The Hungry Duck

1998 > Russia

The Carnal & Primal Hungry Duck!

News Flash: The Hungry Duck is closed!
Click here for the story.

The Duck, err the Hungry Duck,
is the most notorious bar in Moscow, so bad it is a tourist attraction in
itself. At one point in time it was a wholesome dining experience,
but that was before the dev invasion force started dancing on the bar and
all the tables. Now it is sloppy, as in quasi-naked inebriated nymphs
falling off the bar onto the men ogling them from below, sloppy. I
have asked my housemate to give his impression of the Den of Sin, and when
your done, check out
to another Duck-lover.

Check out the eXile review!

The Duck

By Arthur

The Hungry Duck, the infamous Duck, renowned for it’s loose and drunken women.
Wonder why I went there? (wink)

and Fridays are probably the best, when women drink for free from 7 to 9
pm, and no men are allowed to enter. At 9 pm, only 100 brave men dare
to face the 500 drunk and randy women, toughened after two hours of fighting
for free drinks. Hair pulling, biting, and all manner of tussles occur,
and that is just to get onto the bar for a better view of the fresh meat.
Ahhh, I like the competition (or, more precisely, the lack there of).

All those beautiful women, and no men!

I fell in love several times in the first five minutes, but I would rather
not get into how the twins woke up in my room the next morning. The
sights, the sounds, and the flying fluids, now that is the reason
to go! Those drunken nymphs, in extra-mini skirts, grinding on the
bar, with long, purposeful exposures of undergarments, neglecting to retain
their upper torso apparel, and engaging in lascivious behavior with appreciative
male patrons, are why The Duck is famous.

Everyone makes a pilgrimage to The Duck at least once while in Moscow. It
is a necessity. Of course, if you live here, The Duck becomes more
than just a pilgrimage, it is church, a house of worship, to the beauty and
beast that is the New Russia.

The Independent (UK) 20 September 1998

Shrieks as Moscow gets the Full Monty

From Phil Reeves in Moscow

Any visitor to a back street near the Lubyanka, once the KGB citadel of an
empire’s nosy-parker moral arbiters, could draw only one conclusion on Friday
night: amid an economic hurricane, Moscow has finally gone mad.

above the capital’s bustle came a chorus of hundreds of gleeful voices, all
female. “Sex!”, they bellowed, in unison. “Sex!” And then again, louder:

Undeterred by their nation’s gloom, or perhaps because of it, some Russians
are still having fun. That it should be young women, whose source of
entertainment is a troupe of greasy-torsoed male strippers – Russia’s answer
to “The Full Monty” – is further proof that the gender best suited to survive
history’s trials is not the hairy eyebrowed variety that usually sits in
the Kremlin. She is found ebullient and defiant, in micro-skirt and stilettos,
at a night club called The Hungry Duck

A thousand women turned out on Friday night to watch “Dillon’s Show”, a group
of Russian males, who stride about in g-strings on a long bar-top, flexing
oiled muscles, tossing mousse-laden locks, and showing off their bottoms.

Queues are customary at Russia’s shops and banks, but the line waiting to
get in the club – a utilitarian-looking dump once the Soviet Home of Working
Artists – was longer than any I have seen in two months. Nor have I seen
so many people crammed into one bar. Within the hot gloom and din, there
were hundreds and hundreds of girls, bopping on tables, cheering, and knocking
back beer in plastic cups as if there was no tomorrow (which, for some here,
there isn’t).

paid 10 roubles (30p) to get in. Drinks were free, men were banned until
the performance end. But the males were there, swigging beer in feral,
prickly-skulled, clumps outside the door. Later, many would clamber through
the upstairs windows, to avoid paying their higher (50 rouble) fee. “It’s
just a good night out,” said Olga, an 18-year-old student, before the DJ,
a New Yorker, interrupted with another demand that we should shout the word
“SEX”, louder still.

She started again. “Its just a … hang on a minute. WHOOPIE! OH YEAH!” A
sequin-spangled man in a baseball cap, wearing jeans that looked as if they
had mauled by a combine harvester and – inexplicably – leather fingerless
driving gloves, had appeared on the bar top. Peeling off his clothes, he
was preparing to execute a thigh-chafing twirl around a metal bar. The cheering
crowd rushed forward into two roving spotlights, eager to touch. Olga was

had more success with Vika, a 17-year-old computer science student. No, her
parents didn’t know she was there. And, yes, she thought it was all great.
She found it funny. (Not everyone did; amid the gyrating throng of spectators,
some stripped to their bras, several girls were crying.) “People should be
allowed to do what they like,” she said Including, we agreed, Bill Clinton.
Like most Russians, she regarded the public dissection of the American
president’s private life with incomprehension.

