Interview: Dmitry Oskin
We meet the star of new FOX reality show Meet the Russians...
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What was it like being part of the Meet the Russians?
Actually, really exciting! At the beginning I was a little bit worried and I didn’t know how to speak or what they were going to ask me. I’ve never had this experience before, working for the camera, you know what I mean? But then slowly I got used to this and just had fun. I started thinking like, ‘oh what will people think of you?’, ‘what are they going to say?’ because, you know, I could say too much. But you need to be yourself, just relax and have fun.
What was your favourite part of doing the show?
Well, I hate interviews, you know... serious one-to-one and just speaking. But when they’re just following me and I tell them about my life it’s actually very exciting. You feel very special because they were following me all summer. I’m not the shyest person but I could be worse. I thought it would be great to do this some more because I feel really good in front of cameras. And, of course, it’s very important to speak to English people about Russian life. I mean, I was really honest all the time. I told them how I felt all the time as a gay because it’s quite a big part of my personality.
How does it feel to be a Russian gay man in light of the anti-LGBT propaganda bill that’s just been introduced?
When I lived in Russia it was different because it was four years ago. Still, it was really quite hard, you couldn’t really be open except to your gay or really close friends. It’s hard to be open to your families. For me it was difficult; I never talked to my parents about it. I know so many friends who are my age who just left their families because they just couldn’t tell them. And now it’s even worse because of this new stupid law. What used to happen with the parents not liking gays was they would talk about the negative laws surrounding being gay, which would then cause their children to be upset and sometimes led to suicides.
Do you think your life would be a lot different if you were doing what you do here but in Russia?
It would be easier than four years ago was. I mean, the younger generations feel really comfortable. They want to tell everyone they’re gay and I’m really happy about that. But with this pressure it’s really difficult because nobody wants to protect, respect or understand the situation. On Russian TV, parents appear with outdated mindsets which add pressure to kids who are struggling. When you try to protect yourself by saying, "no, we’re nice people too", it just wouldn’t work, it would make things worse. Actually, there have been Russian gay celebrities who cannot be open because of the media.
Is that one of the reasons you moved to the UK?
That wasn’t specifically why I left Russia. My partner lives here; I have been dating him for a long time and have known him for eight years. After three years I decided to move to London and live with him.
Would you ever consider moving back to Russia?
No, I don’t think so, I don’t see a reason to. It’s so much easier to be gay here. All my friends are jealous because they want to live in a country where you can be yourself, whether you’re gay or lesbian or whatever you are. It’s beautiful.
You seem to live an exciting life here in London working as a fashion photographer. Tell us a bit more about your lifestyle here.
The lifestyle is different - it’s busier, there is always something going on. Different life, different country, different people and, as I say to everyone, I just feel more comfortable around English people. There are private clubs which are unique and they’re smart and you meet interesting people. We don’t have places like that in Russia. If you go into a fancy restaurant in Russia the people there will be very arrogant, I don’t like that. With English people who are successful and interesting you will feel very different. They will never push you down and for me it’s very exciting to meet those kinds of people all the time.
What inspires you in your work?
Well, it depends on the kind of work. If it’s fashion it’s not just about me it’s about the client and the concept. If it’s my personal work it’s just life. Everything inspires me, politics, sex. Everything together with little touches of provocations. It’s just the way you feel.
Are there any particular designers that you’d like to work with or admire?
Well my favourite is Galliano, unfortunately people don’t respect him after his situation. But I would love to work with him. I could tell you a thousand words about designers. Christian La Croix, Dior. I like the Dior house because of Galliano, the new creative director is ok, he’s alright.
You’ve also travelled to South America, South East Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean. Has this shaped your outlook as an artist?
Oh yes, definitely! When I went to Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand to see the forests, you know, exotic life, it was really inspiring, actually. It’s about nature and the colours, everything.
You’re also a stylist…
Yes I was a stylist, hairdresser, make-up artist for six years. So I’ve been working in fashion shows and private parties and that’s why when I moved to London I decided to do fashion photography because I had the experience.
What are your hopes for the future?
It's my dream to open my own studio and manage my own team. So this would probably be one of the biggest ambitions for my future in the next five years. Of course, here in London!
Don't miss the new reality show Meet the Russians, Wed 25 September on FOX.
Words: Callum Walker