Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hejab Fashion at the Iranian Cinema Awards

Here's a look at some of the fashion, hejab and colors Iranian actresses were able to get away with at this year's Iranian Cinema Awards.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mixed Messages

TEHRAN -- It was not enough that became notorious here among Iranian websites for a Fars photo depicting Tehran mayor Qalibaf seated between two very large, very round watermelons, or the story about Arab pop singer Nancy Ajram holding a concert for her Iranian fans. On the heels of a ban on "half-naked men" and "love triangles" on Iranian TV, Khabaronline seems to have decided that it's appropriate to tell the Iranian fans of True Blood how this HBO series is going to end -- and it's directly translated from the Hollywood Reporter, no less.

The headline: “Cast tell about their deaths on True Blood + pictures.”

By all accounts, True Blood is not an Islamically-appropriate show and by Islamic Republic standards it reeks of western decadence. For those who haven’t seen it, the story of Sookie Stackhouse is filled with graphic sexual encounters, vampires, witches, brujos, ghosts, fairies, shapeshifters and mediums considered un-Islamic. During Ramadan, borderline supernatural themes of an Iranian TV series caused uproar here with Friday prayers leaders openly speaking out against the IRIB for funding such productions. The inappropriate-for-family-viewing broadcast during the Holy Month claimed the lives of two young children who wanted to see what it would be like to be ghosts.

With this report, Khabaronline, which is affiliated with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and in a way the unofficial Majles website, officially violated what is known as Arzeshhaye Khanevade (family values) in the Islamic Republic. For those fans who may not have seen the season finale, this Khabaronline article is not advised for you either. -- Tehran Editor

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sex Ed Video: A View from Tehran

Editor at Large: Can you put this new sex ed video in perspective.

Tehran Editor: Iranian officials seem to have finally come around to believing the reason so many marriages are falling apart is a lack of proper education. Obtaining the DVD from local pharmacies requires being married and having a shenasname (an identity booklet) to prove it. But the beauty of Iran is that nothing remains a secret for long and when something is labeled forbidden, Iranians find a way of getting their hands on the contraband item. Where there is a will there is always an Iranian way. The educational video was probably leaked online to satisfy the curiosity of everyone.

What did you think of it?

Most people are sexually active in Iran and this is why this video is so hilarious for everyone here ...we all know about the birds and the bees. As an unmarried Iranian girl who knows a little something about something, all I can say is:

* What I like to call the "Superman" soundtrack at the beginning of the clip, encouraging people to get to the finish line, is not exactly an appropriate start!

* The animated flowers at the start can put anyone off sex… they look like one of those vicious meat-eating plants, the ones that seem harmless at first, before they attack you. It actually reminded me of the 1980s musical/horror flick “Little Shop of Horrors.”

* Basically this video says a lot about how it’s done in books and in hadith but what about personal experience? Who actually opens a book and says, “It says here, step one: kiss your partner for 20 seconds because a kiss between a husband and wife sometimes last for longer than a few seconds! What about putting some emphasis on the good old fashioned trial-and-error method? I doubt the first people who had sex had access to books!!!

* The choice of hadith is also repulsive…women must wear the best perfume and clothes at home and offer themselves for sex every night and every morning… What about what the woman wants? So much for IR's claim that women are not objects and prostitutes in our society.

* Before sex make jokes with your wife and play with them (shookhi and bazi in Persian are not exactly what they seem to be when translated into English). "Play" in Persian brings to mind shooting hoops and throwing a ball for the kitty or a stick for the dog to fetch! And shookhi is like a bad crude joke, like Ghazanfar telling his girlfriend "Chetori goozo!”

Some of the other ridiculous tips:

* Touch lightly because if you are rough that is chelandan -- squishing!

* Touch on the cheeks, face, neck and roye hame ja (everywhere)!

* But then, 'Do not touch wherever you like, touch where the lady tells you to!' Don’t always touch the same place: touch her on her neck one night and touch her back the next night!

* The good doctor actually sticks out his tongue when he instructs on using it to touch! That's icky.

* Lick the skin above the lips… So this is where some guys learn the fish/dog kiss, the one all girls hate!

* Just stand in front of each other…no further description available, not even a train-in-tunnel imagery from a Leslie Nielsen movie?

* Don’t be a starfish! Don’t just lay there... stop and start! Move for one second and stop for one second …az to harkat az man (khoda) barakat!!!!!!!!!!!

Translation: "You make the move (woman); and I (God) will bestow the gift!

* There is a reason you have a mirror in your bedroom. It’s so you can look at one another while doing the lord’s work.

He said that?

In the extended version of the video. And here's some of the best for last:

* Women should stop complaining about painful intercourse because there are no pain neurons down where it matters. Any pain you feel is all in your head! Three words, Doctor: Try bikini wax!

* Using drugs can improve sex! And they show pictures of the Iranian version of ecstasy pills!!!!!!!!! Not Viagra! Even before warning that smoking messes up your sex life.

* And to know if a woman has been satisfied all you need to do is pick her up and see if she is heavy. A fool-proof method to detect an orgasm is when gravity makes her heavy! because if you ask her she may be faking it and say yes. But if you pick her up and see she has gained extra pounds that means a job well done!

