Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp Glamorizes The Criminal Life It Intends to Rebuke


Intentions and effect are at odds throughout Jorge Hinojosa’s one-note documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, which like its subject—the pimp-turned-author who found success with books like 1967’s Pimp: The Story of My Life—nominally censures the women-exploiting business that it not-so-subtly celebrates. Slim is presented as a suave, coldhearted gentleman who had a change of heart and took to the typewriter after repeated stints in prison. Hinojosa employs stock archival materials, stylish animated sequences, and enthusiastic talking heads (Chris Rock, Snoop Dogg, Bill Duke, producer Ice-T) to argue that Slim was a pioneer for being the first to authentically write about the inner-city streets. Influential as his writing may have been, however, what emerges via lengthy chats with his alternately laudatory and critical wife and kids is a picture of an emotionally detached, self-interested man (replete with mommy issues) who, even during his later years, continued pimping while being a lousy husband and father—and one whose lasting legacy, as confirmed by one daughter hilariously praising her dad for being calm and understanding after she was arrested for possession of a kilo of coke and $1 million cash, was painting the criminal life as respectable.