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.

 

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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. 

salt-n-pepa-.jpg

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 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 

iron-sheik-r-kelly (1)

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!”

Pet LED Collars

 

Pet LED Collars from Gemfire Stores. Link to store below. 

 

“Geeky Gadgets and What Not – Gifts for Anyone on Your List”

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.

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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!”

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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) 

Rock the Casbah

 

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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.

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“Lady Popular”: a Fun Game from Bulgaria

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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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.

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Gifts from Cathy

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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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.

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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.”

Egyptian Chick Magazine April 2017

Egyptian Chick Cover april 2017 Jan.jpg

“SINGERAMA” ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO SINGING

Letter from the Editor:

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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”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

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“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.

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My mother Johanna and her Friend Doris Rose-“Jungle Drums” number, late 1940’s Charleston, WV

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.

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Doris posed for her daughter Jan Gallione for this colorful painting.

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.

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Najmah Ayashah, Indian Dancer

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.

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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.

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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.”

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Invitation to Jan Gallione’s Graduation Piece from UC Davis 1989

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.

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Artist Adrian Frost, 2017

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.

Jan with a Snake

Photograph of Jan Beaver Gallione with a snake. The photograph here is part of a collage tribute by Adrian Frost to his late wife.

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!”

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Portion of a poem Adrian Frost wrote for his late wife Jan Gallione.

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.

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Greek Belly Dance Music

Greek Belly Dance Music from Old Records

“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.”

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In honor of Adrian and Jan:

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Sir Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in “Wuthering Heights” 1939 Charcoal Pencil Sketch by Aziza Al-Tawil.

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Learn Dabke Line Dance with “Dabke 101”

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

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Connie Robertson is enjoying a cuddle with “Pugsley.”

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The crowd was getting geared up to help animals at “Town N Country Lanes” Nitro, WV.

 

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Billy Jack Watkins feeling satisfied with his game.

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Your Editor, Aziza Al-Tawil, having a blast with the new purple tee shirt.

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The pretty gift baskets in the “Raffle.”

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Your editor, Aziza Al-Tawil, enjoying the heck out of “Pugsley.”

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The crowd at “Town N Country Lanes” in Nitro, WV are showing their best for the “New Hope Animal Rescue 8th Annual Bowl-a-Thon.”

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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.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Your editor, Aziza Al-Tawil, satisfied and happy at the “New Hope Animal Rescue Bowl-a-Thon” at “Town N Country Lanes,” Nitro, WV

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IT’S ONLY A FEW MINUTES LONG BUT IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE

Turkish Cat Scene

Turkish Cat Scene courtesy of Adrian Frost

Egyptian Chick Magazine February 2017

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Moon River”: Memories of Nejma and Her Crochet Costume, Toronto 1962

By Aziza Al-Tawil

My mother had very fond memories of performing in Toronto, Canada in the Summer of 1962. She remembered the timing well because she had only been belly dancing since the previous Winter, and the Henry Mancini theme song to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” could be heard almost any time of day on radio stations up there. Many nights, putting on make-up in the dressing room and getting her costume on was accompanied by the refrain “Moon River wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style some day…”

Also, appearing with Johanna at the Westover Hotel was an amiable and memorable dancer named Nejma who shared the bill with her. It used to be the custom that performers in show business exchanged publicity photos when they worked together. This time was no different but was made even more special by the fact that my mother got three amazing shots of Nejma in a truly exotic and fabulous costume that was primarily crochet. My mother Johanna said the costume was Turkish made but whether it has the crochet beading on it I cannot see from the photos. That is an entire technique in itself, but either way the costume is brilliant.

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Nejma Belly Dancer 1960’s

Her chosen photographer for “publicity” appears to be a “Gary Amo” of Detroit.

 

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Nejma Belly Dancer 1960’s

Sam Wagman of the “Toronto Merry Go Round called the girls “the two sparkling new authentic dancers” at “The Westover Hotel” which was being managed by a guy named Joe Gollub. Nejma was called “Queen of the Harem” and Johanna was called “Petite Johanna-the Darling of the East.

