“Sex in the USSR” that was really the case
17 July 1986, the receptionist and a member of the public organization “the Committee of Soviet women” Lyudmila Ivanova suddenly became famous.
She said during one of the first Soviet-American space bridges Leningrad — Boston the words “in the USSR, no sex”, which later became winged. The teleconference was recorded on 28 June and was aired two weeks later.
Correspondent Bi-bi-si Dina Newman spoke to transfer bi-Bi-si Witness (“Witness”), Liudmila Ivanova, and Vladimir Posner, who, along with American TV host Phil Donahue led the teleconference.
It Posner gave Ivanova a microphone in that moment, when the American teleconference participant asked the question: “we in television commercials, everything revolves around sex. If you have such TV advertising?”.
Ludmila Ivanova told about what was going on.
Did the job
Ludmila Ivanova: first, this word never heard. Only knew what sex was. But we realized that [this word] not a very good value. Because I was a woman active, Posner gave me a microphone — he went on the podium and I said, “In the USSR there is no sex — we have love”, but this piece is then cut off.
Bi-bi-si: You said “in the USSR, no sex, and we are against it ?”.
L. I.: I said, “we are against this” or “we don’t understand this” — something like that. I don’t remember. As soon as I said “in the Soviet Union, no sex” there was a thunder of laughter, then I have not heard anything.
Bi-bi-si: What did you feel at this point that said something stupid or smart?
L. I.: I, first, was scared. I thought I did something wrong said, and I’ll get. It flew by itself. Most importantly, we had all that they offer or ask, deny. Before that, Posner with us a half hour talking with everyone. He said: “there Will be unexpected questions, they will be put to a standstill, you don’t give up, just answer, don’t be embarrassed”. I got the job, I tried to run.
Bi-bi-si: it was not just a teleconference, there was a special briefing, and you had a problem?
L. I.: the Basic problem set that we are against the war. That’s our main goal. Afghanistan, Vietnam and so on. We have to defend, we will ask provocative questions associated with war, aggression, so we were so configured.
Bi-bi-si: you clearly understood that I speak not on behalf of, and represent the country?
L. I.: I used 25 years in the Soviet women’s Committee to speak on behalf of the Motherland to defend the Motherland, if not a gun, but with words. We were at first shocked by the fact that American women come in a torn t-shirt and jeans, sneakers, unkempt, as they say, unwashed, and we were all crazy dressed up, we were preparing for this. I’m at mom’s two days a brooch of gold and jewels were sewn. For us, it was the first shock moment.
They were loud, chewing gum, and we all are correct was, lean, with glittering eyes — to defend their Homeland.
Bi-bi-si: American beauty struck you with its swagger?
L. I.: Yes, now it is called freedom, but then we don’t really understand it, and even then, having and making friends, we very much condemned it.
Bi-bi-si: the first time You saw American?
L. I.: it was easier — I worked with the delegations of the Committee of Soviet women, the Queens, wives of the presidents, I worked in “Intourist”. For me it was a strong shock that is television, and television has come here are ladies. And for the rest of the women who gathered plants, factories, tram depots, of course, for them it was a shock — they dressed up, washed and did hair.
Bi-bi-si: Posner also spent with you a special interview?
L. I.: It is an hour and a half exhorted us not to hesitate, not faint, held themselves freely.
Bi-bi-si: But when asked this question, an American asked a question about advertising, probably no one even realized the USSR was not advertising?
L. I.: We didn’t even understand what it is and where you can advertise sex, no porn, no advertising there, we only had the word “love”.
Bi-bi-si: As for sex education in schools?
L. I.: of course Not. Well, if mom and dad about something will tell, and even talking about it.
Bi-bi-si: this complete freedom was in women could have a sexual relationship before marriage and there were many.
L. I.: But it’s all hidden, you know. I worked in “Intourist” and if someone came to work of the ladies and was not married, she was offered either to marry or to leave from “Intourist”. Observed the nucleus of the family. I was a member of the party, and there’s even the party Charter that was written about the family.
