Ukrainian DJ and producer Vakula, real name Mikhaylo Vityk’s most recent EP Per Aspera Ad Astra was released in February by Croatian label Barba Records under his Rocco Siffredi alias. This artist name of his comes from a controversial Italian adult-film actor by the same name.
The three tracks on the EP titled “Per Penis Ad Astra,” “The Elements” and “CODE P.” But unfortunately for Vityk, the EP is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. He is faced with a severe backlash from the industry for the offensive and misogynistic artwork he decided to use for the EP. The illustration, by Wanda Kuchvalek, features four prominent women from the world of music, The Black Madonna, Nastia, Peggy Gou, and Nina Kraviz captaining a penis-shaped spaceship. All without any kind of consent or knowledge of the women in the picture.
While the artwork was posted to Vakula’s Instagram since a while, it came to light when Nastia shared it along with her outrage over the issue. His Instagram has since been turned private but screenshots of the original post can be seen below. He went on to caption the art saying, “I dedicated this project to my beloved women, where we tried to portray the most beautiful dick that those girls on the cover could ever meet.”
ummm okay 🤔 pic.twitter.com/5SUW8ILYXz
— Beans & Louis (@chaosinthecbd) April 26, 2019
Expressing exactly how this made her feel, Nastia among the first to speak up, posted to her Instagram mentioning how this was not her first interaction with Vakula and on their previous interaction he has told her that she was “shitty and not even a DJ” but that he would be happy to teach her. She also went on to point out that his problem was solely that he couldn’t handle their success as women in the industry.
View this post on Instagram
Post in purpose ) Our Ukrainian artist Vakula has announced his next release with me, @ninakraviz , @blackmadonnachi and Peggy Gou on the cover with the next description: “I dedicated this project to my beloved women, where we tried to depict the most beautiful dick that those girls depicted on the cover could ever meet. Find in stores, do not miss”. Well.. Sigmund Freud would be satisfied. I believe it’s that kind of a dick he dreams about! Let’s say when I met him in 2015 he seriously told me I am shity and not even a DJ, but if we come together he can teach me.. The biggest lol I have seen for a while. I always knew he is such an arrogant and lost sexist + simply idiot who believes he is one and only artist comparing himself with Theo Parrish, but I didn’t expect he will go that far.. His most problem is that he can’t handle our success 🤷🏻♀️ Can’t tag him here because he banned me last year just because he didn’t want me to see his page )) Gonna go to the store and get my copy! Good advertisement tho! This is worthy a promotion for free in my feed 🤪 #vakula #cover #nastia #ninakraviz #blackmadonna #peggygou #sexism #hate #lol
After an enraged tweet, The Black Madonna issued an official statement to RA detailing the gravity and implications of the issue.
It’s not even just a pornstar Vakula’s referencing with us, it’s a guy famous for BRUTALISING women. Rape fantasy shit. It’s fucked up. I don’t need this shit. I’m just trying to do my job, make records and make people happy. I have a sense of humor about myself but this is low.
— THE BLACK MADONNA (@blackmadonnachi) April 26, 2019
“Framing a group of successful women in dance music along with imagery of a porn star famous for brutalising women and performing simulated rape and forced sexual contact on your album cover without notifying us or asking for consent is wrong in so many ways that I can’t list them all. No one needs this. We’re all just trying to do our jobs as best we can. We are wives and mothers and creators and label owners. This is absolute bullshit, but it is the most extreme end of the kind of toxic, misogynist culture that women have to deal with every day. Vakula can go fuck himself along with anyone in this industry, man or woman, who thinks this is OK or funny. It’s not a joke. It’s a tacit threat and a warning shot that women shouldn’t get too successful in dance music.”
Last weekend, Peggy Gou also went onto social media to address the issue. Her post was shared as a “message to misogynist Vakula” on Instagram. “I am sorry, but not sorry, if you are too insecure to handle successful women. You can go and fuck yourself.” She ends with a critique of the illustration: “I am actually not angry, I’m more disappointed that you couldn’t do a better job in drawing me.”
While the prevalence of sexism and misogyny in the industry has been a well-known fact, this kind of behaviour from within the industry is practically unacceptable. After all the backlash Vakula has announced there will be a revised artwork “out of respect” for the four DJ’s, but also went on to say the intention was “to call attention to the exploitative nature of the music industry” and no disrespect was meant. How and if this turns things around for Vakula remains to be seen.
Nina Kraviz has not publicly commented on the matter yet.