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Belly Dancer Mystery of the Month

by Aziza Al-Tawil

Thanks to my fiancé’ Billy Jack Watkins finding it on “YouTube” I got to see a mystery belly dancer in the opening credits of the 1974 William Shatner flick “Impulse.” The music was divine, very Anatolian, and the dancer was in a nightclub that seemed to have a multi-tier seating arrangement. I investigated the film further and found out it was primarily filmed around Tampa, FL and the nightclub scene was at “Bartke’s Dinner Theater” on S.R. 60 so not sure if some dancers from that area at this time in history might recognize the place. The dancer is listed on IMDB as Paula Dimitrouleas and sadly this is the only credit listed for her. Would be curious to know if she worked mostly in belly dancing and whatever happened to her. By the way, despite some naysayers, I believe the role of a very mentally deranged killer who had a traumatic experience as a child is one of Shatner’s greatest acting performances. Check  it out.

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Paula Dimitrouleas in “Impulse,”1974

Gift Basket Deal – Valentine’s Day

Dabke Around the World: Same Dance-Different Variations

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Never forget the time I was playing the flute and my mother was drumming at an outdoor festival in Charleston, WV and a bunch of people started doing Dabke together. Or, I should say, were “trying” to do Dabke line dance together. The fact of the matter is, just like the teacher here mentions, they were from different countries and therefore had different ways of doing it. At one point all these young people stopped and laughed and asked each other what their respective countries of origin are. The answers varied from Iraq to Syria to Jordan to Saudi Arabia. It was quite interesting. They laughed about their differences but never really got the dance together. (My father and mother actually used to do a very old style Syrian Dabke you don’t see much any more). The teacher here seems very experienced and you can probably learn a lot from Dabke 101:Learn How to Dance Dabke.

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Fairouz Record

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Vintage Postcard

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A Warning Letter:

Subject:
Water-toxoid syndrome.. find out if you’re infected..
Revealing this dirty little secret since WWI
Are you slowly being poisoned?

Body:

Hi there,

There’s a deadly pandemic that’s completely rampant right now, and if you wash your clothes with detergent.. you’re likely affected.

If you care about your family, your children, and your longevity please drop what you’re doing right now and watch this video..

=> It’s Only A Few Minutes Long, But It May Save Your Life:

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We’re very happy to announce that Dr. Artsvi Bakhchinyan and the State Museum of Lit and Art has published their book “Armenians in World Choreography” and has included our “Editor-In-Chief” Aziza Al-Tawil among the top performer/choreographers in the Middle Eastern Dance field who hail from Armenian blood. More details soon about where you can get a copy that includes the bios of famous dancers from many genres including ballet and modern. Aziza is proud to be included with other dancers in history of the likes of Tamara Toumanova, Leon Danielian, and others.

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 Chick Mag-Vintage Belly Dance Photos On EBay, January Break

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Johanna by Martha Swope Early 1960’s

Hi friends! The weather is lousy and after the frenzy of the “Holidays” it’s time to take a break from our regular issue. That will resume in February with some articles worth waiting for. Right now, the only way I can think of to beat the “Winter Blues” is to stay inside with a robe on and look at “EBay” and work on my costumes for Spring performances. With that in mind please check out the sale of Johanna and her “Oasis Ballet” company original publicity photos-all that’s left from the original printings in the 1960’s. These were when they developed negatives in a darkroom and of course these have a beautiful glossiness to them you don’t see much of any more. The above shot was Maria Stevens favorite photo of Johanna. She left the photo of Johanna (taken by theatre photography legend Martha Swope) up in her NYC club “The Arabian Nights” until it shuttered it’s doors.

I’m only selling photos that I’m able to keep a few of as souvenirs. These photos were kept in a safe place and are in wonderful condition with no signs of wear. They are not from an agent’s file, etc., therefore they were not rifled through over the years. (Some of the other photogs represented in this collection are Kriegsmann, Jack Mitchell (“Dance Magazine”), and Diaz, NYC. There are also some Flamenco and Adagio photos going up soon). The link to the sale is below and will help this magazine expand and continue and possibly help fund some other creative projects. If you like the magazine so far, please consider buying one of these great shots. I have over 20 listings. Here is the link : Vintage Belly Dancer Johanna Original Photos on Ebay.

