Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Letter from the Editor:

Greetings everyone! I’m excited to bring back “Egyptian Chick Magazine” after a long hiatus and bring you some fresh and inspiring content. Our guest dancer who we profile along with her mother “Samira” and her daughter dancer “Elayssa.” In fact, the “mother daughter” dynamic is also at play here in a remembrance of my own dancer mother Johanna and a favorite hat of hers.

On another topic there is an article I actually wrote about a year ago about the legalization of hemp and it’s uses in “Ancient Egypt,” etc. Think of this article as “better late than never.” Also, we remember actress “style icon” Valerie Harper who passed away at age 80 last week.

There are a few shopping ideas at the end of the issue- some for lovers of “Turkish” coffee.

Hope everyone enjoys the end of Summer and is prepping for a beautiful Autumn season.

(Donations for the publication can be made at my “Artistic Fund” at this link: https://social.fund/pkbvqt/ )

Thank you, Aziza

My Mother and Her Spanish Hat

by Aziza Al-Tawil

The Iconic Ali McGraw in a Spanish style hat.

One of the many memories of my mother I was left with since her death was the way she loved her “Spanish Hat.” My mother Johanna, before belly dance, had given her all not just to ballet but the study and professional performance of “Flamenco.” (I would learn later that our Roma Gypsy ancestor had a similar fetish for a similar hat, only with the ball fringe around it-perhaps proving just how much we inherit some “feelings” from our forebears, the memory they say “DNA” carries). Johanna’s Spanish hat was a favorite of hers that she wore quite often when I was growing up in NYC. By then it had been with her since probably at least the early to mid 1960’s when hats were still “de rigueur” – in fact the decline of hat wearing amongst men was blamed on John F. Kennedy around the time Johanna probably purchased her big, dramatic “Spanish” chapeaaux.

A young Diana Rigg in one of these “Spanish Hats.” My mother’s had the taller “crown” like this one.

Despite JFK’s effect on the Men’s millinery industry, women’s hats and gloves to a certain extent continued in popularity into the early 1970’s with glove wearing fading first – hats seeming to have a little more “life” left in them being available rather “scattershot” even through the 1980’s. I’ll never forget though how, by the time I was a teen and we had left NYC for Charleston, WV., that hat of hers freaked me out. I was at an age where everything embarrasses you, you are worried about what everyone in school will think and that if you’re too different you will be the “butt” of jokes.

The Ever cool madonna looking quite the “Gaucho” in this one.

I will say that Charleston, WV always had a reputation for finely dressed citizens and some very “swank” department stores like “Stone and Thomas” and “The Diamond.” However, nothing prevented or balmed the horror I felt every time she put that hat on to go somewhere with me in public. (I already had classmates teasing me for wearing dresses, being a “Gypsy,” and it was not uncommon for some lusty, awkward boys to paw at my clothes in the hallway breathlessly saying “Sexy” or “Silkyor “is that color wine?”

My Mother how I love to remember her: In a Paisley “Mini Dress” – here trying on hats at a K-Mart in Charleston, WV. This spanish looking hat is green Felt. Her black Spanish hat I was used to seeing her in was black and woven straw for summer.

Looking back, I think my mother and I should have been “Californians” if not “New Yorkers.” From people I’ve been in contact with from there it seems like it might have been a more “eclectic vibe” than the one in Charleston, WV at the time. After I got out of school we headed for Boston and I started belly dancing again. My mother was still wearing hats when she felt like it from Boston, to Orlando next, then to North Carolina where she passed away in 2012. A couple of years ago, I returned to Charleston, WV where I’ve run into a few school friends. Two things have happened to me since I was a teen. Number one, I’ve forgiven the awkward boys that called me “Gypsy”- I want their hands to touch me again – the light flicker of a finger on my skirt – the burning of my blush as I turned away – I want us all to be young again – only not afraid. After all, I thought a “Pac Man” arcade across from the school was some kind of “den of iniquity” – me who grew up in nightclubs gyrating in bugle beads to the sounds of “Opa!” and “plate breaking.” Just what did I think would happen in a room full of “joysticks?” One of the boys that used to chase me in the halls and try to kiss me died recently leaving a widow and little kids. Yes! I want us young again! Damn it! Tears now…(Oh, Chris, why did you have to die? Love you my friend….)

Then there is my mother. So many mothers leave us and when they do there is nothing to prepare us for this. Just nothing! When they are vibrant, creative, larger than life types it amazes us more. We thought they were “immortal” didn’t we? The second thing to happen to me is that I would give anything on earth to see my mother in that damn “Spanish Hat” again – putting the final touches on herself before we headed out the door. I cry for one more time – one more chance even to be embarrassed by her. In fact, I guess I outright beg God to see her in the Spanish hat again and hear her say to me the running joke: “Ole Sabicas!” As I write this though – I feel the gentle touch of something else. Her spirit beside me – telling me that everything is alright. On the other side our spirits retain all that we loved and we never fear what others will say. Yes, the tears that started are starting to dry. She is right after all. As she always said, “Mother’s are always right.”

“Of Lace and Dreams”: A California Dance Dynasty Keeps Traditions Alive

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Samira and her line of “Lion in the Sun” Persian Lace

I recently had the joy of interviewing Jenza, a wonderful dancer from California with some wonderful memories to share about the world of dance she knew and how her mother was a catalyst for the journey.

Aziza: “I know your mother was in the belly dance scene and like many “mother/daughter” scenarios it was something great you shared together. Tell us what got your mother interested in the art form and how did she get started?”

Jenza: “My mother was looking for something to do, so a close friend urged her to go take belly dance with her……belly dance classes presented by the City of San Dimas in 1975.  The instructor was very overweight, but moved like a gazelle – light as a feather.  I think her name was Elaine, but I am not sure.  She was impressed with the instructor, and immediately was hooked.  She got me to join her in the winter session in late 1975. By then, she began making costumes.  By the end of 1976 my mother had a troupe (of which I was a member), made the costumes, and we were involved in performing at the 1976 Centennial celebrations for the City of San Dimas.  She did not become a professional dancer, but instead continued to dance with her troupe in local showcases, and became the best costume designer in the area.  She went into business as Samira-Costume Maker.  She designed Persian Lace costumes, highly embellished Afghani style dresses, and even beaded bra/belt sets.  (she hated beading, but she was commissioned to do these and she did not want to refuse).  Within another year my Mother was the national representative in the field for Lion in the Sun Persian Lace fabric, designed costumes for them, and traveled the USA to festivals and workshops to sell the fabric and her costumes.  She was a mover and a shaker in the belly dance scene, becoming the first Vice President of the Middle Eastern Cabaret Dancer’s Association in 1978.

Jenza and her lovely mother Samira, 1970’s California.

Aziza: “Tell us what intrigued you the most about belly dancing and any memorable events or shows with your mother?”


Jenza: “Belly Dancing intrigued me because it felt “exotic” and “freeing” for me because I was painfully shy.  I was performing after a year in my mother’s troupe.  My first solo performance, however, changed my direction and changed my life.  It was in the Centennial Celebration put on by the City of San Dimas.  I performed to “Inta Omri,” though I wanted “Zaina” as first choice.   The music was prerecorded by a friend from a record.  I stepped out onto the stage shaking, terrified.  Something changed, I found I craved the attention of the audience.  It became exhilarating.” 

“Jenza” Circa 1978 Unknown Photographer


Aziza: “Tell me a little about your journey as a soloist, being in nightclubs. What were favorite clubs or music/musicians to work with? What was your favorite song to dance to?”

Jenza:  “On October 3, 1977 I auditioned for a job at the Cascades in Anaheim, CA owned by Lou Shelby (who owned the Fez prior to this)  I was paid for my audition and was hired for 3 nights a week.  This was my first gig and lasted about 8 months.  I was in heaven, the music was heaven, and Lou Shelby the best boss ever.  He always sat down with me every so often to check in and make sure I was enjoying the job and to get to know me.  He did this with every dancer.  There was no one else like him.  I can’t remember all the musicians that were there, but I do remember dancing to John Bilezikjian for the first time at this club.  And, the up and coming Aziz Khadra who often appeared with John, and made a few record albums of his own.” 

 
Mr. Lou Shelby decided to put together an ensemble show with some of the girls.  I was only interested in solo work, so instead of just letting me go, he called up Van, (can’t remember his last name) the owner of the 7th Veil and got me hired for a new gig.  I began 3 nights at the 7th Veil in Hollywood, CA. in the summer of 1978 and my career exploded after that.  The music there was fantastic but the most memorable thing I remembered was either in 1978 or 1979 the Middle Eastern music students from UCLA would come in to “jam” on Saturday nights for a month of so.  IT WAS SO FANTASTIC…. Extra musicians/students with extraordinary talent joined the house musicians…..it was heaven on earth.  I have never danced to such joyous music.”


“One of the biggest influences I remember was Suhail Kaspar, a drummer who worked everywhere it seemed.  I got to know his style so well and eventually could anticipate every thing he could throw at me.  He had a reputation for quite a big ego and this was true.  I got a taste of that ego one night as I came in to “Haji Babas” where we were working together.  I walked past him and did not say hello.  Later, during my show, he and the other musician’s changed the pace and music to get back at me.  He played something totally unknown with sudden changes in rhythm.   I realized what they were doing and started laughing during the show…as I could not help it.  I could keep up with everything and I surprised the hell out of him.  He had respect for me ever after and I loved that.”

Aziza: “As you went along in your dance life, looking back, who would you say were your biggest inspirations/influences in belly dance?

Jenza: “I saw Bert Balladine and Tonya Chianis in performance when I was a student dancer.  Later I attended workshops by each of them.  Bert taught me how posture, gesture and the breath can bring power to a performance…adding drama to my own style.  I loved Tonya’s exuberant Turkish styling…lively and fun.  I literally took years and years of classes from her.  As for Delilah (of Seattle), she took my breath away.  I saw her after I had been dancing for a couple of years.  Her style was quintessential cabaret….with a heavy influence of Turkish.  To me, she was a goddess.  I wanted to dance like her so much.  I learned floor work from her workshops.  She was my top influence in my early professional yearsand I don’t want to forget, Marina of “The Itinerant Dancer.”  She taught folkloric styles to dancers from all over southern California.  We all were influenced by her and her classes made us all better dancers.

Aziza: “In your area of the country did you notice the “dying out” of the club scene and if so how did it effect you?”

Jenza: “Yes, I did notice and was disturbed by the passing of an era.  I danced professionally from 10-3-77 to 10/1994.  The clubs began disappearing one by one until there were only a few left.  I had to drive to another county to work by the 1990’s (Orange county) and there was a larger population of Persians and Lebanese in Orange county it seemed.”

