The May 2003 issue of Blender, you can find the photos here:
Here's the text from the article:
"Ha! Very Really Stupid Question"
Q: What could possibly be more fun than a dinnner with the two outrageous Russian teenage lesbians known as t.A.T.u.?
A: Swallowing your own vomit, an I.R.S. audit, kidney stones...
By Nick Duerdin
Photography by Miles Laden
THINGS TURN SOUR with t.A.T.u., Russia's most famous possible-lesbian pop stars, almost as soon as they arrive.
But we -- Blender and Blender's intrepid date -- don't know this yet. Right now it is 7 P.M. We are waiting for them in a corner booth of a swank New York restaurant and -- mock us if you will -- we are full of naive expectation to mood swings and tantrums.
Nevertheless, we are confident that tonight's double date will be a success. Over three courses of fine food and French wine, we will bond, swap jokes, and share stories. And by night's end, we will have become firm friends, exchanging phone numbers and email addresses, and promising that we must do this again sometime soon.
How little we know. How foolish our optimism.
7:25 P.M. and our wine glasses have been drained. We order two more. A quarter of an hour later, the girls finally turn up. They are tiny and look sullen. Lena Katina, 18, starts to say hello, but the second syllable is lost inside a heavy sigh. Her red corkscrew curls bounce around her shoulders and frame a very pretty face -- a face that would be prettier if she were smiling. Her partner (in music and, reputedly in love), Julia Volkova, also 18, flops into the seat beside her, tips her head back and yawns. Her handshake has the consistency of a wet fish in it's last moments of life.
Within minutes, Julia begins to fidget. Blender, ignoring mounting nerves, attempts to draw her in. The cropped-haired siren blinks languidly, regarding Blender with absolute disinterest.
A Russian entourage arrives: management, a producer, a man who doesn't introduce himself and an interpreter for Julia. Menus are provided, Julia wants spaghetti in tomato sauce, while Lena who never eats after 6 P.M. -- "And no," she says rolling her eyes "not because I am on diet, but because I don't like to sleep with full belly" -- orders only tea.
"I want it now," she tells the waiter , who, much to Lena's evident disdain, is busy taking someone else's order. "Now!" she shouts.
The waiter blanches: "I heard you."
"Well bring it, then."
T.A.T.U. ARE THE biggest pop sensation ever to come out of Russia. Their debut album, 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane, features turbo-powered pop songs sung by a pair of chipmunks with helium voices. It has already sold more than a million copies in Europe. And if they have their way, America will soon transform them into proper global superstars.
The girls first met six years ago as members of Neposedi, a children's pop group. In 1999, they auditioned for a teen band conceived by Ivan Shapovalov, a 36-year old former child psychologist-turned-advertising executive. Shapovalov decided, almost on a whim, to create a girl group whose image relied heavily on illicit sexuality. He found Lena and Julia's natural chemistry intoxicating and created t.A.T.u. (the acronym stands for ta lyubit tu -- "this one loves that one") around them. They were an instant success.
"In space of two weeks," Lena says, "the whole of Russia know us and love usten fetishizes it, t.A.T.u. are exquisitely manipulative and sublimely marketed.
And then there's their twist -- their alleged sexuality. The duo's act revolves around their carnal obsession for each other. The video for "Simple Motion" features them caressing each other's bare limbs and masturbating -- albeit discreetly -- in a bathroom. When they appeared on The Tonight Show recently, they French-kissed between verses. Jay Leno has never looked quite so pale.
Rumors about whether they're really a couple or, for that matter, genuinely gay only add more fuel to the flames. They are a pop-music fan's wet dream.
As dinner dates, however, they suck.
BY THE TIME the food arrives, almost all lines of communication have thoroughly broken down.
"Such questions," Lena says at one point. "All the time we get the same questions. It's boring. It doesn't matter, you know, whether me and Julia are lovers or friends. We don't care if people believe that we are a couple. This is our private life, and we should be able to do what we want. And if you don't like it? Goodbye to you."
At this point, the woman representing the band's management says something in Russian to Lena -- "He wants to know whether you both share a bed" -- although we asked them no such thing. "Why don't you just tell him?" (Blender understands her comments, incidentally because Blender's date is of Russian extraction -- something we have sneakily neglected to tell t.A.T.u.)
Julia, her mouth smeared with tomato sauce, responds, repeating over and over, "Nyet! Nyet! Nyet!" She uses her fork as an exclamation point. "You know what I think?" Lena muses. "I think we should not be doing so many interviews. We should only do the ones that are important or fun."
And this one, presumably is neither?
Lena smiles sourly, an untouchable Russian princess, and sips her tea.
AFTER A BATHROOM break, we make baby steps toward progress: The discussion around the table concerns travel. t.A.T.u. have visited much of the world in the last year, and have many ripe opinions about the places they've been. London, for example, is dull and gray; Madrid fails to impress. As for New York...
"I hate New York -- I really, really hate it," Lena says. "For me, it is prison. So many buildings. No sky, no nature, no sun. Just buildings, buildings, buildings. It's horrible. Pah."
Julia disagrees. Nature, she says, can be found anywhere in the world, but New York is one of a kind.
"Well, I don't agree," Lena says, pouting.
Do you fail to agree often?
"No, because I don't like to argue," Lena offers obliquely.
Julia contradicts her: "Yes, of course we argue from time to time. I have my opinions and I don't like to be bossed around."
"I do not agree with this point" Lena says, confusing everyone at the table. "I have my own point of view on every topic." Then, apropos of nothing, she says this "I am studying psychology. It is interesting to watch people. Meeting people, famous people, is fun, because famous people are crazy. What is wrong with them?"
What famous people are we talking about here?
"No", comes the response. "I am not going to say. Really, such questions you ask." Clearly bored, she turns to her entourage. They loudly discuss, in Russian, whether they'll be able to score free designer clothes from any of New York's fashion houses.
Blender, close to tears now, attempts to politely interject. Fails, tries again. A question is thrown out: What do you think Russians think of you? Suddenly, Lena looks quite animated. "Russia loves us!" she exclaims. "They love us because what we have done for the country."
Well, asks Blender, unaware that these will be the words that finally break the camel's back, do you like the songs that you've been given to sing?
A strange sound spills out of Lena's mouth, halfway between a derisive laugh and a dry wretch. "Ha! Stupid question! Really very stupid question!" Her eyes narrow, she looks quite terrifying. "Do you think we would sing the songs if we didn't like them? What's wrong with you, hey? So stupid."
And that's it. Lena's had enough -- she's leaving and taking Julia with her, flouncing through the dimly lit restaurant like the flamboyant, fabulous little diva she is. Our dinner date, in tatters, has been a disaster. In t.A.T
Double Date Report Card
Conversational Skills (with Blender): D
Conversational Skills (with each other): A
Interest in Our Lives (Lena's only question to Blender; "Are you stupid?"): D-
Sense of Humor: C-
Public Displays of Affection: C
Overall Grade: D
Source: May 2003 issue of Blender Magazine
Transcribed by Scott "CelticJobber" Levy Yahoo Group Sexy t.A.T.u. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sexytatu/