Playboy in heaven

I was catching a flight from Washington’s Dulles airport back to San Francisco. I usually sleep on the plane but sometimes I buy the New York Times and Harper’s Magazine (it’s the best, in my opinion) just in case. As I was looking through the magazines at the airport newsstand, Playboy caught my eye. I hadn’t bought a nudie magazine in ages. Just the thought of it made me uneasy, like I was doing something wrong. Then I thought what the hell, I’m an adult now. I don’t need to feel ashamed. Let me buy it for old times’ sake.

I don’t remember who I was sitting next to on the plane, a man or a woman. But I played it cool. I didn’t open the magazine wide, but I did get a good look nevertheless. The featured woman was a blond bombshell from Texas. I never imagined a beautiful woman — perfect body, cute face and everything — could look so unappealing. Repulsive really. Too perfect? Or unreal? I don’t know.

I used to die to get my hands on Playboy. Every picture, every curve turned me on. What happened? So disappointed!


My parents read a lot — books, newspapers, magazines. And they could pretty much get anything they wanted from “Matbooa’t Beynolmelalli” (“International Press”, top photo) in Abadan’s main Alfi Square. There were many foreigners — and foreign-educated Iranians — who needed their Herald Tribune, The Times, Le Monde, Newsweek or New Yorker. They were a week or two old by the time they went on sale. Remember, this was the 1970s and we lived not even in Tehran but down by the Persian Gulf. These days we can access thousands of newspapers and magazines from around the world on the net. Back then we were at the mercy of the Iranian postal service which was not known for its speed or reliability. But it was still worth the wait.

I would often go along with my parents when they wanted to buy something there. It was a whole experience. You didn’t just buy what you wanted and leave. You had to look around to see what else was available. This was our outlet to the rest of the world. And I loved going through the magazines and their glossy color pictures of people and places I had never seen. I particularly remember the ones with gory pictures of “world wrestlers” on the cover, blood dripping from their smashed faces. I think they were British. I had no idea these wrestling matches were all, or mostly, fake. Most of all I loved football magazines. My favorite was called SHOOT, which had great color pictures of English teams. I didn’t actually read any of them.

One day I noticed something strange. The owner of the store bent under the cash register, stuffed a magazine in a brown paper bag and handed it to a customer. Very curious! What was he hiding under there? After some detective work I found out that there was a whole other world I was unaware of. Oh my fucking god! Magazines full of naked women! My 12-13 year-old mind was in a spin. I obviously couldn’t buy them myself but I was determined to get my hands on them.

I became friends with the owner’s assistant. He was a young guy, maybe 18 or 19, maybe even less. On some days, in the early afternoons after school, before the store officially opened, he would open the door and let me in. Let me into heaven that is. Imagine a time and place where looking at pictures of naked women was an extremely private affair. Believe me, it was harder to find nude material under the rule of the Westernized Shah than it is today in Islamic Iran. Adults had the pleasure of seeing breasts once in a while in Hollywood B movies, or cheesy ones from Europe, or even in some Iranian films. But in general nudity was barely legal, and hard to find.

And there I was, a young horny bastard, given access to hundreds of nudie magazines. I remember sitting on the floor behind the cash register, nobody around in the dark empty store, my heart thumping like it was about to explode, hands and knees shaking… I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m sweating just writing about it more than 30 years later!

There was every imaginable variety, from hardcore northern European (I think they were Swedish or Danish) magazines with graphic scenes (I mean they were REALLY grotesque, not just simple intercourse) to the softer ones like Oui and Playboy. And to me, nothing beat Playboy. The women were simply the most beautiful. And I wanted to take them home with me. But I was too young to be able to buy the magazines. That didn’t stop me. I found older people to buy them for me. They couldn’t be relatives or close friends, of course. This was dangerous business!

One guy I found was this tough older kid, who was just 17 or 18, but a mature-looking looti type, kinda like Fonzi in “Happy Days”, only shorter. He was maybe even my height, but the platform shoes, which were popular back then, made him look a lot taller. He seemed like someone who would do anything for a friend in need. We weren’t friends as such, but we knew each other. There was a club — the “Annex” — where I often played ping pong. I had played him a few times, and won. I was a kid who was able to beat a real man! It was the kind of manly thing that impressed him.

One night I was standing outside “Matbooa’t Beynolmelalli” hoping to see someone who could make my dream come true. And there he was, my Lord Savior, walking towards me, very cool, like (a mini) John Travolta in bell bottoms in that (opening?) scene from Saturday Night Fever. I was really nervous but it was something I had to do. I stopped him and asked if he would do me a favor and buy a Playboy for me. He didn’t hesitate for a second. He was going to do this for his little pal! He took my 20 tomans (worth about 3 bucks back then), went inside and came out a minute later with my magazine in a brown paper bag. Woohoo! I could have screamed I was so happy.

When I was searching Playboy covers for this piece, the one you see on top of the page looked very familiar. It’s the August 1975 issue. It’s from the right time period, around when I started collecting the magazine. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the one I got that night.

Soon my parents found out about my stash of magazines, but to my pleasant surprise, they didn’t mind. Well, my father kinda did, but my mother convinced him it was ok for a boy my age. They weren’t gonna teach me about sex and girls, so maybe I could learn something from Playboy. Of course I didn’t learn a thing about sex and girls through the magazines, but I sure did enjoy them! I proudly had them in full view on my bookshelf.

There was one particular “playmate” centerfold I could not get enough of. It showed a gorgeous black woman laying on her stomach. I liked her so much that I had pinned the centerfold on the ledge between the curtain and the window in my room. Every day when I came home from school, I would go straight to my private shrine, open the curtain and say hello to my goddess. If any of you guys have a subscription to Playboy online and find this particular centerfold (it might have been one of the international issues, not published in U.S.), don’t forget your buddy JJ! I wouldn’t mind checking her out again — for nostalgic reasons of course :o)

When I came to the U.S. for high school in 1976, I continued to buy Playboy when I could, from time to time. The one I remember most vividly is with (November 1976). I haven’t seen her centerfold since, but I could still describe it to you right now, millimeter by millimeter. Talk about perfection… man o man… Jimmy Conners married her and made a whole generation of guys very very very jealous.

My interest in Playboy, and nudity in general, began to go away with the approaching revolution in Iran. I began to read Ali Shariati and his brand of revolutionary Islam. After reading his books, “Fatemeh is Fatemeh” for instance, I was done with Playboy and the Western concept of women and sex altogether. I always had a feeling that looking at naked women was somehow naughty or wrong or whatever you want to call it. But now it had also become a sin.

Today, I’m still the horny bastard I was in Abadan. But pictures of naked women don’t do much for me anymore. I don’t watch porn and the few times that I have been to topless bars I have felt I’ve wasted my time. A real woman, in my arms, touching, kissing, making sweet love… now that’s heaven. The rest is kashk.

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Iranian Singles

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Meet your Persian Love Today!
Meet your Persian Love Today!