After New York (or to be more exact – Brooklyn), Vancouver, Istanbul and a series of other fascinating cities around the world, Tel Aviv is becoming part of the desired list of cities who have got their own special Absolut Vodka bottle.
The Absolut Tel Aviv bottle is being released as part of the Absolut Blank series designed by artist Nir Peled, who uses the professional name Pilpeled.
Pilpeled joins a long and distinguished list of artists from all over the world who have designed posters and other items for the Swedish vodka brand, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and others.
The bottle, which is being released in a limited edition of 150,000 units, commemorates Tel Aviv’s ficus tree boulevards. It serves as a tribute to nights filled with vodka and alcohol in the city, which is associated – internationally as well – with the club and nightlife culture.
“To understand Tel Aviv, one must walk its streets,” Pilpeled says of the bottle he created, as part of an initiative of the Tempo beverage company’s alcohol division and in cooperation with the Allenby Concept House owned by Srulik Einhorn and Guy Assif.
“I designed a sort of a two-sided setting with a window offering a peek into a Tel Aviv boulevard at night. In general, this city has so much energy that you get your inspiration by just feeling what you’re surrounded by,” Peled adds.
The bottle’s design is inspired by the night landscape of the Nordau, Rothschild and Chen boulevards.
Absolut is known for its bold and special ad campaigns, which are considered a milestone in the history of global advertising in general and alcohol advertising in particular.
In the past few years, the company has been releasing limited editions every year in different flavors and designs as a tribute to world cities, cocktails, etc. The special bottles are collected by tens of thousands of collectors around the world, as can be seen on websites like eBay.
It’s no surprise that the successful Swedish company decided to add Tel Aviv to its prestigious Blank series. The city has officially become in recent years one of the hottest and most fashionable cities in the world and the stronghold of partygoers from all over the world.
The New York Times has crowned Tel Aviv as the “capital of Mediterranean cool,” Lonely Planet ranked it as one of the 10 most recommended cities for clubbers and hedonists, and National Geographic declared it one of the top 10 beach cities.
Image via tlvhotspot
Perfectly situated on the Mediterranean coastline, this Middle Eastern urban playground quickly became my new favorite international city.
Brimming with an extremely attractive and young international population, nightlife that rivals Manhattan, a brilliant and burgeoning fashion scene, an incredibly relaxed vibe and a great variety of outstanding restaurants, Tel Aviv is my kind of city, and I think it may be yours, too.
To characterize Tel Aviv in a word, it’s laid-back; so much so, you may get the impression that there aren’t any actual rules by which to conduct your behavior. Perhaps it’s the sense of “carpe diem” that comes with the territory, the prolific, frenetic energy or the feeling of complete freedom. Wherever itcomes from, this hedonistic, sexy city is primed for all kinds of travelers, beach bums and party animals. Tel Aviv is for the young and the young at heart.
A mix of grunge and luxury, Tel Aviv is the essence of a cool, 21st century city. It’s not a “beautiful” city per se, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in just about everything else. While there are plenty of typical or classic sites to see in Tel Aviv, the following suggestions are my top picks.
Check out the full story from Forbes!
They say that you should commute to work, not to your social life. But these wise words make no mention of where your spiritual life fits into the equation. Sarah Weil lives in Jerusalem because it “nurtures my religious identity. But it offers no expression for my lesbian identity.”
Tired of commuting an hour each way to Tel Aviv to enjoy the frequent lesbian parties there, Weil created Women’s Gatherings Jerusalem to bring her social life a little closer. Since the first gathering in November 2011, which brought together about 50 women – twice what Weil expected – the popularity of the regular gatherings have grown significantly. Clearly, she tapped into a need.
This Saturday, April 13, Women’s Gatherings takes another big step, launching E.V.E., its first dance party. And while it may be focused on the female, Weil is adamant that all are invited. “I’m not trying to create a gay ghetto,” she says. Gay, straight and men are all welcome. But behind the turntables, it’s a women’s world.
