Lola Smirnova is an author from Ukraine, who for many years worked in the sex industry. She recently released her debut novel Twisted. Twisted is a work of fiction, but it is inspired by the author’s real life experiences making a living in the sex trade.
In the corrupt economy of post-Soviet Ukraine opportunities are scarce. Young and eager sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia – harbor dreams of a better life. Naïve and tempted by the allure of ‘quick’ money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever.
Can they stay out of trouble enough to fulfill their ambitions? Can they hold on to their idealism in a world where depravity and danger are constant companions? How far are they willing to go to make a buck?
Twisted is a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at a world that most will never see. It is shocking, raw, and explicit.
“Twisted tells the story of a young Ukrainian girl named Julia, whose family is struck with poverty after the fall of the Soviet Union. Her two older sisters leave home and become sex workers, glossing over the more distasteful aspects of their occupation, planting the seeds of both curiosity and greed in young Julia. She eventually finds the lure of easy money too beguiling and begins her journey into the darker aspects of drug abuse, drunken stupors, and the horrid and loveless life of a sex-for-sale prostitute... Twisted is an amazing book that is well written and provocative. This book is a worthwhile read.” - Michael Alexander’s BDSM Review
Lola Smirnova is currently working on her second novel Crave – a sequel to Twisted. To learn more, go to http://lolasmirnova.com/.
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My name is Julia. I am from Ukraine. I work as an entertainer in one of the many cabarets in Luxembourg City. In other words … I am a prostitute.
Luxembourg City is the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the pint-sized, landlocked country in the heart of Western Europe. By Shanghai, London or New York’s standards, it wouldn’t be strange to have sixty champagne bars in one city, but it does sound quirky when you consider that Luxembourg City is twice as small as Orlando Disney World.
This sleepy and conservative locale, the world’s eighth-largest banking and financial centre, motherland of prioress Yolanda and the 100-watt radio transmitter, is stuffed with sex-orientated ‘establishments’, like the one where I work. What’s more, they are jam-packed with able-to-eat-a-horse-for-the-dough girls from different countries – mostly, of course, Eastern Europeans, who would do anything to make an extra buck.
Champagne bar, whorehouse, brothel, house of assignation, bordello, den of vice; call them what you like, it does not change the core of these places. Although they are often called cabarets, and occasionally there is even strip-dancing involved, you shouldn’t associate them with merrymaking or extravaganza. ‘Trade’, ‘sex’, ‘transactions’, ‘carnal’, ‘barter’ or ‘perversion’ would be the better words to portray this type of nightery.
This is a place where one man can spend thousands of euro in an hour or sip only Coke all night long; where the currency is not money but champagne; where often nobody is really interested in the champagne’s quality or taste, but rather finds its value in the size and quantity of the bottles; where the sanctity of the sparkling drink of the gods and the missionary position are lost in the blue confusion of fake orgasms and sex noises.
It works as simply as a jukebox – to get music, you have to stick in a coin. If you want a girl to lavish attention on you, pay for her champagne.
The cheapest option is a €25 glass of bubbly, which gives you 15 minutes of an affectionate and solicitous bond with a girl at the bar. Pay twice that price and your ‘date’ drinks piccolo, the 250 ml bottle. In this case, the time you spend with her is doubled, but the storyline stays the same. Next: the demi-bouteille, a 375 ml bottle that costs about €180 for half an hour. This ‘denomination’ grants a little bit of comfort, because both of you can move to a dim semi-private lounge, as well as the confidence that physical manipulation will be involved. And last, but not least, is the ‘full house’ for the standard bottle, the price for which varies. It kicks off at €250 for questionable swill, which is reasonable damage considering that in addition to a drink, you get screwed for an hour in the séparé – a private room, most commonly upstairs. You could be asked to pay up to €650 for Cristal or Dom Perignon, where, of course, you cough up not only for sex but also for the champagne’s snobbish name, fine finish in the mouth, and the supplementary fondness and devotion. Sad to say, these pricey bottles – and the one-and-a-half litre magnums that go for €1,000 or more – are a rare occurrence in these clubs.
The uniqueness of such places is that while you, the customer, are having leisure time with your ‘pick’, her mind is constantly dividing the amount that you’ve already spent by five (this is how much commission the house pays her), adding her €60 daily salary and planning how to badger you to buy another bottle, all that while smiling or laughing hard enough to make sure that all of these calculations in her head are not reflected on her pretty face.
Most of the clubs open at one in the afternoon and cease their trading at about four in the morning. Of course, the run has to be split – there are day and night shifts. Even though, practically, there is no big difference between the two spells, the contrast in the clientele is huge.
The day shift – fuck, I hate it! – is all about the married and the perverts, but more often the married perverts. As a rule, they drop by to use their lunch break for a dull, uncomplicated quickie, or for depraved ‘activities’ they have never had the guts to share with their wives and girlfriends. They don’t drink much and have limited time. That is why the club is usually boring and full of freaks, but in the end, who cares if you can get the bottle?
On the other hand, the night transforms the club and fills it with a party flavour – the music is louder, the customers are drunker and the laughter gets more sincere. Even the girls’ sweat looks like a piece of cake. The problem is that the boys often get carried away by the alcohol and the thundering crowd, so their brains switch out of sex mode. If there is no sex, there is probably going to be no bottle either.
But enough, I don’t want to bore you. Let’s set in motion my adventure that, by the way, began without me.
Hi Lola and welcome to my blog
Firstly can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Ukraine. Straight after my final school exams I packed my bags and left Ukraine for good, never looking back. Throughout my twenties I worked all over the Europe browsing over all sorts of sex clubs. I currently live in South Africa, doing the writing full time.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for three years now.
What inspired you to start writing novels for your chosen genre?
I didn’t have a luxury of choosing my genre. I’m afraid the genre chose me ;)
Besides the fact that I wanted to sell millions of copies and become wealthy rich :) I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples' often ignorant attitude towards problems of the sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans... They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone's girlfriend, sister or daughter.
Are there any other genres you’ve written?
No. Twisted is my debut novel and I’m currently writing a sequel to it, which is naturally in the same genre.
Are you working on anything new right now and can you tell us more?
As I already mentioned, I’m busy with my second book now – Crave – in which the sisters are going to explore all the twists and turns of South African sex industry.
Can you offer any advice to the fledgling authors, just starting out?
As Richard Bach once said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
Do you have a favourite quote, if so what is it?
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde
What is your preferred method of writing:- The plot pre-planned from day one, or just go with the flow and see what happens next?
I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous – that’s what makes me savour and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.
Do you have any input in the Cover design of your novel?
I’m a control freak and a perfectionist, therefore, I’ve got an input in everything about my book. I’ve directed the photo shoot for the cover of Twisted, post processed the image myself. And I’m going to do the shoot for the cover of Crave totally myself. Busy working on it already J
Tell us one thing that no-one else knows about you – your darkest secret if you dare!
Funny enough, the whole book is full of my darkest secrets, so you’d have to read it in order to learn about them – if you dare! ;)
Can you tell us why you think we’d love to read your novel?
Because everybody loves the darkest secrets.
If you don’t like a character you’re writing about, what do you do?
a. Kill them off instantly
b. Get over it and learn to like them
c. Give them a whole new personality
d. or something else – do tell?! Please!
Most of my characters are freaks and perverts, sometimes even brutal. And I often hate them and wish I could kill them all! LOL
But unfortunately, as it usually happens in life, they remain unpunished. I believe in Karma and hope it will do its job.
Many thanks to Lola for joining us today and I do hope you enjoy her novel