A young Chicagoan's strange erotic journey around the globe
In the center of the Iranian flag which had been adopted a year after the Islamic Revolution is the Emblem of Iran. Green stands for Islam, white for peace & red for the martyrs. On the fringe of both the red and green stripes is the phrase “God is great” written a total of 22 times in white.
Currently, and not surprisingly, American citizens cannot enter Iran unless they are part of an organized tour group and have applied for and obtained their visas well in advance.
Intersection near the hotel
Same intersection, different view
The first billboards I saw housing Khomeini and Khamenei. I actually got excited and NEEDED to take a picture of this one not realizing at the time there’s 1000s of these things all over the country.
Khomeini monument at the same intersection
Bike with roof – like being indoor when you’re actually outdoor!
“The distinctive characteristic of a martyr is that he charges the atmosphere with courage and zeal. He revives the spirit of valor and fortitude … among the people who have lost it. That is why Islam is always in need of martyrs.” – quote from an Iranian handbook known as ‘The Martyr’
Anti-Christianity book I saw while perusing a bookshop
“Family Album U.S.A.” Another book from the shop
Dude who was selling elephant and bunny rabbit toys out on the street
Building-side mural honoring an Iranian martyr. Not nearly as effective as it was back during the days of the revolution or the Iraq-Iran War, a cult of martyrdom glorifying the act had basically brainwashed an entire generation into thinking getting shot or blown up in the name of Iran and Allah was the ultimate way to go.
Dude fuckin’ takin’ a mid-afternoon snooze
Sleeping man’s impressive ‘stache
Ad for a movie that was out while I was there
Bread delivery boy
Another martyr mural
Mechanic greasin’ up his rod
“Uh yeah, can I get a ‘pen cake’ ‘desser’ with a…
…’Straw Gerry glass’ on the side? Thanks…”
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Non-alcoholic lemon beer like the one pictured seemed to be quite popular at restaurants.
Grant v. Khomeini. 1 USD = approximately 24,000 IRR
T-Rex chowing the Iranian flag in Tehran’s Laleh Park
Couldn’t quite figure out what the hell was going on with this tree
Old dudes and statues
One man, two balls and a whole bunch of squirters
There were quite a few of these signs with different religious phrases surrounding the fountains in the park.
The dude on the left was a university student who ran up to fine tune his already very good English, welcome me to the country and ask me about my impressions of Iran. Nice guy.
Each time I saw an older guy in Iran, I wish I could know what they were doing back during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Badminton seemed to be a very popular activity at the park
Dude trying to get the right angle of his girl in a photo. All females in Iran must wear the headdress in public.
Medical booths at the park. See next photo for explanation…
“In Iran, from US and European sanctions, the people cannot get medicine and other important things like they used to. In the park you can get free check-ups, herbal medication, psychological help, and anything else you can imagine. It’s the communal way to combat the inflation and goods shortages that they are experiencing…ALL because they have oil and want to have their own nuclear program…” (Caption by Major, Tom)
Art shop near the park
Motorcycle license plate with Persian numerals
Boxes like this can be found around Tehran and, as I was told by a random guy walking past who was intrigued by my curiosity with the thing, are public donation receptacles for the nation’s poor.
Chef at a restaurant we’d been walking past
The first cook carved this heart for April, a fellow Chicago native from our group.
Biker outside the restaurant
Couple friendly dudes who were interested in our origins and gave us free pop to welcome us to Iran
Let this dude try on my shades
The younger generation of Iranian dudes seemed to be very metrosexual. While walking around on our first night, we discovered this hair salon…
These guys wanted to cut my hair so bad
Looks like the wind is blowing this guy sideways
The strangest facet of the hair salon – The Last Supper painting hanging up on the wall. Only about 2% of Iranians are non-Muslim.
Dude at the ice cream shop giving us free samples of a Persian dessert known as Faloodeh which consists of frozen noodles, sugar and rose water.
This dude in the middle who we met at the ice cream shop didn’t speak much English but was nonetheless very eager to tell us of his sexual exploits. “I have many boyfriends!” he mistakenly exclaimed before pulling out his mobile and showing us pictures of him caressing a woman on a bed who’d been probably more than twice his age.
