Horror erotica in post-Soviet mystical journalism


It must have been a decade since I bought two issues of the same newspaper or magazine in a row—there’s nothing on the news stand that grabs my attention. But I really wish this was different. I’ve always liked the medium.

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Russian satirical journals of 1905-1907—The Drum, The Storm, The Splinter, Bombs, Red Laughter—mixed political commentary with poetry, dark humor, and haunting art.

I love how it gives the reader a mosaic view of the world, in which news stories, analytical pieces, art, fiction, interviews, advertisement—whatever makes up the world for the staff—are all put on the same level. The reader is not expected to go through this week’s edition in a sequential manner: the back, the front, and the middle pages occupy similar spaces in the informational hierarchy. The relationship to the content is tactile. By flipping through the pages, folding them this way and that, the reader can spend her entire morning coffee, or the day’s first cigarette, reading the paper as a whole before deciding which of the longer pieces to delve into. She may even share the paper with a friend by handing him half of the pages, chosen at random. That’s what I used to do as a university student, killing time between classes with friends in my school’s canteen.

The Mexican tabloid El Grafico juxtaposes erotica with visions of extreme violence from the country’s drug wars.

One of the most inspiring (as well as disturbing) newspapers I’ve ever come across was Voice of the Universe, which was popular in Russia shortly before and immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It mixed real-world politics with sci-fi, conspiracy theories, deadpan humor, neofascist proclamations, apocalyptic visions, and snake oil salesmanship. When I shared some translations from its inaugural issue last summer, I described it as “pulp fiction meets Scientology meets QAnon in post-Soviet Russia.”

Voice of the Universe, April 1991: The Full Prophecy—the start of the End of the World: February 13, 1997. / “A Year and a Half in Hell.” Notes of the Resurrected / A charm amulet, the only salvation from Devil’s plots! / UFOs are Satan’s messengers / Selling to children under 16 is prohibited!

Art was another important element of this cocktail. In this post, I am sharing some creepy sci-fi erotica from the early issues, by the artist Roman Afonin, and the author’s self-portrait, in which he gives off strong serial killer vibes. These drawings would be at home in a cheap out-of-print sci-fi book or a smutty underground comic, but, in Voice of the Universe, they were elevated to the level of mystical visions and even, somehow, journalism.

I also translated the text that surrounds the images to give you a sense of the context—to me, it’s the context that makes them special.

Sketch for Psychopolitica’s news section.
“DIRTY GAMES”—AN EXHIBITION OF THE TRANSCENDENTALIST ARTIST ROMAN AFONIN. IMAGES OF NETHERWORLDS. Roman Valeryevich Afonin, artist, 25 years old, Russian, married, has a four-year-old daughter, served in the military, has been working in graphic art for 6 years, lives in Balashikha, has an extraordinarily sharp non-material prophetic vision. SELF-PORTRAIT.
“Satanic merrymaking.” Documentary sketches of apparitions
“Dear friends! Ladies and gentlemen! Sudars and sudarynyas! Creators! “Voice of the Universe” is ready to support you in all respects if you are truly gifted! Remember, nobody will ever help you. Only “Voice of the Universe“ will, the only independent newspaper in the world! We know no obstacles! We know no boundaries! “Voice of the Universe” is the Voice of the Creation’s Supreme Forces!

Notice. To artists, sculptors, art photographers. “Voice of the Universe” plans to host a full-blown exhibition extravaganza under the slogan “Sci-fi and Horror in painting, ink drawings, sculpture, and photo art.” We invite you to take part in this exhibition. Submissions are going to be accepted and reviewed before December 25, 1992.

The main mission of the VoU’s united staff is the salvation of our Nation’s talents in the face of the complete and inevitable death of civilization. Bitter is our experience, tragic is our fate. The so-called “first revolution” had devastated the Russian culture. The current, “second revolution,” as it’s been called, may sweep into a dark abyss both the remnants of the already destroyed culture and the embryo of the new one, conceived in the underground. We can’t stand idly by—we must save the artistic artefacts that are being created by our contemporaries, and we must save the creators themselves, currently doomed to play the part of apprentices to the “maestros” arriving from the other side of the ocean.”

“UNRESTRICTED SUBSCRIPTION TO “VOICE OF THE UNIVERSE” IS THE VICTORY OF THE UNIVERSE’S FORCES OF GOOD AND THE FIRST DEFEAT OF THE DEVIL’S SERVANTS IN RUSSIA! Lucifer’s barriers over Holy Russia have cracked! The first beam of Universal Light has fallen into the kingdom of darkness and horror!”

“Persons with a weakened nervous system, unstable psyche, sexual predators, and children below the age of 16 are strongly advised against reading!!!“

“Satanic merrymaking.” Documentary sketches of visions sent by the Forces of Evil from the worlds beyond. All of this can spill onto our Earth, fill Our world. We cannot allow the Antichrist’s hordes to enter Holy Russia and the borderlands! ART BY ROMAN AFONIN.
R. Afonin, “Contact.” METAGALAXY

Psychopolitica, Mar 7, 2023 | Reprinted with permission by Nikita Petrov.

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About the author

Nikita Petrov is a Russian psychedelic writer, artist, and podcaster currently on the road, having left the country after it invaded Ukraine. Writing and drawing in Psychopolitica, he’s trying to continuously reinvent reality and find points of contact between it and the realities of his readers. He also regularly contributes to TwitterYoutube, and is Creative Director at The Glenn Show.

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