Aziza: “And your daughter is carrying on the “tradition” I hear?

Jenza:My daughter began dancing at the age of 16.  Her dance name was originally “Sa-Elayssa” which meant “with all her heart” in Romanesh according to her father ( a full blood Romani whose family came from Serbia and Russia).  She later changed to name to just “Elayssa” both professionally  and personally.


She was already very good by then, but came into her own in her 20’s.  She worked as a belly dancer and as a “go go dancer” in Hollywood, CA and as a belly dancer in San Francisco..  She reached a high level within the community.  You can see her in many IAMED video’s from the 90’s and beyond.  She danced with the famous troupe Yalail (Janaeni and Ansuya Rathor) for a time, went to India with them.  She was the creative director for the troupe Desert Sin, a troupe that performed Fusion pieces.  She topped off her career with her own troupe called Elysium Dance Theater of which she danced traditional, Persian folk dance, and Fusion.  

I believe I already talked about my mother.  She continued to make costumes even after the store “Lion in The Sun” closed down in the early 80’s.  During the 90’s and the 2000’s the gypsy skirt was popular.  I saw a gorgeous full multilevel gypsy skirt at “Rakkasah” during that time period.  My Mother was with me and said I know how to make that, lets make some.  We made and sold many of those 12 yard monster skirts together.for about 10 years.   I am retired now (though you never know, I might get into it again just for fun).  My Mother is retired and 83 years old this year.  My daughter retired from the dance to be a Mother and I am a proud grandmother of a beautiful 3 year old boy, Lucas. ” 

Hopefully for all of us, “”Jenza” and Family will continue to delight audiences for years to comeAziza

Hemp Legal In U.S.: It’s Uses in Ancient Egypt

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Seshet from Luxor

There has been a lot of talk about the recent legalization of “hemp” and “marijuana” and the products derived from them. There has been a long history of hemp and cannabis in the Middle East. In fact, “Qanbes” the Hebrew word for “Cannabis” is mentioned as the word for “Hemp” in relation to clothing that was made from the fiber.

Cannabis pollen was found on the mummy of Rameses the II and all other Royal mummies.

Cannabis on “Papyrus.

The Goddess Seshat’s symbol from ancient Egypt is a contextualized seven-leafed plant (she is a scribe, which means she is a magician).

The first ritual acts of temple building were accomplished by the pharaoh, who played the role of the creator deities. He was aided in this and related tasks by Seshat, goddess of measure, who helped him stretch the cord used to survey and orient the plot. Pyramid texts identify the plant used to make cord and rope as “smsm,” the Egyptian word for hemp.

There are types of Cannabis that come in 5, 7, and 9 leaf varieties

It is known that cannabis was used recreationally during Nile-flood celebrations in the 12th Century, and that it was present in Egypt thousands of years before that found on the mummy of Rameses II (1275-1229 BC), and in the tomb of Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC).

Modern research shows that Egyptians used cannabis, and knew about its aphrodisiac properties. For example, experts at L’Oreal perfumes recently teamed up with the Centre for Research and Restoration of French Museums, and reconstructed “Kyphi” perfume, an aromatic mixture used by pharaohs to prolong their lives and enhance their sex drives. These perfume experts and Egyptian scholars told the media that one of the key ingredients of the Kyphi perfume was cannabis!

Dabke Dance-Learn Easy: https://egyptianchick.com/how-to-dance-dabke-with-samir-hasan-2/

Remembering “Rhoda”: A Style Icon from the 1970s Has Left US

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Charming Childhood” – Young dancer Valerie harper in Cape with finger cymbals.
RHODA,” Valerie Harper, with that famous scarf, circa Season 1, 1974-1975.

Was terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Valerie Harper, the star of the quintessential 1970’s New York sitcom “Rhoda.” My mother Johanna met Valerie briefly when they marched together in the “women in communications” group in a street demonstration against the prevalence of “smut and crime” that proliferated in Mid-Town Manhattan at the time.

Valerie as “Rhoda” really rocking a peasant blouse look

For me, “Rhoda” represented the kind of woman I yearned to grow up to be. One bold enough to say what was on her mind yet feminine and still retaining a touch of vulnerability.

Valerie harper as Rhoda wearing a really cute 1970’s style sweater with purples, Gold, and Black.

Rhoda’s creativity in work as a “window dresser” and in her own personal style was also encouraging to those of us girls who embraced our “free spirit.”

“Rhoda” with coin Necklace on a hilarious episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” wherein she talks mary into going to a meeting of the “The Divorced People’s Club” even though neither had ever been married.

God bless Valerie! She outlived the diagnosis given her a few years ago through will power and sheer “joie de vive.” Any girl should be glad to have such role models.

With a somewhat “Rhoda” vibe, the author Aziza with a fancy “headwrap” before a “Kwaanza” drumming show a few years ago.

Some Exotic Gifts for Everyone

Whether you like belly dancing, or Turkish coffee even, you’re bound to find something in Aziza’s shop on “Red Bubble.” The items featured below just “scratch the surface” – the same designs are available on up to 60 or so different products. Visit http://trashpunk.redbubble.com for more great ideas.

Lightweight sweatshirt- Men’s and Women’s “Turkish Coffee Lovers Gift” Idea!
Vintage Belly Dancer Johanna on Colorful Coasters

Egyptian Goodies at Amazon: https://egyptianchick.com/egyptian-goodies-at-amazon/

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Egyptian Chick Magazine July 2019

Letter from the Editor:

“Egyptian Chick Magazine” has been on “hiatus” for over a year now. We will be back soon with more exciting content. For now we are sharing some exciting news about an auction in New York this weekend of 2 “Orientalist” vases that were featured in our June 2016 Issue. Please enjoy reading about these vases (which seem to feature ladies of Old Damascus, one is even playing a tambourine!) and the artist below. Online bidding has begun and the auction is Sunday. It will be exciting to know if anyone from the world of belly dance will acquire these. (I included some info on past auctions). Love, Aziza

V. Peccatte: French “Orientalist” Porcelain Master Works at Auction Again

V. Peccatte Vases on Auction at Clarke Auction Gallery, New York Sunday June 30th

On Sunday, June 30th, Clarke Auction Gallery in Westchester, NY will once again auction off two vases (Lot 0122) by 19th century French artist V. Peccatte. Online bidding has already begun at https://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/144132_fine-art-jewelry-midcentury-antique-and-asian/?page=6 Starting bid $400 Estimate $800-$1000. Not much is known about this artist but he seems to have been active in the 3rd quarter of the 19th Century. His work appears to mostly be in “porcelain” with “Orientalist” art after some of the masters of that genre. Most of his work that survives today seems to be but a handful of vases.

From Auction at Christies London September 24, 2009 “A LARGE PAIR OF FRENCH ENAMELLED FAIENCE GOLD AND PLATINUM GROUND VASES 
LATE 19TH CENTURY, SIGNED V. PECCATTE AFTER F. E. BERT(IER) 
Each of baluster form, finely painted, printed, applied with foil and enamelled with a three-quarter length portrait of an exotic beauty holding either a tambourine or a fan, in a gilt scrollwork surround, the reverse with a monochromatic landscape, the sides with gilt paste panels of fruiting grapevine 35 in. (88.9 cm.) high (2) “

Estimate was 30,000-50,000 GBP Price Realized was: 37,250 GBP (In today’s conversion rate $47, 295.58 U.S. Dollars)

On June 9, 2014 “A LARGE PAIR OF FRENCH FAIENCE YELLOW AND PLATINUM-GROUND VASES  signed V. Peccatte” were auctioned off at Christies in New York at an event they dubbed “An Opulent Eye.” The estimate was $15,000 to $20,000 U.S. Dollars and the price realized was $30,000. They were from “a florida estate.”

Turkish Lady Plaque by V. Peccatte

From a December 5th 2014 at Weschler’s in Washington DC “French porcelain plaque of a Turkish lady. (Estimate & Price Realized not available publicly).

V. Peccatte Vases “After Dubfe and Bertier”

“On Sunday, May 15th (2016) at Clarke Auction. A pair of exceptional ground and coralline decorated vases from the late 19th century have garnered the most pre-sale interest for a variety of reasons. Each urn paint is decorated on both sides and artist signed Peccatte, after Bertier, and the other also signed Pecatte, and after Dubfe. The artistic quality, the unusual coralline decoration and the good condition of each have added to the buzz. The pair will be presented on May 15th with high expectations surrounding an $8,000 to $12,000 estimate.” (“ArtfixDaily”)

The price “realized” at this auction was $42,000

To bid on the 2 small vases (Lot 0122) shown at top online here is the link (starting bid $400): https://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/144132_fine-art-jewelry-midcentury-antique-and-asian/?page=6

Egyptian Chick Magazine: “Grave Caller” Release

 

grave-caller_full New Poster

DVD “One Sheet” art for “Grave Caller” with Aziza Al-Tawil, Joseph Anderson,  Kate Bryant, Vanessa Cuccia, Jacob Crickenberger, Nathaniel Grauwelman, Ray Zupp, and directed by Joseph Anderson.

Hi everyone! Renting a movie this weekend? Well, if you are anywhere near a “Family Video” store, the largest chain in the country, and you like “thrillers” then you should go to the location near you and rent my film “Grave Caller” which came out just over a week ago.

I play a local psychic, who’s not very good at what she does,  in Alderson, WV in a flashback to the 1980’s portion of the film.  I have a scene with the fantastic star of the film Jacob Crickenberger. We worked together so well it was a joy for all including the crew. I truly see a bright future for this young man whose acting reminded me a great deal of Henry Fonda and Clint Eastwood. The other cast I did not work with seem to be impressive as well and I hope they get the boost they deserve from this endeavor.

Aziza Black Gauze Dress.jpg

We shot this on location in Alderson, WV and the scenery around the famous Greenbrier River is remarkable. The director and writer Joseph Anderson is an artist and a true visionary whom I hope does more film work as he could very well turn out to be an American Ingmar Bergman. 

I’m currently doing pre-production on some new projects but until that time you can go rent “Grave Caller” at “Family Video.” I will keep everyone posted on anything new.

Thank you and God Bless you! Aziza

Please support this magazine by shopping through our links.

Great Deals at Amazon 

“Gothic Furniture from Design Toscano”

Egyptian Chick Magazine Shopping Supplement: “FestivAll 2018” and More

Hello From Aziza!

"Drum 'n Fun" Group "FestivAll Art Parade 2018", Charleston, WV

Aziza Al-Tawil and friends from “Drum ‘n Fun” group entertain the masses gathered on “Capitol St.” during Charleston West Virginia’s “FestivAll” 2018. participants include Left to R, Ryan Davis, Sheila McEntee, Jim Lange, Aziza, Erica Olive, Al Peery, and Billy Jack Watkins.

