Interview on Buy Bye Beauty, 2006
In April 2006 I gave this email interview to a Latvian bachelor student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Latvian University.
Q: How did you find out about Latvia? What was your expectations when you came to Riga for the first time?
I actually got an invitation to show one of my earlier films, Pelle Polis, at a film festival in Riga. At the time I had very little knowledge of Latvia. The baltic states was of no or very little interest to most Swedes and I was no exception. The brief information I had got, almost subconsciously, mainly gave an image of a former sovjet territory, filled with extremly poor drug addicts and criminals in an, from a Swedish view, interesting historical environment. And that Sweden was now busy in helping these victims of the former Sovjet Union, economically as well as practically - they got to learn Swedish for instance. Of course not much of this was what I saw when I actually ended up in Riga. I saw something, but it was definitively something else.
Q: Why did you chose to make a movie about Latvia?
I think that a common misconception from Latvians is that I made Buy Bye Beauty to describe Latvia. The film is about Sweden. About our businesses, our businessmen and our sex tourists. However I do think that the portrait of Latvia was truthful and that Latvia had it coming, if you excuse my expression. My impression of Latvia at the time was that the nation had lots of unsolved issues concerning prostitution as well as in the ways Latvia allowed itself to get exploited by countries taking the oppurtunity to benefit from new investment objects and low wages.
You should also know that one of the reasons why I made Buy Bye Beauty was that my earlier film Pelle Polis, happened to be about homosexual paedophilia (in Sweden by Swedish men). It annoyed me that I got so many "pads on my back" from the heterosexual male community , that I immediately wanted to burst out and say: do you really think that heterosexual men are that much better?
Since I at the time was primarilly focused on the problem of paedophilia, that angle was the first one that made Latvia interesting, and disturbing.
In Latvia child prostitution and under aged prostitution was, at least when I made my film, overwhelmingly common. Several times, during my first short stay in Riga, I saw western businessmen walking openly into their hotels, arm in arm with very young girls, that without a shred of doubt, were prostitutes. A country that accepts prostitution and abuse of women to the extent that they can't even make a difference between adult women and children, had to be really fucked up. Swedish sex tourists in general, and Swedish paedophiles in particular, of course saw an opportunity in Latvia. Now they didn't have to go all the way to Thailand to satisfy whatever needs they had, Latvia offered accessible and cheap alternatives of just about everything.
The fact that Latvia was so "new" also made it interesting, being "born again" just ten years earlier. Having been pushed around for centuries from one foreign ruler after the other. Always slipping quite peacefully into the ranks of the new master. What had happened now? Did Latvia finally find it's own national integrity - is that at all possible - if not, who was now the new master of Latvia?
Anyhow, after my first short visit in Riga, five days, I still really had no specific information about Latvia, I just left with a strong disturbing impression. The impression that the information I had got over the years from Swedish media simply wasn't true. The information saying that all problems in Latvia was left overs from the former Soviet Union or problems of Latvia itself, and that Sweden and the EU did everything they could to improve the situation. I left with the impression that Latvia was very vulnerable. And the impression that there was a lot of forces, individual as well as systematical that was exploiting this vulnerability.
You also have to remember that Latvia still was not a member of the EU, even if you could argue that you still are not, at least not a full member on equal terms.
Going back to Sweden I really didn't plan to do a film about Latvia or the Swedish and European interference there. The impressions I had just got stuck in the back of my head. Especially since, as I already mentioned, just finished a several years long work on the subject of homosexual paedophilia, and that I now had got an brief insight in where the heterosexual Swedish paedophiles went to satisfy themselves.
Shortly after I got a call from the Swedish Film Institute that wondered if I had any plans to make a new film and got the offer to be sponsored by them if I did.
Then I started to plan the filming of Buy Bye Beauty, orginially called Interference.
