. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Monroe Look-Alike Likes It Hot

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but for Vladislav Mamyshev, sometime actor, artist and Marilyn Monroe impersonator, self-promotion is even better. Mamyshev, also known as "Vladik" or "Monro," is perhaps Moscow's first post-revolutionary aesthete, in the Oscar Wilde sense.


His latest "art happening" is an exhibition of photos of himself dressed and made up as Jesus, Lenin, Napoleon, Hitler, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Buddha, Joan of Arc and Sherlock Holmes, to name but a few. The 12 portraits by Misha Korolyev are on display at the Yakut gallery, which has also rendered them into giant posters and pasted them up opposite the French Embassy on Bolshaya Yakimanskaya Ulitsa in central Moscow.


"Sometimes I feel like Hitler, sometimes like Jesus Christ," mused the impeccably coiffeured Vladik, resplendent in a double-breasted beige jumpsuit, at the opening of the exhibition. "I want to be all the people I dress up as. Especially at the time of the photo session."


Vladik, who made his name as a Marilyn impersonator, has turned to more esoteric subjects because "it's bad to get tied down to just one character." His choice of new characters was inspired by the people Vladik considers to be the greatest historical characters of the last 2,000 years -- just don't mention that Sherlock Holmes didn't actually exist. But there are still uncanny echoes of Vladik's original Monroe incarnation; after all, Tony Curtis said that an embrace with Marilyn was "like kissing Hitler."


Vladik has achieved at least one ambition that his famous look-alike never managed: to play the part of Grushenka in "The Brothers Karamazov." According to Vladik, Marilyn herself was tactfully told that she was "too voluptuous" for the part. Vladik, on the other hand, may be as narcissistic as Marilyn, but carries it off with far more razmakh, or style, than his dizzy blond counterpart.


A native of St. Petersburg, Vladik lived in Paris for six months before returning to Moscow because he "missed speaking Russian." He now holds court in the trendiest clubs of Moscow and St. Petersburg, feted by the small but beautiful set of international bright young things of the Russian art world.


"Moscow and St. Petersburg are all one giant multi-megalopolis to me," said Vladik, who says he is 26. "Until my lovely apartment burned down I felt like a king here, like Charlie Chaplin in New York. But even now I still have a lovely time."


Vladik supports his flamboyant wardrobe needs by selling signed albums of photos of himself to collectors in the United States and Europe, where he has quite a following. In Moscow, however, the reception of the 3-by-2-meter posters has been less enthusiastic. Within 24 hours, the portraits had generated controversy.


"The local police ordered us to remove the picture of Hitler," said Alexander Yakut, owner of the gallery which sponsored the exhibition. "They said it was fascist propaganda. I asked them whether it was OK to keep Lenin and Jesus Christ there, and they said, 'Fine. Just not Hitler.'"


The portrait of Vladik as Hitler has now been replaced with a plain white poster. At the French Embassy, which has a full view of the posters, there were also murmurs of disapproval.


"I personally think it's in bad taste," said one female embassy staffer, despite the inclusion of French national heroine Joan of Arc. "It's not really comme il faut."