Hope your Summer is going well. Hope to be back in August with a full length issue of “Egyptian Chick Magazine.” Meanwhile, I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life. My mother had been a head majorette here in Charleston, WV and I had the distinct pleasure of “retracing” her old route when I belly danced and marched in the “FestivAll Art Parade” with the “Drum ‘n Fun” group. We had a blast! I wore a special Gypsy costume I created and my little black and silver dance shoes were just right- I lasted the parade route without collapsing! I know my mother was smiling on me from heaven.

Just a brief message here to tell you that “Amazon Prime Day” is today and the deals are going to be amazing. Check out their deals (last year’s biggest seller was a “slow cooker.” I’ve never owned one myself.) You know I love their Egyptian style furniture, lamps and Mediterranean decor!

You are supporting “Egyptian Chick Magazine” by shopping through a link we post like this so please do. I would like to do more with the magazine and anything you do is appreciated. Thank you for reading and hope to see you in August!

“Amazon Prime Day July 16 2018”

 

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine May 2018

The Magazine for women who love “the exotic” in life…

  Egyptian Chick Magazine May 2018

 iPhone 8 & X Cases

Letter from the Editor:

Well, hair coloring has come a long way since the ancient Egyptians used “lead” to darken their hair, and some others, like the Romans, used everything from earthworms, pickled leeches, and pigeon excrement as hair dyes. You are probably thinking “Thank God!” and you would be right. Although there are vastly different methods employed now there is one thing going on that has had several “revivals” throughout history: “Fantasy Hair Colors.” The ancient Egyptians favored “blue” for wigs, as recently as the 1930’s and 1960’s there have been spurts of popularity. (All ages of women indulge in this at different times but I admit one of my favorite people to wear funky hair colors was “Mrs. Slocombe” on the British comedy “Are You Being Served”).

Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Slocombe with Green Hair on Are You Being Served.

The wonderful Mollie Sugden as “Mrs. Slocombe” on the classic British Comedy Show “Are You Being Served.”

In this issue we’re going to meet the latest stylist to take the coloring world by storm, Gina Forestieri. Gina is a fave in the “O.C.” and Los Angeles area for her absolutely stunning hair coloring talents that can literally mimic the colors of gemstones to a “tee.” Really, her work is no less than remarkable and that is why she is our “Artist of the Month” – because – after all – isn’t hair styling an “Art?” Gina was featured on “The Style Network’s” series “Split Ends” (“Gina Forestieri and Alexander Hernandez,” Season 3).

Gina is our cover girl and we were fortunate to have her lovely mother belly dancer/artist Susanne Forestieri as our cover girl in April of 2016. 

Pastel Hair Dyes in the 1930's

Sample ad photos for “Luminex” pastel hair dyes by “Rincage” in the 1930s.

Not living near Los Angeles, I was not able to get a “fantasy hair color” make-over from Gina so I took the plunge my self. I had tried out pink lipstick and an aquamarine eye shadow stick last summer – just to put a couple of streaks at the top of my then “platinum” hair. I thought it looked cool so I decided to go full throttle a few weeks back when I had a new costume ready. The results were interesting and very theatrical but not quite what I expected so I let the sort of “sea foam” green wash out.

Sea Foam Green Hair Color

Me, Aziza Al-Tawil, trying sort of a bright “Sea Foam” Green looking hair color. I think I would have liked Pink better.

Vintage Haircolor: Instant Bright Hair Colors 1960s by Napro

Some temporary instant hair color in an aerosol can from “Napro” 1960’s

My latest hair color? Not pastel at all just plain old Joan Jett “Black” – that shade of black that’s really shiny and true – “blue black” with no warmth. Thinking of Joan Jett here! And, of course, Cher and Linda Rondstat too. (But what’s to stop me from putting a pink streak in, of course?”)

Joan Jett in Fuschia Top

Joan Jett in a Fuschia top in the 1980’s.

Also in this month’s issue I explore the history of the image of the “Blackamoor” in pottery and jewelry. “Mystery Belly Dancer” is back too. Hope everyone had a great “Mother’s Day” and you enjoy the issue.

Artist of the Month: L.A.’s Hair Stylist Extraordinaire Gina Forestieri Shows Her “True Colors”

By Aziza Al-Tawil

“So don’t be afraid to let them show…your “True Colors”…your “True Colors”…are beautiful…like a rainbow.” –  Cyndi Lauper

Gina Forestieri Relaxing at Home

A beautiful pixie, Gina Forestieri brings magic to all her clients.

Our spotlight “Artist of the Month” is actually a lady who works in the medium of hair styling, which could definitely be described as a type of art, and if it wasn’t she would certainly bring it validation as such through the sheer creativity she brings to her clients. Gina Forestieri was in no short supply as child growing up, with parents like visual artist painter Susanne Forestieri and musician Lou Forestieri. Her mother encouraged Gina to enjoy countless hours of creative expression through things like “dress up” time and in fact it was this subject matter-little girls playing dress-up-that led to Susanne’s own recognition with a National Endowment for the Arts Prize in painting in 1992. Lou’s piano and clients for his talents at composing and arranging no less left an impression as well. Besides hair styling and coloring, Gina, a fan of the mystical beauty of “elven forests” and the “paranormal” has also found a niche in creating whimsical miniatures. I was so lucky to catch with this fascinating and charming lady and ask her a few questions for our readers. 

Gina Forestieri and Hand Painted Hair Extensions

Gina and Handpainted Hair Extensions

Aziza: Gina, we grew up in New York together and it’s great to see the creative baby I knew has grown into a creative woman as well. You decided to be a hair stylist – what led you to that path and tell us a little bit how you became one of the personalities on the reality show “Split Ends?”

Gina: Me and my old boss and a few of my co workers decided to try out for the show. We actually tried one year and didn’t make it on and went back for season 3 and they picked us. The show was about swapping hairstylists in different salons so I was picked to swap and of course drama ensued.

Aziza: You are known as a “magical” expert “colorist”-down to being able to copy the look of various gemstones, etc and have done well during the “Fantasy Hair Color” craze. When we were kids, Tish and Snooky of “Manic Panic” seemed to lead the parade during the “Punk Era” in Manhattan. Do you think this last craze for unique hair colors came from the live action film they made based on the 1980’s cartoon “Jem and the Holograms?” Or a renewed interest in “Unicorns” or “mermaids?” What is your take on what started the craze this time around?

Gina: I think everything comes back around at some point and with social media at our fingertips, people’s creativity is endless. I think looking at pics of other people and there work inspires and drives stylists to do more and more. Also with everything that’s been going on here and around the world I think people are just like “Fuck it! I want to be me and I don’t care what others think!” Hair color technology has also grown so much, things are possible now that were not possible even 10 years ago.

Aziza: You are a native New Yorker and live on the West Coast now. Both of your parents were artists, a talented pianist for a father and a dancer and painter for a mother. Before deciding to be a hair stylist did you ever foray into their artistic mediums?

Gina: Seeing my parents struggle in the arts kind of made me want to go another route but undeniably it’s in my DNA. I unfortunately didn’t get any of my dad’s musical talent other than just a love of music but I do like to sculpt and I am working getting some items up for sale on Etsy.

Miniature Gnome House by Gina Forestieri

Gnome House Miniature by Gina

Aziza: You are a designer not just of hair but of crafts like charming miniatures and have a love of mystical things like Harry Potter. Let our readers know where they can view and purchase your wares.

Gina: As of now, I can do custom orders and have pictures of my art on Instagram @wintermagick.

Gina's Miniature Soup and Bowls

Miniature egg drop soup and bowls by Gina Forestieri

Aziza:You love nature and take wonderful photos of the outdoors. You seem to be content. Are there any other dreams though you’d like to tackle and experience that you’ve not gotten to yet? 

Gina: I am a happy person because I am selfish and always do what I love no matter what. You never know what the future holds but I want to buy a house, that is probably my biggest dream. SoCal is so expensive and it is nearly impossible around here! I also would love to move to the pacific north west because I loath hot weather but I couldn’t fathom leaving all my wonderful clients I have here in the OC and LA and I do get people visiting me from all over. I am so lucky to have those people who support me!!  

Miniature Fountain Spewing Fantasy Water by Gina Forestieri

Miniature Fountain by Gina

!960's Belly Dance Club Men's Short Sleeve T-Shirt
!960’s Belly Dance Club Men’s Short Sleeve T-Shirt by nostalgiaamericana

Lost Racehorse of Pompeii

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 Ad. In May of 2018, researchers have excavated and found an ancient stable.  There is preserved the last day in the life of a racehorse.

Pompeii Race Horse Found

Remains of a thoroughbred racehorse found in May of 2018 at an excavation site in North Pompeii.

Egyptian Goodies at Amazon

Mystery Belly Dancer From “Warrior Queen”

by Aziza Al-Tawil

The Actress Sybil Danning made a career out of “exploitation” films, some of her most notable being during another round of popularity of “Sword and Sandal” flicks (also known as “Peplum” films because of that feature on the skirts of some of historic male characters, etc.) “Warrior Queen” has quite a bit of “sexploitation” (As did some of the “New Wave” post apocalyptic flicks of the 1980’s) but is by no means “hardcore” porno. In fact, the violence that does occur in this film occasionally is not quite as gratuitous as in many films now.

While some of the film is offensive it really has a pretty good story and the acting, including the great Donald Pleasance in later years, is really quite good for this genre. It concerns the lives of various inhabitants of Pompeii right before Mount Vesuvius blows her proverbial “top.” Somewhere in the action is a topless belly dancer with finger cymbals on. Don’t know who she is or really if she is a real belly dancer but I offer up her image here as “Mystery Belly Dancer” of the month. (Hint: She could be Italian. It was filmed in Rome and environs).

Topless Belly Dancer from Warrior Queen

Mystery Belly Dancer with Zil from “Warrior Queen” (1988)

Learn Dabke Line Dance with Samir Hassan

The Grave Caller Aziza PostcardEdit 3

Aziza Al-Tawil is “The Psychic” in the upcoming film “The Grave Caller.” To order an autographed 5X7 promo card shown above please have “PayPal” account and inquire at azizaaltawil@gmail.com. The price is $20 including shipping. Monies from the promo card sales will fund Aziza’s future creative endeavors including a film in pre-production about a missing woman in Lebanon’s Civil War.

“The Grave Caller” 2018 Official Trailer from Midnight Releasing

The Fetishization of the Moors and It’s Sicilian Origin

By Aziza Al-Tawil 

Blackamoor Brooch Attilio Codognato

“Blackamoor” Brooch by Attilio Codognato studded with yellow and brown diamonds and rubies. Codagnato Jewelers have been an institution in Venice for over a century.

