The History of Sex: Prague -- 'I Don't Do Porn' -- (Chapter X, Part 32)

But John's unimpressed.

One woman in particular is an affront to his aesthetics: a blonde with collagen injections and perfectly formed fake breasts.

'She's plastic,' he frowns. 'I like my girls fresh off the farm. Ohhhh naturell.'

The Goldfingers logo

He perks up, though, as a black-haired girl with dark eyes and caramel skin returns to the stage.

She's got the mischievous, dimpled grin of the girl next door—the cheeky tomboy you played with as a kid—but the body of a woman who's all grown-up now.

John's sure she's aiming her seductive charms right at him. 'She knows me. Her name's Adriana. I met her two weeks ago through Tarra White—'

—the star of Dude, Your Girlfriend Is In a Porno! 3 and Meet the Fuckers 5, in case you're wondering—

'—she was trying to convince her to do porn, but I told her not to. If a girl has never done porn, I tell her it'll fuck up her life. No man will want her, so she won't be able to have children. Czech girls don't always realize the consequences.'

That doesn't sound like the John I know, but Adriana does seem to recognize him as she trawls the tables afterwards offering lap dances.

She confirms to him that she doesn't do porn. She may dress up like a nun, strip to a Gregorian chant, writhe around onstage and finger another dancer while engaging in simulated or actual oral sex, but she definitely doesn't do porn. 'I have a boyfriend.'

'Does he mind you doing this?'

Adriana's surprised that I should ask. 'No. We're getting married next year.'

John seems somewhat embarrassed as he escorts me and my faux paus out of the club.

'Czech men don't mind their girlfriends doing this,' he explains. 'But for us Westerners, it's different.' 

* * *

The History of Sex: Prague -- Another Kind of Christmas Market -- (Chapter X, Part 31)

Sure enough, the basement theatre of the Alhambra still exists, attached to a hotel and casino, but it's been overshadowed by the flashier name of Goldfingers.

I'm probably more excited than I should be to set foot in a club where I know Cold War spies used to get their kicks—I'll bet even Che Guevara whored here—but my American guide doesn't really know or care about the history.

He's never been here before, having assumed that it's just like any other strip club.

'Most of my clients when they come to Prague want stinkfingers; not Goldfingers—know what I mean?'

In that case, maybe they should sample some fried carp, a Christmas delicacy here.

Outside, the Yuletide market has been shuttered for the evening, but its tree is shining and Johnny Mathis is cooing 'Silent Night' over the square.

There's also a tree inside 'Goldfingers & Alhambra,' and if it's not exactly silent, it's certainly a relatively quiet night in the club.


The ambience is that of an old theatre converted into a state-of-the-art strip joint.

While fat cherubs frolic across the ornamental carvings on the upstairs balcony, lights flashing red, blue, green and yellow explode off the disco ball on the ceiling, filling the club with swirling, Technicolor sperm.

The entertainment onstage consists of solo shows and synchronized stripping, usually with a leitmotif for added interest—Lesbian Slut-Nuns or All-American Horndogs, that sort of thing.

With or without the poles, the East Europeans perform death-defying dances on foot-high platform heels, getting naked to songs chosen by someone with an evil sense of humor.

'Is This Love?' wails the soundtrack. Somehow, I don't think so.

'Wanna Know What Love Is'? Well, this probably isn't the place to find out.

Feeling 'Torn'? Then you shouldn't have posed for

Weirdly, given the Alhambra's past, this is the only place I've seen in Prague where the girls strip down to their landing strips.

But the ironic coup de grâce announces itself with a jangling intro—that unmistakable bass… the brassy trumpets—the James Bond theme!

All five women saunter onstage in 007 suits, brandishing pistols before getting very, very naked. 

Pussy Galore indeed.

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'A Lot of Clients Don't Like Stretchmarks' -- (Chapter X, Part 30)

'Well, how was it?' my 'friend' leers afterwards, sitting alone in the bar. (Martina's off screwing another john.)

'She was gorgeous.'

'Were you happy with the service?'

'Yeah. She was gorgeous.'

That's my line, and I'm sticking to it.

And anyway, John pretty much fills in the rest of my hour for me: 'Did she give you a shower? Was she enthusiastic? Because some of them just lie there. Was she shaved? They're very clean, don't you think?'

I nod knowingly.

'What was the name of that girl again? Linda? I'll have to remember her: Twenty-four. Lives in Prague. No kids—and no scars or anything?'

I couldn't say, but the best answer is probably no.

'Good. No stretchmarks. A lot of clients don't like that.'

Sweet Paradise club: Catering to pigs

I can't help but feel sleazy. Just one night of this warps me; maybe that's what happened to the nice guy John used to be.

At my insistence, though, we round out the night by returning to Wenceslaus Square and an upscale strip club that used to be a Communist hangout.

Ladislav Bittman told me he took the KGB's chief of disinformation to the Alhambra during a night on the town in 1965, joking that by leaving their panties on, the girls had performed a 'socialist striptease.'

But even that was too decadently Czech for the visiting Soviet. 'During the first break indicated he was ready to return to the embassy.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'No Kissing and No Licking' -- (Chapter X, Part 29)

After collecting a towel at the bar, Linda leads me down a dark passageway past the beach hut, another Christmas tree and the fake fireplace in the back bar.

The red bedroom is fitted with a blue light that makes the white sheet glow eerily as she lays it on the bed.

Linda points toward the cubicle in the corner and asks if I want a shower.

Instead, I tell her I just want to talk. Maybe it's my pride, my upbringing or fear of the Latin South African, but I don't ask her to fulfill her side of the bargain.

'Is it true that most girls save kissing for their boyfriends?' I ask.

'You have to have something to make different between work and love. No kissing and no licking.' 


Naïf that I am, I imagine some guy trying to lick her face.

She points between her legs. 'No licking here.'


Linda claims she's studied economics but went on the game after getting into debt.

She's worked in clubs for a total of two years now, taking month-long breaks at a time.

'This work is very difficult for your mind. For many people, Prague is a big city. But for me, in this work, it is very small. Sometimes I see clients on the tram and I have to hide to make sure they don't see me. Many people like to live in Prague, but I would like to go back to my village to live.'

And marry and have kids?

'Yes. Someday.'

But not to a foreigner.

'Because when you divorce, he might take the kids to his country,' she reasons. 'Your friend wants to make photos of me for erotic modeling, but that is different from this job. I do this job for money. But photos, anybody can see. When I'm finished with this, the chapter is closed.'

