Mascara Messi is the bassist for the indie rock band Leopard Bonapart, who’ve made quite a name for themselves in and around their native Moscow. The band’s sound has been described by music journalists and pundits as having elements of glam and rockabilly. Regularly headlining at major venues like Moscow’s Hard Rock Cafe and festivals, such as “Rock on the Roof,” they’re one of the most popular young bands in Moscow and are on the verge of gaining international attention. Mascara tells me that her and her bandmates are currently working on an album scheduled for release this fall, and are planning a tour that will include the United States next spring, but the specific cities have yet to be determined.
Besides her musical interests, Mascara has traveled throughout the Mideast, is an avid soccer fan, and a serious collector of vintage Playboy magazines. One of the beautiful bassist’s goals is to own an original, mint condition first issue. She also tells me she hopes of someday receiving an offer from Playboy to appear in their pages. A modest, 1960s-style pictorial, leaving just a little to the imagination, is what she has in mind.
I recently had a lengthy chat with the Bass Girl, where we covered the aforementioned topics, as well at some others, including her theory on why the Doors didn’t have a bass player. The top photo is Mascara during the filming of the “Barberella” music video, which is the song playing now.
MASCARA MESSI: I started playing the bass about five years ago, but I was dreaming about it since childhood, because once I saw my favorite Tom Cat from “Tom and Jerry” playing double bass.
CHRIS: What was your very first bass?
MASCARA: My first bass was a 1970s Japanese Greco SG model.
CHRIS: How many basses do you own now?
MASCARA: Now I have three; two Fender Jaguars, one red and one black. They are my favorites and they are ideal for gigs. The Greco I use for recordings. It has a great vintage sound. In my modest collection there are also two guitars; a Gretsch and an Airline Tuxedo. And it might sounds strange, but I want to buy another Fender Jaguar. They are actually made for me and are what my destiny is about.
MASCARA: Unfortunately, I rarely play an upright bass. It is difficult to transport and to be honest, I’m still not the grand master at playing it. Perhaps in the future, I will use it more often, but now on our future album and gigs I just sing and play the guitar, (electric) bass, and theremin. But sometimes I use it on gigs. It looks awesome, But we don’t use it on the records except “From You.”
CHRIS: I see you’re Facebook friends with Messer Chups’ bassist Zombierella. Are you personal friends with her too?
MASCARA: No, unfortunately, we live in different cities and we have never met, but I adore (Oleg) Gitarkin and all that he does!
CHRIS: Do you have any favorite American female bassists?
MASCARA: Ohh, that’s a very difficult question.
CHRIS: How about any favorite American bands?
MASCARA: I love the Doors, but this is more than love. I think that they did not have a bass player, because at that time I had not yet been born, but they felt that we were made for each other and did not take anyone else. And Chris Isaak is my great love! I forgot to say I also love American classical music. It is amazing! George Gershwin and so on. And I love practically all soundtracks from 1950s movies, especially from film noirs.
MASCARA: No, I’m not a model (she says modestly).
CHRIS: But you have done some modeling?
MASCARA: Just a little. I’ve done some photos with my bass or for posters and some shoots to help my friends, who are photographers.
CHRIS: I see you’re also a vintage Playboy magazine collector?
MASCARA: Oh yeah, it is one of my greatest passions!
CHRIS: Interesting. Do you also collect current issues or just older issues?
MASCARA: Just older issues from US or other countries. I buy current Russian issues, but don’t collect them.
CHRIS: Cool! I collect vintage issues, too. What’s your oldest issue?
MASCARA: A 1969 issue and yours?
CHRIS: (Mascara and I then chat and compare notes about favorite Playboy artists [she’s a big fan of Femlin characters by LeRoy Neiman] favorite Playmates [hers are P. J. Lansing, Connie Kreski, and Susan Denberg, among others] and issues we have and want.) That’s really interesting that you’re a fan of beautiful Playboy Playmates because you’re beautiful enough to be a Playboy model, yourself.
MASCARA: Maybe I will do a photo shoot for a magazine such as Maxim, next year, but I hope that someday Playboy will invite me!
MASCARA: Not completely. Something in the style of a modest 1960s shoot.
CHRIS: I see. Also, a quick search shows an original, mint condition, first issue of Playboy would be around $2,500 USD, but you can get reprints much cheaper
MASCARA: I know, but want an original. It’s worth it, because Playboy is my true love, along with football (soccer).
CHRIS: Are you following the FIFA Women’s World Cup now?
MASCARA: No, only men’s soccer I follow. Now I’m following Copa America.
CHRIS: (We chat about soccer for a bit, here.) So, playing bass, Playboy, soccer ….what else do you love?
MASCARA: Old movies and traveling. I studied Eastern (Arabian) philosophy in college. So I traveled a lot in the Middle East.
CHRIS: Wow, you are a very interesting lady and we do have a lot in common. Speaking of you being a big soccer fan, I’d like to ask you about your video; Murat Yakin! Please stay in Spartak. Did you write that song and produce the video, by yourself?
MASCARA: Yes, from the beginning to the end!
CHRIS: When and where was it shot?
MASCARA: About month ago, in my apartment in Moscow. (See the video below)
CHRIS: Well, in closing, I’ll say it’s been great chatting with you Mascara. I hope to see you and Leopard Bonepart in the United States someday soon.
CHRIS: So, does Leopard Bonapart have plans to come to the US in the near future?
MASCARA: This fall, we will release our album and in the spring of 2016, we will definitely come to the United States and to a couple of cities in South America. We really want to do this!
CHRIS: If you do, I’ll look forward to seeing you play in San Francisco.
MASCARA: I hope we will! Thank you for your questions!
CHRIS: Oh, just one more: I’m curious to know; if you could choose between being a famous bassist who did a spread in Playboy magazine OR being a Playmate of the Month, who is also a bassist, which would you rather be know as?
MASCARA: The first one, because, despite everything, music is the most important thing for me!
With her red Fender Jaguar at 16 Tons Club (left) and at the Bosco Fresh Fest, Moscow
Mascara’s own “Murat Yakin! Please stay in Spartak”
The Band’s Facebook Fan Page
The Band’s Youtube Channel
The Band’s VK Fan Page (in Russian)
About the author
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.
Good interview. I am glad to see this because American audiences can be introduced to her. She is producing music videos now. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQIllix9f8Q9ss5gxBZhLew
Funny she’s a Playboy magazine collector. She would make a great Playmate for Playboy Russia.