Western capitalism should be scared. A guy you don't fuck with is after it. Meet Stas Baretsky, a 400-pound scar-faced bald-headed Russian gravedigger-turned-singer.
He doesn't just hate every Western product, he is serious about curing his fellow citizens from their unfortunate love for imported cars, gadgets, clothes, and US dollars by his own example.
Baretsky, 43, comes from a town of Lomonosov, not far from Saint Petersburg. He spent most of the 1990s—as they are often referred to in Russia, "the bandit 1990s"—working as a gravedigger and a security guard at an open-air food market and later tried—unsuccessfully—to run a café and a food store.
In the early 2000s he recorded two albums of his songs in a genre that he called "turbo chanson."
He never explained what exactly "turbo chanson" meant, but his material is apparently a mix of cheesy disco music and lyrics about vodka, women, and criminal activities, generously spiked with profanities.
The titles of his first two albums, Censorship and Censorship 2 apparently suggested that the material would have never passed any censorship—had there been any.
The records didn't bring Baretsky to stardom, but introduced him to the Saint Petersburg indie music scene. A bunch of local acts—from the notorious band Leningrad to the underground electronics duo Yolochnye Igrushky (Christmas Tree Decorations)—invited him as a guest singer, or, more often, stage presence at live shows.
Baretsky's favorite act on stage was tearing a beer can with his teeth—some of which are metal fakes—and splashing himself with beer.
Later, beer-can tearing became Baretsky's trademark trick, which he has performed for various purposes. In this video, he does it, as he explains, to endorse a sex shop called Rozovy Krolik (Pink Rabbit).
His other way of entertaining himself is to start fights on talk shows where he is often invited apparently just for that. On one talk show, devoted to how poor music screws up peoples' tastes, Baretsky called has-been rapper Bogdan Titomir "shit,” but his attempt to beat him up wasn't exactly successful.
"I'm not afraid of anyone and I go into a fight without a problem," he later explained his credo in an interview. "And I don't protect my face."
Earlier this year, Baretsky launched his crusade against Western products—which strangely resonated with the government's anti-Western rhetoric.
Baretsky, who looks exactly like a caricature 1990s Russian criminal, insists that imported goods are shit and by buying them, Russians support Western capitalism, so they should switch to homemade stuff.
A couple months ago, he broke an iPhone and a Samsung tablet at a Saint Petersburg store and tore a pair of underwear in an open-air market.
Baretsky also attacked Western music, calling on Russians to listen to local acts instead. To prove he is serious, he destroyed a Beatles CD after lecturing a street musician that he has to sing songs in the Russian language rather than English.
In his hatred for everything Western, the singer went as far as burning US dollars, claiming to have destroyed as much as $20,000, although, judging by the video, the amount was probably smaller.
Some media later reported that the dollars he burned were actually fake, a claim that Baretsky never bothered to deny.
His anti-Western crusade has brought Baretsky quite a bit of media attention, probably even more than his songs.
In his most recent stunt, he made good on a promise he made to burn down his BMW and switch to a locally-made Zhiguly in a bid to promote "import substitution," an idea heavily promoted by the government as relations between Russia and the West soured.
Baretsky drove his BMW into a Saint Petersburg suburb, where some people had already gathered for the show, and, as they cheered him on, he poured gasoline on the care and stroke a match, nearly burning himself in the process.
"I made this promise and I delivered on it," he proudly announced, reminding those who lived in Russia in the 1990s of that period's criminal saying: "What the guy said is what the guy did."