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Pimp: The Story of My Life

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,725 ratings  ·  258 reviews
Robert (Iceberg Slim) Beck's first book is told without bitterness and with no pretense at moralizing. It is the smells, the sounds, the fears and the petty triumphs in the world of the street pimp.
Paperback, 311 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Payback Pr (first published 1967)
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I bought this as an impulse purchase because it was displayed right next to the cash register at Shakespeare & Co. I'd seen it in the AK Press catalog before, and that is probably what made me pick it up. Pimp is entertaining in a kind of trashy way. It's a biography about a part of life that many middle class suburban folks like me don't know anything about. I have no idea how truthful the book is, or if it is sensationalism, or maybe even utter bullshit like those 'confessional' books writ ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Manny marked it as to-read
Photo with Pimp Stick

On Proxenetism and Pandering as Metaphors for Book-Reviewing

From a feminist/post-colonial viewpoint, the activities of book-reviewing and pimping have much in common. Operating within a patriarchal structure, the reviewer-pimp claims power over the essentially female text (recall Derrida's useful concept of "invagination"), and offers it to the reader-john as part of a quasi-commercial transaction where he is paid with "likes" or "comments". Just as the pimp symbolizes dominance over his girls u
Jun 14, 2008 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone properly preparing for a pimp-n-ho party
Recommended to Chris by: my local pimp
“Pimp” is fantastic. For about a decade now this has been one of my favorite books, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Granted, I should immediately admit that I probably like this book for all the wrong reasons; I’m sure that the ‘correct’ grounds for appreciating “Pimp” (if such standards have been established) are to ponder the struggles of the black man fighting to rise up in American society and to look at the infelicitous lot he’s been subjected to and to carefully inspect the in ...more
What does it mean to be a hero in an antagonistic universe?
This book is a thoughtful and brutal examination of the choices one is forced to make in a world turned against the individual. In prose reminiscent of a street-wise Dostoyevsky, the author recounts the story of his life through various moralistic phases. These tend to impress upon the reader a recurring theme, not of the universe's intense silence to human cries, but of openly ambivalent laughter and playfulness that voices itself most
You can try to sanitize this book, as Ervine Welsh has done in the introduction, and treat it as report on the social conditions of the racist America of the 1940’s and 50’s and one Black man’s attempt to break out of the cycle through the only way he found possible, blah blah blah. I couldn’t be bothered with any of this. I picked up this book to read some cool pimp talk. Pimp daddies and their bitches going about their binniz. Mindless degenerate entertainment. Like watching rap videos of the ...more
Sarah Etter
where to start with this book? some of the most gruesome scenes i've ever read, but i couldn't resist it. about three pages in, i had to put it down and take a deep breath.

anyway - gut-wrenching account of life as a pimp before it became gangster rap fodder. i know there's a big debate - at least at the academic level - about whether slim wrote this book or it was ghostwritten. i'm not sure that matters to me - the story still needs to be told.

it's interesting that despite the fact that slim e
May 27, 2011 Naomi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This is not a book you can "like." It is a repulsive book you can learn something from and hope desperately that conditions have changed since its publication. You'll find cultural commentary and insights into the psyche, but you'll also find vile, unimaginable misogyny and disregard for humanity in general. I suppose I learned something, but the urge to vomit accompanied that awful education. Why the four stars, you say? Old Iceberg Slim's tale, in the most (for lack of any other way to say it) ...more
Entertaining to the core, but that doesn't mean Iceberg brushes over the nuance and complexity surrounding his situation. "The Skull Book on Pimping" concisely covers issues that sociologists have prattled about in dense and meaningless jargon for decades. Slim is among the few honest autobiographers in his embrace of his contradictions. The book is neither self-glorifying nor moralizing. Nor is it, and it does not pretend to be, simply the facts. Like the hip-hop music it would influence severa ...more
Gary Foss
Think of the worst crimes a person can commit: murder, rape, child molestation, pandering drugs, torture, slavery. It doesn't matter which of those you think might be worse than any other. Take your pick. And then consider:

The pimp engages in all those things. They are, in fact, his routine.

I picked this book up after having stumbled across the documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp produced by Ice-T. Here's the trailer:

That film was interesting enou
Slim writes with poetic ease of the streets, he was born with storytellers talent. He lived a hard life and was a real pimp sometimes he doesn't fully describe his pimp ways, but I'm sure he wasn't as soft as he sometimes portrays. I love all Slims books and suggest them to any one interested in the world of prostitution and big city's back in the good old days, when gangsters were truly gangsters and hustling was an exciting way of life. Similar style to my idol Herbert Huncke, pure, natural &a ...more
AJ Conroy
"A pimp is happy when his whores giggle. He knows they are still asleep." Chilling.

