Magazine article Newsweek International

Russia's Anna Inc

Magazine article Newsweek International

Russia's Anna Inc

Article excerpt

Byline: Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova

In the seven months since being arrested by the FBI and drummed out of the U.S., flame-haired spy Anna Chapman has become Russia's hottest cultural icon. She's posed semi-naked in a men's magazine, suggestively holding a pistol, and she's stood at attention in a tight-fitting military uniform receiving a medal from President Dmitry Medvedev. She's been on TV numerous times, doing skits on the national New Year's show and presenting her own program about the "mysteries of the world." And, as of last week, Chapman has registered her name as a trademark, meaning that her Russian fans can look forward to Chapman-branded products from soap to jewelry and watches, clothes and shoes, vodka and beer.

Chapman's personal style may be deliriously trashy--big hair, exposed bra straps, sheer satin evening dresses--and her TV presence is less than gripping. But the secret of her success is that she plays to so many stereotypes and helps Russians feel good about themselves. "If she didn't exist you'd have to invent her--she personifies the idea of the dangerous, sexy beauty. She's Russia's own real-life female James Bond," says Ilya Bezugly, editor of Maxim magazine, which ran Chapman's sexy photo shoot. "Plus, many Russians love the fact that she stuck one to the Americans; we don't have many success stories like that."

But not everyone adores Chapman's voracious appetite for self-publicity. "Diehard communists were shocked and disgusted when she appeared on the cover of a men's magazine," says Bezugly, who has known Chapman personally since she was a teenager. But even those who agree with the callers on Radio Ekho of Moscow who pronounced her "a strumpet" and "a toy of the Putin regime" have to acknowledge that she's a genius at marketing the Chapman brand. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.