Letter from the Editor:
When I first conceived this magazine and named it, I remember thinking that I wanted it to be for the woman who is very eclectic in taste, very intellectual, and very interested in the vast mysteries of our universe. The kind of lady that shows her interest in the world through her own personal style with clothing and jewelry perhaps, and is the kind of person that travels or would if she could, to exotic ports of call. She’s also the kind of woman that gets excited when they say they have found a new tomb in Egypt or is outraged and disappointed to hear that pollution is destroying the “Parthenon.” She loves a good “ancient mystery” too.
Having said that, I can think of no better person to profile this month than the late Jan Gallione, “belly dance enthusiast,” searcher of “Eastern Philosophies,” preserver of “Indian Burial Mounds,” and acclaimed artist in her own right. I hope everyone enjoys my memories of Jan. What readers may also be struck by was the “love story” between she and her husband the British Artist Adrian Frost and the tenderness between them on the journey of their “self expression.” April is “National Poetry Month” and that is also apropos as Jan and Adrian were always “poets” as well as “artists.”
Also, please enjoy my poem, “If Only” and a piece of art from my youth.
I’m also happy to share a few smiles from “Team Egyptian Chick Magazine” at the 8th Annual Bowl-A-Thon for the New Hope Animal Rescue Chapter in WV. Included is a link so concerned individuals can donate ” even now.
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”
“The Body Electric” – Remembering the Artist and Friend Jan Gallione
By Aziza Al-Tawil (Article was amended on April 8th by this Author. I had another wonderful memory to share!)
I will never forget that day on 57th Street in Manhattan when my belly dance pupil and friend Jan Gallione came up out of the subway there by the Coliseum Bookstore and rushed toward me with concern. I believe I was wearing vintage clothing that day. I had loved MGM musicals and had spent the last couple of years as a member of the Carnegie Hall Cinema and had let this carry over into my private life-taken to wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes, cute retro dresses and a sailor hat-not a soft folder upper type sailor hat but one made of straw that stayed in one shape.
This sweet young woman, about 9 years my senior, placed fifty dollars in my soon to be 14 year old hands and hugged me. She had responded when I told her that my mother and I were leaving New York City in a hurry as my mother’s battle with a recent bout of “Narcolepsy” sleeping sickness had abated and her bid to “Home School” me was now a lost cause as far as her bitter foe the “New York City School System” was concerned. My grandmother had sent us six hundred or so dollars for train tickets and to ship the contents of our small studio apartment to Charleston, WV. We were broke. Jan’s fifty was much needed. That smile of hers was welcome as well!
Looking back, I realize that Jan and I were standing in the “heart” of NYC, the neighborhood that I grew up in and held dear. Right there we stood at the corner of Broadway and 57th St. and not too far away was Mariella’s Pizza Place, The Carnegie Hall Cinema, the Museum of Modern Art, The Bombay Cinema, The Donnell Library-so many places that I used to hang out. It was just unfathomable to me that in just a few short days-or perhaps hours, I would be leaving my birthplace and home for good and leaving behind my good friend Jan.
Jan and I went into the Coliseum Bookstore to look around a little. She went to one section and I to another. In my sadness I picked out one souvenir of New York, something so I would never forget where I came from: The softcover edition of “The Films of John Garfield.” Then we met outside where we waved to each other goodbye as Jan descended into the NYC subway clad in a jacket over an “India” blouse and blue jeans which was about her signature look during the time I knew her. I turned and hurried back home-“West” on Fifty Seventh Street to our apartment building, “The Henry Hudson Hotel.” I would see the last of my sunsets over New Jersey.
When my mother and her husband arrived to live in NYC permanently in 1955, just ahead of them, having made the move a year or two before, was their fellow dancer friend from Charleston, WV Doris Rose. Doris had been in the Helen Cox Schrader dance troupe with Bill and Johanna and had been a part of an adagio team herself. A former strong man bodybuilder who was not too much of a dancer was her partner, hoisting her high in the air. Doris was a beautiful girl of French and Indian extraction who was from up the “Coal River” in WV. One time the entire Schrader troupe had performed a piece called “Jungle Drums” and everyone had worn leopard print outfits. They dubbed Doris “The Wild Woman of Coal River” with her dark snappy eyes and dark hair. Doris was a wonderful dancer but unfortunately had an early start to a problem with her hearing that grew gradually worse over the years.
