Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2017

Egyptian Chick Magazine Cover for Sept 1017

Letter from the Editor:

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

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

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Egyptian Chick Magazine is published by:

Aziza Al-Tawil “Editor in Chief”

Billy Jack Watkins, “Research Assistant to the Editor”

Josephine Homonai, “Fashion Consultant and Model”

Contact azizaaltawil@gmail.com

Egyptian Black Seed Oil and it’s Miracle Curative Properties

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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

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

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

  • Analgesic (Pain-Killing)

  • Anti-Bacterial

  • Anti-Inflammatory

  • Anti-Ulcer

  • Anti-Cholinergic

  • Anti-Fungal

  • Ant-Hypertensive

  • Antioxidant

  • Antispasmodic

  • Antiviral

  • Bronchodilator

  • Gluconeogenesis Inhibitor (Anti-Diabetic)

  • Hepatoprotective (Liver Protecting)

  • Hypotensive

  • Insulin Sensitizing

  • Interferon Inducer

  • Leukotriene Antagonist

  • Renoprotective (Kidney Protecting)

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Inhibitor

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

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

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

Kabbalah Manifestation Secrets

“Lady Popular”: a Fun Game from Bulgaria

By Aziza Al-Tawil

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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.

Learn to Dance any Dabke Style

Gifts from Cathy

by Aziza Al-Tawil

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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

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

Anyway, I look forward to reading the books!

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

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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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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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

 

 

Esma Redzepova Has Left Us-Special From Egyptian Chick Magazine

Esma Redzepova is Gone!:

By Aziza Al-Tawil

I’m very sad to report that “The Queen of the Gypsies,” Esma Redzepova has passed away at age 73. She was born in Skopje, Macedonia, when it was part of Bulgaria, started singing at ten years old and went on to represent her people and their songs to the world including command performances for various world leaders. She and her husband, bandleader and manager Stevo Teodosievski, fostered 47 children.

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Ezma Redzepova

A wonderful CD called ” Gypsy Carpet” is available at Amazon (Click title for details). I was listening to this and am particularly fond of the song “Bistergan Man” (“You Forgot About Me”). I made a “YouTube” video when I heard the news, remembered another favorite song of mine she performed “Sastalise Tsigane”- a song which I heard many renditions of growing up in the Greek Tavernas which were truly an international scene.

On YouTube: Aziza Al-Tawil Remembers Esma Redzepova

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Esma Redzepova and Band

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“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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“Learn Dabke Line Dance”

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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Egyptian Chick Magazine October 2016

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Letter From the Editor

Was terribly disappointed to hear that politicians in Egypt are trying to keep their clock set back to “the Dark Ages” by pushing this whole “Virginity” test of women thing. Amazing that the humiliation and torture of women still seems to be the main agenda in so many countries in the Middle East. Apparently, no one cares about rape, or other issues that actually matter. We must uplift our sisters who are continually beat down by these societies and stand vigilant for their fair treatment. “Egyptian Chick Magazine” only promotes and condones the humane treatment of our fellow men, women, children, and animals. We are “Progressive” not “Regressive.”

In the Mid-Atlantic of the United States we are entering into the “Fall” season and the changing of the leaves will be the “big show” here soon. For those who enjoy the “Halloween” holiday and it’s “dress-up” and “fantasy aspects,” they will shortly be able to express themselves in full measure. 

All of the ladies featured in our magazine this month are very creative indeed and also enjoy the fun at “Halloween.” They made interesting subjects indeed for the October issue. Just wish all women could have the kind of freedom we have.

Right now, “Egyptian Chick Magazine” is taking donations so we can upgrade the site to be more “monetized” and have higher quality visuals and editing tools. Expansion and a broader budget (we have virtually no budget now) will allow us more freedom in planning fashion shoots, location shoots and interviews, and give us more SEO planning tools. If you have enjoyed the magazine and you would like to help, the link is here:

Support the continuation & expansion of “Egyptian Chick Magazine” Donate Today

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“Girl of a Thousand Faces”

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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15 Year old Elizabeth Tweel always knew she loved art, but then she saw a face painter during “Career Day” in the 5th Grade and she was hooked on “Stage and Special Effects” make-up. The Charleston, WV area teenager performs with her school’s theatre class and show choir and plans to go to an arts oriented college afterwards so she can one day turn her talent and hobby for make-up into something for the professional stage and screen.