It's also important to understand the reason why I chose to shoulder the role of the Bad Guy in the film Buy Bye Beauty. Working with documentaries over the years I had found that there are no persons that media are so willing to protect as the criminals, the bad guys. This is the downside of an otherwise sound ambition to live up to what is commonly called press ethics. The side effect is that the more public hate your actions would lead to if they were exposed, the more reason to protect you from getting exposed. The press ethics strictly forbids slandering, which of course also could lead to law suits against a publisher. The fact that a persons guilt could almost always be subject for argument, if not already convicted, causes publishers to be very careful about who they portray as being criminal. And when convicted the press ethics implicates that the criminal already got his punishment and should not be punished further by adding public exposure of him and his crime to his burden. This means, that the more wrongly you act, the less likley you are to get exposed for what you did.
I decided to make the Bad Guy in "Buy Bye Beauty" completely open to exposure. How would I guarantee this? If I implicated any Swedish man or individual as criminal in my film, the film would be stopped, due to press ethics. I had to create a criminal of my own. Me!
This was also initially the primary purpose of my film, before it turned out to turn towards dealing more with the actual problem of prostitution and economics in Latvia due to Swdish and European Union investments there.
Whatever was said or done in "Buy Bye Beauty" that would cause public hate or anger would be said and performed by myself. I would make sure that this Bad Guy didn't do anything to hinder exposure to be spared from the public rage. I would make sure that the arguments in the film would become common knowledge. If I would have other bad guys but myself in the film, Swedish tourists, Swedish businessmen, Swedish politicians contradicting themselves etc, the film would never have reached the public. It would probably have been stopped, press ethics effectively shielding everyone claimed to act wronlgy or criminally.
This is the reason why I chose to reinact the actual buying of sex from Latvian women in my film. This time the Swedish Sex Tourist wouldn't get away that easily.
Of course, I wasn't prepared or at all interested in shouldering the role of a paedophile, that would truly have been unforgiveable and for me an absolute impossibility. Thus I focused instead on the Swedish sexual consumption of Latvian women in general, just mentioning facts about the underaged prostitution as a parallell.
Hacking into the the subject it became clear to me that you couldn't mention the sex industry in Latvia, without at the same time mention why it was so prosperous now. It didn't take to much research to conclude that there was a astronomical gap between the amount of economical aid Sweden and the EU put into Latvia and the amount of economical profits the very same investors pulled out of Latvia. Some hundred millions in aid (primarilly targeted to make foreign investments in Latvia easier and less risky) and several billions in profits (this kind of profit level is actually called over-profits, meaning that a company, in certain branches or geographical areas at certain times, can make more profits than normally should be possible. The need to make over-profits is often neccessary for a company in order to cover up for under-profits somewhere else, the costly wages in their own country for instance. With the low wages, and the general Latvian hunger for acceptance, Latvia was now a place where you easily could make over-profits.
Tragically, the main reason for a foreign investor to invest in a high-risk country like Latvia, was the possibillity to make over-profits, and to protect future possibilitys to make over-profit even further east. An absolute condition for this is to maintain the low level of wages (tax relieves and other benefits for foreign investors aside). These wages is of course the main reason why so many women, even with normal day-time jobs, resort to prostitution to make ends meet. Women that would probably not prostitute themselves if their wages would be enough to leave them with the freedom of choice. If you ontop of that add the fact that hundreds of thousands of prosperous foreign businessmen travel to Latvia each year to monitor their investments, then you have yourself a ideal greenhouse for growing prostitution and a negative circle of dependence.
A economical reporter at the major Latvian newspaper Dienas Bizness, claimed my film to be a hatchet job. To my impression somebody had already been there, but with a bulldozer, trying to even out all signs of economical imbalances, in an effort to make the unjustifiable national situation to hold up for scrutiny. That Dienas Bizness' owner is Swedish does not improve my impression. I guess that this reporter and his likes just have to regret that their campaign to describe Latvia as an upcoming prosperous perfect new democracy was just less effective, at least at the time.
