In a faraway land, deep down in South Brooklyn, away from the hipsters of Williamsburg and the family haven of Prospect Park, lies a community that many know about, yet few brave out to explore on their own. It is called the Gilded Russian Brighton Beach Community (GRBBC), composed of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants who have taken segregation to a whole new level, creating a micro-universe complete with its own behavioral, sartorial and even jurisdictional codes. Today, we bring to you an A-Z guide that will give you some insight on this immigrant enigma.
B is for Brighton
Brighton Beach, a strip of land underneath the eardrum-shattering Q and B train lines, is a time capsule where nothing, including the people, has changed since the late 80’s. All the signage is Russian, all the food is Ukrainian, and all the accountants are ready to assist you on tax manipulation at a moment’s notice. One block away is an actual beach that transitions from geriatric hotspot to Soviet Muscle Beach come June.
C is for City
“The City” stands for the island of Manhattan, so close, yet so far away. The City is best suited for two activities: buying and returning things at Saks Fifth Avenue and dining at large restaurants in the Meatpacking districts to show off one’s Saks finds, possibly before returning them the next day. The only socially acceptable spots in The City, besides Catch and Provocateur in the Meatpacking District, are Onegin, Mari Vanna and oldie but goodie Cipriani!
C is also for Courting
I have to admit that this is one of the perks, as Russian men love a good chase and won’t hesitate to whip out all the best tricks in the book. Back in the day, when was 21 and of eligible bachelorette stature, I got whisked off to Miami for one day just to have lunch at Carpaccio in Bal Harbour. Today, seven years later, my dad would probably have to show his W4 to get to get me a date. (Since he ain’t no Donald Trump, that wouldn’t fly.)
D is for Dating
The laws of dating abide by a precise mathematical equation. The entire community begins dating each other at age 16. By age 21, everybody has fornicated with one another, and about 50% have become couples. By the age of 24, 50% of the couples have cheated on one another, run each other over with their BMWs, and moved on. The other 50% has gotten engaged with very large engagement rings that give Blood Diamond a new meaning. (See W for Weddings).
J is for J1
J1 stands for the type of visitor visa that Russian students obtain – and overstay – on their quest for the Land of Opportunity. J1s are considered to be a good catch, as they are usually beautiful, obedient, don’t expect much Chanel and don’t mind erectile dysfunction. Russian men, especially of the Eternal Bachelor variety, are always looking for a pretty J1 to swoop up, make over at Saks and teach a bit of English. (The entrepreneur in me is dying to start a matchmaking service!)
J is also for Judaism
Because, technically, most of these people left Ukraine in their 70s and 80s as Jewish refugees. While the majority don’t have a very clear understanding of what the Jewish faith entails, they do use Yom Kippur for cleansing purposes and like to force their kids to marry other confused Jews.
L is for Love
Cartier Love bracelets, that is. The quantity and caliber of these little gold handcuffs represent how much your significant other loves you and how many babies you have pushed out to continue his Jewish family name. That shit doesn’t come off your arm so easily, so you better believe that Love is eternal, or at least come with a giant divorce settlement.
M is for MatchPoint Gym
Russian men like their cars fancy, their foods rich, their vodka endless and their women about three ribs short. The natural quest to rib removal can be seen at the local gym, MatchPoint. (I think they give J1s a membership at customs.) If you don’t drive an M-Class or and RX Lexus, no parking spot for you! However, you want to pull up in style, you can order a Maserati via the local Showtime Car Service for just $10 extra!
P is for Parties
This is a very important aspect of GRSBB life, because everybody has birthdays and everybody’s wives, ex-wives and lovers have birthdays, and all of their children have birthdays and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Most of these celebrations take place in the social epicenter of Emmons Avenue at restaurants such as XO, Next Door and Cats Café. While the men gorge on the infinite buffet of cholesterol-spiking foods, the women explore one of three conversation topics: who cheated on who, who is going to jail, and who has gained weight. During smoking breaks, a comparative analysis of everyone’s Chanel purchases of the season is conduced.
S is for Style
Because its so bad, it’s good. Ever wonder why Christian Louboutin made men’s studded velvet slippers, who still buys Hervé Leger now that Kim K is done with it, or why Chanel actually put that hot pink Boy Bag into production? Go to Emmons Avenue on a Saturday night and you will find your answers! The women here shop on Saudi princess budgets without the matching bank accounts… Because when most of your income is off the books, it best be liquidated immediately!
V is for Vacation
For the majority of the year, the principal GRSBB vacation destination is Miami, where everybody has apartments in the Sunny Isles area, ten minutes away from Bel Harbor and Carpacio’s. However, in the summers, the community breaks down into micro-clusters of 15 and embark upon grand Euro Tours (because Europe is a place, if you know what I mean), with the prerogative of buying a lot of Hermès, taking a lot of pictures for social media, and seeing who can rack up the biggest Veuve bill at Nikki Beach in St. Tropez!
W is for Weddings
GRSBB weddings are very festive and usually cost more than most American families spend on their child’s college tuition. (Luckily, many Russians choose to educate themselves at CUNYs, a shining testament to Kingsborough Community College education.) On these special days, the beau monde of Brighton collectively ventures out to venues such as Capitale, Cipriani 42nd street, or anywhere else that will allow them to bring their own liquor, to celebrate the latest set of third cousins tying the knot. If I were into organized crime, I would know exactly when to hit. (Am I full of entrepreneurial ideas or what?)
P.S. I love all of these folks almost as much as they love Cartier. Please don’t stone me with studded Loubs en route to the B train. Спасибо!
The photo for this post was taken from Zimbio.