With several featured articles and videos on her turbulent life story and tragic death, the only prostitute in the history of the Greek state that has officially entered the Presidential Megaron to receive an honoring distinction for her services to the country during the Axis Occupation in the 40’s, remains to date one of the legendary urban figures of the city of Athens.
Gavriella Ushakova, the seductress of the neighborhood of Exarchia, might have been a siren to the men of her time, but is best known for her character, ethos and charity work that made her neighbors love her to her death.
“I became a prostitute because I was born this way,” reads the under title of her autobiography, but the people who have known her describe her as a deeply religious and independent person, who helped many children go to school and paid for doctor’s visits of her poor neighbors.
During the Nazi Occupation, Ushakova’s own brothel on Markou Evgenikou 14 Street would flourish from the visiting soldiers and commanders. Ushakova took advantage of her close relations with the Nazi authorities and revealed their secrets to the Greek resistance fighters.
According to an Ethnos report from 1991, a man named Myron Loulakis remembered Ushakova as a person with a heart of gold. “The Nazi General would come to the brothel and the whole neighborhood was full of German officials. As soon as the y would leave, Gavriella came out of her house with bags full of food and left them outside the neighbors’ doors.”
Gavriella Ushakova was born in Russia on June 6, 1916. She and her family came to Greece in 1929 after spending some time in Istanbul. Ushakova admits being extremely jealous of her two other siblings, and even reveals in her book that she was the one responsible for the death of her younger brother. When she came to Greece, she visited the nuns’ school, graduated from the French Institute, learned five different languages and became a French teacher. But this was not her destiny.
At first she worked as a cabaret artist. In 1936, Ushakova bought real estate on Markou Evgenikou Street, where she built her own luxurious house and brothel. The entire high society of her time crossed her threshold. For 50 years, Ushakova took care of the needs both of rich and poor men reagrdless of their social status or physical appearance, and they gave her economic prosperity and independence in return.
This is when her adventurous life began. Love and money became inseparable parts of her life but Ushakova never let go off her values and principles. She was a very law abiding person and was never accused of anything. After the Nazis left Greece, some people tried to force her to leave the neighborhood, but Ushakova managed to stay there and expand her fortune. Despite the money she had already made, she continued working until 1991, when she was brutally strangled by unknown people who entered her house as customers. The perpetrators left the murdered victim without a trace and the police never came to arrest them.
Ushakova was extremely proud of who she was and what she was doing, and was never afraid or ashamed to reveal even the most private parts of her life. In her book published in the 80’s, Ushakova describes how she was first seduced in her life at the age of five by a Turk who was traveling on the same ship her family was. She did not fall off the wagon, did not feel she had been lured in a sinful world and never blamed anyone for her way of life.
“I have no complaints against anyone, neither the society nor any individual. How could society have ever harmed me? Like I told you before, from a young age I liked men, I wanted to be with them. No, I never brought myself to any regrets for anything I have done,” she told Ena in 1990.
Her book reveals all the spicy details of her love and professional life, while it also underlines that she would offer her customers warmth and affection. The men would visit her red light house not only in search of pleasure but also to find a good listener for their problems.
“I took care of them because I respected their money. My house was not merely a brothel to them but rather a shelter of solace.”
Gavriella Ushakova was still alive, when in 1988, Kostas Kaldaras wrote a song for her.
Ushakova wanted to combine business with pleasure. After her death, the media made extensive reports on her life and the vast fortune she had made over the years, including some 40 apartments, million dollar-worth deposit accounts and two or three condos. Some had claimed that her death was planned by people who knew her for financial reasons, but no one ever found out the truth. Every legend has its own mystery.