Al Goldstein

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Al Goldstein
Alvin Goldstein

(1936-01-10)January 10, 1936
New York City, U.S.
DiedDecember 19, 2013(2013-12-19) (aged 77)
New York City, U.S.
  • Lonnie Leavitt
    (m. 1963; div. 1965)
  • Mary Phillips
    (m. 1968; div. 1977)
  • Gena Goldstein
    (m. 1978; div. 1991)
  • Patricia Flaherty
    (m. 1994; div. 1999)
  • Christina Ava Maharaj
    (m. 2004; div. 2006)
ChildrenJordan Goldstein

Alvin Goldstein (January 10, 1936 – December 19, 2013) was an American pornographer. He is known for helping normalize hardcore pornography in the United States.[1][2][3]


Goldstein was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to a Jewish family. He attended Boys High. He captained the debate team at Pace College and interviewed Allen Ginsberg for the college newspaper. He served in the Army in the Signal Corps as a photographer. He worked as a photojournalist, taking pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy on a 1962 state trip to Pakistan and spent several days in a Cuban jail for taking unauthorized photos of Fidel Castro's brother, Raúl.[4] He also sold insurance, wrote freelance articles, ran a dime pitch game at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, sold encyclopedias, rugs and his own blood, drove a taxi (he kept his taxi license active until his death), and landed a job as an industrial spy infiltrating a labor union, an experience that so appalled him he wrote an exposé about it for the radical newspaper New York Free Press, a weekly periodical.[1][5]

Print publications[edit]


In November 1968, Goldstein and his partner Jim Buckley, investing $175 each (equivalent to $1,470 today),[6] founded Screw, a weekly New York City tabloid. It featured reviews of porn movies, peep shows, erotic massage parlors, brothels, escorts and other local offerings of the adult entertainment industry. Such items were interspersed with news concerning sexual topics, critical reviews of sexual books, and hardcore "gynecological" pictorials. Goldstein regularly ran, without permission, photos and drawings of celebrities.

"Screw grew from a combination of many factors, chief of which was my own dissatisfaction with the sex literature of 1968 and my yearning for a publication that reflected my sexual appetites," Goldstein wrote. "I may be making a lot of money, but I really believe I'm doing some good by demythologizing a lot about sexuality", he said in a Playboy Interview. It was described as "raunchy, obnoxious, usually disgusting and sometimes political."[7] The initial price was 25¢. At its peak, Screw sold 140,000 copies weekly.[8][9]

Arrested 19 times on obscenity charges, he spent millions of dollars on First Amendment lawsuits, ultimately scoring a major victory when a federal judge dismissed an obscenity case in 1974. (Goldstein believed that the case began as a result of Screw's article, "Is J. Edgar Hoover a Fag?",[7][10] the first published comment on Hoover's sexuality.[11]) Venue-shopping prosecutors selected conservative Wichita, Kansas, to prosecute Goldstein for obscenity;[12] when he was found not guilty, he flew the jury to New York to attend a party at the swing club Plato's Retreat.[13] His long-term attorney was Herald Price Fahringer.[5][14]

According to Will Sloan, "Goldstein was the first journalist to seriously review porn films. Had he not written a rave review of a low-budget film called Deep Throat ('I was never so moved by any theatrical performance since stuttering through my own bar mitzvah'), it would never have become a hit at New York's World Theater, would never have been targeted by the vice squad, would never have spawned a First Amendment cause célèbre, and might not have led to the modern porn industry."[4]

Bitch magazine[edit]

In the March 11, 1974 issue of Screw, Goldstein ran an ad seeking subscribers to a new magazine, Bitch, which "brings women's sexuality out of the closet for the first time" and also "takes women out of politics and puts them back on their back where they belong." (Note: there have been several other magazines also called Bitch.)[15] The first issue "contain[ed] an explosive symposium about blowjobs by four women who talk about giving head and what they like and don't like about it". Also included in the premiere issue was an interview with actor James Caan, and a centerfold of a man shot by a female photographer.[16]

Smut Magazine[edit]

In the same March 11, 1974 issue of Screw, Goldstein also ran an ad seeking subscribers to Smut, a magazine "so filthy that not only do you have to wash after every page, but every reader must disinfect after reading! SMUT is so dirty, so scummy, that once you have it on your hands you can't get it off!"[17] The magazine offered pornography in images and words, without the news articles found in Screw.

