Verka Serduchka

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Andriy Danylko
On Eurovision Song Contest 2017
Background information
Birth nameAndriy Mykhailovych Danylko
Also known asVerka Serduchka
Born (1973-10-02) 2 October 1973 (age 47)
Poltava, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
GenresComedy, parody, pop, pop-folk, folk rock
Occupation(s)Comedian, singer
Years active1998–present
LabelsCD Land, mamamusic

Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko (Ukrainian: Андрі́й Миха́йлович Дани́лко; Russian: Андрей Миха́йлович Дани́лко, romanizedAndrey Mikhaylovich Danilko; born 2 October 1973), better known for his drag stage persona Verka Serduchka (Ukrainian: Вєрка Сердючка; Russian: Верка Сердючка), is a Ukrainian comedian and pop and dance singer. Danylko represented Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 as Verka Serduchka and finished in second place. Serduchka has sold over 600,000 records during his career in Ukraine.

As a character actor, Danylko has also appeared in over a dozen television films and is also known for appearing as Serduchka in the 2015 American comedy film Spy.

Early life and education[edit]

Andriy Danylko was born to a working-class family in Poltava. In 1980, at seven, he lost his father to lung cancer. An avid amateur performer since childhood, he graduated from the Kyiv State College of Circus and Variety Arts.


Early career[edit]

In 1990, Andriy Danylko began to create the character of Verka Serduchka, a flamboyant middle-aged woman from a rural family, working as a railroad sleeping car attendant. Danylko presented Serduchka publicly for the first time in a Poltava comedy competition on 4 January 1991. He invented the character's name by combining the randomly picked first name Verka and the last name of a former school classmate, Anna Serduk.[1][2] Danylko later gave his Serduchka character a "mother," played by actress Inna Bilokon, who had been Danylko's close friend since school.

After Verka Serduchka, Danylko created other characters, such as a police officer, a soldier and a female ballet dancer. He established the troupe "Danylko Theater" to tour the cities of Russia and Ukraine. In 2002, Danylko, along with his group, toured in the CIS and Baltic countries with the program "I am a Revolution" for the whole year. The following year he was awarded the title of Honored Artist of Ukraine soon after the Danylko Theater concert tour "I Was Born for Love".

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Danylko hosted a talk show called "SV-show" ("SV" is an abbreviation for Ukrainian: Спальний Вагон, "Spalnyy Vagon", which means sleeping car) on various Ukrainian television channels.[3] In 2001, Danylko made his first appearance in one of several musicals produced for television, mostly in female comic portrayals based on the Serduchka character (see Filmography). Several of these productions were shown in the New Year's Eve broadcasts of Russia-1 television.

Apart from pop and dance performances as Serduchka, Danylko has also performed ambient musical compositions under his real name, including the 2005 album После тебя (Posle tebya: After you).

Eurovision Song Contest 2007[edit]

Verka Serduchka with her ensemble in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.

Verka Serduchka was chosen to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, Finland, with the song "Dancing Lasha Tumbai".[4] One of Ukraine's nationwide FM radio stations organized a protest action in February 2007 to express their disapproval of the selection.[5] Some Ukrainians and even members of the Ukrainian Parliament also expressed their disapproval, viewing the character of Serduchka as "grotesque and vulgar".[6][7]

Serduchka's song "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" was sung in two languages: German and English. The invented words "lasha tumbai" caused some controversy after the performance, as many people noted the phrase's similarity to "Russia goodbye". In early publicity appearances, Serduchka explained that "lasha tumbai" was a Mongolian expression for "whipped cream." His statement was denied by several Mongols who gave the correct phrase on a talk show broadcast by Channel One (Russia) just before the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.[8] The Mongolian embassy in Moscow also said that "lasha tumbai" was total gibberish.[9]

In the final, "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" came in second with 235 points. The "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" single reached No. 6 in the French charts and went on to be No. 28 on The Official UK Singles Chart on 20 May 2007. This was the first time a non-UK non-winning Eurovision entry had made UK charts since 1974.

Danylko later made a brief phone-in appearance on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show, in which his comments made no sense whatsoever. Another call was made, but with a translator in the audience. In this instance, Danylko appeared to tell guest Andrew Lloyd Webber he was "rubbish". However, in an interview with Andrew Williams in the 60 Seconds column of (30 July 2007), Danylko clarified his meaning:

AW: Why did you call Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘rubbish’ on The Graham Norton Show? AD: Someone interpreted Serduchka wrongly. I meant I watched "Cats: the Musical" on TV. It was boring. You should watch a musical on the stage. Don't watch "Cats" on TV.[10]

In the same interview, he stated that "lasha tumbai" was a somewhat made-up phrase that sounds like the Mongolian phrase for "milkshake" and that many Russians nevertheless managed to interpret it as saying "Russia goodbye!".[citation needed]

In 2011, a writer from British newspaper The Guardian described "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" as the "best song never to win Eurovision" before going on to describe Serduchka as "an oven-ready Christopher Biggins".[11]

Later career[edit]

Danylko announced in 2007 that he would front a new political party, "For Ours!", to run in that year's Ukrainian parliamentary election, but he later abandoned the idea. A public opinion poll in July 2007 placed "For Ours! Verka Serduchka" at 2% overall support.[12][13]

Serduchka had planned to participate in the Ukrainian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. He automatically qualified for the final,[14] but withdrew his nomination in October 2010.[15]

Danylko appeared as the character Verka Serduchka in a cameo role in the 2015 American action comedy movie Spy, which premiered 22 May 2015 in New York City and 4 June 2015 in Ukraine. In the scene, set in Paris, Serduchka's open-air performance of "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" is interrupted by CIA agents Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and Rick Ford (Jason Statham).[16]

In the 2016 telecast of the Eurovision Song Contest, Serduchka announced the results from the Ukrainian jury. Bilokon, portraying Serduchka's mother, accompanied Danylko.[17]

Andriy Danylko out of drag in 2018.

