Mention "Svetlana" at any one of the big international gay circuit parties and, chances are, if the person you're speaking to hasn't been to one of her notorious after-parties, they'll at least know her name. The Siberian-born socialite has made a reputation for herself hosting sex parties around the world, usually following big club events when ten, 20 or more guys will take over a rented apartment and have sex until – well, whenever they feel like stopping.
Svetlana – who's a cisgender woman, and clearly rather open-minded sexually – discovered her fascination with gay sex when she found herself in a gay club in Vauxhall in 2001 after a straight couple she was visiting in London cancelled on her. Walking in, the first thing she saw was two gay men kissing on the dance floor. One night, she ended up going home with two guys. There, she watched them have sex, and her eyes were opened to a new world of sexual exploration.
While she's attended iconic gay fetish events like HustlaBall, one party has always evaded her reach: Snax at Berghain, the men-only event held twice a year at Berlin’s most notorious club. Until now.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VICE: Snax is the holy grail of gay sex clubs.
Svetlana: I always wanted to go. I opened a Snax group on Facebook when I was really desperate and tried to get in contact with the organisers. [My friends know some people who work there], but they said forget about it, there's no way I'm going in.
Tell me about your makeover to look like a man.
About ten days before, I thought, 'Shit, I'm really going. I have to wear something and look like a man.' I ordered a wig and a beard made from real hair for €150 each. One of the guys on the Facebook group told me about a trans store in Amsterdam that specialises in gender change items for women to men, men to women. They had prosthetic cocks and vests to hide the tits.
I called the shop and they said they had a cock, but it wasn't coated – a coated one looks more realistic. Delivery to arrive to me in Paris in time for Snax had to be on a corporate courier account, so I contacted my friends in Amsterdam who might be travelling to Berlin. It took me seven hours, but I eventually found somebody. Now, not joking, his name is Jesus! So Jesus was going to bring my cock to Berlin from Amsterdam for Easter!
That's a lot of expense to get into a club.
I was shopping online to see how much it would cost me if I [bought it all in Berlin]: the leather jacket, the boots, the trousers, jockstrap, gloves – €1,400! Then the makeup lady for the wig and beard wanted €780. It was too expensive. So I contacted all my friends who were travelling to Berlin to [lend me] clothes.
That's a lot of planning.
Yes. But then I realised the vest wasn't going to be delivered in time, so I had to buy some bandages from the pharmacy to wrap around my tits. It hurt so much at first, but after 15 minutes it was OK. I didn't realise the wig needed a few weeks to deliver, as it was custom-made. I was running around to shops trying to find something, but nothing looked suitable. It was all cheap synthetic stuff for women.
You can't wear a plastic wig to Snax.
No! So I bought a black leather mask to wear over my face instead.
On the night, my friends and I got together at the apartment we rented in Kreuzberg. We were getting ready and applied the beard with the glue. A friend trimmed the beard for me, and it looked good. But I thought, 'If they ask me to remove the mask, I'm fucked.' Then a friend arrived wearing his hair up in a bun, and I thought, 'Fuck it, I can do the same, [wear my hair in a bun and not wear a mask]. I'll just have to look the security straight in the eyes, hand them the ticket, open my bag for them to look inside and it will be fine.'
The fake cock was in your trousers?
Yes, it was fixed under my underwear.
Were you nervous in the queue?
No, I was fine. I was smoking, talking to the other people, changing my voice a little lower.
Did anybody guess you were a woman?
No, nobody. I queued for about 45 minutes, got to the entrance and they let me straight in. No problem.
When you walked into the club, what were you thinking?
I went through the entrance into this huge space near the cloakroom where the guys were changing. I ran into a Russian friend, Igor, who gave me a tour of the club. I was quite curious as we passed the dark rooms. The tension, the sexual energy, it was what I expected! The music was outrageous – you cannot find this music anywhere.
How would you describe Snax to somebody who's never been?
It's guys from around the world who come to fuck for 20 hours. I was trying to explain to my mother: it can be rain, it can be cold, they might queue for three hours just to get inside, and nothing's going to stop them.
What do you like about watching gay men fucking?
The energy, the tension. When it's a woman having sex, you never know – when she's doing something with her man – whether she really likes it. The guys, they do what they like. If they don't like it, they won't do it.
So you were in there for a few hours, taking it all in, then your night ended with you being asked to leave when security realised you were a woman, right?
I said to the guys, "Let's go walk around." As we were passing I saw a friend and grabbed him by the hand. He looked at me and pushed me away, hard. I was like, "What the fuck, it's me Svetlana!" Then he recognised me and freaked out, shouting my name out loud to his friends, excited. That was it.
Security heard him?
Yes. I think they are aware of me from the Facebook group. The guard took my hand and said I had to go out. I said, "Why?" He said women are not allowed. They were all super nice to me. He said, "How did you get inside?" I said, "Like everybody." He's like, "How long you been inside?" I was like, "Three hours." Then three other guys came down to look at me. The most important lesson I got from this is: nothing is impossible. I made it. The whole experience, even if I didn't get in and I was turned away on the door, it was the whole journey and how much my friends wanted me to be there with them.