Ice-T and director Jorge Hinojosa have collaborated to produce Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp, a documentary on Iceberg Slim that recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, examines the tumultuous life of legendary Chicago pimp Iceberg Slim (1918-1992) and how he reinvented himself from pimp to author of 7 groundbreaking books. These books were the birth of Street Lit and explored the world of the ghetto in gritty and poetic detail and have made him a cultural icon. The documentary includes interviews with Iceberg Slim, Chris Rock, Henry Rollins, Snoop Dogg and Quincy Jones.

Introduced to prostitution by his mother, Slim (born Robert Beck) ultimately turned against it after jail time and drug dependency and, with the help of his wife, recorded his experiences in the revolutionary memoir, which both artfully depicts the seedy underworld he inhabited and cautions readers against it.

“I started to read it, and I could quote lines out of it,” Ice-T told during a recent interview. “It just did wonders for my life. I started to idolize the books. Later on in my life, when I got into music, I started to write [songs], but I would write them like books, like stories.”

Here is some more of the Vanity Fair interivew. You can read the entire article / interivew at

Vanity Fair Interview With Ice-T and Jorge Hinojosa

To hear some of your interview subjects in the documentary, and many people in the rap community, the word “pimp” has a connotation of being cool. How do we reconcile that interpretation versus the actual definition of the word, a person who exploits and often mistreats women?

Ice-T: The thing is, the game is wrong. We could write other books, and call them Drug DealerBank Robber, Extortionist. There are no good games. In the underworld, negativity is held in a high regard. The more savage you are, the cooler you are. This is just a story about the underworld. This is not an attempt to promote it. The truth of the fact is that there is glamour involved in the negative shit. The guys robbing a bank are having a ball. When you are involved in drug dealing, it’s exciting. You see a movie like Blow, and there is some reason why people do it. If you tell the true story, you are not glamorizing it. The true story is, even if it seems exciting, the horror and the pain that comes along with it, it isn’t worth it. I think at the beginning of this movie, you hate the fuck out of Iceberg Slim. You think this is a brutalized guy. This is a terrible person. Then you see him have this epiphany in prison, take care of his family in the ghetto, defending his family. It’s an interesting story about how people change.

Whenever people ask me how I did all of these negative things in my life, I quote Fargo. I say, “Well, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.” The movie isn’t about pimping; it’s more of a portrait of a criminal. Pimping just happened to be what he did. We tried to explain some of the factors that went into his distaste of women. I’m sure there were women that lived the opposite of that, that were abused by their fathers, and today fucking hate men to death. Like Chris Rock said, his momma kinda invented the pimp.

What were you most surprised to find out about Iceberg when making this movie?

Hinojosa: How closely involved his wife was. When I read his letter to the warden, I could see how wonderful of a writer he was. But what he needed was for her to take all of the stories and stitch them together and to be kind of his de facto editor.

Ice-T: That blew my mind, too. Even with myself, having been married to Coco [Austin, with whom he stars in the E! reality show Ice Loves Coco] 11 years, there will be nights where I am just sitting in the room telling her all of these wild adventures of my life. She is like, “No, that didn’t happen!” I can see her saying, “Let’s write this down.” But to the guy, it’s like, “No one wants to hear this stuff.” If she thinks it is entertaining to her, though, she knows other people will like it. Iceberg didn’t know that he was a writer. It’s like his wife says, at the end of the movie: “We made Iceberg Slim together.” That was something I never knew, and that’s heavy.

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