“We are going to talk about sex, sex, SEX!” yelled the DJ, to another gust
of cheers and frantic arm waving. Another man arrived, another inverted triangle
of bouncing near-naked sinew, who began simulating copulation, close to the
beer pumps.

The show is, it must be said, a good deal raunchier than mere stripping off.
In fact, Montys do not come much fuller than this. They have been at it,
these young men, since January, performing to women in a society where sexual
liberation has evolved about as far as the lung fish, and which – for all
its reputation for Slavic glumness – knows how to throw a party.

Their leader is a 24-year-old Nigerian law student called Dillon Oloyede,
who got involved because he needed money to pay for his lessons. He has since
realised there are sizeable sums out there. He is coy about exactly how much
he and his nine Russian fellow performers make a night, but agrees it is
more than $100 each – the average monthly salary in parts of Russia.

it is a tough beat, as a long scar on his ribcage testifies. Three months
ago, he was stabbed after a show. Although racism runs deep here, he prefers
to think his assailant was high on drugs. He has seen “The Full Monty”, and
approved, although the other two strippers in the dressing room – a male
model and a factory worker – have not.

Like the “Monty” stars, they are survivors, people who know how to adapt
to an ailing economy, and make money. They are helped by a certain (though
not total) lack of prudery in Russia, which recently showed Lolita on state-run

Mr Oloyede is unashamed of his work. “The important thing to remember is
that I am an actor,” he said, adjusting his silk, sequinned jock strap. ”
It is not sex, it is a performance. Being an actor, I feel I have to behave
as a president, appearing before my people”.

The grand finale!

He says this, standing almost naked before me, without the slightest trace
of irony.

*** News Flash ***

March 18, 1999

Last night I heard shocking news, that the Moscow institution known as the
Hungry Duck closed for good on Monday. I know there will be a collective
moan of sorry and a sigh of relief from the Moscow community, but the Duck
was a sort of index to Moscow’s situation.

I have a few friends who remember back when it first opened and was a respectable
place for dinner. They recall actually eating on the bar tops, instead of
dancing on them. This was when Russia was first opening up, before the easy
IMF money and expat salaries were common. As the money rolled in, the Duck
became a mixing zone for the best and worst of the ‘new’ Russia.

At first, there was still a bit of class, I can remember when a shout would
go out when the first person was brave enough to dance on the bar before
a bouncer would pull them down. Later, as dancing on the back tables became
common, women would dance on the bar without fear. When the Moscow nightlife
reached its feverish peak last summer, dancing on the bar was so common that
the surface was worn smooth and regulars had their own perches.

Once the ruble crashed, and the expatriates started to be shipped home, the
Duck resorted to outright bribery to keep the party going. Three (or was
it four?) nights a week, ladies would be treated to free drinks and a male
strip-show to entice fat-walleted men to appear and pay for all the fun.
The party couldn’t last forever though. This morning, when the news of the
Duck closing reached me, I wanted to tell all those whom I knew that enjoyed
it’s unique atmosphere.

Alas, that’s when I realized how much this Den of Sin (as we dubbed it) was
indicative of Moscow. Everyone I could think of that would miss the Duck
is already gone, shipped out to the next promising market, experience, or
rehab. Like the man once know as Prince says, ‘Party over, oops, outta time’.

The Electronic Telegraph (UK) 20 March 1999

Doors close on Moscow’s wildest club

By Marcus Warren in Moscow

ONE of the wonders of the Western world was no more last night after the
Hungry Duck, Moscow’s wildest bar and home to some of the most uninhibited
women on the planet, closed for good. The club was famous for bacchanal excesses
and women throwing caution to the wind and all their clothes on to the floor.

Founded in 1995, it was a monument to Yeltsin’s Russia. It closes just as
that civilisation is collapsing. After decades of sexual repression and po-faced
Soviet puritanism, young Russians caught up with their Western counterparts
within the club’s walls. Then they went one better. For local nationalists,
however, the club, which was usually packed with expats as well as Russians,
was Babylon, the Tower of Babel, and Sodom and Gomorrah all rolled into one.
When a Communist member of the Duma visited the venue on a tour of clubs
recently, he was outraged to see “an American negro” stripping to the
accompaniment of the Soviet national anthem. A minor political scandal ensued.
For the club’s Canadian manager, Doug Steele, the row, coming after months
of business problems and run-ins with the police, was the last straw.