Women, women-identified and queer DJs are the stars of E.V.E., which aims to “to provide an open, loving and celebratory queer space and to encourage women’s club music.”
It’s more radical than it sounds, both because the world of DJs and club music is so heavily male-dominated and also because, in Israel, its so Tel Aviv-centric.
“I want to bridge these two cities,” says Weil. “I’m trying to create a DJ scene in Jerusalem.”
Though not a DJ herself, she does enjoy a good dance party. E.V.E. will feature a local DJ as an opening act, followed by a more established woman DJ brought in from Tel Aviv. Weil hopes the sisterhood of the traveling DJs will encourage those in the holy city to up their game.
As Madonna famously sang, “Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I want to dance with my baby” and, a few lines later, “Music brings the people together.” Such is Weil’s intention.
“In Jerusalem, there’s such incredible diversity,” she says; politically, religiously, and culturally speaking. “I want to create a space for all that diversity to flourish.”
In the process, Women’s Gatherings is injecting some new energy into Jerusalem, giving “expression to restless creativity, answering some unrequited longings” (as their mission statement says) and, for those who previously had to trek to Tel Aviv for a vibrant nightlight, cutting their commute by quite a bit.
E.V.E.: Saturday, April 13 / Bass Club
Hahistadrut 1, Jerusalem
Doors open 8 P.M.
“All I wanted was to be in Tel Aviv − such a great city, so alive, buzzing with energy, always something going on, every hour of every day and far into the night. But it was impossible: I couldn’t find anywhere to live.” Sound familiar? It is, except that Diana Lerner was describing the situation when she first came from New York to settle in Tel Aviv almost six decades ago.
Apparently, some things never change − at least, not when it comes to Israel’s longtime hub of commerce, culture and cool. Although it had not yet achieved its iconic global status of recent years, Tel Aviv in the 1950s and ‘60s was already a magnet for young people from abroad who wanted a more open-minded, cosmopolitan atmosphere than could be found in holy Jerusalem, says Lerner, a veteran freelance journalist.
The housing situation in the seaside city was extremely tough, recalls Lerner, who commuted for months from Jerusalem to her job in the Jerusalem Post’s Tel Aviv office. She then found a space in a hostel for young female immigrants in suburban
Ramat Aviv (“It took ages to get into central Tel Aviv − the bus came only once every couple of hours”), before landing a half a room in the apartment of a couple on Reines Street. Finally, in 1957, her father came to the rescue and helped Lerner buy the airy third-floor walk-up on Ben-Yehuda Street where she still lives today at the age of 91.
Born in Hungary in 1922, Lerner grew up in Manhattan and says that Tel Aviv irresistibly attracted her with its blend of urban energy, informality, charm and “sense of doing-ness.”
“The city was pretty rough around the edges in those days, and very dirty. And it was a bit provincial, like a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else, from their job to their wives to their mistresses. But Tel Aviv was also like New York in many ways − there was always something going on and it was always a mecca for the avant-garde,” she recalls.
The center of the action was without a doubt Dizengoff Street − Israel’s Fifth Avenue, Champs Elysees and Oxford Street all rolled into one. The glittering thoroughfare was lined with shops showcasing the country’s top designers and hairdressers, and liberally dotted with popular cafes that were packed with all of Israel’s “who’s who” around the clock.
Each cafe had its own distinct character, specialty foods and most of all, its particular band of dedicated regulars, Lerner remembers. The bohemian hangout par excellence was the Kassit, at 117 Dizengoff, which served as a warm home to three generations of actors, artists, entertainers and literary luminaries from the moment of its establishment in the mid-1940s.
“Like a good Tel Avivian, I spent a lot of time at Kassit. Many of us were journalists, and we all used to go there after work, late at night, and share the day’s news − and of course, lots of gossip. Almost no one had a telephone in those days, but who needed it when we had Kassit,” she laughs.
“Having a phone was one thing I missed from New York − that and having a constant supply of electricity,” Lerner says wryly, describing the frequent power failures and the equally frequent shortage of batteries. Like everyone else, she waited four or five years before a phone line was installed in her apartment.
