Underground Porn King and Screw Magazine Publisher Al Goldstein Is Dead
In the spring of 1991, Goldstein was living nearly full-time in Pompano Beach, Florida, where he had a condo, and where he was interviewed for a characteristically diplomatic profile in the Miami New Times (one of our sister papers; the profile was edited by current Voice editor Tom Finkel). Goldstein cradled a Yorkie named Petey while expounding on why he'd chosen such a large television set ("If I can't have a big dick, at least I can have a big screen") and his plans to run for sheriff, which he swore were serious, though he acknowledged he had a bit of a learning curve ("I'm not a law-enforcement person. ... Obviously my own credentials are wanting.") He was not elected.
In 2003, after a long string of legal battles and near-brushes with prison for obscenity (he paid a $30,000 fine to settle one obscenity charge), Goldstein's company went bankrupt. He lost his condo in Florida and pretty much everything else. In a 2004 Times profile, he said he'd spent much of his last years in Florida homeless, sleeping in a car or a shelter. When the paper caught up with him, he was sleeping on the couch at his in-laws' place in Queens, with Christine, his fifth wife. (By the time he died, he and Christine were also estranged, though they don't appear to have ever divorced.)
After Goldstein's passing was announced, magician Penn Jillette weighed in, one of Goldstein's biggest fans and a close friend later in life:
My friend, and hero, Al Goldstein is dead. I will miss him and the world will be a little less free and honest. http://t.co/YbJOMoU1zi— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) December 19, 2013
But instead of such poetic and gentle sentiments, perhaps it's best to remember Goldstein in his own words, as man who was always striving to be the best in the business, and yet acknowledging, in the most colorful terms, his own failings. In the same Voice feature where he expounded on the power of his hard-on, Goldstein has this to say, about life, the porn business, and himself: "There's Penthouse and Hustler with pissing photos, fuck photos. Now I'm the most conservative guy in the business. Usually the creators of a revolution are devoured by the revolution. That's what happened with me. We're struggling. 'Cause my advertisers are being picked up by you guys, and I'm not as dirty as I should be."