* * *

The History of Sex: Prague -- Pervy Pidgin -- (Chapter X, Part 28)

Determined to pimp me, in effect, he asks me to pick the hottest whores in the joint.

I nod towards a sultry pair who look like they don't want to be here, either.

'I'm starting to like brunettes, too,' he agrees quickly. 'With dark hair and skin—that gypsy kind of look.'

I don't know what he's talking about—I wouldn't recognize a gypsy unless she had a headscarf and crystal ball—but there's no doubt the two girls are gorgeous—especially the one with the butterscotch hair and matching eyes.

John's more than happy to invite her over for a drink, informing me that her name's Linda and she's twenty-four.

'She's nice—and she's got big tits!'

He's more than happy to say this to her face, lavishing praise on her cleavage the moment she joins us, telling her in pervy pidgin how much he'd love to take photos of her for 'erotic modeling.'

And it's at precisely this point that I begin to feel sorry for her.

She obviously resents the degradation but needs the money, and here's this creep trying to wear her down even though she's said no.

So I decide to get her alone.

And the most obvious way to do that in a brothel—while also getting a peek at the rooms—is to buy an hour of Linda's time.

The going rate is about 2,400 crowns—not even $100.

The History of Sex: Prague -- I Blame Gauguin -- (Chapter X, Part 27)

Noting my discomfort, John reckons we should double back to a place called Sweet Paradise, yet another oasis of kitsch in a concrete desert, a pseudo-tropical bar burrowed into a wintry grey street.

Not for the first time on my journey, I can't help but wonder: why do sex clubs have to be so tacky? Why do plastic palm trees and Pavlovian neon signal SEX to the male psyche?

Personally, I blame Gauguin, the artsy stockbroker who ditched his day job in Paris for a life of getting laid in paradise.

Unfortunately, he took his syphilis with him, sharing it with the fourteen-year-olds he purchased with sweets and alcohol until his running sores made him so repulsive even the poorest Tahitians wouldn't touch him.

Paul Gauguin's portrait of Tehura, his 14-year-old 'wife'
in Spirit of the Dead Watching

His paintings, now in every major gallery on the planet, are like The Picture of Dorian Gray in reverse: immortalizing an innocent sexual Eden, whereas the reality was sordid and syphilis-ridden, thanks to colonialist cretins like him.

Since Gauguin, the tiki-plasticky look has been the décor de rigueur of dodgy clubs and cocktail bars around the world.

In its own way, Sweet Paradise, promising 'luxurious ambience and almost family atmosphere,' is more surreal—and depressing—than anything Kafka ever dreamt up.

Outside, it's Christmas in the Old Country; inside, it's the Land of the Yuletide Luau, with a full-scale beach hut in the corner adorned with a snowman and accompanying conifer.

A dozen prostitutes sit drinking and smoking on the ledge lining the lounge, facing the few men on hand with expressions ranging from bored apprehension to fabricated lust.

John reckons he's getting the evil eye from the Queen of the Brothel, a pretty enough twenty-year-old, though her hair's so bleached you wonder if it's fallen out in clumps and been superglued back onto her head.

'She's one of the most popular girls here. Clients end up feeling sorry for her,' he laughs. 'She doesn't want to be here. She's got a kid.'

John knows this because he and Martina used to be an item.

'To have someone who you liked as a boyfriend, and who kind of liked you as a girlfriend, pimping you—well, it's not very nice.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- Skanka, Hasbeenka and Nothankya -- (Chapter X, Part 26)

Our next stop is a suburban house-turned-brothel that's owned by Russians and run by a sour Romanian.

'It's interesting what they've done with the place,' John remarks.

That's one way of looking at it.

What was once the front room of the house is now a bar, and the large sitting room is lined with cracked, fake-leather couches and Klimt prints.

The nook in the corner where the TV might have been is now home to a live entertainment system: a small dancefloor with mirrors on three sides and a pole in the middle.

The hookers make their entrances and exits via the sliding patio door.

John highly recommends a blonde in a black catsuit named Christina.

'She charges 6,400 crowns for nine hours. You can't beat that anywhere,' he says, stroking the back of her arm. 'That's about two hundred euros.'

'Two hundred and twenty-five euros,' she corrects him.

Or just £17 an hour (around $25).

'She's one of the best in Prague. She's really enthusiastic and lots of fun.'

Frankly, she'd have to have enough enthusiasm for both of us.

Ditto the girls at a couple other dives.

I'll spare you the one where the strippers are so uncomely they don't even dare take their tops off and skip straight to the basement joint where the head whore supposedly insists on the manager shagging her every day; otherwise, she and the other girls will walk.

Sadly, Vanessa's not here tonight.

So John introduces me to Lenka and her co-workers, Skanka, Hasbeenka and Nothankya.

A tall redhead with a big nose and small chin, Lenka's gussied up in black lingerie and walks with a stoop, as if her suspenders are too tight.

A price list from one of the clubs

According to John, Lenka started her career on a non sequitur: she was so keen to lose her virginity, she decided to become a prostitute.

She's now fallen in love with a British john named Nicholas, after the patron of Christmas and whores.

When ol' Nick came back for more jollies, however, Lenka told him she wouldn't sleep with him again—because she loved him.

He promptly left for London, and she's been texting him ever since.

'Half the girls get into this business because they want to find a boyfriend or a husband,' John claims.

Indeed, Lenka goes gooey-eyed at the mention of Nicholas, tilting her head and clasping her heart... while rubbing a gartered leg against my thigh.

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'The Girls Love What They Do' -- (Chapter X, Part 25)

Tramping off to another club, I ask him why Czech women get into prostitution.

'Lazy!' he snorts. 'Most of them are just plain lazy. A job in marketing pays about US-five an hour. So most of them would rather sleep 'til noon and go to a place where they can smoke and drink on the job. They're agnostic, so they don't have any guilt to hold them back—well, they have social guilt, but they make sure their families never find out. But the girls love what they do. I've never known one of them to leave the work permanently. You could offer them a job in an office paying just as much or even better, but they'd still want to work in the clubs.'

A prostitute touts for trade on a Czech highway
(photo by Heather Faulkner)

Being Irish-American, John's an atavistic Catholic, born into a religion but unable to remember what he's lost.

That said, he's a demon on divorce rates, telling me apropos of nothing that 60% of marriages in the Czech Republic end in divorce: twice as many as in Slovakia and three times the number in predominantly Catholic Poland—'and the archbishop in Poland recently said, "We're failing!"' he laughs.

If hell froze over, John says he'd probably settle down with a nice Polish girl.