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2016

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Advertising Disclosure

Letter from the Editor:

After an exhausting election season with the “DAPL” tragedies playing out in the background it is hard to fathom we are coming upon a season of great peace and hope, yet we are, and I for one am ready for a few moments “Peace.” This month’s issue recalls some interesting people I met just a couple of weeks ago and attempts to reveal at least a little about their spiritual movement based on the teachings and practices of ancient Egyptians. As a small child in the 1970’s I recall the first post “Civil Rights” era “Back to Africa” movement and to think of that sort of spirit returning to the African diaspora again was quite compelling to me.

As a dancer, singer, and actress, I find great comfort in “making a joyful noise.” With that in mind, I wish our Jewish friends a “Happy Chanukah” and share some images of “Miriam” from the art world. A story about “Miriam” might have been better suited to “Passover” but I felt like putting her dancing shoes on anyway!

Some shopping segments include “Egyptian Glass” Christmas ornaments, African fashions, and gift baskets for friends overseas and domestically.

I also want to wish everyone a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year. May 2017 be more peaceful for all of us.

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“It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”- A Visit to the Earth Center Proves the Adage

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Khefisah Nejeser and Kasabez Maakmaah.

One day last Summer, while picking up a pizza, I was very intrigued by a brochure and a newspaper I picked up touting the Charleston, WV branch of the “The Earth Center: For Promoting and Preserving the Kem Culture.” Seeing  how the theme of the materials were based on Ancient Egypt I was immediately fascinated even though I had never heard of this group before. Charleston, WV has always been a unique city and really, despite alternating periods of “boom and stagnation” it’s always seemed to retain some level of the “eclectic.” So, in some ways, I was not shocked that something like “The Earth Center” was here.  I said to myself, “I’ve got to meet these people and do a story on them!” Well, even though it took me several months to get around to it, I finally got the chance and attended a lecture on Ancient Egyptian Spirituality. The lecture was to be presented by Kasabez Maakmaah, a healer and teacher who came here from the Chicago location.

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From Left to Right, Dre Pitts, Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez, and D’Oud Herman.

Upon arriving at the center we were greeted with great “old world” hospitality by Khefisah Nejeser, a recent graduate, and by Zaqhau, the very first person to graduate from the Charleston, WV location which has been here five years. Zaqhau, the true embodiment of a village elder and wise man told us to remove our shoes and politely hung up our coats with a warm yet serene smile. He wore a long white caftan and as more of the participants showed up all the more lovely African outfits were to be seen. As far as the center, coming here brought me back a little to the times I used to go to the Hare Krishna temple in Boston for Sunday chanting and vegetarian dinner. Even though most of my life I have considered myself an “Orthodox Christian,” I have always been interested in what other people believe and what shapes their spiritual lives.

Essentially, The Earth Center organization consists of three parts, “M’Tam” which are the “schools,” “Firefly Publications,” and “Ankhasta Herbs.” After a fun and witty opening about how everyone one was feeling after the recent “election,” Kasabez began his lecture with some sobering remarks about how mankind has really always had to deal with varying degrees of unpleasantness. It was explained to us that the spiritual path that is learned and followed through The Earth Center was Ancient Egyptian religion that was taken with people to other parts of Africa and survived, namely West Africa and Burkina Faso. The Dogon Civilization took the ancient Egyptian spirituality and way of life with them to West Africa around the time of Persian conquest around 400 BC. As the old ways died out in Egypt, they took on a new life in another part of Africa.

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Khefisah Nejeser and Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera

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Menzeba Hasati, baby Nama Ramez, Zaqhau, Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera.

