By Colin Graham
WARSAW, 30 JANUARY 2006 —Forget about Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul
II and vodka for a moment, Poland’s real claim to
fame is that two of its energetic young women were holders of
the "World Gang Bang Record" in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Alas, the mantle then passed to an
American, Lisa Sparxxx, whose feat of having sex with 919 men in a matter of hours
was achieved in 2004, but as with her Polish predecessors—Klaudia Figura (646
men) and Marianna Rokita (759)—she chose to do her country proud at the Eroticon
festival in Warsaw, now about to enter its sixth consecutive year from 16 -
19 February 2006.
Poland and sex have a troubled relationship. The
Catholic Church, as is its wont, does its mightiest to rein in the urges of
its followers—still legion in Poland—but largely fails, as Ms Figura, Ms Rokita, and their
multiple partners have so graphically shown.
The thoroughfare from Warsaw city centre to the
suburbs, just a few minutes walk from where I live, is a living testament
to just how bizarre this tension between fornication and faith can get.
John Paul II Avenue was in April last year a mecca for thousands upon
thousands of Poles who came to light candles on the sidewalks in
homage to the first Polish Pope, who had just died. Getting through the somber throng was nigh
impossible, as was uttering anything other than the most pious of
thoughts, or so it seemed.
Yet lining the scene were (and are) dozens of the dingiest porno stores
you will ever see in this part of Europe: as it got dark the clustered
candles helped illumine dildos in the shop windows.
Someone must have noticed because the next day
tarpaulin obscured the trashy facades of around 70 percent of the
outlets—in what were clearly acts of self-censorship, so clumsy were the
attempts at concealment. Ss and Xs were visible everywhere as were
glimpses of thigh and thong. Where before one took the shops for granted,
now eyes were drawn implacably to the sight of censured sex lurking behind the mass mourning for the
Rarely have I seen anything so vulgar. Let no sanctimonious soul cast
aspersions on Ms. Figura and Rokita, for what they have done: light a
candle in front of a blacked out sex shop, my friend, and you are
Why didn’t anyone see that within the Catholic
vanguard who fought against the Communists, there was another nasty little
crowd of censors waiting to crawl out? Last year’s Eroticon—hoping to
stage another "World Gang Bang Record"—was rudely interrupted by Warsaw
Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who threatened to prosecute the organizers—Pink
Press—under the charge of "procuring women". The resulting stir gave the festival
excellent publicity but it ended up keeping the "Gang Bang Record" under
wraps. The event does not feature on this year's program, and now that
Kaczynski is the newly-elected President of Poland it seems that the
organizers are treading a little more carefully.
Dark clouds are hanging over Poland. The last
government—led by the ex-Communists, the SLD (Social Left Democrats)—was
riddled by corruption, but they allowed a liberal atmosphere to flourish,
with the rights of gays and women firmly respected. Since the September
general elections, however, the Right-minded Law and Justice party [PiS]
has gained control, promising to root out sleaze—which, to them, means
nullifying libidinal excess along with the political.
Law and Justice is perhaps the most enigmatic grouping in European
politics, mainly because it is led by identical twins, Lech and Jaroslaw
Kaczynski, one of whom is married and the other single. They are
middle-aged men and supreme political operators, which is why Lech is
president and Jaroslaw the backroom controller of the party. During the
election campaign to get Lech into the hot seat, election posters abounded
of him, smiles all around, sitting with his family. Jaroslaw’s profile was
Law and Justice is also avidly anti-gay—prime
minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz described homosexuality as "unnatural"
shortly after being appointed. When Warsaw’s mayor Lech Kaczynski banned a
gay-rights demonstration one weekend, only to let another—virulently
opposed to homosexuality—to go ahead the next, he was condemned across
Europe. Poland was that day an inversion of the European ideal of "freedom
of speech": it became a nasty blemish on all the post-war efforts to heal
the atrocities of Nazism, let alone Stalinism.
Speech is one thing, the body another. During
martial law in 1981 Poles had reproductive sex more than any other
European nation, and so was born the first "baby-boomer" generation of the
Communist bloc. The curfew saw to that. It now boasts one of the youngest—
and by definition—most sexually active populations in the region. "Come
fuck with us" is one item on Eroticon 2006’s program. It will be interesting to see how many take
up the offer.
A British journalist based in Warsaw, Colin Graham
writes on culture in Central and Eastern Europe. He last wrote on St. Petersburg: Naked by
Night for Culturekiosque.com