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Gilded Serpent presents...
Alexandria's Archives,
Part 1
A Sampling of Costume Creations
Authentic Ethnic, Fantasy and Everything in Between
Intro by Lynette and GS Staff

The eclectic Carnival of Stars Festival, held in Hayward, California, is just around the corner. This third annual event features a panel discussion, a costume contest, underground cartoonists, in addition to workshops and performances.

Why does Alexandria (Pepper Alexandria) hold a festival that brings belly dance and comic books together? Perhaps her photo albums hold a key to the answer; she has always combined these two worlds and the combination has served her career in dance very well.  She has been a purist in several ethnic specialties, as well as a fusion artist who mixes regional costuming with pure fantasy. Pepper did this long before the current divide in our community over such issues. One of the first to mix Cabaret and what is now called Tribal, she says she started this out of confusion! I suspect that it also has to do with her very creative and rebellious nature. Alexandria now focuses her own dance solely on the Classical Egyptian style.

She began her career as a performer in New Orleans, moving to the San Francisco Bay Area during the "summer of love". She was first introduced to Oriental dance by Princess Aisha, a Turkish bellydancer that worked at the Bagdad Cabaret in San Francisco. Then she studied with Masha Archer, Jamila Salimpour, Edwina Nearing, Fatma Akef, Amina Goodyear, and Dahlena. She was a stick dancer (cane or ?) as part of troupe Bal Anat in 1974. In 1979, She was one of the earliest American dancers to go to Egypt, where she studied Ghawazi dance with the Banat Mazin.

Her career has included regular gigs at the Solano Stroll, and Hooker's Ball, performances at comic book conventions, as the "in house" dancer for TV shows such as Creature Features and Cinema Insomnia, shows with TV spokes person Henry Tannibaum, Tribune reporter Chancy Baily, and Sidewalks for Richard Lee. In the 1980’s she became involved in the punk scene, and formed the band "The Clones" along with James White. They have now been playing the local punk dives for 10 years.

Pepper became involved in underground cartoon scene as an artist as well as a model. This involvement started at the Hooker's Ball while dancing for Margo St. James with Masha and Molly Bode. "There I met Larry Todd (Dr. Atomic). He introduced me to Vaughn Bode (father of Mark Bode who created the cartoon characters Cheech Wizard and Colbalt 60) and from there I also met Robert Crumb (created "Mr Nautral"), Gilbert Shelton (created "Fat Freddy's Cat"),Spain Rodriguez, Hal Robbins, and Mark Bode." Pepper just published her third volume of Belly Dance Comics. She makes costumes for herself and as well as many other dancers, and she also creates and sells cloth sculptures of comic book characters (The Bode Dolls).

Pepper says of herself: "I want people to know that I am not trying to bring down Belly dance, I helped create every aspect of it and everything that you've heard about me is true!"

Carnival of Stars: November 10 and 11, 9am-9pm. This year's instructors include- Dahlena, Angelika, Jacque, and Star of Creature Features, John Stanley.

Cabaret costume with assuit skirt. I sold this costume to Natica

Cabaret costume with tiara

Pepper costumed as a women of the Ouiled Nail of Algeria.
Yes, she is smoking a cigarette.

Pepper and students pose with David Nash. David is a well known performer who worked in Las Vegas as a singer and dancer for 16 years
Marge from Hawaii is on right and ? is on left.

Improvised performance in Tunisian costume with Tai Che swords at a comic book convention

Blue Guedra performance at a festival in Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland

Posing with an ape man on Creature Features

Interacting with a unicorn at a comic book convention

Pepper performing with her band- "the Clones" at the Gilman street punk rock club in Berkeley. This band has been together for 10 years

Pepper in ghawazi costuming.
More ghawazi dance including the Banat Mazin will be featured in the part 2 of Pepper's archives

Pepper in character as Marilyn Monroe.
"I did this character for singing telegrams. -Happy Birthday Mr. President!"

In character as the blue haired "Bodisatfa" for the "Hooker's Ball", a yearly event in San Francisco.

"Garters and Nails" Just a fantasy costume, mixing goth, Bellydance, and Thai finger extensions?

Tattoo face -Here is when I started mixing cab, gypsy and tribal styling all together

Performing in fringe costume at a Hells Angels event

In the punk mode with niece Melanie at the Florida Space center

In one of my "Red Sonya" Costumes
She is a character from the Conan movies.
Notice the tooth necklace

Solano stroll in Beledi dress at our usual spot in front of the rug store.
"I've been at the Solano Stroll for 18 years!"

Performing with Reda's band at Rakkasah 9 years ago

Publicity shot from my New Orleans era

Performing with a sword. Robaire on drum in back.
This was a gig for Last Gasp Comics attended by Robert Crumb who drew "Mr Natural". 1974-6?

Pepper and troupe posing With Mr. Stanley of "Creature Features" 23 years ago.
Mr Stanley will be at this year's event. More recent photos of us together on our site.
Zenuba, Pauline, Julie, John Stanley and Pepper Alexandria.

Pepper posing with Molly Bode
Molly's husband Mark a talented cartoonist will be at our event on Saturday, Nov 10.

This is a photo from when I was with Masha Archer in 1973. Her troupe was called "San Francisco Classical Dance Company"
Plates on breasts and head piece are Turkmen.
I remember this style as being invented by Masha

Tribal pose from the Masha era
Cholie use started by Masha

Performing in a tiger print dress at the Salono Stroll

Pepper posing with a toy seller dressed as a viking at a comic book convention. This is another Red Sonya costume.

Next photo spread will be featuring the Mazin family and Alexandria's obsession with Ghawazi!

Pepper Alexandria and Latifa's Carnival of Stars festival will be held on November 10 & 11 in Hayward, California

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
Reports on last year's festival
Sunday Photos PAGE 1-Carnival of Stars 2006 Photos by Michael Baxter
Event Sponsors Alexandria and Latifa November 11 & 12, 2006 Centennial Hall, Hayward, California
2-7-07 Sunday Photos PAGE 2-Carnival of Stars Photos by Michael Baxter
1-16-07 The Costume Contest Carnival of Stars Bellydance & Comic Book Convention & Costume Contest Photos by Michael Baxter
1-4-07 Saturday Photos -Carnival of Stars Bellydance & Comic Book Convention & Costume Contest Photos by Michael Baxter
2-13-07 Sunday Morning Panel Discussion at Carnival of Stars, November 11, 2007 Transcribed from video by Allyson

Panel members discussed Fusion in Belly Dance. Members included: Jihan Jamal, Shareen El Safy, Dahlena, Debbie Lammam, Amina Goodyear, and Edwina Nearing

Reports on 2005 festival
5-5-05 Carnival of Stars Holiday Dance Festival and Comic Book Convention Photos by GS Staff
12-22-05 Comic Book Artists Portray Dancers
In addition to the dancing and vending, comic book artists were on hand to demonstrate their ability to convert photos into works of art as well as to promote their work.

2-15-06 The Danish Caricatures Controversy: a Muslim-American Political Cartoonist Weighs-In, by Khalil Bendib
Try as I may, while reviewing the infamous Islam-o-phobic Danish caricatures, I fail to discern in them any clear political statement other than the questionable assertion that Islam equals terrorism.

10-11-07 The Jamila Experience by Yasmela
All of these feelings fled as soon as Jamila walked through the door.  A big impressive woman clad entirely in black...

10-15-07 The Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals, Part 3- Separating the Girls from the Women by Yasmin
If a performer conducts herself as a professional she is much more likely to obtain repeat engagements and referrals. No one wants to be seen knowingly hiring an amateur. It is bad for business and a customer’s image.

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