“We have a lot in common with people our age around the world,” said Nikolai Kostylev. “I’m more like some guy my age in Mexico than my neighbor who’s two generations older.”
My first visit to Moscow in 1991 was a trip into a surreal world. Amid so much strangeness, I was hardly surprised to discover that the Soviet Union’s greatest rock star was, like me, half Korean.
In his day, he was known as “Red Elvis,” the most popular American entertainer from East Berlin to Vladivostok. Now, 30 years after he took the communist world by storm, mention of Dean Reed in central Europe evokes little more than snickers or shrugs.
It is hard to explain the appeal of the mysterious white cylinder, about four feet tall, sealed with a blue vinyl covering. The unwieldy home appliance, which East German engineers designed as a “portable sauna,” is one of the main attractions at a Berlin exhibit.
Even Russian men, whose clothing choice was once limited to polyester business suits or polyester jogging suits, have become fussy dressers. Local trends in men’s fashion have developed in mysterious directions: pointy elf shoes or the male purse.
Saxony is a long way from the badlands of the American West, and most of the Germans decked out in native American tribal gear have never set foot in the United States. They draw a curious crowd of onlookers as they dance to traditional Sioux drumming.