This was a loan from Dan. The narrator is such a bastard. If it wasn't an autobiography, it would be decried as misogynistic, which it is. But that would be the point, right? I mean, he is a pimp. He beats his women, hooks them on drugs and sucks the life out of them until they run away. Hustle & Flow owes a great debt to Pimp and its sympathetic portrayal of that world.

Putting morality aside, if one can, the

Doug Vanderweide
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. So let's go through the bullet points:

-- It's nearly indecipherable at times, thanks to the 1940s hustler slang in which it's written; especially, the dialog.

Yes, there's a glossary to help one figure out what he means.

Yes, one can argue that the extensive use of period slang lends authenticity and context to what's being said.

I found it stultifying.

At times, the narrative is so laden down with slang -- especially, as Iceberg Slim recalls decad
Lex Alexander
The one thing that I did learn from this book, and it's a lesson that will stay ingrained in my head for the rest of my life is that even the freakiest bitch don't like to be hit with a wire coat hanger that's been twisted into a metal whip. Even if the woman likes being smacked around, being beaten with the coat hanger will set her straight (straight meaning here spread her legs willingly for you, and then spread them for money which she will then give to you without cheating you of any of it). ...more
Samsquatch Samsquatch
I learned everything i know from this book. I was practically raised by it, as well as sports highlights commentary reels. I currently am a pastor at the Skokie Baptist revival church in Skokieville, NY, and I make all my flock read this book. I've actually taped the pages into my bible (after Deuteronomy), so I can quote easily from it. Sure, some of the older members don't like the dirty language and risque situations (the scene where all the ho's air their battered pussies out of the side of ...more
S. K. Pentecost
I had to give it 4 stars, because it is written in such a way that, as a male reader, I can forget about all the victimization and blaming of others he perpetrates while the sheer cool of the story envelopes me.

Part of me justifies this by noting that like many autobiographies, this one is too dramatically compelling to be anything approaching non-fiction.

If I were a woman though, I can easily imagine that Iceberg Slim's story would come off like smoldering bamboo shoots under the fingernails as
You've heard of Ice Tea and Ice Cube...both of whom took the name as an homage to Iceberg Slim, author of Pimp. Prompted to read this after watching the movie "Straight out of Compton", it's an autobiography of the rise and fall of a real life pimp in mid century America. The story unfolds across Rockford, Milwaukee, and Chicago, which peaked my intrigue.

I was told if you were a black man in the 1970s, you read this book, along with those by Malcom X. It gives a dark insight into the misogyny t
Danny Kroha
Dec 16, 2007 Danny Kroha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Aspiring pimps.
When I first bought this book I just assumed that it took place in the '60s and '70s but it actually takes place in the '20s,'30s, and 40's and yeah, it's amazing. Told in a very straight forward matter of fact style, cold and hard and filled with old school street slang. Just like you'd expect from a guy named Iceberg Slim.
Joe Revelator
Pimp is the autobiography of Robert Lee Maupin, AKA Iceberg Slim, one of the most notorious prostitution ringleaders to come out of the mid 1930’s. And before this review goes any further, a warning:

This post will contain adult language and content. Nothing sexual will be described in explicit detail, but the subject matter is of an adult nature. If you are bothered by prostitution, gambling, sex, or violence, turn back now…

Pimp (pmp) Noun: A man who solicits for a prostitute or brothel and live
Smooth. Slick. Poetic, slithered in pimpology.

I think it is clear pimps are not nice people. They are cunning, abusive, emotionless creatures and liars. And their street walkers are lost souls, foolish and not too bright. That's why I loved this book. It's blunt, gritty, and organic.

Some might read Pimp and believe it's teaching tool how to pimp and to whore. Granted, while some might read this book and take it that way, I look at it as to why one shouldn't get into the life at all. Like what I
Isn't it funny how pimps and pimping are totally mainstream pop culture terms and attitudes among young people these days? From multitudes of 18 year old white boy "pimps" on Myspace, to several HBO documentaries about pimps, to grown white men saying things like "keep your pimp hand strong" and dressing up as parody pimps trying to be funny (this has to be the most tired joke on the planet at this point) to Uncle Toms like Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent doing their modern day minstrel show on Mtv, to t ...more
Jerky Leboeuf
Mar 17, 2011 Jerky Leboeuf rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of jazz, autobiographies, crime fiction and good writing in general.
Equal parts autobiography, confessional, manifesto and training manual, PIMP provides the reader with a 3D, Technicolor expose of a much-maligned profession to which many have aspired, but few have had the brains and ruthless chill to pull off. PIMP is one of the most gripping, entertaining and - yes - important narratives of the Black Experience in 20th Century America.