 
There was a bit of a row on December 17th, 2017 when Princess Michael of Kent showed up for a lunch meeting with Prince Harry’s multi racial fiance’ Meghan Markle. The controversy was caused by a turban wearing “Blackamoor” brooch. At issue was whether or not anything derogatory was meant by her wearing of the brooch on her coat or if it was just an antique “fashion statement,” a vintage glamour piece to be admired. Princess Michael, the Queen’s cousin, claims she’s had the pin for years and wears it oft, and it had no relation to the “multi-racial” background of Harry’s lady. So what is the story behind this kind of jewelry and what is the story behind the “Moorish” head vases I’ve seen also? Well, the stories are quite fanciful and not exactly what I expected.

Moor Head Planter

A lovely version of a Moor head planter with Sub-Saharan African features accented with a stunning blue.

The Moors invaded Sicily in the 11th century and brought with them their culture from North Africa which included the art of “Majolica” and they quickly set about to teaching the locals the art of this pottery. The “Moorish Head” planter pot was soon seen atop gateposts and represented the fact that the “Moors” were “in charge” of everything on Sicily. Caltagirone, near Catania,  is the city most famous for making these heads and “Al Halisa,” now called “La Kalsa,” is the district in Palermo where the fanciful story of their origin arose: A young lady was tending the flowers on her balcony when a handsome Moor stops below. A flirtation ensues that only ends a while later when the lady learns the Moor is married with children back in “the old country” and in retaliation she cuts off the head of the Saracen upon his next visit. Thinking his head should not go to waste she decides to use it as a “planter.” A batch of Basil flourishes there and in turn inspires others to try the head vases for similar results.

Italian Head Vases

Sicilian Head Vases that include a white and black version of a “Moor” and “The Lady.”

Upon further research though, it’s discovered that there are more than one version of the story that inspired people to seek fertility for their plants with these talisman vases. 

Messina holds a celebration every year in Mid August celebrating the town’s patron saint the “Virgin Mary.”  They also honor the original Pagan founders of the city and parade them in “Papier Mache’ effigy. The original story goes that a very tall Moor named Hassan Ibn Hammar showed up in the region and with the help of fifty pirates plundered the area during the period where the area was resisting the Saracen invasions of 964 – 970 AC. During a raid he spotted a lovely girl named Marta (“Mata”) the daughter of King Cossimo of Castellucio whom he fell in love with and wanted to marry. She wanted nothing of him, but through a turn of events during gambling, he won the right to marry her. She still took no interest in him romantically until he agreed to “follow Christ.” After he made the transformation she proceeded to fall in love with him as he “beat his swords into plowshares” and became a farmer (Herein lies more connection with planting and fertility). Most residents have thought of “Mata” as the local version of the Greek heroine “Persephone” who was kidnapped by “Hades” the “King of the Underworld.” Mata finally agreed to marry Hassan (his new Christian name “Grifone” means “big”) and they became the first rulers of Messina. (It should be noted that when the Muslims ruled Sicily most of the inhabitants were Greek Byzantine Christians-therefore not surprising the Greek touches that survive like the use of “Medusa” on the Sicilian flag although some Greeks have attributed her origin to Berbers in North Africa).

A third tale tells of a noble family of Messina with a beautiful girl and three protective brothers. Written about by Boccaccio in his “Decameron” the story has the girl known as “Isabella” fall for a boy named Lorenzo. Her three brothers kill Lorenzo and bury his body in a secret place. Lorenzo comes to Isabella in a dream and divulges he was murdered and the location of his remains. In horror, Isabella goes to the site and after finding the body in a fit of grief cuts off Lorenzo’s head. Back at her home she plants basil in it to disguise it and waters it with her tears.

The interesting thing to note about “Blackamoor” tchotchkes is that many depict them in the sense of a “ruler” or “nobleman” in turban and regal dress and do not always show them as “subservient.” “Blackamoor” figures have also been depicted as dancers. As far as  collector’s of antiques and curiosities, these items will probably still hold some appeal to those interested in the “folklore” origins of these unique designs even as time goes on.

B;ackamoor Harem Dancer Couple Figurines

“Blackamoor” Belly Danci ng Couple Figurines

Congratulations to the lovely Couple of the British Crown! Long live Prince Harry and HRH Meghan Markle!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Engagement Photo by

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle official “Engagement” photo by Alexei Lubomirski.

Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by:

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact: azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Coastal Scents Custom Eyeshadows. Shop Now!

Cruelty free make-up from “Coastal Scents” Click the eyeshadow pallette above for their site.

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine February 2018

Egyptian Chick Magazine Cover February 2018 Edit 2

The Last Time I Really Loved Fashion

Aziza Al-Tawil

 

1991

Seeing a magazine clipping the other day, my heart really leapt and maybe even skipped a beat. What caused this reaction? Just a page showing Yves Saint Laurent models in a selection of his designs for Spring and Summer 1991. I was immediately taken back to that time – I was living in Florida and working my first fashion related jobs. I was “discovered” for my artistic talent and promoted to “Visual Merchandise Manager” from “Cashier.” I embarked on that journey at a time when I really liked clothing and a childhood in NYC had prepped me for it as well. For me, in a way, that year or maybe the next was the “last gasp” of fashion before we sank into the “Seattle Grunge” movement, a much more dreary version of the “Granny” or “Prairie Look” – two other looks that have appeared now and then – perhaps memorably in a portion of the decade of the 1970’s. The “Seattle Grunge” look spells sort of “time divider” for me. There was a portion of the 1990’s that except for liking “Friends” and “Frasier” would be somewhat of a void in my life. 

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So what was so great about clothes around 1991? Well, for one, like a portion of of the 1980’s, some really soft fabrics were in vogue like “Rayon.” After a torturous period in the late 1960’s through a part of the 1970’s the itchy “Polyester” was “Queen” of clothing materials. Even “Nylon” was friendlier than that “bitch.” I had been one of the rare youth who had hated blue jeans because they were so heavy and uncomfortable with their front zipper. As a dancer I wanted to be “free” so I liked it when cotton Lycra leggings had come into style in the late 1980’s then around the early 1990’s “Harem” pants  and Rayon “Palazzo” pants. The other joy of this period were the neon colors of the 1980s, sometimes paired with the ever classy non-color “black.”

Soul to Soul Back to Life.jpg

So what did Yves Saint Laurent show us that Spring Season of 1991? Nothing less than a spectacular “Bakst” like extravaganza of harem pants, big chunky beads, tassels, “Fez” like and even “Coolie” hats of the finest materials, looks to turn the average resort goer into a vision of Anna Pavlova in her “Syrian Dance” – combine with floral wrap dresses and accouterments like capes and I can almost feel the ocean breezes.

Leon Bakst Design for Ballet Russes

Bachante 1911 Narcisse by Leon Bakst 

I will always remember the freedom and artistic dreams that ended with the “grunge look” – when lumberjack flannel shirts and toboggans took over the world – and put a damper on everything. People are resilient though. The next bright spot was a “redux” of the big band era and the cute Summer “Sun Dress” made a return along with it. Things go in cycles, if we wait long enough things we love will come back in vogue – and if you’re like me you kind of wear what you want to anyway!

Free Soul Mate Reading

Vintage Record Cover Corner:

Serena.jpg

Serena Wilson

Somali Wedding Dance Green Veil.jpg

Somali Wedding Dance Revealed

By Aziza Al-Tawil

The spirit moved me recently to check out exactly what the Somalian Wedding Dance looked like. In some ways, I can honestly say, it was not exactly what I expected and I was in store for some pleasant surprises as far as dance scholarship goes.

One surprise right off the bat is the beat: an almost American Indian beat – the kind that found it’s way into Neal Young songs back in the 1960’s and 70’s. Then there were songs used with almost a “Reggae” type rhythm. The traditional dance supposedly involved the mixing of men and women and I observed some instances where a man joins in and is stomping and clapping and almost moving across the floor as if about to tap dance. The women gesture in front of themselves and gesture with their veil (It would be interesting to find out if the “veil” gesturing is only as old as “Islamic” wear influence or goes back to when some cultures had a veil anyway-to keep sand out of the eyes- etc. “Veils” in that sense predate Islam of course but I don’t know if it does in Somalian clothing history. It’s food for thought anyway and worthy of investigating. 

More versions and steps I observed were jumping, foot stamping, and men spinning around on one leg. I did see instances where the togetherness of the bride and groom was still intact-no separation of the sexes. The videos I observed with the men present seemed to be a fuller “fleshed out” dance with more technique involved. (Perhaps the banning of men in this instance limits the presentation somewhat). There is also a joyous circling and clapping with all participants going around counter clockwise. Right now, until they disappear, there are some interesting videos on YouTube. Be sure to check them out.

Learn Dabke Dance

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When Aziza’s mother Johanna started belly dancing in the 1960’s, the Greek guitar player Tassos Mavris showed her how to play “zillia.” The legendary blind Armenian oud player “Udi Hrant” told Armenian singer Madlen that he could tell Johanna was a good dancer and would be good at “zil” but he thought her pair of the finger cymbals was not up to par with her capabilities so he went to Brooklyn & bought her a fine pair as a gift. Aziza became a professional dancer at age one, & added “zil” by age two & has performed live in major cities w/some of the greatest musicians & recording artists in the field. Her childhood mentors in music were her mother & the late Ajdin Aslan, legendary musician/owner of the Balkan Record Company. Workshops are being planned in different areas, please contact us at azizaaltawil@gmail.com for more info.

 “Thought Elevators” Are You Going Up or Down?

Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by

Aziza Al-Tawil and Incandescent Belly Dance

Contact: azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2017

Letter from the Editor:

Hopefully, this Holiday Season finds you safe and warm with those you love and who love you. It’s at this time of year we remind ourselves that “Peace on Earth” is a lofty and worthy goal for mankind, not just some “passe” or “snowflaky” idea as some today might want to portray it. We’ve come a long way since a generation of people really took a hard look at trying to achieve this “state” and some days it seems as if those times never happened.

Being of some Middle Eastern heritage I have seen the conflicts in that region from several different angles at different times and different stages of my life. I come from a very old family with many branches and even relatives from all three major faiths.

My niece through a half sister, recently received an “Olive Wood Cross” from the Holy Land from her Dad and my neighbor’s sister recently asked me to design a necklace using one and she also gave me a cross that included a carved dove motif as a gift. I remember that it seemed odd to my neighbors that “Palestinians” made the crosses-that “Palestinians” who are “Christians” actually come from the first “Christians” in the area. The complexity of each religion jockeying for a fair shake in that society is no less than a headache at the least and a terrible tragedy at it’s worst, and of course in the end we can’t deny that of the “Three Main Faiths” the religion of the Hebrews ,”Judaism,” is the oldest of all.