The calendar still used in the culture is the “Sidereal” calendar and weeks are seen as “Decans”-I pointed out that it was the same in “Astrology.” In fact it was pointed out that these ancient Egyptians used “Astrology” for finding favorable times for planting, getting married, etc. November is Scorpio and indeed is presided over by the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Scorpions “Sekhet.” “The Earth Center” was first founded in Burkina Faso by Master  Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig and was part of a renaissance of African culture during the time of their fight for independence (At that time the country was known as “Upper Volta”). Of course the religion is “polytheistic” in nature and has elements of ancestor worship or “respect” like “Shinto” does. The movement came to the United States in 1996.

I asked a few of the people there what first drew them to the movement. For Zaqhau,  a professor of English and Philosophy speaking six languages,  who came to Charleston 30 years ago, it was because he missed the “Traditions” of his native Cameroon. For Khefisah: ” Zaqhau was my favorite professor at State. One day he showed up on my FaceBook and invited me to an event at the Earth Center. I had always been interested in Kemetic culture (of course then it was just Egyptian to me) so when I came I knew immediately I was where I belonged!” Another, D’Oud Herman, found that after 30 years of being a Muslim he was not entirely comfortable with race relations in the religion and began to seek out something else. He found what he was looking for spiritually in The Earth Center. Menzeba Hasati loves to cook traditional African foods and is their resident expert now.

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Zaqhau, D’Oud Herman, and Menzeba Hasati photo by Billy Jack Watkins.

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Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez.

I enjoyed the afternoon with these very hospitable folks and anyone interested in learning more about them and their community projects around the world can visit their site here at  http://theearthcenter.org/

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“Make a Joyful Noise!”

by Aziza Al-Tawil

In celebration of Hannukah we highlight a woman from Judaism that celebrated a great triumph by making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord-Miriam and friends with their “timbrals” and tambourines: “So Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbral in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrals and with dances.” Even though this story has more to do with “Passover” I couldn’t resist a story of women dancing!

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Tomic Psalter, Bulgaria Circa 1360, tempura on paper, The State Historical Museum, Moscow 

 

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Miriam’s Song Unknown


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Anselm Feurbach, “Miriam with Tambourine.”

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Marc Chagall, “Miriam and Dancers,” 1958

 

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Miriam, Unknown Illustration

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Richard Andre, London 1884, “The Coloured Picture Bible for Children.”

 

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Chludov Psalter Mid 9th Century Miriam Dance

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Egyptian Christmas Ornaments: Display Your Passion

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Some wonderful Egyptian glass ornaments are available through Amazon. Why not share your passion for the “eclectic” during this wonderful season. Photos will link you to their deals on items shown.




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African Fashions for the Whole Family

By Aziza Al-Tawil




Click on photos for clothing details and prices at Amazon. 

Gypsy Christmas: Some Vintage Images

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Children’s Book about Gypsy Caravan and Christmas.

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Irish Gypsy Christmas Art

Turn the World Into Your Office

Friends Overseas? How About Gift Baskets to Spread Some Holiday Cheer?

By Aziza Al-Tawil

If you are like many belly dancers who are into taking seminars with name dancers and musicians then you may be one who has made a ton of friends on your travels around the world. Thanking friends or people who have taught or inspired you may prove challenging at such distances-so why not a “gift basket” to say you are thinking of them long after the show is over?

Congratulate them with Champagne! Or even send a “Lego Toy” with a gift to the delight of a child or “the young at heart.” Even a lovely Poinsettia! “Gift Baskets Overseas” ships to over 140 countries worldwide.

Also available for our friends that celebrate “Chanukah” there are themed gifts including “Kosher.” All this and so much more (Like Holiday Specials!) at “Gift Baskets Overseas.”

Stumped about gift giving for the men in your life? If it is to be shipped domestically then “The Bro Basket” may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Just how many of us gals could put together “The Golfer’s Delight” basket without a little help?

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Info on how to donate or advertise to keep “Egyptian Chick Magazine” afloat please contact the “Editor in Chief” Aziza Al-Tawil at azizaaltawil@gmail.com for further info.

