"Nyet!" (The Tsarevna Sophia Alexeevna Refuses to Pose in the Nude)

Ilya Rapein

Rapein was the centerfold painter for плейбой magazine, which was devoted to female pulchritude and the pleasures of the flesh. His editor, Eughney Hefnerovski, had a standing 10,000 ruble bet with Rapein that he could not persuade a member of the Russian Royal Family to pose for a magazine centerfold.


The artist, who like all Russian artists was dreadfully impoverished, barely able to afford a crust of bread to soak his vodka in, tried his best. He first propositioned the Tsarina, the wife of the Tsar Alexander II Romanov, for which he was dragged behind an oxcart for 13 versts while being beaten with cudgels. Upon his recovery he had the temerity to approach the 16-year-old Tsarincess Maria Alexandrovna with the same offer, for which he was publicly beaten by the Imperial Guard in Kremlin Square while seated on a sharpened wooden railing.


Over the next 12 years he worked his way through the Romanov family tree, in the course of which he was deprived of his left leg, both ears and his upper lip, as well as having all but 3 bones of his body shattered, often repeatedly. He finally located the Tsarevna Sophia Alexeevna, third cousin twice removed of the Tsarincess on her great-grandmother's side. Sophia had been shut away in the Novodevitchy Convent at an early age, as her extreme homeliness interfered with the Tsar's digestion and had an unfortunate effect on palace mirrors. Here, the artist thought, dragging himself painfully up the stairs of the convent in the snow, he had a shot at success, after having written dozens of flattering letters to the Tsarevna. 

 

Alas, he was disappointed one final time. As soon as he breathed the slightest suggestion of the word "topless" (с обнаженной грудью) the indignant Tsarevna shrieked out for the convent's eunuchs, who buttered him generously with hot lard and threw him from the walls to the pack of starving wolves they kept for the purpose.

 

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