My readers in Turkey and I found each other by pure serendipity. Yep. It was my clueless foray into Facebook advertising and an inadvertent “Country” click that launched an audience for my blog at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
Only problem is, I don’t speak any of Turkey’s numerous regional dialects. So I have no idea what any of my new Facebook page fans are saying in their comments. And neither does the Facebook translator that appears underneath the comment box. When I lamented this language-barrier dilemma to my son Harry, his eyes lit up.
“But, Mom! There’s Zeki Müren!”
“Turkey’s Liberace. He was a hugely popular singer in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and he looked just like Liberace.”
“Is he still alive?”
“No,” Harry said with a slight frown. “He died on stage.”
“Yeah, he was performing and had a heart attack. They grieved in Turkey the way people here mourned Elvis. Zeki Müren was their king.”
Harry did a Google search for a photo of Zeki, and I couldn’t believe his similarity to Liberace. Wikipedia conferred: Müren dressed effeminately, wearing large, ornate rings and heavy make up, especially in the later years of his life. I read, too, it’s believed he paved the way for the many later, more openly gay or transgender Turkish artists. This past July Müren’s face appeared on dozens of banners and signs as a hero of the Pride March in Ankara.
So now my newfound audience and I have the Zeki-Liberace connection, because, as you may or may not know, Liberace and I shared Milwaukee as our hometown. And while I was born to be an Elvis fan, I did visit the Liberace museum in Las Vegas twice just to see all his outrageous outfits, furs and jewelry. So while I can’t pronounce it, I can, with the help of an online translator, say to my Turkish readers: Tüm rock! Teşekkür Ederiz. (You all rock! Thank you.)