“The guy’s not American and he wasn’t stripping,” he said yesterday. “I am
not disputing that the place was wild but it wasn’t dangerous and people
were just having a good time. It’s not worth banging your head against the
wall of your enemies for the rest of your life. I just regret not being able
to say goodbye to the 30 members of staff who no longer have a job.” Not
only the staff, but thousands of patrons were mourning the club’s passing
yesterday. Certainly, the sight, smell and sound of hundreds of sweaty bodies,
some dancing on the oval bar stark naked amid broken glass, spilt beer and
stray knickers, once experienced, are never forgotten.

The Moscow Tribune, March 24 1999

Dying Swan Kills the Hungry Duck – The Real Story

By John Helmer

Notoriety and bad publicity were very good for a four-year old Moscow business
created by Canadian entrepreneur Doug Steele, until his hungry duck ran into
a dying swan. That describes what happened recently when Olga Lepeshinskaya,
now 82 years old, one of Russia’s most famous ballerinas, decided to close
down Steele’s Hungry Duck dance-bar in Moscow.

According to Steele’s version, his is a tale of sacrificing profitability
to a concept which made him a tourist attraction for countless western visitors
to Moscow, but offended one Russian too many. The reach of her contacts
illustrates one of the rarely discussed pitfalls of doing business in a capital
more famous for its criminal excess than for its moral propriety.

Occupying 240 square meters of low-grade space, leased from the Central House
of Workers in the Arts (TsDRI), Steele’s establishment generated US$2.8 million
in gross sales per annum. He says he paid $1 million in rent over three years,
plus $120,000 in bribes to former directors of the property owner to keep
renewing his lease. Selling mostly imported beer and liquor, Steele says
he decided last July to switch to Russian draft beer he bought for the equivalent
of 12 cents a glass, and sold to his customers for $6. Even before the switch
to the new markup, Steele said his profitability was “a little above average”
for the dozens of bars and restaurants which United States and European investors
have established in Moscow. “The concept didn’t allow us to maximize our
potential profit,” he acknowledges.

Steele’s concept made him so well-known, a Washington newspaper reported
The Hungry Duck was the only bar of its kind in the world. Steele’s concept
was to invite women to drink as much as they wanted for free for two hours,
while the doors were closed to male customers. When they were finally allowed
in, they were obliged to pay for their drinks, but got to view a bachannalian
orgy of drunken women for free. With a stroke of public relations genius,
Steele invited journalists from North America’s leading media to act as barmen
for the Ladies’ Nights. As they televised and published the goings-on, the
fame of The Hungry Duck far outstripped its revenue per square meter.

to Moscow police, the lurid atmosphere attracted under-age females, criminally
minded males, and drug traders. A Russian parliamentary delegation was shocked
one evening to witness, during one females-only session, a black man stripping
to the music of the national anthem of the former Soviet Union.

One evening? Every Friday was more like it!

Steele says that police precinct reports, claiming non-existent crimes, were
ordered by high-ranked city officials. He claims a city fire marshal told
him that his boss had been ordered back to Moscow from vacation, in order
to sign a blank order closing down The Duck. “Not four days have gone by
in the past year,” says Steele, “when there wasn’t a major incident — health
inspectors, special police task forces, dog-sniffers and drug raiders.” “My
friends in the police said, ‘Doug, you have big enemies.'”

Steele said he believes it was prima donna Lepeshinskaya who, on taking charge
of the board of TsDRI, was his biggest and most effective enemy. She told
Steele that when his current lease expired at the end of March, it would
not be renewed. According to Steele, Lepeshinskaya also managed to persuade
the city government to annul the sale of the property, which had been transacted
before her takeover at TsDRI. The dancer of “The Dying Swan” and other celebrated
pieces for the stage apparently realized The Hungry Duck had served its purpose.
The leasehold could be renegotiated for a higher price, but only if the nightly
orgies stopped.

A veteran of Moscow’s retail sector and expert on the hidden costs of staying
in business, Steele claims his troubles are not part of an extortion of larger
and larger bribes to keep his lease. After meeting Lepeshinskaya and hearing
her views, he describes her motives as impeccable.

Blaming the collapse of Russia’s liberal reform policies in last year’s financial
troubles, Steele acknowledged: “Half the country is starving. Seeing (The
Hungry Duck) going on offends people. It’s time to do a re-think.”