National Screw[edit]

In 1976-1977 National Screw was published; the place of publication was given as Secaucus, New Jersey. The June 1977 issue of the magazine contained, according to its cover, a new story by William Burroughs and an interview with Allen Ginsberg.[18] It is known to have published at least nine issues (76-77), also containing original adult comic strip work from comic artist legends Wally Wood and Will Eisner.[19]

Death magazine[edit]

In 1979, Goldstein began Death magazine. It lasted four issues.[20] The February, 1980 issue had a picture of Elvis Presley on the cover, "Grim Reaper Awards", "Eulogy to a War Lover", "Death by Hanging", "Femme Fatales", and other articles.[21]

Screw West[edit]

In 1979-1980 Goldstein's company, Milky Way Productions, published Screw West out of an office in Hollywood, California. According to an advertisement, it was intended to answer such questions as, "Where can I get laid in San Francisco? What's the best swinger's club in Los Angeles? How do I find all those out-of-the-way Pacific Coast nude beaches? And what are those bawdy brothels outside Las Vegas really like?" It is known to have published 54 issues.[22]

Movies and television[edit]

It Happened in Hollywood[edit]

In 1973, "Screw Magazine present[ed]" It Happened in Hollywood, a pornographic movie, produced by Goldstein's partner Jim Buckley. Goldstein played a character in the movie, and is also credited as "fourth unit director." At the 2nd Annual New York Erotic Film Festival it won awards for Best Picture, Best Female Performance, and Best Supporting Actor.[23]

Midnight Blue[edit]

In 1974 Goldstein began Screw Magazine of the Air, soon renamed Midnight Blue, a thrice weekly hour-long adult-oriented public access television program that ran for nearly 30 years on Manhattan Cable Television's Channel J; federal regulations regarding public access to cable TV systems made it impossible for the cable system to refuse his program.[24][25] (Similarly, Goldstein used a legal prohibition on the censorship of political advertisements to force television broadcast of pornography, under a transparent, but legal, veil of "political candidacy".) In it, he regularly interviewed porn stars, other adult industry figures, and sympathetic celebrities and "freaks", and ran advertisements for brothels, phone sex services,[citation needed] and Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse. [26]

In the later years, after departure of original director Alex Bennett, Goldstein featured on each program a "Fuck You" segment, a few minutes in which he viciously attacked celebrities, politicians, the judge who presided over his latest trial, the New York County District Attorney, and businesses he felt had wronged him.[citation needed]

"In its early years, Midnight Blue captured porn star Georgina Spelvin doing her nude tap-dance act at the Melody Burlesque; Tara Alexander attempting the world's biggest gang bang at Plato's Retreat, the New York swing club; the 10th anniversary Screw party, where Buck Henry and Melvin Van Peebles hobnob with Goldstein's jurors; and an early look at the S&M community in New York. Throughout its run, Midnight Blue interviewed almost every major porn star, and regularly tested the limits of what was acceptable for cable television."[4] Seven volumes of excerpts from the show have been issued on DVD.[27]

SOS: Screw on the Screen[edit]

In 1975, Goldstein issued SOS: Screw on the Screen, a stridently unsexy attempt at a cinematic newsmagazine that included a lot of goofy comedy, a gay scene, and several minutes of Goldstein ranting about America's sexual hypocrisy. Also appearing was Honeysuckle Divine (who often appeared in SCREW).[28] A poster of her was on sale in the same issue. Honeysuckle Divine was a Times Square stripper whose specialty was inserting objects such as pickles in her vagina, shooting out many of them. She put the pickles in baggies and sold them to patrons. Goldstein said that her act "was unbelievably disgusting, so naturally, we made her our symbol."[4]

Other business ventures[edit]

The Screw Store[edit]

In the May 17, 1976, issue of Screw Goldstein ran an ad for the "Screw Store", which offered dildos, including a "Bicentennial Dildo", vibrating Ben wa eggs, and a vibrating cock ring.[29] Selling dildos brought one of Goldstein's many arrests.[4][30]

Al Goldstein's Cinema[edit]

The October 17, 1977, issue of Screw contained an advertisement for "Al Goldstein's Cinema", located at 8th Avenue and 46th Street near Times Square. Admission was 99¢.[31] In the same issue, in the movie listings, it is described as "a large, comfortable porn house which shows average hardcore features. Some of these are first-run features, some have already played theaters in the city."[32] The theater is not found in a listing of porn theaters from 1979.[33]

