Sochi’s only gay bar is overrun by reporters, who won’t let Russians just sit down and have a damn drink while gay.
On Saturday night, I decided to check it out, along with friends who work for The Guardian, TIME, and The Independent. A flock of AP reporters was already there, enjoying mojitos. In the hallway, a TV reporter was interviewing two girls in leopardware on camera. Nearby, a Danish TV reporter named Matilda told me she was interested in doing a story “that isn’t victimized.” It was an important story because “gay rights are a big issue in Europe.” The bar owner, she said, was busy giving interviews in a private room. “We called last week to schedule an interview and we got 15 minutes between the Finns and the Swiss.” Her local fixer tapped me on the shoulder. “There are three more journalists sitting next to her,” he said. But, he explained, they were Russian correspondents. “They’re confused,” he said. “They don’t know what to do, professionally.”
“We’ve given over 200 interviews in the last month,” says Mayak owner Andrey Tanichev. Every country has sent its correspondents, he says, “except the Spanish, God bless them.” The Americans have sent the most reporters, but the BBC has set a record: they came by four times.
Where have I head this before? Oh, yes . . . in Ishmaelia:
The bunch now overflowed the hotel. There were close on fifty of them. All over the lounge and dining-room they sat and stood and leaned; some whispered to one another in what they took to be secrecy; others exchanged chaff and gin …
“What are you all here for?” asked Corker petulantly of a newcomer. “What’s come over them at home? What’s supposed to be going on, anyway?”
“It’s ideological. And we’re only half of it. There’s twenty more at the coast who couldn’t get on the train. Weren’t they sick at seeing us go? It’s lousy on the coast.”
“It’s lousy here.”
“Yes, I see what you mean . . . “
From Evelyn Waugh’s monstrously hilarious, not-entirely-brutal satirical novel Scoop, wherein the wrong John Boot accidentally gets sent to the front lines of what may or may not be an important war, depending on where the all the reporters end up.
Unproceed Sochiward, folks. And take your cleft sticks with you.