An A.C.L.U. attorney says, "He gives freedom of speech a dirty name." Describing Screw, the 48-page weekly sex tabloid that Al Goldstein edits and publishes, New York Court of Appeals Justice John Gabrielli wrote. "It's hard to conceive how a publication could reach any further lows in attempts to appeal to prurient interests." an opinion with which the U.S. Supreme Court, late this July, refused to differ by denying hearings on several New York obscenity convictions. Screw's irreverent mix of scatology and porn has even earned Goldstein the dubious distinction of being called the world's foremost pornographer by The New York Times. Screw's parent company grossed more than $2,100,000 last year—partly in profits from its production of a hard-core film feature. "It Happened in Hollywood" (in which Goldstein played a major role), but mostly from the paper's 108,000 circulation. Though the profit margin has been substantially diminished by $214,000 in legal fees and fines from nine obscenity arrests during its six years of publication. Screw has acquired a kind of semirespectable reputation among the lecherati as the paper of record on sexual phenomena, however eccentric: Its list of subscribers includes 122 college libraries and the Library of Congress, as well as such celebrities as Sammy Davis Jr., Gore Vidal and Judith Crist.
Screw's formula for success derives from the chutzpah and kinky sexual tastes of the 38-year-old Goldstein and the unerring business instincts of his partner, 30-year-old Jim Buckley, both of whom earn $1550-a-week salaries for their efforts. When they met. Goldstein had recently been fired from The National Mirror, a lurid sensationalist tabloid for which he'd written some 1200 fiction-masquerading-as-fact stories bearing such headlines as "Wife Grinds up Children. Feeds them to Goldfish" and "Barber shoves scissors up Girlfriend's Nostrils." At the time, Buckley was editing a falling underground newspaper, The New York Free Press, to which Goldstein submitted an article dealing with his previous experiences in industrial espionage. Three months later, they decided to pool their assets—a total of $300—to publish material that would parallel the unconventional sex life Goldstein was leading and feeling guilty about.
In the annals of journalism, the immediate impact of their merger was hardly comparable to that of, say. Scripps and Howard. Printed on the cheapest paper possible, the first issue of Screw consisted of 12 pages of skin-flick reviews, frontal-nudity photographs and tips on how to buy the best dirty books on Times Square. The 7000-copy print run cost a meager $215, since Buckley did the typesetting and Goldstein supplied most of the breezily sophomoric writing. That issue's graphic illustrations, which included a woman provocatively holding a salami and another woman seated on a man's penis, were lifted from U.P.I. files. The National Mirror and a pornographic mail-order circular. When shocked distributors refused to supply Screw to news dealers. Goldstein himself circulated the 25-cent paper by bicycle and subway, sweet-talking his way onto 24 newsstands. "We didn't know we had a hit for a long, long time." he recalled later. "We always thought each month, then each year, would be the last one."
Before his breakthrough with Screw, Goldstein's life and times—a pathetic combination of sexual, professional and social frustrations—would have fascinated most analysts and, in fact, have already been heard by ten therapists over the past 19 years. His case history starts with the embarrassing stutter that plagued him until he was 12. A year later, as he tells it—to anyone who'll listen—he began masturbating regularly and relentlessly. His loss of virginity at 16 was arranged by his family and consummated in a hotel room with his uncle's girlfriend. At 17, he says he brooded constantly about whether to kiss dates good night on their doorstep or rape them behind the bushes. By IS, he boasted the largest collection of pornography in his Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood—much of it liberated from his father's bureau drawer. By 19, he claims he was spending most of his time with hookers, and soon after his 20th birthday he contracted a case of clap while serving in the Army.
During a period of uncharacteristic stability and serious-mindedness in his mid-20s, Goldstein worked as a press photographer for The New York Mirror and later, as a part-time free-lancer, covered Jacqueline Kennedy's 1962 visit to Pakistan, a tour of Moscow by four American governors and Chè Guevara's speech-making punditry in Havana—where a misunderstanding caused him to be arrested and jailed for four days and his film to be confiscated. Then, at 27, after a whirlwind courtship, he took time out from his catch-as-catch-can career to elope with Lonni Leavitt—a 19-year-old student whose family bitterly opposed the marriage. To achieve the measure of rectitude he thought his in-laws required, Goldstein abandoned photography and for two years became a crackerjack life-insurance salesman, ranking 13th out of 5000 colleagues at Mutual of New York. But he hated wearing a tie and suit, and finally resigned. The marriage itself ended abruptly one day in 1965—after two and a half years—when, Goldstein says, he returned to his apartment and found the furniture gone, his suits slashed by a knife and Lonni's wardrobe and personal effects missing. "It's probably the closest I ever came to wanting to kill myself," he told one of his analysts.
Goldstein soon discovered that the thousands of dollars of credit-card bills he claimed were run up by his estranged wife—which he was unable to pay—had ruined his credit rating and consequently his ability to obtain steady employment. For three months, using a microphone to hustle customers, he ran a ten-cent-a-pitch carnival-midway game at the 1965 New York World's Fair. After making unsuccessful stabs at selling encyclopedias and rugs, and working as a contact man for a pharmaceutical company, he went on welfare for a year and, to make ends meet, sold his blood on five occasions.
In desperation, Goldstein finally landed a $200-a-week job as an industrial spy, infiltrating Bendix Corporation assembly lines in Long Island City and Elmira, New York. He was required to file regular reports analyzing the mood of his fellow workers prior to a union election—or, to put it more bluntly, he was finking on his buddies. "I had terrible guilt about prostituting myself this way," he told his shrink. "I figured I had seen such injustice in my own life, that I'd been fucked around so often, that I might as well fuck other people. And I needed the money." Meanwhile, in the wake of his divorce, becoming panicky about being alone, he was making eight and nine dates a week, along with numerous backups. After a series of abysmal failures on the singles-bar scene, he tried computer dating—with indifferent luck—and ultimately began contacting correspondence clubs, most of which turned out to be phonies. Of the 54 women he addressed in four months, there were only two responses—both from hookers.
It was while he was trying yet another job, driving a cab, that he met Mary Phillips, a blue-eyed blonde stewardess from Charleston, South Carolina, who eventually became his second wife. "I married her bigamously so I could fly Pan Am to Hong Kong at 90 percent discount," he insists. When he and Buckley formed Milky Way Productions, the incorporation articles were placed in Mary's name—to avoid any legal hassle from his first wife's attorneys. After Mary divorced Goldstein 16 months later, he said, "One reason I love her so much is that she had the intelligence to walk out on me." Today, they remain such good friends that Mary frequently baby-sits with Jordan Ari Goldstein—the middle name is homage to Ari Onassis—a nine-pound, 13-ounce baby born last May to Gena, his third wife. Goldstein's unique birth announcement, the parody of a Screw cover showing Gena nursing their child, bore these come-on headlines: "Tales from the crib!" "the dirt on Diapers!" "Breast-Crazy Kids!" "water Sports for Beginners!" Disenchanted a few weeks later, Goldstein told his latest analyst, "I don't know if I like being a father. The kid has already taken over one room of our four-room apartment and most of my wife's attention. When I want to fuck, I have to make an appointment."
The romance of Goldstein and the former Gena Fishbein, then a 29-year-old grade school teacher, began with a blind date to a relatively sedate nonsex movie, Roman Polanski's Playboy production of "Macbeth." Her late father had been a Screw subscriber, but she knew of Goldstein only vaguely, remembering little more than television footage of him being arrested. Like Gena's father, Goldstein admits he has turned out to be a pigheaded, stubborn, fascist head of the household. But somehow, possibly because Gena participates in group therapy, their marriage has survived 22 mercurial months.
To further plumb the depths of Goldstein's frenetic psyche, we assigned Contributing Editor Richard Warren Lewis, who had interviewed him last year as part of a "Playboy Panel" on "New Sexual Lifestyles." His report:
"When I talked with Goldstein the last time, the setting was his 14th Street Manhattan office, where a stuffed and mounted shark with a half-eaten dildo in its mouth hangs from the ceiling, the breasts on a wooden torso of a woman light up when his private phone rings and the buttocks of a mannequin protrude from underneath a refrigerator—while a procession of hookers (some of whom he impulsively balls on the wall-to-wall carpeting), dirty-book writers, nude models, hustlers and con artists passes by his desk.
"This time, fortunately, Goldstein had decided to flee the fear and loathing that were plaguing him in Manhattan—where he had spent the previous weekend test-firing a 38-caliber pistol and writing letters demanding police protection in anticipation of the feedback from a forthcoming series of articles on Mafia infiltration into pornography. Seeking a respite in the Southern California sun, he carried with him a bound volume encompassing Screw's first year, sheaves of copies of letters and clippings detailing his latest escapades and two tape-recording devices into which he periodically dictated material for his soon-to-be-published autobiography, 'The Prince of Porn.' And, as usual, he was complaining about his corpulence. Weighing a mere 185 pounds when he married Gena, his 5'8" frame had ballooned to an endomorphic 242 before slimming down to its present 216.
