About menopause, sex and relationships

Elena Novikova: at 50 life is just beginning!
Standup comedian and star of the show "I'm Not Kidding"
gave Aesthetics of Age an exclusive interview.
Without any jokes. Although, who are we kidding? She's a comedian!
The text version of the interview. The most exciting.
And also watch the full video version to enjoy Elena's charisma!

— In one of your interviews you said that you had been inspired to write the screenplay by the Soviet drama film "Flights in Dreams and Reality". If you analyse it this way: until then only men had the right for a "crisis" in their life, and women — had not! First women give birth to children, then raise grandchildren, and in general they have to take over the household. And somehow there has never been this kind of agenda. How did you get this idea?


— We didn't think about it at all, we didn't think about statements, we just wrote the script. When you write a script, you don't think, "I'm putting messages like this in here, it'll be all about the mid-life crisis of a woman, etc." We just took some situations from real life and translated them into cinematic language, that's all. And "Flights in Dreams and Reality" is only my inspiration, Nezlobin
(the producer) and Krasilnikova(the scriptwriter) were not inspired by it, they had some other references. And I, being a little more well-read and experienced, having lived a little longer than they have, I managed to draw my flashbacks from the past. "Flights in Dreams" is a very cool drama, with very little so-called action. It's about a man before his 40th birthday, who suddenly comes to thinking about what his life is all about. When he's just looking out the window as it's raining, just driving his car, just watching some passer-by walking. At that moment, when he's just looking at something — you realize that here he is at that moment of reflection. And there are moments like that in our show, too: the heroine is watching a man fall in the street, as she rides the subway, as she smokes on the balcony, as she runs after her daughter to the kindergarten. Such moments are likely to involve you into reflection: "She must be going through some kind of mid-life crisis right now."

— Have you experienced this crisis yourself?

— No. It's not like we lie down on the sofa and get over it — it doesn't happen that way, we kind of get over it all on our feet, yeah. And then, when we begin to chat suddenly with friends about it, we realize that it's probably all been through — like the flu, a sore throat. It seems to me that a woman in action, who is swamped with household problems and thousands of events a day — there is no time to feel anxious. Men meet this age a little more painfully and switch from "not a boy, but a husband", and then already "from an incapacitated guy" to the fact that I am now "an old man ". That is, for them, it happens, first of all, abruptly. And for a woman it is different. There is always such a paradox: when I see myself in the mirror and accept this feedback that I'm no longer a young princess, the tricks and stratagems begin to get my face and body back at any cost, and so on. And it's always funny, comical, and very emotional.

— And then, what happens afterwards? Does any humility, any acceptance come?

— What kind of humility, acceptance of what?

— The fact that you look like this.

— How do I look?! It's normal, it's natural, that's how I look. I've never had such a problem, you know, when you're lying there, and you lift up your leg, look at it and say, "Well, my knee's a little wrinkled, yeah, it hasn't been like that before." And it wasn't like: "Oh, my God, something's got to be done about it, pull it all the way up!" The thing is that the problems are different now, and the libido is also different, and the brains are not the same — why should I go back to what I had yesterday? Everything happens on the inside, age is on the inside. For instance, I run as much as I did when I was young, that is, I lead a physically active life, I don't feel any limitations in my body yet, I don't feel any pain. I mean, I guess when I do, that's when I think, "Something's wrong." I don't have any particular problem with the way I look either, because I don't chase men anymore, I don't hunt, I look like a mother. And I'm quite comfortable with that.
— I have a question about your partners, because if men are nervous about their age — they try to look and feel younger at the expense of a younger partner. So, how does that work for a woman?

— It happens differently for each woman. That's not how it works for me, I don't go to Turkish resorts for new emotions. No one sends me anything, such as dick pics in a direct message. That's how I position myself. For some women, the entertainment is different, we should not judge them. No house without mouse.

— What do you do with your husband, by the way?

— My husband?

— Yes, where is your husband?

— Husband, he is at home with the dog, as a husband should.

— Here's the thing about husbands, you know, when I'm finished in a relationship, I just want to light a match — let it burn. How is it that you try ex-husbands in your show to play with them? How is that even possible?