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Elizabeth and her brother David at the “Mothman Festival”

Her father Brian shares her love of the “macabre” and often joins in the fun during seasons like “Halloween.” In fact, West Virginia has been known to be somewhat of a hub of paranormal activity. One event the Tweels enjoy is the “Mothman Festival” in Point Pleasant where visitors can join a host of informative activities relating to the famous “Mothman Prophecies” incident that foretold of the “Silver Bridge Collapse” in 1967. Other famous monsters in WV include the “Flatwoods Monster,” the “Grafton Monster,” “Bat Boy,” and good old “Sasquatch.” West Virginia is also no stranger to ghost tales and UFO sightings.

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Elizabeth Tweel and one of her creations

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Elizabeth Tweel with some visual trickery make-up

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Elizabeth Tweel revealing the surprise

 Elizabeth in natural make-up. This young lady is going places!

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The Tawil and Tweel families honor the memory of their late cousin Danny Thomas, comedian, actor, humanitarian and founder of “Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital” in Memphis. Please donate today.

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Desideria Masheed in Green with Sword

“A Dancer’s Passions”: Desideria Masheed

by Aziza Al-Tawil

Desideria Masheed is known as “The Jessica Rabbit of Belly Dance,” but who really is this red headed, passionate, and talented lady? No less than a very highly trained dancer well versed in the technique of ballet, Flamenco, Latin, and of course Belly Dancing. Growing up in a show business family in NYC seemed to literally set the stage for her childhood entry into the world of dance. Her father was a famous magician and her mother was a dancer.

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Desideria in Nightclub

By her teens, Desideria was a performing artist herself, working as a dancer, percussionist, snake charmer, “Pin-Up Model” and costume designer. Her beauty, versatility, and fire got her work with many top bands from “Latin” to “Rock” including Carmen Carrasco, Raquel Lima, “The Afro Andes,” “Jon Astor Band,” and even punk legend “Joey Ramone and Cheetah Chrome.” These were exciting times that found her hanging out with the likes of Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and La India and performing for celebrities like Bruce Willis and Demi Moore and Al B. Sure around the New York and New Jersey area.

Desideria has been a “diligent” dancer trained in ballet since age 3,and in Jazz, Afro Cuban, Samba, Flamenco, and then Arabic/ Oriental and Indian dance starting in the 90’s. Her first Middle Eastern Dance instructor was legendary Serena. 

She says, “I am very into the cultural-but a rocker at heart. I also sing since my teens with bands. I am a second soprano singer and have sung all forms of jazz , blues and rock have been working on songs for my next music project.” She can also balance just about anything on her head.

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Desideria by Mike Chaiken Photography

To those that know her Desideria is also known for her tender heart. Living in Jersey City on “9/11” she volunteered for five days and rode one of the boats across the water to help other workers. In fact, she almost lost her brother-in-law in the incident but he escaped from the second building. Desideria wanted to help all she could but remembers “It was horrific.” She said “it was a very bad time for people volunteering” because they were so “distraught” and in “shock.” So much so, most coming back from the city were “unable to eat.” Desideria and other people from her building in Jersey City lost “co-workers, associates, and friends.” Desideria is haunted by the painful memories of that day but those who her know  also know what a “resilient” lady she is.

An interest in ethnic culture is evident in Desideria-she speaks four languages, and is a European, Middle Eastern, and Indian gourmet cook having studied culinary arts for years. She is the first person to tell you that learning new things is one of the greatest things someone can do because it feeds the soul. In her career she has been fortunate to be able to perform in foreign countries including Morocco, Venezuela, and Copenhagen, Denmark with their answer to “David Bowie,” Ras Bolding. Her own ethnic background is very multi-cultural including, Italian, Russian, Gypsy, Spanish with a sprinkling of Kashmiri.

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Desideria and her late kitty “Damien” whom she still grieves

During this “Halloween” season I asked Desideria to reminisce about any black cats that have “tip toed” into her life over the years. She told me that she even had a family of five black cats in Connecticut for 8 years. After moving to Puerto Rico she worked for local rescue organization “Save a Gato” beginning in 2013. She says “All cats are joyful, loving, smart, and loyal creatures. Black cats are special indeed. Like mini panthers-so playfully observant and smart.”

 

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Desideria’s Black Kitty “Isolde”

 

She loves the beauty of Puerto Rico but Desideria is planning to return to the United States because the economy of the island took quite a hit when rumors of the “Zika Virus” began to deter some of the usual tourist trade.

