On a cold, sunny New Year’s Eve in 2014, I am sitting at the edge of my king-size bed at the Four Seasons hotel in New York, munching through a stack of Wagyu beef slices and demolishing a bottle of pinot noir while watching a woman play a man playing a bearded woman on Russian state television. Standing on a stage lit by gleaming chandeliers before an audience of Russia’s elite celebrities, the parodist Elena Vorobei sings to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” in a crude impersonation of Conchita Wurst, the Austrian drag queen who won the 2014 Eurovision song contest. Vorobei is dressed in a sparkling gown, winking cheekily, scratching at her bearded face and swishing her lustrous wig around. “I have a beard!” she belts. At one point she throws out a Hitler salute, a gesture that’s meant to evoke Austria, Conchita’s homeland. The camera pans the laughing audience, cutting for a moment to a well-known actor-singer-writer-bodybuilder and then to one of the show’s M.C.s, Russia’s pop king, the also-bearded Philipp Kirkorov (widely assumed to be gay). The men, who are almost all tanned, in sharply cut suits, grin with unconstrained glee. The bejeweled women wear tight, knowing smiles. Everyone sways and claps.