"The only exercise I get these days is fucking,' Goldstein said. Clearly, he must have been doing a lot of that lately, since he had just won a TV set equipped with three screens in a weight-loss wager with Lyle Stuart, publisher of his autobiography. Still, he couldn't resist wolfing down a sausage-and-mushroom pizza and a couple of ice-cream cones before we began talking on a cantilevered deck overlooking downtown Los Angeles. As Goldstein languished in the sun, cheerily reminiscing through his bound volume of Screws as if it were a family album, it seemed appropriate to begin by discussing their provocative contents."
Playboy: Why is Screw more successful than the other dirty underground newspapers that flood the market?
Goldstein: Because we lead the league in tastelessness. Because our photographs are filthier and our articles are more disgusting than theirs. We make no effort to be artistic. Our photographs are so explicit the readers can see the come running from a girl's mouth. Our stock in trade is raw, flailing sex. Nothing is left to the imagination. We review and rate stag movies, gay movies, fuck books, burlesque, topless bars, model studios, health and leisure spas—otherwise known as massage parlors. We're like Consumer Reports, except that our interests go far beyond toasters and compact cars. The word love is alien to us. Who needs love? Yuch! We deal with masturbation, the most common sex activity for most people, in graphic words and pictures. We offer heavy doses of heterosexuality, lesbianism and male homosexuality. The most important factor of all is that we know our kinky audience—those who've been overlooked by other publications. If we had the money to conduct a comprehensive survey, I'm certain we'd find a preponderance of foot fetishists, ass fuckers, pederasts, onanists, sadomasochists and all the rest of the denizens of the sexual twilight zone. These are people I sympathize with, because they're just as horny as I am. It's for these people that we print pictures of dykes going down on each other, 300-pound hookers, a guide to smut in the Library of Congress, pornographic puzzles, instructions on how to give deep throat and what purports to be a photograph of Golda Meir's old Jewish cunt.
Playboy: How can such a raunchy publication stay in business?
Goldstein: We've had some close calls. Screw is so vile and ugly in its unrelenting efforts to achieve sexual candor that I've been arrested ten times and my news dealers have been busted on more than 130 occasions. We are constantly defending our First Amendment rights. Law-enforcement agencies can harass us, but they'll never stop us. If necessary, we'll just keep on paying fines. Some of our scariest confrontations, though, haven't been with the law at all but with private citizens.
Playboy: What do you mean?
Goldstein: I get two or three death threats in the mail every week. I even got a death tape with a guy yelling how he was gonna strangle me because I was so vile, I was corrupting America, and only a Jew could stoop so low.
Playboy: Have these threats prompted any special security precautions?
Goldstein: Not until recently. Now I have a part-time bodyguard, a burglar alarm, bulletproof glass in the office and I wear a bulletproof vest. Somebody told me I should get a bulletproof jockstrap, to protect the real heart of my existence. All these new precautions are the result of something that happened just a couple of months ago, when we were terrorized by two gunmen. The Trojan horse was somebody knocking on the door and saying that he was delivering food and coffee. I said, "Let him in." It was really Pavlovian; mention food to me and the doors open wide. So in walked two guys pulling guns. Next thing I know, one guy's got a gun pointed at me and he's throwing some people on the floor. I had a shotgun in my office, but I didn't reach for it—because my immediate reaction was that it was an obscenity arrest. Only when I started getting shoved around and heard one of the guys saying, "Us guineas are tired of what you been writing about the Family," did I realize this was something more serious and dove for the floor in front of my desk. It was sacrilege, like violating a shrine; on the same place I've come so many times, I almost went.
There were 15 of us piled two and three high, several staffers and some hookers and pimps who had just dropped into the office to place their ads. We were told to remove our jewelry and hand over our wallets and purses. I was afraid I was gonna die, but all I could think about was this very expensive watch I had on, a $2500 Pulsar. It's the only gold thing I own. And besides, it was essential to my profession as a critic. For some time I'd been using it to time the intervals between sex scenes in fuck films. So I slipped the watch under my shirt. Then, when I was dragged up by the hair, with a gun jammed against my head, the watch slid down my shirt and into my pants leg. I kicked it under a hooker who was lying next to me. Later I told her she could have a year's free advertising in Screw for shielding my watch with her body. One gunman kept slamming me into the wall and repeating. "You're gonna have to stop writing about us." I looked at the gun, which was at my temple, and visualized what it would be like to be pistol-whipped. Some of my staffers—who are into masochism—probably would have come three or four times. Not me. I reached into my pants pocket and gave them my last $20 bill.
Playboy: In the long run, isn't your livelihood—if not your life—more seriously threatened by recent Supreme Court decisions that allow almost any local citizens' group to haul you into court for violating community standards of obscenity?
Goldstein: The prosecutors will still find it difficult to shut us down. Half of our circulation is in New York City, whose contemporary community standards permit hard-core films, dildo stores, dirty bookshops and hookers walking the streets. The other 50 percent is spread out among 14 urban areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Chicago. If we're busted in any of these locales, we'll just ask for jury trials, and I'm sure we'll be vindicated. We've never had any circulation in those Neanderthal areas of the South and Southwest where vigilante committees are most likely to be formed. So Supreme Court or no Supreme Court, Screw will probably get even dirtier.
Playboy: How could it possibly get any dirtier?
Goldstein: Well, you know those perfume ads—when you scratch the surface, you get a whiff of cologne? I would love to have a centerfold that you could scratch and smell pussy. While awaiting that milestone in publishing, we'll expand on our outrageous reputation by running a how-to-do-it article by a most unusual girl I recently met. Gerry Damiano, the porn film maker who made Deep Throat, plans to use her in his next movie. She's his new Linda Lovelace. Not only can she give superb head but she sings while she sucks. While my cock was going in and out of her mouth, she sang "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"
Playboy: On key?
Goldstein: Are you kidding? She's got a voice like an angel. This is a great routine. If only Ed Sullivan were still on television. It would really be terrific if she and I 69'd while she was singing and I could sort of hum an accompaniment. And then we have Honeysuckle Divine—Screw's ultimate woman. For the past two years, she's been writing a regular column for us called "Diary of Dirty Broad." Honeysuckle is a stripper who read an article we published two years ago about a turn-of-the-century French vaudevillian whose act was mostly farting to music. She was so impressed with what you can train your ass to do that she went on a self-improvement program such as man has never seen. I first saw Honeysuckle as I walked into Jim Buckley's office, and there was this girl standing on her head shooting Jergens Lotion across the room—ejaculating it from her pussy onto the wall 19 feet away. I thought that was unbelievably disgusting, so naturally, we made her our symbol—like the Playboy Rabbit. We've sold 10,000 calendar posters of her spreading her lips in a way that would sicken even a gynecologist.
For every month on this calendar, by the way, the days she has her period are marked in red. The days when she's probably got the clap are printed in black. She is without a doubt the most unhygienic mass of femininity I've ever encountered. She's a one-woman slum. Among her unique talents is putting a broom in her cunt and sweeping the floor. She also uses her cunt to play the saxophone and blow out candles. Honeysuckle is so dirty even I wouldn't touch her. She's always got some sort of ooze percolating in her box. She would keep an army of 19 shrinks so busy that they'd need shrinks to take care of them. But you know something? She's a sweet, nice, almost innocent kind of creature. And she's the only person on the staff who calls me Mr. Goldstein.
Playboy: Another bizarre personality you've featured in the newspaper is Monique Van Cleef, "the torture lady," as you called her. What was your attraction to this story?
Goldstein: I'm interested in anything dealing with especially far-out sex practices. In all the years I've been involved with Screw, the weirdest day I ever spent was at her home in The Hague. I had seen "The Balcony" and read a lot about Monique, but I didn't know much about dominance and bondage, which are her specialties. Her whole trip is humiliation. She locks people in closets, pisses on them, hangs guys upside down from their ankles and utilizes pain devices that tighten around the testicles. Monique's place looked like a three-ring circus from a Gestapo commandant's dream.
Playboy: And you were only a spectator?
Goldstein: No; for a short while, I became one of the sideshows. Monique ordered me to get down and kiss her on the foot. Then she put me in the pillory and manacled my hands and legs. Milton Berle might have gotten into the French maid's outfit for the occasion, but I passed on that. I would have felt ridiculous. Any-way, eventually she spanked me. But I was relieved to report in my story that I didn't get a hard-on. Even so, it was a circulation builder.
Playboy: How successful were the Jacqueline Onassis nudes you published a couple of years ago?