Let me be clear about this - PIMP is one hell of a book. I recommend it to any and all admirers of good writing. Iceberg's pros
Jim Barton
It's not everyday you read an autobiography of a pimp with an IQ of 175? I first became interested in Iceberg Slim back in my formative years in the late 60s when I frequented a bookstore that had books by Iceberg Slim hidden behind the counter as if they were porn. Although I never dared to ask about the books, I was fascinated by the author's name and the 'forbidden-fruit' treatment of his books. Later, in the early seventies I saw and enjoyed the movie version of his book, Trick Baby. But, I ...more
Samir Dhond
I bought this book because it was much talked about on Goodreads as well as on some other sites. Frankly speaking, the book neither gave me an insight into the world totally unknown andalien to me nor did it provide any insights into human behavior. It was just a story told told by a person. The most difficult part for me was to understand his language. The code words, the description, nothing made sense to me, until much later. While the book was slightly boring at times, my curiosity kept me g ...more
Barbara Morgan
Excellent book
Iceberg Slim did an excellent job in writing this story.
Stuart Wechsler
A violent ugly story told with passion and dramatic and creative use of the language.

This is an exciting book that provides a authentic ( it would seem) look into the seedy underside of a shadowy segment of America post World War II. Iceberg Slim was a big time pimp who experienced the peaks and many valleys of a life devoted to hustling and avoiding the " square life". Afternoon a number of "bits" in a range of correctional facilities he comes to realization he has wasted his life and goes stra
I listened to this one as an audio book, which was kind of excruciating, because I don't really have the patience, or the time, for that in my life. But this was, at its best, a riveting story.

The misogyny is intense, but part of me thinks its no more evident than in some Norman Mailer stuff from the same time (the middle sixties, right?), and there are the same kind of Freudian overtones to this. In other words, at its best, this book has the potential to be transformative, to be seen as a maj
Pimp: The Story of My Life (1969)
Iceberg Slim [Robert Beck, born Robert Lee Moppins or Maupin Jr.] (1918-1992)
Memoir (302 pp.)
Mostly 1936 to 1948 (1921 to 1960s); Chicago and Midwest
His education as a pimp. Long scratch and longs bits (times of wealth and trips to jail), both of which are fueled and oiled by drugs. Not for the faint of heart.

Semi-Random Semi-Representative Samples (I’ll try to keep them clean-ish):
“If you are going to tell me some broad is going to lay out five-hundred frog sk
Casey Hampton
It's been years since I've had such difficulty reading or rating a book. The content discomfited me, and maybe that isn't a bad thing? I'm still not certain how to interpret my feelings.

I was reluctant to read this book. But I knew it would shove me outside my comfort zone, and expose me to an alternative perspective of which I feel ignorant. In the preface, Iceberg Slim addresses his motivations for writing this autobiography.
In this book I will take you, the reader, with me into the secret in
Steele Dimmock
I’ve never come across anything quite like this guy’s style of writing - it’s jive talk, vivid metaphors and gritty poetry all wrapped up in one terrible tale.

The story and content is quite confronting and had me wincing at some points. But overall, the author's style of writing is what lifts the content to the stratosphere, turning it into a veritable classic.

Some awesome one liners from the book:
“In the Hog, until I dropped the last whore off, you could have heard a mosquito crapping on the m
This is one of those cult books that I've known about for a long time but never gotten around to reading. I actually listened to the audio version--which really takes it to another level as you can imagine if you are familiar with it. This book is not for the politically correct or the sensitive, as Iceberg Slim unleashes many ribald stories about his time spent as a criminal, street hustler & pimp in the 1940s and 1950s. There's violence, sex, drugs, misogyny & nearly all of it is vastl ...more
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Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born as Robert Lee Maupin. Novelist and poet whose most famous novel, Pimp, is semi-autobiographical.
More about Iceberg Slim...
Trick Baby Mama Black Widow Long White Con Airtight Willie and Me Death Wish

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“Before I'd touch a square bitch's slit,
I'd suck a thousand clappy pricks and swim through liquid shit,
They got green puke between their rotten toes,
And snot runs from their funky nose,
I hope square bitches become syphilitic wrecks,
I hope they fall through their own assholes and break their motherfucking necks.”
“An emotional debt is hard to square.” 7 likes
More quotes…