Monday, July 04, 2005

It's the 4th, and I am thinking about a dozen sexy Arab men

Note: Except for the hot Arab writers I talk about, there is nothing literary about this post.

When I initially heard about Yes, the Sally Potter movie in iambic pentameter about an Irish-American woman who has an affair with a Lebanese man, I was angry: it seems suddenly in vogue to make art that objectifies Arab men. Then my friend Z calmed me down when she pointed out that the trend makes Arab men taboo and therefore desired. "It'll be like black men! They'll be so hot! Don't worry!" She's right.

So, in anticipation of the soon-to-be cultural craze, I present to you a baker's dozen of sexy Arab men. I hope you enjoy.

Amr Diab is an obvious choice: the pop star of the Middle East, Diab has been performing his catchy songs since the mid-80s. I remember dancing to "Mayyaal" when I was 7, and to "Habibi" last year at a club; he's been shaking my booty for 20 years. He's 40, fit, and fly. Check the fucking dimple. Oh, yeah.

Abdel Halim: He's been dead a while, which brings me to a point that illustrates beautifully how sexy this guy was: women threw themselves off balconies when they found out he'd died. Some say it's because they were emotional, I say it's because their fantasies of fucking him were dashed forever and the prospect of living without the possibility of fucking Ab Halim was too great to bear. He's best-known in the west because of Jay Z's sample of "Khosaara" on Big Pimpin'.
Balconies, people. Fly.

Edward Said: I almost considered throwing myself off something when I found out Said died. I fantasized the whole time I was writing my novel that he'd one day read it. Now he won't, and I'll never get to meet him, see that sexy jaw-line in real life. Goddamn, he was hot. He's like 70 in this picture. Sexiest 70 year old man I've ever seen.

Claude Chalhoub: Dude, he's a Lebanese guy who composes and performs his own pieces... on violin. It's self-explanatory, no? Fucker is fly.

Dave Attell: Let me count the ways. Alcoholic? Check. Fucking hilarious? Check. Visited a prostitute on film? Check. Starred in the cinematic masterpiece Pootie Tang? Check. Bald? Check. Has given me insomnia over how Luscious and Crazy Hot he is? Check.

Ghassan skriver
Ghassan Kanafani: The voice of the Palestinian struggle in the 60s, Kanafani wrote Men in the Sun, All That's Left To You, and amazing short stories that remind me of Chekov, if Chekov grew up in a refugee camp. He was killed by a car bomb planted by Israeli agents on July 8, 1972. He rocks my world, still. His nose, his high brow, his delicate wrist. Brother was fine.

mohamad_chamas1Mohamad Chamas: This is the kid from West Beirut, which if you haven't seen, you must. (Before anyone accuses me of being a dirty old woman, he's 21 now. He is my version of the Ron crush-- most women over 18 think the kid who plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies is hot, which will forever remain a mystery to me). Chamas was a street thug and living in a refugee camp orphanage when he was scooped up to play a part in this film. He's hilarious, naughty and rebellious, and exudes a spirit so immense, it's beautiful. Ever since I read a digested version of Oliver Twist in Arabic translation as a 10 year old, I've loved me some hot orphan thugs.

mahmoud-darwish-200x185_bwMahmoud Darwish: Arab poets wear suits when they read, with a tie and everything. But when Darwish rocks the suit, he kills me. Whenever I read his poem, "A Gentle Rain In A Distant Fall," with its imagery of chains and kisses being sent through the mail, I shudder.

Ziad Doueiri: He was Tarantino's cameraman on Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, and almost Jackie Brown, but he split to Lebanon and made West Beirut instead. He is a consummate filmmaker, and uses music and bicycles in a way that brings the viewer to ecstatic highs. I love that he had the cojones to make a movie about coming of age during war, and that he did it so beautifully. And dude, just look at him. So. Fucking. Gorgeous.

Ahmad Zaki: The first black Egyptian to star front and center in Egyptian movies, Zaki does something in each one of his performances that no other actor can do: he makes me fall for him, then breaks my heart. Something about his presence and spirit is so sexy, commanding, and magnificent; it had to be for him to pull off roles as both Nasser and Sadat. Let's just say I would have liked to be an intern on both of his president films.

Zeid from Soap Kills: Soap Kills is the only band from the Middle East that sounds the way it sounds, which says a lot about the musicians in it, since the Middle East has a homogenous music scene (when I say this, I mean there's only about a dozen types of music; and almost no electronica). The brother in a brother-sister team, Zeid produces some of the phatest beats and on "Kazdoura," the building drums and organs are so sultry they should come with a towel. So: Daring+Inventive+sexy hair and brows=fucking hot.

Tony Shalhoub: Check the huge, vertical dimple on that grill. And he looks super-hot with a beard, which is weird, because the beard hides the dimple. Monk or no monk, I'd still totally try to rape him if I ever saw him.