Goldstein: That was one of our milestones. It was a new record—we sold 530,000 copies at 75 cents apiece. It's the only issue we ever had to print twice—despite the fact that all the publicity about it was by word of mouth. We tried to promote that issue, but Variety, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Review of Books, New York Magazine and The New York Times turned our ads down. In the copy accompanying the photographs, we called Jackie "the world's richest pussy." The pictures were full frontal nudes shot on the island of Skorpios with an extra-long lens. You can clearly see Jackie's big bush and hard-nosed tits.
Playboy: Do you think it was fair to invade her private life that way?
Goldstein: Do stars have private lives? Do politicians have private lives? I don't think Nixon can invoke Executive privilege for his private comments.
Playboy: But Jackie's neither an actress nor a politician.
Goldstein: I embrace the paparazzi philosophy. Everything is fair game. including a controversial and charismatic figure such as Jackie Onassis. Nobody asked her to walk around naked. Maybe I wanted to violate her symbolically with those photographs, pulling her down to my own level. I keep thinking back to the time I accompanied Jackie to Pakistan as a photographer, when she was still Mrs. Kennedy. I was sweaty and hot, but she was always so immaculate, so impeccable. She never had diarrhea, because she drank only water flown in from the United States. I'm certain there were some destructive components in my motivation, but we were the only American publication that had the guts to run those photos.
Movie magazines that promise you "the hidden secret of Elizabeth Taylor"— which turns out to be that when she was nine years old, she didn't get the dress she wanted—are the ultimate rip-off. They don't deliver; they're totally full of shit. Screw really delivers. When we ballyhoo nude photos of Jackie Onassis, we have nude photos. There's a payoff on the inside. This is where we're honest— maybe 97 percent of the time.
Playboy: What about the other three percent?
Goldstein: I'll joke around. Like offering a special introductory bargain subscription rate, II issues for $9.95, which costs more than our regular rate. Or the time I printed splashy ads announcing the opening of a nonexistent massage parlor, exclusively for women, called The Golden Tongue Salon. The copy promised that the greatest, most agile and most powerful tongues would be assembled to satisfy women in a plush setting, that there would be men whose cocks were so strong you could hang ten umbrellas on them. Since so many women like the idea of going to bed with blue-collar workers, we said the men would be dressed in blue and that The Golden Tongue would resemble a police station. The address and phone number we published were actually those of the police station on 51st Street. When the real police answered, we figured would-be customers would think it was part of the gimmick. The ad ran for five weeks and the trouble started when the cops' wives began complaining. I don't think the cops themselves were all that upset, because when my secretary called the station and said she'd like to make an appointment for a massage, they told her to come on down. And I understand a lot of the boys in blue asked to be transferred to that precinct during the ad campaign. But finally I got arrested on one of the dumbest charges ever filed against me—harassing a police station.
Outside of occasional jokes like that, our hype is always up front; unlike the movie-scandal magazines. Screw's most conservative section is the outside. It's the only part that's not dirty. We don't want to offend innocent passers-by. I don't use the word cum or prick on the cover, because I might be busted for pandering. I'll use the word ass, as in "Teaching Your Ass New Tricks," cause it could mean your burro. And pussy I can get away with, because it might be a cat. That's the only part of the paper where I show any reticence at all. Once we've vamped the reader on the cover, we lure him inside, then grab him by the balls and hold him for the remaining 47 pages.
Playboy: Who is the Screw reader?
Goldstein: A demographic study we've done indicates that the percentage of college graduates who read Screw, in our major distribution area, is second only to The New Yorker's. But unless you're very much into the sexual market place of porno films, fuck books and massage studios, I can't imagine anybody reading Screw for longer than a year. Because in that period of time, you would have read virtually everything we have to say. We'd only be repeating ourselves.
Playboy: How do you handle that problem?
Goldstein: We actually have Wednesday-morning staff conferences at which we'll talk for hours about what sex acts we haven't done lately. We've run articles on how to eat pussy better, how to lick assholes, how men shouldn't be uptight if their girlfriends put a finger or a vibrator up their ass. We've covered the cunt from every angle imaginable—inserting the nose, the elbow. How many symposiums can I print on how to suck cock? After six years, it's brutally hard—or should I say soft? We have to repackage our product more often than the automobile manufacturers do. It's the same problem any other house organ has—and surely Screw is a house organ, any way you want to look at it. I doubt whether a new fucking position has been developed in 4000 years, but we need constant variations, so we improvise by dreaming up different settings or gimmicks—like making it on a trampoline or putting an apple in your partner's mouth while you fuck her in the ass.
We have an article coming up by a girl who insists that big cocks make a difference. I'm sure that'll be followed by someone else saying that small cocks can be fun, too. Whatever side of the bed we're on, we'll turn the mattress over and get another angle. It's not always easy, considering what colossal jackoffs we are. We once ran a "Pick the Prick" contest, for which six of us from Screw were supposed to be photographed with cocks soft, then hard. The readers who matched the hard and soft cocks to photos of our faces would win Screw T-shirts. The photo session that produced the pictures for this layout was a larce: There we were, six guys standing together naked, like a bunch of kids ready to play doctor—only there were no nurses. Nobody could get a hard-on. I mean, our staff is incredibly sophomoric as an operation—except for me, of course.
Playboy: You mean you're the only mature employee of Screw? What about Buckley?
Goldstein: Buckley who?
Playboy: Your partner—Jim Buckley.
Goldstein: You mean the Senator from New York? You'd better be able to back up that accusation.
Playboy: C'mon, Al.
Goldstein: OK, OK. I've had a partner for six years named Jim Buckley. Not the Senator. When I met my Buckley, he was the only member of the underground press who owned stock. He doesn't spend money. He doesn't live. He's really like a cadaver. He's a lovely, sweet man—but he's a repressed Catholic, which means that he's monogamous. He doesn't fuck around. He's never been to an orgy. He once turned down a blowjob from Linda Lovelace. What a disgrace! This man would be happier in the Vatican. He's my cross to bear, a scandal to the whole sexual field. But without him, I don't believe Screw would have been successful. With my own urge for self-destruction, I would have been out of business by the third issue.
Jim's very stable, very structured: he's not comfortable with people. He's also unhappy that I get the publicity. We own Screw 50-50, and yet Jim is an unknown—even to his wife and family. Screw is really an extension of me. Buckley feels that I'm a clown, an exhibitionist, a dangerous menace to society, that I should be hosed down and thrown a pound of raw meat before I go to bed at night. I feel that my exuberance, my pioneering instincts are what we need in Screw's pages. If we were to have an extension of Buckley's personality in the magazine, we'd have a blank notebook. In the pages of Screw, I've accused him of being a latent homosexual—which probably has something to do with his Catholicism. The fact that he was very happy in the all-male society of the Navy for three years indicates that Jim would make a wonderful faggot. I have a genuine, deep respect for him, but I can't conceive of a man who doesn't fuck around, given the opportunities he has. That's why he's a subject of constant ridicule for me. He's also thin, attractive and—what makes me angriest—his cock is bigger than mine.
Playboy: How do you know?
Goldstein: We once had replicas of our cocks made of Lucite. I have mine on display in my house, properly placed on the mantel, with high-intensity illumination. My wife and I fight about that a lot. When her mother is coming over, she wants me to hide it. Of course, I refuse. I'm very proud of my cock, even though I wish it were larger.
Goldstein: It stands to reason that if there are enough men who covet big boobs, there's going to be an equivalent percentage of women who care about big cocks. A lot of men—including me—would like to believe it's not how large your cock is but how you use it. But I think that's bullshit. I know two guys who are big in sex films—Marc Stevens and Harry Reems, and both of them have outrageously large cocks. They fuck their brains out with women who want to be balled by a big and famous dick. I feel sorry for Marc, because that's all he is—a ten-and-a-half-inch cock. His personality is under his foreskin. It's a shame. Chesty Morgan is a stripper with 73-inch boobs; they hang down so far they're grotesque. But our readers are fascinated by them. There will always be a market for side shows. Linda Lovelace proves it.
Playboy: Linda Lovelace may have been Screw's most important discovery. How did you happen upon her?
Goldstein: I discovered Linda just doing my job. The people who owned the World Theater in New York City told me they had a great fuck film they wanted me to see. At first, they thought the title might be The Sword Swallower, but they were afraid newspaper-advertising departments would refuse to run that title. The alternative, Deep Throat, seemed innocuous enough.
So I went to review the film, and I was suddenly confronted with Linda Lovelace onscreen. She had a lot going—or should I say coming?—for her. She was lovely, thin, young and fresh. Most of the women in fuck films have pimples on their asses or are uncommonly lat. Because I have a weight problem, I like very thin women. My current wife weighs 99 pounds. I mean, I like them emaciated. Deep Throat was cute; it moved along. It had music. It had wit. But mostly it had Linda as a brilliant cocksucker. While I was writing my review, I couldn't forget the come pouring out of the corner of her mouth as she sucked Harry Reems's cock. Her enthusiasm and her vitality were wonderful. I got so hung on that film that I got 11 hard-ons. I gave Deep Throat 100—the maximum score—on the Peter-Meter, our yardstick service to readers on the erotic content of movies. I wrote the most laudatory review I'd ever written—dealing with this girl who sucked cock. But I never mentioned her name in the review, probably for the same reason I bought Rolls-Royce stock before it went into bankruptcy. I didn't realize Linda would be a star.
