Nude with a violin


Egoist Generation magazine 7(11)/8(12) July/August, 2002

Masha Tarasevich is a singer and a model. She sings jazz with Igor Butman’s orchestra, advertises the latest Armani collections. She was the first Russian girl whose pictures appeared on the Playboy cover presenting the first international standard of the Russian type of beauty. Masha is a toted person. She is known for a number of adventurous deeds. Yet Masha does not talk much. She always keeps her plans for the future in secret. She only warns that both the most efficient and the most modest plans always ruin if revealed to other people… She left Minsk without a word to take the exams at the Gnesins Music School. Without informing anybody she sent her pictures to the Playboy. Then she entered the Life Spring training courses where students learn to become “carrier fighters” according to an American education system. The authors of the courses always make their students sign the non-disclosure statement, so the information about training is confidential. And if asked about the results of those mysterious courses Masha keeps silence. 

Andrei Fomin (producer): I sincerely admire everything in her life! I admire her picture in Playboy: it was a serious step of her. I admire that she doesn’t stop singing and performing under any circumstances, though any other person would give in. She is extremely strong-willed. And what makes me admire most of all is that she is girl of almost unreal beauty. 

Igor Butman: Masha is a very beautiful lady, but she spends all her time on jazz. She could do anything: be a model, a movie actress or a TV star, but she is devoted to jazz. We appreciate it. She is making jazz popular. 

Artemi Troitski: I believe that Miss Tarasevich’s life was full of surprising deeds and events which could impress and shock anybody. 

Publication of pictures in Playboy is by all means a very brave deed. Before Playboy appeared, and Masha became its uncrowned queen, erotica and sex in the state called Russia were believed to be something improper, shameful, and peculiar to prostitutes. And when the Playboy – Tarasevich bright tandem was formed, sex moved from the shadowy underground to the light and became the attribute of high life and prestige. And in her private life there were several zigzags that could astonish any outsider. 

Victor Shenderovich: As most Russian men I first saw Masha Tarasevich in the Playboy magazine and I was happy for the magazine. Because there exist many sexy women, but there are very few beautiful ones. Several years later I met Masha and felt happy that my first impression was right. Masha appeared to be a nice and intelligent girl. When I learned that Tarasevich began to sing, I was not very much surprised. This girl wishes to realize her abilities so that the whole world would remember her. I wish her good luck. 

- Tell a few words about yourself, Masha 

I was born on the same day as Goethe. It happened on the twenty eighth of August at midday – twelve o’clock sharp. Not a minute earlier or later. My mother even checked her watch. Therefore I love the Sun, the light and the summertime. And I always wanted to be the master of my destiny and not to go with the stream. 

- Did you behave in a non-traditional manner when you were a child? 

I remember the kindergarten when I was six years old. It was a New Year morning performance and I was given the role of Pinocchio. What were they thinking about? Were they all crazy? Why should I play Pinocchio? I was furious and started to cry. I shall not play this guy with a long nose! And the governess said that this was the only one role left. I began to stamp my feet and they found another role for me. “You will be the Princess Who Never Laughs”. Well, I thought, that is quite a different thing. I like the role of the Princess. The whole kindergarten gathered, the Princess sat down beside the King, and princes were trying to make me - the Princess Who Never Laughs – burst out laughing. I had to marry the prince who will succeed. I understood that I had to be serious. But how could I refrain from laughing when everybody was so funny? And I remembered a very sad story which happened to me the year before. My mother told me to go to bed and promised to wake me up to meet the New Year. Naturally, she didn’t wake me up. I was very upset and remembering the offence I burst out crying, fell down on the floor and it became impossible to calm me down. Everybody was laughing and I kept crying. Later they said that I was the best Princess Who Never Laughs during the whole history of the kindergarten. 

- Was it at that time that you felt self-reliance? Do you thing that lucky people have succeeded due to some adventurous features of their nature? 

I don’t know why, but I feel an adventure as something having a smell of good cigars, men’s perfume and mystery. To make a long story short, it’s James Bond: the King of adventurers. The adventure attracts us because it gives us a chance not to take life too serious, to see its humorous aspects. The very word “adventure” implies a bit of thoughtlessness. It’s like a move of the knight in chess. 

- What is your favorite adventure? 

Immediately after the final school party I took my bags, got into the train and left for Moscow. I didn’t inform anybody. 

- And why did you choose Moscow? Why not Hollywood? This question is not in the least provoking 

It was the time when nobody had any idea of the life abroad. Everybody believed that the life it was a hell where only Africans live… that you could be slaved. I couldn’t even imagine what a Hollywood was. But I knew Moscow, I had been there before. I had to choose between the career of an actress and a musician. As I had been playing violin for ten years, I was sorry to give up my musical education. This is the reason why I preferred the Gnesins Music School. 

