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 Playboy was 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. Al Goldstein 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!

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