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Underground Beauty

Those, who have walked in the crowded tiny streets of old Batumi, should have noticed some kind of hybrid, provocating aesthetics of the Far East and familiar markets – small salons arranged in a row, offering a very ‘exciting’ service to passers – “Thai Massage”.


The first thing that attracts you is this eclectic coexistence of old Batumi and Thai salons, and then you wonder, who are those beautiful women from foreign lands and what forced them to gather in the narrow streets of old Batumi.


Fascinated by the charm of those women and the aesthetics of their salons, in August of 2020, I tried to step in armed with a camera. Soon I realized that a foreign guest is nor welcome, neither trusted, but at least, I found a common ground with the characters of my photo series – Patty (35) and Wilaiwan (33).


Patti and Wilaiwan spend their days taking care of nails, scrolling their phones, and sleeping, like all their colleagues in those salons.


Patti is from Thailand. In Batumi, she arrived from Dubai, where she lived for 3 years. Patty proudly showed me some photos of a big, luxurious shop she had there. Now she’s waiting to open the airfares to move to Turkey. It turns out, her family does not know where is she now. I am the only child, but I have cousins, who will surely interfere in my life and I just want to be free, said thoughtful Patty, dreaming of future freedom in her heart, while making plans in her mind.


Wilaiwan came to Batumi with her sister, who opened a massage salon with her Turkish husband. I got stuck because of Covid-19, and airfare limits, otherwise I would have been gone a long time ago, she said while looking at her phone, that had a charming photo of herself as a wallpaper.


Noteworthy that both Patty and Wilaiwan complained about the same thing – neither in Thailand nor in Dubai, has the client right to touch them, and that makes life and work much easier. Obviously, a lot happens, but you feel much more secure. Here the client enters the same door ten times with unchanged demand in an arrogant tone – we want sex.


At the same time, there is a huge signboard on the wall – NO SEX NO SMOKING.

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