Bi-bi-si: As a Communist, you had no right to have an extramarital affair?
L. I.: Of Course. I could not articulate. I would have called to talk to the party Committee at the party meeting. Could fire from the “Intourist” with a Bang.
Bi-bi-si: But an extramarital affair has taken place, and very actively?
L. I.: Well, what to do, we the people, that’s fine. It is now no one’s judging, freedom really came, so I was on the Committee of Soviet women ribbing for this expression, a little out of Committee is not expelled, at a party meeting on the work of ribbing, I generally lay low until the 95th year, nobody said anything.
Only in 1995 I began to track down and ask whether there is sex or no sex.
In Russia all call love
Bi-bi-si: You didn’t tell anyone about this episode?
L. I.: I told the house — her husband and brother, no one else. Two months passed, it appeared on the screen, then began.
Bi-bi-si: you told the Committee of Soviet women?
L. I.: I was told — how could I, a good woman, having a family, a good job, having a diploma of merit, good reviews, how could I do to blurt it out, what was I thinking. I got a good thrashing.
Bi-bi-si: the Party meeting was also about this?
L. I.: First, I had a conversation with the organizer of “Intourist”, and then at a party meeting I made a serious remark, said, “How is it you’re on the Committee you’re an activist as one could go on about these women, American women?” And that — on occasion? On the contrary, I defended that we never had sex.
Bi-bi-si: You knew the word “sex” as something born out of wedlock?
L. I.: I understand that this is something born out of wedlock, some kind of vicious when it’s wrong, ugly and dishonest. What is now different? Now it is.
Bi-bi-si: And when you make love with her husband, this is called love?
L. I.: in Russia In General all is love. It now began to be called sex, and you have some money to give. I’m certainly not old fashioned, I have five husbands, four of them died willingly. Still in middle and old age what it means, and the youth is another. For them, sex, love, connection, day, meetings — it’s all right.
Bi-bi-si: But you still think that a healthy relationship is love in marriage?
L. I.: Not only in marriage. Chekhov is still described love outside marriage, and famous writers used to describe it. When it comes to this feeling, crazy feeling comes, not everyone can resist. Maybe it’s called… Sex is love, so be it.
Says Vladimir Pozner
The program was called “Women talking with women”. In Boston, the group was recruited 200 women, and the same size group gathered in what was then Leningrad. It was the second so-called outer teleconference, from those that we spent with Phil Donahue first came out the year before (space bridge Leningrad-Seattle took place on December 29 198 5 years — Bi-bi-si).
It was two events that in the minds of people in this country alone, because everyone was watching these esters.
The first show, which was called “A Citizens’ Summit (the summit of ordinary citizens”), it was very political. It was the first time something like this ever be able to appear on Soviet television, and people were absolutely stunned by what they heard. Someone is not liked, while others were quite pleased.
A second teleconference was not as explosive in political terms. However, one phrase — “we do not have Sex” — I think will remember it forever.
Bi-bi-si: It’s true. The format of the program was unusual: there were some women, and that in itself was a challenge. And the fact that it was very innovative for American television, isn’t it?
V. I.: I Think that the format when people talk to each other via satellite — two groups in the two countries, which at that time dominated the attention of the entire world, in itself was a challenge.
And on the American side at first, it was a common prejudice that the Soviet audience is “Packed” that it will consist entirely of employees of the KGB, and no genuine call will fail.
The result is a game show host on the American side, Phil Donahue, who at the time was one of the most popular TV presenters in the USA and in fact the man who invented the format of a talk show, was very concerned about this fact.
He called me — we were not yet familiar — and asked whether to send their men that they picked up the Soviet program participants.
“Neither before nor after was not like that”
I was surprised, but he said, look, we need to be sure that people in the Soviet studios are not planted by the KGB, that we do have and it is the most ordinary people.
And the Soviet side agreed to this. Thus, for the first teleconference of the American team arrived in Leningrad and — of course, with our help, because they didn’t speak Russian and couldn’t just come to the factory, the school or the hospital — largely gained participants of the program.
