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What I Watched Last Night

Bravo began its Sunday programming day at midnight with a showing of The Terminator a film which has now taken on same slightly washed-out look as movies shown on WLS-TV at 3 a.m.

It's 1984 in Los Angeles and cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger has traveled 40 years back in time from a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles to scare the shit out of a garbage truck driver by appearing naked in an alley and stealing clothes from community college-level gangbangers too skinny to have clothes that would actually fit him. Now dressed like Michael Jackson, Arnold begins to lay the foundation for his gubernatorial campaign with a thorough cleansing of the voter rolls, starting by shooting every constituent named Sarah Connor.

Mayhem ensues with plenty of chases, car crashes, shootings, and explosions.

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On Saturday night, Discovery Health's Hypersexual Behavior explored the line between sexual enjoyment and compulsion by profiling several men and women whose lives were nearly ruined by their addiction to sex. We discover that sex addicts are actually drug addicts because they spend hours whacked out on their brain's own powerful neurotropic feel-good substances.

Discovery Health's obsession with compulsion continues with Untold Stories of the ER, in which a 22-year-old woman's deadly ectopic pregnancy is discovered only by virtue of her need to eat six rolls of toilet paper a day.

Hospital trivia: People who habitually show up in ERs complaining about the same - often non-existent - health concern are called frequent flyers.

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Also appearing on Discovery Health were several commercials for a line of feminine hair removal gel products called Nad's, which now joins the weight-loss product Ayds in the Worst Product Name Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, the commercials fail to mention whether the product is recommended for actual 'nads.

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Earlier Saturday night, the Independent Film Channel showed the excellent and highly informative 1999 Albert and Allen Hughes documentary American Pimp, which presents a look into the working lives of a dozen or so active and retired black pimps around the country. Consequently, American Pimp answers the one question you always wanted to know about pimpin' but were afraid to ask: The reason why there aren't any white pimps is because white street guys just don't have it in them to walk the walk and talk the talk like black street guys.

Or, as pimp Bradley put it: "I never seen a white pimp. They don't have the moves. They don't shake like a black man shake." How Billy Clyde Tuggle lasted as long as he did as Pine Valley's resident white trash pimp on All My Children during the mid-1970s is beyond me. Maybe Pine Valley doesn't raise the bar too high or something.

Actually there are white pimps, points out American Pimp. Instead of bothering with the headaches involved with maintaining a stable of streetwalkin' hos, they head out to Reno like Dennis Hof and run legal, Playboy Mansion-like brothels like the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, where the women get benefits and a cut of what they earn for the house.

Streetwalkers, on the other hand, get no cut of what they turn over, a few pimps explained, because it takes a lot of money to clothe them, feed them, house them, pay their medical expenses, and bail them out of jail. This might explain why a pimp like Payroll lives in an apartment as ratty-looking as the one Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston share on Bravo's Being Bobby Brown.

Some American pimps are smooth, some are gangsta, a lot of pimps from the 1960s and 1970s looked remarkably like Chuck Berry and Ike Turner, and they all like the word "motherfucker" a lot, but the Hughes brothers present no personal angle about the morality of pimping. Instead, they let the pimps ramble on about the business to let you make that decision for yourself. Nobody goes out of their way to make you want to like their attitudes or understand what they do, because pimps and squares live in separate universes and that's just the way it is. Either you get it or you don't.

Even though I still don't think pimping's a profession any kid should intentionally aspire to (even though it provides pimp Charm the means to play country club golf with doctors and lawyers several days a week), I came away with something that resembles an understanding of it, including the liberal use of "bitches" and "hos" - titles streetwalkers actually accept. Which is how a pimp like Ken Red gets away with answering cell phone calls from his women with, "Hey, bitch. What's happenin'?"

That's because pimpin' is a business, hos are product, and it's a relationship built upon cash generation instead of emotional attachment. In fact, says pimp Payroll, "If I came home calling her 'sweetie pie' and 'honey,' she'd think there's something wrong with me."

Think what you will of pimps, there's something to be said about the motivation and effort it takes to continually cruise the streets keeping tabs on a whole stable of women wandering about willy nilly. Collecting the cash, making sure they're not slacking off, and providing the, uh, motivation to keep on keepin' on is an exhausting task - especially when your job doesn't offer workman's comp or unemployment insurance. "The only thing a pimp got comin' is what he got out there in the game," says one.

Some of the dudes in American Pimp are engaging and eloquent - including my favorite, ex-Los Angeles pimp Danny Brown, an articulate fellow with a fascinating grasp of the history of pimpin' and ho-in'. According to Brown, prostitution was an accepted fact of life until somewhere around the turn of the 20th Century, when "the black man got the money and didn't pay taxes. That's when it became such a dread thing."

Chicago's American Pimp representative was the colorful ex-pimp known as Bishop Don Magic Juan, who gave up his West Side business after finding God. God might have been able to take the pimp out of the man, but He sure couldn't take the flash out of him, since Don still cruises the streets in a big boat of a lime green Cadillac and covered head to toe in alligator skin and gold rings the size of Rhode Island. "Green for the money, gold for the honey," says Bishop Don.

Yet, even back in the day, he was a pimp even a mother could love. "He never came home like a pimp," says Bishop Don's mother on camera, her home filled with photo mementos from her son's pimping days. "He always come home like a nice child."

Pimpin' trivia: The 1973 film The Mac is unanimously considered - even by today's American pimps - to be the only accurate portrayal of "the science of pimpology."

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Browse the What I Watched Last Night library.



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Posted on June 4, 2007


MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.


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