Vladimir Lenin, the main force behind the 1917 Revolution, has been depicted in every form of art over the years, on stage and on screen, in monumental marble and bronze sculptures, in rugs, matchstick paintings and even, most recently, in meat aspic. Sometimes he is heroic, sometimes — evil.
But only once was he revealed to be a mushroom.
In 1991 the musician Sergei Kuryokhin spent over 30 minutes on the Leningrad television show Pyatoye Koleso (Fifth Wheel) explaining to the journalist Sergei Sholokhov that Vladimir Lenin had morphed into a mushroom.
Kuryokhin came up with the idea for the show after watching a television documentary on the death of the poet Sergei Yesenin, in which professors and experts pointed to incidental gestures — say, the direction someone was looking in a photograph of the funeral — as “proof” of murder.
At the start of the interview, Kuryokhin says he is prepared to reveal the “main secret of the October Revolution,” which he has been researching for years. Throughout the interview, Kuryokhin pontificates about his field research in Mexico, frescos in a church, an object on Lenin’s desk that he identifies as a kind of hallucinogenic cactus — with a comical name of Lophophora Williamsi or Turbinikarpus.
He cites a quote from a letter that Lenin supposedly wrote to Georgy Plekhanov: “Yesterday I ate my fill of mushrooms and I felt marvelous.”
He notes that “Lenin spelled backwards is ‘ninel’ — a French dish made of mushrooms.”
He demonstrates with drawings that the famous armored car Lenin stood on to address the people looks like a mushroom spoor when shown in cross section. Sholokhov agrees, “There’s even a door.”
Kuryokhin explains that mushrooms are actually radio waves, which leads to his grand conclusion.
“I have completely irrefutable proof that the October Revolution was made by people who had been eating certain mushrooms for many years. And in the process of being eaten by those people, the mushrooms supplanted their personalities, and the people became mushrooms. In other words, I am simply stating that Lenin was a mushroom. A mushroom. And furthermore, he wasn’t just a mushroom, he was also a radio wave.”
Perhaps apocryphally, the next day a delegation of apparently humorless old Bolsheviks went to the Party Headquarters and asked, "Is it true that Lenin is a mushroom?" The flustered Party worker replied, “No! He isn’t! He can’t be! Because a mammal can’t be a plant!”