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Desideria performs traditional “Egyptian/Moroccan Belly Dance” as well as “Dark Theatrical Cabaret” where she performs her own creation “Raks Shocki” to “Goth” and “Metal” music. She has performed for weddings, festivals, fundraisers, and even hosted her own monthly belly dance show at Mehanata’s Bulgarian restaurant in NYC. She was also featured on the South American TV Show “Blanco TV.”

Desideria is also someone who knows the importance of “spirituality” for personal progress as well as healing. She is a natural health consultant, herbalist, and “Reiki” practitioner 1, 2 & 3 and as of 2010 she has been certified in the “Dolphina Method of Goddess Workout.”  On Facebook she runs a boutique gift shop called “Dark Decadence Emporium.” Her first book of poetry was released in 2007. All the years I’ve known her she has been drawn to the “Magical” and “Mystical” of our universe, and with “All Hallows Eve” approaching I can think of no better cover girl for the October edition of our magazine.

 

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Desideria by Mike Chaiken

 

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Dark Beauty: How About some Basic Black for Fall?

By Aziza Al-Tawil

Egyptian Armenian Hungarian American model Josie Homonai wears the smoky eyes and pale frosted peachy lip look here with a black sweater and scarves.

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Model Josie Homonai-Black sweater and scarves, Smoky Make-Up and Pale Frosted Lips

African Black Soap:

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Vintage Masquerade

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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Vintage Casino de Paris Ad

 

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Vintage Halloween Costumes

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Vintage Harlequin Child

Vintage Postcards

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Adelaide and Hughes “The Cat”

Egyptian Chick Magazine September 2016 Issue

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 “Sexy, Chunky Jewelry”

“African Black Soap”

 

Letter from the Editor:

Well, here we are, in the last “throes” of Summer and there is so much to “say,” “do,” and “announce” that it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Let me start out by saying that I have even more exciting news about the legacy of my mother’s dear friend, the late Serena Wilson. After I mentioned in last month’s issue that her longtime West Side studio was closing on the West Side and starting a new “lease on life” at “Belly Dance America,” I was excited to learn that a new “Serena Belly Dance Museum” has opened in Chelsea at “Showplace Design Center,” 40 West 25th Street, Gallery 110, New York City, NY. The exhibit, which opened August 21st, will run until December 30, 2016.  Serena’s son Scott Wilson and his wife Leni will be there Sundays 12-4:00 p.m. or by appt. For appointment contact mellow111@aol.com. This native “New Yorker” knows that what could be a better time to be in New York seeing the sights than the lovely Fall and Christmas season?

The exhibit also brings back some attention to the fact that so many in the “biz of belly dance” have had secret yearnings for a “Museum of Belly Dance” where “collections” could be housed “permanently.” America, once a real “potboiler” of activity in the art of “dance” in general has seen a decline. In a society that ditched music in the schools for more of a bent towards “science and technology” we’ve turned into somewhat of a “Protestant Work Ethic” culture wherein a giant finger wags over us as if to say, “Now, now! Get a REAL job and pay for your own useless hobbies!”

Following along this general theme this month’s issue will include an interesting story about legendary dancer La Meri ( Our “Cover Girl” this month) and a shawl she once owned.

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La Meri’s Shawl

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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Johanna in the beloved shawl she purchased from “La Meri.”

In the 1950’s my mother and her husband and dance partner Bill decided to study Flamenco with the famous Juan Martinez and Antonita. Maestro Martinez was very beloved by his students. In the class with Johanna and Bill was La Meri’s sister Lillian Hughes Newcomer. La Meri was the Louisville, KY born “ethnic dance” pioneer who co-founded the “School of Natya” in NYC with the equally intriguing maverick Ruth St. Denis. By the late 1940’s La Meri’s book on the art of “Spanish Dancing” was in the personal library of Johanna and Bill. (One of their first Flamenco teachers was film legend Rita Hayworth’s uncle Paco Cansino). Lillian liked Johanna so when her sister La Meri had a sale of personal items, she arranged for Johanna to get a “special price” on the shawl.

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La Meri’s Shawl recently-still lovely.

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Close up of La Meri’s shawl recently.

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Miss Lillian from her sister’s 1948 book “Spanish Dancing.”