'I would never marry a Czech: they drink and they're agnostic, so they're liable to get high and cheat on you—and probably forget about it.'

I remember the Russian biznesman in Venice making a similar remark.

'Do you really think the main difference between Czechs and Poles is religion?'

'It's the only difference I can see. After all, the two countries are right next door to each other and have similar cultures.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'They're Really Nice and Feminine Like That' -- (Chapter X, Part 24)

Which is probably true.

But many of his other observations are far more controversial.

'I come from the Land of Ugly Women,' he announces. 'It's all plastic.'

Apparently his American clients are the second easiest to please—surpassed only by the British.

'British girls are brutish. They're the ugliest I've ever seen. I was expecting Mary Poppins, and they come over and shout'—he affects an accent that would make Dick Van Dyke cringe—'"Where's the pub?!?" With my English clients, it's like they've been eating out of a garbage can their whole lives, and suddenly they're being treated to a gourmet meal.'

Not just a modern phenomenon:
Mug shots of an Edwardian ladette,
complete with tattoos (True Love K.B. on her back left arm)
and a drink problem
(The Daily Mail)

John keeps going on about how gorgeous Czech strippers are, but I keep doing double-takes to make sure they aren't transvestites. Something about the way they sculpt their make-up makes them look oddly hard and masculine.

Call me paranoid, but any woman who needs to dye and paint herself that much must be hiding something.

The fact that most of the strippers don't remove their G-strings isn't reassuring, either.

However, John swears the girls are 100% woman.

'Czech women get their sense of self-esteem from male attention. If they don't have a boyfriend, they think they're the lowest of the low—they're really nice and feminine like that,' he says blithely.

'They find it very hard to take a compliment. If you tell them they're beautiful and then touch their arms or their backs, they'll actually break out in a sweat.'

Maybe 'cause pervy strangers give them the creeps.

But John fancies himself a connoisseur.

As a redhead with a six-pack cedes the pole to a blonde with a belly, he gabbles appreciatively about the latter's perfectly formed breasts: 'The shape here is very good. B to C cups—those are typically Czech breasts; the larger sizes, D and up, are rarer.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- Hail, the Emperor of Perversion! -- (Chapter X, Part 23)

To keep a safe distance, one of John's ideas is to set himself up as a 'broker'—the respectable term for pimp, I believe—catering to men who will pay big money to bone a bona fide porn star.

Again, this seems ingenious, offering women extra revenue in these hard times.

Not so long ago, he tells me, a woman could make €20,000 for one porn-movie shoot; now it's just five to seven hundred, simply because so many women are willing to have sex on film.

'It's getting nasty now because there's no money.'

John says this in a hole-in-the-wall, pole-in-the-floor kind of place just off Wenceslaus Square where the manageress and most of the girls know him.

The strippers are lounging around, taking turns on the little dance square, even though we're the only men here.

'It's Christmas,' the manageress shrugs.

'Enjoy your own fairy tale!'

John leans back in the red-upholstered booth, spreading his arms to enjoy the view, the good fortune of his first-world provenance making him a virtual aristocrat.

The woman on the pole—or is it a stick?—jiggles her breasts at him—hail, the Emperor of Perversion! 

He waggles his eyebrows in return.

'The Czech girls typically move very well. They really feel the rhythm.'

'Your clients must think you've got the best job in the world,' I observe.

'That's right,' he grins. 'Want to be in porn movies? I've done that. Want to pimp girls? I've done that. I'm the candyman! The doctor! The love broker!'

Or, you may think, a forty-year-old loser leeching off the less fortunate—a 'social parasite' if ever there was one.

But in the capitalist Czech Republic, this American newcomer is classed as an 'entrepreneur,' a glamorous term imported from the West to cover any legion of sins.

In person, though, the overriding impression you get is that deep down he's a gentle soul who somehow got twisted along the way.

Whether it was his divorce from an American after a decade ('she turned real arrogant') or all that internet porn or his celluloid stint as a flesh-and-blood dildo, he comes across as profoundly damaged, as much a slave as the master of his urges.

Having gone through fifty girls when he came here, he's tried to stop mixing business with pleasure because of his addictive personality.

'I'm too soft-hearted,' he reckons. 'I fall in love with all the girls. Whenever I'm around them, it's intoxicating—like a drug. They're too pretty for me.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'There's No Trafficking Here' -- (Chapter X, Part 22)

As a middleman of minge, then, John aims to ensure that other foreign johns don't get fleeced.

Although this might seem like a cunny plan, he says it's been 'fucking hard' because the Czechs just don't understand business.

'They'd rather see their clubs fail than make changes. And when they do fail, they blame it on the Russian mafia.'

Which doesn't exist, by the way—just like there's no such thing as female trafficking in Prague (no matter what the UN, countless aid agencies, and the police say).

'There's no trafficking here. Not at all. That's just something made up by the newspapers. They write stories in media to sell newspapers,' John claims, lapsing into the laborious pidgin he uses with Czechs to emphasize key words.

Sex trafficking? What sex trafficking?
Ladislav Burina and Angelika Bacan were convicted in the UK
for trafficking two Czech women to work as prostitutes
(The Prague Post

To his credit, in a city stuffed with monolingual expats, John is attempting to learn Czech, having left California a little over a year ago.

'I'm never going back,' he says. 'I love it here!'

In a way, he loved it even before coming here, having admired Czech women from afar—via the Internet—while working in IT and marketing.

Since then, John's been living the porn-geek dream, doing IT for a porn company in Prague until he decided one day he'd actually like to do it in front of the cameras.

A porn star was born, apparently.

'I could have sex for two hours without any problem. Not many guys could do that. But I'd been married for ten years, so it was no problem for me.'

John's thespian aspirations soon flagged, though: he fell in love with every actress he screwed.

'The female porn stars turn vain,' he tells me. 'You wouldn't think it, but they do.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- A Little Night's Whoremongering -- (Chapter X, Part 21)

Aptly enough, my guide goes by the nom de screw of 'John.'

With the face of a pug and the body of a bulldog, he could be any nationality.

Come to think of it, he's got the blend-in-ability of a good spook—he even picked me up in the cobbled Old Town, lurking under a streetlamp like a character out of a spy novel.

OK, well, not this character
George Lazenby hamming it up as James Bond

The moment he opens his mouth, though, he's all matter-of-fact American, rattling off our schedule as if it were a ten-point marketing plan rather than the itinerary for a little night's whoremongering. 

