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From Smut to Schmears: Al Goldstein's New Venture

By John Zawadzinski
Tuesday, January 25, 2005; Page C09

NEW YORK -- He spent a lifetime peddling smut and once had an $11 million fortune, but after losing everything and becoming just another homeless New Yorker, Al Goldstein is now happy pushing bagels instead of porn.

Goldstein, a founding father of America's porn industry, is hustling bagels and white fish at a New York-based deli and catering establishment.

Goldstein, a pornographer once worth $11 million, went bankrupt more than a year ago. Now he's selling bagels. (Henny Ray Abrams -- Reuters)

"I've always loved food more than sex, so this is really my first love," said Goldstein, 69, a cold-calling salesman for New York City Bagels. "I've gone from broads to bagels."

Goldstein has good reason to feel good about his new career, however mundane, after becoming homeless last year when the porn empire he began building in 1968 collapsed.

The former owner of Milky Way Productions, home of Screw magazine and the now defunct X-rated cult show "Midnight Blue," went bankrupt more than a year ago. Screw once sold more than 140,000 copies weekly and was a cash cow, thanks to ads for call girls and prostitutes, before it fell victim to Internet porn and sagging circulation.

"The Internet made pornography available for free, and I couldn't compete," said Goldstein, who now lives on Staten Island with his fifth wife, Christine, 28.

Those he befriended in the porn business, a billion-dollar industry he helped pioneer, turned their backs to him. Even his own son, Jordan, a Harvard graduate who works for a New York-based law firm, refuses to speak to him.

"My life has turned to crap," Goldstein said. "To go from being a millionaire and then living in a homeless shelter and being rejected by 98 percent of your friends is horrendous, but I'm a survivor."

Goldstein was hired late last year as a greeter at New York's 2nd Avenue Deli, paid $10 an hour to welcome customers and show them to their tables. He held the position for a few months but was fired when it was discovered he was sleeping in the restaurant.

Now he works at New York City Bagels on commission, trying to generate corporate accounts.

"Al is very passionate about the work, and he brings a lot to the table," said Glenn Teyf, one of the owners of New York City Bagels, who hired Goldstein more than a month ago on a referral. "Al Goldstein by far has increased our business."

Goldstein's current occupation and lifestyle are worlds apart from where he once was. He lost his $2.5 million mansion in Pompano Beach, Fla., and his townhouse on New York's East 61st Street to pay off debts. As a result, he was reduced to sleeping at his in-laws' house and homeless shelters. He slept in Central Park and last year was arrested for allegedly shoplifting books from the Barnes & Noble near Lincoln Center.

Gone are the chauffeur, his collection of wine, the Cuban cigars and the parties at New York's legendary Plato's Retreat and Studio 54. He now travels to and from Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, shops at thrift stores and is perfectly content staying home and watching the History Channel and Court TV.

"I don't live in yesterday and I don't live in tomorrow. I live in today," he said. "Just when you think you're done, life becomes different."

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