On Friday afternoons, Dizengoff turned into a never-ending parade of fashion, shameless flirtation and serious schmoozing as people thronged its cafes − Rowal (Kassit’s more bourgeois rival), Pinati, Frack and others − or strolled up and down the tree-lined street. On any day of the week, it was the national epicenter of girl-watching, Lerner notes. In any case, in those days before air-conditioning, sweltering Tel Aviv was “a place where people lived their lives outdoors, on the streets, in the sidewalk cafes, on the beach or their own balconies,” she points out. As a result, Tel Avivians always seemed to be tanned, toned and very sexy.
In matters of fashion, there were two ways to go − either super-stylish and elegantly coiffed, or bohemian and laid-back, says Lerner: “The Yekkes [Jews of German origin] were sticklers for hats and gloves; the creative people wore everything. In my crowd, nobody seemed to care how you dressed.”
This laissez-faire attitude prevailed in many areas of life, and there was also apparently lot of freedom in terms of sexual behavior. “There was a lot of what was called free love, and everyone knew who was sleeping with whom. Also, at a time when homosexuality was totally taboo in mainstream Israel, there was a thriving gay and lesbian culture in Tel Aviv, where these things were open and accepted. Hayarkon Street was known as a place for gay ‘hook-ups,’” Lerner says.
While much of this sounds surprisingly contemporary, Lerner notes that some things have changed: Tel Aviv is “less intimate and less innocent. Nowadays, there’s a money culture, and it’s more snobby and phony than it used to be.
“On the other hand,” she grins, “Tel Aviv is still the place you want to be. There’s just no other city like it.”
Ever wondered if there was a Hebrew word for ‘Playboy Bunny’? Well there is – ‘Shfanfana’. Hugh Heffner just loves this and now thanks to Dan Pomerantz, Israel’s very own Hugh Heffner, the Jewish state will be getting not just some (kosher!) Bunnies, but a Hebrew-language Israeli version of the revered magazine too.
Pomerantz, who exudes charisma and confidence, as you would expect from a Heffneresque entrepreneur, is a 37-year old new immigrant from Chicago, who only moved to Israel in December 2011. In fact, he still goes to regular ulpan classes, and jokes that perhaps one day they’ll be reading Playboy in ulpan … to help with the Hebrew of course!
First time he saw Playboy, Pomerantz was, like pretty much every other boy, in his pubescent teens. “It was like an adventure going through a maze,” he says. For Pomerantz, who is the CEO and Publisher of Playboy Israel, there was always “something magical” about the Playboy “name and brand”, both as a kid and now as an adult.
A corporate attorney before moving to Israel, it was during late 2010 that Pomerantz first really started to know Playboy “the business”. At the time, Playboy’s headquarters were in Chicago, close to his law office, and Pomerantz befriended Playboy’s lawyers through the Chicago legal community.
It was also around the same time, during one of his frequent trips to Israel, that Pomerantz noticed even though the Playboy ‘brand’ was known and popular there, there was no Playboy Israel magazine.
When he returned to Chicago, he asked the Playboy people why that was the case, and was referred to Playboy’s international group. At first, there was “idle curiosity”, but then discussions became more detailed and in turn those discussions became meetings, which led to research and plans, until finally the Playboy people asked him “a life-changing question” – why don’t you take these ideas and bring Playboy to Israel?
And so he did.
Though the excitement of launching Playboy in Israel was just one of the reasons for Pomerantz’s decision to make aliyah, it was not the primary one. That came as a result of his own personal Zionist journey.
When he was younger, the State of Israel played a role only “as an idea”. It was “a home to cousins I’d never met, ancient artifacts, and that impossible language from my bar mitzvah.”
Israel only became a “reality” as a “real place with real people” when he started visiting more frequently a few years ago. Whether it was being invited for Shabbat dinner, the familiarity of hearing a Hebrew word from childhood or seeing a prominent site, Pomerantz says “it’s just a million little things that add to feeling totally at home here.”
