Welcome to the Dollhouse: A Conversation with Human Barbie, Valeria Lukyanova
Even if the name Valeria Lukyanova doesn't ring a bell, chances are, you've seen her in the press. A few years back, Valeria made waves after becoming emerging as the first human Barbie, with thousands following in her wake. She was definitely one of the more unconventional living dolls—like the succulent plant currently dying in my apartment window, she claimed to live solely off of sunlight and water, practicing breatharianism, she has a twin sister named Olga who shares her doll-like appearance (possible Skipper to her Barbie?), is very into astral projection, and claims to have had contact with aliens. Valeria came under fire after making controversial statements on race-mixing, feminism, and not liking children to GQ, but has since changed her image completely, opting for a fitness model-esque physique over an ultra slim doll figure. I've been fascinated by Valeria for years, and vividly remember watching a short Vice documentary about her in which she claims to be an alien named Amatue—their shot of her perfectly made-up face next to a trio of gigantic cockroaches crawling over her hand is an image that has forever been burned into my memory. "I am you, and you are me," she says into the camera, holding a snake as a galactic background is projected behind her.
In her real life, Valeria has been married to her husband Dmitry for a few years. She's an occasional DJ, teaches at the School of Out-of-Body Travel, and a former goth girl, as images of her practicing witchcraft as a teen, clad in a black corset as she stood in a circle of flames, surfaced last year. As someone who identifies very strongly with Nancy from The Craft, plays with tarot cards on the reg, and nearly lit my bathroom on fire one time in the 6th grade when my best friend Diana and I tried to cast a love spell, the latter fact about Valeria was particularly humanizing. I knew that she and fellow human Barbie Alina Kovalevskaya used to be friends, but currently hate each other, and in researching other living dolls for this series, I reached out to both Valeria and Alina in hopes that maybe someone would respond. No dice on Alina—after a little back and forth, she expressed that she wasn't interested after I told her that we weren't offering payment for the interview. I didn't expect to hear back from Valeria since she is a pretty big deal in the human Barbie realm, but within minutes of sending out my initial inquiry, she responded. Since Russian is her first language, she agreed to do the interview over email, and I sent over my list of questions. "I answered the questions in Russian so that you will have a more complete translation," Valeria typed back in her response, which was pretty cool of her, I thought. If it weren't for the language barrier, we could probably get a rapport going on the existance of aliens (they're real, FYI), and the top 10 best spells out there. Read our Q&A in full below.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was very cheerful. I attended interesting clubs, and I had many hobbies. For example, I did hand-to-hand fighting in aikido, as well as target shooting. I went on hikes, and went in for tourism. I've always been fond of astronomy. My childhood was very rich.
Was there a moment you began to identify with Barbie?
There wasn't really a moment, even when I was assigned this image. I play the role that I like this image, but really, I'm indifferent to it. I actually like very different images—my favorites are from the world of fantasy like elves, warriors, and Amazons.
How have you changed since being assigned the human Barbie image?
I'm constantly in the process of transformation. My inner world is changing, and the exterior changes to go along with it. Now, I am a body fitness model, a real Amazon warrior, and I like it. This is my ideal look, but there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done on my figure.
Tell me about your work as a DJ.
I've DJed a few times now! I like doing this work because music is what inspires me. In my sets, I sing and make interesting movements. There's a lot of energy to them, and the whole process is like a sacrament or ritual. My sets are filled with mysticism and mystery.
Can you talk about your work at the School of Out-of-Body Travel?
I've been teaching for many years on how to do outer body physical journeys, and I hope to continue to do so, as this is the business of my life. Now, I have my own school called the Temple of Infinite Unity. It's a magical school where we develop the paranormal activities, as well as abilities of man that exist, but have not yet manifested.
When did you become interested in spirituality?
I've been interested in it ever since my childhood, when I began to recall my past lives, and would spontaneously go travel astrally. Since then, my life has become an endless search for myself, and for hte meaning of life. Fortunately, I recieved answers not only to these questions, but on topics that do not even exist in the human sense. I have never adhered to religions. The only religion that is close to me is Buddhism, but Buddha is just the guardian of the Earth, not god. I do not believe that God exists, so I do not worship or serve anyone, only truth. Only to the source from which we all belong. It's an impersonal energy that doesn't have a particular personality, but is made more of a collective awareness of enlightened beings.
Have you had plastic surgery? If so, what?
Yes, I have had plastic surgery on my bust. I think that if you have shortcomings, then it's okay to correct them, which is what I did.
Do you plan to have any more surgery in the future?
I'm not against it. If I see that I need anything else in the future, then I will do it
You've recently changed your appearance to be more muscular. Can you talk about that?
This actually ties into my spiritual work. Since I gained more memories of my cosmic past, I have been inspired to transform my outer image. My muse is Medusa Gorgona from Greek mythology. She was the queen of the Amazons back in Atlantis, and I want my ideal body to be worthy of her, so it is up to me to become her myself. I did it, but I'm not going to stop there—I want a more muscular, defined body than what I have now.
What is your fitness routine like?
I practice every day with free weights in the gym. I don't really do aerobics, but I prefer working with dumbells.
What is your outlook on beauty?
For me, beauty is the harmony of features and lines. Subtlety and sophisitication. Harmony of the external and internal. It is sincerity, kindness, power, and generosity that comes from within. All of these qualities are inspiring, and it changes your exterior. It's a charisma. A handsome man is beautiful in everything—in deeds, thoughts, and body. The most important thing is harmony. I like when there is nothing unnecessary on the body, and I percieve this as good willpower, and loving yourself.
How long does it take you to do your hair?
My hair is a lot of work. It isn't easy to grow long, thick, and shiny hair, but I developed a system for it, and I'm very pleased. Many people do not even believe that this is my real hair! My program consists of two mireaculous elixirs, which I use to grow long, strong hair. It makes my hair thicker and it looks shinier.
How long does it take you to do your makeup?
It depends on the kind of makeup I'm doing. For just daily activities, I can do my makeup in 15 minutes, but stage makeup takes me an hour. If I'm going for a walk in the evening, then I can do my makeup in half an hour.
What are your thoughts on the other living dolls out there?
I love bright people, I just adore them. I like the doll appearance because it's very harmonious and sweet.