When I set off last year on a business trip to Teheran and other Iranian cities, I had the dottiest picture in my mind as to what it was all going to be like. The only thing that I knew as a fact was that Iran is the most curiously arrogant and corrupt place from a business point of view. With all this naughty bevaviour I had visions of potential gangbang at every street corner. Far, far from it dear Reader.
I suppose we all know that the slant of Moslem culture is towards an easy acceptance of homosexual behaviour both in the home and in public. I’d seen Arabs in places like Jeddah and Beirut walking hand in hand without the public giving it a second glance. But in Iran its all very very confusing. To start off with, in the great cities like Teheran or Tabriz, where there is some degree of western sophistication, overt homosexual behaviour barely exists at all.
But paradoxically, you have only to drive for ten minutes past the Mayfair of Teheran, up the mountains behind Shemiran, and you find a selection of chaikhanehs (tea houses) complete with beautiful dancing boys who entertain largely middle aged clients. You can find the same establishments in Meshed and Isphahan. The fascinating thing is that this sort of entertainment has been provided for the past 2,000 years, but today it seems only to be seriously patronised by the elderly gents who sit quietly drinking tea and watching the gyrations of the boys, some of whom are very beautiful indeed. They retire from ‘business’ at around 18 years of age, and more than half of them get married on the proceeds of their work.
But the gay young things of Teheran or Tabriz would not be seen dead in such a place. To them its all too old fashioned, stuffy and conservative for words. There are literally no gay Bars or Clubs as we understand them in the U.K. It is true that there are a few cafes where you might just have the luck to pick up something interesting, but it is very likely to be rent. You will be far luckier in the lounges of the better class western type of hotel.
I think that there is also a deepseated, but almost entirely unadmitted, resentment of the white mentality, and therefore of the white persons possible sexual approaches. I did meet two charming and highly educated Iranis, but they had both been to Europe, and knew the gay ropes well! They confessed that a white body did not mean all that much to them sexually, and that it was white women that were in demand …. not men!
This reserve is all tied up with the inevitable association of homosexuals with drugtaking hippies and wierdos who have passed through Iran on their way to and from Afghanistan, via Iran.
And that brings me to the matter of Hash and/or Pot. Unless you wish to be shot at sight or sent immediately without trial to prison, do not under any circumstances look for, attempt to buy, or even import any form of Hash. Whilst I was there for a mere 4 weeks on biz, no less than 4 people were shot out of hand because they had been arrested with it on their person.
Before I’d ever got there, people had told me the wildest stories about the goings-on in local Hammams.
I tried four in Teheran and two in Tabriz. They were about as turned on as a Sunday School Treat. In Meshed, which is a sacred Moslem city, complete with shrines of all sorts, I was politely directed to an ‘unbelievers’ hamman. All I saw there was a slightly deformed young man soaping his parts with rather more fervour than was entirely required … and that was about it.
But, and there’s always a but, if you do have the good fortune to meet an Irani who is a member of one of the select private hammams. I’m told that these are not all that innocent, and all sorts of things can and do happen in them.
I just didn’t have the luck to meet a subscriber.
So if you ever contemplate going to Iran for your hold, don’t imagine that its a riot of sex and fun. It’s so hot you can fry an egg on the pavement from April to October, and though it’s beautiful beyond belief, it’s bloody dull if you are looking for what is innocently known as Trade.