Exotic Anife came to the Czech Republic less than a quarter of a century ago. The beauty with the dark complexion made it in Czech show business thanks to her tenacity and talent. She opened the first dance school for belly dancing and the media noticed. Her marriage to actor Ivan Vyskočil then opened the door to theatre. She became the darling of the nation thanks to her inexhaustible positive energy and cheerful nature, though with a very sharp tongue and a cute accent. And despite the fact that Czechs are skeptical about Muslim nations because of the migration crisis, Anife says in her interview for Luxury Prague Life that racism does not exist in the Czech Republic.
We have the year 2019, we are at the beginning of it. How are you entering it?
In the new year I am continuing in the same style as in the old year, because that year was really terribly weird in terms of how the political situation developed in our country and in the world. So many natural disasters and human hatred do not provide me with inspiration for anything new. For most people, a new year equals a resolution, its implementation and the result. It's different for me. I consider the new year as a continuation of my life and the associated obstacles and challenges. It moves me further. However, I find that one must become more careful with age.
How long have you lived here?
So you're basically at home here...
I'm actually more Czech, because when I came to the Czech Republic I was twenty-one. The truth is that I still maintain my own mentality. The Balkans are still there, I speak my native language every day, I keep our holidays and watch our news, I read our books. I am temperamental and emotional.
Do you know what the word Balkan is all about? BAL is translated as honey and KAN is blood, so it means "a land sweet as honey, but full of blood". My partner Jens tells me that I'm waving my hands again and talking loud. He always laughs and says: "Could you reduce the volume to three, please? As if I were some kind of television!" (laughs) But the truth is that my friends call me radio Istanbul, because I say I'm always talking. (laughs)
In the 24 years I have lived here, I'm sad about how the Czech nation has changed. Before you were more considerate, open and people smiled at each other. Today everyone is worried only about themselves. Some do not even know what their neighbor looks like! It is sad.
In your fast confession, I asked you about the worst racist insult you‘ve experienced. Today we have grown accustomed to the fact that people of all races live here, but twenty years ago it must have been a bit of a shock for the Czechs.
I've never heard any insults in all the time I‘ve been here. That's why I'm really sorry when people talk about racism. Is there racism in the Czech Republic? If we were in Germany, Austria, Belgium, I would understand. When I came here, I was the only one here along with Martin Tankwey, and if I‘m not mistaken, Osman Laffita was starting as a designer. We were the only ones here and people looked at me like at a traffic light. Nobody ever bothered me with vulgarities.
At that time they did not know what a Turk looked like. When I looked at Czech fairy tales about the sultan and princesses, they had costumes that looked like a parody of Turkish fairy tales – arabic pants, a short vest and a turban like an onion. At that time I told my ex-husband that it was ridiculous, and in the theatre I first showed them what a costume for a princess should look like in the play Dancing Among Eggs.
But if someone says that there is racism in the Czech Republic, then it is a person who deliberately provokes a conflict because there is no racism here. Intolerance, yes. But when the Roma say they are humiliated and discriminated against, I do not believe that. I was in queue at the post office when a Roma came in and stood in front of us. I came up to him and said, "Hello, sir, we are waiting here too, stand at the end of the queue." He looked at me in disbelief, so I continued: "What are you looking at? Are you trying to accuse me of being a nationalist or a racist? I'm blacker than you, so go to the end of the queue!" And instead of saying "that‘s right", the other Czechs in line looked at me as if I were the cheeky one.
I used to say everything the way I thought it and it always turned against me, even with journalists. I didn‘t care, I was young. But once you get older, you pay more attention to what is written about you. You think more about what you say and if it's worth saying it.
You have a very sharp tongue, so I bet it's gotten you in trouble a few times.
I'm very straightforward. And if I do not like something, I'll say it. For example, when I came to the Czech Republic, Bára Štěpánová was on TV. I don‘t know why, but I didn‘t like her. I once came into contact with her on Czech TV. When meeting her in the dressing room, I said I did not want to get to know her because she didn‘t appeal to me. All the actors in the dressing room looked at me and my ex said, "Naninka, you shouldn‘t say something like that." (laughs)
Ten years later, I met Bára in the play The Maidens‘ War, where she played Vlasta and I played Aunt Kazi. We see at certain events to this day. My dislike for her has disappeared. So I was always like that. People do not like to hear the truth. Even when I worked on television, I was constantly leaving, even though everyone else wanted to get in. I simply didn‘t like how things went and how people behaved. I'd rather do something else that will make me entertained.
