Around the Balkans in 20 Days (Part 2/5)


Uploaded by vice on Aug 29, 2012

Transcript:

[CAR HORN HONKS]
THOMAS MORTON: Hey, it's Thomas.
We're in Belgrade, turbofolk capital of the world.

Turbofolk is traditional Yugoslavian folk music played
over some of the most violently aggressive techno
ever recorded, and made for criminals by criminals.
Where Western pop stars' run-ins with the law generally
start and end with stuff like drugs and drunk driving, it
isn't uncommon for a turbofolk star to be arrested with a
trunkful of smuggled cocaine or machine guns.

Turbofolk started in the roadhouse bars dotting
Serbia's highways before migrating to the city and
becoming the country's biggest export after war crimes.
Kornelije Kovac is like the Serbian Elton John.
He's also the closest thing we could find to a turbofolk
expert without having to talk to the Serbian paparazzi.
[SPEAKING SERBIAN]

Under Tito, folk music was deemed too kitschy and
embarrassing for state support.
So folk singers had to get their money
from another source--
the Serbian Mafia.
As Yugoslavia fell apart in the '90s, gangsters bought up
state assets and even led their own armies in the wars
with the breakaway republics.
They channeled their plunder into the music they loved, and
overnight, folk turned from funny country songs about
drunk husbands into turbofolk, an ear-shattering
million-beats-per-minute celebration of sex, money,
boob jobs, brand name crap, and
astonishing levels of tackiness.
The queen of the '90s turbofolk scene was a Serbian
teenager named Svetlana Raznatovic,
better known as Ceca.
Ceca's songs became the soundtrack to the wars in
Bosnia and Croatia, and Ceca herself even traveled to the
front lines to entertain the Serbian soldiers.
On one of these trips, she fell in love with infamous
Serbian warlord Arkan.
Following the war, the two were married in a garish
ceremony Serbian newspapers described as a fairy tale.
The marriage was broadcast on state TV, sealing Ceca as the
new queen of Yugoslavian music and making the marriage of
turbofolk with organized crime about as literal as it gets.
Arkan was killed in 2000, and three years later, Ceca was
arrested for having a cache of assault
rifles in her basement.
Ceca's still under house arrest, but in her wake, a new
generation of turbofolk stars has sprouted.
Goga Sekulic is one of the potential
heirs to Ceca's throne.
Her 1999 breakthrough single, "Panties," led to quick
success as well as numerous body modifications and
follow-up hits like "Boy Toy" and "Sexy Businessman."
We met Goga at the studio of Pink TV, which is like
Serbia's answered to MTV but a lot trashier.
It's been the career springboard for all of
turbofolk's major stars.
Basically, it's turbofolk's Factory of Dreams.
THOMAS MORTON: Balkan women, in general, are a little bit
intimidating and often tall, but Goga's
like, another species.
She looks like--
like a tan Navi.
GOGA SEKULIC: [SINGING IN SERBIAN]

THOMAS MORTON: After the show, we headed to Goga's studio to
watch her record her new album.
GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
THOMAS MORTON: Did she say "Sexy Businessman?"
[MUSIC PLAYING - GOGA SEKULIC, "SEXY BUSINESSMAN"]

THOMAS MORTON: Great.
What's it about?
Besides a sexy businessman?

GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]

GOGA SEKULIC: [SINGING IN SERBIAN]

GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
Good, huh?
THOMAS MORTON: Yeah.
MALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]

THOMAS MORTON: While Goga took a beauty nap, we had some
drinks with her manager and the Serge Gainsbourg-looking
dude to get ready for a rare Tuesday night performance at
Belgrade's Klub Mistique.
KORNELIJE KOVAC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]

THOMAS MORTON: This place is hopping, for a Monday.

THOMAS MORTON: All the girls are so tall here.
It's freaky.
Yeah?
Oh, OK.
We're in Republike Square in Belgrade and we are head to
Klub Mistique.
And we are hauling ass.
GOGA SEKULIC: Yes.

THOMAS MORTON: Yes.
Everything-- everything here is beautiful.
It's great.
It's just, it's very--
everybody is here very forward.
I like it.
GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
MALE SPEAKER: Especially her.

[HORN HONKS]
GOGA SEKULIC: Crazy men!
THOMAS MORTON: Before hitting the club, we went to pick up
Goga's entourage.

We met our friends at a bar in a neighborhood nicknamed
Silicone Valley.
Get it?
MALE SPEAKER: Please.
[INAUDIBLE].
THOMAS MORTON: I'm gonna make this picture so much shorter.
MALE SPEAKER: Uh, in the middle.
All the way in the middle.
THOMAS MORTON: I'm gonna look like I'm kneeling right here.
GOGA SEKULIC: For you.

THOMAS MORTON: Aw.
Thank you.
These are beautiful.
Not quite real.
FEMALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
MALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]

THOMAS MORTON: Those are some pretty nice fake roses.

GOGA SEKULIC: Crazy.
MALE SPEAKER: Where's middle finger?
GOGA SEKULIC: Oh my god.
MALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SERBIAN]
GOGA SEKULIC: [SPEAKING AND SINGING IN SERBIAN]
[BOY SINGS ALONG]

THOMAS MORTON: That kid's psyched.
GOGA SEKULIC: Oh my god.

Come on.
THOMAS MORTON: These all--
these all the paparazzi?

The place kind of looks like your standard tacky nightclub,
but everything's amped up to beyond ridiculous levels.
The music is playing at mind-altering volume.
The lasers shoot directly in everybody's eyes.
Someone kept throwing stacks of napkins at us.
Each of the club's several floors was packed with
towering, fake-titted women and men who looked like the
personification of murder.
A photographer kept recognizing everybody in
Goga's extended entourage--
not from the music industry.
From news reports about the Serbian Mafia.

At one point, Goga pulled me to the railing and said, oooh.
Below us, two dudes were beating the shit out of each
other amid an army of security guards.
It's one thing watching drunk dudes fight in a bar in New
York, but when it's two Serbs in a club swarming with
criminals who've been drinking all day, the stakes seem a
little higher.

We just left, and it's even crazier fuckin' outside than
it was in there.
I just stepped on a dude's foot who looked like--
it looked like he fought an instinctual response to
fucking, like, shiv me.

This was great.
This is like, this isn't like New York clubs.
This is insane.
All I did was drink brandy and listen to music that was like,
felt like it was being punched into my face the whole time.
GOGA SEKULIC (LAUGHING): We are happy people.
THOMAS MORTON: That was insane.
The push in turbofolk right now is to clear out the trashy
past and go legit, which is incidentally the same process
the entire country is going through.
Ideally, this means finally clearing out all the
corruption that's entrenched itself on every level of
Serbian society since the breakup of Yugoslavia.
But in probability, it means sweeping 20 years of very ugly
history under the rug.
Then shooting it.