From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
SCREW MAGAZINE — “The World’s Greatest Newspaper” — was founded in 1968 by Al Goldstein. Begun as a response to a burgeoning sexual revolution and to the air-brushed soft-pedaled sexuality in magazines such as Playboy, Screw set out to be the most outrageous magazine of its type. Printed weekly in New York City, in tabloid form, it quickly succeeded, reaching a circulation of 500,000, and making armies of enemies among conservatives and the “moral hypocrites” in government that Screw had vowed to fight.
Screw is best known for its alarmingly frank representation of sex, in both lurid photographs and prose that has continually pushed close to the edges of protected speech. Founder Al Goldstein continually beat back the government forces that have tried to stifle him and has won a series of obscenity cases.
In 1974, Al Goldstein told Playboy magazine “We lead the league in tastelessness. Our photographs are filthier and our stories more disgusting. We make no effort to be artistic.”
Screw’s embrace of the film Deep Throat guaranteed the film’s success and simulataneously insured Screw’s place in publishing and as an innovator and trend-setter.
Over the years Screw has become known for its vicious attacks on celebrities, politicians, and pretty much anyone who has crossed Goldstein, from car rentals to local restaurants.
In 1982, Goldstein was sued by Pillsbury after their “doughboy” logotype was spoofed in Screw. Goldstein won that case and the right to parody corporate logos is now firmly entrenched as protected speech.
In the 1990s, as business began to slip due to new competition from free adult weeklies and the internet, Goldstein became weighed down in a feud with his son Jordan and began filling the magazine with personal attacks against his “ex-son” and his ex-wife. Many observers noted that as Goldstein’s famous hate rants became more heated, the magazine lost focus and drifted from its editorial goals.
In 2003, after suffering through several well-publicized harassment trials, ill health, reckless spending and mismanagement, Screw declared bankruptcy. Goldstein, never responding adequately to an adult market now dominated by the internet, said at the time "we are an anachronism; we are dinosaurs; we are elephants going to the bone cemetery to die.... The delivery system has changed, and we have to change with it if we want to survive."
Later that year Screw was purchased and re-launched by DJK Productions, a consortium of former employees. Former High Times publisher Mike Edison, himself a former Screw freelancer was named as editor-in-chief. He is only the second person to hold that position in thirty five years.
Screw is now published bi-weekly with a circulation of 20,000.
In almost forty years of continuous publication, there have been almost 2,000 issues of Screw, making it one of the most durable and long-lasting publications in American history.
SCREW ORIGINAL MISSION STATEMENT (From issue No. 1, 1968)
WHAT WE STAND FOR: Screw welcomes you to the first issue of the most exciting new publication in the history of the West,. You are on the virgin trip of the first magazine-newspaper that gives sex a break and makes no bones about it. People f*** and do other things to each to other — whatever it is, we won’t knock it. In the ear or up the nostril — it’s your bag and it’s your business. We promise never to ink out a pubic hair or chalk out an organ. We apologize for nothing. We will uncover the entire world of sex. We’ll be the Consumer Reports of sex. We will lay it on the line, and on the bed, floor, the beachheads of the world and then lay it on the line until the whole world gets the message — SEX IS FUN.