Q: Where did you get the information about the situation in Latvia (you mention quite precise data about Latvia, for an ordinary Sweedish person it could be quite hard to get thefatcsJ how did you get them?)
Given the fact that my own first hand knowledge was so low, I tried to be very thorough in my research for Buy Bye Beauty. A lot of it was done during the first three weeks in Riga, when I was there to actually make my film. Meaning that my first description of what I was going to do, the description that got me the money and that I later used to inform participants of my intentions, was based mostly on a hunch. A lot of it was done back in Sweden, after the actual filming was done, primarilly to run through every detail through several independent channels, to see that it really held up.
One thing that I think was very special about my method of approaching Latvia, was the fact that I knew beforehand that I wouldn't have any kind of "experts" appear in the actual film. It was important for the betrayal effect in the end of my film, that there were no other that could be held responsible in my film but me. Thus, I couldn't confront representatives of either Swedish or Latvian interests in the actual film. It had to be the reporter of the film - me - that gave you all the knowledge needed, the same reporter that would betray your interest and trust in the end of the film. No one else would be held responsible in this film.
I could thoroughly interview persons of interest without putting them in front of a camera or microphone, giving them the oppurtunity to speak more freely on the subject, then they normally would. Another special circumstance was that I made no secret that I was supposed to have arranged sex-scenes in the end of the film. This gave various reactions depending on what kind of person I spoke to, persons in the porn and prostitution industry took me for one of their kind, quickly letting me more deep into their thoughts and doings than they ever would a normal journalist or reporter.
Given the fact that the film caused a great deal of debate and turmoil, in Sweden as well as in Latvia, I will still not reveal specific names on the persons that gave me the information that my data is based on. In the actual film the only ones that actually do express themselves about the situation in Latvia is persons irrelevant to responsibility for the situation, an artist, a porn photographer, the participating women, a hip hop artist etc. The hard facts you get from the film maker, me. Some reporter thought that my entire base of knowledge came from the persons actually appearing in the film, and of course questioned the relevance of what these people had been telling me. Of course, the facts I had didn't come from these people.
I met and spoke to representatives from the Swedish and Latvian embassies. I especially got a lot of information from a representative in the Swedish embassy, well informed of the state of things in Latvia. I spoke to Swedish statistical experts. I met an economical historican. I spoke for several hours with the head of the special force against prostitution in the police head quarters in Riga, as well as with the Chief of Police himself. I met with Russian and Latvian organized criminals, the maffia. I spoke to Swedish pimps and club owners in Riga. I met several prostitutes and interviewed them about their situation. Hotel managers, bar owners etc. All of these were asked to tell me their view on Latvia at the present, the past and the future. I asked these people about the extent of the prostitution and criminality, about economy and politics. I had several contacts with two Latvian journalists, independent of each other, both with special interest in issues of prostitution and organized crime in Latvia. Most hard numbers and figures was retriveable from various web sites, primarily from the Latvian government itself and the Latvian Development Agency (LDA). I have to mention a fact that actually upset me doing this research. On the hompage of (LDA) they actually had commercial links to escort services and porn clubs in Riga, next to statistical information telling presumed foreign investors that they could earn a lot of money by investing in Latvia due to the low wages - I rest my case. I also got facts and numbers from SIDA, EU, the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. With the help of statistical experts in Sweden I learnt how to cross reference the figures and read the material.
At least one thing stood perfectly clear. The official numbers from the Latvian government on how many prostitutes there was in Latvia was simply not true. Actually, most official numbers had to be cross referenced with reality, the level of wages from local companies for instance, considering the amount of undeclared bonuses and benefits (black money) normally paid by most local employers.
