Our Friendship with Pussy Riot peeps in Moscow + Video
The Pussy Riot/ Punk Rock Martha Intercontinental Friendship
As an army of love, we make it a point to do nice things whenever possible. I travel a whole lot, and we try to come up with meaningful things for each destination. Since Moscow has the highest per capita of Billionaires and is the second most expensive city in the world, they don’t need much, materially speaking. At the suggestion of my artist friend Gosha, we bought 27 pairs of used Levis for my trip to Russia– and a gorgeous Free Pussy Riot stencil and some stickers that Bill from Y Que Trading Post in LA donated to the cause.
A cute guy picked me up from my hotel in Moscow and took me to the secret Pussy Riot headquarters. It was kind of surprising that a guy was so involved in such a feminist cause—and as it turned out, many of the supporters I met were men. I gave them a suitcase full of jeans and we watched an as-of-yet unreleased documentary on the band while drinking tea and eating cake. Pussy Riot is an anonymous group, so except for the three arrested and identified members, anyone else you meet, male or female is a “supporter”. (If a girl you meet has eyes that look like you’ve seen them somewhere before, perhaps through a balaclava—that would just be some kind of coincidence, wouldn’t it? Wink Wink) These “supporters” who have lots of footage of and with the band, who happened to be at every single secret performance the moment it happened, also happen to be real movers and shakers in Russia. They do volunteer work in hospices, sing to the elderly, do environmental work etc. It’s ironic that they are known for being hooligans when they are so kind and involved with their communities (sounds familiar…)
After a missed flight and some stars that aligned unexpectedly, I was able to go back and help stencil the jeans. We sprayed my own pair, the only pair that made it to America, which I sent to Patti Smith, the most deserving person I could think of. At the end of the night, I was told that they wanted to give me a thank you… which became Masha’s beautiful blue and silver balaclava that she was wearing during her infamous church performance. It was not very punk rock of me to cry, but I did—and I cried at the hotel till I thought I would throw up. Growing up in America, we were worried the Russians were going to bomb us (you know the Sting song…) and yet these awesome, caring people had just given me the last thing an amazing woman had worn before being unjustly imprisoned. Like I am the free keeper of some captive grrrrrl’s gear. To keep it safe. To tell the story. To imagine how ludicrous it would be if I had gone to the Cathedral with an electric guitar and scream-prayed for no second term when the cowboy president was running, and they had locked me up for two years. TWO. YEARS. It’s almost impossible to imagine, and yet, we have two sisters sitting in a cold and barren work camp for that very thing right this minute. One year down, one to go. But we mustn’t sit quietly and wait. We must show our support any way we can, be it rally, email or even social media post. The denial of their civil rights is the entire world’s problem.
As my friend Rafa likes to say, “Punk Book is bigger than Facebook.” It is indeed, Rafa.
We stand in solidarity.