Friday, April 24, 2009

Misc. #84.07: Edible Undies in Syria; 5% Fez; 'Democracy Now' Kufiya; Leila K

Continuing to purge the desktop:

1. I just came across this article, "Edible Undies in the Muslim World," at, originally published in Der Spiegel. The title is misleading, it's all about Syria's lingerie industry, which exports elsewhere in the Arab world.

It's the "latest thing," Abdullah Hayek says, holding the garment up. It's an almost nonexistent bra and thong, which consists of strings and a tiny triangle. It's made, not of fabric, but of sugar fondant, which has been rolled out until it is wafer-thin, held together with elastic cords.

"This allows the husband to nibble the underwear off of his wife's body," explains Hayek. The garment, which costs the equivalent of about $3.90, is available in a selection of flavors, including pineapple, apple, honey, chocolate and mango. "I probably sell 15 of them a day," said Hayek.

It refers to the book, The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design. I met Malu Halasa, one of the co-authors, at a conference in Holland in 2007, and posted about the book here.

And here is another report, from Martin Asser of the BBC. It's somewhat sharper and less leering than the Spiegel report, and it has the added attraction of a bit of video, where Asser goes into a lingerie workshop to talk to a man who makes lingerie, and we see a singing g-string. The workshop owner, Ali Nasser, tells Asser:

"Our work is all about igniting the desires of a husband for his wife, so he doesn't go looking elsewhere. It's a good thing and there's nothing wrong it."

"There's no shame in religion," he adds...

2. I keep wanting to get back to the topic of the fez (tarbush) and its coolness. (Earlier posts here and here.) Here's a photo from the back cover of rapper King Sun's 1990 release, Righteous But Ruthless, which I have posted on previously, but without a photo. King Sun is wearing the black kufiya, and it's probably his producer King Shameek who is wearing the fez. King Sun belonged to the Nation of Gods and Earths (Five Percenters), as did so many leading rappers of the period. Although King Sun, like other 5% rappers, did not rap about the Middle East, the kufiya and the fez are examples of the 'romantic alignment' with Islam and the Arab world that was, and is, so common in Afrocentric circles. The album is well worth a listen, recalling the great work of Poor Righteous Teachers, who collaborate with King Sun on one track.

3. For the archive. You've seen it many times--every day, really: the kufiya that shows up in the opening to Amy Goodman's show, Democracy Now. It's a great image, no?

4. A posting on wayneandwax reminded me of Leila K , the Swedish-Moroccan rapper, of Moroccan origin, who came out with a quite wonderful 12", "Got to Get," back in 1989. It's very old school, it has some cheesy lines, ("I ain't down with no crack") but it is catchy and energetic. Check the video out here. Wayne's discusses another Leila K, "Open Sesame," which was a big dance hit all over Europe in 1992. Through one of the comments on Wayne's post, I learned about another Leila K hit, "Electric Power," from 1995 (watch the video here). It's decent, and like "Open Sesame," in the Eurodance vein rather than rap. Leila K is important, arguably, as one of the first, maybe the first, well-known rapper from Europe who was of Arab origin. And again, for the sake of the archive, here are the front and back covers of the "Got to Get" 12".

The dudes are Swedish producers Rob'n'Raz, who got equal billing with Leila K on this, her first release.

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