Playboy: What effect did the Screw review have on Deep Throat's popularity?
Goldstein: Before my review, the film opened and closed in California in four days. After my review, it quickly became a huge hit in New York, breaking house records. Five weeks later, the guy who owned the World Theater asked me if I wanted to interview Linda. He thought it would be good for business. I said, "Jesus, sure, I'd love to meet her." We met in a small, cold, S17-a-night hotel room, and it was the most difficult interview I ever conducted, because she's really inarticulate. Chuck Traynor, then her husband and "manager," did most of the talking. After the interview, I said, "Listen, I'd like you to suck my cock." I figured she was just a hooker anyway, so I wasn't embarrassed. She said fine, Chuck said OK, and she blew me. My partner, Jim Buckley, photographed this summit meeting. I ran the photos of her sucking my cock and my description of it. It was a paradigm of personal journalism.
Playboy: What was it like?
Goldstein: I felt very alienated. There I was with the world's greatest cocksucker, and yet it was a lonely experience. I was sweating. She was hot. But it was false, because it was not spontaneous. I have an average-size cock of about seven inches, and the fact that it disappeared down her throat interfered with my concentration. I kept thinking: Am I that small? Is she that good? Should I come now? My attention kept wandering. She was sitting on my face in a 69 position, and as I was eating her, I knew I wasn't bringing her any pleasure. I was feeling very selfish, so I asked, "You don't really come this way, do you?" She said, "Yeah, I come." It finally dawned on me that this was a nonmonetary gift from the distributors for my review. So then I was able to just come in a detached sort of way. But it was like working. I felt like a hooker faking an orgasm with a John. I left there feeling sad.
Playboy: Still, was the experience different from making it with any other woman?
Goldstein: To tell the truth, it was a novelty. I had never fucked a woman in the mouth like that before. It seemed so hostile. And I remember eating her pussy—which was hairless, something I don't particularly like. As I looked up, while she was moving up and down, I saw she was wearing a loose-fitting chemise. As the chemise blew away from her body. I noticed scar tissue all down her chest. Suddenly, I realized why I never saw Linda naked in Deep Throat. The director had to shoot around her scar. Until then, I was getting off on seeing her in the chemise, 'cause I like a woman in clothing. It's so much more exciting than a woman totally naked. But those scars turned me off a little.
Playboy: What was the reaction to Screw's photographs of Linda servicing you?
Goldstein: My wife hated them. The readers loved them. After the Lovelace story appeared, I began running anything I could find about Linda. She was my star. She was my Marilyn Monroe. If I were a faggot, she would have been my Judy Garland. Anything she did was news. Some friends of mine found some eight-millimeter films Linda had made before Deep Throat—movies where she gets fucked by a dog and gets pissed on. I ran the stuff and Linda and Chuck got terribly angry. I tried to explain to them that anything she did was news. Apparently, they felt that being a cocksucker was news, but to be fucked by animals—that was too kinky to be published. So I became the enemy. Two of her friends, managers or whatever you want to label them, called me up and said they were going to break my legs.
Playboy: It's surprising that nobody from the A.S.P.C.A. called.
Goldstein: They probably would just have asked if the dog was happy and who had custody of the puppies. Anyway, as Linda was making tours, people kept asking her about these photos. She told them they were fakes, a composite. She said the same thing in her autobiography. Well, we have the original movies, and I've sued her for $250,000. As I sometimes jokingly say, we're going to have the dog testify.
Linda's book, Inside Linda Lovelace, came out almost 12 months to the day after I met her in that hotel room. She had a fancy press party in New York to launch the book. I've never seen the press more awe-struck. They were fighting to get her autographed photo. During the party, Traynor called me over and said there were grand juries that were trying to nail her on the dog photos, that they had these big movie contracts in the offing and that I should lay off. Later, during a question-and-answer period. I waved the photos and said, "In these hands are photos of you, Linda, being fucked by a dog." She replied, "Have Al Goldstein thrown out of this press conference." And three goons threw me out. Only in America could a cocksucker go so far. In the process, I became a casualty. But I'm still thrilled at being party to her success.
Playboy: You mentioned earlier that Screw conducts extensive testing not only of sex acts but of sex products. What are some of these devices like?
Goldstein: First let me say that not only are you dealing with the ultimate whore in this society—the mail-order business—you're dealing with a field that has no safeguards, because the consumer is guilt-ridden and apologetic about buying the product. Screw fills that need by testing and rating every sex product that comes onto the market. In the first issue, I consumer-tested an artificial vagina that sold for $19.95. It was like a hairy pillow, with a vibrator inside a hole. It was advertised as a marital aid for spouses who were having difficulty getting an erection, but obviously, it was for guys who, instead of renting pussy, felt that for $20 they could have their own. I, for one, had trouble getting a hard-on; I had never tried to fuck a pillowcase before. But I kept thinking that it would be great to take with you to a movie on a Saturday night, since you'd only have to buy one ticket. And you wouldn't have to worry about bringing it home too late. And it wouldn't have cunty comments to make about your performance in bed. The fact that this gadget sold meant that people needed it or wanted it and so it was filling some consumer need. Most publications didn't even acknowledge its existence.
The same thing with vibrators; even Rexall's is selling vibrators these days. Of course, the displays show a woman with the vibrator under the nape of her neck. But you notice they never sell square vibrators; they're all cock-shaped. Dildos are also readily available. I've always felt some wise guy should invent a dildo with a flashlight on the end so you won't get it in the wrong hole if the lights are off. In any case, the marketing of dildos is a great step forward for middle America. We have women test them, since I've never been fucked in the ass and I hardly ever fuck a woman in the ass.
Playboy: Why not?
Goldstein: Well, I will if the woman wants it, but frankly, I think it's hostile. Screw published a symposium on ass fucking—there were four men and four women—and none of the women admitted liking it. The women acquiesced because the men liked it, but none of them came unless a finger was caressing the clitoris at the same time. It seemed to be more of an accommodation. In some way, I think of it as a violation. I think it's sort of like spitting on a woman. The faggots who work in my office, of course, feel completely differently. They say the sphincter muscle is a great source of pleasure. I would be ashamed to be fucked in the ass; or maybe I'm just afraid I'd like it.
Playboy: How many of the sex products rated by Screw do you test yourself?
Goldstein: In the beginning, I tested all of them. Now I've delegated a lot of stuff out, since some of the products represent a health hazard and I figure that's what my free-lancers are here for. One of the benefits of being a publisher is having somebody else put his ass on the line. That's what happened with the Cock Enlarger, the most dangerous product I've ever seen. Anybody who buys something like a cock stretcher has to be very naïve or extremely gullible. This Rube Goldberg gadget is a clear-plastic tube about five inches wide and 12 inches long equipped with an exterior rubber bulb. Theoretically, you would put your cock into the tube and then press the rubber gizmo to suck the air out of it. The pressure change supposedly would enlarge your cock. Well, all it did was cause little air bubbles inside the tester's cock. There was no enlargement. If he had really been hurt badly, I wonder if he would have been covered by workmen's compensation. I could see him writing on the insurance claim: "I'll never fuck again." Anyway, we rated the Cock Enlarger "not acceptable" and "dangerous to your health."
Playboy: Do you continue to accept advertising for products you find dangerous?
Goldstein: Why shouldn't I? I don't want to be a censor, like The New York Times or The Village Voice, which, for instance, won't accept ads for Screw.
Playboy: We're talking about responsibility, not censorship.
Goldstein: If the public is stupid, that's the public's problem. Let them read our ratings and find out the real facts about products like the Fuckamatic, as I call it, which looks like a little vacuum cleaner with a cock attached. It sells for $60 and probably costs eight dollars to make. You can carry it around from room to room, plug it into any electrical outlet. What I like about it is its variable-speed device; it'll fuck away at different speeds, like a spastic. When I tested it, I used it on the girl I was seeing at the time. She liked it, but she found it a little too rough because it was difficult to angle properly. You almost had to hold it in one hand as it carried on. We rated it "not acceptable."
Another product we evaluated was Accu-Jac—a fully automatic electric cock-sucking machine that cost $119.95. This elaborate device had different-size sleeves for different-size cocks and twin inputs powerful enough to make two guys come simultaneously. I was afraid to test it, so my ad manager and a Screw contributor were chosen. They both came. In fact, they got so attached to it that they were reluctant to give it back to me. When I saw they weren't electrocuted, I took it into my office, closed the door and tried it myself. I came, but I had to look at photos of women to do it. The machine itself wouldn't even induce a hard-on.
