‘After two hours of drinking vodka, General Boris suggested we just do the shoot at his house'
Star City is a self-contained city for cosmonauts about an hour from Moscow. Astronauts still come from all over the world to get trained there. It might look dated but, underneath, the important stuff is all working. As well as a training centre, it has a launch site, a technical department, a school, and a hospital – everything really. During the cold war, when there was a lot of money going into the space race, it was an important place. That's not so much the case now.
We are all awed by space – and, although there is something old-fashioned, even funny, about this image, it is still noble. The subject's name is General Boris V and I took his portrait back in 2007. Originally, the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre had agreed to let me shoot on their premises, but when I got there they asked for money.