A huge candle-lit space in a former Soviet chocolate factory. Oblong tables draped in white silk. Men and women in Prada and Gucci. In Moscow, access is everything. To get into the factory, you have to get past three different squads of lumberjacks in too-small suits. Scanning with white spatulas, mumbling into invisible devices, checking data on laptops, they know where you were born, where you went to college, and you haven’t told them a thing. They know you. My floor-length Azzedine Alaïa leaves little room for concealment, but spatulas roam, voices whisper, and I am granted entry.
The evening’s main attraction, a dinner-time performance tableau engineered by the artist Aaron Young, takes place outdoors: a dozen motorcycles acrobatically burn rubber for 30 minutes on white oak flooring, producing a mechanized Jackson Pollock. Smoke hangs in the air. The riders pump their fists. The elegant crowd cheers from balconies. I don’t remember much more about the event.
When it’s over, I take my designated seat at the end of a long table across from a pudgy white-haired guy. Out of the blue, he leans in conspiratorially, speaking with a thick Russian accent, “Want to know something? Since I mostly drunk and I prefer tell my secrets to beautiful women.”
“Uhm, sure. Go ahead.”
“This is big, big secret. Are you ready for that kind of secret? Really big. One so big that you never see world same way again after you hear it?”
“I’m certain,” I say, though I’m far from certain. Something about this guy’s eyes make him seem belligerent enough to have been very violent and very powerful in the past. I doubt he’ll lie.
He studies the ridges in the tablecloth, organizes his plate and cutlery, and leans in again.
“Okay. There this thing called the Lesbian Commission. You never hear of it. Top, top, top secret. Even Andropov, head of K.G.B., Gensec, he never hear of it. It first meet in 1967 on Greek island. This where name come from. It a group of dissident K.G.B. and C.I.A. Some from each side. Each for own reasons, and this a different, long, different story. Anyway, these guys do not like what happens in United States. Marches, riots, angry women, angry blacks, angry gays, music, hair, drugs, all of it. You know, all of it, everything. The decadence. Now you probably think, you, as American, that Russians behind all this, support social unrest in America. Not true. In particular, Russian Lesbians really angry about these things. They decide decadence and moral decay in America will spread around world and they want it to,” he makes a quick chopping motion with his hand, “stop. Like Malcolm X say, ‘by any means necessary.’ Even if it mean working with enemy. With C.I.A.”
He nods and leans back. “So what happen?”
“Yes, what happened?”
“Well, it start in 1968. Lesbians use K.G.B.-C.I.A. network of informants, agents, double agents. They begin targeted campaign. Targeted campaign of what you might call ‘quiet assassination.’”
I think to myself that this is where the conversation needs to end. This is the kind of thing that gets you pulled into a room at passport control and sent to prison. But I keep listening.
“It start with political figures but go out of control immediately. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, some Black Panthers, okay, these make sense, but then they spread. More easy to get pop stars; bigger impact with youth. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison in Paris, Brian Jones from Rolling Stones. Strange side note: Lesbians read article in Rolling Stone say Badfinger next Beatles, so they neutralize their singer too. You never wonder why all these pop stars die from ’69 to ’79? And it never happen again? No one from U2 die. No one from R.E.M. die. Britney Spears and Jay-Z doing fine. Any Spice Girl die? Not that I know. ZZ Top? Aerosmith? I see them last night on VH1. What happen is when Nixon and Brezhnev meet in ’74, they find out from each other, it a big secret, that Lesbians do all this. It a big problem, as you imagine, because it make C.I.A. look bad. Make Nixon look very bad. C.I.A. and Nixon have enough problems. So they agree to eliminate everything, everything, about this from all files. In next five years, K.G.B. and C.I.A. ‘deaccession’ all Lesbians. Elvis, Keith Moon from The Who, Bonzo Bonham from Zeppelin, Bon Scott, Sid Vicious: last big Lesbian operations. Go out with bang. Then they shut down. End of story. Big, big secret. You see?”
“John Lennon, too?”
“No. That some sick nut.”
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