301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


Contraband That Binds

Throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the well-meant advice of concerned friends, an adventurer named Jamie Maslin sets out to travel the Silk Road and ends up in the Islamic Republic of Iran. What he finds in this country, so often depicted as oppressed, fanatical and everything in between, is a warm, open group of people with a sense of humour and an odd love for the Argentinian-­born Irish crooner Chris de Burgh, of ­“The Lady in Red” fame. How bad can Iranians be if their musical taste leans toward cheesy ballads?

In Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker’s Adventures in the New Iran (Skyhorse Publishing) Maslin proceeds to deconstruct the stereotypes Westerners have of post-1979 Iran. Using his thumb and his wits, he befriends men who insist that he stay with them and their families rather than in a hostel. He encounters taxicab drivers who prove invaluable in exploring Iran’s famous and historical locales, all the while denouncing the government that employs them. And he connects with men and women his own age, at illegal parties, where dancing headscarf-­free and dressing in Western clothing is the order of the night.

In a land feared for its autocratic government, Maslin learns that things are definitely not what they appear and that nothing bonds young men quicker than pirated porn and bottles of booze.

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