Of all the pornographers in the world you might care to name - one, more than any other, stereotypically looked and acted the part: fat, angry, sleazy, rude, leering, disgusting.
That man? Al Goldstein, founder of Screw magazine. He is hated by many.
Nothing if not defiant, stubborn in the face of adversity, tenacious when dealt a blow, Al Goldstein is a true inspiration. Though endlessly crude, his quick tongue and ready wit seem to be there for him in every situation, coating his endless kvetching with a balm of cheap laughs; self-deprecating to the last, the funny sad man is funniest when describing his lows, and is able to make even something as hot as 1970s deep throat from Linda Lovelace sound pitiful and sordid (which, in fairness, it almost certainly was).
Mission Statement (Screw No. 1, 1968)
WHAT WE STAND FOR: Screw welcomes you to the first issue of the most exciting new publication in the history of the West,. You are on the virgin trip of the first magazine-newspaper that gives sex a break and makes no bones about it. People f*** and do other things to each to other — whatever it is, we won’t knock it. In the ear or up the nostril — it’s your bag and it’s your business. We promise never to ink out a pubic hair or chalk out an organ. We apologize for nothing. We will uncover the entire world of sex. We’ll be the Consumer Reports of sex. We will lay it on the line, and on the bed, floor, the beachheads of the world and then lay it on the line until the whole world gets the message — SEX IS FUN.
With Jim Buckley, he started Screw magazine in 1968 - a publication which probably couldn't have been financially viable before that time, a sort of consumer advocate for anyone spending money on sex: critiques of porn films, sex aids, prostitutes, S/M dungeons, and so on. In many ways, Screw was a forerunner to the large city weeklies seen in recent decades; not only in its willingness to advertise the sex trade, but its propensity for somewhat riskier interview subjects, innovative design, and of course its strong editorial stances.
In this department, Al Goldstein was difficult to match: his anger seemed endless, its targets everywhere. Goldstein was only too happy to spout off in an editorial voice, regularly venting his spleen both in print (Screw was only one of Goldstein's magazines) and on television (his late-night show Midnight Blue seems perversely prescient in retrospect, providing a blueprint for endless cable shows to come). Even this guy's backyard gave you the finger.
For a time, things were pretty rosey. If Al had been killed by falling space junk in the 1990s, how differently his story would read today! But that didn't happen of course, and Al lived on to see his Screw empire dealt a death blow instead, courtesy of the free porn ubiquitous on the Internet, a business flux which - combined with several expensive alimonies - saw him reduced to bankruptcy and ruin by 2004. He served a few nerve-wracked days at Riker's Island. At one point, Goldstein (now considerably lighter after stomach stapling) was famously homeless and then working at an NYC bagel joint.
Since then, Al has pulled through with impressive panache, writing an auto-biography with Josh Alan Friedman, maintaining a blog (albeit infrequently), even running for President. He's no longer a rich man, or even a healthy man, but Al Goldstein lives on and his sleaze can only be marveled at.
Al's most recent blog post (June 25 2009):
Fuck you scumbags who thought that Al Goldstein was stuck in the fucking VA with a straight jacket and a ball stuffed in his mouth. Fuck you syphillitic pukes who thought that I would merely lay down and die like an old jew in a rusty wheelchair. I am alive, my brain still functions, my dick is soft but I have a rigid tongue, and I am ready as ever to suck on pussy and give the world’s assholes a tongue lashing.
For the record (and to those morons who actually CALLED the VA and asked for Al Goldstein), there are LAWS in this fucking country called “HIIPA” which protect patient’s confidentiality. This is not 1953 when you could call a hospital and ask if your grandmother’s anal fistula was successfully removed! You fucking MORONS!
ok - back to reality. The point is that I am out of the VA and live in an apartment 2 blocks from the ocean in Far Rockaway. It is a clean place, not too shabby. I have no money to buy food, but I went to COSTCO and bought a three month supply of ALPO.
I will wite a full BLOWN blog in a week or two.
We concern ourselves now with two by-products of Screw, one a film and the other a film soundtrack record.
1973's It Happened In Hollywood was an unlikely Deep Throat cash-in financed by Screw magazine, a "Laugh-In-inspired skitcom" - the story of a starlet (Felicity Split) seeking fame in the movie industry, featuring, "more sex acts per minute than any such feature to date".
Made right out of the gate at the start of Porno Chic, created with some unlikely connections (Wes Craven worked on it, for one), straddled with some unlikely hyperbole (Goldstein reviewed it as, "truly revolutionary and without doubt THE GREATEST SEXUAL FILM EVER MADE! It is such a giant step forward for the sexploitation field that it is more like the jump from still pictures to motion pictures rather than merely an improvement"), and viewed by some unlikely people.
As this marked the introduction to porn for a lot of folks, many remember it with fondness. The French-language version making the rounds nowadays is funny enough, but this is no lost classic, to be sure.
Screwed is a documentary, shot in the mid-90s while Goldstein was still rich, fat, and in full-on rant mode (by Alexander Crawford, who also served as cinematographer on the considerably-better-looking Hated). Having said that, Screwed isn't a great film either: it's more than a bit rudderless, looks cheap, and sort of wallows in its own crapulence without offering much in the way of insights (one noteable exception here, a porn fan called Big Bob, whose tiny apartment is filled with porn floor-to-ceiling, opines that, "to see the truth, you have to look a girl right in the asshole").
If Screwed the film is disappointing though, its soundtrack is... well, to be honest, it's a bit disappointing too. I mean, really, a film soundtrack on Amphetamine Reptile, based around sex and sleaze (the documentary was originally to be called simply Porn)? How could it lose? Tracks by The Melvins, Hammerhead, Mudhoney, Guv'Ner, Boss Hog, Gear Jammer, Halo of Flies... It's pretty good, sure, but there's nothing quite as face-melting as one might hope from such an amazing record label; the Cows take the prize for "Pictorial" here IMHO.
Terminal Boredom: How did you end up doing the soundtrack for 'Screwed'?
Haze: Another convoluted nightmare. Originally the producer said it was gonna be called “Porn” and would be a documentary on such. They had just done the amazing “Hated” GG Allin documentary so I knew they did quality stuff. Besides it was about porn...fuck, sign me up. So I pulled it together, did a series of 7” releases (that had the “Porn” title on ‘em) and in the last week they pulled the rug out, changed the title to "Screwed" and decided it was gonna be a documentary on Al Goldstein. I would have never done it had I known that, as I couldn’t give two fucks about Al Goldstein. Man, I wanted to see somebody do an interview with Ginger Lynn or Gregory Dark! By then I was committed. The funniest part is the producer of it went on to be a Hollywood director that’s done such movies as 'Old School'. I wonder why he hasn’t hit me up to get the Cows onto the soundtrack of a movie like that?"
v/a - Screwed OST