But in your videos on social networks, you talk a lot about what is happening religiously with Europe...
Yes, because I do not agree with it. I do not agree that Europeans should adapt to those who come here for a better life. How is it possible that mosques are being built in Christian countries for various reasons? When someone comes to study in a certain country and nobody covers themselves in public in the given country, then one should either respect these rules and not cover, or stay where they were originally. He or she should not disturb and change the habits of the host nation.
You, when you go to a Muslim country, also respect their rules and cover up, don‘t you? Europeans are afraid, they are afraid of breaking the rules, but Muslims are not.
I am a Muslim myself, but I do not impose it on anybody, I do not pray anywhere in the public five times a day, I do not cover up. I live here! Many Muslims write to me and tell me that I offend Allah when I speak like this. But I'm not afraid. The Qur'an contains the same as the Bible – do not steal, do not lie, do not kill. And I respect that. This is my purity towards God. I stand behind my views. Then there are, of course, Muslims who support me. There is a certain balance everythere.
How long was it before you learned the language and could do theatre and television?
You'll be amazed, it took me six months. Our family is probably very talented.
Yes, half a year. I just listened, collected vocabulary, didn‘t speak at all and tried to remember the words. After half a year I start talking. The truth is, for example, that I say "cubumcer" or "omion", although I know it's a cucumber and an onion, but I say omion anyway. Those are the words I learned incorrectly at that time. But I had difficulty learning to read and write Czech because I am from Bulgaria where we have the Cyrillic alphabet. Suddenly changing to the Latin alphabet and reading it caused me problems. Even though Turkish uses the Latin alphabet. But I studied the Cyrillic alphabet at school.
My brother speaks six, seven languages at the same level. The six-year-old son of my sister speaks six languages fluently, and now he will be learning another one. We learn quickly in our family, so it never caused me any trouble.
You married Ivan Vyskočil, you still have his name. Why?
When I was dealing with having to arrange new documents, such as my trade license, driving license, ID card, bank, health insurance, social insurance, and others, I thought, forget it. It will take a lot of time and money. There are three Vyskočilová running around here. I said that the next time I get married, I'll change it. I have never been Anife Vyskočilová, however, since I was twenty people have always called me simply Mrs. Anife. Entrepreneurs, politicians, actors, everyone calls me Anife, no one addresses me Mrs. Vyskočilová.
Maybe because your exotic appearance doesn‘t match a Czech surname.
It doesn‘t, I'm automatically Anife. There is no Vyskočilová. Even clerks at the municipal office call me Mrs. Anife, not Mrs. Vyskočila. (laughs)
You've become tremendously famous over the years...
I don‘t think I'm famous. When Ivan took me out to events, the company was really something, not like today. I had to know what performance to take what clothes to. When we went to Thalia and the Czech Lion, I had to know who was who and what to talk about. So I began reading Czech poetry, poems, writers, in order to understand the Czechs. I may have become popular also perhaps because I knew a lot about the Czechs,. I don‘t know.
There was also a time when I was unpopular. When I divorced, they started to write things about me. But thanks to social networks, I know very well whether I'm popular or not. People like me because I'm direct. I do not have fake voices on Facebook like some celebrities, I really have people I communicate with and I know they like me because I do not pretend I am a celebrity. I'm not a celebrity. In Poland, no one knows me, at most in Slovakia, so I do not consider myself well known. I'm more a well-known person, as one actor once said: "We are not celebrities, we are public figures."
What are you doing now and where can we see you?
Frankly, I'd rather not be seen. If I had known with Ivan that I would go to the theatre, the director would see me and say, "I think that your wife could act..." If I had not entered the theatre then I might be a thousand times better off today. That's why when I started working in the theatre, I always did things that nobody knows about, too.
What, for example?