Playboy: Have you tested any other products yourself?
Goldstein: Different-shaped French ticklers: little devices like rubbers that go on the head of your cock. They're sort of silly. When my cock has a French tickler on it, it looks like it's wearing a clown's hat. I also tested cock deadeners called Enduro and Prolong. They were supposed to desensitize the head of your cock. We told the readers that there were medications on the market that do the same thing at one tenth the price.
Something I did recommend was Auto-Suck—a bargain at $19.95. It looks like a nine-inch vibrator, only it's hollow; you put your cock inside. And when you plug it into your car's cigarette lighter, it vibrates. The theory is if you're driving along or if you're stuck in traffic on the throughway and you have nothing else to do and the radio's boring, you may as well plug in the Auto-Suck and come. I tried it out one Sunday on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, on the way to visit my parents. Traffic wasn't heavy, but I had trouble getting it up. Guys who are really into Auto-Suck like to honk the horn or flash their lights when they come. But I was worried that if I came, I would lose control—'cause that's one of the great joys of coming.
Playboy: Does Auto-Suck have a warranty?
Goldstein: Yeah—5000 ejaculations or two years, whichever comes first.
Playboy: What elements contribute to other Screw ratings—of a massage studio, for example?
Goldstein: The ambience and, naturally, the options available to the customer. When we evaluate studios, we award them from zero to four cocks. Much of our text is euphemistic. I wish we could say that studio X has a wonderful girl who really gives a swell blowjob. That would help the reader. But it would also help the cops close the place down.
Playboy: Which of New York's massage parlors warrants the highest rating?
Goldstein: There's one studio, Caesar's Retreat, that's like an extravaganza. Its bill of fare is listed on the sort of wooden carving board you'd find outside an English tavern. If I had terminal cancer, that's where I'd go to die. For $100 you get an hour-and-a-half champagne bath with three girls in a sunken tub. The champagne is Taylor's New York State rather than Mumm's Cordon Rouge, but who cares when it's being poured over your head and dribbling into your mouth while these nude girls are caressing your body and anointing you with hot oils? It's just wondrously self-indulgent.
Playboy: What else do you get for $100?
Goldstein: That's it. If you want sex, you've got to negotiate. If you're interested in a ménage à trois or a ménage à qualre, you're talking about $350 or $400. And you should tip the girls $50 apiece. One break is that they accept Bank Americards. I'd also recommend Relaxation Plus, the massage studio in the Commodore Hotel. Each of its nine rooms has a different motif. One of them is decorated in a jungle setting that includes live parrots in a cage. There's also a geisha house, a Western bordello, a 2001 spaceship, a sultan's den and a Roman bath. The room I love best they called the Al Goldstein Infinity Room. That's not a plug, because I haven't yet used it sexually. I want to lose weight before I do, because I'm not currently prepared to look at myself in the four-wall and ceiling mirrors.
Playboy: Do you honestly think you'll ever get slender enough to face that?
Goldstein: It may be hopeless. I'm completely fucked up in food. I think about it all the time. I've been known to eat myself into such stomach cramps that, rather than an aphrodisiac, I need a stomach pump—or a shot of morphine. Which is ridiculous, because to me the sensual pleasures of food and sex are almost interchangeable. If I were a gourmet, which I'm not, I'd love to edit a food magazine. Because people like James Beard or the editor of Gourmet magazine don't upset anybody—except people on diets. Whereas in the sexual area—whether you're a photographer or a hooker or a publisher—you have to go over all kinds of hurdles. The Church inveighs against you, pressure groups try to put you out of business. Our society has made it much easier to satisfy your senses through eating than through sex. There's tremendous prejudice against fat people, but they don't get arrested, just embarrassed.
Playboy: If you've been too embarrassed to use the Infinity Room, why was your name attached to it?
Goldstein: I guess because I'm synonymous with some quality control in this field. It makes me feel like the Duncan Hines of pervo.
Playboy: Have you ever given a place a zero rating?
Playboy: What's a zero-rated place like?
Goldstein: You walk through some back yards and garbage, take a freight elevator up to the fourth floor, walk in and find a pool game in progress among four guys who look as if they had played extras on The Untouchables. The place exudes retarded Sicilian Mafia decor. It's basic Bronx—like three-day-old pastrami. You can almost smell puddles of cat piss. You're shunted into a room where there are some women who resemble buffaloes. It's smoky, it's dirty and you're made to feel as if sweat is oozing from every pore in your body.
Playboy: How much better are the places with one- and two-cock ratings?
Goldstein: They're more like a dentist's office. You make it on a surgically prepared table, perfunctorily. It's not any fun. Keep in mind that as the ratings go up, the places get larger. Instead of getting a hand job in a closet, you're getting it in a nice-sized living room. But I don't like going to these places for a hand job, 'cause I prefer my own hand. I'm really quite good at that. Some people say when you masturbate, you meet a better class of person. All things being equal, though, I prefer blowjobs.
Playboy: What do they cost in a massage parlor?
Goldstein: At a three- or four-cock studio, your general price would be $40 for a blowjob, $60 for fucking. If you look stupid or like a tourist, if you wear a tie or your shoes are mismatched, the girls will charge you a 50 percent premium for ignorance. If you tell her you love her, she'll probably charge you a 100 percent premium. If you ask her, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" she'll probably charge you a 200 percent premium. If you tell her you're going to make her a Playboy centerfold, she'll probably throw you out. These figures are just for the inside services; you should tip the girl an extra five dollars. The studio itself gets $20 or $25 for the half hour or 40 minutes you spend there.
Playboy: Do these places guarantee satisfaction?
Goldstein: They don't even guarantee the most obvious amenities. I visited one massage studio recently where the girl who blew me insisted I wear a rubber. I was so insulted I couldn't come. That studio lost one cock in its rating for misrepresentation. If you pay for a blowjob, for God's sake, you should get a real blowjob.
Playboy: Do you get a discount at massage studios?
Goldstein: I feel that I shouldn't have to pay at all, since I'm the editor of Screw. But I'll give the girl, since she's working, a minimum of $30 up to $50, depending on how good she is.
Playboy: As editor of a prestigious sex publication, if there is such a thing, don't you get a lot of freebies?
Goldstein: I usually don't get laid unless I pay for it. If I were a real swinger, like Bernie Cornfeld or Hugh Hefner, I would be getting laid every night with lots of new people. That doesn't happen. But I'm obsessed with it. I feel I'm much more typical of the normal American male than affluent people who have their choice of harems. So, basically, I'm paying for sex. And hookers supply an important outlet. Let's say I'm feeling anxiety because I'm late on a deadline, or I have to be in court, or I've been going through contact sheets to pick sex photos, and I've been turned on. I need a release. If I want to save $50, I'll go into the Screw rest room and jerk off in the toilet. Or I'll call a hooker, close the door to my office and say, "No calls for 30 or 40 minutes," and I'll fuck on the couch or the rug. One time I had a hooker blowing me under the desk while people were coming in and out of my office. Nobody was aware that she was there. Occasionally my voice would raise a little bit or I'd cough. That was kinky. I would like to see Screw so successful that I could hire a permanent girl I could phone out for—just like I call the local eatery that delivers pizza. She could be on wheels in a little cubicle to the side of my office; I could press a button and have her come out like a train on tracks and service me. It would probably add only another $200 a week to the payroll of what's become a multimillion-dollar business. That would be total satisfaction.
Playboy: What percentage of your extramarital activities is with hookers?
Goldstein: Probably 85 percent. Obviously, I see a couple of them a week. I find hookers very comfortable to be with. I make love with my wife twice a week—Saturday and Sunday—and also visit a massage studio twice during the week. The hookers I like best are called "residentials"—where I go to their home or apartment. I tell them I would enjoy it more if they were having a good time, too. I say, "I know I'm paying. Not only am I a John but I'm editor of Screw. So I want it to be a little different. If I give you pleasure, it would really be nice for me. But please don't fake it. Don't tell me my cock's big. Don't tell me I'm the most wonderful lay. That's insulting." They respect me for that.
Playboy: How does your wife feel about your visiting prostitutes?
Goldstein: Gena is very afraid I'm going to give her V.D. It's amazing that I haven't had anything since I got gonorrhea in the Army at the age of 20. My shrink feels I must be immune to it. I know from reading The Playboy Advisor, of course, that I can get the clap from eating pussy or getting a blowjob. Gena says it would take her a long time to get over her hatred of me if I gave her anything. This is a constant area of tension.
Playboy: Do you and Gena have other areas of tension?
