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Reflections on Iceberg Slim: the chronicler of male-female relations

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I FIRST read Iceberg Slim’s autobiography Pimp when I was a teenager. The title, the women, the vice and the slang made it exotic, but the story was down and dirty. The women were often wild and fierce. By the end of the book, Slim was man ho’d lived and been chewed up by life. To me, this was no glorifying of the skin game.

But, as Josh Alan Friedman notes, Slim’s life could be a text book:

Like the painter Grandma Moses, Iceberg Slim was reborn an artist after age 40. His third, and harshest prison sentence – 10 months in steel solitary at the Cook County House of Corrections – finally crushed the pimp right out of him. Vilifying past predatory values, he exorcised his demons into folklore, leaving a seven-book legacy. Pimp: The Story of My Life, contained bookend warnings against the life. But Iceberg’s masterpiece only bolstered pimp liberation amidst the blaxploitation movie craze. In Times Square, for instance, a hundred fur-coated Superflys lorded over a thousand streetwalkers, taking renegade control of 8th Avenue. For them, Pimp declassified the sorcery of whore control, became a textbook for wannabe’s, and lent ethnic pride to the hideous profession.

Pimp still holds as perhaps the greatest chronicle ever written on male-female relations. In the flush of literary success, white feminist-journalist types sought out interviews like intellectual groupies. Pimp philosophy, Iceberg believed, might be adapted to mainstream relationships. “My theory is that some quantum of pimp in every man would perhaps enhance his approach to women,” he told the Washington Post. “Because I think it’s a truism that women gravitate to a man who can at least flash transient evidence of heelism. . . Women are prone to masochism, anyway. I think if you are able to manufacture a bit of ‘heelism’ in your nature and give them a sense of insecurity as to whether some voluptuous rival might come along and steal you, then you are a treasured jewel.”

In 1968, Slim appeared The Joe Pyne Show. He wore a mask. 

(Full video here.)

If you want more, listen to Reflections, an album of Ice talking in his own words. It is seductive stuff (and very NSFW):