For years, not much was spoken of about Juan Martinez and Antonita. He was born in 1896 and passed away in 1961. His personal papers (1932-1962), which are mostly in Spanish, were only donated to the “Jerome Robbins Dance Division” of the “Lincoln Center Branch” of the “New York Public Library” in the year 2005. Cataloging and compiling of them was not completed until the year 2014. According to these papers, Juan Martinez was born in Burgos, Spain and began performing and touring with his family as a child. He married Antonia Fernandez whom he formed an artistic partnership in 1938. Johanna seemed to remember that he had a first wife and dance partner who passed away from altitude sickness when they were in Mexico City to perform.

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Juan Martinez and Antonita. Spanish dance instructors of Johanna and Miss Lillian.

In a book called “El Maestro Juan Martinez Que Estaba Alli,” the author Manuel Chaves Nogales recounts meeting Martinez in Paris and hearing the hair raising experiences he and his first wife Sole encountered when they became trapped in the “Bolshevik” revolution while performing in Russia in 1917. “After a successful tour of the Central European cabarets, flamenco dancer Juan Martinez and his partner Sole were caught by surprise in Russia by the revolutionary events of February of 1917. Unable to leave the country, in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev they suffered the fall-out of the October Revolution and the bloody civil war that followed. The great Spanish journalist Manuel Chaves Nogales met Martinez in Paris and, shocked by the stories he shared, decided to compile them. The result is this book which narrates the changes the protagonists were faced with and how they figured out a way to survive. Its pages include traveling artists, prodigal Russian dukes, German spies, Chekist assassins, and speculators of a different ilk.”

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I viewed an interesting “Press Release” online which came from The Museum of Modern Art dated May of 1941. It declared that for the third in it’s “Coffee Concerts” series it was to “present an entire Spanish Program Wednesday May 14th at 9:00 p.m.” The show was to consist of Spanish folk songs sung by Sophia Novoa and her only accompaniment was to be “tambourine and castanets.” It also mentioned that “Martinez and Antonita” were to be featured. It continued: “The Gaiteros, a group of Spanish peasant musicians, will be headed by a bagpiper, Jose Belion—the only known Gaitero in Now York. The Spanish bagpipe is of Celtic origin but has a smaller bag and only one horn instead of three.”

It continues:  “The accompaniment is made up of a bass drum (bombo), a trap drum (tambourine) and two dancers. Also appearing on the program is Jeronimo Villarino, the only known flamenco singer-guitarist in the United States. Oriental in character and suggesting Moorish influence, flamenco folk music is sung and played on the guitar mainly in the south of Spain.” 

The concert program was as follows:

“1. Anda Jaleo, Jaleo (Andalucía); Si Quieres Que Te Quiera (Asturias) Jota (Navarra) Sofia Novoa and Jeronimo Villarino
2. Las Majas (Andalucía) Juan Martinez and Antonita
S. Medias Granadinas, Guitar Solo (Andalucía); Caranelos—Street Crier’s Song (Andalucía) Jeronimo Villarino
4. Malaguenas. … Juan Martinez and Antonita
5. Muinera (North Spain); Uyu, Yu, Yu—Swinging Song (Andalucía); Sal A Bailar (North Spain) Sofia Novoa with Tambourine
6. Zambra, Guitar Sole (Andalucía); Los Minerofi Del Fondon—Miner’s Song (North Spain) Jeronimo Villarino
7. Jota Aragonesa. Juan Martinez and Antonita
8. Group of Songs and dances from North of Spain, accompanied by Gaiteros (Bagpipes), Drum Tambourine, and Conchas de Santiago (Cockleshells) Gaiteros and Muinera Dance 9. Vivan Los Aires Morenos (Extramadura); Gamine Don Sancho—Old Ballad (North Spain)j Carretero es mi Amante (Castile); A La Valerosa (Castile); Fado (Portugal) Sofia Novoa
10. Holy Week in Seville 1. Saetas. . .Jeronimo Villarino accompanied by trumpets and drums. Cuadro Flamencos. . . Juan Martinez und Antonita and Anna Maria.”

It also said: “Tickets for single concerts are $1.50.”

Juan Martinez and Antonita were known as wonderful people and wonderful artists. Hopefully, in future, more documents will turn up to shed light on the careers of those in the arts so places like the “Jerome Robbins Division” can preserve the information for posterity.

