A Draft from 11/6/08:
You never really know someone, until you get to know them. And even then, you become aware of the fact that we’re all just icebergs bobbing along through life, with huge parts of ourselves hidden from casual view. Last night Pamela and I attended the Los Angeles premiere of Underbelly: a Year in the Life of Belly Dancer Princess Farhana.
Pamela and I were introduced to the wild world of belly dance a few months before listing hopelessly towards burlesque. She studied with the oh-so lovely Jamilla, and as “Melita” our favorite troublemaker shimmied and undulated for the patrons of Dar Maghreb. Being the studious autodidact I fell in love with, she naturally consumed any instructional DVD she could find, which is what brought Princess Farhana into our house.
At the same time she was studying this ancient art, Pamela’s pole dance studies were trending towards strip tease, and ultimately burlesque. Princess Farhana was ever-present in this arena as well, her “Cool Moves for Hot Chicks” DVD was put on permanent rotation.
So we had seen Princess Farhana perform on video. It wasn’t until Pamela’s big debut at Stiletto 2.5 that we had the opportunity to see her in person. She performed a couple of numbers that night, a belly dance number and her clown burlesque number.
Speaking for myself here, Farhana is a rock star. She is one of the few performers in the burlesque community who actually makes me star struck. At the same time, Farhana seems incredibly approachable. This will sound weird to all but those who know him, but she reminds me of my father-in-law: Larger than life, salt of the earth. She's the kind of person who fills a room just by being in it, either in person or via anecdote, and everyone who knows her has a Princess Farhana anecdote.
If you dig documentaries as much as Pamela and I do, check out Underbelly! Even if you don't like documentaries, this one will convert you. It's a loving portrait of an inspiring hell-raiser.