While my Middle Eastern heritage has been an incredible journey filled with song and dance and socializing, some of the deepest beliefs in my soul come from my “Native American” or “First People’s” heritage through my mother. One saying, “You have to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins,” coupled with a deep seated belief that no one can really “own the land” only God does and we are merely “stewards” of his creation seem to be more of a “bellwether” for my beliefs and conclusions. Therefore, I hope the people of the Middle East will take a look at each sides hardships and disappointments and find a way to share the land and prosper as equal citizens. In other words “Share the Moccasins and the Land.”

Josie and her Jewelry

by Aziza Al-Tawil

Josie Homonai is once again our cover model. In photos taken by her art teacher she models the “olive wood” cross from the Holy Land which was a gift from her father and also wears a selection of jewelry from India and Jordan. No matter what she is wearing Josie is a “charmer.”

Josie Jewelry

Dabke Dancers Vintage (2)

Dance Dabke with Confidence

Vintage Russian Christmas and New Year’s Cards

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Well maybe it’s a bizarre time to show these, since we’re unsure if our “election hack” and “collusion” problem with Russia will ever be brought to justice, but these gorgeous and amusing Christmas and New Year’s cards from Russia’s yesteryear are certainly worth a look. There was a time when “Dr. Zhivago” was my favorite epic and that snowy landscape only spelled “romance” for me. Today I would rather be in a bikini in Clearwater but – oh well – you understand! It’s interesting to note the art work in some of the cards being related to their “space exploration” as these cards were from that era. Some of the other cards are much older.

Vintage-Russian-Christmas-card_141806

Romantic Russian Christmas Card

 

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Folkloric Russian Christmas Card

merry-russian-orthodox-christmas

Vintage Russian Christmas card w/photo of family and tree.

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Vintage Russian New Year’s Card with Hedgehog and animal friends.

vintage-soviet-new-year-greeting-card

Russian New Year’s Card w/children on the moon with bear

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Russian New Year’s card with “Space Boy” and Rockets

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Vintage Russian New Year’s Card w/ Santa on rocket ride with Cosmonaut

Jamila Salimpour: Some Thoughts on the Passing of a Belly Dance Legend

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Jamila Record Cover

Artist’s rendering of a young Jamila Salimpour in “Oriental “Garb” on the cover of a Yousef and his Baghdad Ensemble LP record.

Every now and then some individuals enter our realm bearing everything we need to accompany our journeys of self discovery. The time seems “ripe” for what they will impart and by doing so forever sketch themselves into a collective memory. When I heard Jamila Salimpour passed away a few weeks ago I was struck by several things. My immediate thoughts went to her daughter Suhaila-complete empathy-having been the daughter of a very dynamic and pioneering mother in the belly dance world also, whose death left me not only in grief but in a state of shock. “Larger than life” people are just like that: “Larger than life” so in my heart I knew that I could understand more than some what Suhaila was going through. She not only lost a mother but a dance teacher, a mentor, a friend on an intriguing journey through world cultures and the history of man. We became the women we are today because of our mothers. I know others in our realm have felt the same way including Serena’s son Scott Wilson. What fabulous “world’s” we grew up in! (In Scott’s case he was fortunate to have a very supportive father, Rip Wilson, who was as enthused over belly dancing as Serena, so it just seemed natural that Scott would become a musician also. By contrast, Suhaila’s father was against his wife and daughter dancing).

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on Jamila Salimpour. It was in the late 1970’s and my mother got a flyer from her longtime friend Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah-there was a seminar somewhere, I believe it was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas & Morocco was on the bill also – and I saw a dramatic close-up profile of Jamila with a stunning hairdo. My mother Johanna went back quite a ways with Bobby. When she first met him he was waiting tables in Washington, DC while attending college in P.A. He had wanted his love of his Arabic dance and Lebanese dance to be taken to another level but had been frustrated up until then with the business because NYC’s famed Greektown (8th Ave. and 29th St.) at that time did not take male dancers. He told my mother Johanna that the exhibit of photos at the University of Pennsylvania of her dance company “Johanna’s Oasis Ballet” had encouraged him to not give up – that her husband Turhan’s important role in the company proved to Bobby once and for all that “A man could make it in this business!” After having a few dance partnerships with lovelies like Dahlena and Nadina in other cities Bobby Farrah found the key to success in NYC through his magical meeting with and artistic sponsorship by the famed tobacco heiress Doris Duke in 1971. Bobby Farrah could do what he dreamed  which included a dance company (“Johanna’s Oasis Ballet” had disbanded in 1966 with the break-up of her marriage to Turhan and NYC was ripe for more of this sort of thing), a magazine “Arabesque,” and presentation of workshops and seminars across the country that furthered our wonderful art form of Middle Eastern Dance.

Jamila's Profile Photo (2)

The lovely profile photo that I remembered as the first image I ever saw of Jamila.

Also, even though “Dance Magazine” had devoted some energy to the world of “ethnic dance” in general (Johanna was the first belly dancer from Greek Town NYC to appear in that publication, shortly thereafter Morocco, when she was in “I Had a Ball” with Richard Kiley and Buddy Hackett) Bobby Farrah took things a step further with “Arabesque” – bridging a divide that existed between the two coasts-East and West-so some of us were now becoming familiar with people we might never heard of before. Now, as the ethnic venues were dying out, the classes and seminars came to the forefront. Also, the West Coast seemed to get a boost for belly dancing through their “Renaissance Fair” circuit. Jamila Salimpour, a child of Sicilian parents with a father who was stationed in North Africa took to the outdoor festival scene with much aplomb – in fact, it did not hurt that she had been inspired as a young lady to literally “run off with the circus” – “Ringling Bros.” no less – and that had to prepare her for creating the spectacle she did with “Bal Anat” the dance company she founded in 1969.

In the 2000’s, when surfing the net became popular, I once more became aware of this fascinating woman. 

I began to realize through a lot of reading what some of the cultural differences were between the East and West Coasts. California and it’s warmth seemed to draw more of the “Hippie” type to the world of ethnic music presentation while even though  Jamila had started herself in a nighclub scene, as things went along and the “North Beach” scene like many areas in the country was going “Topless” – Middle Eastern dancers and it’s proponents learned to take this thing to the “country” – to the “Fair.” In NYC we did have some block parties but not as many opportunities as the West Coast dancers were now seeing in the 1970’s. Another talented free spirit from that coast, Dianne Webber, was not only a belly dancer but had actually been a model for Russ Meyer and nudist colony literature.

New York City to me had seemed more like a 1950’s cocktail lounge type crowd – a tad more conservative for a much longer period of time. (I mentioned “Topless” dancing as a blow to the “Belly Dance Scene” but I should mention that the first serious threat came when “Go Go Dancing” came in to vogue – but I will never forget how shocked I was as a child to see that the “Britania” in Greektown, NYC had gone “topless.”)

Not being too outdoorsy myself, my free spirited mother Johanna, like Jamila I guess, could damn well dance anywhere and feel at home. One time a thunderstorm broke out over the rooftop terrace of the Henry Hudson Hotel where we practiced and taught classes 24 stories high. Everyone one else ran inside. My mother stayed out there a bit, like a Greek Goddess commanding the clouds themselves, then she finally came in, soaking wet. When I danced outside one time in Charleston, WV, I guess I did well, but inside my head I was so terribly uptight it makes me feel silly now to look back at it. I was a teenager and actually for a while was embarrassed to be seen by other teens while in my oriental garb, and even more “mortified” when my Mom wore her black Spanish hat around town. However, I have such fond memories of being in import shops with Johanna and her wanting to try all the ethnic instruments and bells and clappers- just all the exotic things and their tones. So, as I read more about Jamila and Suhaila, I  could definitely feel a “sympatico.”

Aziza and Johanna Smaller.jpg

My mother Johanna and I by Kriegsmann NYC. I lost Johanna in 2012 so I feel Suhaila’s pain.

I, like Suhaila, was blessed to be the child of a dynamic and artistic woman. The impact they had on us could never be under-estimated I’m sure. I learned I also shared a similar “entree” into the world of belly dance. Suhaila, like me, was not indoctrinated into the world of Oriental Dance through classes. As toddlers, Suhaila and I just simply saw our mother’s performing and just got out there and showed off what we knew. Basically we just said, “Ta Da!” Of course, later I’m sure there was some coaching but to start with nothing but our own drive to “join the party.” I thought of Jamila and Johanna as a bit of “kindred spirits” – the difference being with my mother, though she raised me primarily in NYC, never really wanted to plant down roots or establish a “territory” so therefore was not much in to teaching. When she retired from dancing “pro” she was just that “retired.” (I have oft wondered what my life would have been like if we had less of the “Gypsy” in us and I just don’t know).

So, while a Swami from India set up shop leading “Hare Krishna Chants” in Tompkins Square Park in the Village and founding a movement meant to help America’s addicted and unhappy youth, through spirituality and free “Gulab Jamun” – a world away, on another shore, a woman arrived that inspired a generation of women searching for their own personal connection to the “divine.” Jamila Salimpour was beloved by her students, and of course what she instilled in her daughter and grand daughter will never fade away. My advice to Suhaila is to not think of her mother as really gone, just passed to another form, the electricity of her spirit still charged in the ether. I’m sure we will all be together one day in that hafli in heaven and oh, how the bells will ring!

      What Does Your Numerology Say? 

Pulp Fiction: Some Fascinating Images of Belly Dancing from Days Past

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Well, I sure would like to read these books!

Vintage Avon_Fantasy_Reader_11

Science Fiction Fantasy type belly dancer.

Gypsy Sixpence Novel

Belly dancer as “Gypsy” imagery.

Vintage Far Out Ones Pulp

Hippie era fun!

 

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by

Aziza Al-Tawil and Incandescent Belly Dance

Contact: azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine Black Friday Gift Giving Guide November 2017

Hi Folks! Your editor Aziza here. It’s “Black Friday” and I’ve compiled a little gift giving guide for you that might give you some ideas. “Egyptian Chick Magazine” needs support to continue with new and exciting issues so we ask that you consider some of the many fine products available from “Amazon.” If you purchase through our links “Egyptian Chick Magazine” gets a small commission on the sale. So we hope you will consider helping us this way. I have found some mighty cool stuff to consider as gifts this season. There are also many membership and specialty item deals going on right now too. Check it out and see how you can save and entertain loved ones this season and all year round.