— Easy! You see, we're not really normal people, we're partly moral freaks — we're actors. And in this sense our psyche is very unstable, not as stable as yours: black and white, we have more halftones. I was married to one husband for 10 years and to another husband for 17 years — they are kindred people, they are almost brothers to me. A total of 20 years of marriage — not a single stabbing, not a single criminal record, and there could have been. All of my husbands were actors. So, in essence, I've been married to one person at all times. And it's very hard to live with an actor. It's very hard. Actors are always hanging out near the mirror, it's impossible to get through, you had to take a coupon to look at yourself in the mirror, just like in the clinic. Whoever walks in the house goes straight to the mirror: "Hi, how are you?" — The kids ask, and he is staring in the mirror. I say, "I'm leaving you!" — and he says, "Have you seen yourself in the mirror?" I said, "I've seen you in the mirror all the time! It's my dream to see myself in the mirror just once." Awesome relationship since we broke up, because once we were in the same territory, it was horror and hell. That's because everyone is irrational, everyone with casual earnings, everyone is loud, demonstrative, everything is "spelled as it's heard," so it's unfortunately hard for such people to exist in the same territory. At a distance we love each other: Dad is always kind, Dad is always sober, funny and always initiative — a perfect relation.
— There's not much sex in Russian movies. But your show has a very cool sex scene. And just now one of the subscribers has a question: Why are there nude scenes in the show?

— Why? What do you mean "why"? I'm not directing the show, I'm the author, and I wrote one of those scenes. In my opinion, a little longer than you could have shown in those 10 seconds. In that sense, the guys had references from the TV series "Girls", where the heroine does this every now and then. And without such scenes, the show probably would have just looked like a melodrama. What usually happens in TV shows, in Russian ones? They kiss, and then they say, "Ah, how cool we fucked," and they lean back on the pillow and, like, we assume that they had sex, but what kind of sex it is, we don't know. But for this character, this particular sex is a very important act for the scene, because she's chasing it, she comes out from the gynaecologist being told that "the oestrogens are going away, you have to do something about it, find some libido in yourself right away." Despite 3 o'clock in the afternoon, she finds it. And that's kind of the goal that she's been pursuing. That's why we see it all happening, plus on top of that, the writers of the show probably wanted to show what sex is like at this age.

— In general, are you ready to talk about menopause, about these kinds of changes?

— Sure, why not?!

— Is there sex at all after menopause?

— I haven't had menopause yet, but I guess there is of course. And why not?! Is there sex in the pandemic, answer me?
— Really, they don't talk about it, very interesting.

— Very much is said for those who are interested. It's probably such a fear of young people going to a stage where: "Now what? After menopause old age is coming abruptly, or it's like a collapse," I don't know what it is. Apparently, some kind of fear of aging, that's all. And for our generation, it's a natural part: like going to the bathroom, like eating, having sex. Brushing your teeth is part of the picture of your life. And why be afraid of that?! It just seems to me that the younger generation in their 20s (I can tell you that for sure, because I have a son), they don't want to have sex at all-they're already going through menopause, I think, early on, a lot of them. That's because they're so horny about their personal space that it's hard to build a relationship. I mean, we're like the seventies, they've been exposed to masturbation, and they're taking advantage of it, like, instead of communicating with real people, building relationships, fighting, etc., they're perfecting themselves, including in sex. They don't do that, they don't want to. Every time something goes wrong: "Oh, yeah?! You didn't accept my inner world, that's it, fuck you," that's how I see the situation. So who has menopause — us or them?
— How old were you when you met the one you "wanted to live with happily ever after"?

— Well, how old was I? 35.

— Is this age, like 35 years old, a turning point?

— It's such a ... very cool age! 35 is a very cool age, when both your body and your brain seem to have already joined together, there is no special defocus, no chaos. You know exactly what you want, roughly speaking.

— And what do you NOT want?

— You know exactly what you don't want, yes. You know exactly how you should look, and you know exactly what you want from a man. And you no longer say, "Guess what's wrong with me." You're clearly saying what you want now. "Why are you offended?" — you have a definite answer. "Why did you leave?" — you can definitely answer.

— I have this question about that nude scene. How do you, basically, at the turn of 50 years, take nudity and show yourself off completely?

— I'm an actress, and in that sense, I didn't have any complexes. I've been asking the question for a very long time, "What's the point of doing that?" I mean, you can't just take off your clothes and go ahead. We're making a movie, but what it is, like, nobody knows. I had a very long argument with the director, we were figuring out how it should be, what it should be, and so on. And at the very moment of shooting — it was already a scene — you have to shoot it and that's it.

