An Insider's Look at the Mail Order Bride Industry
by Dasha Streltsova
Mail order brides… actually this word combination became a synonym for Russian and Ukrainian girls who are eager to marry a foreigner.
This stereotype formed in mid 90's. Every average girl in former Soviet Union was dreaming of a “prince from USA” driving white Mercedes, smoking Marlboro and drinking coke… MacDonald’s used to be sort of ‘fancy restaurant’, 100 dollars was considered to be a fortune. Mess and discord, gang rule… Probably that is why young women wanted to escape from this country and try their luck in USA, Germany, Australia… I do believe that there were women dreaming of hearth and home with a foreign husband. Otherwise how could the myth about beautiful, educated, refined and at the same time yielding, affectionate Russian wives appear? I also believe that there are NORMAL men from abroad who honestly want to marry a Russia girl. But I never met them… And I know what I am talking about, I used to be a translator/interpreter in the Internet Dating Agency. It is a good part-time job for a student of Linguistics Department. All you need is good knowledge of English (grammar and punctuation), ability to type fast and… a bit of imagination. Very soon I understood that quite a lot of my peers (some of them were from my college) earned more than I did in the same Agency. They were not translators but “Brides”.
First of all I have to explain that there is a big difference between free space for Internet Dating and official registered sites. Official Internet Dating Sites provide a huge database of potential girl-friends and wives. Men from abroad had to pay to get access to this database, look at the photos and read the info in girls’ profiles. Then they can start the correspondence with girls they like. All emails are sent through the site. Men do not know real emails of the girls, and they have to pay a sum of 2-5$ for every letter they get from girls. That is why they are so picky to the content. There is special software that identifies any email address in the text of the letter sent via web-site mail service. So guys have to pay for such a romantic letter-exchange. What do they get in return? Administration of the web-site guarantees that all girls on the web-site are real and not just a scammer who posted numerous photos of pretty girls on the web-site and now writes letters to potential “husbands” begging them for money to buy medicine for a “death-sick granny” or for something else though not less weepy. It is prohibited to ask for money in the letters sent through web-site mail service.
Man can apply for a phone-call through the Agency; it will also cost him a pretty penny. But during the phone-call girl and a guy from abroad can exchange some personal contact info if they like. Anyway there are certain rules that cannot be broken neither by the girl nor by the Agency – local representative of the official Web-Site. My Agency presented one of the biggest and most famous Dating Web-sites. We had real girls, we observed all the rules. But you know that there are no rule that cannot be circumvented. Yes we had to cheat… But I have to admit that it is all because the majority of our clients from both sides (I’ll never dare say ALL because I still believe in purity of some people) never thought about marriage.
I’ll just tell our about two my favorite clients. And you’ll understand what I mean.
Julia. She is a student, doing some correspondence course in something like Management of Tourist Business, she does not remember for sure. She is extremely sweet pretty girl – blond and petite. She came to the Agency just of peer pressure – her friends came. She brought wonderful photos made in Turkey… Voila! She is one of the most popular girls on the web-site. Piles of letters from potential “husbands”. But Julia never bothered about responding those letters. Sometimes she phoned to Agency to have a chat with one of the translators, told us about her life… When listening to her twittering I was trying to fish out some crumbs of info to feed my imagination and write answers to those numerous letters. I had to produce an impression that it was Julia who answered the letters.
Actually this is a typical scenario for all Agencies. Translators work as writers. Knowing some real facts about girls, translators write dozens of letters a day… describing weather, some real or imaginary events. There is a certain part of creativity in this work. Every day I had to think what I’ll be writing about… Certainly it is not possible to write dozens of absolutely unique letters. So I had my templates :-) there were regular templates about Russian/Ukrainian Holidays, traditions, traditional food etc. I managed to interweave them with some personal phrases. I also wrote templates for one day… I described beautiful sunset I’d seen a day before, a book I read… just anything. Creative approach was encouraged by my Boss who thought it was a good idea to brighten up letters to men, make them more vivid.
Olga. She is in her late 30s. She is a registered nurse in a municipal hospital, brings up a 12 year-old daughter. She is a sort of a wheel horse in our Agency: very gentle, feminine… She is not that beautiful, but there is something so warm in her that make guys from abroad melt when they hear her voice saying “I love you… I want you” with a coarse Russian accent. My Boss told that he had found her in the hospital. She was a squeezed lemon, but not a woman at all… grey complexion, metal teeth crowns.
He made some more or less decent pictures of her and placed her profile on the web-site. (Yes, I forgot to mention that my Boss was jack-of-all-trades – he made good pictures of his “models”). Olga was so craving men’s attention that she was eager to help in composing letters and blah…
So… how did these girls earn money? Or how did I help them to earn…
As easy as a pie. Remember I told you that we could not beg for money in our letter sent through official site. But after one telephone call arranged our girl and male clients could exchange cell-phones. Then I was writing humble letters to Julia’s boyfriends about her “overwhelming” desire to study English… then I mentioned that it was not affordable. And then by some miracle boyfriends started to send about 100$ a month for English courses… They sent text messages with Western Union code #. Imagine 10 boyfriends from different parts of the world sending 100$ a month each… That’s a good scholarshipJ. Certainly she did not get all the money, she got her share from the director. I just got my salary for writing letters. Three years passed, and still Julia can hardly say “hello” in English…
For Olga there were other humble letters, lots of them actually. For example a letter about her daughters future birthday and Olga’s great desire to buy a bike… And see what happens! She gets money for bike… We got money for dozens of bikes…
It is all so sad. But I must confess that from some certain point of view male clients were even less honest. A lot of them came to Ukraine not to marry, but for a sort of comfortable sex-tour. Half of them were married already or just perverts…
I quit this job. Probably that is why I say “a lot of girls and guys” and never say “all”. I didn’t have time to be disappointed in people once and for all. I still believe that it possible to find real love in the Internet… but I’ll never try.
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