ARVIND DILAWAR

Writer, Editor, Somewhat Useless

Interview with The Last Living Slut

Secret police and rock stars, fundamentalist Islam and threesomes, revolutions and golden showers — it isn’t often that these subjects meet in a narrative, but they are some of the things that Roxana Shirazi discusses in her new memoir, The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage. Part Persepolis and part Suicide Girl diary, Shirazi’s book documents her childhood in Iran during the Shah’s expulsion, the birth of Islamic Republic, the Iran–Iraq War and her consequent migration to England, where she discovers the holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. What follows is a chronicle of debauchery: rampant sex with rock stars, cocaine overdoses, auto-erotic asphyxiation, dance-floor blowjobs and hotel orgies.

I recently sat down with Shirazi in a L.E.S. coffee shop, where we talked about the hijab, groupies, water sports, timid Englishmen and Justin Bieber.


(All photos of Roxana Shirazi by K. Ching)

Arv: Before we start talking about tour-bus orgies and tattooed genitalia, I though it would be interesting to discuss Islam. I particularly wanted to find out some of your views on the burqa.

Roxana Shirazi: I don’t wear the burqa. We’re not Arabic, we’re Iranian, so we just wear the hijab.

Oh, just the hijab? OK. So you grew up in Iran during a pivotal point in its history. The beginning was beneath the Shah and then everything transferred over to the Islamic Republic, so you came from a position where you weren’t forced to wear the hijab but then it was imposed by law. What was that transition like for you?

Throughout my whole childhood, before the revolution and after it, it was just full of chaos. Even in the Shah’s time, it was full of oppression. It was a dictatorship, so a lot of my family were in prison for speaking their views and being political activists. I would associate both times with a climate of fear, but I don’t think it was just about wearing something or not wearing something. It was more about things around you. There were soldiers in the street all the time, the Shah’s secret police. When the revolution happened, for a brief moment in time, we were relieved, but then it escalated and it became even worse. Anything that was counter-revolutionary was illegal — wearing ties, wearing perfume, makeup, nail polish, dancing, music. I was just a bit annoyed. I wasn’t angry … I was more like, “Oh man, can’t I just go wear my dresses? Can’t I go to a mixed school and go with my cousins?” But it did feel oppressive because I knew that the punishment was severe. It wouldn’t just be a telling off, I’d go to prison, even as a child. Once we got stopped by the Revolutionary Guards on the street, when we were in a car, because my leg was showing. At those times, I started to get really resentful and disgusted with the government, and that they were just so anti-women.

You don’t wear the hijab anymore, but in the story there’s a scene where you’re stripping at an underground strip joint that’s run by an Indian person and the clientèle is mostly Middle Eastern. You use the hijab there during one of your dances. Do you think the hijab has become fetishized in that way? Also, can it make a woman sexier?

That was in England, yeah. But the thing is, it’s used in such a dehumanizing way. If I wore it as a fashion item, a fashion accessory, it wouldn’t be seen like a fashion accessory. It would be seen like a political statement. When I did that as a teenager, I was dancing for those Indian men, and they got really excited because of the taboo image of my head covered but my boobs on display. There is a lot of Arabic porn on the Internet, there are a lot of pornographic images of women showing their legs open with a hijab, so I think it is fetishized in an underground kind of way, yeah.

I was raised Muslim as well and later on got into “rock culture,” you know, drinking and drugs and partying — I haven’t been double penetrated yet, but there’s still time.

There is still time. You should try it.

Do you think the repressive aspect of Islam pressurizes kids so if you do break out of that culture, you come screaming out like a rocket? Where normal angsty teenagers might smoke pot and get into skateboarding, teenagers who get out of Islam, who manage to rebel, do it in a much more hardcore way?

I mean, the wildest guys I’ve met have been Catholics, because the whole thing of guilt and shame is related to sex. So I think it’s any religion, I don’t think it’s particularly Islam. I know Italian and Irish Catholics who are like that. They’re the wildest people ever. But I know that in Iran, there are a lot of underground sex parties, and I think it’s kind of produced from the oppressive environment. Everything is illegal. Even if you walk down the street with the opposite sex, you can go to prison. So if you’re constantly told you can’t do anything, you’re going to rebel against it.

Sticking with the theme of Iran: Do you think becoming a groupie was sort of a throw-back to the harem days of Iran and really not as radical because of that?

I mean, I tried to be a groupie, but I was always too wild. I was too much for the rock stars. They weren’t wild enough for me. I think a groupie is someone who’s meek and subservient to a man, and I was like, “You do this to me, or I’ll find other rock stars who aren’t as boring as you.” I was always the one calling the shots. I never went into it thinking I’m going to serve him. I thought, “What can I get out of this? Who’s going to turn me on the most?”

Do you think that, in a post-9/11 world, Middle Eastern groupies are discriminated against? Do you think rock stars have adopted an attitude of “Oh, I don’t want a blowjob from a terrorist?”

Well, if there is someone like that, it just means that they’re backward and ignorant. If they think everyone from a Middle Eastern country is a terrorist, then they’re really stupid. What I always encountered was that I had to hide my academic side. So when I hung out with those ’80s hair metal guys, I never said that I’m going to do my Ph.D. or that I teach gender and feminism. I said that I work a shop or a strip club because I thought the truth would make them feel weird. They’d be like, “Well, what’re you doing here?”

