Al Goldstein Memorial

Back in the late 1980's, I was working for a special effects company on Long Island. When we had work here in the city, we would stay at the fabulous Edison Hotel right in the heart of Times Square. The Edison is still there, but those who only know the post Disney Times Square of the late 2000's really couldn't even imagine how rough the place was back then.  Rough, but exciting.

Inside the Edison too, even the TV showed that NYC was different. Because of Manhattan's diversity, it has FCC "community standards" unlike anywhere else in the country, and this means that, after 10pm, if you were flipping across the cable channels in the hotel you would invariably stumble onto leased access channel 35, and...nudity. Two shows dominated that channel, Robin Byrd's stripper show, and Al Goldstein's Midnight Blue. There really is no way to adequately describe what Midnight Blue was like, so if you're not easily offended, watch this very not safe for work clip:

Goldstein was way, way ahead of his time in many ways, and even by the 1980's, when I first became aware of him, he had already established himself as one of the most vociferous defenders of the first amendment. Of course these days, with the anything goes internet, the idea of prohibiting anyone from seeing anything is pretty much dead. But that freedom--for good and bad--we owe, in part, to this hedonistic, gluttonous PT Barnum of porn. 

Brooklyn, evidently has "higher" community standards than Manhattan, so when I moved here in 1990, Al was not on my TV (but he was when I later moved to Manhattan). And with Goldstein's self-destructive personality, the rise of the internet (built on free porn), and even the cable companies selling "smut", Goldstein ended up becoming homeless and destitute (Al's friend Penn Jillette eventually rented an apartment for him). Goldstein eventually offended or alienated just about everyone who knew him, but my friend Viveca was one of the few that stayed with Al until the end.  And she helped to arrange a wonderful memorial last night, and I was lucky to be able to go, and help honor a hero.

The event also was evidence for me that although New York is a lot more homogeneous place these days, there is still a diverse core of interesting people here, and we can use our community standards to help us to see the good in people, even when they might offend us. That's why I'm still here after nearly 25 years.

Here's a few photo highlights from last night, and I have many more photos here

Update 5/22: Captions by Viveca

Erica Dubno and Herald Price Fahringer's backs

Erica Dubno and Herald Price Fahringer's backs

Albert Jaccoma on right with visible wristband talking to Chris Stevens. Co-organizer and Al biographer Josh Alan Friedman visible behind them.

Albert Jaccoma on right with visible wristband talking to Chris Stevens. Co-organizer and Al biographer Josh Alan Friedman visible behind them.

Tere Gerber, Al's assistant from Screw

Tere Gerber, Al's assistant from Screw

Display of selection from Al's "collections," curated by Josh Safdie

Display of selection from Al's "collections," curated by Josh Safdie

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dirty songster Jeffrey Lewis

dirty songster Jeffrey Lewis

 Event organizer Larry "Ratso" Sloman

 Event organizer Larry "Ratso" Sloman

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Uncle Lou Amber, porn chauffer, showing his scrapbook to Museum of Sex Director of Operations Kelley Cordell

Uncle Lou Amber, porn chauffer, showing his scrapbook to Museum of Sex Director of Operations Kelley Cordell

Event co-organizer and Al biographer Josh Alan Friedman

Event co-organizer and Al biographer Josh Alan Friedman

Pioneering freedom of speech lawyers, Al's defense attorneys Erica Dubno and Herald Price Fahringer

Pioneering freedom of speech lawyers, Al's defense attorneys Erica Dubno and Herald Price Fahringer

Gilbert Gottfried

Gilbert Gottfried

 Sex writer and actress and founder of Miss Vera's Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls, Veronica Vera

 Sex writer and actress and founder of Miss Vera's Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls, Veronica Vera

Adrienne Gruberg, widow of Steve "Grube Tube" Gruberg. Adrienne also read a letter from sex educator and performance artist Annie Sprinkle

Adrienne Gruberg, widow of Steve "Grube Tube" Gruberg. Adrienne also read a letter from sex educator and performance artist Annie Sprinkle

: Event co-organizer and Al's lawyer Charles DiStefano

: Event co-organizer and Al's lawyer Charles DiStefano

 Dara Gottfried taking a picture of her husband, 

 Dara Gottfried taking a picture of her husband, 

 Cousins Albert (left) and Richard Jaccoma. Richard ran Screw magazine.

 Cousins Albert (left) and Richard Jaccoma. Richard ran Screw magazine.

Charlie DiStefano's 1962 Cadillac, featured with the 69ers Motorcycle Club in an honor guard for Al.

Charlie DiStefano's 1962 Cadillac, featured with the 69ers Motorcycle Club in an honor guard for Al.

More on Goldstein in his NY Time obit, and there's a great documentary too.

Update 5/23: Welcome AVN readers!