“[In Pimp], Iceberg Slim breaks down some of the coldest, capitalist concepts I’ve ever heard in my life.” —Dave Chappelle, from his Nextflix special The Bird Revelation
Pimp sent shockwaves throughout the literary world when it published in 1969. Iceberg Slim’s autobiographical novel offered readers a never-before-seen account of the sex trade, and an unforgettable look at the mores of Chicago’s street life during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. In the preface, Slim says it best, “In this book, I will take you, the reader, with me into the secret inner world of the pimp.” An immersive experience unlike anything before it, Pimp would go on to sell millions of copies, with translations throughout the world. And it would have a profound impact upon generations of writers, entertainers, and filmmakers, making it the classic hustler’s tale that never seems to go out of style.
Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born in Chicago in 1918 and was initiated into the life of the pimp at age eighteen. He briefly attended the Tuskegee Institute but dropped out to return to the streets of the South Side, where he remained, pimping until he was forty-two. After several stints in jail he decided to give up the life and turned to writing. Slim folded his life into the pages of seven books based on his life. Catapulted into the public eye, Slim became a new American hero, known for speaking the truth whether that truth was ugly, sexy, rude, or blunt. He published six more books based on his life and Slim died at age 73 in 1992; one day before the Los Angeles riots.