What’s the weirdest thing that a band member’s asked you to do or that you’ve done to a band member?

They’re always too boring for me. I would always ask them to do things like water sports, and they’re a bit too scared to do things like that. With Avenged Sevenfold, I was egging them on to do water sports with me, and they wanted to stick to their hardcore image, so they agreed to do it. I’ve always had to make sure that I don’t scare the guys too much. I had to say, “It’s OK, I’ll try to turn it down a little bit for you.” At the end, I found rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t this crazy place I thought it would be.

If rock stars aren’t wild enough, who is? Where do you turn next?

Politicians are quite dirty. The politician who I was with at the end of the book, he was the one that I was like, “OK, I’m not going there.” Because he was extreme, and he was a real family-man type. You know, nice guy with his image, so in private he was really sleazy. I refused to do things with him.

You learned your trade in England, where you lived for the latter portion of your childhood and where you still reside today, but you really seem to have a thing for American bands. Why are Brits such a turn-off? Is it the crappy weather that they just internalize?

English men are very reserved. They need to be extremely drunk to even chat you up. American men come up to you and say, “I want to fuck you.” And it’s like, “Great, let’s go.” English men, after about half-an-hour, they might go, “Yeah, you want to go get a drink?” And I’m like, “Ugh, could you just fuck me please?”

My terrible, terrible band is actually going to the U.K. this summer for a tour. Do you have any advice for us or bands in general?

English girls are slutty, so I’d say it’s easy. You have your American accent. When you’re on stage, look out for any girls who are dressed slutty and that’s your sign. Afterward, go down to the bar, they’ll follow you. Just chat to them. Musicians have it really easy. They don’t have to try anything. Girls just line up and come after them, especially in England.

So Mötley Crüe, Avenged Sevenfold, Papa Roach, Buckcherry — do you ever wish you slept with better bands? Most of these bands aren’t very good.

I think they are.

Papa Roach?

Oh, he was hot, the guy in Papa Roach. I can’t name him, I promised him. I absolutely adore him, he was amazing. The thing is, I went with the flow. Like, if any band I met was fun, I would stick around. And there are a lot of bands who aren’t in the book because they’re really famous, but nothing exciting happened. There would be nothing to write about. We went to the hotel, we had a cup of tea, and then we went to bed. What would I say? “Def Leppard, I hung out with Def Leppard. We sat around and talked about the weather.”

You primarily worked the cock rock circuit, but I wanted to find out what you think of a few Brooklyn favorites. I brought a few photos, and I want to get your opinion on some of these guys.


Animal Collective

They have short hair. And no tattoos, no spandex.


The Death Set

No, they look a bit jokey. Too happy. And they’ve got short hair again. They’re just not very cock rock at all. But you know, if I met them, they might be really fun. Who knows?


Ratatat

He’s cute.

The long hair?

Yeah.

What about the beard?

Yeah, that’s cute. Very Jim Morrison-y.


Justin Bieber

I WANT HIM. I want him. I want to corrupt him, take him to a hotel one night and show him everything. Bring a couple of girls, have threesomes with him. Give him a show. Everything. I want to meet him so much.


Gavin McInnes and Derrick Beckles

Both of these guys, they used to be in hardcore bands, but now I think they bootleg videos or something like that. What do you think of them?

Too short-haired. Still not that sleazy glam metal look.

[Pointing at Derrick] You don’t think that’s sleazy? [Pointing at Gavin] What about the look in his eyes? It’s almost predatory.

No.

OK. There’s a quote on your HarperCollins bio that reads, “I loathe drugs and do not drink alcohol,” and in the book you talk about having a seizure from doing too much cocaine, but do you really not even have a beer anymore? Because we’re going to a bar after this.

I do, but if I have one drink, I’ll be fucking so drunk. It’s embarrassing. I’ll be at Christmas or a family party, and I’ll have to literally take one sip because I know I’ll be like, “Wheeew!” I don’t really drink, that’s why I get drunk so easily. But drugs, never. I used to take my drink a lot better. When I got drunk, I could handle it better. It was fun. But now, I’m complete out. I can function, but I don’t want to be so out of control. And it only takes me a little bit to be out of control. Honestly.

… And on that cue, we hit the bar.

Roxana Shirazi’s memoir The Last Living Slut was released on June 1st. Cop it online or at bookstores everywhere.

Originally published on Street Carnage.

1 Comment

  1. In the era of propaganda, these types of Friendships are the most deabsrile for the “public”. On one hand, the regime in Iran calls the US, the Great Satan, and on the other, the American Sisters have been enjoying their stay in Iran, the country which was declared as one of the Axes of Evil. So, a couple of years ago, we saw that Hollywood “discovered Iran”. Then, it was Mr. Sean Penn’s visit of the country and his “penning his journal” in a Friday’s prayer (Namaz-e Joomeh), and now we have the Sisters in Iran. I wonder when the president of the US is scheduled to have his state dinner in Jamara? Katayoun

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