Meet the New Sheriff

Between the lurid ads for the Seka line, 970-SCREW, and others, Goldstein's cable show, Midnight Blue, features guest interviews, commercial spoofs, strippers, and legitimate film clips courtesy of Hollywood - Madonna's "Justify My Love" video, a love scene from Wild Orchid, and anything else from the mainstream that steams the screen. Airing twice a week in Manhattan, the TV show stops short of explicit sexual activities, and, in fact, reaches its most controversial moments during Goldstein's "Fuck You" segment, in which he berates - and seemingly libels - anyone who has crossed him.

Not long ago Goldstein served his own lawyers, and the cable station that airs his program, with a "Fuck You." Someone from the ACLU, after a 1975 obscenity bust, had said that Goldstein gives freedom of speech a bad name. "Which is probably true," says Goldstein. "But tough, that's exactly what it's all about. They're representing me in a case against Manhattan Cable. One of the clearest pillars of law is that precensorship is not permitted. People like myself are allowed to put out what we want to and then suffer the consequences. For sixteen years I've had to presubmit Midnight Blue to Manhattan Cable. It took the American Civil Liberties Union up until two years ago [to take action]. They're still dragging their heels - there won't be a hearing until May. It's offensive to me to have to presubmit my show." So in no uncertain terms, Goldstein went on the air and told his own lawyer, his two ACLU attorneys, and Manhattan Cable: "Fuck you." (An ACLU spokesman in Washington, D.C., comments, "I don't know much about that case, but he has the right to tell his own counsel to have intercourse with himself. We've always objected to prescreening in principle. We've also very frequently defended his publication. We're not in the business of commenting on moral or aesthetic values. If there is a willing seller and a willing buyer, then it's constitutionally protected.")

Manning the Midnight Blue camera, according to the title credits, is Patty Goldstein, Al's fourth wife, a thin and wholesomely attractive 30-year-old who looks younger. "We've been married a year and a half," Goldstein says. "I alternate. I had a Jewish wife, a shiksa, a Jewish wife, I'm in the shiksa stage now. Patty's Irish, but I'm working on her." His wife is also a Catholic who attends church services weekly; Goldstein is an atheist. "We shouldn't lose compassion for those people who, frankly, are very weak and want to believe that when you die, you go to heaven," he says seriously. "When my mom died, it was very painful, and I wondered if it would change me - would I go from hard-core atheism to believing in heaven? Well, I'm still a hard-core atheist. But fairy tales - if you want it, you can have it."

Goldstein's third wife, Gena, bore him a son, Jordan, now seventeen. Like father, Goldstein says, the son is a bit of a rebel. "I planned all this sex-positive stuff," he admits, recalling his first father-son, birds-and-bees chat. "He was so uninterested in discussing it with his father. He was totally embarrassed. I said, `Jordan, I really do know a lot about this, if there's anything you ever want to ask me.' He's never asked me or his mother one word about sex. He's sex-positive in that he's against censorship. He's sort of a shy kid; I leave him alone. Whatever he'll be, he'll be. Ironically his rebellion has been a strange road he travels. Rather than stealing hubcaps or doing drugs, he's become health conscious. He's a body builder, so that's the ultimate rebellion, he eats what's good for him. He looks at me, and I guess he's so humiliated by my weight that he's gone into this sane eating. He's a good kid, a bright kid, and I like the fact that he's a liberal."

Goldstein's own liberalism becomes clear when he addresses matters that will fall under his aegis when he's elected sheriff of Broward County. "I have an issue that I think will be very controversial," he says. "I really have a great problem with drugs being an area of crime. I really would favor legalizing drugs because so much manpower is spent on this. I took drugs in the Sixties, I don't do drugs now, I haven't done them in years. My drug now is Haagen-Dazs double chocolate chip. In the same way nobody closes down Haagen-Dazs, if someone wants to do drugs, let 'em."

The wanna-be sheriff argues that drug-related crimes stem from the need to acquire money to purchase the drugs. "I want real criminals put away," says Goldstein. "Leave the hookers alone, the pornographers alone. The people who want to do crack and other stuff, let 'em do it. If they kill themselves, that's their decision. I'm concerned about consequences. If you're drunk and driving, I want you to lose your license permanently because you're hurting people. This probably won't play very well with the old people and the condo people, but I want to point out to them that they'll be safer because they're not going to be mugged by someone who needs money for drugs.

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