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 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.”

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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:

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Serena Wilson

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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