By the time Bill and Johanna arrived to NYC, Doris was pursuing a modeling career and was dating an Englishman named Michael. They all had a joyous re-union and then oft were off to see “the sights” together like Broadway, museums and “The Cloisters.” Unfortunately, Doris, despite her great beauty and figure, was a trifle short for “high fashion” modeling which even then was a bit reserved for fairly tall women and Doris was more “medium” height. She did model on some “Detective” magazines as the glamorous woman in peril screaming at an unseen “assailant” (Doris herself was “assailed” one time when a strange man ran up behind her coming up out of the subway but managed to get away-like many women of West Virginia, she was not only beautiful but strong).
Not too long after Bill and Johanna moved to NYC as their permanent residence, Doris met lawyer John Gallione and married him. She still had creative pursuits and interests but was now mostly “settled down” and together they had three daughters: Gail, Jan, and Joy. Gail had an interest in the “performing arts” and Jan had an interest in the “visual arts” primarily.
I remember getting to know my mother’s old dance friend Doris during my childhood. She was still married to John and still living in the East Village. Doris was a very spiritual person at that time having gotten heavily into “yoga” and going to “Ashram Retreats” in the mountains. In fact it was Dori Gallione that had introduced us to a new sensation called frozen yogurt (at least it was new to us!). We used to meet for lunch all over town, have a cottage cheese and fruit plate at one of the department store cafes like “Bergdorf Goodman” or “Gimbels,” and of course there were trips to “The Village” to a “Vegetarian Fast Food” joint. Dori in fact would have been a vegetarian like the “Yogis” recommended if it weren’t for her hubby I recall her telling us. All the yoga and her past dance experience gave Dori her slim and strong physique which was often in a jumpsuit with a drape over top like something out of “Halston’s” latest collection. She was always stunning and tan and healthy looking for her age.
Jan had just finished “The High School of Art and Design” and had a few years under her belt at “Fashion Institute of Technology” when she decided to take belly dance classes from my mother Johanna and I when we were living at “The Henry Hudson Hotel.” This was a truly fun time because we had been holding classes on the 24th floor roof when the weather permitted-and sometimes when not! I can remember my “earth mother” Johanna getting excited by impending storms and continuing to dance on the roof terrace even as the skies darkened, the wind whipped, and the rain came tumbling down. Then, with great exuberance she would finally return inside the hotel hallway laughing for joy.
Jan was a true delight from the minute she showed up at our studio apartment there at the “Henry Hudson.” As I said, Jan liked “India print” cottons, and also wore sandals a lot. This was a divine period in NYC history when you could buy neat things from street vendors like colorful “wrap skirts” from India and “Mary Janes” and “Annie Hall” shoes from China. The city had a special vibe at this time, even though in reality, the city was just not the same glorious city that old friends Doris, Johanna, and Bill had moved to in the 1950’s. Back then, New York was overall very safe, and very classy. Jan and I were growing up in an era that was to be known as very “dicey.”
I was mature for my age at about twelve so Jan almost felt like a “peer” and treated me more like one. When she wasn’t at our apartment or on the roof taking lessons, she and I would sometimes meet up and go to cultural events when my mother was too busy with her other work to go. I remember one time Jan and I went to support the new “Alpar Center” in Manhattan opened by Farhat and Alexandria Alpar and Ozel Turkbas. It was a special show of Northern Indian dances by Najma Ayashah. Najma was a striking and beautiful performer, filled with incredible grace. One of her dances represented the Northern Indian “Gypsy” and she used a tambourine. Her outfit, if I recall correctly had white, hot pink, and green throughout. She wore a head veil.
I have a funny memory of running into Jan at the “Carnegie Hall Cinema” where I was a member. She was on a date with someone and we cried out to each other before the lights went down and the movie “Arthur” with Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli began. I remember that the movie was turned up too loud and that, coupled with his accent, I could not understand hardly one word Dudley Moore uttered as the drunken millionaire!
Another time I remember Jan’s excitement at the impending “Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Concert” which she and her friends were going to attend in Central Park and that I was disappointed when I could not really “invite” myself to this historic event. (My mother and I had attended many free performances of the Metropolitan Opera in “The Sheep Meadow” and I wondered why this would be any different.) This was the one time that our age difference seemed to matter. While I was good friends with Jan, and my mother and I were both mentoring her belly dance journey, I was still too young to run around at night with Jan and her friends from the Fashion Institute of Technology). I would not see the famous concert until PBS aired it about 20 years later!
