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Al Goldstein, Jewish King of Porn, Dies at 77

Alvin Goldstein, a pioneering pornographer who published Screw magazine and spent decades dodging obscenity convictions, has died.

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Goldstein, whose Milky Way production company owned the long-running cable TV show “Midnight Blue,” died Thursday in Brooklyn. He was 77.

After a colorful early career that involved Army service, photojournalism, encyclopedia sales and industrial espionage, Goldstein launched Screw in 1968. The magazine’s primary innovation was its commitment to being “utterly tasteless,” Alan Dershowitz, who defended Goldstein in court, told The New York Times. Screw featured reviews of pornographic movies and brothels, as well as photo shoots of nude models.

His fights against obscenity charges included a legal battle with the Pillsbury company for depicting its Doughboy in a compromising position.

Over the decades, however, Goldstein found himself facing overwhelming competition as hardcore pornography became more mainstream, video and Internet pornography became ubiquitous, and free publications offered the same advertisements for services that had been Screw’s primary source of revenue. In 2003, a bankrupt Goldstein wound up in a homeless shelter and struggled to keep minimum-wage jobs in New York.

Married five times, Goldstein found himself estranged from his ex-wives and his son, Jordan. He spent his last years in a nursing home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. He was a Brooklyn native.

Over the course of a career that saw waning fortunes and diminishing magazine sales, Goldstein battled illness, financial ruin and family break-up.

When he was not invited to his only son’s graduation from Harvard law school in 2002, Goldstein lashed out at his ex-wife and the elite private university.

Screw folded in 2003. Once at the top of a multimillion-dollar porn publishing empire, Goldstein lost his Manhattan home and was forced to sell a Florida mansion that came outfitted with a large statue of a hand with the middle finger raised.

For a time in the mid 2000s, the former porn king took an hourly wage job at Manhattan’s famous 2nd Avenue Deli.

In 2002, Goldstein was sentenced to 60 days in jail for threatening a former employee and leaving obscene messages on her answering machine.

With Reuters

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