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A & K
My infatuation with Andy & Kouros

August 9, 2001
The Iranian

I am going to take a big risk by sharing with you this story. The risk resides in showing just how "old-school" I really am. Well, here it goes.

When I was a teeny-bopper, the dreamy pop stars of my youth were not the Backstreet Boys or Nsync. Not even New Kids on the Block. Instead they were two fully grown, hairy men, who liked to dress up on stage in similar outfits and spoke English with a thick accent. Siegfrid and Roy, you say? Wrong! Despite all the appearances of being the model for Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo, these pop idols of mine could not be more hetero. They were, after all, Iranian. Yes. Andy & Kouros.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't mean Andy solo or Kouros solo. I mean Andy & Kouros, as in one entity, when they were at the peak of their fame, gangster fedoras circa. Al Capone's Chicago of the 20s and all that jazz. Aaaahhhh, what a troubled time for the Anglophone music scene back then, what with MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice, and C & C Music Factory. Can you blame me then for turning to A & K?

Well, to explain my bobby soxer's infatuation with this Iranian Odd Couple, I must go back a little bit in my story to Maddy (or Madeleine, yeah I know strange name for an Iranian but I think her dad was particularly enamored of Proust. Go figure!). Maddy was my first Iranian friend, the first Iranian I even encountered outside of my family circle.

Like Mary Poppins, a lucky wind dropped her off into my life when I needed her the most. She was older than me (and thus wiser of course!) and she had been in Iran most of her life. She taught me Farsi slang (like the memorable "bekap" instead of "bekhaab") and enchanted me with countless stories of her gardener in Tehran, Zolf-Ali (the hilarity being, of course, that he was as bald as a cueball).

Maddy was the one who begged me one day to go to an A & K concert. My first instinct was that my parents would never let me go, I was too young. Plus, I was a bit scared. Concerts sounded like seedy places where moshers hurled beer bottles at each other. I had never been to an Iranian concert so I didn't know how different they were to your average Woodstock.

After countless pleadings by Maddy to try to convince my parents (rightly so) that the whole thing would be quite a PG affair, they relented on the condition that we would be accompanied by a chaperone. The lucky winner of THAT lottery ended up being Maddy's mother, Mrs. G.

That first concert remains the most magical memory of my teeny bopper years. Countless trips back and forth between Maddy's and my closet to pick out the "perfect" outfit. Ingenious ways to apply make-up so that it would go unnoticed through the radar of our parents. And the hair! The hair!....Up... Down.. To the side... Gelled... Moussed... Hairsprayed. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing! But we were the happiest campers ever.

At the concert, everyone was so dressed up and looked so much older than us. The best was all the cute guys! (Not that they would give us the time of day!) Maddy and I were trying to act cool, walking fast ahead so that people wouldn't think we were there with a chaperone. We immediately zeroed in on our future husbands, whom we gave imaginary names and followed around the whole night like lovesick puppies.

The best, however, was when the concert started and A & K appeared on stage. Immediately, a swarm of Iranian teenagers, girls mostly, rushed the stage. We somehow managed to get to the front despite Mrs. G.'s admonishments. With the help of Maddy's elbows, we were in the best spot, center front, for the duration of the concert.

Everyone was screaming, singing along, especially the part of "Ki Bacheye Tehraneh?" to which everyone screamed out "Maa bacheye tehroonim" and so on and so forth, mentioning all the provinces of Iran. Turned out everyone had multiple roots in the crowd, me included! I didn't care, I just screamed along even though I could only understand one out of every five words.

There was electricity in the air. At one point, one of the A & K duo, I don't remember which, pointed the microphone down into the pit, and grabbed it and joyfully sang? Maddy! She sang: "taa hasstam o hassti baa ham, Omramo baa to migzaram! Ageh begi doossam daarii... Harfe to baavar mikonam..." She was all of 13-years old.

After the end of their set, we finally made our way back to Mrs. G., sitting at one of the back tables fanning herself. "Can you believe some of these girls?" Mrs. G. exclaimed with pity. "All behaving so wildly. One of them even took the microphone to sing!" Maddy and I just looked at each other and smiled.

For the next one or two years, Maddy and I must have gone to every single A & K concert there was in our city and in the surrounding area. We were invariably accompanied by Maddy's older sister, my parents, my khaaleh, etc. That never stopped us from having the best time in our lives. Monday to Friday was a strict, boring, gray, English-style private school where we were just another brick in the wall. But the weekends of those concerts, god almighty, we exploded in colors, and gherred and screamed out all of A & K's songs.

Those concerts remain some of the best memories of my teeny-bopper years. When A & K broke up and went solo, that stage of my life ended with them. Ironically, it was about that time when the Mary Poppins wind returned to scoop Maddy away from me. Soon concerts, dancing, damboli rythms, all those were distant memories, and I started digging hip-hop and house music, and hanging at that staple of North American teen-age life: the all-ages club night.

Many years later, on a Christmas Eve wen my friends and I were sitting around, somebody got the idea of going to an Iranian concert playing that night. We all first laughed it off, then boredom got the best of us. I started getting excited, remembering all those nights of fun we used to have with Maddy at those A & K concerts. Faint sounds of "Topoliye-Reezeh-Meezeh" even started coming back to me. We all piled into the car and drove to the concert hall.

I don't remember who the singer was. It's not important. When we arrived, and I looked around, I recognized none of the faces I used to see on almost a weekly basis. All I saw was a bunch of 35-year-old women trying to look 16 (nothing more disturbing than seeing a grown woman with glittery picachu barrettes in her hair) and a bunch of 12-year-olds trying to look 25 (They all seemed to be wearing the same set of pearls and platform shoes).

The men were none of the cute boys I remembered stalking shamelessly around the corridors of the hall. I started doubting myself and those memories. Was this how it all looked back then? Was I among these people? Was I just romanticizing a past long gone? That night, we did not stick around, not even to hear the first set. Instead we ended up at some Greek joint where they broke plates around us til the sun came up.

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