Rabbit Ranch[edit]

In 2001, on Saint Martin, an island in the Lesser Antilles, Goldstein planned to open the Rabbit Ranch, the first of what he hoped would be a chain of 10 to 30 bordellos that would flourish wherever prostitution is legal.[9] He intended to use the profits to finance his second run for sheriff. The brothel never opened; authorities refused to give him a license because he was not a citizen of that nation. "We didn't bribe the right people or something," he said.[34]

Political and religious views[edit]

Views on the Iranian regime[edit]

In April 1989, Goldstein ran a full page ad in Screw offering $1 million for the assassination of the Ayatollah Khomeini, in response to Khomeini's February 1989 fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Islam.[35] (Khomeini died of natural causes in June 1989.)

Views on religion[edit]

In his 2004 book XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul, Luke Ford wrote about a conversation with Goldstein, in which Ford asked Goldstein why Jews were dramatically overrepresented in the porn industry. He answered, "The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don't believe in authoritarianism. Pornography thus becomes a way of defiling Christian culture and, as it penetrates to the very heart of the American mainstream (and is no doubt consumed by those very same WASPs), its subversive character becomes more charged." Ford then asked, "What does it mean to you to be a Jew?" To which Goldstein responded, "It doesn't mean anything. It means that I'm called a kike." Ford also asked, "Do you believe in God?" Goldstein said, "I believe in me. I'm God. Screw God. God is your need to believe in some super being. I am the super being. I am your God, admit it. We're random. We're the flea on the butt of the dog."[36]

Personal life[edit]

Friendship with Larry Flynt[edit]

One of Goldstein's best friends was Larry Flynt. Goldstein said that Flynt's Hustler magazine, founded seven years after Screw, stole the Hustler format from Screw, but that he was not angry. According to Goldstein, Flynt succeeded in creating a national publication, at which he had failed.[37]


Goldstein married five times and had a son, Jordan Ari Goldstein, with his third wife, Gina. According to Goldstein, he and Jordan had a close relationship until the Goldsteins' divorce. They became estranged after Al called Gina "a contemptible vagina".[38]

Life in Florida[edit]

While mostly associated with the city of New York, Goldstein was also a well-known figure in Broward County, Florida, making the cover of a local alternative tabloid, New Times.[4] He owned a 10,000-square-foot mansion in Pompano Beach, famous for its statue, 11 feet (3.4 m) high, of a raised middle finger on the back lawn, visible to boaters on the Intracoastal Waterway.[39][40]

In 1992, he filed to run for sheriff against Nick Navarro, who had gained Goldstein's enmity by arresting on obscenity charges 2 Live Crew members and a record dealer who sold their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. (The accused were convicted, but won on appeal.) Goldstein withdrew before the election took place. In 2001 he spoke publicly of his intent to run a second time, against Ken Jenne, on a platform of "leaving folks the hell alone". He never filed, saying that he could not afford the campaign.[34]

Final years[edit]

Legal issues and financial woes[edit]

In 2002, Goldstein was found guilty of harassing a former employee, having published her telephone number and place of employment in Screw and encouraging readers to call her and tell her "to stop being such a cunt." Goldstein was sentenced to 60 days in jail. He served six days before the charges were overturned on appeal. Goldstein apologized as part of a plea bargain.[41][42][43] Unable to make payroll, Screw folded in 2003;[44] only 600 copies were sold of the final issue.[4] Goldstein's company, Milky Way Productions, which published Screw and Midnight Blue, entered bankruptcy in 2004, having lost sales and subscribers as a result of the proliferation of internet pornography, abetted by Goldstein's financial mismanagement.[45]

Goldstein lost his Florida mansion and his townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Jobless and penniless, he ended up living briefly in a Manhattan homeless shelter. He was fired from New York's well-known Second Avenue Deli for sleeping in the basement, after a brief stint there as a greeter.[11][46]

Goldstein was arrested for shoplifting four health-related books from Barnes & Noble.[47] He worked in 2005 as a commissioned salesman for New York City Bagels.[48] Between 2005 and 2008, he blogged for, a pornographic search engine (defunct as of 2023);[49] he then continued on his own website until 2009.[50]

