With an endless supply of beautiful young, single women, Odessa, the frontier of the ex-Soviet union, is fast becoming the seedy new tourist magnet for single American men.
Getting a man is very competitive in Odessa, with women outnumbering men five to four. Women are signing up to many local agencies and paying upwards of $3500 to be paired up with hopefuls from abroad. The men travel from across the globe with the hope of meeting beautiful young women.
Despite accusations of being little more than a legalised pimping service, clients such as Arthur and Julia have qualms with the service they offer. Julia’s situation is typical of many. After an abusive marriage she signed up to meet a man from abroad. While Arthur explains, “It’s like purchasing a very nice used Cadillac.” – “I need to drive it before I make a decision about taking it home and putting it in my garage.”
But for the women who don’t get picked it’s frequently a case of disappointment and heartbreak. “It feels like we’re goods in a market,” explains Julia. “No one there looks inside our hearts.”