I did, and I still do, seminars about oriental culture, about the herbs and spices around us. I also organized various congresses and conferences, occasionally I translate something, organize trips for doctors to Turkey and Yugoslavia. I also organize business parties together with my friend, which only entrepreneurs are invited to. We also facilitate the cooperation of various businesses with different countries. I also have a business that no one knows about which deals with cables, sockets, blinds, and things like that.
In essence, you‘ve arranged a permanent salary in order to be able to do theatre.
When I opened the Anicafe Café, I went to work and at five I had to close and went to the theatre. But I was there until ten o'clock. It was so stressful for me, I like doing things thoroughly. So I put the theatre aside and dedicated myself to Anicafe.
The truth is that I still have a permanent scene at the Firefighters Theatre, but I don‘t know yet when I will go back and start doing something. I'm only just preparing something now. The coffee shop closed because I did not extend my contract, which I am sorry about because it was beautiful and successful. At the time I said I was going to give more to my business. I don‘t even care about social life, I don‘t go to events much. And if I do, I choose them carefully.
Since the tabloids attack you like that every now and then, are you planning to sue anyone?
I wanted to sue Blesk for writing bad things about me. That I'm bankrupt and that I have to show up at events because nobody is interested in me. Or that I‘ve lost a lot of weight, when I‘m actually chubbier, by the way... I went to Blesk and told them I was going to sue. When they found out that I was being serious and that I was going to sue, they publicly apologized. I told them, "It's not about money, it's a question of principle. You lie, you write ugly things and you have been doing it for ten years. "Before I divorced, I was the best, respectable, oriental, clever, pretty, beautiful. As soon as I was divorced, I was from Bulgaria, a refugee, an immigrant. Now they don‘t write anything about me, which is good.
What is your private life like now? Will there be a wedding?
No, there will be no wedding. I can say that publicly, there is nothing disgraceful about it. A couple of years ago I got engaged, but my boyfriend had a child with my friend at the time. That's life.
I have a wonderful man now, that's true. The Lord gave me a partner that I had always dreamed of as a little girl. Maybe in the future we'll decide to get married because we've been together for a long time, but it's not my life priority.
We live for the moment, we love and appreciate ourselves and each other. We get along in everything. But some people think that if I do not have a piece of paper, a guarantee in the form of marriage or a child, then he might run away or something. As if something like that could prevent it! We are together because we feel that way and we want to be. No paper or baby will make us a more legitimate couple than we are. I do not understand why most women tell me to have a baby with him quickly.
Would you like another baby?
No. That's exactly what I'm talking about. There are women who are my age or even younger who marry and get pregnant immediately. It's an assurance, most women here in the Czech Republic want to get pregnant, and then have a lifetime allowance for these children.
When you see a woman with a baby with a designer handbag, an outfit like a star and a super car...Do you think she bought it herself? Few of them did, unless they're Kim Kardashian. Those are the women who are looking for a sponsor and are fond of credit cards. For the last ten years, it's still fashionable to get married to a successful foreigner. These guys then pay for the child and the woman with whom they have it. They set themselves up for it. That's why I say that Czech men are whipped. They should wake up a little! But of course it doesn‘t just apply to Czech men. Similar cases exist everywhere in the world.
My mom always says that there is only one Allah in the sky. The other is on the ground, and that's your man. If I'm nice to my husband, kind, attentive, he'll give me more than I expect. But to bully him into independence, to be guided by feminist attitudes that a woman has the same rights as a man, while wanting to be just a woman, taking and giving nothing...in that case you have to find a boy with soft organs instead of a man. (laughs)
But I have discovered that such men are becoming more and more afraid of women. They are afraid that the woman will extort them, afraid that she will impede contact with their child. But this is indeed a long debate. I'm currently dealing with this topic and I'm preparing something for readers and fans. So far I don‘t know when its coming out and if I will even have time to write it. (laughs)
And what about your son? He's already at the age when he could turn you into a grandma...
My son said he does not want to make a baby now, though he will have to, because his girlfriend is two years older. Kačenka would like a baby, but they are terribly responsible. They said that until they save up money, they won‘t have a baby. He says he'll make me a grandmother, but I must wait a little while longer. (laughs)