The Persian Version of Jersey Shore
I’m sitting here in Westwood “Tehrangulous” watching the newest reality show, “Shahs of Sunset”, the hometown of UCLA & a huge Persian population. How convenient as I nibble on ‘Sangak’ (a wheat-sourdough flat bread known to be Iran’s national bread) dipped in ‘Most o’Moussir’ (yogurt with shallots) and ‘Ghormeh Sabzi’ (an herb stew with Leek, Parsley, fenugreek, kidney beans & various ingredients depending on region), all bought from Wholesome Choice, a Persian market in Irvine that compares to a Gelsons with all the international cuisine & organization, but at a reasonable price. While I’m enjoying one of my favorite cuisines, I watch in suspense the preview of the new reality show “Shahs of Sunset” broadcasting on March 11, 2012. Will this be the next Jersey Shore or Kardashian show? Or will it actually be somewhat educational? We shall see.
Meet the cast of the new Persian reality show, produced by Ryan Seacrest, “Shahs of Sunset“, following 3 guys & 3 girls. Some have compared it to a “Jersey Shore” with more money & class and “Housewives of Beverly Hills”. We all know that Seacrest has an eye for hit shows turned Guilty Pleasures for many (i.e.: Keeping up with the Kardashians). These are shows that are flashy with controversy, high ratings and a lot of audience envy. The Iranian-Jewish population in West Los Angeles is a group of charismatic individuals very hard to ignore. While they’re well known locally, the rest of the world may be confused by this seemingly oxy-moron. Iran + Jews? Confusing to outsiders as Iran is now considered a hardcore “Islamic Republic” at war against Israel, the homeland of Jews.
They drive flashy cars, sport flashy watches, throw rockstar parties, occupy the table services at the hottest Hollywood clubs, and own half of Real Estate around town. Most of them attended UCLA & USC, many with MBA’s & JD’s and are Lawyers, Doctors, Developers and Investors. They work hard (probably more smart than hard), and know how to Play even harder. In the past 30 years, they have made a significant impact in Los Angeles with their assets & presence. The interesting irony of this show is that the 3 guys are Jewish, 2 of the girls are Muslims. Interesting paradigm as they debate on the first episode about inter-marriage, a common conversation topic in LA.
This show is not meant only to show off their rich lifestyles, but to share the resilience of a small Jewish population of people, kicked out of the “old country” (Iran) in 1979 when the Shah was overthrown. Jews among other minorities were kicked out, some fled to Israel, some to Florida, but many to West LA. There’s a total population of about 330,000 in the world, and about 70,000 in the US. That’s a very small percentage compared to a 330 million population in the US. And what better time to showcase a culture of Middle Eastern people than now so maybe, just maybe, it could shed light and change minds of ignorant Americans that not all of them are terrorists.
While the Jews have been known to be an educated, resilient community in all of history, there is something about the savvyness of the Persian that have been able to maintain the lavish lifestyle in Beverly Hills. With some money saved (although a lot of land and assets stolen from them), and the help of their tight-knit community, they began to buy small pieces of Real Estate. What would start as a small house, to a small apartment building and then paid off in the 90’s, are now grossing significant incomes for their families and generations to come. 9-5 jobs are uncommon for them, as you see in the video, confidently stated by Mike, “We don’t work in buildings, we own them.” That sophisticated way of looking at how to deal with money, money making more money, is one that I’ve used as a model. It’s the only way to retire by 35, have a flexible lifestyle, be able to Travel the World and take care of my family through investments. Paycheck to paycheck and praying on a 401k is so 20 years ago.
Caption: Sammy & Mike at my birthday, Geisha House Hollywood, in Nov. 2011
I’ve become good friends with some Iranians, done a lot of business and partied with them at their Shabbats, Nowruz & lavish parties. They’re a fun bunch, and I’m looking forward to watching this show in March and hope it will give us all some insight into their culture beyond the partying and money, but into a family-oriented culture that values Education while knowing how to have a good time.
Watch a 2 minute sneak preview here!