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine November 2016

 

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Letter from the Editor:

Well, the last few months have been a “roller coaster.” This magazine endorsed Bernie Sanders and his progressive ideas for the Presidency of the United States. Since then, nothing positive has come to light about the way he was treated, yet, we’ve had to move on for fear of even worse. The disaster of the “Standing Rock” protests at the reservation that straddles North and South Dakota give us pause and make us realize that now is a ripe time for a resurgence of “The American Indian Movement.” (As of today at least 2 policeman have turned in their badges telling their bosses that this was not what they “signed up for”). I could not help but think as I watched this incident “unfold” over the last few weeks what the iconic Tom Laughlin would be thinking about now. Truth is, if “Billy Jack” had not died in 2013 at the age of 82, chances are,  if he had any strength left at all he would be with them. Delores too. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, representing the “old guard” of “activism”  did make it there on a horse and was greeted by actor Mark Ruffalo.

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Tom Laughlin as the iconic Indian hero “Billy Jack.”

The crisis goes on beyond damage to “Native” artifacts, in fact it threatens the very water people drink. (Coming on the heels of all of this is the  ridiculous verdict that the perpetrators of the armed “takeover” of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are innocent. In other words, if they were a First Nations people or black they would have never made it to trial, they would be dead). Also, it has not been but a couple of years since those of us with a heart were horrified at the cruel treatment of “Baby Veronica” and her Cherokee military vet father Dusten Brown. It seems to be “open season” once more on native rights.

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Delores and Tom in later years.

Another hero of mine that stirred the pot of “Activism” in my heart was Tom Hayden, and hearing of his death several days ago brought back memories of reading his autobiography “Re-Union” when it came out. Tom Hayden was another champion  of “Civil Rights” whose bravery took him into dangerous places in the 1960’s South where some did not return “alive” as well as the protests at the tumultuous Democratic Convention of 1968. In fact, our Bernie Sanders saga was similar to the “fractious” 1968 Democratic Party divisions when 80 percent of primary voters had voted for “Anti-War” candidates yet delegates crushed the “Peace Plank” of the “Platform” resulting in the “shut-out” of Senator Eugene McCarthy.

 

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The late activist Tom Hayden when his “memoir” “Re-Union” was published.

Discovering heroes like Tom Hayden and even Ceasar Chavez and Martin Sheen was sort of a part of the 1960’s nostalgia that started up around the late 1980’s. The twenty and thirty year mark of some important achievements were coming up around that time and it was actually a time to reflect-on what went “right”- and what went “wrong” with our “idealism.”

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Tom Hayden and then wife Jane Fonda, whom my mother Johanna met when Jane was still married to Roger Vadim and they came to Greektown, NYC to see her dance.

I do know that if Tom Laughlin and Tom Hayden were brought to life and made young again, they’d be right there on the front lines of “Standing Rock.” In their spirit “Egyptian Chick Magazine” “Stands with Standing Rock!”

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Belly dancer with snake scene that had to be cut from “Billy Jack Goes to Washington” because they had to cut hundreds of minutes from the film.

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Gifts from Eleni

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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I was thrilled to meet with my former dance pupil and longtime friend Eleni upon her return from a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. My mother Johanna and I had trained Eleni when I was a child during the heyday of belly dance and we re-connected a few years ago when I returned to Charleston, WV to live while a film I’m in was being shot here. Eleni had reminisced about while in NYC several years ago she managed to snag a private class with Serena, my mother’s old pal from her years at the “Egyptian Gardens.” They had a great time and Serena complimented Eleni’s skill at dance as learned from Johanna, etc. Eleni was therefore touched to hear of Serena’s death not long after the private lesson.

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When we first met Ellen she had gone out into the world at college age to experience new things. Her adventures saw her from everywhere from a dairy farm in Virginia to cocktail waitressing in New Orleans. She remembers the first time she decided to look into belly dance classes, “I saw an article in Cosmopolitan about it and said, wow that looks like fun-I want to do that!” She reminisced with me about a lot of different things that Johanna shared with her in conversation. Even that “Arab men think a woman looks sexy in black.” I can remember working a Greek Church function with “Eleni” when I was a child and she was excited to report to my mother that I had shown her how to get tips. Ellen’s parents were nice too-having us to dinner one time-I remember her mother gave me a long string of pearls like flappers wore. I even danced the “Charleston” wearing them when we did jazz dancing with the “Strawhatters” Dixieland Band.

