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From Russia, with butt

Probing Pavel Petel, the new prince of pop art


It’s like two perfectly round apples sitting side by side.

No, that doesn’t do it justice. It is the rolling hills of Northumberland: sun-kissed, scenic, beautiful. Of course, this is a description of Pavel Petel, Tumblr superstar and founder of the Naked DJs. More to the point, it’s a description of his butt.

Catching him between tour engagements, along with creative partner Sergey Ostrikov, who translated, Fab’s Nick Green traded words with the Russian super-hunk about a variety of hard-hitting topics. Just for fun.

Nick Green: You’re a super successful DJ, an internet celebrity, a model and an objet d’art. When you meet people at cocktail parties and they ask what you do, what do you say?

Pavel Petel: I’m pop art. I’m a showman, artist, performer, designer and creator. All that you see is a result of the hard work of the creative duo Naked DJs [Petel and Ostrikov]. We do all this stuff with our hands and brains — styling looks, shooting, writing scenarios for the DJ show, drawing, applying makeup and blogging.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And don’t say a naked DJ, because I won’t believe you.

I have a journalism degree, but I was attracted to graphic design soon after. I worked as a freelancer for a bit but started to DJ at the same time. Every time I DJed I transformed my set into a real show. I dressed up provocatively, decorated the stage and hired naked go-go girls. Now it’s become the Naked DJs project, a show based on designer costumes, choreography and lots of special effects. Our show is very popular in Russia — we perform at the best clubs all over the country.

In my research (ie, staring at his pictures and inventing explicit and very creative narratives), I was struck by how Petel is the manifestation of the two very different sides of me — the party boy and the academic. A critical analysis of his parties is like reading Judith Butler after downing a Jäger-bomb. I had to know more.

I’m curious to know about your aesthetic. You mix masculine and feminine in such an intriguing and accessible way, like lifting weights with nail polish on. Are you consciously making a statement about gender play, or do you just do it because you know how hot you look? Because damn, girl/boy!

It’s a really cool contrast between masculine and feminine! You know, Russian people love it, especially the girls. A big, bearded, muscleman in high-high-high heels looks incredible, fun and very sexual! By the way, I don’t normally wear women’s clothes. But if I didn’t wear them in fashion shoots no one would know me. Never. There are millions of beautiful guys in the world . . . Who knows their names?

Your parties are known for being theatrical, sexual, consuming events. What exactly goes on there and where’s my invite?

Naked DJ shows are a unique 1.5-hour performance including music and stage numbers. We dress up to Nicki Minaj and Madonna, then start to fight with pillows, change outfits, dance and booty shake. During one show we change into 10 or more outfits, talk with the audience and sing. In one of the numbers I sit onstage half naked in stockings and 20-centimetre heels and I sing Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” Can you imagine?

Eventually, I had to get down to the hard-hitting journalism.

I want to talk about that butt of yours. Just how many hours a week do you spend in the gym?

Usually I go to the gym five times weekly. Also, I love cycling and skating. The main thing for a beautiful butt is deep squats.

When I say “I want to wear you,” I am, of course, talking about your line of T-shirts, hoodies, bags and iPhone covers. What’s next for Pavel Petel?

I released my merchandise in Russia, which features a few tees with my portraits. I’d like to develop a clothing line with my name, which is a brand now. Also, my YouTube channel is launching soon!

Experiencing all that is Pavel Petel is a not-safe-for-work trip. The man’s brand is expanding, and I think it’s inspiring. His fluid sexuality, his genderqueering, his embracing of all that is hedonism; it’s unapologetic, unashamed and constantly surprising. At first, it was all about the butt, but looking deeper . . . there is really something about Pavel.

I just want to thank you for who and what you are. You’re someone who embodies living art, music and the fabulous life while pushing gender boundaries. Basically, you inspire me . . . to go to the gym. I saw that exotic workout video. I would fly to Russia to have a training session with you!

Thanks! I love you!

Want to try on Petel, too? Check out his merch at

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    • Vitali
      11/23/2012 5:26:03 PM
      what a beautiful interview! PAVEL PETEL you are the best! <3
    • sweden hermes0
      3/26/2014 2:03:29 PM
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