Inside Russia’s Shady Seduction Schools, Where Desperate Women Learn How to Lure Rich Men

According to School of Seduction, working-class women have few options in patriarchal Russia, and all of them involve finding a man. To aid young ladies in that quest, there are seduction schools where they can learn the timeless art of bumping, grinding and butt-wiggling their way into a prospective partner’s heart and pants—in particular, the pocket where he keeps his wallet.

Focused on a trio of women navigating this warped and sexist landscape, Alina Rudnitskaya’s documentary (premiering on Nov. 9 at the DOC NYC festival) is an eye-opening snapshot of gender dynamics in modern Russia. Praised by President Vladimir Putin as a place where “a man is a man and a woman is a woman,” it’s a country that instills in its female population the belief that independence is a pathway to ostracization and sorrow, and that marriage and parenthood is the primary means by which happiness can be attained. As a result, there can be no greater aim than to land a man willing to put a literal ring on it—regardless of whether love is also part of the matrimonial package.

That’s where the schools of seduction come in. In crowded classrooms, scores of women dressed in underwear and revealing outfits follow the instructions of a middle-aged male teacher who guides them through exercises in which they must bend over a chair in order to receive some rear-end grinding, wiggle their asses in the air, and participate in dance routines where they’re grabbed by the neck and thrashed about, crotch-to-crotch, in a display of intense macho attention (the more violent, the more genuine, apparently). The overarching lesson is clear: self-worth only comes from the interest of a man, and women should use whatever sexual tools they have at their disposal to catch one. With a shamelessness that’s almost as startling as its chauvinism, the program strives to turn women into veritable Venus flytraps.

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The first of Rudnitskaya’s subjects, Lida, isn’t especially gung ho about the shady methods promoted by the School of Seduction. However, stuck living with a mother she can’t stand, and mired in a relationship with a married man, Sergei, who’s initially unwilling to leave his wife for her, she has few alternatives. Lida blames her problems on the fact that she “never had an example of a good family.” Still, TV and radio broadcasts that play intermittently throughout School of Seduction—providing macro context for the micro action at hand—suggest that the root cause of her predicament is the widely disseminated and accepted notion that women aren’t whole unless they’re the subservient half of a marital couple. That concept is backed by the school itself, where Lida nods in agreement as her teacher states that men want women to have brains in a business context but in other things, “no one needs them.”

Lida’s subsequent marriage to Sergei and—four years later—dreary housewife existence with a daughter proves the lie that domesticity guarantees bliss. On the contrary, Rudnitskaya’s clear-eyed vérité gaze reveals that, in these circumstances, it just brings about marginalization (once a professional, Lida now cooks and cleans), victimization (she suspects Sergei is cheating on her), and crushing displeasure. Unhappiness similarly plagues Vika, a student trapped in a loveless union with husband Denis, with whom she’s opened a lingerie shop. Vika admits to her therapist that she wants to leave Denis but fears being lonely and scorned by her peers. Meanwhile, she only feels truly alive (and on “fire!”) when partaking in hypersexualized dance classes at the school.

Economics play a significant factor in both Lida and Vika’s cases. Aware that they can’t earn as much as their male counterparts, and endlessly told that marriage is the end “goal” (as Vika’s mom outright states to her), Russian women are socially conditioned to feel bad for having independent desires—even though marriage itself, forged out of convenience and necessity more than love, is often a one-way ticket to regret, resentment and despair. Images of Lida’s daughter prancing around in her mother’s high heels underline the inherited corrosiveness of such an ideology, where sexual attractiveness is celebrated above all other qualities, because it’s what allows women to conform to their prescribed (if frequently unrewarding) role as dutiful wives and mothers.

School of Seduction most strikingly addresses the consequences of Russia’s misogyny via Diana, a young single mother introduced being chastised by Vika for her schoolgirl outfit and blonde pigtails (which Vika says would, if she wore it, make her “feel like a prostitute”). While that dig may be unduly nasty, there’s some truth to the idea that Diana—and those like her—are intent on selling themselves as sexual objects in direct exchange for financial support. Diana is depicted turning down a boyfriend because he can’t offer her the apartment and money she bluntly claims she requires. And she eventually marries an author who gives her those very things, and yet still fails to satisfy her, as illustrated by her attempt, six years later at a gala ball, to accept a stranger’s offer to take her on vacation sans husband.

In late scenes of Diana attending an etiquette school where she dresses in regal gowns and performs a scene from the Nicole Kidman-headlined Grace of Monaco, Rudnitskaya’s film provides a candid view of the brainwashing that’s been perpetrated against these women, all of whom have been led to believe that they can achieve their “fairy tale” by becoming appealing enough to nab a suitor. School of Seduction incisively exposes that idea as a carefully-constructed trap designed to keep them in their place as material “decorations,” striving for emotional fulfillment they can’t possibly attain, and then forced to settle for whatever affection and support they ultimately receive from their less-than-well-suited mates.

The fundamental futility of this paradigm is finally expressed by Diana’s son Sascha, who at film’s conclusion tells his mom that, no matter how hard she tries to be cheerily elegant, “your attitude changes” when the camera is off and no one is looking. In Russia, women may be trained to think that securing lifelong joy comes from transforming themselves into sexual temptresses or majestic queens. Yet as School of Seduction illustrates, both reductive guises only lead, in the end, to the same old everyday misery.


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Things Not to Share with Your Boyfriend

When it comes to relationships, there are always boundaries. Whether you like it or not, they are there and it is your job to make sure you don’t overstep yours. I don’t believe you should ever intentionally hide anything from your man, but there are a few things you should never share with him. Read on to discover what they are!