— Thank you for that scene! It really turns your mind upside down. We very often in our media blog, we come across women themselves criticizing other women about their appearance. At the turn of the 50s, 80s, etc., of all periods. Because as soon as a person becomes naked, it is possible to show everything: imperfect breasts, imperfect flanks, forms. Society don't yet have full acceptance of age, of the body respectively. So thank you so much for those 10 seconds! Your participating is a real contribution to social consciousness.

— What is your dream role? And let me ask you a related question. I've asked a lot of people about Anna Karenina. And people often fall into two categories: some say she's a complete hysteric and that she didn't sit still, that Mr Karenin is a wonderful husband; and others say she's very delicate, sensual and vulnerable, and generally the ideal of a woman. Which Anna Karenina
is yours?


— I don't have any Anna Karenina. I like "The Resurrection" better, the heroine of "Resurrection". Katusha Maslova. On the other hand, Anna Karenina is a kind of this woman who stood up against stereotypes for the first time, this is the beginning of feminism. That's why she had such a husband, a young lover, and was looking for her place in life. She's probably the antagonist of stereotypes to me, and she failed - and that's all I can say about her. I don't like the film, either one or the other, or the third one on Anna Karenina, as far as Hollywood is concerned: Samoilova, then Drubich, and with them, Keira Knightley.

— But still, who would you like to play, what role?


— I was recently invited to play a role in a theatre. I wouldn't like to play now — after stand-ups it's impossible to play anything. Because you've been in the territory of truth for so long that coming out and saying some text is a very outmoded function for me. I can tell you which characters I might like: Katusha Maslova in "The Resurrection." I might want to play a character in a film like Meryl Streep did in "August: Osage County."
— Is there any difference between a man and a woman on stage? How are they received by the audience?

— In stand-up there is no difference at all. Everyone is in equal situations, no indulgences. The audience will not laugh at you because you are a woman, if you are not funny — that's it: "goodbye".

— Would you recommend someone funny?

— A woman?

— It doesn't matter.

— Artur Chaparyan is a must-see. I like Zoya Yarovitsyna, of the girls, Masha Markova, who is, by the way, an actress from our stand-up community, and Vika Skladchikova — she is simply wonderful, she has made such a leap as a stand-up comedian. I like Tolya Borozdin. He's my friend, and a bit of an author, he made Special, and there's a YouTube channel called "Outside Stand Up". Seva Lovkachev
from St. Petersburg. From foreign comedians: Jim Jeffries and Chris Rock, you have to watch everything.
— Lena, I want to ask you to read some comments. We did a post about a beautiful woman in her 50s from the city of Cheboksary, her name is Tatyana. In my opinion, she's beautiful, so you can take a look at her. She's a little bit naked.

— She's not a little bit naked.

— I want to ask you to read out some hated comments, maybe in some kind of humorous genre.

— "No, grey hair looks disgusting." Well what can I say... I don't think so. First of all, it's not grey, it looks to me like it's tinted. "You don't know about colours and shades," is the most infuriating thing when a woman writes about a woman, in fact, it's somehow so unsisterly. And secondly, if you're writing, it means you're not allowing yourself something, so you're judging the other one. "Well then let her take her teeth and boobs out," a woman also commented. These are the people who sit here and comment on other people's photos — take care of yourself, your own tits and teeth! "Let her walk however she wants, let her poop in her pants, and let the ungroomed broads who defend old slobs poop here. But it all looks disgusting. Again, a woman, only women write. It's called envy in general, it's envy and a shitload of free time — that's what I call it, I don't know if it's a diagnosis or not. "I'm generally annoyed by the dominance and cult of sexuality." Well, I can sympathize with that. Women in general have stopped loving their bodies, no matter what age, I'm confronted with this all the time. I hear from some famous personalities including: "I would never undress, I never even go to the beach, just a whole swimsuit". First, I would say, you need to eat less and do yourself — then everything will be fine. Secondly, if you don't love yourself, you won't love anybody. "She looks her age, a tired woman. Why get pregnant at her age?" It's all yesterday's thoughts, post-Soviet. "You can't cheat nature, and you shouldn't attribute the merits of medicine to the heroine's personal qualities." Your readers will say, "Your heroine can't read the fine print. Discussing other people's bodies. Comment on other people's public outbursts in general is not worth it, get busy with yourself, get your own Instagram, post there what you think it's worth: pies, Easter pastry, which is usually posted there. Recipe for a pie, and you too will have a subscriber — do not be jealous in short. — Elena, thank you for your comments. We conclude that it's the past and complexes that have imprinted on our women. It's time to expand the boundaries...

— And legs! (laugh)



Interview by
Ksenia Leus
Marina Chayka