Ksenia Sobchak lies on a lonely stage. Glitter rains down on her. Disco balls hang from the ceiling. Everywhere, assistants, extras, men with mullets and airplane shades and video cameras circle and stare, purring, “Ksyusha, Ksyusha, Ksyusha.” (People who know Sobchak call her Ksyusha.) Ksyusha is lovely, ribald, ridiculous. Dressed in a mermaid costume, she drags a sparkly hand through her phenomenal blond mane. She seems oblivious to the people working on her—the stylist, the woman rubbing cream into her legs, the guy squeezing her into a blue-gray fin. Four very muscular men—tanned, waxed, naked except for G-strings—stand in a small pool in front of her. Cell phones (chimes, bells, hip-hop riffs) ring endlessly.
It is late afternoon in the middle of August, and everywhere in Moscow, it is scorching. Not here. Here it is cool and dark. We are in Egoistka, which normally features male strippers but today is the set for the latest episode of Sobchak’s reality-television show, The Blonde in Chocolate.
At 25, Ksenia Sobchak is not just the hottest property in Russia. With her two television shows—she also hosts House-2, about a clique of twentysomethings living under the same roof—her radio gig and her books, she’s a self-made, privately held corporation. More than that, she is an emblem for a way of being in today’s Russia—brash, sultry, self-involved. She is the new zeitgeist.
After the shoot, we decamp to an upstairs lounge at Egoistka. The name of the club means “selfish woman” in Russian, and right now, in this darkened lounge, in this tiny corner of the unholy capital, where oil money is ubiquitous and beauty is always a millimeter deep, the word feels very, very apropos. The new zeitgeist curls up on a zebra-print couch. She manages to look deeply into the eyes of someone she has never met.