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Al Goldstein Sent Packing

Pompano Beach- Al Goldstein, the Pompano Beach pornographer who had his formerly rotund stomach stapled, was inspecting something he hasn’t seen much of in the past decade.

”It’s bigger than I thought,” he said.

He was, thankfully, talking about his house, a bulging monument to ego and eccentricity, and home to the infamous ”Finger” — an 11-foot hand on the pool deck rudely gesturing to passing Intracoastal boaters.

”It’s 80 percent empty,” he moaned as movers loaded seven vans with such excess as five satellite dishes, 900 pairs of shoes, thousands of cigars and one dominatrix mannequin.

”I’m having a breakdown,” he reported.

Broward County’s favorite loudmouth smut peddler — publisher of defunct Screw magazine — has decamped for Florida’s Gulf Coast.

His company, Milky Way Productions, went bankrupt last year, forcing the sale of Casa de Al and pushing him into a career switch.

Goldstein, 68, plans on directing adult films for now, even though “it’s a turnoff, but that’s where I have value. And what can I do that’s new? Midgets? Pregnant women?”

His 10,000-square-foot hacienda became a landmark in 1996 when he installed the upraised middle digit. Now, Pittsburgh investors who paid $1.8 million plan to bulldoze the place and build two McMansions.

Last week, strangers roamed his house and handled his stuff, traumatic for an obsessive-compulsive. He fled to a bedroom with antidepressants and ice cream, to fondle his remotes and fixate on Court TV.

”He can’t part with anything,” complained his fifth wife, Christine Ava Maharaj.

”I tried to auction off my Sammy Davis Jr. Coke machine, a motorcycle that only had nine miles on it, a jukebox, a tanning bed,” said Goldstein, in his own defense. ‘They had nine people show up. My lawyer said, `Let’s cancel.’ ”

Rick Anderson, the Balistreri Realty agent who sold the house, said he prepared prospects for “the particular taste of Mr. Goldstein.”

He was ”very cooperative about removing some of the more flagrant articles,” Anderson added, diplomatically. “I advised people not to bring small children.”

In Broward, Goldstein’s antics got as much attention as The Finger, which he took with him.

In 1992, he ran for sheriff wooing voters with a bumper sticker reading, ‘Sheriff Al says, `Fight Crime; Shoot Back.’ ” In December 2002, SWAT teams swarmed Casa de Al after a heavily armed and deeply depressed hooker barricaded herself in his guesthouse.

Days later, police at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport yanked Goldstein off an American Airlines flight for making sexually suggestive comments to a security worker.

Goldstein, in a fog of anxiety and denial, has left relocation logistics to his wife, a British-born psychology student 40 years his junior.

She plans a career in sex therapy: “I want to be the next Dr. Ruth.”

They met two years ago when she was writing a paper on narcissism for a master’s program at New York’s Pace University, Goldstein’s alma mater. What better subject, friends suggested, than the famously self-aggrandizing hedonist?

”He was charming. Romantic,” she said. “We hit if off. I loved his non-self-controlling behavior.”

They married in January, during an adult entertainment expo in Las Vegas. Best man: porn star and old friend Ron Jeremy.

Maharaj sent most of Goldstein’s stuff to storage, taking to the new place only things “that normal people would have.”

‘How can you have `normal’ when I’m in the picture?” Goldstein wondered.

Goldstein’s New York-based empire of raunch and rage crumbled last fall. Internet porn, competition from the freebie Village Voice and problems with his ”Mafia distributor,” as he put it, shut down Screw after 34 years.

Then Time Warner Cable pulled the plug on his late-night slimefest, Midnight Blue, for nonpayment.

Milky Way owes creditors nearly $1 million, about the same amount he owed on the house. Warran Graham, attorney for the New York bankruptcy trustee, is trying to sell Screw archives and Midnight Blue masters. So far, no takers.

Goldstein claims he has been reduced to living on $1,630-a-month Social Security checks, and loans from friends, including $7,800 from comrade-in-porn Larry Flynt.

He used to spend that much a week on toys, electronics, lobster dinners for 20 friends and by-the-hour sex.

The bankruptcy trustee is allowing him $300,000 from the home sale to start over in a city Goldstein won’t name, claiming he wants a low profile. There’s a slim chance anyone will recognize him — at least until he opens his mouth.

Goldstein’s blubbery bulk used to make him instantly recognizable to Screw and Midnight Blue fans. In June 2003, he underwent gastric-bypass surgery after finding himself ”disgusting” in a porn video. He dropped from 350 to 175 pounds — a shock to anyone familiar with his gargantuan appetites.

Now, he is clearly struggling with something else that has shockingly shrunk: his power and influence. He is an exuberant bully who has lost his bully pulpit, Screw’s editorial page.

Screw began as a gritty sex/politics/satire tabloid born of the ’60s counterculture. Goldstein continually fought First Amendment battles and was arrested 21 times on obscenity charges. But he hung on, and the magazine became a small but important brick in the foundation of America’s porn industry.

Plastered with grainy, hard-core photos and supported by hooker ads, it also gave Goldstein a forum for eviscerating anyone who displeased him. He mourns that loss as much as the house.

”There are so many people I want to attack, criticize and destroy verbally, and I don’t have a soapbox,” he complained. “But I can sue now and then.”

Goldstein is ”a complete lunatic about his enemies,” notes Charles Di Stefano, the New York lawyer who defended him in two harassment cases — one of an ex-wife, one of an ex-secretary, both of whom he savaged in print and on the phone.

He lost the secretary case, though an appeals court overturned the conviction. He got three years of probation after copping a plea in the ex-wife case. In February, he defaulted in a Broward defamation suit brought by a former BrandsMart USA manager. Trial for damages is set for September.

Goldstein sees himself as a disappearing breed of pioneering flesh peddlers.

“Bob Guccione, a true artist, is bankrupt and has throat cancer. Larry Flynt has two bullets in him. [Hugh] Hefner didn’t grow, though you’ve got to give him credit.

“But I’m a survivor and I changed the obscenity laws. The battle for pornography is won. And every issue of Screw, I’m proud of. It’s like a child.”


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