For a young person or the “child in all of us” – here is a real charmer: A 10.5 inch plush “Bastet” by “Bundle of Joy.”
Plush Bastet

File under “Now I’ve Seen Everything!” – and it’s pretty cool too – here is a “Riq” pot holder by “Gear New” for the “musician” in your life.

Riq Pot Holder

Buying for someone who likes make-up? Check out the pretty colors in “The Balm of Your Hand” face palette by “The Balm” cosmetics. The company is “cruelty free” and is also Oil-free, talc-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic. 

In the Balm of Your Hand Face Pallette

The face palette contains favorites from their best sellers, including 4 perfectly coordinated eyeshadows, 3 blushes, a matte bronzer, a champagne-hued highlighter, a red lip color and a nude lip and cheek cream. For those who may have a “wicked” sense of humor there is another palette of “matte” eye shadows and it’s cleverly called “Meet Matt(e) Trimony!”

Matt Trimomy Pallette

If you take a trip how about keeping your skin smooth? Try Organic Fields of Heather brand body cream in “Egyptian Jasmine Scent.”

Organic Fields of Heather organic Body Cream

This wonderful lotion is handcrafted in small batches in New Hampshire from the finest ingredients including aloe vera, coconut, and Shea butter. There is also a “Crown Jewel Facial Cleanser” that is often paired with this as a gift combo.

How about a beautiful travel bag from “Kenneth Cole Reaction” Casual Fling Computer Overnighter?

Kenneth Cole Bag

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Egyptian Chick Magazine October 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine October 2017

Letter from the Editor:

By Aziza Al-Tawil

It was very hard to get back into the swing of things after the devastating events of the last month or so around the world. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the storms and flooding in Myanmar, Bangledesh, India and other parts of Asia, the heartbreaking Las Vegas massacre – and so many things – that it seemed we were just barely able to stand up from one disaster until we were “pummeled” with something else. 

I’m heartbroken to report that Desideria Masheed, last year’s “October Cover Girl” was caught right in the middle of the Puerto Rican disasters-the worst of which was “Maria.” Desideria has been a tireless animal rescue advocate working closely with “Save a Gato” for most of the five years she has spent living on the Island. Her reason for going was a change of pace, to study more dance, and practice natural healing. When the economy went sour a couple of years ago she felt she had to plan to leave the island but this slipped into a “quagmire.”

Desideria In Front of Statues

Desideria enjoying a happier day before “storms” with Taino statues in Puerto Rico.

Trying to survive she was walking miles in the heat just to re-charge a phone. Meanwhile, stores like Wal-Mart started gouging people. All the while people were told at “FEMA” that they could not apply in person for help but had to do it by phone or go online (there was no electricity or internet service!) and, as the Mayor of San Juan was telling the world, food arrived to a place where people had been without food nor clean water for fourteen days and they were not allowing the “National Guard” to distribute it. The National Guard has had years of experience and they were not allowed to do what they did best leading everyone to ask “Why?”

Now, to add “insult to injury” or rather “injury to insult” our beloved Desideria was hit by a car in San Juan as she made her way to Wal-Mart for a folding table so she could vend on the boardwalk. Sadly, it took many hours to be seen by a doctor and now her foot is infected. She noted while waiting in the hospital just how many vulnerable “geriatric” patients were there. 

“Egyptian Chick” magazine is trying to help Desideria who is now destitute and injured. No agencies are able to help her with anything. She just wants to come back to the mainland and needs to raise a few thousand dollars. To all who can help her we are imploring you donate what you can. As of this publication she is short of food to eat. There are two ways you can help her GoFund me campaign is here : GoFundMe to Rescue Desideria from Puerto Rico (Moving Expenses for her and her cats)

Or for more immediate help you can send to her “PayPal” at darkdeva29@gmail.com Thank you so much!

Aziza Al-Tawil, Editor in Chief 

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The Iranian Born “The Iron Sheik”

How I Fell in Love with Wrestling

By Aziza Al-Tawil

My grandmother’s boyfriend Mr. Felix Holmes used to pick up my Grandma and take her to the “Wrastling Matches” over at the Civic Center in Charleston, WV. There my “Yia Yia” would laugh her ass off and scream stuff, I guess, like “Go get ’em Tiger!” at who I think must have been, if I recall correctly, the likes of Bob Armstrong, among other legends. In fact, now that I’m grown and my fiancé’ Bill (whose Dad was Newark area wrestler “The Big Chief” in the early 1950s) has gotten me, “Miss Peace and Love” into watching the shenanigans out of the “WWE” I would actually give anything to remember just who in the world else my Grandmother and Mr. Holmes used to watch.

A lot of the Charleston area newspapers are probably on “microfiche”-still the handbills or flyers from this area are not too easy to find. Considering my Grandmother passed away in the mid 1980s, unless I hold a “séance,” cannot ask her who some of the legends were. I do think that I recall her mentioning Bob Armstrong though. As far as “local wrestling,” a lot of them came out of the circuit that was in Tennessee.

As far as getting intrigued with modern era wrestling it certainly took me a while.

Antonino Rocca Poster

My mother’s neighbor in NYC, Wrestler Antonino Rocca, “The Argentinian.”

My mother, a dancer, appreciated the “Greco-Roman” wrestling of the “Olympics” but was not too impressed with the antics of what we know now as “Pro Wrestling.” Although, she really respected the strength of Buddy Baer in his day and at one point she and her first husband Bill were neighbors of Antonino Rocca or “Rocco the Argentinian” on the West Side of NY. “Rocco” was a really nice guy she said. He would get out in the street with the “hardhats” and jokingly have a go at using their jackhammers. (Sadly, “Rocco” died at age 49 in Roosevelt Hospital of a urinary infection in 1977.)

Little Egypt Wrestler 2

Angelina Altishin AKA “Little Egypt” in the ring.

Little Egypt Wrestler Glow

Angelina Altishin – AKA “Little Egypt” in the ring at “G.L.O.W”

As far as more recent female wrestling, I have not gotten into the clips from the “Sable” era-in fact-Stacy Kiebler on “Dancing with the Stars” several years ago was all I was exposed to. The gals in the 80’s were sexy like Wendy Richter (and also most of the women in “Glow-Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” the campy TV show which ran from 1986-1989 and featured acts with fun and provocative names like “Sally the Farmer’s Daughter,” “Palestina,” and “Spanish Red”) and if they ain’t inspiration for a good work out or two at the gym or the dance studio I don’t know what is-yet it seemed the latter era got a little more racy with “novelty” acts stripping down to thongs in front of crowds including kids. The girls now are sexy, and in good shape, but don’t seem to cross over into the “Adult Realm” as they seemed to do for a while.

Palestina

Politically “incorrect” persona and name, the “G.L.O.W.” wrestler “Palestina” in a rather culturally insensitive time.

As far as “Adult Realm,” I guess the biggest shock was the Joanie Laurer foray into hardcore porn and then her death at a young age from an overdose of drugs and alcohol. “Chyna” as she was known, seemed to represent the unbearable tragedy that can come about from a very competitive lifestyle in a tough and sometimes “unforgiving” business.

I swooned over “Rowdy Roddy Piper” in a couple of movies he made and found myself missing the 1980’s and the way we all used to look and maybe the last era where we really worshiped the “charismatic” male.

Roddy Piper and Meg Foster They Live

Roddy Piper and Meg Foster in John Carpenter’s “They Live” (1988)

My favorites from today are entertaining to me because they have a certain “Golden Age of Hollywood” quality like Roman Reigns (The “Second Coming” of Victor Mature), or Dean Ambrose with another “Quasi Hero” quality straight out of the James Dean/Marlon Brando “playbook,”- or are straight out full of laughs like “The New Day” tag team.

“Pro Wrestling,” and all it’s idiosyncrasies, is the epitome of a “guilty pleasure.” How long I stay interested in something I couldn’t do myself if my life depended on it-I don’t know. Just know that now I oft think of a quote by someone-not sure who-who said, “The people who like Pro Wrestling are either fools or geniuses.”

I’d like to think I belong to the “geniuses!”

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Wrestling Fashionista: Costume Looks from the Past to the Present

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Whether it’s Chris Jericho and his “scarves” (which Braun Strowman so unceremoniously tore in strips recently!) to Naomi and her neon “glow in the dark” spandex outfits, wrestling has been an exciting “arena” of styles for a long time. Years ago there was “Gorgeous George” and his “primpin” then there was “The Godfather” and his “Pimpin.” There’s a special place in my heart for ole “Rowdy Roddy Piper” and his “kilt. “

“Jungle,” “Tiki,” and “Tribal” looks have been around in different forms since the old days. “Leopard Print” bathing suits/costumes on lady wrestlers (Like “The Fabulous Moolah”) back in the 1950’s (and on male wrestlers like Enzo Amore who touts the “Gucci” look also), to Bone Necklaces on “Matilda the Hun” and leis and tropical prints on “Mountain Fiji” only lent more “mystery” to these amazing tough gals.

Penny_Banner

Penny Banner Wrestler

In fact the “exotica” look has certainly not been reserved for women. “The Ultimate Warrior” and “Papa Shango” come to mind right away. Nods to “Natives” would certainly be “Kamala the Ugandan Giant” and the many incarnations of Indian Head Dresses that have shown themselves over the years including “Chief Jay Strongbow.”

Chief Jay Strongbow

Chief Jay Strongbow

Representing the Middle East we had Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, also known as “The Iron Sheik” and before him, “The Original Sheik” (Ed Farhat from Michigan) known first as simply “The Sheik,” and a poster that looks to be from the 1940’s or 1950’s says a “Laurence of Arabia” is going to appear at “The Hollywood Legion.” 

Ed Farhat

 

1968 Issue of Wrestling World featuring “The Sheik” Ed Farhat and “Abdullah Farouk”- the “alter ego” of his “Jewish” manager Ernie Roth. Roth would also manage “Mr Fuji,” “The Iron Sheik” and a roster of others.

 

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One of my favorite eras is the 1980’s-I guess I’m sentimental about my childhood years-and the neon spandex look with it’s “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” vibe. In fact, how appropriate is it that Cyndi Lauper actually wound up managing Wendi Richter during the inaugural “Wrestlemania?” The neon spandex has made a comeback with the exception of one thing: In the 1980’s you had a lot of “High Cut” bathing suit looks and now the women’s wrestling seems dominated by “Boy Leg Short” looks.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


The beautiful Angelina Altishin (“Little Egypt”) making her entrance on “G.L.O.W.” 

It’s also in the 1980’s that a lovely Turkish and Italian belly dancer was a wrestler on “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” AKA “G.L.O.W.” Angelina Altishin actually entered the arena belly dancing and it’s cool to see the audience, some wearing ball caps, try to dance with her the “sinewy moves” of her alter ego “Little Egypt.” Her costumes often had a skirt but once in the ring she did her thing in “Harem Pants!”