I've learnt that many Latvians are especially upset with one detail in my film Buy Bye Beauty. I claim that half of all women in Riga between the age of 18-35, at least once has performed a sexual service in return for money or other benefits. Even though it is probably correct in the widest interpretation of sexual services (including for instance accepting a sexual invite from your boss in fear of otherwise loosing your job) this was a deliberate play with numbers. The main purpose of the film was to agitate the issue, and to make people from all sides starting to spill the beans on what they actually think of the situation. And besides that, if the Latvian government can claim that the number of prostitutes in Riga is ten times less than in reality, I can't see why I can't claim it to be larger. If I would say that each and every woman in Latvia was a prostitute I would still be just as thruthful as the Latvian Government's representatives. A deliberate lie is a deliberate lie. Nevertheless, if you do your math you would still find that figure to be close to reality in a wide interpretation of the term sexual services.
Anyway, I couldn't find anyone that would argue the fact that the real number of full-time prostitutes in Riga at the time was somewhere above 15,000 and that one third of them was under 18 years of age. Adding to that all shades of grey in this area, the number quickly rises.
And most importantly about the facts and numbers in Buy Bye Beauty - it all came from Latvia. Everything I learnt came from the mouths of people actually living in Latvia and knowing much about these issues. I had nothing from start, went to Riga and came back with the imprint. That's it. If Latvians are unhappy with it, which Latvians should be, Latvians should start looking over their doings and how they present themselves.
But it is also important to remember that there are of course more countries in similar situation like Latvia. But just to point out that someone else behaves just as badly as you, has never been a good excuse for anything.
Q: What was the purpose of your movie?
The purpose changed during the actual filming and research. Initially my intention was to make a hard point of the fact that you as a film maker always exploit the peopIe you interview in your film. At this starting poitn I just saw Latvia as a suitable platform to make this point. Not completely unaware of the seriousness of the actual situation in Latvia. But much more concentrated on the fact of who holds the initiative, to interfere wheter that interference will be of the good or bad kind.
This is excerpts from the information I gave to all participants in Bye Buy Beauty ( the project was still called Interference)
This is going to be a very provocative documentary.
I am an artist and a documentary filmmaker from Sweden. I have made several provocative films the last years that often have caused long debates in the media. Often I circle around subjects of power and abuse of power. I think that every documentary filmmaker exploit their subjects even if the people interviewed gave their full consent. But people seem to think that there are such a thing as a honest and completely ethical way to make a documentary. I think not. You always have to choose your subjects and edit the material in a way you see fit. There are lots of documentary work nowadays picturing "ordinary" people and their troubles and efforts in life. Most of these documentaries claim to be responsible for their exposure of their subjects. I don't think they take that responsibility. Since Media has developed a kind of Ethics and Moral, they have to set the line for their exploitation somewhere. In my experience that line is almost always drawn when the person pictured really has done something wrong, for him/her worth protecting. In the end, this way, the only people that are exploited are the already exploited ones, and the only people that are protected are the "bad" guys. I question the filmmakers right to exploit people, especially since the filmmakers of today anyway avoids the really "hot potatoes". Especially the documentaries picturing people and problems in other countries, where the purpose often seems to be to point finger at another country only to elevate your own. To say that others are fucked-up only to make yourselves feel better.
I recently saw a documentary about a state prison in Riga. There were some Swedish people that had arranged with some form of economical support to this prison. The documentary then explained how come the Swedes were so good-hearted and kind and how bad the Latvian's treated their criminals. In one strike the documentary both got the Swedish viewers to feel good about themselves as well as point finger at their bad eastern neighbor country making them feel that it's not just that they themselves are so good, there are others that are really bad to.
Sweden and the EU contributes economically to the development of, for instance, Latvia. But at the same time we take back enormous amounts of over-profits, tens of times larger than we put out.
I recent this hypocrisy.
Your Participation in the film Interference:
I need you to participate in the film in a partly "faked" and partly authentic way. I will make a documentary were it looks as if I clearly, without doubt, exploit the persons participating. This is not going to be entirely true in reality, since I come to an agreement with you about your "role" in this documentary. The important thing isn't necessarily that you are entirely yourself, but that you "put yourself" in a role that we agree about and that you refer to your own life and experience (or somebody else's that you choose to take on as yours) to give the interviews it's authenticity.