Belly dancing was getting to be a sparse affair at that time in New York since “Greektown” on 8th Avenue had shut down completely leaving only a couple of places in a few spots around the city’s boroughs to perform. Jan had gotten me a modeling gig for her and fellow “Art Students League Students.” I posed in my red bugle beaded costume and some of the artists had showings in SoHo that included the painting of me. It was interesting to see how different artists perceived me.
Jan and her graduating class also held a Middle Eastern Fashion Show and Performance with my mother Johanna and I at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Jan took some striking black and white photos of me in costume.
After months on and off of private tutoring Jan in the art of belly dance it would come to pass that I would never see her again. The sad day she brought me money and went down into the subway was the last time we would ever see each other.
Actually, Jan’s generosity, and her mother’s as well, was nothing new. West Virginia folk are used to sharing “hand me downs” as they know kids grow “like weeds” and it’s hard to keep up with the demand. When Jan brought me clothes from she and her two sisters one time I was so excited I could barely contain myself. They were beautiful! One dress I dubbed my “Leslie Caron Dress.” I loved old movies and had loved the dancer Leslie Caron’s films including my favorite “Daddy Long Legs” with Fred Astaire. The dress Jan gave me was white with a halter neck and had a matching bolero jacket. All over the dress were little pastel embroidered flowers. The skirt was full and straight out of the 1950’s. I wore it with one of my hats and a pair of vintage glove when I used to go to Fifth Avenue to “window shop” and pretend to be a “grand lady” of yesterday.
After moving to West Virginia to be near my grandmother, I wrote a letter to Jan. Several months later I received a reply in the form of a postcard from where she was staying in England to further her studies. She mentioned how glad she was we had gotten to dance together.
My mother attempted to reach out to Doris a few times years later and was not sure why she did not get a response except that Doris was extremely hard of hearing.
The real reason my mother could not reach Doris would not be explained for many, many years.
In the era of “Facebook” it’s sometimes hard to remember that there was a time when people lost touch-perhaps because of moving around the U.S.A. or perhaps even further afield. Trying to find people if their phone was “unlisted” was nearly impossible, or if you didn’t know what city they were in, etc. Between my mother and I being in show business and taking off for new cities within just a few years of being in Charleston and Jan being an artist-the inevitable happened. I did think of Jan on and off through the years and wondered if our paths would ever cross again.
After the “age of the internet” I found out firsthand the “miraculous” re-unions that could occur thanks to this technology. I found a “half-sister” through my father that I did not even know existed. Sadly, she had been put up for adoption by a grief stricken woman with a “shamed” family who insisted she give her child away and years later, initially had her files opened for “medical reasons.” Since my sister Renee’ was also fascinated with knowing her real identity she had pursued more info through the years culminating in a post on a mutual friend’s “guest book” (a musician who knew my father) and I saw her post there while looking for something else entirely. Since she said who her father was I contacted her immediately. After e:mails and calling each other for a year, we finally met.
We had three joyous “in-person” meetings until one week I noticed she did not answer my e:mails as quickly as she usually did. Then, about a week later, her fiance’ Terry called me and said that they had been in a car wreck and that he had survived but Renee’ had been killed. He told me she was the “love” of his “life” and that he figured he “get over it one day” but didn’t know “when.” He said that the accident occurred because she had wanted more tropical fish for her aquarium and that he had tried to tell her they should stay home, but she insisted, and that on the way back they had hit “black ice.” He told me, “I thought you should know.”
I contacted her adopted family and they were understandably upset. The fact that Terry and my sister had engaged now and then in some serious arguments fueled their suspicion of him and his role in her death. While I was not there I honestly believed it was an “accident”-he had seemed to love her very much when they had visited, so I prayed for everyone concerned and my mother and I started on a very dark period of grief over the loss of this half sister of mine who was in my life for just a short time (2006-2008) but was indeed a “gift.”
As for Jan Gallione, I looked for even a trace of her on the internet now that it was taking off as a “people finder.” Strangely enough, I was not finding anything and perhaps was not savvy enough as a “researcher” to think of “googling” names of her known relatives.
After starting this magazine in April of 2016 I became interested once more in finding the truth about Jan’s whereabouts because I was featuring an “Artist of the Month” now and then and was hoping to feature her as “thanks” for the past kindness she had shown myself and my late mother who passed away in 2012. One initial clue disturbed me: I found the “New York Times” obituary of her father John Gallione in 2000, but when it listed his family “survivors” she was not among them. She was referred to as “the late Jan Gallione.” I was completely floored- knowing she was not that old-wondered if it had been that horrendous taker of female lives “Breast Cancer”-not a clue-and could find no mention of what was responsible for her death.
