Roxana Shirazi schreef het boek ‘The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage’. Voor VICE schrijft ze columns over het seksuele mores in Iran.
Before the war with Iraq broke out in 1984, I had grown up in a relatively poor area of Tehran. When I returned to the country 24 years later, it was my old childhood friends who opened my eyes to the sex lives of the underprivileged lower classes.
Not having the money and the facilities of the upper classes doesn’t stop Iran’s poor from having parties. And, much like their rich countrymen, sex is the predominant form of entertainment. It was my married friend who told me about them. She doesn’t go, but she knew that if I went down to a certain part of town at a particular time in the evening, there would be a someone waiting there who could direct me to an orgy.
Not long after she told me that I was sat in a car with a girlfriend of mine, rattling through the muggy downtown air at dusk. I remember the call to prayer droning from a nearby mosque and hordes of devout men and women clad in black chadors. No one picks up the litter in Tehran, so the streets are full of it, and the mountains that surround the city trap in the pollution. It doesn’t make this part of Tehran a very nice place to be.
Eventually we arrived at a field in the backwoods out of town, away from everything and everyone. A fire was lit away from a handful of parked cars as about 15 girls and boys greeted each other. Instead of plush sports cars and fancy clothes, there were banged-out rustmobiles and girls still wearing hejabs over old jeans and T-shirts. Instead of the brand name alcohol they’d had at the rich kid party (Smirnoff and Jaegermeister are available on the black market for around £50 per bottle) people drank homemade rice wine and smoked opium. (Opium is everywhere in Tehran. It’s cheaper than food.) Every so often girls and boys would pair-off hand-in-hand into the woods, and music eked out from a car cassette player.
The people there would have been drawn from Tehran’s lower classes – not servants, but maids, taxi drivers, builders. They don’t have the bribe money the rich kids do to get them out of trouble if they’re caught by the kommiteh, Iran’s secret morality police, but they make do. They live in really bad parts of town, so they have to be sharp on their feet – one boy told me about a time he was caught drinking, and he had to go begging to the cleric. “I’m such a good Muslim, but the devil got into me,” he’d said, kissing the cleric’s feet. “You’ve made me see the error of my ways.” He’d obviously gotten off, because if he hadn’t he wouldn’t have been there with me, getting off.
Of all the people gathered out by the forest that evening, one guy in particular stood out to me. He had really cropped hair. At that time most of the boys in Tehran thought it was cool to have emo haircuts, which are gross (emo haircuts have since been banned by the Iranian regime). The boy was very, very sexy and muscly, and I led him off into the dense dark of the forest. He told me he was in the army.
Once we’d arrived at a small, secluded clearing, I took off my clothes and let him touch my body. I let him do whatever he wanted to me, though I insisted that he wore a condom whilst he was doing it. I sucked him off. He couldn’t have been older than 16. He came quickly, and we returned to the rest of the group.
Something strange happened that evening which I remember. There was this woman with about four or five guys on her. She had loads of make-up on and was a lot older than everyone else who was there. The guys were being really dramatic, of course – to them, it must have been like the Western porn they’d been watching on the internet, and they were moaning loudly and being very extravagant with their movements. They looked like actors, but the woman was completely silent. If I’d been doing that I’d have been very loud, but she was very quiet and still - sad almost, though she couldn’t have been a hooker, as it wouldn’t have been worth her while to entertain that many guys at once. It was pretty weird.
That night I fooled around with a girl I recognised as the daughter of a woman from my old neighbourhood. She was too young for me though, and wasn’t there looking for me anyway. She was there to find a boyfriend, not a Westernised bisexual. The government’s denial of sex outside of marriage has created a sexual economy. The girls from the poorer families have huge pressure on them to “marry up” to a wealthier husband, and the rich guys from uptown exploit that. They come down in their expensive cars and take advantage of the more impoverished girls, because the girls hope that they will fall in love with them and give them a way out. Obviously this hardly ever happens.
I was invited to carry the party on at a warehouse, but I didn’t go. Downtown wasn’t the most pleasant environment to be horny in, as there’s no knowledge about sexual disease in Iran and the people are poor and dirty. Poor and dirty in Tehran is very different to poor and dirty in London.
WORDS: ROXANA SHIRAZI
PHOTO: AZA SHADE