December 21, 2013

Al Goldstein: How Good Porn Got Screwed

This posting was picked up directly from motherboard.vice.com and written By Anna Jane Grossman.  Sorry for the unholy copy/paste but I wanted this information out for this morning’s edition.
I’’ve could have spent 30 minutes screwing with this article and enjoying it, to then put my name on it but speed was of the essence because I wanted it out before anybody else with the exception of the mother posting.
Here it goes:
Thursday Earth bid farewell to Al Goldstein, the crotchety porno-obsessed old man New Yorker best known for being New York's biggest crotchety porno-obsessed old man. He foundedScrew, a ragtag dirty magazine, in 1968, and hosted the long-running NYC public access show,Midnight Blue, which may or may not have taught me everything I knew about sex as a child. 
An ardent defender of the First Amendment and angry wielder of the middle finger, Al became notorious for stretching the boundaries of taste and harboring deep personal vendettas, which he would articulate with Brooklyn gusto during fiery monologues on Midnight Blue



Al's decline, from the top of the underground porn heap (his empire was once worth millions) to a greeter at the Second Avenue Deli to a hospice in Brooklyn, where he died of renal failure (he was 77) was punctuated by giant shifts in the porn industry and a range of personal battles.
I interviewed Al in 2008 for my book Obsolete. We spoke by phone, and while he was totally eloquent I had the impression he was confused about who he was speaking to or why I was asking him questions. The conversation focused on the obsolescence of printed porn. I didn't talk much. I didn't need to. Here is some of what he said:
"The internet buried Screw. Why buy a magazine when you can jerk off to anything online? Movies have evolved, fiction has evolved, but porno is stunted. It's like a retarded child. There's no where for it to go. It's a sideways step, the internet. The internet no longer has a unique message. It's boring. Chat rooms are boring. Go to any bar and there are men looking for women and it's the same thing online. It's changed format but it hasn't changed substance. Porn is maybe evolving but it is not growing up.
"Porno used to be verboten. It was exciting. It was like Columbus discovering an island.
"There is no longer a reason for pornography because things have become so graphic. There is no longer a vacuum. When I started Screw I was arrested for shooting pubic hair! It was exciting! And dynamic and unique. Now if you look at pornography, it's vulgar. It’s very commonplaceness has made it less special. 
"People will still jerk off to photos. Men are still walking dicks. They still have fantasies that every woman is theirs. All that hasnt changed. And it won't. Fantasy will live for ever. In a way it’s sad that porn hasn't grown up.  
"People will still jerk off to photos. Men are still walking dicks. They still have fantasies that every woman is theirs. All that hasnt changed. And it won't. Fantasy will live for ever. In a way it's sad that porn hasn't grown up.
"Even though I am an old man, sometimes I still try to masturbate to some Hustler porno DVD and they are disgusting. There is no context. No one speaks. There is no dialogue. It is minus anything intelligent or witty. Deep Throathad a director. There was a Bergman-esque approach. They tried to give it a sense of humor. But since then, everything has been stunted.
"I was always compulsive for a feeling of being alive. I wanted excitement. I made so many mistakes. I married in college. Then I married the mother of my son. I married a PanAm flight attendant. Fourth was a flight attendant. Last one was a 29-year-old Indian girl.
"I followed fantasy and it was a fool's trip," he said. "I'm embarrassed to tell you what a folly it is. I used to use sex as entertainment, in the same way that I used the Johnny Carson show. I was incapable of a deep feeling. Therefore i gravitated to the light sexual moments. I thought that with the fantasy I would find an answer. But i didn't find an answer. I found a question. The question was that there is no answer.
"I don't want to sound dramatic but I just don't see much more in life. I am tired. There's nothing new other than Chinese food on Canal Street. I feel washed up. I'm going to kill myself now."



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