I ran across this yesterday and thought I’d post it on my blog.
Plain Jane’s Beneath a Veil
An Article By Delilah, April 2009
We all have a certain number of relationships in our lives. On average, we have our parents and siblings, maybe a spouse or two, and a couple of kids. We have a handful of close friends we will know throughout our lifetimes; many acquaintances that come and go; maybe a couple of disgruntled neighbors over the years. It may seem like a lot of connections to maintain. However, when people become public figures, the number of those connections grows exponentially. They may have more close friends, they have many more acquaintances, and in addition they have thousands of folks who know something about them, but they don’t know them at all. What they do, say, and wear becomes dinner conversation for complete strangers across the world. Well-meaning people become emotionally demanding of their heroes. For the newly famous (or infamous, as the case may be), this takes getting used to. The public expects things from those they deem their demigods and -goddesses.
It takes a while before it dawns on you that you have become an icon instead of mere mortal. One day I was buzzing around the country on a string of airplanes and I realized there were probably folks in the airports who knew who I was…yet I didn’t know them. Then I realized there probably wasn’t a state in America where someone didn’t have one of my instructional DVD’s; then I realized that it was true for every city in America; and for every country in the world, since I’ve been producing them since 1985, selling my DVD’s internationally and they have been pirated in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, and China. I have inspired many women to belly dance, that’s for sure. The letters I receive are personal and heartfelt. Making those connections with other dancers are the true rewards of service and dedication to the art. I wouldn’t trade those encounters for the world. As I contemplated all this I guess it makes me feel a warm sense of pride.
I really am very social and love people. I care very much for the welfare of the human condition. I am passionate about turning women on to the art of belly dance because I think it’s rejuvenating at any age and can help change the world. Most belly dancers don’t think much about changing the world: they just dance. I work hard mixing altruistic ideals with my belly dance, and I am sincere and tireless in my messages. I am sure it confuses people because the people I touch are touched at such a distance there can be no real knowing. (I believe it is what inspires me to write more articles) .
However, just as much as the good, . . . the bad and the ugly raise their heads too. The percentages go up the more people you touch. Have one bad encounter and it hurts. Have two bad experiences and it hurts twice as much. That’s why famous folks shield themselves and wrap themselves in a veil of privacy. No one likes unpleasant encounters: celebrities, or the average Joe and Jane. When people’s expectations are shattered and they feel slighted, it’s painful, and when people react in turn with scorn and spite, it’s painful too. I hope this story sheds some light and understanding so we all can be kinder to our demigods and -goddesses and learn to get along more realistically as a global family.
I have a lot on my mind sometimes, because I wear a lot of hats. I’m a teacher, director, producer and promoter. One day, while I was busy juggling several of those hats, a gal dropped off a guest at my Hawaii retreat. She wanted to meet me, because I had been a large influence on her dance. I did not know this young woman, and to make matters worse, apparently a gift — a special veil she had made– had come my way through other hands, but sent by her, many years ago, and I simply could not recall it even after it was described to me later on. I don’t know if I ever even received it. It sounds just dreadful of me, doesn’t it? It made my heart hurt.
The young woman came up to me as I was trying to take care of some business and introduced herself. I said, “Hello, thank you for delivering my guest to the retreat,” and excused myself immediately to continue my business…and this young gal was devastated. The next day she emailed me and told me how she felt, and that she would never recommend any of my retreats or DVD’s ever again. Things got completely blown out of proportion. I felt very bad and I thought about her often over the next few months. I thought that I was just being human and so was she. Our ability to build our heroes into demigods is great: our persona lives different lives while our true consciousness lives only inside our own boots.
After some time had passed I contacted this person again and shared a shorter version of the following experience. We feel we are friends today.
In 1977, I got the opportunity to be in a scene in the movie The China Syndrome, starring Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, because of my involvement in the development of the “Belly Gram” concept.
My friend Joshua Leeds owned “Live Wires”, the Singing Telegram Company. I worked for him for a while during the holiday season singing to folks over the phone. It was a fun and creative little enterprise he had going, with offices in San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
One day I was talking to Joshua and I ran the idea past him of doing a “Belly Gram”. He said, “I’m listening. How would you do it?”