Students from Argentine, Venezuela, Scotland studied with me. It was interesting to speak with them because their culture, traditions and customs are so different from ours. 

- Did you suffer from nostalgia? Were you missing home? 

I was awfully, just awfully missing home. My friend and I were walking along the Vorovski Street peeping into the windows. We tried to find a room with a lampshade, curtains and a floor lamp in the corner. I couldn’t invite people to the hostel. I wanted to receive guests, and what reception could it be when 6 girls lived in one small room. 

- What was your next adventure? 

I went to work when I was seventeen. I understood that I needed money. I worked at three places at a time. I worked at the variety show at the Gold Hall of the Intourist hotel from 9 till 10 o’clock. Special luxurious costumes were made especially for me. I dived into a different world of grown-ups. I visited every party there. 

At 11 o’clock another program at the Soyuz hotel at Rechnoy Vokzal began. And during the week-ends I worked with Starostin’s orchestra at the Variety Theatre. 

I went on tour with the Intourist program for the first time to Italy. I was nineteen when I found myself in Sicily. I had a very strong impression. I brought two bags of presents from this tour. I gave my mother 600 dollars, I earned 25 dollars daily. And I decided: I shall never live at a hostel any more. I saw such beautiful flats, houses and villas in Italy.. 

And then I started singing with Anatoly Kroll’s orchestra… 

- Did you publish advertisements? 

No, I didn’t. My friend Veronica told me that Anatoly Kroll was hiring new musicians and if I had nothing against singing jazz I could risk taking auditing. The result was five years of cooperation. 

- Were there men in your life who made you suffer? 

Yes, there were. But it happened only when I was a teenager. I was a pioneer, and he worked as a loader at the pioneer camp because he had just returned from the army. I was fourteen, and he was twenty. He was very handsome, with white teeth, beautiful sunburned skin, blue eyes and wavy hair. He looked like Esenin. He was rather rude, and I liked it. He could come up to me, say something sharp and grasp me. He was often drunk. When I returned to Minsk after the summer vacations he called me and invited to the cinema theatre. He was absolutely drunk and had not a penny, so he asked me to buy tickets. I paid for the tickets and we went to see “Little Vera”, but I couldn’t stand when he decided to kiss me. Just imagine! I am paying for the tickets and he is sticking to me with kisses. It was the limit. I understood that I should never see him again. He was unworthy of me. I still loved him and I suffered; he was still calling me, but I didn’t answer the calls. It is interesting that some years after he called his daughter Masha. 

- How did you meet Sting? 

I met Sting at the Jazz Festival in Montreal. My friend Rubin was the organizer of the festival. He introduced me to Sting and his group. We had no romantic affair, he is a married man. We discussed professional subjects. Sting showed me his new violin and asked me to professionally evaluate the music book by which he was studying the paying technique. I should say that the musical notation was rather difficult. 

- Did you think of becoming a singer when you were a schoolgirl? 

All girls used to write in the questionnaires: I am going to become a singer or an actress. As for me, I had the only with to manage the process, to become a producer, no matter in what field. The main thing is to hold everything under control. 

- Are you thinking of some training courses for producers? 

I am not thinking of any training courses at present, because life is the best polygon. What I am doing now, I am doing on my own. I am seeking sponsors, select materials; hire people with whom I want to work. I mean, I control the whole process. And I don’t think I could work with a producer. Do you remember the movie “The Fifth Element”? There are words there: “If you want to do anything, do it yourself”. When I come to my studio I enjoy the job I have done. What I am doing, I am doing for myself. And it is extremely important for me. 

- What money mean for you? Jaclyn Kennedy used to say that money is the applause. Do you like applause? 

I am not crazy about money. Actually I never lacked it. I had as much as I needed - neither more, nor less. If I got something above that, if I was given expensive presents, I gave them to my mother, to my sisters, to my friends. Thus I got rid of what was unnecessary. Unnecessary things are a burden. Money is both the freedom and the evil at the same time. Actually you can buy anything for money. You can buy sex, power; you can manipulate people with money. Therefore people want to have a lot of money. In my opinion one should have as much money as you need, not more. 

- Do you feel you are a beautiful woman? 

It depends on my mood and my wish. When I was twenty, I was rather fat, and I wanted to lose weight badly. And I managed to do it. It happened without any efforts from my side. My great wish was an impulse for that. 

- Do you mean that the motto – if you want to be beautiful – be such – is right? 

Yes, exactly so! But you can’t break through and to achieve what you want if you feel you are splitting into two or three. First you should recognize what you are. You should love yourself, understand your own wishes, separate yourself from anything what is drawing you away prom your purpose. You should work hard and the breakthrough will become you next step. 

Lev Tolstoy once said: love yourself and more benefits will fall to other people’s share. Alexandra Ivchenko