Meet the New Sheriff

Gloria Leonard, Al Goldstein's friend and colleague, is on the phone from New York City. "Victims again?" Goldstein says to the former pornographic-movie star and publisher of High Society magazine. "It was a setup. You can't win, Gloria." It seems Leonard had been invited to appear on Geraldo to discuss police raids on porn parlors, but she soon realized the show was about women becoming "victims" of pornography, a subject Al Goldstein knows quite a bit about. "So Geraldo lied again," Goldstein says in a conciliatory tone. "He's the ultimate slut.... Listen, I had lunch with a guy from Newsweek the other day. I want you to talk to him. You can have space in my magazine to editorialize. You can come on my show and do a `Fuck You' to Geraldo...."

For Goldstein, such a reaction is typical. For the past 23 years he has published the New York tabloid Screw, a raunchy weekly whose newsprint pages are filled with images of copulating human flesh. He is one of the nation's most outspoken advocates of pornography, a man whose views on the subject amount to one credo: anything goes. And he's not at all shy about jumping into the fray when anyone suggests life should be governed otherwise. So it was only natural that he should have taken up residence in Pompano Beach, which is part of Broward County, infamous for its intolerance toward matters risque. Not only does moving to a Pompano Beach condominium put the rotund Goldstein in the belly of the beast, but it also allows him to run for sheriff, a position currently held by Nick Navarro, a national symbol of censorship after his much-publicized efforts to ban rap group the 2 Live Crew. But Sheriff Nick had better watch out. With a ferocity that belies his mild, personable manner, Goldstein has a tendency to assault his enemies with verbiage.

In the February 11 issue of Screw, for example, Goldstein attacks Leonard Stern, owner of the Hartz Mountain pet products corporation and the Village Voice. "All of Stern's cutthroat business dealings are a feeble attempt on his part to compensate for his ugliness, his shortness, his vile and malodorous existence," writes the Screw publisher. "Here was a man, I thought - giving him the benefit of the doubt - who would try anything to erase the shame of his tiny dick." After outlining how Hartz was to blame for dog and cat deaths related to the use of the company's Blockade flea repellant, Goldstein adds, "Stern already has to kick away the dead animals at his doorstep just to go home at night."

Broward County won't elect a sheriff until November of 1992, but Al Goldstein's campaign has already begun, despite the fact that he doesn't expect to have established permanent residency for another six months. Goldstein, who is the travel editor for the Australian Penthouse magazine and the author of a book-in-progress about travel (he's assisted in much of this by Gil Reavill, his long-time ghostwriter), is a mover, but he hopes to cut down on his globe hopping soon. "I hope to finish all those obligations within the next six months," he says. "In June the Libertarian Party will, hopefully, choose me as their candidate. If not, I'll run as an independent. Beginning in June I hope to be here permanently. And whether I win or lose, I'll probably be here 95 percent of the time." (A Libertarian Party official says Goldstein has been invited to speak at the group's convention at the end of May.)

Goldstein has a soft spot for animals. On the square, glass coffee table that separates his big-screen Sylvania TV set from his overstuffed living-room couch stands a framed photograph of Porky Pig, a pet hog who grew so big so fast that Goldstein was forced to orphan him to a farm near Lake Worth (visit planned soon). A tiny Yorkie named Petey, sporting a heavily bandaged hind leg and a surgical scar on its recently shaved hip (clearly the work of a talented and high-priced veterinarian) runs around the condo. "She's so spoiled," Goldstein says of the dog. "Come here Petey, c'mere baby. My wife spoils her." Passing the blame is quite uncharacteristic of Al Goldstein, and it soon becomes evident that he's lying. If anyone spoils the yappy little canine, it surely is the animal's big daddy.

The seventh-floor condo where Petey and Goldstein hold sway is not ostentatious. The interior was obviously built for comfort - the big-screen TV is topped by a pair of VCRs, several remote control devices are piled on the coffee table, the white couches are soft and plush. A small, fully ornamented Christmas tree stands next to the television set a month and a half after the holiday. There are chess boards in various locations around the apartment. Two rental videos - Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Freshman - lie on an end table; Goldstein says he's eager to watch them so he can return the movies without paying a late fee.

Goldstein's mother had lived in Florida for 30 years, and when she died two years ago, her son, who says he always hated Florida, bought a condo here. "My mother's Florida," he reflects, "was very different. She was at this Century - this old people's home - Village. But then I found I like the ocean, I love the weather, and I've really fallen in love with the place. I'm really happy here."

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