John charges just over €100 (around $130) for his VIP Brothel Tour, including entrance fees, cheap drinks and his questionable translation skills.

'If you want to be with a woman, I can talk to her and tell her how beautiful she is and get her warmed up.'

The tour runs for six hours and takes in at least four brothels ('depending on your stamina'). 


Ironically, despite Prague's status as Europe's Sex Central, there's no centralized sex district in the Czech capital.

Wenceslaus Square and its sidestreets host some of the glitzier establishments—one 'cabaret' has a mannequin in a Santa cap perched over the door—but Prague's carnal side is far less visible than that of its Western counterparts. Four decades of Communism effectively snuffed out the red-light district.

For foreigners who don't speak Czech, this can make it hard to sniff out sexual bargains.

Throw in the perils of clip joints and taxi scams, and, well, it's a Slavic jungle out there.

In fact, the abuses are so bad one club has taken to stating on its flyers, in perfect doublespeak:


The History of Sex: Prague -- 'The Czechs Still Haven't Mastered Capitalism' -- (Chapter X, Part 20)

Having thrived during the free-market boom of democracy, the Czech sex industry is now experiencing the cut-throat side of capitalism: a market crash.

'I've never seen such a fast implosion,' says an American who ought to know: not only is he a veteran of the Great Dotcom Crash of 2001, he now makes his living guiding foreigners around Prague's brothels.

'I have my graduate degree in economics,' he assures me.

Lena and I have come to Prague just a few days before St. Stephen's Day on the 26th of December.

And while many sex clubs blame the lack of trade on the season, my guide says the slump is worse than that.

'It's a classic supply-demand imbalance.'

Good King Wenceslaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen...

While women in other Eastern European capitals offer sex tourists ever-cheaper bangs for their bucks, he reckons Czech prostitutes are in danger of pricing themselves out of the market.

'For two to three hundred euros an hour, you could just as well stay at home in London, couldn't you? But some of the Czechs still haven't mastered capitalism. They think if they lower their prices, people will think there's something wrong with the goods.'

He makes this observation while hustling across Wenceslaus Square, muttering 'Nyet, nyet' to the rival touts on the street trying to lure us into their clubs. ('Nyet works better because the Czechs are still scared of the Russians.')

Up at the top of the grand, rectangular promenade stands the horsebound statue of the Czechs' patron saint, an impotent sentinel that's witnessed the Nazi occupation, the Soviet invasion and the Velvet Revolution.

Vaclav (aka Wenceslas), meet Vaclav 
(Matej Divizna, The Telegraph)

Nowadays, when good King Wenceslaus looks out—on the Feast of Stephen or any other day—he sees a neon parade of clothing chains, restaurants and cafes.

And if you follow the saint's gaze far enough, down past the strip club marked GATE TO HELL, you can see what he's focusing on: a voluptuous, illuminated dollar sign revolving outside a casino.

The History of Sex: Prague -- Bliss Without Risk? -- (Chapter X, Part 19)

At present, though, you could be forgiven for mistaking the modern 'heart of Europe' for its throbbing groin.

The Czech Republic ranks not only as one of the world's biggest sources of trafficked women (and children) but also a major destination and transit country, with 'Romeo spies' having been replaced by 'loverboy' pimps who seduce girls into prostitution.

And whereas a British prime minister once betrayed Czechoslovakia to the Nazis by calling it 'a small country about which we know nothing,' nowadays hordes of British, German and American tourists fly into Prague to get to know it in the Biblical sense.


Many aid agencies work from the premise that the sex trade is simply a fact of life.

'Bliss Without Risk' is a catchy name, but it seems an odd choice for a group trying to help prostitutes (surely most of the 'bliss' they encounter is male-oriented).

In its fight against sex diseases, the charity distributes comic books that are so graphic, they could be called 'How to Be a Whore,' complete with pictures of infected penises and blowjobs, handjobs and hotdogging.

Meanwhile, would-be prostitutes have a plethora of job opportunities, including specialist agencies like 'Oral Without Condom' and a club that's put a postmodern twist on the Big Brother sexpionage of yore: at the BigSister brothel, punters pay a cover fee of €10 for toiletries, but the sex is free—provided they sign a contract allowing BigSister to broadcast the video footage on the World Wide Web.

One client in 2008 was a lardy socialist from Scotland, a former candidate for the Solidarity party.

'Yes I did it,' he told The News of the World, 'but I was drunk.'

In other words, sex is so cheap in Prague, they're virtually giving it away.

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'The Most Atheistic Country in Europe' -- (Chapter X, Part 18)

An even bigger mystery is why so many ex-comrades resorted to the world's oldest profession after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The easiest explanation seems to be that prostitution (and human trafficking) have always thrived in Central Europe—an early Czech feminist opened a local branch of the International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Women immediately after World War One.

It could be that the reopening of the borders after 1989 simply gave women and the men who prey on them more opportunity to ply their trades.

But there's more to it than mere logistics.

As with Spain's cultural revolution during the 'Me Decade,' the former satellites of the USSR had the misfortune of playing catch-up at a time when the 'Greed is Good' ethos was all the rage in Western society.

Both Britain and America had produced more than a few 'robber barons' in their time, but even the Carnegies and Rockefellers felt compelled to throw some money at philanthropy, if only as a hedge on hellfire and damnation.

Fast forward a century later, and rather than capitalism with a human face, the former Soviet bloc has gotten capitalism without a conscience.

According to,
'The Heart of European Union countries is truly Czech Republic.'

Communist rule degraded sex into a tonic for boredom, an impotent protest against the system, and even a currency in its own right, while simultaneously dispensing with religion.

Traditionally, Czech national identity had revolved around religious figures like St. Wenceslaus and Jan Hus, yet the Czech Republic now vies with other former Soviet satellites as the least religious country in Europe.

As many as three out of four Czechs are agnostics or atheists—a statistic that horrifies US missionaries who've parachuted in to 'save' the country (much like Western feminists).

'The Czechs say they're the most atheistic country in Europe, and they say it with some pride,' an emissary for the Catholic Church told a US newspaper.

'This is how Western civilization may look in fifty years.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- #FeminismFail -- (Chapter X, Part 17)

Visiting the free Czech Republic today, you wonder if it's really what heroines like Horakova would have wished for their country.

After the Velvet Revolution ousted the Communists, Czechoslavakia was invaded by American do-gooders preaching Westernized feminism.

They were shocked to find that many of their newly liberated sisters just wanted to get back to hearth and home.