Driver of the garbage truck who stopped to say hello
Garbage man we met outside the ice cream shop
“Bus stop, wet day, Khomeini’s there I say – please lick on my butthole…” – The Hollies
Larger than life
Roadside painting honoring Supreme Leader Ayatollah Winnie al Pooh
As evidenced by the stickers you can see on the window there, the seating for men and women is segregated on public buses in Tehran.
“This may be the most popular image the west uses when showing Iran…however it’s from the regime and the people wish it were taken down. It’s based on the 1979 revolution. Persians actually apologized for this.” (Photo & caption by Tom Major)
Iran’s version of KFC
“Spring in Iran is marked by Zoroastrian eggs, bunnies, birds, etc… it’s the same as the west with Christian/Easter stuff, except most people in the west think EASTER TRADITIONS are CHRISTIAN.” (Caption by Tom Major)
(Awwwwww youuuuuuuu) Soulja boy up in this ho…
Tiled depiction on the side of a restaurant
Pooh Coffee Shop
Close-up of a weathered Pooh bear
4 dudes, 1 ass
Dey be clappin’ on dat currency
The only Mexican restaurant I saw in Tehran and it was shut down. Pity…
Riverside hiking path in the northern area of Tehran where…
…they had these lounge areas in the river on which to sit while sipping tea and puffing shisha.
View of the group from afar
Travel group loungin’ out
Jake, creator of puddindont.com giving his armless, legless title character a puff of the shisha
Mosque which houses a memorial for the Iranian nuclear scientists mysteriously assassinated in recent years, believed by Iranians to have been killed at the hands of foreign opposition to their nuclear program
Changin’ light bulbs
Heading in to give alms
Somewhere between 90 and 95% of Iranians belong to the Twelver branch of Shia Islam. Had to include a second photo of this mosque ‘cus it’s so damn good lookin’.
Bazaar adjacent the mosque
View from the bazaar
Man selling nuts and dried fruit
On the wall above a shop. How ‘bazaar’?
View of the dome from the roof of the bazaar
Legalize it in IRAN? Keep dreamin’ buddy
Old man at the bazaar
Dude selling a bunch of gizmos and gadgets from a rug on the sidewalk
A corridor behind the bazaar where I saw…
…this spray-painted on the wall. Pretty sure they meant “love.” Wasn’t expecting to see that shit…
Taking a rest
Man on-the-go who I stopped for a photo
Sign above a place of business
Going for the shake while crossing the street
Our waiter at a restaurant
Our waiter at a restaurant doing a SUCK IT!
Tile at the restaurant
The Azadi Tower
Built in 1971 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire, this structure was originally called the Shahyad Tower – meaning “Kings’ Memorial” – but was renamed Azadi or “Freedom” Tower after the 1979 Revolution.
Tea Mage and T Lal throwin’ down a SUCK IT!
The Azadi Tower is 164 feet tall and is completely clad in cut marble
Revolutionary demonstrations were held here prior to the Shah being overthrown and the removal of religious pluralism – including the banishment of the Azadi Tower’s non-Muslim architect – in 1979.
Another building-side mural glorifying a martyr
Flags in the lobby of the hotel. Guess which North American flag is missing from the collection.
The Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini
Pilgrims camped out near the parking lot of the 5,000 acre complex
A row of picnic tables
The Iranian government has reportedly devoted $2 billion USD towards the construction of the Khomeini Mausoleum
Two aspiring young martyrs or just two kids stuck doing mandatory military duty?
Started in 1989 after Khomeini’s June 3rd death, the immense project has still not been completed.
To the right of the entrance
Wall to the left of the entrance
Trash man who’d been sweeping up the complex
Hey, wait a minute…that’s not a car!
Soccer kid who we kicked the ball around with in the parking lot
Another large streetside testament to the Supreme Leader’s Cult of Personality
Near one of the entrances to Behesht-e Zahra cemetery
Many prominent Iranians have been laid to rest here in the country’s largest cemetery including many of the martyrs from the Iran-Iraq War
Dating back to mythology, it is believed that if a young soldier dies patriotically, a red tulip will grow on his grave. I’m no florist and can’t tell you for sure if these are tulips, but here are some fresh flowers laid out on the grave of a man who appears to have died way too young.
