The Big Jewcy: Mike Edison – Literary Libertine

We caught up with Mike Edison to talk about his forthcoming book, “Dirty, Dirty, Dirty! Of Playboys, Pigs and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder.” Read More

By / June 6, 2011

Mike Edison’s life is pretty much summed up by the title of first book, published by FSG:  I Have Fun Everywhere I Go chronicled Edison’s forays into a corner of the publishing world that few have had the privilege to explore.  By focusing his career on the most alluring and taboo of leisure activities, Edison found his niche in the publishing world, working for the likes of Screw, Hustler, Penthouse and High Times. What separates Edison from the other hedonist writers of the world, is his ability to find narratives within these debauched worlds, that are relatable even for those who’ve never who’ve never sat front row at a cage match or a sex scene.   After he was kind enough to welcome me into his home for his annual Wrestlemania party a few weeks ago, I got a chance to catch up with him to discuss his new book, Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!  — Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder. (Due out on Soft Skull in the Fall of 2011.)

(due out on Soft Skull, Fall 2011).

I hear you have a radio show.  What’s it all about?

The Mike and Judy Show is the Fastest 30 Minutes on the Internet Today. Remember when we were kids, and we wanted to be radio hosts, and DJs, and write books, and make movies? Well, we’ve arrived. Technology and new media have made it easy enough if you have the chops to do it— except for the book writing part, of course, which is still a giant pain in the ass, but in that case the results are especially rewarding. The Mike and Judy Show streams live from a studio located behind Roberta’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn, every Sunday at 2 pm (EST) and we have great guests – wrestlers, rock stars, dipsomaniac authors, the leading sex symbols of our day, and it’s no-hold-barred and no bullshit, guaranteed. My co-host  is Judy McGuire, who is every Jewish boy’s dream of a hot Catholic girl gone bad — she comes on very sweet and nice but she is actually a very dangerous woman. She has a giant super brain and a nasty punk rock past and she is not to be fucked with. You can listen to them live on Heritage Radio Network, or just log on to the website —  all the shows are archived there — and will soon to be available on iTunes as free podcasts.

Tell me about your upcoming book.

Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! is a pop-culture history of girlie mags, and specifically the four horsemen of smut — Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Larry Flynt, and Al Goldstein –  it runs from the 1950s when Hugh Hefner launched Playboy, through the end of the century when the Internet pretty much killed the thrill of the centerfold. It’s the first time these four stories have been told, as a continuum, against the landscape of the culture at large, from Eisenhower to Bill Clinton and details for the first time Guccione’s incredible fall from glory – he burned through literally hundreds of millions of dollars  and died broke – but is also the first book to both celebrate sex magazines and be highly critical of Hug Hefner as a duplicitous, woman-hating, closet queen. Hefner likes to take credit for American sexual liberation but he is full of shit. The other guys are shameless pornographers, of course, and God bless them — with Flynt and Gooch and Goldstein at least you know what you are getting, but Hefner is opaque — except for the fact that he really believes his own hype. As they say in the wrestling biz, he’s a mark for his own gimmick.  It’s pathetic.
What fascinates you about porn?

You can watch the culture turn over in the pages of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler – from the Cold War through hippies and Vietnam and yuppies and another Cold War – As America goes, so goes its porn.
What kind of a part does Judaism play in your life and career?

Judaism plays little or no role in my life, except I do give a mean Seder — I whip out the guitar and play all the songs, plus some Woody Guthrie, and drink a lot of wine. Being Jewish, however, is very primary, very fundamental to who I am. I probably know at least a hundred jokes that begin with a guy going to a doctor.

Photo by Olivia Séva Seally