Back then Eleni had a boyfriend that dabbled in drumming and they had spent time on an “Ashram” at one point. One time Ellen and Michael met us at the Charleston, WV Amtrak Station. They were floored that my mother had “14 suitcases and a baby.” I might have been seven on that trip back but I was still considered a “baby!” By the time we returned to Charleston again when I was a teen, Ellen, who had become a registered nurse, had married a young, local lawyer who shared her passion for championing “rights.”

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So when I heard that Eleni was headed for NYC this last time, I told her about the Serena Museum at “Showplace” gallery in Chelsea. Eleni stayed in Astoria, Queens but made sure to go over to Manhattan to catch the exhibit. Even though she went on a weekday when the exhibit is only viewable from windows, she still said it was a marvelous experience. She enjoyed the exhibit so much that she was kind enough to bring me some souvenirs and gifts. She brought me pamphlets and cards from the Serena Exhibit and to my delight a stunning, vintage, “Art Deco” style mesh choker with onyx accents, and also a delightful and educational postcard from the “Ellis Island” museum. This is how thoughtful “Eleni” is and has always been. Just knowing her is a “gift in it’s own right.”

“Virtual Phone System”

Shelley “Yasmela” Muzzy – Founder of “Bou-Saada Troupe”- Passes Away

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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Yasmela in her first “Publicity Photo,” Early 1970s.

I had the pleasure of knowing Shelley Muzzy on Facebook through a now defunct group “1970s Belly Dance.” Shelly fought a long hard battle with Ovarian Cancer and it was inspirational to see her continue her love of life and colorful things in the world for as long as she was able. She was the founder of the “Bou-Saada” dance company along with fellow dancer “Cassima” that toured the Pacific Northwest, Western states and Canada in a bus living a very enviable carefree and artistic lifestyle that looking back seems the epitome of the “Hippie Era.”

In fact before moving to Bellingham, Washington she was in San Francisco studying from Jamila Salimpour and then performing in Nakish’s dance company. In recent years I know that Shelly went on a few pilgrimages to favorite places in the world including not just foreign countries but the old “Haight Ashbury District” of San Francisco. After retiring from dancing in 1990, she kept up in her later years her love of exotic textiles, jewelry, and beads running the “Bijoux Trading Company” on Etsy and I enjoyed talking with her a time or two about ethnic beads, etc.

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Silk Uzbek dress Circa Early 1900’s, Bijoux Trading Company on Etsy

Her dance instructors included Jamila Salimpour, Nakish, Rhea, Aisha Ali, and Mardi Rollow of “Aman Folk Ensemble.” She was a contributor to Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah’s groundbreaking magazine “Arabesque” in the 1970’s/1980s and was also a staff writer for the original “Habibi” Magazine.

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Turkish Silk and Cotton “Kutnu” fabric from the Bijoux Trading Company.

Since their marriage in the 1970s, Shelly had the love and support of the man she called “Mr. Muzzy,” a fellow with an interesting background himself having appeared in some of the “Our Gang Comedies” as a child.

You can learn more about “Yasmela” and reference her articles at this page of “The Gilded Serpent” magazine website.

I know many people are already missing this special woman.

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“Vintage Belly Dancers” for November:

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Belly Dancer Circa 1905

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Belly Dancer in Turkish style garb.

 

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Djemile Fatme, Folies Bergere Program 1913

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Aziza Al-Tawil and Billy Jack Watkins Halloween Short film “Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia” has arrived on “YouTube.” If you like Mel Brooks, Monty Python and Hammer films you will love this little film. It is a sequel to last year’s “Dark Gathering”.

“Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Richard Branson Practiced This”

 

“Countess Dracula”: Gypsies and Belly Dancers

Egyptian Chick Magazine “Halloween Supplement” October 28th, 2016

“Countess Dracula”: Gypsies and Belly Dancers

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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The Gypsy Dancers from Hammer’s 1971 flick “Countess Dracula”: Lesley Anderson, Biddy Hearne, Diana Sawday, and Nike Arrighi.

