Interviews

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ROXANA SHIRAZI, AUTHOR OF THE LAST LIVING SLUT: BORN IN IRAN, BRED BACKSTAGE

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I love reading groupie biographies. It’s sort of a hobby of mine. I’ve read everyone’s, from Pamela Des Barres to Catherine James to Marianne Faithfull (she counts), and am eagerly awaiting the memoirs of Cherry Vanilla, the woman who heroically blew half of New York to get David Bowie on the radio. Some women go sexually apeshit on rock stars, others enjoy reading about it while maintaining a happily gonorrhea-free existence. It’s just how it goes.

When I first heard of The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage, I was rather intrigued. Mind you, I had some preconceptions because of the key words: “slut” and “Iran.” It’s one thing to fuck everyone from Autograph to Winger and write about it, but controversy for the sake of controversy is quite another beast (with two backs, har har).

Though I tried to brush off the combination of these topics as calculated edginess, I couldn’t help but soften to Ms. Roxana Shirazi. Her story runs the gamut from depressingly sad (getting bullied in middle school for being a foreigner) to hilarious (watching as Matt Sorum interrupts himself during a threesome to do push-ups because he’s in ‘such good shape”) to horrifying (falling in love with Dizzy Reed and having to abort his baby). Everything aside, she’s just a girl who loves her rock’n’roll. Naked or otherwise.

Since I’m pretty sure the majority of MetalSucks readers haven’t read your book, how would you describe it?

Well, initially it was about my life in Iran. I wanted to write about growing up in a revolution, during war. When I was just six months old I went to visit my family in prison, they were all in prison. I talk about my childhood; I mean the sexual abuse, and having to move to England. When I was at university though, a friend said that I had like a secret life; all the rock ‘n’ roll stuff.  She said that I should write about that. It’s really the story of my journey from Iran to England and how I was looking to find myself, my identity. My sexuality and rock ‘n’ roll is how I found a place to belong to.

You pull your country, Iran, to the forefront from the very beginning.  Was that a calculated move to get interest? Because the juxtaposition of Iran and sexual freedom is kind of a jarring contrast.

No, it wasn’t. I wrote about my life the way that it happened. I didn’t do things deliberately — because what kind of life would that be? I don’t really focus [on my time] back in Iran because my story continued in England, and when I discovered rock ‘n’ roll.  I went back to Iran for a visit few years ago, though, and I had a good time. I went to some parties, ate a lot, but there really wasn’t much to write about. It’s only earlier on in my life that it had such a lasting effect. I can’t make up stuff that didn’t happen in my life, can I?

Let’s get to the word “slut.” In your prologue, you state that the word “slut” is misused, and that you want to regain control of it. But throughout your book and your encounters with rock stars, we get the image of woman that doesn’t seem that in control, especially in a certain scene where you’re getting off with Keith Nelson of Buckcherry while the after effects of an abortion are still present. Do you believe you’ve now regained that sexual control?

The simple definition of the word “slut” is someone that has many sexual partners. [The dictionary actually defines it as “a slovenly woman” or “a promiscuous woman.” – Ed.] Logically, it’s not fair that it has such stigma attached to it when used in reference to women. They’re seen as deviant when men are cheered for and good-naturedly patted on the back for engaging in the same behavior. Why is it so wrong for a woman to be open with sexuality? I never drank or did drugs — rock ‘n’ roll was my vice, so when my life was too hard for me to handle, I’d seek out bands to make it easier for me. I knew what got me off and what I wanted from them ,and I could just go up to a group and be like, “Hey this is what I want from you, this is what I need.” It was a way for me to numb the pain. Sure, I was mistreated at times and did things I didn’t want to do, but in the end I learned from it, and learned who I could trust and [who I could] not.

Even though you rationally explain all this, you’re still going to get backlash. Does it get tiring having to defend your right to the word and to be a “slut?”

No, it doesn’t bother me. It’s like a form of racism; I had to put up with my share of harsh words and stereotypes when I was growing up, and even now. I got called a terrorist and part of the Taliban. Are you kidding me? The Taliban would kill me! I don’t feel the need to answer to ignorance — I laugh it off. It’s usually from people who haven’t read the book. If someone were to read it and still not entirely get my point, well, I guess I’d just thank them for reading it in the first place.

There are a lot of highly detailed events throughout your story. Didn’t any of the parties involved protest to being written about? Like the Faster Pussycat guys getting cockblocked by their road manager so they wouldn’t cheat on their wives with you, or Dizzy Reed basically talking you into having an abortion?

No, actually, they all wanted to be in it! I got a few calls from certain band members who were actually angry because I didn’t write about them — one from Skid Row. I mean, there was a few that didn’t want to be written about, and that’s why I don’t mention anyone from Def Leppard or Whitesnake.

Saving it for the sequel?

[Laughs] Maybe! But it’s been great how supportive they’ve all been. One person actually called to apologize for the way they treated m,e and thankfully I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments. Of course, there are some I don’t talk to so I wouldn’t hear from them. Like Dizzy.

What separates you then from just being another groupie, or worse, a starfucker?

Honestly, I think I’m too riled up to be a groupie. I find that the life of a groupie is just too limiting. It’s so boring. I’m too sexual and wild to be constrained in those terms. What I did was go up to bands and tell them exactly what I wanted them to do to me and what I wanted to do to them. I just knew what got me off and wanted to have fun. The world of rock ‘n’ roll accepted me on those terms, but I found that it wasn’t willing to let me be fully me. I have an education, I have a master’s degree, and I now write for The Huffington Post, but in order to fit in [with the bands], I kind of had to dumb myself down. I didn’t get to show all sides of myself, which is what I found a little limiting.

So does that mean you’re done with this life? Or are you going to keep being rock slut, a.k.a. “A person who has many sexual partners in the music industry?” Any bands that should watch out for you?

I think that I romanticized that world in my head a bit. I thought it was going to be so exciting and different, kind of the Led Zeppelin experience. But it’s gotten to be so corporate, music these days. It’s not as fun as it used to be. The spirit of rock ‘n ‘roll is kind of getting crushed by the business of it. Yes, if there’s a show I’ll go see it, but I don’t get the same buzz. I do stay in contact with a lot of them — Slash has sent me several comments about the book, and a lot of people joined my fan page, and if any bands I know are in town, I do go hang out and have a good time. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Any last words you’d like to leave us with?

Just to keep the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive!

-LF

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage is out now via Igniter.

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