County of Kings? More like county of pornographers!
Both Screw Magazine magnate Al Goldstein and Penthouse proprietor Bob Guccione are Brooklyn natives — and they’re two of the four XXX kingpins at the center of author Mike Edison’s raunchy (and that’s just the title!), “Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers: An American Tale of Sex and Wonder.”
On Dec. 8, Edison will wrap up his book tour by returning to the loamy loins of our indelicate borough, toasting himself and the seamy underbelly of publishing at the Way Station Bar in Prospect Heights.
“These guys are fearless,” Edison said, of Goldstein and The Gooch. “And that’s what you get coming up in Brooklyn — fearless, dirty Brooklyn.”
“Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!” is part porn history, part social commentary, part cultural criticism, all deliciously risque, and chronicles the rise and fall of Goldstein, Guccione, Hustler heir Larry Flynt and Playboy playboy Hugh Hefner — the four guys who took sex from the bedroom to the newsstand.
But this isn’t simply a history book about girlie mags; it’s a rumination on changing social mores, sexual liberation and American culture.
“America runs away from sex while simultaneously running towards it,” Edison said. “People are still shy on the subject because we have a hangover from our Puritan heritage. But at that same time, you push a button on the Internet and you can see all the pernicious filth you can think of. For free.”
And when he talks about filth, he knows it inside and out. As former editor of celebrated marijuana magazine, High Times; past editor-in-chief of Screw Magazine; and author of booze-soaked, porn-tinged, sex-steeped, smoke-enveloped memoir, “I Have Fun Everywhere I Go,” Edison and raunch are old familiar friends.
But Edison’s bread and butter is free speech — and ultimately, that’s what “Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!” is really about. All Four Horsemen of the Brapocalypse tangled with, and ultimately triumphed over, would-be censors.
Hefner’s publication was accused of obscenity from its first issue in 1953; his victories paved the way for Goldstein, who was arrested 21 times on obscenity charges, yet won a landmark trial in 1974. And Flynt famously defeated Jerry Falwell after the reverend claimed he was libeled by a cartoon in Hustler.
“These four guys did more for free speech than anyone,” Edison said. “Every American owes them — it’s because of them that we can be dirty, and that The Brooklyn Paper can do what it does.”
Mike Edison at the Way Station [683 Washington Ave. between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, (917) 279-5412]. Dec. 8, 9 pm. Free. For info, visit www.mikeedison.com.