'One of the most puzzling trends in post-1989 Czechoslovakia has been the expressed desire of women to withdraw from the world of work into the world of the household, domesticity and the family,' noted one academic amid the forest of research on the subject.

A spoof poster from Prague's Museum of Communism

In reality, the reasons were fairly obvious.

For the most part, Czech women (and men) were fed up with '–ists' and '–isms,' and the novelty of slaving away in a day job had long since worn off for many rank-and-file females.

The USSR was so 'liberated' it even had all-female construction crews, including one of Dr. Stern's patients, who orgasmed up to ten times a day from her jackhammer but still couldn't understand why she got depressed when she changed jobs.

Long before their supposedly more advanced Western sisters, Czech women had realized that 'liberation' wasn't all it was cracked up to be—especially when men expected them to work full time and still do more than their fair share at home.

In fact, a far more interesting question—largely ignored by academics—is how women in the East and West have wound up reaching similar conclusions despite taking such different paths.

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'The State is Pimp' -- (Chapter X, Part 16)

For the most part, the protests against the invasion were fatality-free.

A unique eyewitness account comes from a sex writer who toured Czechoslovakia before, during and after the Prague Spring.

Mankoff's Lusty Europe is a vintage sex guide, one of those books you can't believe was ever published, let alone in 1972—and by a reputable publisher.

Having already ventured behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, author 'Allan Mankoff' (rhymes with…) also trawled the streets of Prague.

'There are no apparent pimps,' he concluded. 'The State is pimp.'

Dolled-up 'Tuzex girls' would sleep with foreigners for hard currency to buy Western luxuries in state-run 'Tuzex' stores.

One 'beautiful young coed' was selling herself for thirty dollars a night. 'The Soviet Union will never let us go… and so, I shall sleep with a hundred men and then I shall have enough money to go to England.'

Mankoff also described the tense scene as a schoolgirl mooned Russian troops in the Old Town.

'For a frightening instant, one young guard who looks no more than seventeen teases the nipple of her heaving breast with his bayonet. Then he lowers it, grins, says something dirty in Russian, and the girl runs off in the direction of the macabre, death-mask likeness of Kafka which marks his former residence.'

One of the main goals of the Prague Spring had been to force the Party to punish those responsible for the purges and show trials of twenty years earlier.

The media had taken advantage of its freedom to try to rehabilitate a little-known martyr of democracy and genuine heroine of postwar Europe.

Milada Horakova had fought against the Nazis and spent nearly five years in concentration camps.

Horakova defending herself at her trial

After the War, she resigned from parliament to protest against the Communist coup.

Accused of conspiring against the regime, she was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death in 1950.

Her last words under the gallows were: 'I have lost. I die like a soldier—with honor. I love my country and its people… I wish for you… I wish…'

And then the hangman cut her dead.

'The Communists did what the Nazis never dared to do. On June 27th, 1950, Milada Horakova was hanged.'
You can read this Cold War 'comic book' about her life here.

* * *

The History of Sex: Prague -- Premature Perestroika -- (Chapter X, Part 15)

And most of the government's reforms were very moderate indeed.

As a teenager, Jan Kaplan took advantage of the new freedom to travel to visit London.

He describes the Prague Spring as typically Czech, comparing it with the attempts by national hero Jan Hus to gradually change the Catholic Church from within a century before the Reformation—a statue of the martyred reformer is one of Prague's landmarks.

Student Jan Palach committed suicide by self-immolation in Wenceslaus Square
to protest the crushing of the Prague Spring.
This still is from Burning Bush, a Czech miniseries set in the era. 

'You can't live in central Europe and be landlocked and hope to change things except from within,' Kaplan says.

'The Czechs were developed, and the Russians were peasants, with an almost feudal form of control in the way that they implemented Socialism. The Czechs could have done it far more elegantly,' he adds wistfully.

That may be, but the Russians realized that their template for undermining democracy now threatened to break up the Communist bloc.

In August 1968, the Soviets decided to crush the 'premature perestroika,' and the Red Army that had once liberated Prague returned to shackle it.

The History of Sex: Prague -- The Last Chance for Communism -- (Chapter X, Part 14)

In late twentieth-century Prague, Bittman says, sexpionage was conducted on a case-by-case basis using known prostitutes.

The women's motives had nothing to do with patriotism; they did it to score cash or avoid jail.

Officially, prostitutes were 'social parasites'—not for having sex, but for living off the state—but they could stay on the game if they worked for the police.

Brothels would be rigged a la Salon Kitty or luxury hotel suites would be kitted out with secret cameras to film dignitaries' indignities.

Although the Eastern bloc may have used sexpionage more, Bittman says the West also used dirty tricks—in fact, he puts the split at seventy-thirty.

'Western intelligence services, including the Americans and the British, used the same methods. But I think some of the Soviet bloc authorities overestimated the potential to recruit people based on sexual entrapment. Gradually, in the Sixties and even in the Seventies and Eighties, when I was not involved anymore, this method became rather secondary.'

Mainly because of changes in Western attitudes toward sex.

When he defected, Bittman was working as a press attaché/spy at the embassy in Vienna.

'Every trip home was a distressing experience,' he writes. 'Czechoslovakia, once a highly developed country, had become the victim of economic and political mismanagement and a paradise for idlers and empty-headed babblers.'

Good TV interview with Larry Bittman; 
great footage of Prague and Vienna during the Cold War

At the beginning of 1968, though, there had been real hope for change.

With the initial blessing of the Kremlin, a mild-mannered reformist took power in Czechoslovakia, beginning the ill-fated experiment known as the 'Prague Spring.'

Contrary to popular misconception, Bittman notes that the Czech reform movement 'was neither anti-socialist nor anti-Communist. Many Communists who took part in the democratization process considered it the last chance for communism in Czechoslovakia.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- Interview with a Spy -- (Chapter X, Part 13)

Against this backdrop, the Czechs used every dirty trick in the book—inventing many of their own along the way.

In one year, 25 of their operatives carried out over 100 campaigns around the world, a success rate that impressed even the KGB.

Sitting in Bittman's office overlooking the Vltava, the Soviets' supreme head of disinformation surveyed a file of Western newspaper clippings containing Communist propaganda.

'If they did not have press freedom,' he remarked, 'we would have to invent it for them.'

To try and clean up the mess he helped create, Bittman took a job as a journalism professor in the US after his defection, changing his name in the process.

With some sleuthing of my own, I manage to find the former spy living in retirement.

Now in his late seventies, he's initially reluctant to talk about the bad old days, though he eventually agrees to speak with me on the phone.