It is not essential that you in the interviews always tell the absolute truth, but it is essential that you take the interviews seriously, and give answers that are related to, and has it's origin, in real life.
The film requires you to let up your complete personal integrity in the way that we at one time have to shoot a very short scene ( about 10 seconds) of sexual intercourse between you and the filmmaker (me). This scene will be shot under respectful circumstances and a clear agreement between you and the filmmaker, but in the end, in the film, It's going to look like you've been almost sexually abused by the filmmaker.
Almost everything is possible to fake today in modern filmmaking and digital video techniques. Because of that it's necessary that these short scenes of sexual intercourse contains actual genitals in the picture (like a close-up in a hard-core pornographic film). This is how it's going to look like when the film is edited and ready. In reality we are just going to arrange a short scene in a sexual situation. (Probably not unlike the way you would film a pornographic film, but very much shorter). These scenes are going to be between 5-20 seconds long but it's essential that you actually can see close-ups of the sex between the filmmaker and his subjects and clearly identify them as the same people you've been following in the respectful interviews.
Your participation will be demanding on you, not in time, but in awareness of the way the documentary in the end will picture you as a victim for the camera. This film has to be very clear in the way that it is obvious that I as the filmmaker doesn't care at all about you as the victim of my interviews. This is not going to be a positive documentary, even if it's sincere on my behalf and that I think it's going to explain an aspect of reality in a truthful way. This documentary is going to be an emotional and "private-political" knock-out to the audience.
This is going to be a very provocative documentary about the abuse of personal integrity in all documentary filmmaking.
I, as a Swedish filmmaker and self-appointed world-consciousness will make a series of interviews with about ten Latvian citizens, men as well as women of various age (adults). The interviews will be about their possibilities, the development in their lives since the liberation, dreams, goals etc, but also about their view on Sweden and Swedish morals. What their experience of Swedes has been like. In the end of the film you will also see, to make the point about the filmmaker's hidden motives and total exploitation of it's subjects, how I personally, as the filmmaker, actually fuck each and everyone of my interview subjects.
I can go to Riga and choose to do good or bad. The problem is that the initiative is mine (ours), not anybody else's. A country can not yet defend itself from mine (our) initiative, whether it is a good or a bad one. In this unequality lies the injustice. This will not change until Riga or Latvia could afford to say "No Thanks" to further contacts with for example Sweden, whether it is a matter of economical help or sex tourism. In this way the capital and the sex tourism goes hand in hand. In many ways the foreign investments in a country like Latvia only leads to a lengthened relationship of dependence on Latvia's hand. From this grows the foreign initiative in Latvia. In this film, I'm going to see all foreign interference in Riga as one and the same, as one person, the sex tourist, the help organizations, the investors, the filmmakers and news reporters. Because they are in fact one person, individually a person representing a larger foreign collective, for example Sweden, and it's one sided possibility to interfere and take an initiative, whether it's a good or a bad one.
I still was not really aware of the magnitude of the problem. I still hadn't been in a Latvian relatively normal disco club and seen a drunk young woman being first stripped and then raped (with objects and their hands) by four German businessmen in suits in the middle of the dance floor (it was not a show!) with people around them, bothering only about themselves, not even the policeman on leave from Jurmala standing next to the dance floor saw anything he thought was worth stopping. I still had not seen the complete ignorance from the police and government. I still had not realized that you could find advertisments that offered sex with small children, ages 4 - 10, in a otherwise perfectly normal taxi. I still had not realized that most Latvians didn't give a fuck about this situation and felt perfectly content with blaming it all on the Russians. I still had not heard a Swedish government representative chuckle and give me a notch in my side, letting me know that there was lots an lots of girls in Riga that were willing if I was interested.
As you can see, my original purpose was a little bit less focused on Latvia, and more onto personal integrity and media.
