Screwed

Aging porn publisher Al Goldstein ponders a run for sheriff, bordellos, and his dwindling obscenity empire

Both sound like soapboxes for Al Goldstein.

They are. People buy it. But how many people got a blowjob from Linda Lovelace? I don't know if you know who Linda is.... Just a minute, I'll show you. [Goldstein waddles into his house and returns with several copies ofScrew.] There she is blowing me. [Goldstein beams, then turns the page.] Here I attack the hypocrisy of Rudy Giuliani [for being a "fascist, censorship-loving scumbag"]. But I have been writing the same editorial for 33 years. The people who want me in handcuffs are the same lowlifes who have secret sex lives.... For me, if there is a recurring theme, it is that the emperor has no clothes. We live in a sick, polluted society in the freest country in the world. I just got an assignment from Penthouse. I am going to write about my favorite city in the whole world, Amsterdam, because you can do anything there as long as you don't scare the tourists.

Ah yes, Amsterdam. Famous for drugs. You took up smoking pot late in life?

At age 61. I had an assignment to cover the High Times marijuana festival in Amsterdam. And I smoked marijuana. You know I am an old Jew, I'm a nervous person, I don't sleep well. I have this condition called sleep apnea, and I need a breathing machine. But if I have a joint, it makes me peaceful and happy. So why is it in America you go to jail for this? So I have been smoking for four years much to the chagrin of my son [27-year-old Jordan]. I have four marriages and one son, who is the most conservative kid in the world. He's in law school now. He calls me "his father the dope addict." He is in his third year of combined M.B.A./law school.

Screwseems to have lost its edge.

Screw has been around too long. After 32 years what was unique is gone. The hooker ads are in the back of the Sun-Sentinel. [A passing boater stops in front of the giant finger, laughs, and shoots Goldstein a middle-finger salute, to which Al responds in kind.] I have been stagnant. I think to myself, OK, Al, you are 65. You've been doing this half your life.... So I realize -- and this came through watching Biography because I'm a TV junkie -- I realize that Colonel Sanders had a chicken store. And at age 65 they put a freeway through his store, and he had to close. At 65. But he said, "I have something. I have my 11 secret ingredients," and he started franchising. I thought, What do I have? I'm no genius. I have a name in the sex world. It's a negative if I want to date a girl, because, if I really like her, she will think I'm a pig. But in the sex world, there's Flynt, Guccione, Hefner, and Goldstein.... So I said, nobody is really taking a corporate approach to prostitution. You go to Kentucky Fried Chicken not for a good meal but for uniformity. Maybe I can be a brand name. I am planning to open up a chain of bordellos anyplace prostitution is legal. My place will have high-grade prostitutes, and everyone will be over 18. The girls will be checked medically. I am going to raise the prices from $40 to between $150 and $5000. There'll be wine served and a cigar room. I will guarantee if you don't have a good time, you don't have to pay. No one has ever done that.

Is this going to make you rich? Richer?

Yes. Richer. After four marriages and a couple of embezzlements -- I trusted people who beat me -- I'm not as rich as I look. I'm not as rich as I live. My best marriage was 13 years to my son's mother.... It becomes a business. They say marriage is the death of blowjobs and omelets.

Are you still making payments to ex-wives?

No, no. But it cost me. Like my third wife, my son's mom, got $3 million. And it was necessary because I wanted joint custody of my son. And maybe it was extortion, maybe not. But she's a schoolteacher, and the judge didn't look favorably at the publisher of Screw. You know there isn't that much money in the business. I made mistakes. The last marriage cost $1 million. The woman got $100,000; her lawyers got $900,000, because they all smell deep pockets. And that is why I love Florida. I can homestead my house. No one can take my house. In New York I live pathetically. I live in one room. One room. I like to have enough money to live the way I want. For 20 years I had a townhouse in New York next to Bill Cosby; it was a beautiful home. And I had to unload it because I was going through the fourth divorce. I would like to live like a normal person. I mean this is luxury, where I live now. When I get to my house in New York, you got to walk around my luggage. One room is 500 square feet. Holland I don't pay much, I pay $700 a month.

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