Had the great fortune to see the fantastic performance of horror legend Ingrid Pitt in Hammer’s “Countess Dracula” (1971) a couple of weeks ago on the CometTV channel.

Her performance as the despicably selfish Elizabeth Bathory of Hungarian history was so brilliant I actually applauded in my living room at the conclusion of the film. Indeed, the whole cast was excellent and I consider it to be one of Hammer Film’s best. The version I saw, while a bit bloody, was truly not as graphic as it could have been and in a way the story benefitted from that rather than was depleted somehow. I do believe CometTV may have edited out a scene or two, but the overall film was sensational anyway-nothing seemed missing from the narrative.

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Hulya Babus, the dancer in the Café “Countess Dracula” (1971)

The dancing in the film was interesting and was a nice addition to a film already lush with period costuming evoking Medieval Transylvania where they moved the locale from Hungary to fit more into the “Vlad the Impaler”/Dracula connection. The dancer in the café, Hulya Babus, wears a charming costuming with a pillbox hat. This costume fits well as a lot of the patrons are wearing “Turkoman” and “Tatar” influenced outfits-such as might be some of the passers through in this region at this time.

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NIke Arrighi is the ill fated gypsy dancer/fortune teller.

Some people who have seen the film, compare the presentation to a “Greek Tragedy” in moral, theme, and tone. This is a brilliantly achieved component of the film.

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Ingrid Pitt in her “Countess Dracula” role (1971) J. Arthur Rank Organization/Hammer Films

(Another film that was interesting to me from a dancer’s standpoint was the “New Wavy” 1985 flick “The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf.” This time, the presiding sexy lady of horror is Sybil Danning, and the scenes of townsfolk including gypsies and musicians that was filmed in Czechoslovakia are quite colorful and entertaining).

The timing was quite fortunate for watching “Countess Dracula” as it would only be a couple of weeks later that Billy Jack Watkins and I would start on the sequel to last year’s Halloween flick “Dark Gathering.” As an actor everyone knows that it’s great to draw inspiration from others. 2 of Ingrid Pitt’s best “Countess Dracula” and “The Vampire Lovers” are available in a set at Amazon-click here for details…

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Aziza Al-Tawil “Scream Queen”: The New Publicity Pictures

The actress, and founder and editor of “Egyptian Chick Magazine”, soon to be seen in director  Joseph Anderson’s new flick “Gravecaller,” got in the spirit of “Halloween” and Ingrid Pitt, and posed for new publicity shots. The film, wherein Aziza plays a fraudulent psychic in the 1980s, will be released soon and we can expect a major announcement about just that in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more info.

“Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia”

Coming this Halloween 2016

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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The poster I created for last year’s Halloween flick from “Al-Tawil Films” (2015) “Dark Gathering.”

Last year’s Halloween short from my company “Al-Tawil Films” was “Dark Gathering.” The professional court Jester Rodolpho finds his kind suddenly out of favor in England so he travels to a strange foreign land in the Mediterranean to meet his new employer whom he thinks is a “Countess” but is really an evil “Sorceress.” He is in store for a surprise when he arrives late-just when she needed his help in preparing for a sinister event at her abode.

This year’s sequel finds the sorceress “Vindictiva” wanting to send her lackey “Rodolpho” on a special mission against the good natured Goddess of the forest “Pristinia.” Last year’s short was rather “Monty Python” meets “Hammer” in spirit. This year it may be a tad more “Mel Brooks.” (Just recently watched  “Dracula:Dead and Loving it.” More great timing for inspiration!)

Filming on “Dark Gathering 2: The Hunt for Pristinia” continues and the film should be out on YouTube by Halloween night. Here are a few stills from the shoot so far.

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Billy Jack Watkins and Aziza Al-Tawil on the set of “Dark Gathering 2”

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Billy Jack Watkins and Aziza Al-Tawil on the set of “Dark Gathering 2”

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Billy Jack Watkins and Aziza Al-Tawil on the set of “Dark Gathering 2.”

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Billy Jack Watkins as “The Ghoul” in “Dark Gathering 2”

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