The final pupose was clearly to make it less easy for Swedish men to go to Riga and fuck women without any questions asked, and to make it less easy for Swedish businesses to act in wahtever manner they felt like, without having someone watching them. A parallell pupose came to be to agitate Latvians so that they would have to shape up a bit and finally start taking the issue of foreign economical and physical exploitation of Latvia seriously. I would be glad if at least a couple of Latvian mothers have said to their daughters something like "I really hope that you wouldn't ever give yourself to a horrible person like that Pol Holenderu from Sweden".
Q: What do you think what reputation Latvia, Riga has right now?
I'm sure that Latvia, along with Estonia nowadays is more active in the general awareness in Sweden. I'm not sure how much you know about the impact my film had in Sweden, but let just say that it was massive. And I would like to believe that the majority of people that was forced to take a stand in the aftermath of my film, took one beneficiary for Latvia. By feeling ashamed of my behaviour in Latvia, and of what they learnt about how Sweden and most Swedes in Latvia behave, I think most people at the same time took Latvia and Latvians more seriously. People in the Baltic countries became more human. The general interest in Latvia being an historically interesting area and having a beautiful capitol, I think is the same. Nevertheless there are still lots of people that still regard Latvia as yet another eastern country with lots of beautiful non-feministic women. And since the last two years Latvia is maybe mostly known in Sweden for their construction workers that come to Sweden and "steal" work opportunities from Swedish workers by offering their services to lower costs than Swedes.
Q: Have you been to Riga recently? How has Riga changed since your movie?
I haven't been to Latvia since I made Buy Bye Beauty. I've accepted two separate invitations. But both times the organizers has been advised not to bring me into Latvia, because they feared that something would happen to me and that the organizers would be held responsible. This means that I don't know in what way Riga has changed.
Q: What was Swedish societies attitude to your movie?
The film had a massive impact in Sweden. It caused a very intense and long debate on all sorts of levels. The film was meant to bring out the true feeling of hatred in people, the hatred they would have felt if they had seen for themselves, what happens in to people in a country so close to them. The first reactions was primarily about the fact that I had fucked the interviewees in the film. This was prior to anyone actually seeing the film. The debate started several weeks before the actual broadcast of the film. This was also my plan. The film had no buyer. I had no prior contract that guaranteed that the film would actually be broadcasted on television.
I let the story out in an interview I gave to a reporter in Dagens Nyheter, the major Swedish morning newspaper. I told him exactly what the film was about and what happens in the film. The effect was staggering. Headlines and billboards like: "Hollender is a fucking bastard" covered Sweden for a couple of days. The result was an enourmous interest in the film since no one actually knew what they were talking about - at this point no one, and I mean no one, besides me had actually seen the film. TV4 and TV3 were interested and TV3 broadcasted the film a couple of weeks later. The reason why I turned TV4 down was that they actually only wanted to show the last minutes of the film, the clips containing the sex-scenes and then have a debate about the sex. But my intention was to bring the entire film to the Swedish public. TV3 broadcasted the film along with a debate. After reciving huundreds and hundreds of hate-mails the first weeks of the debate, prior to the broadcast, I almost immediately started to get mails where people instead expressed their shared hate towards Swedish sex tourists and their concern on behalf of Latvia. I once went through these piles of emails and found that prior to the screening the relation in percent between negative and positive mails where about 90-10, after the broadcast the relation was almost the opposite, 15-85.
The thing is, that given that the film is mostly based on economical and political facts, you never once in the debate following my film, read the words prostitution in Latvia, without being closly attached to the words Swedish investments and businesses in Latvia. This was what I had been missing earlier in Swedish media covering for instance Latvia. An establishment of the connection between the prosperity of prostitution and the prosperity of foreign investments and profits in the same country.
By now I think that my film only lingers in the back of peoples minds, subconciously popping up again when they meet new reports about Latvia. I think that is a good thing. I belive that my film activated a more critical thinking regarding reports.
The film was meant for Swedes and was about Swedes.
Q: Does people think of Riga as of a sex city?
