Per Barbie’s instructions, I enter Kamasutra, a brightly lit Ukrainian version of an Indian restaurant. Imagine a blind date, with all the attendant “Does she look like her picture?” jitters, multiplied by the queasy fear that she does look like her picture. If you saw the pictures I saw, you would understand. You would know that meeting Valeria Lukyanova is the closest you will come to an alien encounter.
Her improbable looks—the Margaret Keane peepers, the head quizzically cocked like a sunflower too heavy for its stem, the plasticky skin and wasp waist—reached the West when her self-shot home videos
began drawing gawkers to YouTube. The Western media were quick to dub her the “Human Barbie,” but Valeria was hardly the first Homo sapiens to willingly make herself look like a doll—she wasn’t even the first to earn the moniker: Some tabloid-damaged Brit laid claim to it a few years back. Still, where others had dabbled, she went for broke. However odd her own view of perfection, she appeared to have achieved it. Valeria wasn’t in on the Barbie branding. She preferred to call herself Amatue, a name she claimed had appeared to her in a dream. CONTINUE