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“Yoga Burn” 

Remembering Rameses: The Exhibit that Took America by Storm

by Aziza Al-Tawil

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In the Spring of 1988 I was dating a neighbor of mine in Boston, MA. He was tall with medium brown hair and very pale blue eyes, and he worked in the banking industry. Originally from Texas, he claimed to be a cousin of our then President of the United States George H.W. Bush. There I was, in the middle of the “hippie folk revival” in Boston, buying protest buttons at “George’s Folly” in Allston, MA and there he was this “conservative” young man a few years my senior. The “whoosh” of my “India” skirts on the stairs must have intrigued him (or maybe it was the days I was wearing “leggings” like all the other 80’s chicks)  because after doing laundry together a few times we started “seeing” each other socially. We went for pizza at “Bertuccis,” saw a couple of concerts, went to a Boston Red Sox game in the rain and got glared at by one of his jealous female co-workers. We were attracted to each other but there wasn’t too much of an “emotional connection” so really this was no great romance. Cordial goodbyes were made though when he transferred with the bank to another town a couple of months after we started going out. Though this was but a brief interlude in my romantic life, one thing we did together stands the test of time.

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After “King Tut and his Treasures made a splash in this country in the late 1970’s, the “Egyptian Museum in Cairo” decided to go one better and bring a tour even more sensational to America about a decade later, making sure to go to a different set of cities than “Tut.” This Fall marks the 30th Anniversary of the “Ramesses the Great Tour” arrival in the United States. After it’s run in Denver, the exhibit made it’s way to the Boston Museum of Science. It was this showing in the Spring of 1988 that my “banker boyfriend” took me to (Well, at the time he was just a “teller!” He may be a “Bank President” by now!).

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Just a few months ago I was in an antique store in Charleston, WV when I saw it. An official “souvenir” set of color slides from the showing at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. I had saved two brochures from the show in Boston but it was really cool to find the color slides. The images are quite stunning and brought back some interesting memories from a time when I was young and marveling at a world which was quite old.

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“High End Oriental Rugs Cheap” 

Serena’s Mentor: Ruth St. Denis

Ruth St. Denis by Nickolas Muray

Ruth St. Denis Photo by Nickolas Muray

 

 Ruth St. Denis in Algouari Dance Drama, Photo trio by Nickolas Muray

“Johanna Dances Malaguena with La Meri’s Shawl on YouTube”

“Cute, Sexy Egyptian Belly Dance Ala Ghawazee by Aziza Al-Tawil”

Coming soon: “Belly Dancing with Aziza Al-Tawil Cifte Telli and Maksoum”

 

 

Egyptian Chick Magazine August 2016 Issue

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Letter from the Editor:

Well, here we are to August! The Spring and Summer have been very interesting for me as I traverse the “ups and downs” of publishing a polished online magazine. In just a few months I have covered artists, belly dance history, archeology, social causes, “17 year Cicadas,” antiques, fashion, and took a wild ride with the Bernie Sanders campaign. Two of the most exciting things to happen to me in a while was meeting and hearing Bernie Sanders speak in person and performing for a WV flood survivors benefit. The movement Bernie set aflame was truly historic and the fact that it has ended on a bad note is actually tragic. Debbie Wasserman Schultz ended up resigning but it was “too little too late.” Also, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths are the incidences of apparent “voter fraud” in a few states-lost votes. Our democracy had not shown a “crack” in it’s veneer like this since the Al Gore “hanging chad” debacle. This is the reason that “moving on” is so difficult for Bernie’s followers.

Then the rains came, weaving a path of destruction through parts of the state of WV. It was extremely fulfilling to be allowed to help raise money for the survivors. To help your fellow man is a truly noble calling.

I’m sure Bernie would be proud.

“Falling Tides” : Lifting Spirits and Raising Money for WV Flood Survivors by Aziza Al-Tawil

Huntington and Charleston, WV area belly dancers Tiffani Ahdia and Susan Hughart decided to join an effort to ease the suffering of the many people displaced by the floods that battered parts of WV recently. On July 16th, I was honored to join them and some other wonderful entertainers to help raise money for “Elk River Backpack Blessings” an organization dedicated to gathering necessities for people displaced by the floods who may be in and out of temporary shelters.

