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Street pimps, all of them African-American, discuss their lives and work: getting started, being flamboyant, pimping in various U.S. cities, bringing a woman into their group, taking a woman from another pimp, and the rules and regulations of pimping. The men are clear: it's about money. The women work every night, hustle hard, turn over all their earnings, and steal anything they can from clients. We meet a few of the women, who tell us what they want from a pimp. We also listen to a women who's legally employed at a Nevada brothel; we meet her White boss, a legal pimp. He and the street pimps, some of whom are now retired, make the case for legalizing the trade. Written by
pimpin' ain't easy, but it sure is fun, as the song goes
American Pimp, a film by the Hughes brothers, is probably more entertaining, almost in a manner that crosses between a typical documentary and as one of the film clips shown from the Mack as an exploitation film, than it deserves to be. But then the Hughes brothers have made a film about exploitation, the self-glorified glory of it, the stylish inner world that they've created for themselves and their 'ho's' that is like the mob only, well, more stylish and specific. Unlike the mob, as the film tries to show (however true to life compared with facts you be the judge) that they aren't all violent criminals, but see it as a way of life. The Hughes's- maybe wisely and not wisely at the same time- don't try and interfere with these guys and their dialog. There's no preachy message that "pimping and prostituting is wrong." They know audiences aren't completely numb to what the facts are in a (for now) criminal enterprise.
But, as I said, it's also entertaining, the kind of entertainment that comes from listening to someone you know is crazy or f***** up and at the same time has a weird, hypnotic quality. They go through telling what it's all about- the breaking in, so to speak, of new prostitutes for the pimp, when said prostitutes might leave, the ins and outs of being a new pimp or an old pimp or someone who talks a big game and may or may not mean what he says. Actually, for the latter, the Hughes's don't seem to skimp on any of their interviewees: they all appear to be genuine to the business, appear being the big word. But it's the intent that counts, and these guys at least sound the part, as well as look it, and in a dirty way these guys are really, really funny, sometimes without trying to be even due to their own self-aggrandizing. As for the prostitutes themselves, they are shown not quite as much. While it might have been difficult for the Hughes's to get any legitimate documentary footage of them, aside from a couple of moments revealed like when a pimp named RC (I think that's his name) berates a girl for getting drunk, with the menace of violence in the subtext, it works fine as it is.
It's like a candid string of tall tales from characters painfully believable, as those who think that the media portrays them stereotypically, and why not? Some of these guys ARE walking stereotypes- doesn't stop them from getting their pimp-hand on. It ain't easy, but it's almost in a guilty way insatiable.
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