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American Pimp
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from 1,958 votes
Release: January 1999 (USA) /

American Pimp

Genre: Documentary
Director: Albert Hughes,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: 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 <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


I've always had a guilty curiosity about the life of a pimp. Of course, we have those "pimp stereotypes" in films like "The Mack" and "Willie Dynamite." But do we really, really know ALL about this lucrative, though immoral, profession? Thanks to the Hughes Brothers, now we do.

First of all, this well-made documentary doesn't glorify the life of street pimps. I'm sure a lot of you out there (especially women) will take one look at a film like this, and say to yourself, "Why the hell do I want to watch a movie about greedy, heartless, misogynistic 'mack daddies' who make a living at degrading women for their own financial pleasure?" The Hughes Brothers don't try to take sides. In fact, the film opens with a montage of opinions (mostly negative) from everyday people about these pimps. Whether you condone the industry or condemn it, that's not the issue.

Allen and Albert Hughes do a wonderful job at intercutting the views and "days in the lives" of real pimps with clips from seventies blaxploitation flicks and topping it off with a vivid soundtrack filled with classic soul music. The film starts out by showing the more luxurious, darkly comic side of pimping. It's interesting to learn what real pimps really have to say. Of course, their vocabularies practically consist of three words: "ni**a," "motherf**ker" and "b**ch." But hey, that's how they talk. Am I going to blame the Hughes Brothers for writing an excessively profane script? They didn't write a script! This is how these pimps really talk!

As the film goes on, we learn the more serious side of pimping. We learn the pimping REALLY ain't easy. But at the same time, they're not completely heartless. When one of their "hos" die or get sucked into drug addiction, they can't go on with their lives like nothing happened. And it's interesting to see how different pimps took different paths. Some decided to quit the business and concentrate on raising their families, some ended up in the penitentiary and some (believe it or not) found religion. But some still feel that pimping is the way to go, and though it's immoral, they don't necessarily think it's wrong. We even get a brief introduction into the lives of "legal pimps." You know, those clean-cut white guys with the fancy whorehouses with quality hookers who will do anything they please for a large sum of money.

Expect to see gratuitous close-ups of female rear ends. At times, you feel as if you're watching a 2 Live Crew video. This is another film that I can consider a feminist's nightmare. Nevertheless, it's wonderfully done, eye-catching, compelling, funny and sometimes heartfelt. The Hughes meant to explore the subject without patronizing it. And I found it quite fascinating. If there happened to be a filmmaker who explored the world of pimping before these guys, then let me know. Until then, I give Allen and Albert two thumbs up for taking on daring subject matter involving an underworld of people often overlooked--or broadly portrayed--by the average filmmaker.

My score: 7 (out of 10)

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