Goldstein: How much time do you have? I really love my wife, but I also feel I can love other women and I fuck around. This is no secret. Gena not only knows about it but later she has to be confronted with reading about it in print. That gets her crazy. And causes fights. She really feels our sex life should be private. So we are constantly at war. Gena would like me to be nicer and, I think, less human. But I am what I am. So it's a hard trip for her. Most times she knows I love her. But she's also aware that I have a great compulsion for exhibitionistic candor. And that's painful to her. We've been able to reach an agreement concerning extramarital sex. She simply insists that none of my sex take away from any of her time. So I fuck around daytimes. Since I wouldn't see her in the daytime anyhow, she figures it's OK as long as we're together at night. As soon as it gets dark, I become married again. My extramarital relationships are all right with her as long as she doesn't know about them and as long as they're not blatant.
Playboy: What would she consider blatant?
Goldstein: What I'm doing now is blatant—talking about it in Playboy. Blatant is rubbing her nose in it—like going to an orgy and having great sex and then going home and telling her about the fantastic blowjob I got or the beautiful tits on a woman I laid and saying it was the greatest night of sex I ever had. Or bringing it up in a fight, saying, "I don't need you. I got laid last night elsewhere." Or maybe telling her mother. Basically, that would be exploding the very roots of the marriage.
Playboy: Does Gena have a similar opportunity to fool around when you're away?
Goldstein: Absolutely not. Our relationship is a classical double standard. Considering the atypical life I lead, I'm amazed to find how valid some of the old values are. I tend to think this country is on the brink of a return to sexual conventionalism, that a lot of the unfashionable old values—a nice house and a family—will suddenly begin making more sense. And those values have always embraced cheating—for the man. I like fooling around, but I also like going home to somebody I love and I like having the security of a main, important relationship. Gena keeps asking how I'd like it if she did the same thing. I say, "If you did it, the marriage would be over." That gets her very upset; she says it's unfair. Then I admit it's not only unfair, it's medieval—but that's where I'm at. I've got to honor my craziness. I can see Gena getting really pissed at me and starting to fuck around at some point. Probably not for the next four or five years. Maybe by then I'll be open to some change. Because it really is unfair, what I'm doing. But maybe by then I'll care less. The first scratch on your new car really hurts you. It doesn't matter after that. With Gena, I'm sure that after there's a few more dents in her, I'll be more willing to lend her out. But for now, I still feel insecure, because I know she's a warm lady and other guys could make her come. So I can't allow her the same freedom I insist on for myself. I still need the excitement of little firecrackers going off in my asshole. No matter how hard you try, keeping sex in marriage exciting is impossible. Gena's superb, but eventually, things become predictable.
Playboy: What is superb about Gena?
Goldstein: My wife is the greatest hump I've ever had. And she's a great cocksucker, better than Linda Lovelace. One of her holds on me is that I know she'll do anything I want. But this interview is bound to cause another fight. I don't care, 'cause I want this to be the most honest interview Playboy has ever run, even if I'm jeopardizing my marriage and 19 friendships and my analytical relationship. Gena and I have had so many fights anyway that they should be assigned numbers. Like number 27 was the fight we had about my blowjob in It Happened in Hollywood, a hard-core film that Screw financed and produced. I was curious to see what happens to the brain as you're being done when there are 11 people on the set, cameras going and lights blazing. I really feel my cock is in fine shape; I'm 38 and it gets up and pops its load nicely. But this particular day I didn't come for three and a half hours, because I felt very alienated; I was just a hunk of meat trying to conform to a certain schedule that had been programed for my cock. I was supposed to be a stud who would ejaculate at the right moment. A very pretty actress named Kathy finally caught my come in a chalice. I really didn't get to talk to her much while we were filming, because my cock was in her mouth. After the shooting, I invited her to lunch. She refused. It amazed me, because she'd given me a nice blowjob. It was like my cock was good enough to suck, but I wasn't good enough to have lunch with.
Anyhow, Gena has refused to see the film. But at least she no longer zaps me about it. Her analyst says she must make a choice: If it's that painful dealing with a personality like me, she can move out; or accept me for the crazy person and exhibitionist that I am. She married me assuming she could change me, as all women do, and still isn't reconciled to the fact that she's not going to succeed.
Playboy: You said Gena hated the photographs Screw published of Linda Lovelace performing her specialty on you. What did she say to you about them?
Goldstein: She didn't say anything. She sulked, went into another room and slammed the door. She displayed a Jewish-princess cuntiness that she's good at, because she learned it from her mother. I told her that I'm the George Plimpton of sex: I want to do everything. I must live my own life, both sexually and emotionally. Screw and my needs come first. The marriage is secondary. If she left, I would miss her, but without Screw and my writing, I might expire. I tell her that my life is my paper and that if she can subordinate herself to that, fine. If not, the marriage ends. It's a decision she has to make.
Playboy: This is beginning to sound like a daytime soap opera.
Goldstein: It gets worse. Before we got married, my analyst wanted to meet with Gena, to explain why he thought I wasn't the greatest candidate for marriage. He feels I'm infantile, compulsive, always acting out my fantasies. He's right. I'm absolutely a child—and I wouldn't want to lose that quality. There's nothing I'll inhibit myself from doing. But she knew that ahead of time. A prenuptial deal was made that I wouldn't write in Screw about my sex life with Gena. I've honored that, but there was nothing in the deal about my discussing her with Playboy.
Playboy: Is Gena one of Screw's avid readers?
Goldstein: Not if I can help it. Usually, if there's something potentially dangerous in the paper, I don't even take the latest Screw home. But then she'll say, "What are you hiding this week?" I can't believe it. I'm sure Hefner doesn't sneak around the way I do. One of the issues I didn't take home contained my article on eating pussy. You know, I'm probably the greatest pussy eater in the United States.
Playboy: How can you be sure?
Goldstein: Let me amend that to read brilliantly superior and dynamically creative. Women have continuously told me I'm really excellent. It's not that complicated an activity; you quickly reach a saturation point of skill. But I think I'm as good as a guy can be. If we were talking about wine, I'd be grand cru, first-class, first growth. There might be other people who are as good as I am, like certain trombonists who are able to double-and triple-tongue. I can't do that. Sometimes I wish I'd kept up with my music lessons; if I'd only realized the training guys like Tommy Dorsey were getting!
Playboy: Why were you afraid to take home the issue of Screw containing your article on cunnilingus?
Goldstein: Because not only does the article deal with how I eat pussy but in it I describe eating a girl who happens not to be my wife. I didn't want to have a fight with Gena again. That's not very courageous of me, but, shit, it's certainly self-preservative. Who wants to have to sulk for a week?
Playboy: It's hard to believe that any marriage could survive so much stress. Do you really think it's worth saving?
Goldstein: Definitely, yes. It's almost like I need that little bit of friction in both my personal and professional lives. It's funny. What induced me to marry Gena was a test in Cosmopolitan called something like "Are You a Door Mat?" I was impressed with her very high score, indicating that she wouldn't let me shit on her.
Playboy: But isn't that exactly what you're doing, and however upset she gets, isn't she tolerating it?
Goldstein: It's not totally one-sided. She also extracts a price. There are some psychiatrists who theorize that in a masochistic relationship, the masochist really has more power than the sadist. Because I'm dependent on her accepting my strictures, she's really in control. After I saw the results of that Cosmopolilan quiz, I took her to Portugal and said let's get married—and I don't regret it.
We wound up being married at Barney Google's, an East Side singles club. The rabbi who married us had been arrested for his work in the peace movement and thrown out of several affluent synagogues when he complained that they weren't supporting the poorer synagogues. I liked him because he seemed like a crazy. During the ceremony, he said, "Tomorrow, on the marquees of all the porno theaters in New York, it will read, Goldstein is Married." He said, "There's so much shit in our society that only the sincerity of two people to make a marriage work has true meaning. Because if they're together, they can help fight the crap that permeates this world." My family had never seen a rabbi like him before. Neither had I, for that matter.
Playboy: What did you give Gena for a wedding gift?
Goldstein: I bought her two kinky nightgowns. One had bra openings allowing the nipples to come through. The other had a zipper down the pussy. I bought them at a schlock shop down in the Times Square area. For myself, I bought some briefs with a cock embroidered on them. Would you like to see them?
Playboy: No, thanks. But did either of you ever wear them?
Goldstein: Oh, sure. We do lots of trampy things. We set scenes and play-act to keep things lively. It's so mundane, I'm almost embarrassed to talk about it. We look at fuck films to get turned on. Then I make believe I picked her up at a bar. Sometimes we just randomly pick pages out of The Joy of Sex. One time I was doing a rape number on her and wanted to tie her up. I couldn't find any rope, so I had to use a 15-foot extension cord. I'm your typical inept male lover. I can do that slam, bam, thank you, ma'am, routine, too. But basically I don't want to come too quickly, so I'll think of things like parking meters, laundry lists, typewriters—anything that's counterproductive to eroticism. I won't lose my hard-on, but I'll lose my focus. If I wait too long, though, I'll be so tired I just can't come. I don't know how other guys operate, but I tell my wife it's not necessary for me to come all the time. And I don't want her to feel she has to come every time.