Heartbroken, I set about finding out what happened to my friend. By now there were some more clues available. One notice posted with a couple of her paintings stated that she had been “A wonderful artist who was winning awards, showing in very prominent galleries, and invited to important artist residencies. She had an exciting and promising future as an artist which unfortunately did not get to play out with her untimely death at age 34.”
It also mentioned that her work had been shown at the Fendrick Gallery in NYC (records at the Smithsonian Museum of Art) and that she had residencies at Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, The Millay Colony for the Arts Awards, National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition (1985), and that she was the winner of the “Julius Hallgarten Prize for a painting done in the United States by an American Artist under 35 years of age.”
Digging deeper, I found a list of her fellow graduates at “UC Davis” where she had received her “Master of Fine Arts” in 1989, several years after I last laid eyes on her. In fact, I still did not know, when and how she passed. I made a few connections with some of her former classmates. Shelby Harris, still an artist today, said he remembered Jan as “A lively girl!” and that she had married a visiting professor named Adrian Frost (This info fit in with why I saw a mention of both Jan and Frost listed together on works that are archived by “The Smithsonian Institution.”) Shelby Harris told me she died in a car accident but did not know exactly where. Another classmate, artist April Funcke, encouraged me to continue my search and her note also explained to me that Jan and her husband, the artist Adrian Frost, had been in a car accident together and that Jan had perished while her husband survived. She told me to be sure that when I found him, to “Tell Adrian that April said hello.”
This stunning bit of information hit me like a bolt. It resonated completely with me because of what happened to my sister and Terry. I immediately felt a kinship with Adrian Frost. I felt I had an understanding of what it had been like for him to have been “the one who survived.”
I familiarized myself now with Mr. Frost and his work, watching a 2012 performance of his “Memphis Blues” presentation that is on “YouTube.” I also found a wonderful clip called “More Memphis Blues” that featured a wonderful modern dancer Tamara Jonason interpreting “physically” Frost’s art and poetry. I also saw a clip of Adrian interacting with the art loving public at a Eureka Springs Art colony in another YouTube clip. “The Memphis Blues” series is one of Frost’s odes to the “Heartland” of America-a journey I would eventually find out that had once included my lost friend Jan. Quotes from “Old Man River” intersperse with song and his own original poetry. Adrian Frost is actually a “performance artist”-a phenomena that often includes music, spoken word, dance, and visual art.
Struck immediately by the handsomeness of Mr. Frost, an Englishman for sure, yet with a touch perhaps of the “English Gypsy,” the type of Englishman that have the heavy, “Tyrone Poweresque” eyebrows that smack of the “Black Irish”-the eyebrows Liz Taylor got from her father-they hint at romances of “ladies” with “traveling” men or perhaps even those Spaniard invaders of the 1600’s. No matter, I could understand my Jan’s fascination with this unique and talented person.
Knowing what happened to Adrian and Jan though, I found myself holding back from contacting him. I was overwhelmed with the similarity to what had happened to my sister. I was waiting for a “right time” when I felt I could say something to him that would not hurt him somehow. I had a bit of fear of hurting this man-thinking I was ripping off the band aid or scab that had formed to get him through the rest of his life. I truly had to think it through. Then one day, after a few months, I decided to make the connection.
Mr. Frost turned out to be a delight. He was actually thrilled to hear from me and the apprehension that had vexed me was for naught. Through subsequent e-mails from him I was able to fill in some blanks about Jan’s life after our parting on 57th Street. Jan had followed up on her interest in belly dancing with actually going to live with “Bedouins” in the desert. In other words, she had traveled the world. Jan had met and married Adrian while at “UC Davis” and they had embarked on an interesting but sometimes hardship filled life together as they were not oft in one spot too long either due to the nature of Frost’s residencies at various schools around the country.
I was also thrilled to find out that my “Cherokee Sister” Jan had actually gone back to her roots and involved herself in the preservation of Indian Burial Mounds ( The Ho-Chunk Nation and their famous “Effigy Mounds” in Wisconsin) and had been on “Vision Quests.” I had remembered that her mother “Dori” was Cherokee like my own mother and it seemed apropos that she would become taken with “Native American” concerns long after leaving the “Big Apple” behind. Ironically, my mother and I were on a spiritual trip to the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina along about the time Jan was in nearby Asheville according to resumes and “itinery” Frost sent me and we didn’t know it.