Obviously, I'm very enthused about this—it's like getting to talk with a real-life baddie from a Bond film (Connery era), complete with domed skull and piranha underbite.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when the spy who came in from the cold pours cold water on the Sex School for Spies story.

'I don't think there was a school for this kind of job,' Bittman tells me. 'From a strictly professional point of view, there's always a very strict security protection in the recruitment of an agent, even if it is a prostitute.'

If you had schools, he reasons, 'this would mean that there would be a class of thirty prostitutes, and they would know each other. That is not professional.'

However, he notes that the set-up may have been different at the KGB: the Soviets thought sexual indiscretions were highly compromising, whereas the Czechs were harder to shock.

After all, Czechoslovakia was where Casanova retired to write his memoirs and where archeologists found the oldest ceramic figurine in the world, the pendulous-bosomed 'Venus of Vestonice,' dating from 27,000 BC.

The History of Sex: Prague -- Sex and Communism -- (Chapter X, Part 12)

By the Sixties, though, all that had changed.

The Czechs were both physically and psychologically closer to the West than the Soviets, with easier access to new ideas.

Whereas those born before the Communist coup tended to be true believers, the younger generation knew that Socialist rhetoric rarely matched social reality.

'I don't remember anyone having any qualms about hopping into bed with one another,' says Jan Kaplan, a Czech émigré.

'Part of the allure of collective farms and summer projects was that they were fuckfests: "To hell with bourgeois ideas of chastity; let's have a lot of sex!" How did you get young people to build factories for free? Because at the end of the day, they got to fuck themselves silly.'

Jan Kaplan was also a consultant for
Prague's Museum of Communism

Not surprisingly, then, Prague flourished as a center of sexpionage during the Cold War.

Che Guevara partied there with Fidel Castro's brother while trying to broker an arms deal for Cuba.

According to their official minder, both the Czechs and the Russians viewed Che as 'an anarchist,' while Raul Castro—now the president of Cuba—'was no laggard in debauchery:' 'Every night I went with him to some nightclub, where we would stay drinking and dancing with the hostesses until the small hours. I would also procure blonde girls for him to sleep with—he was obsessed with blondes.'

Che Guevara's lived in Prague for a few months in 1966
before setting off on his ill-fated trip to Bolivia
(Source: Czech news site)

To find out more about the heyday of sexpionage, I've decided to try and track down one of the last veterans of the era.

Like many top Czech spies, Ladislav Bittman defected to the West after Soviet troops crushed the 'Prague Spring' of 1968, a doomed attempt to reform the Communist bloc from within.

In The Deception Game, written shortly afterwards, the former deputy chief of 'Department D,' describes how he helped pioneer the field of disinformation.

'For a long time I was a disciplined Communist intelligence officer, speaking the same language and thinking along the same ideological lines as my fellow officers, praying with them to the same god named Lenin, admiring the majestic panoramas of the Charles Bridge and Prague's Hradcany Castle from the headquarters of the Czechoslovak intelligence service.'

The spies' HQ was actually a former monastery kept intact by the Communists because of its artistic value.

'As a result, Party and official meetings took place in the monastery's chapel, where portraits of melancholy saints looked down from the walls.'

The former spooks' HQ
(the dark facade beneath the dome)

The History of Sex: Prague -- Puritanical Communists -- (Chapter X, Part 11)

For dirty tricks abroad, the Soviets liked to use their satellite spy network in Czechoslovakia, 'the aristocrat of all the Communist intelligence services.'

With its location in the heart of Europe, Czechoslovakia had always been a bridge between East and West, making it more cosmopolitan, prosperous and liberal than the rest of the Soviet bloc.

Its first democratic president, Tomas G. Masaryk, had been a former spook whose spies sided with the Allies during World War One; in 1918, he signed Czechoslovakia's declaration of independence in Philadelphia at the same table used by Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin in 1776.

And in a nod to women's rights, the founder had also added his American wife's surname to his own: the 'G' stood for Garrigue.

Tragically, the Allies had tried to avoid a Second World War by gifting the tiny democracy to Hitler.

Unappeased, the Führer entrusted its subjugation to Reinhard Heydrich, an SS chief who'd helped engineer the Night of the Long Knives, chaired the committee on the Holocaust and masterminded the Salon Kitty project in Berlin.

'May 1945': A Czech poster
commemorating the victory over the Nazis '

When Czechoslovakia was finally liberated, the Red Army captured Prague first, and the Soviets quickly set about undermining democracy.

The Czech foreign minister—Masaryk's son—was one of the democrats who died mysteriously during the Communists' (relatively) bloodless coup, which became the blueprint for subverting democracies in the West.

And after briefly flirting with sexual excess as 'a provocation of bourgeois society,' Czechoslovakia soon pursued the Soviet ideal of 'Socialist puritanism.'

'In the early Fifties, we were more puritanical than in the West,' scoffs Jirina Siklova, a Czech feminist who came of age during the Stalinist era.

As a teenager, she remembers building a bridge as part of a Socialist youth brigade.

At night the sexes were strictly segregated: any boys or girls caught sneaking over to the other side were dismissed and officially blackballed for leading a 'bourgeois lifestyle.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- The Breaking Point -- (Chapter X, Part 10)

For straight targets, the most sinister honeytraps involved being framed for rape and threatened with life in a Soviet jail.

After Verkhonoye, Vera's first assignment was to seduce an American businessman in Moscow.

She was given a job as a chambermaid at the man's hotel and 'accidentally' walked in on him while he was showering.

He offered to show her a good time in bed, and as soon as he'd finished, two KGB men posing as hotel security broke through the door.

Vera started to scream that the man had raped her.

While the goons pummeled him, the man begged her to tell the truth, but she swore she'd been attacked.

Behold, the nipple transmitter!
In Sexpionage, David Lewis writes: 'If a female undercover agent wears fake nipples fitted with radio equipment, even the most intimate body search won't reveal that she's wired for sound. Powered by body heat, the nipple's chip transmitter with microphone is said to have a range of several hundred feet.'

'Then, suddenly, they all began to laugh,' Vera said.

'The American got up and pulled on his clothes, saying to me in Russian that I was very good in bed. It was a final examination, and I passed successfully. Even while I believed that the man was an innocent victim, his whole life threatened with ruin, I felt nothing for him… A man was merely a target, to be rapidly assessed and then dealt with.'

Then she added a quote that's almost too good to be true.

'By the time our training was completed, we were hard, cynical, sophisticated young women capable of bedding any heterosexual man and providing him with the time of his life.'