Playboy: You make your relationship sound terribly unromantic.
Goldstein: I suppose our philosophy for togetherness would best be described as "Make war, then make love." Let me tell you about one final source of irritation. I keep telling myself I'm part of a sex revolution, and yet my wife and I fight about whether or not I should wear a wedding band. She'd like me to wear one, especially when I'm out of New York, so strangers will know I'm not a bachelor. As I said before, she doesn't care about my fucking them, but she's afraid I'll get into a meaningful relationship and leave her. And she feels that ring is a red flag. She says I owe it to her—and others—to announce that I belong to her. She sounds like me, telling me that I belong to her. Which infuriates me. So, on principle, I refuse to wear one. Besides, it would cramp my style on out-of-town trips.
Playboy: What kind of trips?
Goldstein: I spend a lot of time on the college lecture circuit. That's one of my major sources of sexual information—and dough. Three or four times a month, I get paid from $500 to $2000 for each appearance. Usually I screen It Happened in Hollywood and then participate in question-and-answer sessions. The kids are extremely open and receptive to me. I tell them, "When I went to college 12 years ago, my concern was getting laid. Are you guys getting laid enough?" And they'll say, "No!" To the women, I'll say, "How many of you can just grab a guy's cock and say, 'Are you feeling horny?"' I never see a hand go up. Which proves that the candor of our dialog has opened up, but the substance hasn't changed that much. These kids also reveal an awareness of their parents' hypocrisy concerning sex, an awareness that the words they were told to live by were very different from the actions of their parents. They're trying to lead their own sexual lives, as much as possible, consistent with some truth. They have trouble dealing with the generation gap. Their parents' generation smooched in the back seat of the car or went to a motel to have sex. These kids would prefer to have sex naturally, maybe even in their parents' bedroom.
Playboy: What sort of questions do these students ask you?
Goldstein: Here are some of the most common ones. One: "How authentic are the Screw classifieds that advertise passionate gypsy girls, foot fetishists, horny housewives and headmistresses home for the summer?" I answer, "The ads in Screw are as real as the employment ads in The New York Times. There's some exaggeration and there's some dishonesty, as in any other advertising field. The buyer should beware; the guys' cocks may not be as big or the women as ravishing as claimed. But we don't sit in our offices and concoct classifieds out of thin air."
Two: "Are you in the porno business strictly for money?" I realize that Watergate has made these kids cynical, but I bridle when I hear that. I may be making a lot of money, but I really believe I'm doing some good by demythologizing a lot about sexuality.
Three: "What's your sex life like?" I tell them, "I'm constantly in search of pussy, but mostly I have to pay for it or I don't get it."
Four: "Do you get to meet all of the raunchy women you publish pictures of?" I say, "My sex life is probably less exciting than that of most professors whose classes you take, at least the professors who look up the micromini dresses of 18-year-olds. I almost never meet models who are photographed for Screw. Ninety-nine percent of the photos are taken on the West Coast and bought from photo houses. Most of them are shot after fuck films are completed by enterprising still photographers waiting on the sidelines. I don't want to get involved with getting girls—and having to make sure they're of age and that they don't have needle marks."
Five: "What's Linda Lovelace really like?" I have a stock answer: "She's just like any other big mouth that can take ten inches."
They also ask what kind of women, besides Linda and my Jewish-princess wife, really turn me on. I answer: Girls with good legs, high-fashion-modelish, long and thin with shapely calves. If a girl has ugly legs, I really don't want to fuck or eat her. Big tits don't hold much appeal for me. Pussy does. I'm oral. I've never met a pussy I didn't like. When I see a woman, my first sexual instinct, is not to fuck her but to eat her. Most women I go down on come. The fact that I give them pleasure makes me feel more masculine. It removes my anxieties, takes the heat off for me.
My favorite fantasy is making it with a WASP princess like Cybill Shepherd. I like her frozen look. I'd also love to make it with Marilyn Chambers, the porn star. Jane Fonda, she attracts me because she's pretty, skinny and articulate. I tend to be drawn to strong women, or women who will reject me. That's probably why Gloria Steinem is a woman I find especially desirable. I also think she's attainable. I can really jerk off to the thought of her, because I can conceive of making it with her someday.
Goldstein: Sure. I doubt that she's the self-sufficient feminist she says she is. I still feel that a good pussy eater like myself could open her up to sexual pleasure. I keep sending her notes saying I'm really not that bad. It's a Walter Mitty kind of thing I go through. Yet if she and I were at the same party, I'm sure I would stay in the corner, too embarrassed to introduce myself.
Playboy: Is there anyone else who triggers your fantasies?
Goldstein: I would go down on Tricia Nixon. And William Buckley's wife looks very desirable to me. There are many conservatives I'd like to ball. Pat Nixon is an exception, but that's only because of her waxiness. She looks like something out of Madame Tussaud's. But I keep dreaming of getting laid by all kinds of women. The only problem is that I'm rarely successful. Many otherwise accessible women—feminists ex-nuns and Jewish princesses waiting for their next doctor—won't go to bed with me because they think my standards are so high that they'll fail.
Playboy: Are you sure that's the reason?
Goldstein: Definitely. They assume I've balled my brains out all over the place and after Linda Lovelace they'll be inadequate for my needs. It's as if they'd be playing stickball with Hank Aaron. When I spoke recently in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a student feminist started out being very antagonistic to me during the question-and-answer period. But later, after I had finished autographing copies of Screw, we got to talking and she invited me home with her. I was thinking, "Oh, boy, wow. I'm going to get laid." But once we got to her house and into some light necking, she began a whole number: "Ah, you must get this all the time, so much sex. My husband left me a year ago and I haven't done it since. I'm not going to be any good." Desperately I tried to reassure her, but she insisted: "I couldn't compare with all the other women you've been with." I couldn't believe it. Finally I said, "I won't judge you, I won't compare you, let's just fuck." Nothing doing. I never got laid; she just drove me back to my motel room, where I relieved my frustrations by jerking off. That sort of thing has happened so often now that I've come to expect it. A well-known writer like Gay Talese—who's currently doing a comprehensive book on contemporary sexual mores—hits on a woman with an affirmative, aggressive directness. He'll simply ask a woman if she wants to make it with him. I'm incapable of picking a girl up. I can make small talk, but unless there's a very obvious welcome, I'm dead.
Goldstein: I'm so afraid of rejection. I envy the approach of a Talese. He and I have spent an appreciable amount of time together recently. About six or eight months ago, we participated in a four-hour boat orgy that took place on the East River and Long Island Sound. There were four guys and six women. Usually, you have to bring a women—which is called a ticket—but since we were considered celebrities, we got in without escorts. Talk about name-dropping and claims to fame. I fucked side by side with Gay Talese. When I die, I want that as my epitaph.
Playboy: How deeply involved are you in the orgy scene?
Goldstein: For a while, I was very heavily into orgies. But my feelings about them always seem to be vacillating. When I go, they disappoint me. But when I don't go, I remember the nice things—like the anonymity and excitement of fucking new bodies. Last year, after a Siecus conference that included all of the heavyweights of the sex world, I left this group of pontificating professionals to attend an orgy hosted by my partner's brother. I got undressed, walked into the bedroom and discovered a daisy chain consisting of seven or eight bodies. I found a girl who was being eaten, knelt down, put my cock in her mouth, fucked it, came, went out, got dressed and left. I have no idea who she was. It all seemed so weird and detached; it wasn't a substantial, meaningful experience. It would be a lot simpler if there were vending machines—maybe they could be called Vagin-olas—where for a quarter I could insert my cock, get vibrated, come and then go.
Playboy: What kind of people do you meet at orgies?
Goldstein: By and large, the men all seem to be older and fat and flabby, sad physical specimens who obviously never attended a health club. Lonely men, getting old and frightened and desperately reaching out for one last tit. To me the orgy just represents a very nice context for wealthy people to get desirable bodies without the coarseness of having to pay. I can make it at an orgy. I can fuck. I can come. I can do all the things that all the sexual athletes can do. But I find, it lonely. I find it sad.
Playboy: Don't you ever get tired of making sex your whole world?
Goldstein: Oh, sure. I get saturated with the stuff. Man does not live by cock alone. When I get tired of the sex trip, I go to the Radio City Music Hall and review the stage show. What I seem to be fighting against lately is sexual ennui. I was in a group-therapy thing for a while, but I left it a few months ago. Each of my 12 fellow neurotics had vivid sexual fantasies. Mine were food fantasies. I wanted to be in a bathtub filled with milk shakes. The problem is that I have seen and participated in every variety of sex imaginable, so nothing—other than the search for fresh pussy—seems new anymore.
I've seen people fucking in every possible way; I've seen wall-to-wall flesh at orgies. I've been to swings, I've had mouths all over my body. I've been in threesomes. I've had Xaviera Hollander stroking away on me behind the podium during a panel discussion of pornography in the media, before 1000 people and a TV crew at NYU. It's like if you've been to the moon once, you don't want to go back.