I was a late comer to the film “Fame” which was a sensation around the time I was around Jan the most. I only just saw it for the first time in the last few years. The song “The Body Electric” from that film brought tears to my eyes and even though Jan had graduated from the “High School of Art and Design” and not the “High School of the Performing Arts” (I believe her sister Gail did though) the movie and the song took me back to what it was like to be in New York City when art could still thrive and the city was still mostly an affordable place to live. I felt that Jan’s had indeed been “The Body Electric”-that woman that Walt Whitman sang the praises of in “Leaves of Grass.” “The Body Electric “as a term has also been borrowed by author Ray Bradbury.
Jan Gallione had initially been a part of the “European School of Art” when I knew her. Adrian Frost, the son of Sir Terry Frost, literally hailed from a family of artists, his brother Anthony also following in their famous father’s footsteps. Sir Terry Frost was a famed “Abstract Expressionist” from England. Adrian’s style is more of a “Post Dada” modern art with strong usage of “collage themes” and written and spoken word. Jan’s graduation piece from “UC Davis,” called “The Labors of Clementine” with a thread of that famous song running throughout, literally “brought the house down” when she performed it. She was embracing a type of art that was very American at this point-in other words-she had “evolved.”
In 1994, Jan Gallione was the same age as my sister at the time of her death and their birthdays were just a few days apart. Both strong willed Aries women they usually did what they wanted to-admirable in many cases and sometimes dangerous in others-they forged their own paths and destinies.
To Adrian, Jan was like a Cherokee Princess, something to adore as if a childhood dream came true. Therefore, when moving to Arizona, and she, “with child,” at the time, asked to turn around and return to Wisconsin and her unfinished projects with the burial mounds, Adrian accepted her request after trying to reason with her about the bad weather failed.
I finally knew the truth about what happened to Jan Gallione. Like my sister, her life ended on a stretch of highway, Jan’s in a snowstorm near Council Bluff’s, Iowa and my Renee’s in Southern Indiana on post “Valentine Day” black ice.
As a child, I would cry uncontrollably when hearing the song “My Darling Clementine.” My mother would say, “But it’s a funny song! It’s not meant to be sad. It’s not real.” Even though my mother tried to point out to me that it was “satire” I would cry out “No it isn’t. Clementine is real! She’s dead Mommy!”
The search for Jan held many spiritual and psychic qualities for me. Even my friend Liza DeCamp, proprietress of “Magnet Queen” in Tennessee, got caught up in the excitement. She did not know Jan but graduated the High School of Art and Design” a few years after Jan did and was able to find her yearbook photos and info for us.
Currently, Adrian Frost is working on an art film series in collaboration with Ada Athorp called “Furies” (a modern day take on ancient Greek heroines). He is proof that the “artist” must continue to seek inspiration and passion on the journey of life.
In fact, as long as there are artists like Adrian, Jan, and of course myself, seeking new inspiration in every day, I know in my heart that the “Body Electric” will never really “die”-but the “soul,” the real “spark,” will live on.
“If Only” – A poem by Aziza Al-Tawil
I wish someone could welcome the morning with me
open my eyes to the sunrise
and help me to “see.”
I’m so afraid of the day without the touch of “love”
The light for me only
and others who are lonely with no other things to speak of.
If only you were here to fill my heart
to lift up my head
from this silent bed
and make this “new day” a “new start.”
In honor of Adrian and Jan:
New Hope Animal Rescue “8th Annual Bowl-A-Thon” Nitro, WV April 2, 2017
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Sunday, April 2nd, was indeed a joyous day for the staff of “Egyptian Chick Magazine.” Thanks to “Town N Country Lanes” in Nitro, WV and Karen Maes for organizing the event. Thanks to Lee and Jerry for playing with us. Billy Jack Watkins, our research assistant, had not been bowling in 30 years but still did us proud! I had not been bowling in about ten years and this was only about my fourth time total doing it! I was also not so bad “considering!” Met a darling “Black and Tan Coon Hound Mix” named “Pugsley.” He was a real sweetheart and I hope he finds a home. Check out the photos from our fun day and if you would like to donate to them please go to this link New Hope Animal Rescue West Virginia Chapter Donation Page
Thanks to the following donors:
D.J. Adams, Marion Cerrato, Kathy Claypool, Ron Kerr, “London Church of God,” June Staats, Kathy at Luna, and several anonymous donors.