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The beautiful Angelina Altishin (“Little Egypt”) making her entrance on “G.L.O.W.”

So after so many conflicts in the last generation including the devastating events of 9/11, who carries a torch for the belly dancer look in wrestling these days?

Sabu and Genie

Non other than former body builder and wrestler Melissa Coates who, after a knee injury, decided to  manage “Sabu” and follow in the footsteps of his Uncle Ed Farhat’s habit of having a female “valet” dressed in “harem regalia.” Melissa Coates these days is known as “The Super Genie” and performs on tour with him mostly around the UK. His style of wrestling is not for the faint of heart though-it’s “extreme” “hardcore” violent as he was trained by his uncle “The Sheik” who was known for bringing that into vogue

Ed Farhat (2)

A very young looking Ed Farhat – “The Sheik.”

The handsome, talented Dolph Ziggler has recently created an uproar by doing a series wherein he lampoons the “gimmicks and costumes” used by his contemporaries. However, it may be a long time before crowds will want to give up the kind of exciting imagery and accessories that go along with the crazy world of “pro wrestling.”

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From the Vedas to the Present: The History of Indians in Wrestling

By Aziza Al-Tawil

In today’s crop of American “Pro Wrestling” Indian and Pakistani, we have Jinder Mahal, “The Bollywood Boyz”-Gurv and Harv Sihra who are now Jinder’s “posse” and call themselves “The Singh Brothers,” “Prince Mustapha Ali,” and of course, “The Great Khali.”

Jinder Mahal and the Singh Bros

Jinder Mahal flanked by “The Singh Brothers”

Yet, if we take a look, it would blow your mind just how far back the sport of wrestling goes in that region of Asia. The form of wrestling known as “Malla-Yuddha” is thought to have been practiced in South Asia as far back as the 5th Millennium BC. It is thought to be the precursor of what they call “Kushti” now and predates the invasion of the Aryans. “Turko-Mongolian” descendants, the Central Asian “Mughals” conquered Northern India in the 16th Century bringing into the picture their style of wrestling which had roots in Mongolian and Iranian (Persian) style wrestling. (In fact there is no shortage today of Middle Eastern and Iranian origin wrestlers here in the United States including Araiya Daivari (Iranian), Seth Rollins, (Armenian), Sami Zayn (Syrian), Noam Dar (Israeli), Rusev (Bulgarian), and, if the rumor is true, the adorable Bayley is part Armenian!).

Prince Mustafa Ali

When Pakistani “Cruiserweight” Mustafa Ali was calling himself “Prince Mustafa Ali.”

 

As far as the “Vedas,” wrestling is indeed mentioned in the “Mahabharata.” My personal interest in the “Vedas” came from childhood exposure to the “Hare Krishnas” in NYC taking the free “Back to Godhead” magazines they handed out and sampling the delicious vegetarian food they served from carts just like hot dogs. In fact, when I read that the royal sponsors of ancient Indian wrestling made sure to treat their “warriors” of “grappling” with “milk, pulses, sugar, and delicious sweets,” I was not surprised as that tactic seemed to work well for the Swami Praphupada building the “Hare Krishna Movement” based on luring sad, addicted youth to the pleasures of the “non-narcotic” dessert “Gulabjuman.”

He had called the deep fried donut balls that were soaked in rose water syrup “Iskcon Bullets” as they were so effective in preventing the troubled youths from the outside “malaise” of the “Hippie Era.” (Over the years, I truly loved the “Hare Krishna” vegetarian food served in other cities too like Boston, but, not being a “joiner” by nature I was never quite moved enough to go join a commune! To quote the great Cole Porter, “Don’t Fence Me In!”

Of course, special exercise regimens were used to keep the athletes fit as well, what with all that “Gulabjamun!.”

During the “Colonial Period” wrestling was a favorite spectator sport of the “Rajputs” in Punjab. (Both Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali hail from Punjabi backgrounds. Mahal’s family being of the “Sikh” religion and Khali’s of “Hinduism” respectively). At one point, being wrestlers was encouraged to help prepare for attempts to free themselves of British rule.

In the last couple of hundred years we saw the rise of the “Great Gama” class of wrestlers in India and what is now known as Pakistan. We’ve seen the continuation and growth of tournaments and participation in the modern “Olympics” era.

I could go into more specifics about the wrestling history of this region but it’s so vast you might do better to do some more in-depth research on your own. For me, I’ll keep watching the matches and eating those yummy Indian desserts!

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Bizarre use of “Middle Eastern” theme and imagery, “The Clash” – “Rock the Casbah” (1982) 

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If anyone would like to help support Egyptian Chick Magazine please donate at paypal address : freeazizanow@aol.com. Any amount is appreciated but we are hoping to raise a few thousand to upgrade the site and have expanded capabilities in reporting and publishing. Thank you.

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine Cover for Sept 1017

Letter from the Editor:

I recently did a short video show again for people from Kuwait. I had the pleasure of wearing a new creation of mine and it included a “Cape Veil” made out of some material I had in my collection for 20 years. I was very pleased with the results. The “Cape Veil” probably came into prominence around the 1980’s. I personally never had one, I continued to use regular veils with the costumes my mother and I made. So I admit it was quite fun to finally have one of these. The fabric may or may not be “Persian Lace” but is a lovely pattern.

Thinking of Houston as I made my debut there when I was one year old. Been a “pro” ever since. Hopefully, people will take seriously the issue of “climate change” and stop shoving it “under the carpet.” God bless everyone that was effected by “Hurricane Harvey.”

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Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by:

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Egyptian Black Seed Oil and it’s Miracle Curative Properties

by Aziza Al-Tawil

As a young girl in NYC, I remember how much I relished with excitement our trips to Brooklyn’s “Atlantic Ave.” If we weren’t performing somewhere at night there were trips during the day the most exciting aspect of which was the smell of the spices in the big barrels outside the shops. The most delightful was the smell of cumin and “Falafel” was such a favorite because of that spice’s domination thereof. In a way it was no surprise to learn as I grew older that these same wonderful spices had health properties as well.

I’ve always been interested in “Natural Health” because I was brought up that way with a mother that knew something about the Appalachians and herbal traditions. She descended from “First People’s Indigenous” American tribes and was also interested in anything they used. Her own experience as a belly dancer who was around Greeks a lot  led her to the main herbal treatment that really helped me when I had “hyperthyroid” disease and that was “Hymetis”-also known as “Sage” which I drank as a tea.

As far as “Black Seed” (“Nigella Sativa”) – AKA “Black Cumin Seed” – it’s a remarkable herb with amazing curative properties. Found in “Tutankhamen’s Tomb,” centuries later the prophet Mohammed said that it was “a remedy for all diseases except death.” Christian and Islamic traditions consider it a “blessed oil” – in Arabic “Habbatul barakah, literally the “seed of blessing.” 

  • Analgesic (Pain-Killing)

  • Anti-Bacterial

  • Anti-Inflammatory

  • Anti-Ulcer

  • Anti-Cholinergic

  • Anti-Fungal

  • Ant-Hypertensive

  • Antioxidant

  • Antispasmodic

  • Antiviral

  • Bronchodilator

  • Gluconeogenesis Inhibitor (Anti-Diabetic)

  • Hepatoprotective (Liver Protecting)

  • Hypotensive

  • Insulin Sensitizing

  • Interferon Inducer

  • Leukotriene Antagonist

  • Renoprotective (Kidney Protecting)

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Inhibitor

In the modern time there have been many studies of the pharmacological properties of the “Black Seed.” Many of the illnesses they say it cures or treats include the following: Type 2 Diabetes, Helicobacter Pylori Infection, Epilepsy, High Blood Pressure, Asthma, Acute Tonsillopharyngitis, Chemical Weapons Injury, Colon Cancer, MRSA, and Opiate Addiction.

“Vitalute” Organic Cold Pressed “Black Seed Oil.”

Anyway, I’ve loved regular cumin for a long time in Middle Eastern cooking. It might be time to give this variety a try.

Kabbalah Manifestation Secrets

“Lady Popular”: a Fun Game from Bulgaria

By Aziza Al-Tawil

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Two characters from Lady Popular in front of a recent Egyptian Backdrop.

If you enjoyed paper dolls as a child then you would probably really dig “Lady Popular,” an online dress-up game invented in Bulgaria several years ago. It was so “popular” they came up with an “International Edition.” There are many “special events” within the game that enable players to get their hands on unique dress, backdrops for their characters, and even furniture for a multi-level apartment.You can even have cars and pets. So far there have been many chances to have components for dressing your doll in a belly dance costume including Carrie Fisher’s sensational outfit from “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi” (1983). I’ve had some nice experiences since I was asked by a lovely Bulgarian lady to join her club in “LP.” I’ve met and chatted with a lot of cool ladies from around the world and we even mourned together when one of our ladies passed away at the young age of fifty three. We dressed all our ladies in black and then we all voted for our deceased friend to go to one of the podiums. The dear lady made it to the “top” posthumously and perhaps unlike some other things in the world proved that women really can have close, sisterly connections and not just “competitive” ones.

Learn to Dance any Dabke Style

Gifts from Cathy

by Aziza Al-Tawil

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Was pleasantly surprised when my neighbor gifted me with 2 interesting books about Egypt the other day. One was a “Scholastic” book  about the country and the other was the autobiography of Jehan Sadat, a brave woman like Jackie Kennedy in that she saw her beloved husband Anwar Sadat assassinated in October of 1981.

The book reveals that Jehan had an English mother and an Egyptian father and was raised in Egypt. I remember so well the turbulent incident of her husband’s death and all that it meant in the world to different people with different opinions on what the correct course should have been in the political realm over there. 

Anyway, I look forward to reading the books!

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Rhythms for Belly Dance in the Golden Age of the Greek Taverna:  A Simple Primer

by Aziza Al-Tawil

Recent discussions with friends have given me pause to write an article about what the most popular rhythms were for belly dance in the “heyday” and how to understand how that influenced a person’s “Act” or “Set.” In the “Heyday” of the 1950’s and 1960’s in some cities the Greek Taverna dominated the “scene” as Greeks tended to have a very good knack for entertaining “The World”-not just themselves. Despite a lot of “bad blood” between so many people in the Near and Middle East the Greeks had a way of harnessing what made the people “alike” not different. Examples of this, for instance, was that the first song played by the band to kick off the evening was always a “Paso Doble.” Some forms of “rhumba” were played to add a touch more “Latin” to the proceedings also, but the main fare of the evening highlighted the shared culture of Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Jews, and various other ethnic groups like Albanians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, and just about any others you could think of who once called parts of “Asia Minor” their home.

