Recently, my friend Faramarz who has a nasty habit of producing TV programming for the L.A. based Iranian TV stations asked me to sub for him and interview an “artist” in his place because he had something very urgent to take care of. Apparently, his younger brother Q-mars in Texas had gone mad and had decided to get married. Faramarz was flying out there to talk some sense into him and convince him to get off Satan's donkey.
I told him I didn't know how to interview artists, especially in front of a camera, and he told me not to worry and just ask them how they feel, since that's how they always interview people on L.A.'s Iranian TV stations. In prepration for the interview, I called up the manager.
“May I speak to Mr Mooshy?”
“It's Mushy, not Mooshy, aziz.”
“Terribly sorry. What's Mushy short for anyway?”
“It's short for Masha-lah. Who are you?”
“I'm subbing for Faramarz. Tomorrow, I'll be interviewing your client, Akhy Khanoom. Can you fax me her bio so I can prepare for the interview?”
“Bio? You don't need a bio, aziz. Just ask her how she feels. That's how interviews are done in L.A. Are you from out of town or something?”
“But that's only one question. I should know more about her so I can ask her relevant questions. Like where she's from, what kind of education she has and how old she is…”
“Hey hey hey!!! You can't ask her those questions… I already told Faramarz: No hard-hitting questions. That's why we're paying him to interview her, aziz.”
“You paid money to Faramarz for this interview?”
“Well, not money. I smogged his car for free. Bring your car to the garage tomorrow and I'll smog yours too, aziz. Now, I want you to conduct the interview just like that bozo on the other Iranian station, the guy who laughs frequently and uncontrollably for no good reason and kisses up to the artists he's promoting.”
“Nevertheless, it would be nice to know a little something about her. Does she have a web page with her picture, bio, information about what she likes and some useful links to other useless web sites, perhaps?”
“No. But I do have an old resume of hers from the time that she was still an assistant chief food executive.”
When I read the resume, I learned “assistant chief food executive” means a “caterer” to you and me. I found some noteworthy items such as her winning the coveted Golden Goosht-koob Award in the category of the most original facial gestures while singing old Googoosh songs and the Painful Squint Award for the most intense squint in a nightclub performance during a particularly listless song. As I looked for the list of her qualifications I didn't find any formal musical training even though the resume did indicate her mother was rather proud of the way Akhy sounded in the shower first thing in the morning. If there was a Golden Shower-head Award, she would have undoubtedly won it too, according to Mommy. I didn't find the premier qualification for becoming a singer though, that of ghahring with one's naneh. Once at the TV station, a grumpy looking man in leather pants and a black T-shirt with the logo “Black Dogs” came over. Thinking he was the doorman, I handed him my parking ticket.
“Hey, can you validate my parking ticket?”
He gave me a classic left-left look.
“I'm not the doorman. I'm Akhy's agent.”
“Oh. I'm sorry, Mr Mooshy.”
“It's Mushy, not Mooshy.”
Very embarrassed, I apologized and shook hands with him warmly as though we had been old friends. He then issued more instructions.
“Listen, you're going to introduce her as 'Akhy: The Blazing Supernova of the L.A. Music Scene!', okay, aziz?”
“She's already gone nova? That was quick. What's Akhy short for?”
“Akhy is short for Akhtar. But don't talk about her real name in the interview. She's kind of sensitive about that. And you shouldn't, under any circumstances, ask her about the name of her town. Don't mention the shop-lifting incident either.”
“The shop-lifting incident?”
“I said DON'T mention the shop-lifting incident! That was a long time ago and the DA didn't charge her anyway because it was her first time.”
At this point, Akhy, the Blazing Supernova in a short skirt, a cut-off top and a ring through her exposed belly button walked in.
“Akhy joon, hurry. We're late for the interview, aziz.”
“Mooshy, I'm so stressed out. I just couldn't find a belly button ring that matches my ankle bracelet. Do you think this skirt makes me look wide?”