The doctor advises couples to do it four times a night ! This somehow put into perspective why they used the superman soundtrack at the beginning!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Khaleh Zanaki Chic!

New collection aside...

Editor at Large: Even though it never occurred to me to raid my aunt's or great grandmother's closet, I find myself drawn to Marni's 'Khaleh Zanaki' chic. It's practical and looks like something real women can wear without feeling like they were in some kind of sexual bondage. Considering how refreshingly loose-fitting the clothes are -- and most the green running through the new collection is non-Green Movement green -- could you wear it there?

Tehran Editor: I agree, khalezanaki chic. It would be perfect for underneath the chador, but not goshad enough for the IR gashts.

Editor at Large: It's just as well, because it remains out of reach even on sale. An alternative (though not a substitute for the beloved Milan-based label) is Anthropologie. Its cuts never suit me, but it does Khaleh Zanaki with a flair. And so does Toast, even better.

Ramadan Special: Mani-Pedi Nightmare in Tehran

TEHRAN -- Every girl needs a bit of pampering, particularly if she lives here, where almost everything is forbidden, especially during Ramadan, a month of prayers and fasting, all the more challenging in the dead heat of summer.

One thing about Ramadan though is all the specials on offer. I decided to treat myself to one of them: "Ramadan mani-pedi special" after one of my friends told me about a great salon she had recently discovered. (If you were wondering, yes, you can get into trouble for having painted nails because you can't wash for the daily prayers and therefore it's a telltale sign that you do not pray. Nail polish makes your hands and feet pretty and you are not supposed to have anything pretty either ... not officially anyway. This is Iran.

And this being Iran, why would it stop anyone from trying to look their best?

When I arrived at the salon for my 10 o’clock appointment, I was asked to pay $25 USD up front, which is not customary in most parts of the world. (Regularly, it's $30: 15 for nails, and 15 for toes. But even a $5 discount is considered 'special' here.) One thing about the Persian culture I will never understand is why everyone is in a rush to get paid before doing a job. This was the first warning sign for me to walk away, but I needed pampering so I paid and was told to seek out Sanaz.

A bulky woman, with hair color on her eyebrows, who I assumed was Sanaz, told me to sit behind a station. The mani-pedi station was the second warning sign telling me to walk away, which again I chose to ignore. The station was more like a desk under which my feet disappeared. No comfy chair I could recline in and let the professional take my feet into her own hands. After a ten-minute wait, another woman finally sat behind the chair opposite and asked me what I wanted, which seemed odd given that I had already paid for a mani-pedi. I told her the shape I wanted my fingernails and toenails to have and she asked if I wanted a manicure-pedicure? I said of course and then she asked the strangest question: you mean you would like to have your hands and feet soaked and your nails filed?

Being no stranger to mani-pedis, I was mildly unsettled. And yet again, I ignored the voice telling me to ask for someone else. So the process began.

She asked for my foot. As I had lost sight of my feet, I raised the left foot but she told me she wanted the right one. Skipping the soaking part, she began to file away and I crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t mess it up.

Meanwhile, the bulky woman whom I learned was the Sanaz I had made an appointment with, sat next to the girl working on my feet. One by one, the other girls in the salon came and she filed and shaped their nails for them.

A good 15 minutes passed before the girl supposedly working on my feet brought out a small basin with sudsy water and told me to put my feet in. She waited a few minutes before proceeding to dry my feet and ask me the color of nail polish I wanted. No foot scrub, no pumice, no exfoliation, and no lotion.

When I chose pink, the girl, who I was becoming more confident by the minute was the apprentice, told me to choose another color as ”pink is not suitable for toenails!” In Iran, "the customer is always right" is totally meaningless. I do not mean to frown on the Persian culture here, it's just that this concept is so unimaginable in this country.

After a few minutes of me holding my ground, she reluctantly painted my toes pink and then started on my fingernails. Again, she proceeded to file my nails before soaking them. I lost my temper at the point she started removing non-existent hangnails. I snatched my hand away and Sanaz told the apprentice she would finish the job!

Sanaz tried to correct the disaster her apprentice had created and avoided eye contact until I told her I wanted black tips instead of white ones. “But it’s a French manicure, how can you have black tips?”

I convinced her that the gospel of manicurists would not be unwritten, would not be lost, especially because no one would find out that this blasphemy was her doing. (Asking for your money back is not an option in Iran.) Before leaving, I complained to the manager of the salon who told me apprentices must practice to learn. “This is how it is done everywhere, even in kharej," meaning abroad, she said.

I came home with uneven nails, which I had to file myself. At least I had gotten the colors I wanted. -- Tehran Editor

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Remembering Bijan

LOS ANGELES -- Thanks to Bijan we saw Iranian faces in the American glossies. The two bottom ads are from an earlier campaign -- the eighties, I believe. Seen above with son Nicolas and daughter Alexandra in 2009. And here's another with his girlfriend Mahtab Mojab. -- editor at large

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pushing the Palette

NEW YORK -- Though many of the top designers are pushing color and "color blocks" this season, Meatpacking District fashonistas were still clinging to their blacks and mauves this weekend. In fact, many of them were only a rousari away from proper hejab.