Rachid Taha: My absolute favorite. His rendition of Yarayeh made me cry, then want to hop on a plane and stalk the Paris streets looking for this man. His throaty, soulful voice sinks into my veins. I love Diwan; I love its generous, respectful homage to older Arab singers, classical Arabic music, traditional folk songs and dance numbers. So: hot voice, beautiful lips, gorgeous hair that looks like bunches of black grapes, reverence for history= the sexiest Arab man alive. (Also, click on the photo for yet another hot one.)

UPDATE: Leila sends in wondering whether Omar Sharif should count. I say:


I went through a time period (ages 15-17) when I was in love with Doctor Zhivago. Not Boris Pasternak, not Omar Sherif, but Yuri Anderyevich Zhivago. I love the sensitivity, the sweetness, the emotional acuity Sharif brought to the role in the David Lean adaptation. No other man, Arab or not, has looked less sleazy cheating on his wife on celluloid. I used to cry and cry when I'd watch the ending: it's too bad those three couldn't just threesome it. On the DVD, it shows how the make-up people waxed Sharif's hairy forehead and added a wispy hairpiece so he would look more "poet-like." You can read a hilarious New Yorker piece about Sharif here.

Have a sexy arab man you think I should've mentioned? Email suggestions to


Anonymous Leila said...

I'm sure I'll feel stupid when you tell me, but who is the guy between Claude Chalhoub and Ghassan Kanafani? He looks familiar. You didn't post his name.

I met Said in 1999 when he spoke at Berkeley. The photo you put up doesn't do him justice. He was elegant, almost fey, in that slick way Cairene men have that makes Westerners think they're gay when they aren't. Said was also a great dresser, and this pissed off people in New York in the old days. Again, he was old school Cairo khawagga; Egyptian upper class men and khawaggat like to dress well, but some Said-haters I met from Columbia in the 1980s used that as evidence of his perfidy.

More sexy Arab guys, please. I would add several poets I heard read at the Rawi conference but I wouldn't want them talking about me (or the women poets) that way so I won't name names. If you're reading this and you read at Rawi, you can consider yourself complimented.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Leila said...

How do you feel about Omar Sharif, anyway? I mean, there's some discussion about whether he's really an Arab although he always calls himself one. I like the Dr. Zhivago era Sharif, and when he strode out in the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, wearing black trousers and black abayeh - uh huh!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Leila said...

How do you feel about Omar Sharif, anyway? I mean, there's some discussion about whether he's really an Arab although he always calls himself one. I like the Dr. Zhivago era Sharif, and when he strode out in the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, wearing black trousers and black abayeh - uh huh!

8:22 PM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

i was at a 4th of july party and we were talking about ed said's outfits just before i saw your comment! hilarious. i don't care if he wore $1,000 shirts, he was the shit.

also, omar sharif! of course. altho i am not a fan of L of arabia. just couldnt get into it.

and the poets who read at RAWI...two of them are dear friends. i actually would post about them if i didn't think they'd die of embarrassment. but i'll let them know!


4:48 AM  
Anonymous Baby Z said...

Ah - so many wonderful men. Your daily blog gives me reason to come to work in the morning. And what the hell is wrong with wearing $1,000 shirts? Nobody criticizes when Jay-Z or Tony Blair do it! I think that shit is hot.

Men to add:

Rabih Abou Khalil - quite possibly the hottest oud player to ever grace a stage. I saw him play live in Paris at an open air Jazz concert and he was dressed to kill in Lebanese inspired garb, had a sly sweet smile and was a playa in every sense. His music (along with that of Fayruz's) is responsible for my American husband falling madly in love with me.

Ziad Rahbani - Always on the cutting edge of theater/art/music/politcal thought - and fucking hillarious too! Never afraid to speak his (all too left) mind, almost always smoking and eternally smug, with a big nose to boot. I love this pic. of him:

The day of the Arab man commeth.


11:01 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

OOooof! What a lovely selection. That certainly cheered me up today.

Dave Attell was in Pootie Tang? Don't remember him but cool :)

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Leila said...

Thanks for adding Omar and your feelings about him. I only saw L of Arabia on video at a drunken party, twenty years ago now. Just remember that seen where he's striding across the sands of the Hijaz in a very fetching all black trousers-turtleneck-abayah ensemble. Keep your Peter O'Toole, I'll take Omar any day.

Did you know he went to school with Edward Said? Yes! it's in Out of Place. Sharif, whose real name was something else, was head boy at their rather exclusive Anglophile boys' school.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Leila said...

scene, not seen of course.

3:34 PM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

yes, L, the bastard's real first name is Michel, and I hear he was a prick to Said. Out of place was full of really cool stories like that, wasn't it? i love Said.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand you have your own favorates. I might agree about Amro Diab and Omar Sharif, I think there are tons of Arab men who look much better than the other choices. Man some of your pics are really considered some of the ugliest in arab entertainment industry such as Rashid Taha (Big Yuck) Abudl haleem may his sould rest in peace with his ugly face and sick physique. There are alot of arab men who are so good looking that one or two of your picks might just might make it to the top one million.

3:48 AM  
Anonymous Carlo said...

Good Job! :)

3:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home