Yea, everybody farts. And everyone has to go poop. And shockingly, every person in the world has belched at one time or another. But men like to think of us as ladylike and feminine. After all, isn’t that what attracts them to us in the first place? So don’t give any raunchy details about your period or your stomach flu. Save all that for your diary!


This really is a no-brainer. Your friends confide in you and expect you to keep that confidence. After all, they do the same for you, right? So keep their trust intact. You have no idea how hard it is on a guy to hear us dish about all the latest gossip when all they want to do is rest after a long day. And if the secret you are telling is one of your close girlfriends who happens to have a boyfriend that your man sees everyday, it may be hard for him not to let it slip.


Yes, I know you kiss him and you both drink from the same glass occasionally. But we live in a civilized age and hygiene is a little more obvious now than it was 200 years ago. Toothbrushes only cost a few dollars. Buy your own!


Unless you both share an email account, or you’re married, this is a big no-no. Giving him your password may encourage him to “check up” on you, and all that’s going to do is raise insecurities on your part and feelings of distrust on yours. Not good for a healthy relationship. Plus, he may find out about the surprise party you were planning him for next weekend!


There will always be a few of us who can’t stand or get along with our in-laws. But that doesn’t mean you should give him a highlighted, detailed list of the 492 reasons why every time you have to be around them! He may feel pressured to choose between you, or he may get aggravated with you and put a strain on your relationship. If the problem is too big to be ignored, gently state your case. If he doesn’t see it your way, give him some time and in the meantime, learn to bite your tongue and keep your cool.


If you think your thighs are too fat, your hair is too curly and your teeth are too crooked, try to refrain from bringing it up every 3 to 4 hours. Men get tires of hearing about our horrible bodies. He thinks you are beautiful. He’s with you isn’t he? And if he accepts you, you can certainly accept yourself! Besides, you drawing attention to your “flaws” may make him notice it when it never really stood out before.


While it’s never OK to lie or hide your past from someone if you are in a committed relationship, it’s also not OK to tell your significant other how many times a day you kissed each one of your exes or give him the livid details of what you and your girlfriends used to do to get back at all the guys who broke your hearts. Guys just don’t need to know that sort of stuff. They always wonder if they measure up or if you regret choosing them. Don’t give him reason to wonder!

You CAN have an open, honest relationship with your man. All you need to do in order to achieve it is be kind and thoughtful and think about what you say before you say it! Do you ever share things with your sweetie that you probably shouldn’t?


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California Dreaming – Milena – Hot Girl, Heroin, Beverly Hills, and a Cat

This is one of my all time favorite stories!

Beverly Hills, CA – 1982

I was in a hard rock band in L.A. in the early 80s. We used to play around the strip in Hollywood. During that time we had a lot of fun adventures… and some misadventures. Here is one of them.

I met an incredibly hot Armenian girl named Milena. She came into the bar where my band was playing with some of her other hot girlfriends, and we chatted after our set. There were warning signs that she was a bit shallow. I’m not going to lie. This girl’s credit card was platinum, and she drove a convertible Maserati and lived in her parent’s Beverly Hills mansion.

She was completely vapid but oh, so hot. We dated for a few months and everything was fine. I just did my best to ignore/overlook when she did things I didn’t like… specifically talking.

The holidays came and went. We had a few very fun sleepover parties while her parents were out of town. I’d never met them. Milena was like a tiger in the sack. I felt like a burnt matchstick after a few of our sessions together.

Alika gets the bright idea to invite me over and meet her parents who were hosting a New Years’ party. Normally I’d skip that but I was curious about trying to see what kind of parents produce a vapidly oblivious, self-obsessed, girl with the common sense of a squirrel crossing a highway. Besides, I’d drunk enough of their booze and eaten enough of their caviar and slept their daughter for 3 months or so at this point, so I thought why not? I was a nineteen-year-old guitarist from Philly. So have at it!

From the moment I met them I got a very distinctly “chilly” reception. I usually gel pretty well with parents of girls I’ve dated. The mother looked like a grown-up version of her daughter and the father looked like he couldn’t remember his own kid’s names. Polite but certainly chilly.

They kept making pointed comments. Pointing out to me where the bathrooms were without being prompted. Pointing out that the floors were hardwood and that they had “many, many bathrooms.” I was confused by the fact that 1 out of 4 conversations all somehow led to me being directed to the nearest bathroom.

At the end of the night, I wished them both goodnight and her mother said she was glad to see “I was still on the wagon.” I smiled through it. As soon as the door closed I had a big “WTF was that all about?!” conversation with Milena.

Long story short, Milena has a really old cat named Arman. And her parents have a 100+-year-old Persian rug that Arman soiled on one of the nights I slept over. Apparently, Milena was afraid of Arman getting put to sleep by her angry vengeful parents for ruining the rug. So Milena helpfully made up a story that she had been helping me detox from heroin, and that in a fit of withdrawal I’d soiled their prized antique Persian rug!

Mind you this was a few months back, and her parents have been under the impression that I was fresh out of rehab after a horrific addiction to pills and heroin. She also told them that she had helped me through the worst of it and that I was deep in a drug withdrawal stupor. Apparently, I had lost all bladder control, and that I had no memory of destroying the rug.

So…rich parents…spawned a spoiled, habitually lying rich girl…owned a fat tabby cat with serious digestive tract problems. The guy who’s in a band and has only smoked weed and drank beer is suddenly a horrific heroin addict, who in a drug induced haze soiled an $80,000 prized family heirloom antique rug.

I continued to see her anyway.


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