Ask any of the crop of currently performing pornstars who Al Goldstein was, and chances are that you will get an, “I don’t know. A Jew?”
I tried to track Al down once, years ago, when I first started in the adult industry. I was fascinated with the history of porn. I was fascinated with porn’s place in mainstream pop culture. I was fascinated with Al Goldstein. But at the time I couldn’t track him down. Rumor was that he was homeless and hated in New York City. I think that he may have actually been the one that started that rumor. So, it could be true. But it’s difficult to tell, because Al Goldstein was a man that was also a character he created.
Well, I never got a chance to meet the man, or his character. So, I’ll never get to tell you truthfully if he was a great man or a great big asshole. But what I can tell you is that Al Goldstein was a porn pioneer that deserves to be remembered as such, and recognized as such. And anybody that says otherwise should be debated, in the same way Al would have argued those same facts while he was still alive and roaring on his public access television show and part-time soapbox, Midnight Blue.
Al knew what he was. He was proud of it. In the words of my friend, Gram Ponante, America’s beloved porn journalist, “Al Goldstein is an archetype. He was the type of person my parents warned me about when they even mentioned porn. He was a dirty old man. He was a reprobate. And the way that he turned this on its head, was that he celebrated this type of person. He did not have any shame about it.”
Al Goldstein was the publisher of Screw magazine, one of the world’s most circulated adult magazines, at a time when Hugh Hefner was trying to beautify sex with soft lights and editing in order to make it more acceptable to the public. Al Goldstein flipped that idea the bird and tried to keep porn dirty and have people accept it as it was. He celebrated perverted thoughts and fetishized fantasies. He preferred the words “pussy” and “hard-on” to their scientific-term counterparts. He believed that it was okay to prefer spread-eagle shots to the airbrushed ones. And as each of his obscenity arrests prove, Al Goldstein wasn’t afraid to share these opinions with the world.
The porn industry has lost a legend.
Free speech has lost a warrior.
The world has lost a character.
Every time you watch porn and masturbate, try and think of him.
R.I.P. Al Goldstein.