From Russia (With Love?)

Women are women and the men are men in Russia

Ugly, boring guys with no prospects, take heart: John Adams' A Foreign Affair can help you bag a gorgeous Russian bride faster than you can say "Imperialist Murmansk." For a sneak peek at what this Phoenix-based betrothal business can do for you, check out A Foreign Affair, David Arquette's new movie, which opens this week and is based on (and named for!) the Valley's own Kremlin Cupid service.

New Times: So you send guys to Russia to find true love. Do people think you're out of your mind?

John Adams: The better question is what kind of feedback does the guy get. His friends and family will tell him, "Are you crazy? These women will come over here and take you! All she wants is her green card!" But take a look at the domestic situation: There's about a 50 percent divorce rate in America, so people are telling you you're crazy for going someplace else?

NT: I guess the odds can't be any worse.

Adams: The stigma of this whole thing is that [people think] the women are just taking advantage of the men, and the men are going to just dominate the women and treat them terribly. It's just not true. I've been in this for nine years, and I've got a Russian wife, and I know a lot of people who are very happily married to Russian women.

NT: So, how does your service work?

Adams: You go to our Web site, and you browse through the women's profiles, and if you find something you're interested in, you can write her a letter, and if she likes you, she can write you back. Or she can call you, because we have a phone translation service.

But ultimately you have to go over to see the woman. But it's a long way to go just to see one woman, so if you've been corresponding with one or two women and you go over and there's no chemistry, it's a big waste of time. So what we do is we put together these groups where we can bring 15, 20 men over at a time to one certain city to meet women, and we provide these very large socials, where women and men who subscribe to our service can meet. There are usually about 20 men and 200 women. NT: This must lead to a lot of bitch fights.

Adams: It happens, but very rarely. I can remember a few times where the women were fighting over the same guy, wanting him to marry her.

NT: How do you screen guys?

Adams: We don't. We don't do background checks or polygraphs or big questionnaires. We do tell the women about spousal abuse issues and we tell them about how to do a criminal background check on any of the men they're interested in.

NT: I notice that all the women on your Web site and in your catalogue are all beautiful. They all look like porn stars. What if some ugly chick with swollen ankles and her hair in a bun wanted to use your service?

Adams: Well, I mean, if you really go to our site, you'll find that not all of our clients are beautiful, glamorous women. We can't take every woman who submits a profile. We don't charge the women to be on the site, so we do keep it to our discretion as to who we do and don't put on the site. You have to remember that the men are going halfway around the world to meet these women, and we believe appearance is important.

NT: It sure is.

Adams: And we do have people [working here] who go through and look at the photographs, and they make sure that the person is really who they claim to be. You could have a man submitting the profile and picture of a woman so he can play a game and try to get money out of our male clients.

NT: Or it might be a really nasty-looking woman who's submitted a picture of her pretty sister.

Adams: There you go. A lot of different things can happen.

NT: Why Russian women?

Adams: Russian women, there's a certain mystique, because it was off limits for so long. We had the Cold War, we had the propaganda here. When I was growing up, it was "[Russian women] are babushkas and hair under their arms and they're ugly women who smell," and we didn't want anything to do with them. The truth is they're absolutely gorgeous. I don't know if it's something in the water, or what. Part of the reason is that for so long there was a lack of fast-food outlets on every corner, so they didn't eat junk food. Most of them didn't drive, they walked everywhere, so they're in such good shape it's hard to find anyone who's overweight over there. I know it's shallow, but the physical part is just part of it. The women are absolutely beautiful over there.

NT: Are your clients really skanky guys who no one wants to marry?

Adams: No. But there's such an age thing in this country. Finding a woman in her 20s, if you're 45 or 50, is a little difficult here unless you have a lot of money or something really going for you, because a lot of women in the U.S. don't want to marry someone 15 or 20 years older than them. In Russia, it's the opposite.

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