New Yorks City’s “8th Avenue and 29th Street” scene boasted  an impressive array of nightclubs within just a small area. Nicknamed “Bouzoukee Blvd” – it exploded in popularity right after Melina Mercouri made her big splash in “Never on a Sunday.” The song and the film were a worldwide hit and so the search for all things “Greek” was on. 

The foreign stars from Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, and other famous hubs of belly dance culture flocked to NYC, Chicago, Boston, and other Metro areas. Besides a culture that had a wealth of “line dances” there was also a tradition of “belly dance” in several countries. If you were a belly dancer in Greektown you were trained in all the rhythms to play on Darbucky because you were expected the night you worked not just to dance once or twice but to sit on the bandstand all night and play percussion for the other dancers. In other words, on percussion, dancers were considered musicians also.

The main rhythms that were acknowledged as true “belly dance” rhythms-where you can really show your “stuff”- was “Tsifte Telli” (Turkish/Arabic Spelling “Cifte Telli”) and “Arapiko” (Greek/Turkish for the rhythm known in Arabic as “Maksoum”). Now, you might ask, “What is the difference and why is one credited to an “ethnicity” namely the “Arab” and the other not?” Well, for one, it’s the actual rhythm that tells the tale.

One group of people with a thought or two on Middle Eastern music from a “musician’s standpoint” are, believe it or not, the “American Jazz Musician.” Jazz musicians, with a heritage of their own coming out of a part of Africa, of course mixed with some other musical styles like American Indian, European, and even Gypsy, found themselves easily drawn to the mesmerizing rhythms of the world of belly dance. (Yes, in it’s “heyday,” many musicians like Dizzy Gillespie (“A Night in Tunisia”) flocked to 8th Ave. and 29th St. to get some inspiration from the the great music going on there.

I remember when I was working with some Jazz musicians we had a conversation. They observed that a lot of Arabic music has rhythms where the accent is on the “Back Beat” and that Gypsy music as well as Turkish music tend to have more rhythms that accent the “Downbeat.” In fact in Turkish some that come to mind right off are “Cifte Telli,” “Karsilama,” and “Laz” (“Laziko” in Greek)-no doubt if I really stop think of a lot more of their line dances, I would probably find more of that example. The “downbeat” on a traditional drum is the “Doum”- or center of the drum. 

By contrast, many Arabic rhythms have the “accent” on the “Back Beat,” (or the “Tek” which is the outer rim of the drum) one strong example is the “Maksoum,” which we stated in previous sentences here was considered such an “Arabian Style” that in Greek/Turkish was called “Arapiko” – which in essence “dance of arabs,” the same way “Hassapiko” is “The Butcher’s Dance” in Greek, “Laziko” is “Dance of the Laz” people of the “Black Sea,” In fact the dance of “Hassapiko Serviko” is the name of a “Hassapiko” with Serbian Balkan influences. (Speaking again of the “back beat” in Arabian music don’t forget an old saying that Arabic belly dancers tended to dance “behind the beat”).

The portion of these words that are “siko” or “iko” seem to be a “call to action”- as it means to “stand up” or “get up.” For instance “chorepsi” or “horepsi” is the actual word for dance. But when “iko” or “siko” is present it’s like saying “Get up and dance the butcher’s dance with me” (“Hassapiko”) or “Come on get up and let’s dance like the Arabs (“Arapiko”). 

Also, I was interested to find out that a recent development has the Turkish word for Arab, namely “Arap,” has been used by some younger Greeks as an “ethnic slur.” Apparently, this has been the case since the war over “Cyprus” occurred with Turkey in the Summer of 1974, and by the 90’s Greeks in large numbers were turning their backs on shared roots with Turks and Arabs-some Arabs being “Christian” does not seem to matter-it’s as if they were lumped together with those dastardly “Ottomans.” Not to mention that certain cultures started “de-romanticizing” the “Roma”-“the “Gypsies”- to the point that they just didn’t want them to be themselves anymore. Turkey itself tore down their district “Sulekule” – itself the inspiration for many a Turkish song. Sadly, without “romance” our spirit dies and we’re just another group of people that get turned on when the world gets too crowded.

So, keeping that in mind, there is some talk of not wanting to call the rhythm “Arapiko” that name anymore. My only problem with that personally is that it’s basically saying “Arab” is a dirty word if it’s spelled in the “Turkish Fashion”  with a “P.” As an artist who hates to stir the “cauldron” of hate over all this is a bad idea. I wouldn’t let a handful of people dictate the change in meaning whether it’s over “Cyprus” or “9/11.” (Also intriguing are a small handful of other dances in different regions in  Greece called an “Arapiko” which are not only not done to “Maksoum” they don’t resemble each other at all-yet the question is: “Are they not related then to an Arab influence? If not, why then are they called “Arapikos” as well?” This provides food for thought. Two of the three dances in question feature just two men- one is a sword dance, the other a rather free form type dance, and the third almost a “mime piece” like something from ancient theatre.

Some interesting commentary on this latest development can be found on Shira’s Website – notice some footnotes under the info about Stelios Kazantzidis and his song “Ehis Kormi Arapiko” visit the page on her site here Arapiko Footnotes on Shira’s Site(Shira is now assisted in Greek translations and Greek folklore by dancer Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, the director of the “Arab Hellenic Folklore Institute” located in the Boston area. Another page with some Greek words translated are here Words for Dancers to Know in Greek.

As for the rhythms that were “not popular” in the hey day for belly dancing I can mention two “right off the bat” that were not. Along about the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s there seems to be a craze to “belly dance” to the fast “Hassapiko” or “Kasop” rhythm as an “opener” or “entrance” piece. Some cases of this seem to be “on purpose” and in some other instances it seems to be a drummer veering off from the “Malfouf” rhythms, a popular fast rhythm amongst the aforementioned belly dance rhythms. It definitely suits just certain portions of a show though. The fast “Hassapiko”/”Kasop” can certainly be done for a brief time in an act with the hopping steps but you sure as heck don’t try to “belly dance” to it you would break a leg! Yet, I’ve seen video of some poor dancers trying to dance around to it as if they are about to have a heart attack. In the classic age, right before this you made fast entrances to fast “Cifte Telli” or “Fast Arapiko” (or you could enter “slow” for drama in your act-I always opened with “Miserlou” and entered with “mystery.”) The craze for a “break neck” speed opening in a very “frantic” un-danceable fashion seems to lie with the “Modern Egyptian” craze.

One type of dance that fits pretty nicely into a belly dance act is a “Saidi” cane dance. It was not that popular in America until the 1980’s I’d say but is not a bad choice as far as a rhythm goes. It is the second rhythm I can think of that was not that popular in the “heyday.” 

While “YouTube” is a wonderful source to watch many different dance styles from different eras the sad news is there is very little to show of the “Nightclub” or “Cabaret” show “set-up.” A lot of old “Egyptian Films” are a joy to watch but they have a “tableau” that fits in with their “story line” and sometimes the male love interest is singing to the woman, or vice-versa, etc so you’re not really seeing a five to seven part tempo change act.

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Wonderful album by Nina Record Co. with a lovely painting of Greektown NYC dancer “Lucy” by Val Arms and K. Prentoulis. Lucy was of Cuban descent. This record has a great rendition of “Apose Pou Eho Kefia” which is an example of the “Maksoum” rhythm being called an “Arapiko” by Greeks.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Interesting back cover article of “Bring on the Bouzoukee”- not a “corny” description of the “Bouzoukee Scene,” but a rather “apt” one being that it is approved by Val Arms of the Greek newspaper “The Atlantis” and the Greek “Nina” records head honcho George Valavanis. This was the second “Long Play” album by “Nina” the first being “Festival in Greece” – a huge hit – featuring the “Continental Tenor voice” of Nicos Tseperis.

The more you explore old records and read info about rhythms the more “savvy” you will get when listening to them yourselves. Even though many old records are labeled correctly once in a while you will find a mistake. One Greek record I have has labeled something more like a “rhumba” an “Arapiko.” (Incidentally, The song “Miserlou” can be played to a rhumba rhythm quite nicely-it just sounds a bit different from the “Maksoum”/”Arapiko” because the “accents” are different. However, it does fit nicely).

If a belly dance was played to a particularly more Latin or French sounding rhythm it was said to be done in a more “Continental” style. A “Continental” style of playing was sometimes known quite well by the foreign musicians because, as stated before, they were well versed in “International” music and trends. One instrument that gave quite a bit of “Continental Flair” to Middle Eastern and Greek music was the accordion. (Interestingly enough, the people of India became fascinated with a similar instrument, the pump organ and it was adapted into a “portable” instrument called now the “Harmonium” because there was no use of tables at the time in Indian culture. This was around the 1860’s, but many years later there was a bit of a backlash against the harmonium as not being “Indian” enough in origin for use in “folk music.”)

I remember being amazed one time to see what had been I believe a very pricy “when new” keyboard by “Yamaha” that had the “Arapiko” beat on it’s selection of “programmable” beats. (Talk about “International!”

As with any of my articles, take as “food for thought”- further research can be done. I’m sharing what I know from experience with music as a dancer and as a musician as well.

 

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Mystery Belly Dancer for September 2017

By Aziza Al-Tawil 

Mystery Belly Dancer Screen Shot Honeymoon of Horror
Graceful and lovely, it is hard to tell who this dancer was in “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964).

Well, despite the fact that belly dancers were really quite graceful demure beings compared to some other “exotic” acts of the era, they did hold enough “sensuality” to make their way into cinema fare known today as “sexploitation.” As a “genre” it has intrigued people because who wouldn’t want to “strip” a few layers away from a much more “prim” generation and see what they were really capable of. One such film, “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) AKA “Orgy of the Golden Nudes,”  has a mystery belly dancer that is quite lovely in a party scene that boasts more outrageous fare (namely the “Golden Nude”- a human female version of the “Oscar” award statue). 

Honeymoon of Horror Mystery Belly Dancer

Charming belly dancer from the “sexploitation” horror film “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) 

Orgy of the Golden Nudes Newspaper Clipping

“Orgy of the Golden Nudes” playing in Pasadena at the same time as the mainstream film “Topkapi” which featured Melina Mercouri and another belly dancer, this time, in Turkey.

Our little belly dancer has beautiful graceful hands and appears to have her “zil” on the correct hands. Would love to know who she is. The writer of this flick is Alexander Panas. I’ll say that’s Greek and perhaps a reason to see a belly dancer in his script. I do know one thing. It’s probably easier to decipher through IMDB the identity of the gal painted gold than it is to find out who our belly dancer is.

Orgy of the Golden Nudes

Alternate Title for “Honeymoon of Horror” (1964) was “Orgy of the Golden Nudes.”