Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Friday, December 20, 2013
photo of Al Goldstein, AP
“He clearly coarsened American sensibilities,” Alan M. Dershowitz is quoted as saying about Al Goldstein, in today’s front page Times obit of the infamous pornosopher (“Al Goldstein, A Publisher Who Took the Romance Out of Sex, Dies at 77,”12/19/13). Dershowitz is
further quoted as saying “Hefner did it with taste.” Dershowitz should know
better. The fact that a first amendment advocate, who also represented Goldstein, would be deluded
enough to propose that Playboywas more tasteful than Screw represents a new nadir
in the history of thought and taste both. Playboy came up with the formula of
using a veneer of culture to justify its pictorial spreads. It’s like the way l9th
century robber barons, acquired masterpieces of art, legitimize their gluttony. In Creativity and Perversion,the psychoanalyst Janine
Chasseguet-Smirgel makes a similar point about the use of creativity as a covering for
sadistic wishes. Al Goldstein had no need for any of these shenanigans so by
calling a spade a spade, he should be called the one with the taste. Screw
wasn’t a glossy magazine but a tabloid and the spread shots had an
immediacy that no expensively produced Taschen erotica could ever compete with.
AlGoldstein was like the Trotsky of
pornography. Once the revolution was over, the Lenins and Stalins took over and
he was out of work--as a pornographer, at least. Goldstein fans still tuned into
to Midnight Blue his Public Access television show to hear his restaurant reviews (one for Tony Roma’s featured Goldstein vomiting on camera). He gave
the finger to restaurants he didn’t like. Fittingly, he ended his career, as a
greeter, at one he ostensibly gave a thumbs up to, the 2nd Avenue Deli. “Hefner did it with taste.” Wherever you are Al, give ‘em the bird!
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.