NEW YORK — Adult pioneer and former publisher of Screw magazine, Al Goldstein, died in a Cobble Hill, Brooklyn nursing home early today.
The cause of death was reportedly renal failure. He was 77 years old.
The infamous, caustic and often rotund cigar-smoking Goldstein blazed a trail with the launch of Screw in 1968 — the world’s first hardcore tabloid — though his company, Milky Way Productions.
Among more rebellious, graphic and outrageous descriptions, the magazine referred to itself as the “Consumer Reports of sex” and included movie and product reviews as well as full frontal nude photos.
At the height of his popularity in the ‘70’s, Goldstein also hosted the late night New York cable TV show “Midnight Blue” that became a major adult industry forum, and his platform for political rants, in what was then the epicenter of porn.
In 2003, Goldstein and Milky Way filed for bankruptcy, leaving him with roughly $1 million in debt. Goldstein subsequently fell on hard times, living in homeless shelters and scraping by with Social Security.
An ardent champion of the First Amendment, Goldstein was arrested 21 times for obscenity during his adult career.
In what can be considered his most publicized fight against censorship, Goldstein was charged with 12 obscenity and conspiracy counts and faced up to 60 years in prison for sending copies of Screw to Kansas. After three years and two trials his conviction in the first was overturned, and the second ended in a hung jury.
Goldstein's infamous persona prompted him to run for President of the U.S. in 2007. At that time Goldstein said in typcial provocative fashion that he had gone to bed with 7,000 women in his career, making him something of an expert at screwing people and giving him "ideal experience" for the nation's top job.
At that time Goldstein was a blogger for search engine Booble.com. Booble President Bob Smart, acting as Goldstein's campaign manager, told XBIZ, "Al Goldstein is a national treasure. As the world's dirtiest old man, Al has something to say about the world he helped create, and we Americans have a duty to listen."
Long-time friend and colleague, President of Plausible Films and founder of AVN, Paul Fishbein, remembers Goldstein to XBIZ. "Near the end most of Al's friends abandoned him which really sucked. Not Ron Jeremy or Larry Rizzo or especially Penn Jillette, who were really there for him. Adult is a young person's industry and people don't seem to be aware of those who really fought the First Amendment battles. Al is one of a handful of people, along with Larry Flynt and Reuben Sturman, who are the absolute reason the adult industry exists today.
"Everyone with an adult web site, a production company or a magazine and all those who earn their every day living in porn, owe a debt of gratitude to Al Goldstein. His arrests and his trials and victories paved the way for all of us to live, earn and express ourselves freely in this business. But I bet if you polled 1000 people who work every day in porn, a scant few know the history. Al deserves to be honored and remembered."
Goldstein published his autobiography, "I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life" in 2006.