The owners and management of the “La Belle Theatre” in South Charleston, WV were kind enough to donate their facility and equipment for the show. The line-up for the evening included Tiffani Ahdia, Susan Hughart and her daughter Sara Hughart, Jon Hawkins playing classical Spanish guitar, folk singers Drew Hussell and Russ Kennedy on acoustic guitar, Charity Hairston modern dancer, singer, and poet, “Samadhi” dance company with a vintage hula dance tribute, Gretchen Addison with jazz vocals, and myself, Aziza Al-Tawil with a song and dance tribute to the golden age of Greek tavernas and in particular, “The Sirocco,” owned by legendary guitar player Aris San and frequented by stars like Anthony Quinn and Telly Savalas. Throughout the evening we were also charmed by “magical” appearances of “Twinkle the Fairy”-AKA Cari Stone whose handle on classic mime and comedy charmed everyone.

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Actor Billy Jack Watkins (“Hallowed Eve Escape 1 and 2,” “Dark Gathering,” “Jayne Mansfield and Protozoa”) meets up with “Twinkle the Fairy”(Cari Stone) for a fun moment after the show!

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Relaxing after the show, “Mrs. Ripley, WV” Morgan Mandeville Adkins, Aziza Al-Tawil, and former WV belly dance pioneer and performer “Eleni” (Ellen O’Farrell).

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Charity Hairston and “Mrs. Ripley, WV” Morgan Mandeville Adkins who was the “Mistress of Ceremonies” for the evening’s festivities.

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Billy Jack Watkins and “Eleni” (Ellen O’Farrell). Billy wears a souvenir T-Shirt with the image of late WV and NYC dance legend Johanna. “Eleni” was once Johanna’s pupil and protege’.

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Gretchen Addison and proud hubby Eric.

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Sara and Susan Hughart.

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Sara and Susan Hughart are joined by “Eleni” (Ellen O’Farrell).

If you missed the “Falling Tides” show you can still donate to “Elk River Blessings” at this link: WV Flood Relief.

Want to have your belly dance business listed in our directory? Click here…

“Photography Masterclass”

Newsflash! Serena Studios is Relocating After 40 plus years! By Aziza Al-Tawil

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After years and years of being located on 9th Ave. between 55th and 56th St. the legacy of the late great belly dance performer, teacher, and pioneer  is now moving to a new location. You might ask “why after all these years?” The answer is very simple: The landlord raised the rent too high! If you are looking to take classes with the lovely protégé’s that still carry the torch of her knowledge into the new “millennia” you can do so at “Belly Dance America,” 265 West 37th St., second floor. Here is a link to Serena Studios website with updated class and location info: “Serena Studios Online”.

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“Red Smoothie Detox”

Funky Bottle Collecting: A Display featuring “Snake Charmer Shiraz” By Aziza Al-Tawil.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A recent purchase of roses inspired this impromptu display

Billy Jack bought some roses the other day and he and I set out to make a display using one of them. McLaren Vale “Snake Charmer” Wine and a fake plastic skull really make this shot. Along with a charming ceramic frog in a top hat Billy’s mother made. The pot is one of a set of two my mother and I used to balance fire on our head in during “Laz.”

Here are some more “snake charmers” from the past!:

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“Total Money Magnetism”

“Survive in Bed”

Online and by mail Middle Eastern Dance Instruction:

 “How to Dance Dabke with Samir Hasan”

“Aziza’s Vintage New York City Belly Dance Course”

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Turn the World Into Your Office

“Better Late Than Never”

Susan Miller is about the premier astrologer in the world these days now that Jean Dixon and Sidney Omarr are no longer with us.

Susan is wonderful at what she does but she is often late with her forecasts by a day or two. Well – not always! She’s a real trouper having been through a terrible spate of health woes and the death of her mother in the last few years. I truly admire the fact that she has managed to “hang in there” and continue her life with “the stars.”

Some things are worth waiting a few extra hours for. So, with that in mind – bear with me as I get the April 1st Issue of “Egyptian Chick Magazine” ready for tomorrow. You won’t be disappointed as we will be featuring birthdays and astro profiles of some of the biggest stars of belly dance and music. In addition, a loving tribute to a belly dancer who had another special talent that won her one of America’s top prizes from the United States Government. Hear an intimate account of this fascinating and accomplished woman from someone who knew her well. Highlighting “human rights,” we will  get the latest statistics on an issue that haunts the Middle East and Africa and how we can stand vigilant against it.

So, having said that, I look forward to getting April’s Issue to you sometime tomorrow or tomorrow night! Thank You, Aziza Al-Tawil, Editor in Chief

 

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