“No, aziz. You're perfect. Go sit over there and look very innocent because it makes you look 10 years younger, especially if people can't see your big teeth..”
Hey! How come she could call him Mooshy and he wouldn't correct her? She then turned to me.
“Do you think this belly button ring makes me look wide?”
“No no! The ring doesn't make you wide at all, and it makes your belly button look 10 years younger.”
Now, if I was a forthright man, I would have told her she was just naturally wide, far wider than any belly button ring or short skirt could make her. But then again, how could you not be wide and still be a supernova? Subsequently, she turned to the cameraman.
“Please use one of those lenses that makes you look skinny. Last time you used a normal lens which made me look wide. My mommy had a party for me and all the guests said the lens made me look wide.”
After the cameraman defended his lens and she stopped fussing over her width, the camera rolled and I began the interview.
“So, Miss Akhy, how do you 'feel' about your upcoming concert?”
She turned to Mr Mushy.
“Mooshy joon, I forgot. What am I supposed to say to that question?”
“Cut! We practiced that one a hundred times, aziz. Did you forget already? How many times did I tell you to stop eating all that gingo-biloba stuff. It's making you senile. Thank all the fans for their tremendous support and all the fan mail they send…”
“But nobody has sent me any fan mail. I just get those letters from the collection agency. “
“But how would they know nobody sent you fan mail? Just thank them. Say that you are at the service of the public and you have dedicated your whole life to the preservation of art and how you love every single one of your fans and your new album is a way of repaying them for the 35 dollars-a-pop tickets at your concerts and how you're doing it all in appreciation of the fans and how you're singing only because of the encouragement of the people and how with this album you feel you have reached the pinnacle of L.A.'s galactic music universe. Just keep promoting the album, okay, aziz? And look innocent because it makes you look ten years younger, especially if people can't see your big ears.”
With Mr Mooshy's instructions behind, we went on with the interview.
“I understand that in your 'Zood-bash, Chaai-ro Biaar' project, you wore a record 39 different outfits. Why?”
“Because my 40th outfit was at the dry cleaning.”
“What's your next song?
“My next song will be released as soon as the 'Dangerous Kaf-gir' project is done. In it, I have a new song called 'Cheshmaane Tow Chaahaar Goosh Hastand.'”
“Didn't you have another song by the same name in your 'Koofteh Ghel-Ghelieh Kam-rang' album?”
“Yes, but this one is different. While recording 'Koofteh Ghel-Ghelieh Kam-rang', I only wore 10 different outfits. In this song I wear 22 different outfits.”
“Did you keep all those outfits, or did you return them for a refund?”
At this point, Mr Mooshy yelled “Cut!” and jumped in:
“Timeout, aziz! I said no hard hitting questions. What is this, 60 Minutes?”
We stopped for an hour so that Akhy, the Big Bang of the L.A. music scene could have her afternoon snack consisting of tea, cup-cakes, a chocolate bar and a cream puff, and then we went on with the interview.
“So, do you like soccer? Iran just won the Asian championship.”
“Is that the sport in which toothless men hit each other with sticks?”
“No, that's hockey. In soccer people kick the ball and each other.”
“Oh, foot-ball. Yes! I'm really excited. In Iran's honor, I'll sing a song in which I'll wear 41 different outfits which will break the record I set during my 'End-less Abgoosht' album.”
“Who is your favorite Iranian player?”
“Daieh Ali. He's so cute.”
“Daieh Ali? Perhaps you mean Alieh Daie”
“Chizeh, midoony? My 'End-less Abgoosht' album received two thumbs-up from the fans in Tehran.”
She held up a picture with two smiling boys in army fatigues standing in a Tehran street, holding up her album in one hand and giving thumbs-up with the other. At this point, Mr Mooshy jumped in again.
“Cut! Akhy joon, aziz, how many times do I have to tell you, thumbs-up in Tehran don't mean the same thing as thumbs-up here.”
Embarrassed, Akhy joon got up and began dancing like Ginger from the Spice Girls and I felt quite optimistic about the future of art in L.A., aziz.
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