Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2019

Letter from the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Aziza

My Mother and Her Spanish Hat

by Aziza Al-Tawil

The Iconic Ali McGraw in a Spanish style hat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Jenza” Circa 1978 Unknown Photographer


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Seshet from Luxor

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

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

Cannabis on “Papyrus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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

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

Valerie as “Rhoda” really rocking a peasant blouse look

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Exotic Gifts for Everyone

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

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

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

Egyptian Chick Magazine July 2019

Letter from the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkish Lady Plaque by V. Peccatte

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

V. Peccatte Vases “After Dubfe and Bertier”

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

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

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

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

Hello From Aziza!

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

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

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

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

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

“Amazon Prime Day July 16 2018”

 

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine December 2017

Letter from the Editor:

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

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

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

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

Josie and her Jewelry

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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

Josie Jewelry

Dabke Dancers Vintage (2)

Dance Dabke with Confidence

Vintage Russian Christmas and New Year’s Cards

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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

Vintage-Russian-Christmas-card_141806

Romantic Russian Christmas Card

 

xmasruss11

Folkloric Russian Christmas Card

merry-russian-orthodox-christmas

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

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

vintage-soviet-new-year-greeting-card

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

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

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

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

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Jamila Record Cover

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

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

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

Jamila's Profile Photo (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aziza and Johanna Smaller.jpg

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

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

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

      What Does Your Numerology Say? 

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

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Well, I sure would like to read these books!

Vintage Avon_Fantasy_Reader_11

Science Fiction Fantasy type belly dancer.

Gypsy Sixpence Novel

Belly dancer as “Gypsy” imagery.

Vintage Far Out Ones Pulp

Hippie era fun!

 

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by

Aziza Al-Tawil and Incandescent Belly Dance

Contact: azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine Black Friday Gift Giving Guide November 2017

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

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

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

Riq Pot Holder

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

In the Balm of Your Hand Face Pallette

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

Matt Trimomy Pallette

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

Organic Fields of Heather organic Body Cream

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

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

Kenneth Cole Bag

If you want to give a gift for cozy comfort at home why not some fabulous 800 thread count 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets from the “Chateau Home Collection?” They are deep pocketed and come in a variety of soft sensual colors.

Chateau Home Collection 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets 2

Before I go here are some special things going on for “Black Friday” from Amazon…

Black Friday Echo Device Sale Banner

Shop Amazon Devices – Save on Echo Devices on Black FridayAmazon Fresh

AmazonFresh

Shop Amazon Gift Cards. Any Occasion. No Expiration.

Amazon Gift Cards

Kindle

 Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

Anything you could ever want or need is at Amazon…