The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Take 5 With Roxana Shirazi

This is supplemental footage to my interview with Roxana Shirazi, author of The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage, appearing in an upcoming issue of Hails & Horns magazine. This portion is a Metal Minute exclusive.

The Metal Minute: Tell me about finding your book in the sports section at a London bookstore. Someone’s obviously been peeking at it if you want to infer the watersports chapters!

Roxana Shirazi: (laughs) Yes, it was the strangest thing. I went to a book shop in England and I asked if they had The Last Living Slut. They looked it up on the computer and they "Oh yeah, yeah, it’s in the sports section and it’s written by Neil Strauss." I said, "What?!? No, it’s written by me!" (laughs) I got really angry at the poor guy and I asked ‘Why is it the sports section?’ He said "I don’t know, isn’t it a sports book?" I replied, "Well, no..." So he had to call the head office and say to them to do a system change and move it into the biography section. I just couldn’t believe we went through the whole section and books about basketball and football, dead sports people...I said, "What?!? Does this look like a sports book to you?" The poor guy, he was just the shop assistant and trying to do his job. It was just the funniest thing ever! Whoever in head office thought something with the word "slut" in the title could be placed with football and basketball... It was bizarre. I was surprised they didn’t even look to see what it was about.

I have to say to you that I've found a difference between America and England: God, how I love America for the freedom of speech! In England, I have found they are scared, they censor my things, they change the title and the cover of the book, some of the magazines pull out of interviews because they scared and worried. This is such a pussy, scared country over here! In America I was so happy; I could just be myself and talk about whatever I wanted. It’s a shame, really.

MM: You’ve affiliated yourself with so many bands to the point I’m sure you’d agree if I said anybody can be a band right now. I salute everyone out there for giving it a go because I have dreams too, but there are so many bands out there today! What are your thoughts?

RS: There are a lot. I’ve been to L.A. and seen some of these new bands perform. There are a lot of bands on the Sunset Strip who are new guys. Some of their material is pretty good, but they’re kind of regurgitating the same things from the eighties. They just want to be Motley Crue or L.A. Guns. They’re not original, but then again, the market of the whole music industry would not support, finance or do anything towards that sleazy metal--except maybe for Buckcherry, who have made it relatively bigger than others--but I just think there’s nothing new or raw. In the seventies you had punk, which was a new concept, and in the eighties you had hair metal. Then you had bands who were obviously metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Now everything is so wishy-washy. It’s nothing I get excited about and listen to. There’s nothing bands create themselves or they don’t put their whole heart into it; they just copy other bands. It’s all just copying old bands and reliving the old days. Right now there isn’t anything making me think, "Wow, these guys are going to be big, they’re going to be great." I hate to sound really negative, but hopefully in the near future something new and cool will come through. I haven’t seen anything yet. (laughs)

MM: Then let’s talk about something exciting music-wise for you. Since there’s an entire subplot to your story relating to Guns ‘n Roses, take me back to your first exposure to Appetite for Destruction. I remember being blown to hell the first time I heard Appetite when it came out before it ever broke. A punk rocker handed a cassette of it to a buddy of mine who then brought it to me. I later got so pissed the album broke out, got huge and overexposed on the radio. I turned my back to it for years and finally just got it back on CD a couple years ago after giving it a second chance to wow me again. Happily, it did.

RS: I’ve always listened to it since I was 12 and I loved that album. I think they could’ve been better than the Stones if they’d stayed together and wrote more songs. It’s a shame really. Guns ‘n Roses had amazing musicians in that band, they had great songwriting, great lyrics, Axl had an amazing voice. They were a much better band technically than most.

MM: You have two personae at work: sex kitten and bookworm. Since you’ve written this book, which side do you embrace more?

RS: Well, the sexual one has gotten me into a lot of trouble, but I can’t be an actress. I have to be me and I’m very sexual. Then I’m quite academic too, so I feel very lonely in the sense I don’t meet people as extreme as me in both senses. I value both because I want to be myself, but then again I get a bit upset when I think “Who can I have a circle of friends with?” It’s not a big-headed thing like I’m so great; I’m just a bit different from people. I’ve realized that and because of my upbringing and everything as well, I can never identify with everybody like myself because I meet a lot of academics who are kind of prudish and not sexual. Then I meet a lot of sexual rock ‘n rollers who are bored when I talk about politics. I never end up having anybody very close to me, friend-wise or partner-wise, because I can’t really identify with anybody. I know, awwwwwww... (laughs)

MM: (laughs) Which of those sides would you like to be more respected for?

RS: I think the problem is, it’s always got to be one or the other. I want to be respected for me. Me as a whole person, and the whole fact that I’ve been writing for a long time. I’m a writer, I’m an author and I’d like to be respected for that, but also by doing that, I don’t want to have to eliminate my other side, which is a rock chick, because why should I? Can’t I be both? I am both; that’s the whole of me. I am wild, I love bands and I also love being serious and writing serious stuff. I’d like to be respected as somebody who has really broken down some barriers and presented herself as someone who is sexually confident as well as academic and doesn’t have to choose between the two.

Copyright 2010 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute


tarleisio said...

Maybe I should introduce her to the protagonist from 'Quantum Demonology'...another rock chick with a brain...

Thanks for this, Ray! I wish I could read the rest of it!

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

This was quite a cool interview. We talked for nearly an hour. Roxana is definitely a highly intelligent woman and I think that'll resonate through this book. It's certainly more than Groupie Life for Dummies. :)