And here's a close-up.
On his website from his days as a photojournalist,
Lewis shows how to make a nipple transmitter 

In time, however, Vera's pillow talk with Westerners made her doubt her indoctrination.

In 1963, she was ordered to bed a French student who was due to marry an aristocratic girl back home.

The boy was very much in love with his fiancée and initially resisted Vera.

However, she eventually seduced him.

The KGB showed him the photos and threatened to derail his marriage unless his father, a major figure in mining, handed them commercial intelligence.

'The boy said he needed time to think it over,' Vera said. 'The same afternoon he walked in front of a car near Red Square and was killed. Perhaps it was an accident. But it was the breaking point for me.'

* * *

The History of Sex: Prague -- Gay Honeytraps -- (Chapter X, Part 9)

The tale of Claude put a positive spin on the real-life story of John Vassall, one of Britain's infamous Cold War traitors.

Lewis reckons a raven from Verkhonoye helped blackmail Vassall.

A gay man from a good family, the embassy attaché was invited to a party in Moscow where he was photographed sleeping naked with a man.

Back in London, he agreed to steal official documents for the Soviets from his office overlooking the back garden of No. 10 Downing Street.

In fact, if a similar plot had worked, Communist puppetmasters would have pulled the strings at No. 10 itself.

In his memoir, a former spy named Josef Frolik recounted how one of his colleagues at the Czechoslovakian Embassy in London spent two years trying to trap a Conservative who 'was not markedly heterosexually inclined.'

The Tory was unmarried and a keen musician, so the Czechs arranged for a bisexual organist from Moravia to visit London and bump into him at recitals.

As they chatted, the British MP mentioned that he'd like to play the organ at the Church of St. James in Prague.

The Czechs immediately invited him to visit—the idea being that once he was there, the Tory would also take a turn on the Moravian's organ.

Unfortunately, 'at the last moment, some wise member of British Counter-Intelligence warned the would-be organist that someone waiting for him in Prague was prepared to play another kind of tune.'

Sexually ambiguous to the end, Ted Heath went on to become Prime Minister (only to be posthumously 'outed' by a gay Tory in 2007).

The History of Sex: Prague -- 'Their Trade is Treachery' -- (Chapter X, Part 8)

If the KGB's swallows occasionally found their work hard to—well, you know—then pity the poor ravens.

A defector called Dimitri Labyav told Western debriefers that he'd been instructed to seduce only middle-aged women, given the surplus of unmarried female secretaries in Western Europe after the War.

'To have sex with a pretty girl is easy, but being passionate to order with a frigid spinster takes skill,' he noted, no doubt eliciting sympathetic nods from his interviewers.

Labyav's first hands-on lesson at Verkhonoye came in the form of a Russian peasant who was 'ugly, uncouth and unwashed.'

For some of his gay cadres (who had been blackmailed into service), having to make love to women as old as their mothers was too much.

'Two of them committed suicide during my stay there.'


By the 1960s, sexpionage had become such a problem for the West that it featured in a cautionary MI5 booklet.

As its title indicates, Their Trade is Treachery is written in a lock-jawed, humorless style that's often unintentionally funny now.

Contrary to the fictional womanizing of James Bond, gay entrapment appears to have been more of a peril for the British than hetero honeytraps.

Case No. 1 tells the story of 'Claude Robinson'—'a man who liked the Russians'—and learned the hard way about vodka: 'Claude gulped a great deal'—especially when he was 'subjected to a homosexual assault,' then photographed and blackmailed.

In the case study, he promptly reports the incident to the embassy and is whisked out of the country a wiser, if sorer, man.

In reality, though, reporting a sexual indiscretion to your superiors wasn't that easy: a forced return from a foreign posting was a black mark on any diplomatic or corporate career, and if that threat didn't work, the KGB could always post the photos to your family or the media.

The History of Sex: Prague -- How to Train a Sex Spy -- (Chapter X, Part 7)

The training started with a series of sex films more explicit than anything Vera had ever seen.

Still a virgin at eighteen, she had been raised by an aunt who was very religious.

In subsequent sessions, the girls were ordered to strip for each other and watch a couple have sex in front of them, while an instructor in a white coat narrated their technique.

Then the girls had to undress for a trio of male instructors who ended up fondling them.

'On the sixth day the men began to abuse us and comment on our bodies. During the first week I often cried myself to sleep out of shame. But slowly it didn't seem embarrassing any longer.'

Katya, the KGB head in the TV series, Archer

Around the eighth day, a group of officer cadets were bussed in and each girl was given a partner for the evening.

In a bugged cocktail bar on the site, the boys were instructed to play the part of nervous foreigners, while the girls deployed their training to seduce them.

In reality, most of the soldiers were actually chomping at the bit—visiting the sex school was a special reward for them.

Vera described her target as 'an animal.'

'There was no romance for me that evening. He tore off my brassiere and began to massage my breasts very hard… It was to this stranger that I lost my virginity.'

The next morning, the girls were ushered into the theatre for more sex films—only to find out that their performances had been secretly filmed.

One girl whose target had failed to have an erection was criticized so harshly she became hysterical.

The trainee swallows then had at least three more bouts of sex with strangers: once to get them used to the hidden cameras (one girl was so self-conscious her bedmate beat her for 'acting like a robot'); then to teach them how to seduce fumbling virgins (actually teenage boys); and finally the ultimate test—conjuring a performance from a jaded sexagenarian.

The History of Sex: Prague -- The Soviet 'House of Love' -- (Chapter X, Part 6)

The most remarkable aspect of Sexpionage was Lewis' interviews with reputed alumni of the KGB's top 'sex school'—or the 'Verkhonoye House of Love.'

Having passed their preliminary training at the Marx-Engels School outside Gorky, potential sex spies were transferred to a special training center at the Lenin Technical High School at Verkhonoye*, a godforsaken spot near the Autonomous Tatar Soviet Republic.

Between lessons on politics, economics and how to kill people—the usual spy stuff—the recruits were told their mission and forced to lose their inhibitions.

This titillating article...

A defector in London named Sasha Demidov recalled that 'ravens' were ordered to start having sex with each other—even though homosexuality was officially illegal:

'If they were invited to an orgy in the West, they had to be able to participate with both sexes. If they thought a Western male could be blackmailed after having an affair with them, they had to be able to overcome any repugnance and sleep with him. At all stages it is emphasized that any task which is for the good of the Soviet Union must be undertaken.'


The same ethos applied to the opposite sex.

With the aid of a former West German spook, Lewis managed to track down one of the few swallows who flew the nest and lived to tell the tale.

