Philipp Kirkorov – the face
Philipp is Russia’s own pop king. But even though Kirkorov is an award-winning performer and musician (from World Music Awards
Philipp represented Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1995, but ended up 17th. However, now ESC is one of his main activities. He is on first-name basis with Eurovision’s headquarters and was the head of Russian judging panel for a few years. Almost every year Kirkorov writes, produces or at least runs a promo campaign for one Eurovision song from an ex-Soviet country. His most notable results are Dima Bilan’s ‘Never Let You Go’ (Runner-up, 2006) and Ani Lorak’s ‘Shady Lady’ (also a runner-up, 2008).
In the last few years, he also had twins via surrogate, one of them is named after Ricky Martin (some tabloids speculated that they had an affair) and also was forced out of the closed by Timati (cultural appropriator, kid of a businessman, Russia’s biggest rapper and Putin’s personal cheerleader) in a diss track. After that, Philipp did an interview, where he implied, that he knows some people, that Timati should be afraid of, but what kind of people? To answer this question, we better move on to the next subject…
(Side note: Phillip is still publicly in the closet, because general audience doesn’t really care about rap)
Alla Pugachova – the brains
Alla Pugachova is the HBIC of Russian showbiz. She was the most popular singer in USSR, but she is also very influential person behind the scenes, famous for single-handedly destroying and creating people’s careers. Alla also has a huge gay-following (even American drag queens impersonate her). From having two huge, tabloid-covered, beard marriages to publicly speaking for gays, Pugachova showed her loyalty for LGBT community and was even called the head of ‘Gay Mafia’ of show business by some people.
But the shadiest part about her is that she is big not only with drag queens, but also with the scariest criminals in Russian history. Allegedly, she was a visitor at an underground casino, where biggest thieves-in-law were having fun every weekend. She also was an alleged attendee of a Yaponchick’s wake ceremony, who is described on Wikipedia as ‘notorious member of the Russian Mafia’. Now it’s kinda clear how ‘big’ the people Philipp was bragging about are, right?
Alla also has a personal history with Eurovision, in 1997 she bombed the contest and ended up with a 15th place (BTW her protégée, Natalia Podolskaya, also finished 15th in 2005)
Dima Bilan – the successor
Dima’s career started when he met his first producer and manager Yuri Aizenshpis (who served 18 years in prison for infringement of rules on currency transactions), allegedly, it was in the same shady-ass casino where Alla loved to spend her money. Some tabloids even imply Dima and his producer were more than just business partners. Bilan was immediately huge in Russia, but his international stardom started after death of Aizenshpis, when he met his second producer, Yana Rudkovkaya, that the world knows as Evgenii Plushenko’s wife and Johnny Weir’s BFF, but Russia remembers as an ex-wife of the guy who stole 5,5 billion rubles (and also outed Bilan in some interview, but again, no one really cared). Even though personally Dima is very low-key, all of his collaborators and mentors have been tied to ‘Gay Mafia’ and even a real one.
Bilan is the one and only Russian winner of Eurovision Song Contest. He also has 7 MTV Europe Music Awards and the biggest music career in modern Russian history.
Last few years Bilan was busy being a mentor in a local version of The Voice and even tried to get indie cred with his synth-pop side-project Alien 24. He also was publicly outed as a gay man and cocaine abuser by Timati via Instagram, but never publicly discussed that situation. The problem was solved behind the scenes by Rudkovskaya.
Sergey Lazarev – the 2nd successor
Lazarev’s career started as a child-star in kids sketch TV-show, Eralash. His pop-music debut was in a boy-band called ‘Smash!!’, but from the beginning of his solo work, he was always compared to, already big at the time, Dima Bilan. Sergey had huge hits, awards and recognition, but he always was the ugly step-sister. The most cringe-worthy moment of his career, in my personal opinion, was his hosting gig against Bilan in 2008 Russian Music Awards, where the whole show was written off the fact that two of them are rivals (And yes, Bilan ended up winning 3 awards that night including the most important one, while Lazarev won just a second-tier one).
Lazarev will represent Russia on Eurovision 2016 in Stockholm with ‘You are the only one’. The writer of the song is Kirkorov and he's already started a press-tour, complimenting Lazarev’s work ethic. BTW, Sergey previously participated in ESC national selection, but lost. This time, he was chosen behind the scenes without a contest.
Lazarev is in a glass closet and even had a long-term beard, TV-personality, Lera Kudryavtseva. At the same time, he lived with his manager or bodyguard (I don’t actually remember the exact lie), they were photographed together for years, btw, and after the breakup his ‘friend’ stopped hiding his sexuality. Lazarev also doesn’t really hides his gayness, performing in top Moscow gay-clubs (without advertising, obviously) and having stage costumes even Adam Lambert would call too much. Fortunately, Lazarev’s connection to ‘Gay Mafia’ ends with being close friends to Philipp & Co (or he is just good at hiding the shady parts). He is a cousin of t.A.T.u.’s Yulia Volkova, so maybe he never needed shady money because he came from privilege.
And the answer to the question ‘How is ESC the most watched TV event in Russia’ is an easy one. First of all, Russia in general has completely no gaydar, but, most importantly, because Russia is often so successful on ESC and people love to watch their country doing good in some international contest (That’s also why hockey is more popular than soccer, I think).
Most of the men in Russian showbiz are gay, but people just assume they are theatrical and flamboyant just because they are artists. The sad part is that a mass and public pro-gay campaign probably can change public’s perception of LGBT, but gay politicians, artists and journalists are either too scared to lose money or too comfortable to give a shit about anyone else.
s/o to purrple_267 4 proofreading my illiterate ass