Students, who attend 10 seminars devoted to "the art of touching," "erotic cuisine" or "belly dancing," come from all kinds of backgrounds and are of various ages. Alina is a pretty 23-year-old brunette clad in flashy leather clothes, while Irina, a tall, blonde 40-year-old, has been married for 20 years.
"Students can be young girls who want to have a successful marriage or married women who are afraid they might lose their husbands," said school head Larisa Bogdanova, a 37-year-old redhead and mother of two sons. "But most are successful career women who are not happy with their personal lives."
All have resolved to become "ideal women," fascinated by the example of Japanese geishas, professional hostesses who specialize in the arts of singing, dancing and conversation.
Geishas perform in teahouses and at private parties but are not -- contrary to a belief often held outside Japan -- fancy prostitutes. The geisha image sold at the school, however, focuses to a large extent on eroticism and sex. "The word 'geisha' should not be interpreted too literally. What we have in mind is an ideal woman who knows how to seduce men and has good looks," said Bogdanova, who set up the school a year ago.
"What we teach is an art of seduction that allows women to attract men and to manipulate them," she said.
The key to becoming an ideal woman lies in understanding the psychology of the Russian man and what he really wants from a woman, Bogdanova said.
"For a Russian man, an ideal woman should not only be sexy but also show concern and understanding. She should be a woman and a lover at the same time," she said.
The school does have its opponents. "It's sad that women visiting the school are content with becoming objects instead of learning how to establish relationships with men on an equal footing," said Yelena Zdravomislova, a sociologist at the St. Petersburg Institute of Sociology.
Student Irina, however, did share such concerns. "After 20 years of being married, my husband had totally lost interest in me, and I was about to get a divorce," she said.
"But now we are going through a second honeymoon," said Irina, the wife of a businessman.
Although she has already attended the 10 lessons, she said she was keen to carry on with her vaginal muscles development workshop, which she described as "terrific."