The once-mighty flathead is gone. Oh, you might find a few skulking around remote podmoskoviya clubs, but the hulking, crew-cut gangsters have vanished from central Moscow, replaced by a far more dangerous breed: the feis kontrol goon.
And the eXile, in a move already hailed as "a seismic shift in Moscow's elitnii scene," is officially retiring our "flathead-factor" icon.
Sure, it's sad. But it's Nature's way. The Mammoth went extinct; so did the Dodo. And since the flathead was basically a mammoth dodo, it's only natural his time would come. So starting with this issue, the Flathead, along with his tracksuits, gold rings and teenybopper girlfriends, has been barred from our elitny pages, replaced by a new feis kontrol icon which will warn U, the reader, whether you stand a chance of getting into the club you're planning to visit.
We're just moving with the times. Nobody's afraid of being flattened by a flathead anymore. They're worried about being faced, sent away in shame, by the thugs at the door.
We saw it coming long ago, and exploited it to the full in the classic Buns McGillicuddy prank last summer. Since then, Moscow's feis kontrol has gotten even tighter. Short of pulling a Buns: driving up in a new BMW with a model girlfriend, bodyguard, manager and Gucci suit; you never really know if you'll make the grade. If you don't have the connections it takes to get a club card, your fate hinges on the whims of the club's art director, that hateful, bloated coke addict that presides over the doors at every Moscow club (see this issue's field guide).
To defeat the art director, we must first understand the art director. What motivates him, and how did he so skillfully hone his ability to destroy egos?
The classic art director had to crawl before he could stand. He crawled his way through endless humiliations, sucking up to every club owner and fashionable socialite until at last he gained power of his own over helpless patrons. The club bosses keep him on as a model of the possible rewards available for others wishing to prostrate themselves before Moscow's Svetskye. The art director occupies a middling rank among Moscow's aristocracy, the equivalent perhaps of a Collegiate Assessor under the Tsar. To really understand this character reread The Inspector General and note how eager Anton Antonovich is to please his superiors. After so many decades and so much turmoil, Moscow still resembles Gogol's caricature of provincial Russia.
Actually, art directors are even more ruthless than Gogol's mid-rank clerks because the art director's path to success is an even more savage one. It's the law of the jungle; those who were hazed the worst, subjected to the most brutal dedevshino, become the cruelest when power is in their hands. After all that groveling, the art director avenges his shame by punishing the peons that remind him of his former self.
They are particularly heartless because they know that their time in power is finite. Unlike Moscow's real upper crust, who have infinite wealth and are therefore guaranteed their position, the art director knows he will soon age, lose touch with what is modny and be forced into obsolescence, growing old in a grim Marino apartment, with nothing but memories of when he alone decided who would make it into Moscow's best tusovka. He is like an aging model, except the model can at least fantasize about some rich guy rescuing her. Not so the art director. He is doomed.
In my quest to understand the art director in his native habitat, I spent Saturday night going from club to club, getting feised in hopes of uncovering what makes these guys tick. This is the record of that grim outing.