Family playing on a tank in the street near the cemetery
Dude popping a sick fuckin’ wheelie on his motorcycle near the tank in the photo previous. (Photo by Marko Moudrak)
The Armenian Club – the only place I know of in Iran where women can hang out without hijab and where it’s cool to get fucked up on homemade Armenian booze.
Plaque just inside the entrance
Live Armenian music
Armenian dudes drinking and shooting pool
Marko with Clarice and April sans hijab
Iranian badges that I turned a dude into a martyr for!!! Just kidding, but yeah, I think the one on the left is a naval badge.
Saw this shit in a little corner store. Who’s producing Christmas chocolates for Iranian consumption in April?
Another mural in tribute to the regime
“So you know, the one on the right where it says ‘Justin’ was on my nipple the morning after the party on the last night. I did not know until I touched myself while talking to border guards the next night crossing into Armenia…true story” (Photo by Tom Major, quote by Marko Moudrak)
Rural woman seen at a gas station near Isfahan
Sights en route to Isfahan…
Old ruin with a historical value I can’t recall
Shop in the desert
Strange billboard in a town where we stopped off for lunch
How could you not want to die for your country with all these nifty memorials all over the place reminding you how cool it is to get shot and blown up?
Where we ate lunch. In spite of the name, we were the only tourists – think the industry is a bit slow these days.
Since homeboy on the left is dead and can’t speak for himself, I wonder if Khamenei ever gets sick of seeing himself all over the place. As someone who likes to be referred to as the “supreme leader,” probably not.
Siose Bridge over what we were told was the “usually dried-up” Zayandeh River
Commissioned in 1602, the “Bridge of 33 Arches” is approximately 975-feet-long
Since it was “so rare” for this river that is usually dry in this area to be flowing rapidly, locals were ALL over the scene
“Diamond Geezer” – classic
Family standing up in one of the second-story arches as seen from the river
Marko on some karate kid shit
View from the Zayandeh
Aside from Bangladesh, I’ve never been so singled out and treated like a celebrity in my entire life.
Nose job bro on the right and of course, this guy delivering one middle finger and one index finger for the benefit of the camera
“Where you from?…Really?…Welcome to Iran.”
Group SUCK IT!
Prior to my arrival to Iran, I’d read that the thumbs up is equivalent to the middle finger. Our guide, however, told me this is an antiquated notion. I hope he’s right…
Kids smokin’ cigs
Atop Siosepol at night
Talking with everybody and anybody
Who said there’s no gays in Iran!?
Marko ands some bros
Chuggin’ non-alcoholic peach beers after the bridge session
Vali, our guide, showing off carpet fabrics at a shop I’m sure he got kickback from for bringing us there
The kind-of-an-asshole carpet salesman
Friendly dude who served us tea at the carpet shop
Dude who I met outside the shop after I’d had enough of the sales pitch and stepped out for some fresh air
Perfect Persian ‘stache
Another Iranian version of KFC
A family affair
The lower arches of Khaju Bridge are a popular hangout place to sit and smoke shisha and cigs
The dude on the bottom left of this still photo from a video I took had been singing and his voice echoed through the arches
Man who’d been writing in a notebook before I rudely interrupted him to take this photo
Marko taking one of another old dude
Sharp dressed old men
A vertical toilet seat
One of the several murals inside Chehel Sotoun
Closer view of some of the guys from the photo previous
What’s goin’ on there?
These murals portrayed a lot of dudes with their heads cut off
Severed head at the horse’s front feet
Hilarious shirt to come across in a dry country
Strangely placed triceratops
I enjoy looking at women
School kids and one of their teachers
“Single file now, class!”
Girl painting flowers at an art shop near Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Close-up of her meticulous work
If about 25,000 Iranian Rials equals 1 USD, this has the equivalent of toilet paper
Girl whose father owned the art shop
Hand-painted boxes. I could be wrong, but I think I remember the girl saying they were made from bone
Marko slobbin’ on a magnified version of Tea Mage’s face
Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Carriage rides are offered around the square
Entrance to one of the mosques
Zoomin’ in on the dome
Girls trying to take a photo with a handmade heart around the dome
“F*#@ the feds, vote for Ted”
One more of the square just for good measure
In the bottom center of this picture, people are testing out the perfect echo of this structure. You could whisper something in that corner and it could be heard clear as day on the opposite side of the room.