Goldstein was financially supported in his last years by his friend the illusionist Penn Jillette, on whose floor he once slept, and who admired Goldstein for his First Amendment activism.[4] His final residence, prior to a nursing home, was a small apartment in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens,[51] paid for by Jillette.[52]


Goldstein died on December 19, 2013, aged 77, from renal failure at a nursing home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.[1]



Goldstein was described in his obituary in The New York Times as "a cartoonishly vituperative amalgam of Borscht Belt comic, free-range social critic and sex-obsessed loser who seemed to embody a moment in New York City's cultural history: the sleaze and decay of Times Square in the 1960s and ‘70s."[53]


In 2003, Lancaster Pictures produced a documentary on Goldstein entitled Goldstein: The Trials of the Sultan of Smut. It focused on his legal troubles. Larry Flynt, Ron Jeremy, and Jimmy Breslin appeared in the movie.[54] He claimed to have had 7,000 sexual partners.[55] Another writer called him "a hairy, sweaty, cigar-chomping, eczema-ridden fatso".[56]


In his 2011 book Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! – of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder, former Screw writer and editor Mike Edison documents Goldstein's rise and fall against the successes of his peers Larry Flynt of Hustler, Bob Guccione of Penthouse, and Hugh Hefner of Playboy. Edison also lauds Goldstein as a staunch fighter for the First Amendment, quoting Gay Talese, who referred to Goldstein in his book Thy Neighbor's Wife, saying, "We need a free society, and freedom is not won by literary tea parties and well-meaning, virtuous publishers, it is won by disreputable people like Al Goldstein." Edison also quotes the New York reporter Jimmy Breslin as saying, "Al Goldstein is one of four people in the last 35 years who has effectively protected the First Amendment rights of reporters who bring the news to you. The others are Ralph Ginzburg, Larry Flynt, and Lenny Bruce. I know you don’t want to meet them, but you owe them.”[11]


Unless otherwise noted, Goldstein appeared as himself in the following movies:


  • Goldstein, Al; Friedman, Josh Alan (2006). I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 978-1560258681.
  • Goldstein, Al; Buckley, Jim, eds. (1971). The Screw Reader. New York: Lyle Stuart. ASIN B0010C5MBE.