For the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest hosted in Ukraine, a series of short video clips, titled "Verkavision", were produced that chronicled the fictional back story of the character of Verka Serduchka and her journey as a Eurovision "star".[18] Verka also appeared on stage during the final, and opened the televote.

In 2019, Verka appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest final hosted in Israel singing the previous year's winning song, "Toy".[19]

In 2020 Verka released EP Sexy.


In 2003, Danylko was honored with the title People's Artist of Ukraine.[20] In 2007, Verka Serduchka received the Barbara Dex Award for worst outfit in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.[21]

Personal life[edit]

In 2013, Danylko bought a Rolls-Royce that once belonged to Freddie Mercury, with plans to donate it to a museum devoted to the group Queen.[22]

Danylko has said in interviews that he does not engage in transvestitism outside of his public performances, with a distinction between his stage persona and his personal life.[23] He is reluctant to discuss his private affairs beyond this, though he has stated in interviews that he had a difficult relationship with a woman with whom he lived for eight years.[24] In January 2015, photos of Danylko intimately kissing actress Inna Bilokon were posted online by a friend.[25]


Studio albums


As performer[edit]

  • (2001): Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki, a musical remake of the 1961 movie of the same name: Danylko portrayed "Serduchka, the Village Moonshiner" and performed Horilka.[26]
  • (2003): Zolushka (Cinderella): the wicked stepsister Brunhilda. Songs included Ya ne ponyala ("I don't understand"), performed together with the pop trio VIA Gra.
  • (2003): The Crazy Day or The Marriage of Figaro, a musical remake of the Beaumarchais play: Cherubino (a male character).
  • (2004): The Fair at Sorochyntsi (Sorochinskaya yarmarka), an adaptation of Gogol's story. Songs included "Ti napivsya yak svinya" ("You're drunk as a pig") and "Ne kupish lyubov" ("You can't buy love").
  • (2004): Za dvumya zaytsami ("Chasing two hares"), a musical remake of a 1961 comedy: a double role as "Svetlana Markovna" and "Anton the Maniac".
  • (2005): "Три мушкетера" ("The Three Musketeers").
  • (2006): "The Adventures of Verka Serduchka".
  • (2007): "Очень новогоднее кино, или Ночь в музее" ("New Year's Movie; or Night at the Museum").
  • (2010): "Морозко" ("Jack Frost").
  • (2011): "The New Adventures of Aladdin", starring Oscar Kucera and Ani Lorak: "the Genie".
  • (2012): "Красная шапочка" ("Little Red Riding Hood"): the title role.
  • (2013): "Три богатыря" ("Three Warriors").
  • (2015): Spy: a cameo appearance as Verka Serduchka.

As composer[edit]

  • (2009): Весельчаки (Veselchaki): a comedy about performers at a drag club.


  1. ^ "Danylko become Serduchka because of school girlfriend" (in Russian). 4 December 2003.
  2. ^ Ryzancheva, Elena. "Interview with Verka Serduchka-Danylko" (in Russian).
  3. ^ "Danylko's biography" (in Russian).
  4. ^ "Verka Serduchka went to the Eurovision-2007 song contest". (in Russian). Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  5. ^ ""No to Euroserduchka!" – protest action of an FM radio station" (in Ukrainian). NTN. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  6. ^ Fawkes, Helen (2 April 2007). "Eurovision act angers Ukrainians". BBC News. Retrieved 11 May 2007.
  7. ^ "Eurovision: Verka Serduchka will disgrace Ukraine" (in Ukrainian). Korrespondent. Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2007.
  8. ^ "Russian Channel One Takes Offence at Verka Serduchka". Ukrainian Newspaper (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  9. ^ "Ukrainian drag queen a front-runner at Eurovision". Agence France-Presse. 12 May 2007. Archived from the original on 15 December 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  10. ^ "60 SECONDS: Verka Serduchka". Metro. UK.
  11. ^ Raeside, Julia (10 May 2011). "Six to watch: memorable Eurovision moments". The Guardian. London.
  12. ^ "Socialists Lose Their Rating". Ukrayinska Pravda. 31 July 2007.
  13. ^ "Ukraine's election campaign: mired in scandal". RT. 25 August 2007.
  14. ^ (in Ukrainian) "Gogol Bordello" не буде на "Євробаченні", а Сердючка вже у фіналі, Табло ID (20 August 2010)
  15. ^ (in Ukrainian) Сердючка передумала їхати на "Євробачення", Табло ID (13 October 2010)
  16. ^ Lewis, Pete (27 April 2014). "Ukraine: Verka hits Hollywood in spy movie".
  17. ^ "Eurovision scoring 2016 from Ukraine
  18. ^ "Video: Verkavision Part II at the second Semi-Final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest – Eurovision Song Contest Kyiv 2017"
  19. ^
  20. ^ Sabrine Jaszi. "Verka Serduchka". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  21. ^ Floras, Stella (21 May 2007). "Verka wins 2007 Barbara Dex Award". ESCToday. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Ukrainian pop-idol star buys Freddie Mercury's Rolls-Royce". 28 January 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  23. ^ Данилко обижается, когда его считают извращенцем (in Russian). 1+1 channel. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Andriy Danylko: "I had a difficult experience living together with a woman..."" (in Russian). Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  25. ^ Данилка заскочили за пристрасним поцілунком з "мамою" Сердючки. ФОТО (in Ukrainian)
  26. ^ "Andrey Danylko". IMDb. Retrieved 7 August 2016.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tina Karol
with "Show Me Your Love"
Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Ani Lorak
with "Shady Lady"