Ultimately, he “started finding excuses to come back” more and more, until around mid 2011, a friend in Israel asked: “you make all these visits? Don’t you feel homesick for Chicago?” But when he thought about it, the only time he felt homesick was when he was away from Israel. Three months later, Pomerantz was on an Aliyah flight ‘home’.
Once in Israel, Pomerantz went to work on establishing Playboy Israel, including meeting with investors, trips back and forth to Playboy headquarters in Chicago (yes, including the Playboy mansion too, “a little retro” he says, but “still very cool”) and a lot of hours putting together a team and company from scratch. In other words, living the very ‘Start-Up’ dream that has become synonymous with the State of Israel.
Fast forward a little over a year to March 2013 and Pomerantz has just launched Playboy Israel at a press conference standing next to their very first centerfold, replete with the trademark ears and Playboy bunny tail.
The magazine, which will be in Hebrew (and yes, that means also the very first Playboy magazine to be from right-to-left), will have a balance of local and international material.
Contrary to some perceptions though, the magazine will not be about “sex” or “just another lad’s mag.” Pomerantz says it will be a mixture of “seriousness and depth combined with fun and beauty”, stressing it will be “sexy but not about sex.”
So, what is “sexy” to him? Beauty. Depth. Knowledge. Confidence. And all this says Pomerantz will be reflected in the magazine, that will include everything from commentary on current affairs, political issues and international relationships, to finance, fashion, romance, gadgets and Playboy Bunnies of course.
The target audience however will not be only men. It will be “Israeli men and anyone curious about the Israeli man”, and yes, that includes Israeli women too.
Asked to define a ‘typical Israeli man’, Pomerantz notes there are many different kinds, but that Israeli men are increasingly becoming more internationally aware and curious, confident and outgoing, with “aspirations about living a good life and finding romance”, values he says fit perfectly with the Playboy brand.
And Israeli women? What are they like? They’re “gorgeous” he says, but also confident, know what they want and make decisions with strength. They’re also “a little harif” adds Pomerantz, with a cheeky smile that even the Heff would be proud off.
One of the first questions that immediately comes to mind is how far will Playboy Israel push the boundaries and are they concerned about possible backlash from the religious community? Noting “we live in a world characterised by freedom of expression and choice”, Pomerantz says the magazine will nonetheless “respect every community around us” and “will not push it in a way or a place it’s not welcome.”
Pomerantz also brushes off concerns about generally declining sales numbers of print magazines, as readers increasingly turn to the internet. “We see this as a content business, not magazine business” he says, adding that print will be just one of a number of platforms the magazine will use to connect with readers, in addition to a website, Facebook and other forms of social media.
Playboy Israel’s first issue has certainly lived up to the initial hype. The cover features the stunning Israeli celebrity fashion model Natalie Dadon, while Israeli dancer Marin Teremets is their maiden Playmate centerfold.
The magazine also features an in-depth personal interview with Avi Dichter, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security and former head of the Shin Bet, as well as a piece on the day that Steve Jobs met Andy Warhol and showed him the world’s first Macintosh computer (oh, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono were at the dinner too).
Pomerantz is also acutely mindful of the fact that through the magazine, he will have the opportunity to showcase Israel to the rest of the world. “It’s a responsibility we are aware off and take very seriously,” he says.
So, what kind of Israel will Playboy convey?
First and foremost, that Israel is a normal place, part of a modern world, a place where you can and do have something like Playboy. But also, Israel is a beautiful place with beautiful people, a place that is thoughtful with a lot of different ideas and topics and arguments and serious discussion, a place with freedom of speech, expression and ideas.
Pomerantz is “very excited to have this new forum of sharing this concept of Israel to the world” and sees a “perfect cultural connection between the beauty and complexity of Playboy and the beauty and complexity of Israel as a country.”
Just as Dan Pomerantz has decided to make Israel his home, so too has Playboy now made aliyah!