Another metal worker
Kid having some good old-fashioned fun playing with a bag over his head
Carpet shop owner who invited me in for some tea and a chat
Entrance to what I believe was Lotfollah Mosque
A fan of Superman wearing a camouflage headdress
Went to the bathroom at the mosque and saw that somebody had missed the toilet
When conversing with this gentleman, we learned that since girls in Iran have to remain virgins until marriage, some of the hornier ones like to take it in the pooper to satisfy their needs while, at the same time, preserving their “virginity.”
Free-spirited dude at the carpet shop with a tat reading “Who are you to tell me how to live my life…I won’t give this up”. Obviously not a fan of the regime
Out the bus window
My go-to snack in Iran: Generic Kix with peanut butter that I ate using a complimentary, hotel room toothbrush
Inside a Zurkhaneh or “House of Strength” where an ancient sport known as Varzesh-e Bastani is practiced
Dudes doing calisthenics in the central pit or “gaud” as it’s called
The walls of this place were lined with strongman photos – varzesh-e bastani participants of old that more often than not, had awesome mustaches
Yo brah, how much you lift, brah?
Combining pre-Islamic Iranian culture with elements from Sufism, participants are expected to be pure, truthful and good-tempered before strong in body. One verse recited at many sessions is “Learn modesty if you desire knowledge. A highland would never be irrigated by a river.”
In addition to these clubs known as ‘mil’, the athletes use other things such as metal shields and bow-shaped iron weights to train.
Here’s the men working out with the clubs while the rhythm of their workout was kept by…
…the dude who sat about the ring, chanting and providing percussion.
Drawing of another strongman on the wall
Jockin’ a HUGE club
Posing with the bow-shaped weights post-workout
List of things you can’t bring on an airplane in Iran
At the airport, they had all types of “Learn English” products. Might not want to buy the one that spells “today” as two separate words.
English on Trip…
…and for you lazy bastards out there, English Sleeping.
Generic Chester Cheetah mascot
Don’t know what this product was…”How to cut an American’s tongue out”
Three years ago, as a recent college grad, I’d never imagined getting on a plane with this written on the side. That’s life for ya…
Approaching the ancient city of Persepolis
Gate of All Nations
The Gate of All Nations was built by Xerxes
The western entrance to the gate is guarded by statues known as lamassu depicting bulls with the heads of bearded men and the east had two with wings and Persian heads.
Must’ve drank quite a bit of Red Bull to get wings like that
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire from around 550-330 BC.
Menu from an ancient McDonalds chariot Drive Thru at Persepolis
SUCK IT! along the walls of the Apadana
Lion tackling a gazelle?
Me slamming a lion from behind. The Japanese tourists loved this one and all gathered around to get a shot of me goin’ to town. (Photo by Tom Major)
I think that guy sitting down was wearing makeup.
Marko helpin’ out some Persian bros with a photo
Made in the shade, brah
Guy didn’t speak English but had to understand the hilarity of his shirt, right?
Panoramic of Persepolis from above
Dude in front of an old carving
Attractive Persian lady
Doorman at a restaurant near Persepolis
Ducks that attacked me and bit onto my pant legs as I tried to piss in the bathroom at the aforementioned restaurant.
The sign in front of the restaurant which was cool and all except…
…for the fact that a lot of the columns looked like silhouettes of penises. “Don’t get mad, I’m only bein’ real”
The necropolis of Naqsh-e Rustam about 12km NW of Persepolis
Women posing in front of a large relief of the triumph of Shapur I over the Roman Emperor Valerian and Philip the Arab.
How they carve that shit all up in the hills like that way back in the day?
Vali pointing out the investiture of Ardashir I
Close-up of the relief above one of the tombs
Arg of Karim Khan – built between 1766-7
Design above the door depicting Rostam kicking a demon’s ass
Non-Persian lookin’ dudes sharing a kiss on camera
Inside the citadel
How they used to get down
Lovely stained glass
Close-up of one of the designs
Stud outside the Arg
Photo of me taking a photo of a guy taking photo of me.
He ain’t no po-po
How young bros hang out around the Arg…
…How old bros hang out around the Arg
Modern Family – Arabic perhaps?