I would guess that a lot of people do.
Q: How do you think is Latvian women easier, more "buy-able" than women on other countries? Why?
Of course, I don't think that Latvian women are "easier" than any other women in the world. The reason why Latvian women resort to prostitution more often right now than for instance Swedish women is of course very complex. A variety of forces cause this situation. The low wages being one of them. Their western neighbour countries tradition of exporting their problems another. First Sweden exported their lower classes - Chinese, Thai and Koreans, for a while became the lowest paid Swedish workers, nowadays along with Latvians, Estonians, Russians etc. Then we exported our prostitution. Our still very patriarchal society now manifests itself outside of the borders of our own country. Inside Sweden we keep the luxury of striving towards a society with equality between women and men, but to my notion we still do it at the expense of others.
But I can say that I was surprised by the fact that almost all men I spoke to in Latvia clinged to the idea that there was such a thing as the lucky whore. And even more everyone seemed firm in the belief that a woman that prostitutes herself did it completely by her own choice. Along with that most of the actual prostitutes I talked to was married and they all said the same, their men didn't want to know what they were up to, but also that they probably knew. I also found it disturbing that Latvians had some problems in respecting the integrity of children and childhood. I got the impression that the subject of paedophilia was very unresolved in Latvia. Of corsue, none of this is either especially specific for Latvia. Wherever there are vulnerability in a society, there will be people trying to exploit it and then normalize the exploitation itself.
The thruth is that I found Latvian men in particular to be extremly ignorant towards these issues, probably due to their own convenience. You shouldn't forget that the prostitution exploded in Latvia after the liberation from the former Soviet Union, and even though the morepart of the money in prostitution, came from Russians and EU, still more than half of the sexual services sold six years ago (around the time I made my film) where consumed by Latvian men themselves. It would almost seem as if the Latvian men found it beneficiary that their country was held down in poverty by foreign investors, thus creating a economical reality forcing their women into prostitution. No see, No hear, No speak, but fuck a little, oh Yes.
Q: How do you think is this big stag parties “boom" just a phase which will pass over to Minsk and Bratislava for example after a while?
I don't know about this new stag parties boom. But I have heard about also Swedish people having their stag parties in Latvia. I really don't know. I shouldn't try to forsee anything in a matter where I so little knowledge.
Q: What could Latvia do to save its reputation? What could Riga do to changed the situation?
I'm not an historian, and don't know how countries in the history of nations have managed to come out of a dependancy like this. But I do guess that a practical change of peoples minds towards organized crime and corruption would be helpful. At least it would make it harder for these effects of foreign interference to thrive.
Q: Does this situtation give any benefit to Riga?
No, I sincerely don't think so. It's a non constructive downside to a maybe neccessary economical development in a country like Latvia.
Q: How do you think has societies attitude about prostitution changed? Is it more tolerated?
Prostitution is a matter that I guess will always be a subject for debate. The problem is that both the debate and public attitude as well as prostitution itself is mixed up with so many things that has nothing to do with the actual exchange of sexual services between two people. The debate and attitude on prostitution is always also a political and economical one. In Sweden I would say that it has changed though. Now being less accepted than ever, and also feared. News about trafficing and prostitution in the eastern european countries has turned prostitution also into a sign of national poverty. But at the same time Sweden at the present have a great deal of acceptance towards strip shows, and glamour models etc, or should I say, that they've resigned a bit.
Q: If you had to explain to you friends what is Riga, how would you charectarize it?
I'm very careful nowadays to characterize Riga. I haven't been there for six years and I have presumed that Riga and Latvia had to have gone through some major changes, at least since becoming members of the EU.
Q: Why is Latvia better for sex tourism (if it is better) than other countries?
I wouldn't think that Latvia is specifically better for sex tourism than other countries. But for Swedish, Danish, Norweigan, German, French and Brittish men that think that buying sex is acceptable the reason is obvious, Latvia is closer than Thailand.