Remember how in the movie Cleopatra, her faithful servant goes to Caesar’s palace and has a special message for Caesar’s ears and eyes only. Then he rolls Cleopatra out of a carpet at his feet. Well, similarly I would have my tall handsome drummer arrive. I would be concealed in a large red velvet bag. As the drummer announced our presence to the recipient of the Belly Gram and began to play, I would slither out of the bag and do a mesmerizing dance as the audience oohed and aahed. I had a small veil with the addressee’s name in glitter on it, which I would present to them as a token. Next we would do a short drum solo and we would end with a power shimmy, a pop and a mutual bow! Then he would throw me over his shoulder and quickly leave. That was the original Belly Gram. Joshua loved it and he started hiring dancers in all the offices. It actually opened the door for all sorts of short vignettes of performance to be delivered to door steps. A story I’ll save for another day…
This idea hit Hollywood by storm. It was the perfect gift for the rich and famous who already had everything. Movie producers, actors, rock stars and millionaires were all passing Live Wire messages back and forth. Thus it got written into the script of The China Syndrome to have Live Wires in the movie as one of the fluffy stories that Jane Fonda, in her role as a human-interest reporter, would cover in the film.
I auditioned for the part with fifty different acts, and was chosen to appear in the film, complete with my signature gift of a glitter-embellished veil. While they were appreciated by the recipients, those veils were becoming a pain in the ass for me to make all the time (I have terrible handwriting). The film company asked me to make one with the TV Station Channel call letters on it. I felt somewhat out of my department for something like that. For a belly gram it’s okay, but for the film? I thought they should have their prop department make it. I painstakingly did it anyway.
When I arrived at the location, Jane Fonda was in the elevator with me. I noted how she was so small and skinny. I shook her tiny, frail hand in amazement. She barely acknowledged me. I felt a bit snubbed but was still in awe. Her hairdresser was tagging alongside her, combing and spaying her hair.
I was preparing for the scene, so I got out the stupid veil and tried to present it to the director and stage manager. Suddenly, Jane stepped towards me, looked me straight in the face and curtly said, “That won’t be necessary, dear.” My feelings got so hurt. I was shaken and frustrated that I was even in the position to have to present that stupid veil at all. I fought back a tear or two right before I had to do the scene. I was crushed. For many years, every time her name came up I probably made a derogatory comment, spurred by my brief yet painful memory. I held it against Jane Fonda for years.
For years, that is, until I was in her shoes (sorry Jane, I truly forgive you). She simply had a lot on her mind. That was all there was to it. She had lines, blocking, makeup to do . . . she didn’t walk around with a scepter thinking she was a goddess to everyone she meets any more than I do. Like Ms. Fonda, we are all each just plain Janes in the everyday roles of our lives. We have no control of our roles and personalities as they are projected into other folks’ lives. Our admiration deifies people and puts them on pedestals, but we are shocked when they don’t abide by the confines of those pedestals, or fulfill our expectations. We might even feel superior to our mentors that inspired us and led us up the road to greatness. This can lead us to act with jealousy, and spears of rivalry if it is not in check.. It’s so sad when the cord is cut, and so happy when that cut can be healed.
In telling this tale I personally gleaned good insight. I told it so others might too. However when I look at the entirety of the 2 stories. The gal in Hawaii had tied to give me a veil. I had a veil for the movie scene. Both went unappreciated until this story made me contemplate the power behind veiling which is related to celebrity.
While the veil gets a bad wrap when it seems forced upon a woman. However, there is a power in the veil that should be known by every woman. To veil is to empower that which is within. We empower or imbue with mystical insights from behind the veil. We veil bread so it will rise, we veil alters and sacred objects, women veil for anonymity and as a signal for much needed privacy. Personally I am an open book. Perhaps this story is trying to tell me I need to be more private. Or perhaps by writing, I metaphorically wore these veils , went with in, found deep insight and was empowered to share it with you.. I love this universe!
The award winning movie was released in 1979. It’s working title was “Power”. It’s about a nuclear power plant accident. It was released right before Three Mile Island incident. There were articles in the cult new papers on how all the players were drawn together by a psychic forces. Jane Fonda went on to make exercise videos and Delilah made belly dance videos. Jane and Delilah are both fellow Capricorns. The veil incident in the story also holds symbolic resonance because the girl at the retreat was also a veil maker. The gift in question was a veil. The belly gram prop was a veil made by Delilah.
Fact is stranger than fiction.