Oct 24, 2016

Yuri's Beefcake Tour of Minsk

Yuri is even more devoted to beefcake art than I am, and every time goes back home, he sends me photos.  A few years ago he was visiting a cousin in Minsk, Belarus, and couldn't stop talking about both the performers at the Grand Ballet (left) and the public art.

Most people know little about Minsk except a song by Danny Kaye:
I have a friend in Minsk, who has a friend in Pinsk, whose friend in Omsk has a friend in Tomsk, with a friend in Akmolinsk, whose friend in Alexandrovsk has a friend in Petropavlovsk,who somehow is solving now the problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

Or Seinfeld, where the fictional musical Rochelle, Rochelle was about "a young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk." 


It has a tragic history.  Before World War II, 
over half of the population was Jewish.  But 80% of the Jewish community died in the Holocaust, and most of the rest immigrated to the U.S. or Israel.  

Today it is struggling to overcome its past.  It's very conservative and very homophobic, but nevertheless there are more muscular, semi-nude men than you would expect in a former socialist and staid Eastern Orthodox state.  

1. A rather skinny Orpheus, erected in 1979 by Valentin Zankovich near the Glinka Musical College, to memorialize victims of the Nazis.

2. Muscular, shirtless, but not nude, athletes over the entrance to Dynamo Stadium (left).

3. A fig-leaf covered Boy with Swan, maybe a take on the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, in a fountain in Alexander Park.

4. Behind Independence Square, there's a fountain called Youth, with a nude boy and girl, facing each other, holding pans of water.

5. This one isn't in Minsk but it's still cool.  Yuri thought it looked like a penis, but it's actually a man's face carved out of a 33-foot high granite mountain.  The monument to Courage in Brest.

6. Another gigantic sculpture of a nude soldier stretched out on the ground.

7. Ok, this one is pushing it. An 1843 statue of Mercury at the National Arts Museum.

8. A clothed but very muscular image of writer Maxim Gorky (who, by the way, was even more homophobic than Stalin.  He said: "exterminate all [gay people], and fascism will vanish."

9. The Island of Tears, installed in 1996, is a memorial to the Belarus soldiers who died during Soviet Times, featuring crying cherub, the "Guardian Angel of Minsk." You’re supposed to touch his penis for luck.

10. In September 2013, Igor Arinich revealed his collage of a nude guy on a horse composed of 3,000 Soviet-era bank notes. It's a copy of a famous painting, "Bathing of the Red Horse," by gay Russian artist Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.

See also: A Beefcake Tour of Eastern Europe; Yuri  Finds the World's Biggest Penis.