We've all seen him outside the city's hot spots and beyond, punctuating our wild nights with fresh flowers, a wink and a song. Yes, that's right - we're throwing the spotlight on the unstoppable Khaled Flower...
"KHALED FLOWER, ON ZA HOUR, TAKE A SHOWER!" It's a jingle we've all heard at some point in our lives here in Cairo. You may not have noticed, but you've definitely heard it. It’s the PR branding jingle that can only have come from an Egyptian working class creative; one that shows the ingenuity and eagerness that’s unique to our country. After years of seeing Khaled Mohamed AKA Khaled Flower outside almost every single party or event we've ever been to, selling flowers to raucous drunk socialites and scantily clad party-goers, our curiosity grew more and more. Where is he from? How does he know when these parties are? Is he an undercover police man? Does he get paid to spy on boyfriends and girlfriends? After seeing him once again outside an obscure party in the North Coast a few weeks ago, we couldn't contain ourselves anymore, we needed to know more about the mystery that is Khaled Flower. He's seen it all, and we brought him in for a chat to reveal all his secrets...
What is your name?
No, your real name?
So, how and where did it all begin?
Back in the 90s I used to be a waiter at Naguib Sawiris’ bar, Piano, Piano, at the World Trade Centre. There was a florist who worked just outside the venue, and at the end of the night, when we closed up and people started streaming out, he’d make a packet! So that’s where I got the idea. So over time, I made the right connections, quit my job as a waiter and started selling flowers.
Er, don’t you need some sort of license or approval to be selling flowers on the street?
No all you need is a silver tongue, the power of the gab.The first time I did it, I just bought some flowers, and stood outside the World Trade Centre, and people would buy them off me without even knowing who I am. And they would buy so much more than they do nowadays. A guy would come out and just buy the whole lot off me, to show off to his girl.
Over the years high society has put forward a number of theories regarding your power to seemingly be everywhere at the same time. We come out of one club, and there you are. We move onto another bar, on the other side of the city, and there you still are. We decide to head to the North Coast for a last-minute party late at night, and you’re ALSO there! So is it true that there are more than one of you or that you have special Star Trek like teleporting abilities?
Listen, I can move between five different venues on the same night, that is simply the nature of my job.I know when a certain venue is crowded, when a party is about to end, when something big is happening somewhere and people are queued up trying to get in.
But how? How do you know?
I have my network, my contacts. The parking attendants, the waiters, people like that. They all call me up.
OK, so who would you say have been your biggest and best clients since you started selling flowers?
Hassan Abo El Fetouh, Mostafa Aboud, Mimo Mansour and the Scandars – the father of the girl who sings, Lara Scandar, was a big customer.
Is it true that you are really a spy for the Mokhabarat (Egyptian Intelligence). You do, after all, know everything that’s going on and everyone by name…
The young kids these days are crazy. I’m trying to make a living, I don’t have time to watch them nor do I care what they are up to. Besides if I was a spy I ‘d be super rich by now, I could have used all this amazing information I have!
So how do you know everyone’s names?
I’ve been doing this for over 15 years. My old customers are imprinted on my memory, the new ones usually introduce themselves.
Speaking of old and new clients, what’s the difference between your pre-revolution ‘old’ clients and your New Egypt clients?
Back in the day people would walk around with a lot of money. And I mean huge amounts of cash and they had no qualms just throwing it about. These days my clients are younger (the older crowd don’t go out like they used to) and they’re on much stricter allowances from their parents.
And how much are people paying for your flowers nowadays?
About 10 to 20LE. Back in the old pre-revolution days though it would be like 50LE to 100LE!! For example Sarah El Khouli would always just take the whole lot from me – she loved filling her house with flowers.
How do you feel about the 2011 revolution and everything that has happened since?
It wrecked a lot of homes. The Muslim Brotherhood ruined everything for us.
Are you married?
I was. I was married to three women at the same time. But that was in better times, when the money was good. I’m divorced know but I have two beautiful kids. A boy who is five years-old and a girl who is three.
So you must see some crazy shit. What’s the weirdest situation you’ve even been put in?
Well, lots of girls get slapped in front of me. And I see guys being all romantic with girls telling them how much they love them, when I know they have another girlfriend or a wife or whatever.
OMG! Do you ever interfere when a girl gets slapped?
No, I can’t do that. I like to watch.
Have you ever considered opening up your own store?
No, I don’t want to pay taxes!
When YOU go out with friends or on a date, where do you normally go?
I don’t really go out with guys. With a girl, I’d head to Downtown and we’d hit one of the discos. I used to go to Bora Bora in Zamalek a lot before it shut down. I also like Tivoli in Remaya Square and the Sunset boat. I don’t have to pay money at any of these places because they know me. I used to work in tourism and would send them a lot of Arabs. The clubs would give a bunch of models 200LE each to party so that the Arab men would spend all their money on these girls in the club.
Do you like the music played at those clubs?
Who are your favourite DJS?
Khaled AbdelRahman, Yasser Shaker and his brother Ahmed Shaker are the veterans. There’s also this new guy called Lyon that plays at Tamarai.
Since you’re always on the scene Khaled, which do you think are the best clubs right now?
Right now I only like two places, Tamarai and La Bodega. I also like another place that you probably don’t like, its for an older crowd. I go to it on Thursday and Friday nights, it’s called Roof Bar.
Do you drink?
If we gave you a chance to send a message to Mohamed Morsi, what would it be?(This interview was conducted before Morsi’s July 3rd Ouster)
Eli mesh ad el korsi mayo3odsh 3laih. I don’t fear anybody. They say Hosni Mubarak was unjust. He wasn’t. Anyone who says that is ignorant. We lived peacefully, we had money and security.
Who did you vote for in the last presidential elections?
Amre Moussa then Ahmed Shafik. They were the only ones who would have been able to handle this country.
We need a new president. If you had to pick between Biks (co-owner of Tamarai), Beltagy (co-owner of Tamarai)and Ganzoury (famed events’ organiser),who would you choose?
Biks because he’s the one who’s been around on the scene the longest. I remember he first opened up a place called White about 10 years ago in Zamalek and he also used to organize amazing events.
Are you on Facebook?
No. People only use it to find girls and I have a lot of girls who wish to have me for themselves. All this stuff like emails, it’s all bullshit. I have my phones in my pockets and in you need me you can reach me.
If someone gave you a million pounds right now, what would you do with it?
I would invest it. I would get a car for 50K, like a nice Hyundai. And I would open up a disco in Haram Street with no minimum charge. I could make a client want to spend 1000LE in my club without ever charging a minimum.
But who would sell flowers outside your club?
I would get someone and make him work for me and make another 500LE a night.
How long will you sell flowers for?
I don’t have any future plans to change my profession. I used to act on different TV shows and then I quit. I used to get 200LE per episode.
We’ll now that you’re a celebrity and everybody knows your name, would you consider going back into acting?
I’m the most famous florist in the capital. I am Khaled Flower and that is a good enough gift from God. I am proof that if you work hard, it pays off.