  1. ^ a b c Newman, Andy (December 19, 2013). "Al Goldstein, a Publisher Who Took the Romance Out of Sex, Dies at 77". The New York Times. p. A1.
  2. ^ Cavaliere, Victoria (December 19, 2013). "Al Goldstein, pornography pioneer who claimed free speech, dies". Reuters. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  3. ^ "Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein dies aged 77". The Guardian. December 19, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Sloan, Will (December 20, 2013). "Al Goldstein: The Anti-Hef". Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Haller, Steven (November 19, 2006). "My Dirty Life and Times" (review of I, Goldstein. My Screwed Life)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  6. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  7. ^ a b Davis, Marc (November 18, 2013). "The Screw-y, Filthy World of Al Goldstein". Jewniverse. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  8. ^ West, Ashley (January 4, 2014). "Remembering Al Goldstein: A Happy Jew". The Rialto Report. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Whitby, Bob (February 22, 2001). "Screwed". Broward/Palm Beach New Times. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  10. ^ "Is J. Edgar Hoover a Fag?". Screw. No. 11. May 2, 1969.
  11. ^ a b c Edison, Mike (2011). Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of —Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers —An American Tale of Sex and Wonder. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 978-1-5937-6284-1.
  12. ^ Marshall, John (May 28, 1976). "Postal Officials Admit False-Name Subscriptions". Garden City [Kansas] Telegram. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  13. ^ "Goldstein says 2nd thank you". Lawrence Journal-World. May 4, 1980. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  14. ^ "Al Goldstein: Screw, Midnight Blue, and Fuck You Podcast 31". The Rialto Report. February 23, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  15. ^ "Journals + Publications entitled "Bitch"". Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "Photographic image : Bitch Bites Back!" (JPG). March 11, 1974. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  17. ^ "Subscribe to Smut Today". Tumblr. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  18. ^ "Vintage Adult Magazine Covers". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  19. ^ Goldstein, Al (1976). "Library Catalog – National Screw". Cornell University. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  20. ^ A cover is reproduced at "NONPOP OCCULTURE ESOTAROTIST ENNUISICKCLOPÆDIA : Photo". Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  21. ^ "Screw Magazine : Photo". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  22. ^ "Library Catalog – Screw West". California State University. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  23. ^ "Screw Film Sweeps Awards", Screw, March 26, 1973.
  24. ^ Bedell Smith, Sally (March 5, 1984). "Channel J Pornography is Cause of Lockout Law". The New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein dies aged 77". The Guardian. December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  26. ^ "Pour on the Schmaltz: Midnight Blue at Sammy's Roumanian Steak House". Flamingo Pablum. October 7, 2022.
  27. ^ ""midnight blue" – DVD: Movies & TV". Amazon. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  28. ^ "Diary of a Dirty Broad". Screw. March 11, 1974. Retrieved October 8, 2016. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  29. ^ "Screw Magazine". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  30. ^ Josh Alan Friedman, "Al Goldstein's Personal Ephemera" Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine; accessed November 20, 2014.
  31. ^ "Screw Magazine". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  32. ^ "Screw Magazine". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  33. ^ "Screw Magazine : Photo". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  34. ^ a b Bob Whitby, "Undercurrents", Broward/Palm Beach New Times, May 3, 2001; retrieved October 30, 2014.
  35. ^ "Threat begets threats". Boca Raton News. April 14, 1989. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  36. ^ Ford, Luke (2004). XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595318940. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  37. ^ "Goldstein on Flynt, Flynt on Goldstein" on YouTube
  38. ^ Al Goldstein and Josh Alan Friedman, I, Goldstein. My Screwed Life
  39. ^ "Screwed". New Times. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  40. ^ Chris Joseph, "Al Goldstein, Publisher of Screw Magazine, Dies in New York at 77", Broward/Palm Beach New Times, December 19, 2013; retrieved October 30, 2014.
  41. ^ Albin, Stacy (October 23, 2003). "Pornographer In Plea Deal". The New York Times.
  42. ^ Christian, Nichole M. (February 28, 2002). "Pornographer Guilty in Harassment Case". The New York Times.
  43. ^ Newman, Andy. "6 Days in Jail Broke Him, Freed Pornographer Says", The New York Times, May 18, 2002.
  44. ^ Nathan Thornburgh, "82 Minutes with Al Goldstein", New York [magazine], December 10, 2010; retrieved November 20, 2014.
  45. ^ Newman, Andy (August 12, 2004). "68 and Sleeping on Floor, Ex-Publisher Seeks Work". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2013.; Al Goldstein and Josh Alan Friedman, I, Goldstein. My Screwed Life
  46. ^ Mary Reinholz, "Ex-porn king trades sex for salami at 2nd Ave. Deli" Archived September 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, The Villager, September 15–21, 2004; retrieved November 21, 2014.
  47. ^ "The Ludicrous 12 of 2004", "The Ludicrous 12 of 2004", Broward/Palm Beach New Times, December 20, 2004; retrieved 10-30-2014.
  48. ^ John Zawadzinski. "From Smut to Schmears: Al Goldstein's New Venture", Washington Post, January 25, 2005, p. C09; retrieved January 20, 2005.
  49. ^ "Blog of Screw Magazine Founder Al Goldstein". May 16, 2008. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  50. ^ "Booble Presents: Al Goldstein's G Spot » 2009 » June". July 31, 2009. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  51. ^ Larry Ratso Sloman, "AL GOLDSTEIN: THE RISE AND FALL OF A NEW YORK JEW", Please Kill Me, June 4, 2019; retrieved 04-29-2021.
  52. ^ Ashley West, "Remembering Al Goldstein: A Happy Jew", The Rialto Report, January 5, 2014; retrieved 10-30-2014.
  53. ^ Newman, Andy (December 19, 2013). "Al Goldstein, a Publisher Who Took the Romance Out of Sex, Dies at 77". The New York Times. p. A1.
  54. ^ Dennis Harvey, Review: Goldstein: The Trials of the Sultan of Smut, Variety, May 27, 2004; retrieved January 20, 2005.
  55. ^ Thornburgh, Nathan (December 10, 2010). "82 Minutes with Al Goldstein". New York Magazine. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  56. ^ Anolik, Lili (February 23, 2011). "Al Goldstein: The Pornographer in Winter". New York Observer. Retrieved November 20, 2014.

External links[edit]