Things have been so calm lately there's almost a tranquility to my life. My wife gave birth and I've been sued for libel four times in the last month. But still there isn't enough happening. I haven't been arrested in two years. That makes me nervous. Where am I failing? I really need the attention of being arrested, because that means I'm still bugging the establishment, that I'm still gadfly to the state. Acceptance of me and Screw would be the kiss of death.
Playboy: Judging from the Supreme Court's refusal to hear your appeal from those New York obscenity convictions—in effect, upholding them—that acceptance doesn't seem exactly imminent. Were you surprised by the Court's refusal?
Goldstein: Not especially. Realistically, knowing that four of the Justices are Nixon appointees, I doubted whether the Court would give us a hearing. Our words are unpalatable to the very limited, frightened minds seated on the bench right now, because we're so uncompromising. We cut the crap. We don't surround our raunchy material with academic bullshit about redeeming value. A hard-on is its own redeeming value.
Playboy: Would you elaborate on that?
Goldstein: I'm saying there is intrinsic value in the very fact that somebody gets a hard-on. It's absurd for a court to argue that a soft cock is more redeeming than a hard cock. Our laws postulate that pictures of mayhem, blood, violence are OK. Soft cocks are OK. But a hard-on is bad. And actual fucking—or as a New York court said in one of our cases, "ultimate sex activity"—is bad. As I sat in the courtroom in Albany and heard the old judges using this phrase, I realized it's them against me. These are old people who don't fuck anymore. They don't speak for me. So we took our guilty decision and used it in promotion copy to sell subscriptions. We're not humble. We're not contrite. This infuriates the courts. Basically, we're saying we don't respect you assholes. Even if you find us guilty, we're going to keep giving you the finger. But even if you free us, we're not going to be appreciative. That gets them crazy.
Playboy: Have you ever considered the possibility that you might wind up in prison?
Goldstein: I've already been to jail on ten different occasions, nine of which were for obscenity busts. Fortunately, I never had to stay overnight. And the same fellow, Donald Gray of the morals squad, arrested me each time. Since he knows I like Chinese food, he always makes sure I get booked at a precinct house in Chinatown and eat a sumptuous meal beforehand. He's such a nice guy that I invited him to my wedding. But the privileges he grants me can hardly make up for the embarrassment I—and others—have suffered. In one of my first obscenity busts, four blind news dealers were also charged and arrested. We were sent to the Tombs prison in New York and placed in a 12-by-16 cell with 40 other people, most of them junkies. Guys were peeing against the walls, nodding out and puking over people lying on the floor. When I saw this blind news dealer, who was being held for selling my paper, tapping his way with his cane toward the only urinal, I wanted to roll up and float away. I felt such compassion and pain for this man. Later, the charges against the blind dealers were thrown out, since it was obvious that they had no way of knowing what they were selling.
Playboy: If you did go to jail for any length of time, how would your sexual needs be taken care of? Would you start making it with fellow convicts?
Goldstein: I would hope so. I would probably become a homosexual. I'm sure I'd get very bored with solitary masturbation. I could see myself avoiding sex with others for two weeks at the most, and then it would be either a padded cell or reaching out for a guy—whether it be active, passive or both.
Playboy: Is that just another one of your fantasies, or have you actually participated in homosexual relationships?
Goldstein: Well, I don't know if this counts, but I once wrote about my experiences in a movie theater where you can get blowjobs. It's a sleazy joint in New York frequented only by men. Nobody looks at the films, but up in the balcony you can find whatever sex you want. Some guys are on their knees and others are standing up; those on their knees want to suck cock and the others want to get blown. It was weird. People I thought might be cops—in suits and vests, crew-cuts and wedding rings—were sucking cock. Guys in leather—Marlon Brando types, tough-looking guys I'd avoid on the street—these were the effeminate ones. They would generally be the cock-suckers—or I was their cocksuckee.
Playboy: So you didn't just observe and report?
Goldstein: No, I participated. One guy who blew me was an old man who took his teeth out first. It was fantastic, better than Linda Lovelace. Most guys are better cocksuckers than women, anyway. Nine out of ten blowjobs in the theater are superior, 'cause the guys are really into it. You come and another guy steps in, like a mass-production line. Over several hours, some of these guys can blow as many as 80 or 90 guys. As for myself, I'm still very conditioned to the fact that homosexuality is a no-no. But I keep thinking ahead to when and if I have my first homosexual experience. It might be hard to deal with.
Playboy: How would you describe what happened to you in the theater if it wasn't a homosexual experience?
Goldstein: It was, absolutely. But I feel that as long as I'm passive, it's incomplete.
Playboy: That's hairsplitting.
Goldstein: At least it's pubic hairsplitting. Actually, I think bisexuality is much more sane than being committed to being a heterosexual or a homosexual. Bisexuality is as natural as driving different-color cars. If I was renting from Avis or Hertz, it would be silly to express a preference only for black cars.
Playboy: We've been hearing a lot lately about bisexual chic. Is there any genuine evidence of increased public acceptance of bisexuality?
Goldstein: Oh, yeah. Bisexuality is this year's Hula-Hoop craze. When some phenomenon becomes established in the sexual world, slick magazines will generally rush an article into print. Then other magazines will pick it up and the activity becomes more acceptable. So you soon have what amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when a sexual phenomenon finally makes the news magazines like Time, it's probably about ready to die and wither away. By the time the big magazines move their asses, the picture covered has already changed. If you want to find out what's really happening, you have to read Screw. Or ask me.
Playboy: You mentioned a while ago that nine of your ten arrests were for obscenity. What were the grounds for the other one?
Goldstein: That was my most dramatic arrest, the only one that's been seen on television. I was charged with conspiracy in a case involving pedophilia: erotic contact between an adult and a child. When I was told to turn myself in one day, I assumed it was another obscenity arrest. Next thing I know there's TV cameras, I'm handcuffed and I'm involved with this ring of baby fuckers. Its head had been selling photos of himself, in the classified section of Screw, getting blowjobs from his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Many people still think I was a participant or had knowledge of what was happening. Which I didn't. The ad innocuously offered photos of preteenagers for sale. It didn't indicate that sex would take place. Anyway, after a year of hassle, we were found guilty of accepting an obscene ad and we were fined $7000. How an ad can be obscene, I don't know. As bizarre as pedophilia is—and personally I find it ugly—I still think people have the right to buy photos of eight-year-olds if they want to. The problem is when it moves into the area of action, because an eight-year-old can't evaluate a sexual overture. The pedophilia arrest was the first one where my mother called and asked whether I was really involved.
Playboy: What does she think of Screw?
Goldstein: I don't think she understands it. In the early days, she was listed in the paper as business manager, because I thought it would be nice to have a Jewish mother on the masthead. After we had done an article on J. Edgar Hoover's being a faggot, she was subpoenaed by a grand jury. She didn't particularly mind that. All she asked was that I pay for her cab fare. She knows what I'm doing and she's happy, as long as I'm not pushing drugs. Even if I'm being arrested or in handcuffs, she feels at least I'm important.
Playboy: And your father?
Goldstein: He keeps writing to district attorneys to leave me alone. My mother keeps wanting to picket them. I tell her to ignore it, that this is just a political revolving door. In a way, I'm being persecuted in the same way that Lenny Briuce was. I frequently identify with Lenny. He also was compulsive, he had a weight problem and yet deep down was a good Jewish boy who wanted to be loved and respected. He used four-letter words as shock weapons in protest against established ideas about language and sex the same way I do. But I would never be found dead in a bathroom with a needle in my arm. I'd be surrounded by 11 empty Baskin-Robbins containers on the floor—proof that I had eaten myself to death. Like Lenny, the kind of message I'm trying to get across is so anti-elitist, so gut-truthful, so distasteful that there is no way it could have come in through the front door. We both had to come in through the servants' entrance.
Like Lenny, I've never had much use for religious institutions either. I could never understand why the Church wanted to jail him for using the word mother-fucker. Nor can I comprehend why the same Church people want to put me away and run my news dealers out of business. If you look at our editorials in the early issues of Screw, you'll see where I'm attacking the Church all the time. It's the most repressive force in our society. It's survived, but thank God its powers have decreased. Most Catholics know it's bullshit, and hence ignore its words on abortion, birth control and all the rest. But it's still there, making money. For me, the Church is the enemy.
Playboy: Do you believe in God?
Goldstein: I believe there's something, but I don't know what it is. I guess I'm an agnostic. However, I did list God on the masthead in our early issues as Screw's spiritual advisor. If there were a God, I thought He'd be happy to get representation. If there's a God, I'm sure He's jerkin' off to Screw. As a matter of fact, if I hadn't decided to specialize in degeneracy with Screw, I might have become a rabbi.
Goldstein: So I could really make a profit on degeneracy.