Then, when the preparation of the second bridge, “Women talking with women”, we arrived in Boston and there gathered local participants of the ether, just as the American party gained again Soviet.
Everything that happened then was a first — never before had anything like that and, to tell you the truth, after that, too.
For American television it wasn’t a major event: in the US, the program shows only those stations that usually broadcast the program, Phil Donahue, and even then not all of them were ready. So the audience was relatively small, by American standards.
At the same time in the Soviet Union, the program produced a tremendous effect.
It was shown on all the leading national TV channels, and the audience was huge: it looked, I guess, at least 150 million people. And it helped greatly to change the attitude of many people. I then received, I think over 77 thousand letters from viewers. And many of them wrote to me: we saw ourselves, I saw my own face, and we didn’t like it.
Because the Soviet people saw that the Americans were saying do what you wanted to say without fear that someone is standing behind their shoulder, they were not afraid to speak. At the same time, in those years, in the mid-80s, when we first started perestroika and glasnost, people were still very unsure of what might happen if they say something wrong.
They saw that the Americans did not worry about it. And it definitely had an effect.
“Continue again and again to protect her”
Bi-bi-si: going Back to space teleconference 1986 with the participation of women. Do you remember the atmosphere in the audience? I think people were tense, they were subjected to powerful instruction and they were very nervous about the fact that I can say something, which they can be fired from work, and even to punish. People know that they can talk and what not.
The woman, Ludmila Ivanova, she told me what coaching they underwent. She worked in “Intourist”, and was also a member of the Committee of Soviet women. She knew exactly what line to follow. And, as she says, the most important thing they hammered is all to say “no” and deny everything.
V. I.: I don’t believe it. I think she greatly exaggerates. Undoubtedly, she was working [at the “Intourist”], and the organization where she worked, was ideological. And she knew — as all Soviet people, — that there are things that should not talk to. You don’t even need to work at the “Intourist” to know that.
But I absolutely do not believe that all women were instructed simply don’t believe it. Yes, they didn’t need to instruct a: actually, because what she said was true.
The problem is that she never said that in the Soviet Union was not sex, as it all took.
In fact, it was what? Pretty older woman in Boston told me that her grandson watches TV, where they show violence and sex. And she doesn’t know what to do with it. “Do you have a problem?” she asked. And in this moment Lyudmila Ivanova stepped forward and said, “we Have no sex,” and at this point the whole room burst out laughing.
And no one to listen that she was going to say next. And she wanted to say that there was no sex on TV, for television — and it was the absolute truth.
Indeed, in those years, Soviet television almost never had sex. And violence was not there. But the end of the phrase is no longer heard.
She told me years later that people recognized her on the street, point at her and said, “So, we have no sex, right?”.
Bi-bi-si: Why do you think this phrase has become in Russia a cruise? It turns out that she got spot-on?
VI: No, she didn’t hit the spot. The phrase was so funny that people in the Studio laughed like crazy: what do you mean “we don’t have sex”? How can someone say that?
This phrase became famous. And people continue to laugh about it: what kind of an idiot so who says we don’t have sex? And I continue again and again to protect her — they say she’s not what I meant. She said that we don’t have sex on TV.
And what she said was true. It wasn’t as if she was trying to protect the Soviet system, because he worked in “Intourist” and so on and so lied to, but still chose to do such a ridiculous way. This does not mean that others did not try to do this, not trying to protect the system. But in her case she just blundered badly.
She later told me that he decided in the end to emigrate because life for her had become unbearable, people never stopped making fun of her.
Bi-bi-si: it is Curious that you and Phil Donahue appeared to be the only non-anonymous participants of the show. And if not for Lyudmila and her very graceful response to the situation, in General, all program participants would have remained unknown. But now she is also known…
V. I.: Yes, she is really famous here, although not all remember her name. However, her words remembered forever. And no matter what I say and how many times I repeat: listen, you leave her alone, she didn’t say, “In the Soviet Union, no sex” — didn’t say it — nobody cares, just no one cares.