'Vera' seduced a KGB colonel to travel in East Germany and then escape West.

At the time Lewis met her, she was in her mid-thirties and living in Tunisia with her husband and two young girls.

Still fearing a KGB hit, she chose to meet Lewis in a small café in the walled brothel district of Sousse.

As she lit a cigarette—just like in the movies—the former sex spy recounted how the fifteen women and five men in her group were transported to Verkhonoye, split into groups, and systematically degraded into accepting their Party-designated fate.

After a pep talk from a female instructor promising them a life of luxury (countered by a uniformed man telling them their true motivation should be love of the Party), they were gradually made aware of what their country expected in return. from this 'men's magazine'
from April 1965
* Note for potential researchers/documentary makers: Lewis--and other sources likely based on his book--consistently spell the location as Verkhonoye; unfortunately, a Google search for that name doesn't yield any hits, though that could be for any number of reasons. 

According to Lewis' book, Verkhonoye itself was located 'about 100 miles from Kazan near the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Republic.' Kazan is actually the capital of modern Tatarstan, so I take that to mean that Verkhonoye itself was just outside the Tatar Republic.

The closest fit I can find on Google Maps is Verkhniye Tatyshly--though there are a lot of other potential candidates (like Verkhnyaya Salda).

The Lenin Technical High School, or 'Verkhonoye House of Love,' was reportedly part of a complex covering seven square miles, 'approached by a long, narrow road which runs through bleak countryside.' So for anyone on the ground, it shouldn't be hard to miss.  

The History of Sex: Prague -- Sexpionage, Soviet-Style -- (Chapter X, Part 5)

For Beria, this institutionalized sadism took the form of kidnapping and raping young girls.

Professionally, he also turned sex into one of the KGB's most advanced weapons against the West.

'By using specially trained prostitute spies and combining their skills with the latest technological advances, the Soviet secret service has achieved the most refined form of sexpionage possible,' declared the author of what is in turn one of the most fascinating books from the Cold War era.

In Sexpionage: The Exploitation of Sex by Soviet Intelligence, David Lewis claimed to expose how the KGB trained its agents for work that was literally undercover—revealing, for instance, that the Russians called male sex spies 'ravens' and females… 'swallows.'

Though Lewis was billed as 'one of Britain's leading investigative reporters' in 1976, there's no way his book could have been completely accurate, simply because of its timing and the top-secrecy of its subject.

What's more, the photo on the jacket—a Caucasian jezebel beneath a Soviet flag bedcover—makes you wonder if it should carry a 'Warning: Parts of this book may have been sexed up.'

So more than thirty years afterwards, I tracked down the author to find out. Having documented Commie-v-Capitalist spy gadgets during the Cold War—my fave is the American 'breast transmitter' that fit under a fake nipple—Lewis is now a neuropsychologist who uses brain sensors to advise multinationals on how consumers think as they shop.

Back when he was researching Sexpionage, he tells me, it was hard to assess the information he dug up.

'I think a lot of it was exaggerated—not through my desire—but simply by what I was being told,' he says candidly.

'You just didn't know who to trust. Everybody could've been spinning you a yarn.'

The History of Sex: Prague -- Sex with Crocodiles in the USSR -- (Chapter X, Part 4)

Just as the West was settling into the conservativism of the Fifties, Stalin's regime also tried to recast the bourgeois family unit in the Soviet mold, instituting what Stern mockingly refers to as 'the reign of virtue.'

'Young Pioneers' vowed to stay 'pure in thought, word and deed,' while novelists and filmmakers cranked out heroic tales of Soviet supermen and women who saved their energies for the Party, resisting sex—and the temptation of marrying someone from a dubious (bourgeois) background.

'If you want to be like me--just train!'
A Soviet poster from 1951

A university tract on Youth and the Revolution declared that 'to be sexually attracted to a being who belongs to a different class which is hostile and morally alien is just as much a perversion as it would be to feel sexual attraction for a crocodile or an orangutang.'

Personally, I'd go with the orangutang.

In private, however, the new Party elite were far from abstemious.

Beria, the chief of Stalin's secret police, had cut his teeth in the Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB.

The 'Chekists' were loathed by ordinary Soviets, and Stern gives a good idea why.

The poster for Chekist,
a Russian movie from 1992

The mother of one of his patients was a peasant who left the countryside during the great famine of the early 1920s, a time when people in the Volga region had supposedly resorted to eating children to survive.

While she was at the train station, an armed Chekist bullied her into accompanying him home, and she consented, thinking he would at least give her a crust of bread if she had sex with him.

Instead, 'he ordered her to strip—and gave her to his dog.'

After his pet had his way with her, the Chekist kicked her onto the street, without any food or money.

The History of Sex: Prague -- The USSR's Bureau of Free Love -- (Chapter X, Part 3)

For his part, the 'Father of the Russian Revolution' appears to have been appalled by the other revolution he'd unwittingly conceived.

Lenin confided to a comrade that the 'the so-called new sexuality of our young people and adults alike often seems to be merely petty bourgeois, like a version of the fine old bourgeois institution of the brothel.'

Lenin himself ended his days chaste and childless—Stern reckons 'the Communist titan was in fact a sexual pygmy'—and his successor eventually forced the USSR to do a U-turn on its disastrous (and often contradictory) sex laws.

By encouraging copulation, the Bolsheviks had hoped to boost the population.

One of the letters in the Erotic Alphabet designed by
Soviet artist Sergey Merkurov in 1931,
supposedly to combat illiteracy

An early Communist decree in Vladimir had ruled that 'from the age of eighteen all young women are hereby declared to be the property of the state,' requiring them 'to register, on pain of the strictest prosecution, with the Bureau of Free Love.'

When it came to choosing a spouse, frisky Vladimirians were allowed to pick a new one each month, with any offspring deemed 'property of the state.'

Paradoxically, in 1920, the Soviet Union had also become the first major country since antiquity to legalize abortion, effectively making it the birth control of choice.

By 1934, the ratio of abortions to live births was three to two in the countryside—and three to one in Moscow.

With Stalin purging Soviets almost as fast as the proletariat could pump them out, however, the USSR soon outlawed abortion (and homosexuality) and scrapped 'divorce postcards' in favor of red tape and taxes.

By the end of World War Two, the government had started lauding heavy breeders as 'Heroine Mothers,' and a survivor of the gulag recalled that male and female prisoners in his camp were suddenly allowed to commingle; the resultant bastards were spirited away—to be trained as policemen.


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