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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Party with a Pop Star

AP
Natalie Imbruglia is there somewhere, amid the male models in leggings and hired Airedale terriers, though no one is quite sure where. Will she sing, guests wonder, and isn't she the also-ran to Kylie Minogue, that other pop pixie from Australia?

As the opening party picked up at Concept Store Cara & Co in central Moscow last month, a wide-eyed man clutching two glasses rushed by muttering "Champagne for Imbruglia," who was hired to attend. Later, as a phalanx of bodyguards pushed through the gawping crowds, the tiny starlet's chest-baring red dress could be glimpsed behind them.

Imbruglia joins George Michael, Jennifer Lopez, Robbie Williams, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and other Western stars who've reportedly appeared at private events here since the beginning of 2006. They may have made off with millions for a couple of songs; Imbruglia was likely paid much less, and didn't sing. Hiring Russian stars is more affordable -- if you have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you could have a private gig.


Francis Specker / Bloomberg
Jennifer Lopez
"In the West, there's a system of earnings from record sales. In Russia, because of piracy, artists don't earn on the sale of discs at all. They can only earn with the help of concerts," said Maxim Kononenko, a music reviewer at Gazeta newspaper.

The attendance of public concerts last year in Russia fell strongly, making private gigs more crucial for stars, he added.

With local stars, there are four rough price brackets that fluctuate depending on the event and time of year, said Marina Gergedava, events director at advertising firm The Creative Factory. Russia's veteran queen of pop Alla Pugachyova and drag queen Verka Serdyuchka, Ukraine's 2007 Eurovision entry, are in the top bracket -- you won't get them to perform for less than 25,000 euros ($34,000). Also included are pop star Valeria, whose heyday was in the '90s, Pugachyova's daughter Kristina Orbakaite, and flamboyant Filipp Kirkorov, Pugachyova's Bulgaria-born ex-husband (pictured on page 11 singing at the 30th birthday of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov).

On the next rung -- 15,000 to 25,000 euros -- are foul-mouthed Leningrad, rockers Bi-2 and girl group VIA Gra, whose lineup is constantly being reshuffled.


Courtesy Of Concept Store Cara & Co
Natalie Imbruglia
For about 8,000 to 15,000 euros, there's Blestyashchiye, Zhanna Friske and Vladimir Kuzmin. And cheaper, from 3,000 to 8,000 euros, there are older Soviet performers and aspiring singers.

Pugachyova charges significantly more than the rest and can demand more than $50,000, Kononenko said. You might be able to get MakSim, a newcomer who has sold more than 800,000 records since last summer but is still concert small fry, for $3,000.

A private performance should last 40 minutes to one hour.

If you pay a star to give up their New Year's celebrations and spend it with you, you might have more money than sense. Pugachyova was supposed to perform at a gas firm for 150,000 euros last year, Moskovskaya Pravda reported in December, while Dima Bilan was allegedly offered $350,000 by both Norilsk Nickel and Severstal to perform in Sochi. Outdoing them all, billionaire Vladimir Potanin reportedly paid George Michael $3.5 million to perform at his last New Year's bash.


Scott Dalton / Bloomberg
Shakira
Stars often come with their own equipment, plus hangers-on. Tatu could bring 10 to 14 managers, bodyguards, musicians and technicians, said Yevgenia Voyevodina, their PR manager. They can kiss when they feel like doing it, she said, but "definitely not when clients or anybody else request" it.

And if you opt for Vlad Topalov, formerly of boy band Smash, watch your guests' behavior. In February, someone professed their love to him at a concert at a gay club and he spat on the floor in disgust, Tvoi Den reported, though Topalov's PR manager said the article was untrue. At least his manager, Yury Denisov, is accommodating. "Are you a journalist?" he asked this reporter. "You can invite us to your birthday, we can make friends -- why wouldn't we come to congratulate you?"

Your star will be pleased if you provide their favorite foods and drinks. MTV presenter Tutta Larsen, who was compere at the store opening, said she always asks for cognac and Swiss or Belgian dark chocolate. At Dyagilev club, which names Stephen Seagal and Elizabeth Hurley among its guests, they provide Moet or Dom Perignon champagne, Chivas Regal whiskey, Coca Cola and a fruit basket to performers, said Alexei Kolpakov, the club's press liaison.


Francis Specker / Bloomberg
Christina Aguilera
By the end of the Cara & Co opening party, Imbruglia's bodyguards had relaxed a bit. Random guests approached her, and she chatted about black caviar and her new camera.

Larsen, meanwhile, was probably grinning at her good fortune -- she only spoke for 10 minutes, and said hosting such events was easy money. She charges up to $10,000 per appearance. Larsen once turned up at an oligarch's party where, suspiciously, there were 40 women and only 10 men, though she went on stage anyway.

"It wasn't entirely decent," she said. "It was clear that it would all end in an orgy."