How Twerking May Destroy a Russian Small Business

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Orenburg’s scandal-making bee-costumed teens are back, and this time they’re twerking their backsides on the label of an organic anti-cellulite cream. The skin product (aptly named “Twerk!”) is made by a small cosmetics company called Dash_Dash—or rather it was until earlier today, when a Russian politician called on federal investigators to open a case against the cream-maker, saying the product’s marketing commits a “depraved act” against minors under the age of 16 (punishable by up to three years in prison).

The man who brought “Twerk!” skin cream to the attention of the police is Vitaly Milonov, the instigator and chief architect of Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda.” Milonov, an ardent crusader for conservative values, is a city councilman in St. Petersburg and a member of United Russia, the country’s ruling political party.

Yelena Popova, the co-owner of the online store, Click-boutique, where the cream was for sale, told the newspaper Izvestia that her company isn’t responsible for the packaging and designs cosmetics-makers choose. Popova also speculated that the labels featuring the bee-costumed twerking girls were made using a drawing, not a photograph, refuting other claims that Dash_Dash’s labeling may have broken copyright laws or violated individuals’ privacy.

Milonov says he wants Click-boutique investigated as an accomplice, nonetheless. “You have to understand,” he explained, “that selling narcotics isn’t just a crime when you’re a Afghan mujahadeen growing them near some American military base. The people who sell it will answer, too.”

Hours after speaking to Izvestia, Click-boutique dropped all products made by Dash_Dash, purging it from its website entirely.

Dasha Danyushevskaya, the founder and head of Dash_Dash, did not respond to RuNet Echo’s request for a comment, but she did address the matter in a social media post several hours before the story broke in the media, asking friends not to discuss the matter with anyone. “This is all Izvestia, those unbelievable rats,” she wrote.

Dash_Dash’s Facebook account has been deleted, and the company’s VKontakte page is now private.

Viral video of the Orenburg twerking dancers (left) and the "Twerk!" cream label (right).

Viral video of the Orenburg twerking dancers (left) and the “Twerk!” cream label (right).

An announcement of the “Twerk!” cream, including an image of the label, is still archived on Google’s cache, however. From that image, it’s clear that the label featured a cropped frame from the viral YouTube video of the Orenburg twerking teens. Popova likely mistook the snapshot for an illustration because of the low resolution and pixelation.

Milonov worries such packaging is emblematic of the problem e-commerce presents worldwide. “With the help of the Web,” he says, “it’s possible today to sell fakes, counterfeits, and dangerous goods ever so quietly. They can sell an anti-cellulite cream that will make your legs drop off and your skin fall off.”

When it was still on sale, a can of “Twerk!” cream cost 990 rubles (about $20). Dash_Dash promised it would “smooth the skin and straighten out spiritual bonds,” poking fun at Russian conservatives’ commitment to defending the country’s metaphysical wellbeing.

Unfortunately for the cosmetics company, this is the one kind of “straight” Vitaly Milonov cannot abide.

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