3 SUCK ITs, 1 Zombie and 1 guy pretending to blow my freakin’ head off. Easily one of my favorite photos from the trip
Ad for a clothing store with a ridiculously huge-lipped, racist depiction of a black dude
Carpet shop in a Shiraz bazaar
Tom talking to an English-speaking fabric salesman
Old bazaar dude
This guy had a pretty cool collection of anti-American stamps put out by the regime
“Takeover of U.S. Den of Espionage”
Rare, rare pin of the US and Iranian flags as one that I don’t think was even for sale. (Photo by Tom Major)
Entrance to a tea shop/shisha lounge
On the wall of the entrance in the photo previous
Just inside the entrance
Man with a cage full of bunnies
Religious school…I believe
Inside the classroom
“Hello Joe!” – Googly-eyed grandma Flanders
Steppin’ out in style
Entrance to Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
It’s weird ‘cus a lot of the tiles appeared to have pictures Christian churches on them
Man and his daughter who initially pulled over to say “hello” but eventually parked and got out of the car to converse with us. The girl spoke English and served as the translator between us and her father.
Car seats in a ride parked outside the mosque
The “mihrab,” or niche in the wall of the mosque that indicates the “qibla” which is the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca where Muslims should face when praying
Iranians at the mosque
The wall up to the ceiling
Woman I saw outside while leaving the mosque
Nose jobs seemed to be hugely popular in Iran among both sexes who, apparently, find their Persian noses to be unacceptable. So, if this bro just got a nose job and this is what he looks like…
…it makes me wonder if this guy had just recently gotten a hand job.
Martyr mural with the mythical tulips at the bottom
Side of an old-looking mosque
Standing outside a weird-ass pet shop, this dude was casually holding a mini squirrel
And this guy had been cupping mini birds
Tom and a local lady we met outside a hamburger shop
More martyr shit
Eram Garden – “Eram” being the Persianized form of the Arabic word “Iram” which means “heaven” in the Qur’an.
Women in the garden
Qavam House in Eram Garden
Family in the garden
Bros casually holding hands while strolling through the garden
Tiles design we came across while walking around after leaving the garden
Like the eggs in Tehran, I figure this is some more Zoroastrian, Nowruz, spring celebration stuff…unless it’s permanently there which’d be pretty weird
Yet another martyr billboard
Woman leaning on a beat-up old car in front of the Tomb of Hafez
Fortune teller in front of the Tomb of Hafez
I have no idea why, but the moment I saw this guy I thought that if I were directing a Persian version of Peter Pan, I immediately would’ve cast this guy as my Mr. Smee
Crowds pouring into the complex to see the tomb of Hafez – a celebrated Persian poet from the 1300s.
Woman with a fresh Nose J
The pavilion over the tomb with a memorial hall in the background
The girl on the left was cool, but the one on the right was a total hater
Persian bros takin’ flower pics of each other
What you aimin’ at?
I hope this kid gave himself that uneven-ass haircut. If not, his parents are quite cruel
“I feel happiness when I eat a potato.” I wish life were that simple, kid, I really do.
Little man posin’ for a pic with his mama
Locals and foreigners
In the memorial hall at the tomb of Hafez had been a little library where an attractive young lady had been writing in this notebook. When she stood up, I left this love note with my email on her belongings. Heartbreakingly, I never heard from her[Photo by Tom Major]
April and a “really hot” Iranian traffic cop
Ants dismembering a larger bug (Photo by Tom Major)
Niavaran Palace Complex
Entrance to the Niavaran Palace Complex in the northern part of Tehran
Painting up close
Interior of one of the palaces
Old royal dudes
Military negotiations room
Thought that dude on the left kinda looked like my dad in the 1980s so I included a shot of him to compare and contrast.
Nixon and Hitler on the same platform
Reminded me a lot of Japanese depictions of Fujin and Raijin
Sexually ambiguous couple
Room with a sweet ceiling
Border between wall and ceiling
Fuckin’ bong room bro!!!
Why, you’ve become nude!
Another splendid room
Faces on the rug
Royal outfits of old
Different people on a different rug
Transit to Armenia
Awaiting a car to be serviced at a gas station – looks like a family in a waiting room while a relative is under the knife
“Cheetoz” – Get real
At the border crossing to Armenia
One last anticlimactic, unenthusiastic photo with Vali, our guide, before heading into Armenia