tomorrow. The emotional charge can be very strong, it can shake the relationship. I recommend that you move very carefully together - learning new things should bring the couple closer, and not be a side effect,”she says. It should be noted, however, that it is not very easy to "run to a swing club" in our country.
When the third is not at all superfluous
Sexologist Nelly Verkhovskaya, who practices swing herself, says that only people with very low demands, who come to get at least some intimate contact, no matter with whom and of what quality, are delighted with Ukrainian "swinger clubs". “Swing is not only an exchange of couples, it is sometimes an invitation to your bed for a man or a woman for a threesome party. This is group sex for four, and a party in large numbers,”says Verkhovskaya. According to her, the swing situation in the country has improved in recent years. And, probably, this is nevertheless connected with an increase in general welfare: “This is, after all, a superstructure over basic needs. When a person has these needs satisfied, he wants something else. That is, we can say, despite the fact that the Internet is teeming, "oh, how sad everything is," the welfare of Ukrainians has improved. " The most important problem in domestic swing, characteristic not only for Ukraine, but for the entire post-Soviet space, is the search and selection of adequate partners.
“The average intelligent couple who would like to diversify their sex life usually opens the Internet, scores the word 'swing' in a search and looks at offers. There are two types of offers: partners, who declare themselves, and swingers clubs, which invite participants to their place,”says Nelly Verkhovskaya.
In her experience, our so-called swinger clubs are ordinary illegal private parties. “Some people declare themselves organizers, post announcements, most often, in social networks:“couples, singles, young people, girls are invited to the swing club”. And they put up a price for the service of this "swing club", - she explains. The entrance ticket price varies from 500 to 3 thousand hryvnia (prices are relevant for all major cities of Ukraine), depending on whether the person comes alone, with a couple or one girl. For girls, according to Verkhovskaya, admission is often free. Discounts are available for the couple. The most expensive ticket is for a single man. At the same time, paying for admission is not a guarantee that a person will actually get sex. It's just an opportunity to attend “These organizers are just doing business. They don't give a damn about the quality of their partners. Most often, a potential candidate is asked only for age and asked to send a photo. In none of the so-called swingers club that I came across (and I came across a lot of them), there is no selection by the size of the penis. And no matter what fairy tales are told, the size of the partner's intimate organs in sex is important,”she says.
Verkhovskaya is convinced that it is best to look for partners on your own. “If we explain it using the example of that conditional intelligent couple, then I recommend posting an ad on the social network:“we are a couple, we have such and such an age, we invite you to be friends.” Of course, they will receive up to a hundred letters a day from those who are inadequate, but sooner or later they will be able to individually choose a partner,”the sexologist notes.
“Think. It's sexy now,”says the protagonist of the famous TV series about London's most famous detective through the lips of actor Benedict Cumberbatch. And we would add: think and speak. Do not be afraid to talk about sex, to voice your desires, there is nothing shameful about it. The sexual revolution in Ukraine has already begun. And let her not move by leaps and bounds (after all, everything starts small - with a read article or listened to a lecture). And progress is already visible.