"My son thinks I'm wrong, that I give a message that drugs are okay. I think my son is wrong. I think I give a message that one takes responsibility for his or her choices. Knowing my son, he'll probably campaign for Nick."
Goldstein says his favorite enterprise was a newsletter called Gadget, which folded three years ago after losing money since its inception.
(Ramrod, a gay-oriented spin-off of Screw, folded a few weeks ago; Goldstein's also published newsletters with the functionally descriptive titles Cigar and Death.) Gadget covered the world of high-tech toys for adults - an obsession Goldstein says dates back to his childhood, when he wanted to be the first kid on the block to own a Captain Midnight Decoding Ring. He initiated Gadget in 1975 to justify his purchases of a Hovercraft, millions of dollars worth of audio-visual gear, even a robot.
Many years ago, Goldstein's electronic lifestyle was profiled by Technology Illustrated magazine. The article listed his numerous gadgets, and quoted Goldstein revealing again his tendency toward envy. "Hugh Hefner has sixteen full video arcades in his game room. His satellite dish is twice as big as mine. Talk about penis envy? I have satellite envy. Mine's only a ten-foot dish."
These days Goldstein finds other reasons to envy Hefner. "I saw a T-shirt in L.A. that said `I want to be Hugh Hefner for a day,'" he says. "I don't think anyone wants to be Al Goldstein for a day. You have to go to my analyst, you have to be carrying an extra 100 pounds, you have to have Jewish guilt."
He doesn't want to be Hefner for a day, but Goldstein would like to be a movie star. Years ago he played himself in a movie called Thrilled to Death, he joined the actors' union, and he says he longs for another role. "Yeah, but no one calls," he says, polishing off his Diet Pepsi. "Susan Seidelman had me audition twice for movies. I was supposed to play a lawyer in Cookie. She said she was typecasting me, the lawyer was right out of Al Goldstein's Midnight Blue editorials. I was basically to play me, and I couldn't even play me. I froze. But that's my fantasy, my dream - to be a fat Tom Cruise."
To prove himself more sincere and honest than his fellow sex-based publishers, Goldstein also once appeared in an X-rated movie, It Happened in Hollywood. "I got a blowjob on-camera," he recalls. "I didn't want to be a hypocrite. Hefner wouldn't do it, Guccione wouldn't do it. The girl who gave me the blowjob, I asked her if she'd have lunch with me. She said, `No, because that would be intimate.' The blowjob was business. That's the difference between pornography and real life.